As can be seen by the number of models currently on the market, red dot sights are highly popular with shooters.
They are effective for both novices and the more experienced. Beginners will find that “both eyes open” shooting in close-quarter situations helps them gain weapon confidence. As for experienced shooters, they benefit through fast target acquisition and increased accuracy.
However, the high price of some models makes them out of reach or unjustifiable for many. That’s why I decided to take an in-depth at nine of the best budget red dot sights currently available.
Because choice is so wide, there will also be a buyers guide. This should help you find a good quality red dot sight that fits your shooting style as well as your wallet!
Nine Low Cost, Highly Effective Red Dot Sights
Let’s start with an optics manufacturer that has a good name within the shooting community. Bushnell offers quality red dots that come in at keen prices.
1 Bushnell AR Optics 1x25mm TRS-25 HiRise – Best AR-15 Budget Red Dot Sight
Robust choice for ARs and Tactical shotguns…
Bushnell have designed their TRS (Tactical Red Dot Sight) specifically for the AR-Platform and tactical shotgun users. This is through the supplied riser block, which positions the robust red dot scope at optimum height on your weapon.
It comes in black with a matte finish and has been built to be 100% waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. This means shooters can be confident of use in a variety of environments and weather conditions. Such use is further enhanced through 11 available brightness settings that work to give good illumination in any light conditions.
Massive battery life…
Power is supplied by an included CR2032 battery, and battery life is conserved thanks to automatic, self-regulating brightness levels. These levels are based on the available light you will shoot in. When attaching the protective storage hood, it also powers down automatically. Shooters can expect up to 3,000 hours of battery life.
Coming in at 2.4-inches in length, it will add 6.3 ounces to your weapon. The 1x fixed magnification is complemented by a 25 mm objective lens, and 3 MOA LED red illuminated reticle.
As expected, eye relief is unlimited, while adjustment click steps are 0.5-inches at 100 yards. The multi-coated optics and amber-bright high contrast lens coating will certainly enhance your viewing experience.
- Solid build for use in harsh conditions.
- Designed for AR-15/Tactical shotguns.
- 3 MOA Illuminated reticle.
- 11 brightness settings.
- Up to 3,000 hours of battery life.
- Good image clarity.
- None for the price.
2 Mueller Optical 1x22x33mm Quick Shot Waterproof Red Dot Scope – 2 models – Best Automatic Budget Red Dot Sight
This Mueller quick shot red dot scope is available in either black or tan colors. It has to be seen as a bargain for what is offered.
Effective automatic light detection…
This solidly made red dot is ready to perform in harsh environments and varying weather conditions. The tubeless design of this reflex style scope uses a single lens which eliminates internal fogging. It is also waterproof and shockproof, with the ability to handle harsh recoil time and again.
It gives shooters a clear sight picture regardless of the light conditions they find themselves in. This is thanks to the two built-in sensors. They detect the light you are operating in and then automatically adjust reticle brightness to give the best match to your surroundings. With four different red dot reticle sizes to choose from, shooters will not be short of aiming point options.
This lightweight reflex red dot scope gives 1x magnification coupled with a 33 mm objective lens. It is parallax-free and offers unlimited eye relief. Shooters will benefit from clarity of image and a wide FOV (Field Of View) with linear FOV at 100 meters, being 15.7 meters.
MOA (Minute Of Angle) windage and elevation adjustments come via an included locking Allen head screw. 1 click adjustment = 1 MOA, which equates to 1-inch at 100 yards (1/2-inch at 50 yards).
It is 3.25-inches in length and will add just 4 ounces to your weapon. Low power consumption from the included CR2032 battery means longer shooting hours between changes. It comes with 1 to 10 manual brightness level adjustment functionality or the mentioned “A” for automatic brightness control. Shooters also get a rubber lens cover and an integrated rail for ease of mounting to their gun.
Any bow owner should note that there is no bow mount included.
- Rugged reflex red dot design.
- Up to use in harsh conditions.
- Lightweight – Just 4 ounces.
- Adjustable multi-reticle – 4 red dot sizes.
- Automatic or manual brightness controls.
- Rubber lens cover and integrated mounting rail.
- Comments about its ability to withstand harsh recoil.
- Bow hunters need to purchase a bow mount.
3 Sig Sauer Romeo – MSR Red Dot Sight – Best Quality Budget Red Dot Sight
Sig Sauer has a sterling name in the firearms world. It may surprise many that this quality red dot sight comes in at such a budget price. Read on to find out more….
Rapid target engagement day or night…
Built using aircraft-grade aluminum, this durable red dot has a stylish nitron finish. It is designed for MSR (Modern Sporting Rifles) carbine, shotgun, and air rifle use. Coming in at: (LxWxH) 3.1 x 1.5 x 2.6-inches, it will only add 4.9 ounces to your weapon.
Use in all weather conditions day or night is yours. This comes from the fact that the optic is shockproof and fog proof. As for use in wet weather, no problem, it is IPX-7 waterproof rated. This means it can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 mins and still function.
Thanks to the 1x magnification and quality 20 mm objective lens and window size, the Romeo offers ultra-fast target engagement day or night. The precise 2 MOA illuminated dot reticle is complemented by 12 brightness level settings (10 daylight and two night vision).
This ensures crisp, clear imaging in all light conditions. The quality glass lens also has a special coating. It functions by delivering greater light transmission and dot contrast to further enhance your target images in any conditions. This makes it one of the brightest budget red dot sights currently on the market.
Powered by an included CR1632 battery, you will get up to 20,000 hours of use. This red dot is parallax-free and gives unlimited eye relief. It offers 1 MOA click-value steps with wind and elevation travel at 100 yards coming in at 100 MOA.
What’s in the box?
Upon purchase, you will get flip-up lens covers. As for weapon base/mounting, this is a 1.41-inch T10 Torx Mil-Std1913 Picatinny skeletonized lightweight riser mount to give absolute co-witness.
- Sig Sauer renowned quality.
- Built to perform in all conditions.
- Fast target acquisition.
- Clarity of view.
- Twelve brightness settings (10 day/2 Night Vision).
- Up to 20,000 hours of battery life.
- Quality skeletonized riser mount.
- Absolute co-witness.
- None at this price.
4 Atibal Striker 1x23mm Red Dot Sight – Best Both Eyes Open Budget Red Dot Sight
Next in my Best Budget Red Dot Sights review, this Striker red dot sight from Atibal has been very well received by CQB (Close Quarter Battle) shooters.
Heightened situational awareness….
This Striker design lends itself perfectly to “both eyes open” shooting and greater situational awareness while acquiring targets. Rugged and reliable, it is shockproof, fog proof, and waterproof up to a depth of three meters. Coming in at 2.4-inches in length, it weighs only 3.9 ounces.
The 2 MOA (Minute Of Angle) red dot illuminated reticle combines with a fully multi-coated lens. This reduces glare and affords shooters precision accuracy. Add to this an efficient LED emitter that offers excellent battery life of up to 50,000 hours. It runs off an included CR2032 battery and has 11 manual brightness settings to ensure use in any light conditions.
This parallax-free 1x magnification optic comes with a 23 mm objective lens and clear flip-up lens cover. Unlimited eye relief is given while MOA adjustments come in 1/2 MOA click steps. The removable low-profile, co-witness mount is also compatible with Aimpoint’s T-1 mounting pattern.
When it comes to purchasing peace of mind, this is yours. The sturdy and reliable Atibal Striker comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Sturdy, robust use is a given.
- 11 brightness settings.
- Up to 50,000 hours of battery life.
- More than an acceptable image view.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Removable low-profile co-witness mount.
5 TRYBE Optics 1x 3 MOA Micro Red Dot Sight w/QD Riser – Best Waterproof Budget Red Dot Sight
Try this TRYBE micro red dot sight, and you will not be disappointed!
Quick attach/detach is yours…
The TRYBE micro red dot sight offers a sharp 3 MOA (Minute Of Angle) illuminated reticle. Adjustment comes in 0.5 MOA click steps. While the dot is visible in bright sunlight, it also offers 11 adjustable brightness settings.
This means shooters can adjust the reticle to any ambient light conditions they find themselves in. Powered by an included CR2032 battery, you can expect 1,000 hours of life when using medium brightness settings.
Use in harsh conditions should not be an issue as this well-priced optic is IP67 waterproof rated. That means it will still function even after being submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Targets will be acquired quickly, and good image views are yours.
Also included in the price are bikini covers for lens protection and a QD (Quick Detach) riser mount. This means ease of attaching and detaching while out in the field.
When purchasing via the above link, you will also receive a free TRYBE Defense Multifunctional Headwear gift. But only while stocks last!
- 3 MOA dot offers ease of targeting.
- Good image clarity.
- IP67 waterproof.
- QD mount included.
- Bikini lens covers.
- No ‘off’ between power settings.
- Some comments that the QD mount is flimsy.
6 TRUGLO TruBrite Multi-Reticle Dual-Color Open Dot Sight – Most Durable Budget Red Dot Sight
TruGlo certainly offers choice with this Tru-Brite open red dot sight.
Dual color, Multi-reticle choice….
Shooters get green and red reticle options to ensure the correct contrast is received when viewing any target or background. But, there is more; it also gives four reticle choices. This means that in short-range shooting situations, increased target acquisition speed is yours.
Offering 1x magnification and a 34 mm objective lens, the viewing window comes in at 24 x 34 mm. Powered by an included 3V-CR2032 battery, there is an adjustable rheostat for controlling brightness. It also comes with an anti-reflection lens coating for enhanced image viewing.
Great in any weather conditions…
This open dot sight is parallax-free from 30 yards and attaches to your weapon through an integrated weaver-style mounting system. Weighing only 5.5 ounces, it is both water and shock resistant and comes with TruGlo’s limited lifetime warranty. In fact, it’s one of the most rugged low cost red dot sights you can buy.
- Choice of models.
- Reticle color and style options.
- Acceptable image views.
- Water/Shock resistant.
- Low price.
- No Night Vision setting.
7 Leapers Golden Image 38mm Red/Green Dot Sight – Best Beginners Budget Red Dot Sight
Yet another that falls into the best budget red dot sights comes from Leapers UTG. This model has been really well-received by shooters looking to test what red dot optics have to offer.
Quick aim – Red or Green illumination
With 1x fixed magnification comes a 30 mm objective lens. It also has a 38 mm illuminated tube with emerald lens coatings to give acceptable brightness and target view clarity.
Illumination levels are adjusted through an easy-access knob situated on the Ocular tube. This allows shooters to choose between the red, green, or black reticle and different brightness levels to cope with weather and lighting conditions.
Power comes from an included CR2032 lithium battery. The clear, sharp, 4 MOA (Minute Of Angle) dot reticle gives 1/2-inch click values at 100 yards.
Bit bigger than most…
Dimensions and weight of 3.78-inches and 9.4 ounces respectively mean it is not the most compact of sights. However, it should be seen as more than manageable with appropriate weapons. Parallax setting and eye relief are infinite, exit pupil is 0.86-inches, and field of view at 100 yards is 95 ft.
This best cheap red dot sight also comes with flip-open lens caps and an integral Picatinny mounting deck. For the price offered, this is a great red dot for beginners or those on a very tight budget.
- One of the most popular UTG dot scopes.
- 4 MOA reticle.
- Illuminated Red, Green, or Black reticle choice.
- Acceptable target image views.
- More than acceptably low cost.
- On the large/heavy side for some.
- Fuzzy reticle on max. brightness.
8 Firefield Agility – 1x30mm Red Dot Sight – Most Versatile Budget Red Dot Sight
The cost of this Firefield Agility scope really should be classed as pocket money. It is a very low-cost optic that is worth a second look for those on a really tight budget.
Flexible weapon use is yours…
The Firefield Agility can be used on AR-15s, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and even some larger handguns. It is made from aluminum and finished in black. This is an acceptably robust optic that has been tested to withstand maximum recoil up to 1000 G’s. Tested to perform in temperatures between 0 and 120 deg Fahrenheit, it is shockproof, fog proof, and IPX6 waterproof rated. This means it can be used during rain or snow shooting sessions.
It comes in at (LxWxH): 4.92 x 2.63 x 2.59-inches and weighs in at 8.4 ounces. The 1x magnification couples with a 30 mm objective lens and shooters have red or green illumination options. As for reticle choice, you are not short of options. Go for the 5 MOA Dot, Circle Dot, Crosshair and Circle Dot or Crosshair.
Powered by an included 3V CR2032 lithium battery, you can expect between 150 to 220 hours of use. It offers unlimited eye relief and is parallax-corrected with a 20 yard parallax setting. Field of view at 100 yards comes in at 40 ft with windage and elevation adjustment 120 MOA.
Quick target acquisition (QTA) and aiming accuracy are features shooters will receive when using this very agile dot scope.
- Agile, it certainly is!
- Durable, robust build.
- Use in varying weather conditions.
- Red or Green illumination.
- Four reticle choices.
- QTA and aiming accuracy.
- Excellent price for what is offered.
- Low battery life (150-200 hours)
9 NcStar Tactical Red/Green/Blue Dot Sight w/Cantilever Weaver Mount – Best Budget Blue Dot Sight
Ncstar provides a host of low-priced dot sights. This tactical model offers a lot for the price it comes in at.
3 illuminated dots!
Some of the best budget red dots offer dual green and red dot illumination. NcStar takes it one step further and adds a blue dot. These three LED colors are 100% safe for the eyes.
Depending upon your environment and light conditions, you can also choose between three brightness settings for each color. Find the one that best suits the lighting conditions you are shooting in, and the 3 MOA dot reticle is with you.
It is an acceptably robust scope made from anodized aluminum and finished in black. Also included in the low purchase price is a 30 mm cantilever Weaver style mount. This allows mounting onto the majority of weaver or Picatinny style rails.
Superb specs for the price…
Coupled with the 1x magnification, you get a 35 mm objective lens with platinum optical coating to enhance target view. Measurement-wise it is (LxWxH) 5 x 2.7 x 3.1-inches and will add 8.9 ounces to your weapon. Powered by an included CR2032 battery, eye relief is unlimited, and adjustment click values come in at 1 MOA.
- Robust build.
- Three reticle colors.
- 30 mm cantilever weaver style mount.
- Very low price for what is offered.
- Only three brightness levels for each color.
- Problems holding zero.
- Mount not that sturdy.
Best Budget Red Dot Sights Buying guide – What To Look for?
The popularity of dot sights means you have more choices to consider than you can shake a stick at. While a wide choice of models has to be seen as positive, this can also mean a final choice is very time consuming.
To save you time and comparison headaches, here are the five most important things to consider to find a model that will suit your shooting style and budget.
It is a fact of life that ‘budget’ can mean a dot scope is flimsily made. Don’t try and save a few bucks by opting for one that does not come with a sturdy build. Aircraft Grade aluminum is a great option in terms of durability. Those shooters who are out in all-weather conditions and varying environments also need to consider waterproof and fog proof abilities.
Also, gauge the shockproof abilities of any dot scope you are considering. This comes in two ways. First, it needs to withstand the knocks and bumps of everyday shooting. Second, it needs to be up to withstanding weapon recoil. The other thing to note here is the mounting options. Make sure the dot optic you choose has a suitable mount for your weapon.
Type of reticle
While a dot sight will often have a dot reticle, there are several other forms of reticle you can go for. This includes crosshairs, hollow circles, triangles, and other variants. It really depends on your shooting style and how comfortable you are using a standard dot as your aiming point.
Many find either dots or open circles the easiest to use as they naturally center on your target. However, circles or triangles can often correspond to target sizes and can also help you understand target distance.
If you are used to using a crosshair reticle, then this works in helping you to ‘quarter’ a target. From this, you can easily center your aiming point. As for reticles with hash marks, these will help with aiming points that are beyond the distance you have zeroed your weapon in at.
Those who have reticle experience will know what works for them. For beginners, it will pay to look at different reticle styles to see which is easiest on the eye. As long as your eyesight is reasonable, then an actual dot reticle will serve its purpose.
Does it have to be “‘Red” illuminated?
The answer to this is a definite “No.” While dot sights are generally termed red dot sights, this is simply because red illumination is the most common. However, you can also get green illumination and, in rarer cases, blue or even gold.
Red illumination is generally easier to see when shooting in low-light conditions, while green is easier to see in daylight. One caveat here is for shooters with astigmatism. In this case, you may find that green illumination makes targets easier to see.
However, there are dot sights that give the option of both red and green illumination. Those who regularly shoot in varying conditions and at different times of the day (and night) can consider dual illumination models.
If you intend to use night vision devices with your dot sight, then red is the preferred color. But, in this case, make sure the red dot optic chosen has at least two night vision brightness settings. This is because red dots on too bright a daylight red illumination setting used with night vision devices can ruin them.
While you will pay extra for a dot scope that features adjustable brightness settings, it is well worth it. The ability to adjust brightness depending on the light conditions you are shooting in gives you an instant advantage.
It means at close quarters, you will clearly see your reticle, and it becomes easier to rapidly acquire your target. It is also beneficial for longer distance targeting because by reducing the brightness level, you will receive a finer aiming point.
As a rule of thumb, when shooting in bright daylight, turn up your reticle brightness level to clearly see the dot. If shooting in low-light conditions (dawn, dusk, or deep brush), turn the brightness level down.
It is possible to use a red dot without brightness level control. Having said that, many of the best affordable red dot sights out there now offer this functionality. That being the case and if it is within your given price range, take it.
All dot sights are powered by batteries that range in style and battery life. The length of battery life is also dictated by the power settings used. When manufacturers mention “battery life,” this is generally rated on medium power settings.
There is nothing more frustrating (bar missing that shot of a lifetime, of course!) than getting out there to find your red dot battery is dead. Therefore, carry spares at all times and look for those budget dot scopes that offer long battery life. It will save regular teeth gnashing!
Looking for More Great Red Dot Options?
No problem, check out our in-depth reviews of the Burris AR 332 3-32mm Prism Red Dot Sight and the Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight. You might also be interested in our comprehensive Red Dot vs. Reflex Sights comparison.
And if you’re also looking for a regular scope, take a look at our reviews of Best Mil Dot Scopes, the Best Mini 14 Ranch Rifles, the Best Scopes for AR15 under 100 Dollars, the Best 308 Rifles Scopes, the Best Rimfire Scopes, the Best Deer Hunting Scopes, the Best 300 Win Mag Scopes, the Best Scout Scopes, as well as the Best Air Rifle Scopes you can buy in 2023.
So, Which of These Best Budget Red Dot Sights Should You Buy?
Some of the more expensive red dot manufacturers would like shooters to believe that high cost models are the only way to go. But, as can be seen from the 9 best low cost red dot sights reviewed, this is not the case.
While all of those mentioned are worthy of purchase, it is time to make my overall recommendation. And that just has to be the…
The renowned Sig quality shines through from a red dot optic built for MSRs (Modern Sporting Rifles), carbines, shotguns, and air rifles. This compact scope is honed from aircraft-grade aluminum and comes with a stylish nitron finish. It is as robust as they come yet will add only 4.9 ounces to your weapon.
Use in all weather conditions with ultra-fast target engagement day or night is a given. This is through the quality 2 MOA dot illuminated reticle that comes with 12 brightness settings; 10 for daylight use, two for night vision.
The Sig Sauer Romeo is a feature-filled red dot that offers real quality at a budget price.
Happy and safe shooting.