Pistol red dot sights are an evolution of the red dot and reflex sights that were originally only mounted on rifles.
Red dot sights are designed to help hand gunners acquire their sights faster so they can make faster shots. But red dots also make it much easier to take long range shots. Beyond 15 yards, a red dot simplifies the aiming process and makes it easier to get hits.
However, it’s important to note that it takes practice to get proficient with a red dot. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time training with iron sights. You’ll have to practice your presentation with a red dot so that you naturally drive the gun out and bring the red dot into focus.
However, once you’ve got the presentation down, a red dot can really raise the ceiling on what you can do with your pistol.
Top Pistol Red Dot Sights
The 7 Best Pistol Red Dot Sight Reviews (Updated 2019)Here are the top reflex sights for your handgun that you should check out now:
- Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight 3 MOA - Best for the Money
- Ade Advanced Optics Huracan Green Dot Micro Mini - Best Budget Pistol Red Dot Sight
- Burris Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount Pistol Red Dot Sight - Best Value Pistol Red Dot
- Leupold 119688 Delta Point Pro 2.5 MOA Pistol Red Dot - Best for Long Range
- Sig Sauer Romeo 1 Mini Reflex 1x30mm - Best for Competition
- Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight - Best Overall
1. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights 3 MOA - Best Pistol Red Dot for the Money
Vortex Optics makes outstanding optics. They’re highly regarded in the shooting industry for their exceptional glass. The Vortex Optics Venom brings Vortex lens technology to the handgun market.
Vortex uses their superior lens technology in the Venom to give a crisp sight picture with no parallax and almost no color distortion.
The reticle is a 3 MOA red dot. There is only one color setting. However, there are 10 brightness settings. Additionally, Vortex equipped the Venom with an automatic brightness adjustment that detects ambient light and autotunes the reticle brightness based on the environment.
So you’ll always be able to see your reticle, even in very bright conditions.
However, the battery only lasts for 150 hours at the highest brightness setting. For reference, that’s about 6 days. At lower settings, the battery will last up to 30,000 hours, or just under 3 and a half years.
The cool thing about this is that if you put the Venom on your defensive gun, you can use the automatic brightness to prolong the battery life. It will turn the brightness down when the gun is in concealment. So you might only need to replace your battery every three years.
The long battery life is especially helpful, since the battery cover is incredibly difficult to remove and replace. But you can replace the battery without removing the sight from your gun, which is handy.
The Venom has a nice low profile and awide viewing window, with a minimal protective housing. This means you get a wide field of view and very little obstruction from the body of the sight. Additionally, you can use suppressor sights if you want to co-witness with your iron sights
All the controls are located on the side of the sight for easy access and minimal interference when the gun is in a holster.
Overall, the Venom is an excellent all around pistol red dot sight. The battery will last for a long time on a defensive gun, and the wide range of brightness settings make the Venom ideal for competitive and recreational shooters.
2. Ade Advanced Optics Huracan Green Dot Micro Mini Reflex Sight - Best Budget Pistol Red Dot
For many people, the primary barrier to purchasing a red dot is the price. Most red dot sights run upwards of $200.
The Ade Advanced Optics Huracan solves this problem. The Huracan costs as much as a set of quality iron sights.
Ade did a lot of things right with the Huracan. The field of view is 19 yards wide at 100 yards. So the optic won’t restrict your view of your target even at close ranges.
The body is also very minimal, which minimizes obstructions at the periphery of your sight picture.
This is another pain point for concealed carriers. The on/off button could get pressed by your holster. Having your sight turned off essentially renders it useless in a defensive incident. So make sure your holster doesn’t press on the front of the sight before you use the Huracan as your defensive sighting system.
Overall, the Huracan is an excellent entry level optic. It will perform well as a recreation or competition optic. However, the relatively short battery life and inconvenient on/off button placement may make it less than ideal for concealed carriers.
3. Burris Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount - Best Value Pistol Red Dot
Burris is known for producing high quality optics at reasonable prices. The Burris Fastfire III is no exception.
The Fastfire is fitted with precision ground and coated lenses to eliminate parallax and minimize glare for a clearer sight picture.
The Fastfire comes in two different models: 8 MOA reticle and 3 MOA reticle. The 8 MOA reticle is good if you’re doing mostly fast, short range shooting. The 3 MOA reticle works for short ranges. But the smaller reticle won’t completely cover a small target at long range.
The reticle has 3 brightness settings and comes in one color: red. Burris also equipped the Fastfire with an automatic brightness adjustment that tunes the reticle brightness based on the ambient light.
The protective housing is a plain aluminum band to minimize obstruction in your field of view.
At the brightest setting, the Fastfire has 5000 hours of battery life. That’s just over 200 days.
Burris includes their proprietary mounting system with the Fastfire. This enables you to mount the Fastfire on rifles and shotguns as well. This can save you some money, if you’re willing to transfer the sight between guns occasionally.
In the end, the Fastfire is an excellent sight for all pistol applications, and some rifle and shotgun contexts. That versatility presents a lot of value for the going price.
4. Leupold 119688 Delta Point Pro Reflex Dot Sight 2.5 MOA - Best Long Range Pistol Red Dot
Leupold is known for their outstanding lenses and durable lens coatings. Leupold uses the same technology on the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro as they use on their rifle scope lenses.
The DeltaPoint lenses are coated with Leupold’s proprietary Diamond Coating, which reduces glare, enhances image fidelity, and improves scratch resistance. The lenses are also aligned to eliminate parallax and blackened at the edges to maximize light transmission.
Leupold offers the DeltaPoint in two different models: 7.5 MOA triangle reticle, and 2.5 MOA dot reticle. Leupold only offers red reticles for both models.
The 7.5 MOA reticle is best for short range shooting.
However, the triangle shape helps minimize target obstruction at longer ranges. The 2.5 MOA reticle is a better option for those who shoot most often at long ranges, since it’s versatile enough to be a short range sight as well.
Leupold states that the battery lasts for 190 hours of high brightness use.
This will help preserve the battery. However, the sight could be constantly turning on and off from normal movements during concealed carry. So the battery may not last much longer than 190 hours on your defensive gun, depending on how much you move with your gun.However, the motion sensor technology is handy for carrying the gun in a holster
Leupold covered the protective housing with an additional layer of steel to enhance durability. The DeltaPoint is rugged. However, the steel band makes the lens housing thicker. So there’s a bit more metal in your field of view.
The DeltaPoint can also be mounted on rifles and shotguns, for those who want to dual-purpose their sight.
Overall, the DeltaPoint is a good option for defensive shooters. Competition shooters and recreational shooters may find that the DeltaPoint features don’t really do much for them
5. Sig Sauer Romeo 1 Mini Reflex 1x30mm 3 MOA - Best Competition Pistol Red Dot
Sig produces some of the most impressive handguns on the planet. The Sig Sauer Romeo 1 extends Sig’s commitment to quality into the realm of red dot sights.
Where Sig put the most work into this sight is in the lenses. Sig’s Aspherical lenses provide a parallax and distortion free sight picture. Lensarmour and Spectracoat lens coatings provide scratch resistance and enhanced light transmission.
Sig offers the Romeo 1 in two variations: 3 MOA reticle and 6 MOA reticle. So there’s something for both the short range tactical shooters and long range marksmen. The brightness can be adjusted with 5 daytime brightness settings and 2 night vision settings.
The Romeo 1 has a wide field of view. However, the lens shape is wide, but not so tall.
So the actual viewing window can seem a bit small, even though it’s fairly ample.
Fortunately, changing the battery is one of the most user-friendly processes among pistol red dots.
The Romeo 1 can also be mounted on rifles and shotguns. The night vision sight settings give it enhanced night shooting capabilities, especially for those who use night optics.
The Romeo 1 strikes a good balance between concealed carry functionality and high performance features. However, tactical professionals and competition shooters will be able to make the best use of the Romeo 1 feature set.
6. Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA Adjustable LED - Best Overall Pistol Red Dot
The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is the original pistol red dot. The RMR sets the standard for red dot performance and durability.
Trijicon looked to find the sweet spot between short and long range performance with a 3.5 MOA dot. It’s not too large for long range shots, but not so small that you can’t find it quickly for short, tactical action.The dot is equipped with 8 brightness settings. This includes 2 night vision settings and 1 super bright option.
To preserve the battery, the RMR will automatically switch to automatic brightness mode after 16.5 hours of constant operation. This automatically engages the button lockout to prevent the brightness setting from being accidentally changed.
Battery life is where the RMR sets records. The RMR battery will last for 4 years of continuous use at 50% brightness. This is hands down the best option, in terms of battery life, for concealed carriers, and anyone else, really.
The RMR protective housing is designed to direct impact force away from the lens to enhance durability. The only downside here is that the housing is a bit bulky. So it can present some obstruction in your field of view.
However, the housing accommodates a wide range of mounting options, and can be mounted on rifles or shotguns as well.
The only other downside to the RMR is the price. The RMR literally costs as much as a good handgun. So be prepared to pay for the performance.
In the end, the RMR is for shooters who want best-in-class performance and battery life, no matter the cost. Competitive shooters will appreciate the adaptability for long guns and concealed carriers can rest easy knowing that their battery won’t die while their gun is in the holster.
With the right red dot and some training, you can definitely take your pistol game to the next level, especially when it comes to long range precision.
So choosing a red dot that’s right for you is important. The good news is that you can’t really go wrong with the Vortex Optics Venom. The Venom will work perfectly for most shooters in most shooting contexts. And it offers excellent value for the money.
So, if you’re looking for a way to raise the ceiling on your pistol skills, pick up a pistol red dot and head to the range.