Red dot sights are popular among gun owners for many reasons. They are easy to use but can also offer a wide range of additional functions. Compact designs can even be paired with other equipment to further upgrade a firearm.
The cost of a sight may seem a bit daunting at first. Experienced target shooters and hunters will have no problem recommending a model that is several hundred dollars. Durability and reliability tend to be the most important factors when choosing a sight, and it makes sense that the sights which score highest in those categories are usually the most expensive.
Do not despair though. It is quite possible to get a good quality red dot sight without paying three figures. Since the base functionality in a red dot sight is actually fairly simple, there are plenty of options for the budget-minded. In general, you will simply be looking at products that have fewer bells and whistles.
What is important to remember is that quality does still vary at this price point. You are more likely to run across mediocre or bad products when trying to save a few dollars, so trustworthy recommendations are key.
The TRS-25 by Bushnell is one of our favorite budget-friendly sights. It is versatile enough to be useful at the range but also well built and functional enough to be essential to a successful hunting trip. The front lens is tinted amber and also tilted to help reduce the amount of sunlight and glare that gets through, making the dot easier to see with less illumination. The dot reticle itself is 3 MOA, which is slightly larger than the industry average of 2 MOA. This is a benefit both for beginner sight users and those who need to be able to quickly lock on to a target.
Every sight by Ozark Armament is backed by their hassle-free lifetime guarantee. This is a major benefit for a budget model since the biggest fear by buying “cheap” is that the product will break more easily than a more expensive item. Therefore, if you are nervous about spending less for your sight, this is a great option to put your mind at ease. Ozark Armament is a US company,so they are not difficult to get in touch with or work with in case of a damaged product.
As for the sight itself, you can switch between a red and green dot reticule and change the brightness among five different settings. This sight is designed specifically to co-witness with any Ozark Armament iron sight or standard iron sights. It is rated for up to 50 BMG recoil,so it has no trouble holding zero once you get it set.
This open style red dot sight by DD Dagger Defense is compact but also includes several nice features. The elevation and wind age adjustments take up little space,and there is even a set screw that can be tightened if the sight does not seem to be holding zero. A common complaint among cheap sights is that they do not hold zero well, so it is nice to see that DD Dagger Defense has built in a way to ensure against that problem for this budget model.
The reticle can be switched between four different designs and can be red or green. There is also an illumination adjustment setting, so even though this sight is best used indoors, it can also be taken outside. This is another US-based company that has a reputation for excellent customer service. If the sight is not working as expected, they are more than happy to help you troubleshoot or even send a replacement if necessary. You will not get similar customer service from a big-name brand.
The tubeless design of this sight gives the shooter a wide field of view, which is crucial for being in rapid fire or moving target situation. It is, therefore, no surprise that many who have purchased this sight have it mounted on their shotguns. Unlike most lower cost sights, this one includes a laser as well as the red dot reticle with four different types to choose from. It is very simple to mount and adjust and fits on any gun with a 20mm Weaver or Pica tinny rail for mounting. It may add a bit of weight and size to your gun, but that will only really be noticeable if you are putting it on a pistol.
If you want a nice, basic sight that you can count on, then UTG makes a great one. This no-frills red dot sight has a basic single dot reticle that can switch between red and green. The tube is only 38mm and uses a best in class emerald lens coating to ensure maximum brightness and clarity. The coin adjustable knobs move at ½ MOA per click increments, so it is very easy to use. Given the size and compact construction, this is a lightweight mount that will not add great bulk to your rifle or pistol. It also holds zero very well, even on automatic rifles. Although it comes with flip open caps to protect the lenses on either side, these can be removed if they get in the way.