Finding the Best Pistol Red Dot Sights is easy with this in-depth review and buyers guide.
Red dot sights have become a popular addition to all manner of shooting platforms. Picking the best red dot sight for a pistol has its own set of unique requirements to ensure you have the right optic for the job.
In recent years reflex sight manufacturers have increased the quality of their Micro Red Dot sights (MRDs), making them more suitable for handgun applications.
The all-time best red dot sights for a pistol consists of open reflex style red dot sights chosen for their durability, reliability and consistent performance. The list includes optics produced by well-known sight manufacturers such as Trijicon, Leupold, Holosun, Vortex Optics, and Burris and includes the following sights:
- Trijicon RMR Type 2 (Best Overall)
- Leupold Delta Point Pro (Best Runner Up)
- Holosun 507C V2 (Authors Pick)
- Vortex Optics Venom (Popular Pick)
- Burris Fastfire 3 (Best Budget)
Red dot sights improve target acquisition speed and even precision in close quarters to intermediate distances engagements. This is achieved mostly through the elimination of the sight alignment process. With a red dot sight you the shooter only needs to focus your attention on a single plane, the target with a dot on it!
Two recent studies demonstrated a increase in overall accuracy for any level of shooter with the use of a red dot sight over iron sights.
Similar to the results above in the COMPARATIVE PISTOL PROJECT conducted by James E. Ryan of Norwich University; increased accuracy was also observed with the addition of a red dot sight.
The best pistol red dot sight will have a lot to do with your intended application, but rest assured, there is a sight for any application. Whether you are hunting, on-duty, competition shooting, or looking for a sight to mount on your carry handgun, there is a red dot sight suited for your needs.
In this buyers’ guide, we will cover the five best red dot sights for a pistol in 2020. We will review the top features of each sight plus the pros and cons of each. As usual, we will recommend the best place to buy your sight of choice which is usually Amazon.com as it is hard to beat their prices, service, and 1-2 day delivery.
Don’t have time to go through all of the information? Here is a quick look at the five best pistol red dot sights.
|1.||Trijicon RMR Type 2||3.25 MOA|
|2.||Leupold DeltaPoint Pro||2.5 MOA|
|3.||Holosun HE507C-GR V2|| 2 MOA |
|4.||Vortex Optics Venom||3 MOA|
| CR1632 |
|5.||Burris Fastfire III||3 MOA|
| CR1632 |
Top 5 Pistol Red Dot Sights Review
1. Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA
Arguably the best red dot sight for a pistol the RMR Type2 has proven to be the most durable sight in our line up. With its owl ear shape, the RMR withstands a substantial amount of punishment from both impact and recoil related forces and keeps performing. Trijicon has set the bar high when it comes to the best red dot sights for a pistol.
The RMR Type 2 RM06 has a 3.25 MOA red dot, which can be controlled manually or in an automatic mode making it a great candidate in the defense role. Button setup on the sight is easy to manipulate even in a concealed carry application.
The led produced red dot is crisp in the viewing window and easy to acquire. Even though we are highlighting the 3.25 adjustable led model, the Type 2 comes in several flavors that include a larger reticle and alternate power source to fit your specific needs.
Trijicon’s RMR is small and extremely lightweight. This is an important factor when adding anything to your handgun to ensure uninhibited maneuverability and stabilization when engaging a target. Even though the RMR is at the top of the price list, I am sure no one has ever complained when they need it, and it performed without fail.
- Rugged, proven performance under austere conditions
- Easy to operate
- Automatic off/on feature
- Battery life of 1.5 years under continuous use
- The standard footprint for numerous custom milled slides
- The need to unmount the sight to replace the battery
For all the Techs & Specs see our in-depth review of the Trijicon RMR Type 2
2. Leupold DeltaPoint Pro
Right behind our number one pick is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. The Delta Point Pro is a well established high-quality red dot sight that has demonstrated the capacity for service in almost any role. Many shooters find this sight preferable over our number one pick for its price and simplicity.
You will find that the DeltaPoint Pro is an exceptional performer in the reflex sight class.
The DeltaProint Pro has a large Field of View (FOV) that some shooters favor for both open eye shooting and rapid target acquisition. The sight is available in either a 2.5 MOA red dot or a 7.5 MOA delta for close-quarter engagements.
The DeltaPoint Pro has an incorporated steel sheath to protect the sight from external impacts. Sight adjustments are accomplished through a single button for easy operation. Some shooters find the single button operation less than ideal for concealed carry.
- Clear viewing and crisp reticle
- Motion sensing auto on/off that extends battery life
- Rugged construction
- Rapid change top load battery well
- Low battery life 300 hrs constantly running on the highest setting
- Single-button operation
For all the Techs & Specs see our in-depth review of the Leupold DeltaPoint.
3. Holosun HE507C-GR Elite
From the Holosun elite series, the HE507C-GR is a high-quality feature-rich optic that will be at home on any pistol. The sight is machined from 7075 aluminum for a sturdy but lightweight chassis. The 507C-GR shares the same footprint as the Trijicon RMR, so there are plenty of existing milled slides for mounting.
This sight comes with three reticles, a 2 MOA dot, a 32 MOA ring, or a combination of both. This feature gives you more versatility allowing a smaller dot option for precision and a large ring for close-quarter engagement where speed is more important.
The Holosun 507C V2 comes with two great features that extended battery life up to 50k hours. Holosun incorporated its Shake Awake technology that powers down the optic when it lies motionless and powers it up when it detects movement. The second feature is the Solar Failsafe that utilizes a solar array to power the sight instead of relying solely on power from the battery.
- Rugged, waterproof construction
- Extended battery life of 50k hrs
- Motion sensing technology
- Solar Array Powered
Must dismount optic to replace batteryThis has been fixed with version 2, you now mount the battery from the side of the optic.
For all the Techs & Specs see our in-depth review of the HE507C-GR V2 .
4. Vortex Optics Venom
Another great option in red dot sights for a pistol is the Vortex Venom. The Venom is a lightweight reflex sight with a built-in automatic adjusting reticle brightness feature. The 3 MOA red dot will adjust automatically depending on surrounding light conditions. You can also place the sight in manual mode with ten brightness levels available for adjustment.
The Vortex Optics Venom, like the DeltaPoint Pro, has a slightly larger FOV while still maintaining a low profile. The lens in this sight provides a clear edge to edge viewing that aids in easy target identification. With a 3 MOA dot, the Venom provides precision out to intermediate ranges while enabling rapid target engagement at shorter ranges.
The sight has proven to be sturdy and durable and able to withstand the punishment of repetitive handgun recoil. The Venom is priced below our first two optics. You will get a lot of optic for your money, which is an excellent option for competition shooting and even home self-defense situations.
- Auto brightness mode
- Easy battery access
- Large Field of View
- Low profile
- Battery life 30,000 hrs at lowest setting
- Not night vision compatible
For all the Techs & Specs see our in-depth review of the Vortex Venom.
5. Burris Fastfire III
The Burris Fastfire III is a solidly built optic that is apparent when you have it in your hands. Constructed from steel and ionized aluminum the optic is sturdy yet lightweight. The sight weighs just under 1oz. The small form factor and lightweight make the Fastfire III ideal for use on a pistol. Mounted on a pistol, this reflex sight does not detract from the maneuverability or employment from a holster.
The Burris Fastfire has a red 3 MOA dot reticle. The Fastfire also has an 8 MOA dot reticle model that you may find more suited for both eye open close-range shooting. The sight includes an automatic reticle brightness level adjustment that adjusts according to the light environment. Additionally, the optic has three manual brightness level adjustments.
If you are considering mounting the Burris Fastfire III on your pistol, we think it would make a great option for going to the range, hunting, or even competition shooting. The sight has an expected battery life of approximately 5,000 hrs. The battery well is accessible from the top, making switching out the battery easy and fast.
- Lightweight, small footprint
- Solid construction
- Automatic reticle brightness level adjustment
- Excellent warranty
- Easy battery replacement
- Only three manual reticle brightness adjustment levels
- Smaller field of view
For all the Techs & Specs see our in-depth review of the Burris Fastfire 3.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Red Dot Sight for a Handgun
When choosing the best pistol red dot sight, several key characteristics are paramount in selecting the proper optic for your application. The relevance of each of these features is going to be dependent on your situation and how you intend to employ your handgun platform and for what reasons. The most important sight features you should consider concerning the selection of a red dot sight for your pistol are durability, operation, reticle, battery life, mounting options, warranty, and price.
Handgun Red Dot Sight Durability
Durability is a major factor when selecting a reflex sight for your handgun. Depending on your intended use, this feature may be the single most important factor in your selection. If you’re intended primary application includes on duty situations, military use, or self-defense, having the most durable optic should be at the top of the list for selection criteria.
A red dot optic mounted on a pistol must withstand significant repetitive force acting upon it.
The sight must be able to withstand forces from two major sources during pistol operation. The most significant force is the force generated from the repetitive recoil of a slide ride firearm, such as your handgun.
A common point of failure for most optics from handgun recoil has to do with the internal electronic components and battery contacts. Nowadays, the most durable reflex sights encase electronics in resin to counter-recoil force and guard against moisture.
Additional design features that are intended to combat forces created from recoil is battery placement and battery contacts. The high-quality sights have repositioned battery location and orientation to reduce stress on battery contacts.
The second type of force a pistol mounted optic must guard against are from external impacts to the chassis of the sight. Most red dot sights use chassis that are designed to channel impact forces away from the lens and internal components.
The most common failure to a sight often related to impact force is lens integrity. Most micro red dot sights utilize some type of external housing that separates the lens body from the exterior of the site.
One additional external factor that can cause failure in sight operation is the intrusion of moisture and dust. In general, most sites have attempted to overcome moisture intrusion via sealant or O-rings. It is common for red dot sight manufacturers to waterproof their optics equal to an Ingress Protection (IP) IPX7 or IPX8 rating.
- IPX7: Can be submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 minutes.
- IPX8: Can be submerged deeper than 1 meter. The manufacturer specifies the exact depth.
When choosing a red dot sight for a pistol for the protection of life, durability and ruggedness should significantly influence your sight selection process.
Another factor when selecting the best pistol red dot sight to mount on your handgun, is operation and control manipulation. Selecting a sight that is easy to operate and intuitive to use ensures that your pistol/sight combination is always ready for action.
Easy access to sight controls that power the optic on/off and adjust proper reticle brightness are design features most shooters should consider when selecting the proper sight.
Some manufacturers have incorporated motion-sensing capabilities that allow you to leave the sight on for uninterrupted continuous use. Other manufacturers have included automatic adjusting reticle brightness feature that increases or decreases the brightness level according to the existing light conditions.
Depending on your needs, these design features may play a significant role in your red dot sight selection process. Competition shooters, general handgun enthusiasts, may not need to emphasize sight operation as much as an individual carrying a red dot sight fitted handgun in an on-duty situation.
Red Dot Sight Reticle Options
The reticle is another element that is a key consideration when selecting a red dot sight for your Pistol. Options such as dot size, color, and clarity may influence your sight selection depending on the situation and conditions in which you attend to utilize the optic. Red dot sights typically incorporate reticle dots from size 1 Minute of Angle (MOA) up to 16 MOA and may even include 32 MOA rings.
- 1 MOA equals 1″ at 100 yards or 3 cm at 100 meters. The dot size will appear to be 1 inch in diameter on a target at 100 yards.
When anticipating utilizing your optic strictly for close-quarters engagements, you may prefer a larger reticle to aid in the rapid acquisition of the dot and target. Still, others may find it more beneficial to utilize a smaller dot for increased precision for target engagements at extended distances.
For someone like a competition shooter or even a hunter, engagement distance may be somewhat predictable, therefore making dot size selections at either end of the size spectrum easy.
When it comes to reticle color, pistol owners generally have a choice of red, green, or gold in some cases. Reticle color may play more of a factor if you have color blindness or the environment background for which you are operating, makes one color easier to see than the other.
In the case of some color blind shooters, a gold dot may be visible when red or green is not. In addition to your vision, the environment may have more influence on which reticle color is more visible and advantageous for easy, rapid acquisition.
Two additional factors concerning reticle preference are dot clarity and night vision compatibility. Quality reflex sight presents a clear crisp dot that does not washout with increased brightness levels. A clear crisp dot makes target acquisition an easier task for any red dot sight on a pistol application.
Some of you may need a red dot sight that is viewable through night vision goggles. If this is you pay close attention to an optics specification as not all reflex sights are night-vision compatible.
Reflex Sight Battery Life and Maintenance
Battery life is another key factor you should consider when selecting the best red dot sight for your pistol. A longer battery life means less maintenance to keep the optic operational and ready. Like we have mentioned before, some manufacturers have included motion-sensing technology that powers down the optic during extended periods of non-use to conserve battery life.
Another important attribute related to battery life is access to the battery compartment. Eventually, all batteries need to be changed, and the more accessible the battery compartment makes maintenance a slightly easier task. Some optics require you to remove the site from your handgun to switch out the battery. This may be less than ideal for situations that require extended continuous use under high-stress situations
Mounting Your Pistol Red Dot Sight
When mounting a red dot sight to a pistol, there are generally five options. Of the five mounting options, the three most common options include dovetail mounting plate, custom milled slide, and factory milled slide. The other two red dot sight pistol mounting options require the existence of a Picatinny rail system on your handgun.
If you already have a pistol and the slide is milled from the factory like the Glock MOS, Springfield OXP, or the Sig Sauer RX series. Then mounting an optic is straightforward and simple. In most cases, you will need an adapter plate for your specific red dot sight provided it fits within the factory milled footprint. Check out his article on mounting a red dot sight on a optics ready pistol for more information .
If you already have a pistol and the slide is not milled from the factory, then you can have the slide custom milled for your specific application or purchase an aftermarket “mass-produced” custom milled slide. Both the factory milled and the custom milled are our most preferred method as they provide the best foundation for the sight and usually allow for co-witness with iron sights.
These first two options may not be for you. If this is the case, then you can remove your rear sight and replace it with a dovetail mounting plate. There are many after sight manufacture and aftermarket mounting plate options. The downside to this mounting method is the loss of the ability to use the iron sights as a backup.
Mounting with a Picatinny rail requires the pistol to have the rail on the top of the pistol slide, or below in front of the trigger housing. When the rail is in front of the trigger housing, you can install a mounting frame that comes up and over the handgun, providing a platform for which to mount the sight. When using this option, it can be difficult to find holster solutions and make the footprint of your pistol much larger.
Even the most rugged red dot sight can fail. There is just going to be a situation here or there that renders a sight inoperable. Most of the top red dot sight manufacturers offer excellent warranties that cover a broad array of conditions and sight malfunctions. When selecting the best red dot sight for your pistol, make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s warranty in full.
Some warranties may cover physical damage for a lifetime while only warranting the electronics for five years. Yet there are still others who offer a lifetime no questions asked warranty and will replace or repair the reflex sight as long as you own it. If you are unsure of some aspect of the warranty, make sure to contact the manufacturer before you buy and get all of your questions answered in writing.
How Much Should You Pay for a Red Dot Sight?
Red dot sights can range from $50 up to $900. We find that most of the quality sights are somewhere in the middle. As these red dot sights continue to grow in popularity, manufacturers will meet the needs of the market with quality, high performing optics for lower prices. In recent years we have seen several red dot sights that have proven great options for pistol owners in the $200 to $400 range.
Common Questions About Pistol Mounted Red Dot Sights
Depending on your pistol model and red dot sight combination, you might have to purchase a special mounting plate or accessory. With some systems, the required mounting accessories are supplied so be sure to check with your pistol, and red dot sight manufactures for specific requirements.
There is a small learning curve no different than when you learned to shoot with the iron sights of your pistol. The benefit here is that you have a high probability that you will increase your accuracy and speed once acquiring the reticle is part of your shooting muscle memory.
There are several red dot, reflex, and holographic sights suitable for just about any firearm application. Some red dot sights are designed specifically for handgun platforms but perform equally as well on shotguns, carbines, and rifles.
Ultimately this decision is up to you. Red dot sights have been approved for service by many law enforcement agencies and the military both in the United States and abroad.
No, any level of shooter can benefit from the addition of a red dot sight to their favorite handgun. Most red dot sights manufactured today are intuitive and easy to use.
There are many factors to consider when deciding which is the best red dot sight for a pistol. We have covered much of what you need to know when considering purchasing a reflex sight to mount on your handgun. Remember, just putting a red dot sight on your pistol won’t make you a better shooter; you are going to have to practice with the sight and make it muscle memory in your target acquisition routine. Check back with reddotsightreviews.com for updated information on red dot, reflex, and holographic sights.