Red dot sights are quite common and popular regardless of intended use. They are versatile and come at a variety of price points so no matter what your budget might be you can own one.
The name “red dot sight” might seem like a straight-up description of what the product is, but a red dot sight is actually a type of sight. They generally do not include magnification. Instead, a holographic or LED reticle is superimposed on the target through the sight. This reticle is typically a dot and typically red, hence the categorical name, but frequently these sights can also include a green option as well as a few other shapes. Most commonly, the shapes are cross hairs and a circle with a central dot.
While different shapes and types of reticles may be desirable depending on the situation and personal preference, there are certain situations where a particular reticle type is most advantageous. In the case of pistol shooting it is almost always best to stick with a simple mini red dot. This visual is clean and not distracting. When hunting you may want to be able to use different parts of a more complex reticle to assist with range and situational considerations, but target shooting with pistols is much simpler.
A typical pistol is not very accurate past 25 yards or so. While physically most sights can be put on any firearm, that does not mean it is recommended to use a rifle sight for a pistol. One of the things that sets these sights apart is the size of the dot reticle. The dot size is measured in MOA, or minutes of angle. 1 MOA is the size of a dot that would cover one inch at 100 yards. Longer range sights usually have reticles of 3 or 4 MOA, but you would not want something that large when you are shooting at 25 yards or closer.
A 4 MOA dot would cover 4 inches at 100 yards, which converts to 1 inch at 25 yards. A 2 MOA dot covers half that amount, which would be half an inch at 25 yards. While that difference might not initially seem to be significant, when you are shooting at a target with a center bulls eye of only an inch or two in diameter it can quickly affect your accuracy.
It is therefore recommended that pistol sights are limited to smaller dots and lightweight sights that will not significantly impact the handling of the weapon. These are the five best choices currently available.
The RD-50 is noticeably smaller and lighter than comparable mini red dot sights. Since size tends to be a concern when mounting a sight to a pistol, that is a desirable adjustment. The LED is quite small on this sight,and it is installed in a manner where AT3 ensured the glue does not show. There should, therefore, be no distraction or distortion when looking through the optic. The adjustment dials use tactile clicks to let you know how much you are moving,and better controls the adjustment. The 2 MOA dot and compact, lightweight design make this a perfect red dot sight for pistols of all types.
This micro red dot sight by Primary Arms is considered to be very comparable to the AT3 RD-50. They are both 2 MOA as well as compact, which is ideal for a pistol sight. The MD-RBGII also includes a brightness knob that goes through 11 brightness settings, starting down at the night vision level and going as bright as daylight. The battery life is rated at 1,000 hours at the medium setting. It includes a removable 1913 Picatinny base so it should be compatible with any industry standard micro mount system. A nice inclusion is Primary Arms’ 1-year warranty. They will repair or replace any product that has developed defects due to normal wear and tear or factory defects.
When you get a Sig, you know you are getting quality. This mini reflex sight fits great on any Sig but is also designed to work with just about any other handgun. It is available with a universal mount with rear sight dovetail adapters and is also available with key mod rail interface or the M1913 Picatinny interface. The molded glass aspheric lens has a high-performance coating which manages light transmittance and prevents distortion. It is machined from a single billet of magnesium,so you do not need to worry about any connection failures. It, therefore, holds zero in a superior fashion.
This little guy is quite versatile and can provide your pistol with a quick sight upgrade. The wind age and elevation adjustments can be locked down to keep it at zero once it has been set. The large field of view is also great for reducing eye strain. There are five brightness settings,and unlike most of its peers, it offers a single green dot instead of red or both. This is a great budget option for a first mini sight.
EO Tech is one of the most respected names in firearm sights. This mini red dot sight meets MIL-SPEC standards and includes both manual and auto dot intensity. The top-loading battery compartment means you do not need to remove the sight in order to replace it, so you will not have to re-zero the sight. It can be purchased either by itself or in a kit with a 1913 mount and a protective shroud. This particular sight is even part of the SOPMOD kit for the US military, which goes to show how trustworthy it is.