Whether you are someone who has bought his first rifle or a seasoned professional marksman with a rich arsenal of weapons, the budget is something that always matters. Tactical rifles are kind of like Legos as their cost tends to rapidly add up. This is why you should be very careful with your purchase.
Why are red dots so popular? That's because they allow for more accurate rapid fire and quicker reaction than any iron sight. These ultra modern optics are designed specifically to provide users with unlimited eye relief and more intuitive shooting experience than traditional sights. Unlike other sights, the red dot scopes for rifles keep both eyes open and thus let you have a nearly unlimited visual field while setting the dot on your target.
Besides, red dots are fairly easy to use and don't take a lot of training to get mastered. On the top of that, red dot scopes work perfectly on just about any weapon platform, which is why many people like to use them.
The TOP 10 Best Budget Red Dot Sights Reviews 2018
Aside from keeping you within budget, our extensive breakdown will also help you to find a dot sight that doesn't break the bank and still gets you shooting straight. We're going to cover some of the best red dot sight for the money and highlight both the differences and benefits of each model. Although these dot sights are cheap, they can easily fool people into thinking that you have spent several hundred dollars.
So let’s take a look at the top 10 cheap red dot sights on the market. Enjoy!
1. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
The TRS-25 from Bushnell is regarded as the gold standard for low-cost red dots, and this is for a good reason. It is a top choice for budget-conscious people and many customers love this device because of its affordable price and performances that are in line with top-end scopes. That makes it one of the best selling tactical sights under $100.
This scope is suited for sport shooting, hunting, and various tactical applications. It is a great choice for hunters or marksmen looking for a fast target acquisition. Beginners with little shooting experience also find it convenient due to the 1x25mm magnification ratio.
The dot can be fully adjusted via the side knob on the optic. That enables you to adjust the light intensity based on the setting you're shooting in or the time of day. For optimal clarity, the Bushnell TRS-25 employs multi-coated 25mm lenses with high contrast, amber bright optics that provide unlimited field of view. Some users pair it with an appropriate magnifier in order to increase the distance, and it can do the trick. With a sharp, crystal clear reticle, the Bushnell Trophy will do the job just fine.
Besides, this 3-MOA dot sight features a compact aluminum body with dry-nitrogen filled housing, advanced durability, 11 brightness settings for night and daytime use, as well as a proof, waterproof, and fogproof construction. Therefore, it can be used in all weather conditions and environments.
Weighing less than 0.5 pounds, the red dot optic can assist on just about any rifle. It is very popular on AR pistols and rifles. Maybe the battery is not the strongest point of this scope, but you can conserve the battery life by adjusting the illumination and size of the reticle to 3 different levels.
- HD clarity optics with tilted front lens
- Excellent construction
- 11 brightness settings
- Perfect for target practice and hunting
- Fogproof, waterproof, shockproof
- Great field of view and eye relief
- Very lightweight
- The brightness knob is very rigid
- Dust covers are not robust enough
- The view is slightly inhibited by a small adhesive dot
2. Vortex Optics Sparc AR Red Dot - 2 MOA Dot
If you're on the lookout for something affordable and simple, we recommend that you consider the Vortex Optics red dots. This brand appeared out of nowhere on the rifle scope market a few years ago, and it has gained huge popularity.
The SPARC AR is one of the most popular Vortex Optics models because it is affordable and simple yet very accurate and extremely reliable. Perhaps this is not a fancy and classy optic, but it just works. In a nutshell, it's a small red dot scope that features ten brightness settings and a 2 MOA reticle. The lowest two settings are night vision (NV) compatible.
The anti-reflective multiple coatings on the glass are designed to reduce glare and improve clarity. Furthermore, the scope is sealed with special O rings to keep dust, moisture, and fog away from the system. Thanks to the parallax free design, you can benefit from unlimited eye relief and quickly get on the targets. You can use it for home defense, competition, or hunting.
This exceptional little optic uses a CR2032 battery that can last about 5000 hours on the dimmest setting and up to 300 hours (12,5 days) on the brightest setting. After 12 hours, it shuts off automatically so that you will never end up with a dead battery.
- Incredibly tough construction
- High-value sight
- Minimalist design
- Auto shut-off
- Easy operation
- Great value for the money
- Battery life is low on the brightest setting
- It may get loose after a while
- Lens caps can be better
3. Rhino Tactical Green & Red Dot Sight
If you are looking for the best red dot for AR-15 under $100, look no further than the Rhino Tactical Dot Sight by Ozark Armament. Even though this product comes with a low price tag, it's checked carefully for the quality before being included in our list. So its convenience and quality are unquestionable.
This is an inexpensive yet sturdy device that can be used for either rifles or shotguns. The Rhino tactical dot sight is proven to work great with AR-15 style rifles. It is designed specifically to co-witness with any regular height AR-pattern sight while benefiting from a 4 MOA dot. That results in fast target acquisition and high precision in nearly any environment. So you may rely on this great dot sight even in the harshest shooting conditions.
Thanks to a 35mm wide objective, which is very soothing for the eyes, you will be able to easily see the red or green reticle (depending on your preference) without difficulty. In both green and red illumination setting, it works well in daylight. There are 5 different brightness levels to pick from so that you can find the best option in any situation.
Assembly is pretty simple thanks to the cantilever mount included, so it can be mounted securely and quickly. Plus, you'll get a CR2032 battery, too. The product is backed by a 1-year warranty.
- Co with standard sights
- Hold zero quite easy after adjustment
- It's parallax free
- Includes flip-up lens caps
- Full support by the manufacturer
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Foggy in low-light conditions
- The cover doesn't fit snugly
- There's a small glare showing on the inside
4. Vortex Optics SF-RG-501 StrikeFire II Red/Green Dot Scope
Here is an oldie but goodie, which is a safe choice when it comes to red dot sights. If you are on a budget but still want a solid 4 MOA reticle that fits well on your weapon, then go for the Vortex Optics StrikeFire II and you won't regret.
Unlike other low-priced models, this scope has a very good recoil resistance and impact so that it can stay in place or zero even after plenty of shots. The dot is quite simple to adjust, meaning you can easily co-witness it with your iron sight. There's no magnification and you'll not be able to remove the caps. Also, bear in mind that this device isn't waterproof, so make sure to use it only in dry conditions.
There are two dots to choose from -- red and green -- along with a night vision mode that comes in handy when you use the scope in dark settings or at night. Additionally, the dots implies varying intensity levels, which lets you adjust it for both extremely dark scenarios and very bright ones.
Check Best Night Vision Scopes
As regards the battery, it can last roughly 6000 hours. That means you can use it approximately six months on a single charge, depending on the intensity and frequency of use.
- Holds well and zeroes easily
- Fairly good recoil
- 10 brightness settings
- Cantilever mount
- Easy to adjust
- Decent battery life
- Not 100% waterproof
- No magnification
- Affixed lens caps
5. GERO Tactical Green and Red Dot Sight
Despite being one of the cheapest dot sights, GERO Tactical scope still lets you enjoy the accuracy and versatility. It can stay zeroed for quite a few rounds and take a lot of punishment when putting it into an extreme situation. According to the manufacturer, this item is capable of withstanding straight hits by a paintball traveling 300 ft/s without getting scratched. Such an excellent shockproof feature makes it a heavy-duty dot sight.
In addition, you will love the eye relief this tactical scope offers. For a clear spotting, you need to adjust the brightness settings and switching reticles as well. There are 4 different patterns to pick from. Since it comes with an inbuilt Picatinny mounting, even the beginners can assemble it with ease.
All these features make the GERO Tactical one of the best red dot sights under $50. The only drawback is durability. In fact, the sight is prone to stop working after several weeks of use, especially when used in harsh conditions.
- Solid build quality
- 4 different reticle patterns
- Built-in Picatinny mount
- Good eye relief
- Water resistant and shockproof
- Can't hold zero on AR-15
- Imperfect dot symmetry
- Not very durable
6. Burris 300234 Fastfire III
Designed as a versatile mini dot sight, Burris Fastfire III can stand up to extreme outdoor conditions for a long period of time. This 3 MOA red dot is compatible with a wide spectrum of weapons, including handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles. That makes it ideal for people having a broad range of firearms.
If you decide to use it as a secondary rifle scope, make use of an offset mount to get more support in an awkward position. You just need to secure it with the Picatinny mount, which is included in the package. Also, you should properly adjust brightness according to the certain lighting condition to get the most out of your shooting. There are 3 manual brightness settings as well as an automatic one. Elevation and wind adjustment options are also available with this red dot sight.
Battery access is located conveniently on the top, meaning you won't have to remove it at all when replacing the battery. There's also a low battery indicator which ensures that your sight is fully powered for the next adventure.
- Sturdy, well-built
- Keeps zero very well
- Fast target acquisition
- Excellent eye balance
- Parallax-free design
- Adjustment buttons are relatively small
- After a few shots, dot tends to get pixelated
- Battery cover isn't threaded correctly
7. C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight with Click Switch
Are you searching for a budget-friendly dot sight for competitive race guns? Do you need it for fast target acquisition? If so, check out this red dot sight from C-MORE Systems.
Fast target acquisition appears to be one of the main selling points for most dot sights. The majority of brands don't pay a lot of attention to the quality of their dots, though. That's not the case with C-MORE Railway dot. Aside from the quick target acquisition, this versatile product also features interchangeable dot module, adjustable intensity levels, Heads-Up-Display design, and light aluminum body.
The Railway sight fits on both Picatinny and Weaver rail mounts, allowing you to attach it to various weapons, such as handguns, shotguns, revolvers, rifles, paintball guns, crossbows, and more.
- Increased shooting accuracy
- Adaptable and versatile
- Exceptional shooting speed
- Sturdy aluminum body
- 12 brightness settings
- Available in different sizes from 2MOA to 16MOA
- Job-specific, mostly for competitive shooting
- The bottom mount can't be removed for direct mounting
- Doesn't use AA and AAA battery systems
8. TRUGLO Tru-Brite Red Dot Dual-Color Multi Reticle Black
If you're in need of a convenient, easy-to-use red dot sight for fast target acquisition, then this Truglo model is something you definitely must check out. One of the first questions that come to mind with regard to this dot sight is maybe what will it be used for? Basically, it is intended for all-round, general shooting. There are some limitations though.
The sight can't handle recoil calibers of heavy-duty guns like the AK-47. Even though this scope would stay latched on to your AK without coming loose or coming apart, it would be irrelevant since the zero can't be sustained at all. However, the Truglo Tru-Brite can work for the weapons such as AR 10.5" pistols when co-witnessing it with a peep sight or something like an A2.
Weighing a mere 5.4 ounces (0.33 pounds), this is surely one of the lightest scopes on the market. The featherweight, compact design does not negatively impact its rigidity and firmness. Although the coating sports some anti-reflection properties, it is not entirely anti-reflective.
The 3V CR2032 batteries aren't expensive and there's a wide variety of reticles to pick from, meaning that you'll be able to use this item for hunting aside from general-purpose shooting. To save battery power, it utilizes natural lighting for brightness control, which is a very smart use of the selective reflection.
- Good for all-round shooting
- Multiple reticles
- Shock- and water-resistant
- Parallax free from 30 yards
- Very light
- Very cheap
- Not the best choice for precision shooting
- Not suitable for rifle recoil like an AK
- Aluminum screws come loose
9. Sightmark SM14002 Ultra Shot Pro Spec Sight NV QD
Here's another high quality, cost-effective red dot sight to take a look at. It comes with the double-pane lens that helps you get rid of parallax. Besides, you'll benefit from 4 reticle patterns that enable you to achieve maximal customization under any circumstances. And that's not all!
A night vision mode allows you to co-witness this device with an iron or a peep sight by mounting it in front of an NV monocular. Those seeking a fast target acquisition will appreciate a quick-detach mounting system that comes with this sight as well as an internal locking system which ensures that the unit stays zeroed. That means you'll not have to readjust it frequently in the field.
You can rest assured that this red dot sight will work well in most situations and environments because of its metal shield and strong aluminum frame. The product measures 3" x 3" x 5" and weighs 8.8 ounces.
- Holds zero pretty well
- Quick-detach mount
- Night vision mode
- 4 different reticle patterns
- Solid aluminum frame
- Waterproof and shockproof
- Battery on/off setting is too sensitive
- Poor quality control
- A bit flimsy
10. BSA 30mm Red Dot Scope with 5 MOA
Despite being the cheapest option on our list, this 30mm dot scope has as many features as the more expensive models. That said, it features 5MOA dot with 11-position rheostat, full brightness control, and a long-lasting Li-ion battery. Maybe it is not the best choice for long-term use, but you'll get everything you could ever need.
This BSA red dot scope is very versatile and hence compatible with lots of firearms. You can attach it to just about any Picatinny rail on a pistol, rifle, crossbow, or shotgun. The objective lens is coated and sealed to withstand fog, water, dirt, and recoil. Brightness level as well as elevation and windage are adjustable alike. Simply switch between the brightness levels till you find focus.
All these features make it ideal for both tactical and hunting purposes. BSA Optics gives a one-year limited warranty with this product.
- Clear red dot
- Basic yet effective
- Large objective lens
- 11 position rheostat
- Great battery life
- One year warranty
- Mounting system is poor
- Parallax error at 20 feet
- On the heavy side
Best Budget Red Dot Sights Buying Guide
An inexpensive yet good dot sight is the one that has several key features, such as sturdy mounting capability, a low weight, plenty of eye relief, and of course, a crystal clear view. It also must allow for fast target acquisition and quick shooting. Below, you can see some of the most important considerations and factors to look for when buying a red dot sight.
Be sure that a mounting option for your red dot sight is reliable and solid. There are 2 most common rail mount types - Picatinny and Weaver. Most weapons come with either of these two rails so you should check the sight and your gun to see if they fit each other. If needed, you'll need to purchase a mount separately from the scope so as to suit both your weapon and sight.
Each red dot sight has a certain projection, either a holographic or reflex one. While the holographic sights create a red dot by means of a laser that projects the light on the viewing window, the reflex sights reflect the LED light in the line of shooting. The second type is
more common and it consumes less battery life.
Minutes of Angle (MOA)
The MOA implies a dot size, i.e. a measurement consisting of a range of one inch per hundred yards. The greater the MOA, the more accurate your dot sight will be. While the bigger MOA is beneficial when shooting from far distances, it has no great significance for shorter distances.
Not every red dot sight is suited for every setup. Nonetheless, many dots are versatile and allow you to use them with a number of firearms, including pistols, rifles, crossbows, and shotguns. That's an important factor to take into account when picking the sight for your weapon.
This is a big deal when buying the red dot sight. DOA reticle, wandering zero, or flickering is just a waste of money. You should pick a dot that can hold up well. It also must be shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof.
Firearms aren't lightweight either. This especially applies to heavy handguns. So if you have a heavier big gun, adding a weighty dot sight will make you feel tired or uncomfortable after shooting a few rounds. This is why you should go for the lightweight sights.
The battery lifespan varies from a few hundred to several thousand hours. Besides the lifespan, replacing the batteries could be a real issue in some models that require extra tools.
The optics empire seems to be massive with thousands of choices and a broad array of sighting systems. There's a wide variety of scopes, including those for close-range shooting, long-range shooting, and fixed power riflescopes. Yet, the red dot sights reign supreme in the realm of modern optics.
Finding the best budget red dot could be a big challenge, though. This is especially true if you are seeking a cheap dot sight for rapid target acquisition in low light. Now that you're familiar with the top 10 picks for best budget red dot sights and tips on what to look for, it is much easier to make the right choice.