Zero-magnification red dot sights on AR-15-style rifles are easy to use, reliable and can still reach out and touch targets at distance with the right zero. They often can be paired with magnifiers to give them a 2x, 3x or 4x magnification, and they come in several different styles and reticle types.Not everyone can afford the best red dot sights out there, so for this list we've put together six quality offerings for everyone from budget shooters to big spenders.Note: for this article, we'll be focusing on holographic, rather than etched reticles.
1. Under $100: Primary Arms Micro Dot
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Source: Primary Arms[/caption]The Primary Arms micro dot gets 5 out of 5 stars on the company's website, with a total of 150 reviews, and with the Firearms Blog calling it a "fantastic value-for-money for a budget AR or AK optic," it earns the spot as the best budget red dot on the list.Featuring 11 brightness settings, .5 MOA adjustments per click, and a claimed battery life of over 1000 hours, the Micro Dot is a good choice. It falls below others on the list because of sourcing materials from China, glass and durability issues, but if you want to shoot well on a budget, this is the optic for you.
2. Under $200: Vortex SPARC 2
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Source: Vortex Optics[/caption]The Vortex SPARC 2 is a bit more expensive than the Primary Arms Micro Dot, and for that you get element-proof aluminum, near-military grade quality control, and high-quality glass. The battery life of the SPARC is around 5 thousand hours on lower brightness settings. The dot is 2 MOA, like the Aimpoint on the list, and is fairly crisp, although it could be better.The exterior coating does not reflect light, and it has 10 brightness settings, as well as the versatility of having four different mounting options included in the package. It's a high-quality optic that bridges the gap between more expensive military-grade optics and less-expensive, less durable options. Plus, it's backed by Vortex's awesome warranty, which allows you to get it repaired for free whenever it's broken. Just ship it back and they will take care of the rest.
3. Under $300: C-More Railway Red Dot
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Source: C-More Optics[/caption]This is an offering from a relatively unknown company but which has garnered plenty of good press recently. It is a holographic, non-tube sight that with a changeable reticle that goes from 2 to 16 MOA. At only 6.5 ounces it is one of the lightest red dots out there, and the open-top design makes it incredibly easy to see your target.The integrated mounting system makes it very easy to slap this on anything with a Picatinney rail and get to shooting. With infinite adjustments for windage and elevation, zeroing is easy. This is an innovative optic at a decent price.
4. Under $400: EOTech 512
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Source: EOTech[/caption]Despite Eotech's bad press earlier this year, the brand is universally known throughout the military for their high-quality weapon sights including the venerable Eotech XPS and the Eotech 512. These optics have been in use by the military for many years and have served in a variety of environments, including Iraq and Afghanistan.The brand's flagship model comes in just under $400 and features a super-precise 1 MOA dot with EOTech's signature circled-in reticle, as well as easy adjustments for windage and elevation and superb durability. This particular model also runs off of AA batteries, which means you don't have to search high and low for the right ones when it runs out of juice. It doesn't have the battery life of the MRO or the Aimpoint, but it still sits at a respectable 1000 hours.
5. Under $500: Trijicon MRO
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Source: Truth About Guns[/caption]The Trijicon MRO took the firearms world by storm last year when it debuted. Offering a competitive alternative to the Aimpoint and EOTech series of high-end optics, Trijicon's MRO brings high-quality glass, a 2 MOA dot and a flared tube, along with a long history of durability and reliability. The optic is fully compatible with night vision devices, and its mounting system is easy to use and matches up perfectly with the AN-PVS 14 NVG system.The only downside might be that the clicks when adjusting for windage and elevation are slightly difficult to feel/hear, but after zeroing, you won't be messing with them too much anyway. This is a high-quality optic that can regularly be found in the mid-400 dollar range.
6. Best of the Best: Aimpoint Micro T-2
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Source: Aimpoint[/caption]The Aimpoint Micro T-2 is the gold standard in red dot optics. It is highly durable and has an exceptionally clear lens with the newest in reflective lens technology which makes it easy to acquire targets and shoot at any angle. It is compatible with all generations of night vision devices. It can operate on just one battery for 5 years (5 years!) with just one battery down to depths of 80 feet. However, if you ever find yourself needing to keep your Aimpoint on for five years underwater, you probably have bigger problems.It is extremely durable and very compact (hence the "micro"), and it defeats parallax issues because it does not require perfect alignment of your head to the scope, as some of the less expensive optics do. If you're a true red dot connoisseur, this is the optic for you.