At a Glance: Best red dot for ar15 under 200
- OUR TOP PICK: Vortex Optics – Crossfire Red Dot Sight
- Vortex Optics – SPARC AR Red Dot Sight
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: Bushnell – Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 3 MOA Red Dot-CR2032 Battery
Comparison of The Best Red Dots for AR-15 Under 200
Our Top Pick
|Vortex Optics – Crossfire Red Dot Sight||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Vortex Optics – SPARC AR Red Dot Sight||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Bushnell – Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 3 MOA Red Dot-CR2032 Battery||View Latest Price|
Someone once said to me: “Learning to shoot with iron sights has two major benefits. First, you always have them as a backup. Second, having experience aiming with irons makes you appreciate how awesome your red dot sight is.”
Putting a red dot sight on your AR-15 will boost your accuracy and speed when shooting – and who doesn’t want that when they’re out in the field?
Best AR-15 Red Dot Sight for Under $200
One of the best things about red dot sights is that they’re cheaper than many other sighting systems. You can pick up a fantastic sight without shooting a hole in your bank balance.
We’ve played around with some of the best budget red dot sights on the market and put together reviews for each of them to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Vortex Optics – Crossfire Red Dot Sight
The Crossfire is Vortex’s most affordable red dot sight. It gives you a no-nonsense sighting system to install on your AR-15 or any other weapon you might want to attach it to. Coming in comfortably under $200, this is an ideal red dot sight for the shooter on a budget.
The Crossfire has a lightweight construction that sits securely on your rail. You can be sure that it won’t come loose if you apply a little threadlocker onto the screws before installing it.
You’ll be able to quickly acquire and switch between targets while still maintaining a wide peripheral field of view. The Crossfire can be mounted in a lower third or low mount position to allow more flexibility with your iron sights.
The sight has a 2 MOA red dot that is small enough to easily aim at targets out past 100 yards. Too much magnification will render the sight impractical at too long a range, but you can still hit targets out at a distance without much bother.
It’s waterproof, shockproof, and can take plenty of abuse out in the field. The Crossfire is ideal for any shooter looking to buy a sturdy, accurate, and reliable red dot sight without breaking the bank.
- Reliable and accurate
- Fast target acquisition
- Waterproof and shockproof
- 2 MOA red dot is still somewhat effective at long-range
- 50,000 hours of battery life
- Night vision settings
- Great value for money
- No frills
Vortex Optics – SPARC AR Red Dot Sight
The SPARC AR is another stunning red dot sight from industry-leader Vortex. The sight’s bomb-proof construction makes it ideal for the budget warrior who is willing to push their red dot to the limit.
The rear-facing controls on the SPARC AR red dot sight allow for quick and easy adjustments while aiming, giving you more confidence and speed in the field. Meanwhile, the 2 MOA red dot allows for quick aiming at close range and effective precision when shooting targets further out.
The lens is fully multi-coated, so you could throw it off your roof and it’d still be fine. Shooters who like to get out into tough terrain will need a sight that can withstand shock and abuse. Vortex is known for going the extra mile to manufacture rugged sighting systems.
You won’t have to worry about the SPARC AR running out of power in the field thanks to the 50,000 hours of battery life.
Eleven brightness settings, including two night-vision settings, ensure that you’re always prepared in any lighting condition.
The SPARC AR Red Dot Sight from Vortex sits at the top of the budget-range of AR-15 sighting systems.
- Quick and accurate target acquisition
- 2 MOA red dot is ideal for close-range
- 11 brightness settings, including two night vision settings
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fully coated
- Still a budget option
- Approaching mid-range price
- No Auto on
Bushnell – Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 3 MOA Red Dot-CR2032 Battery
The Bushnell Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 has a 3 MOA red dot that allows for fast target acquisition without sacrificing accuracy. It’s perfect if you’re trying to hit multiple targets in quick succession.
The 3 MOA dot and lack of magnification mean this sight is less practical for long-range target shooting, but it’s excellent for close-quarters engagements. Eleven brightness settings allow you to adjust your reticle to match the amount of light you’re shooting in, although you won’t find any night vision settings here, unfortunately.
Being able to shoot with both eyes open makes up for the lack of night vision settings a little, and adding a flashlight to your AR-15 would certainly counteract this issue further.
The battery life sits at a respectable 3,000 hours, which is enough to keep you going in the field, although you might want to consider carrying spares in your pack, just in case.
Bushnell is known for high-quality fog-proof optics and this budget red dot sight doesn’t miss out on this.
If you’re looking for a no-funny-business, no-thrills red dot sight to aim quicker and more accurately, the Bushnell Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 is a welcome solution.
- Very affordable
- Fog-proof and waterproof
- Simple, effective, and accurate
- 11 brightness settings
- 3 MOA reticle is on the larger side
- Battery life is comparatively small
- No night-vision settings
Holosun – HE403R Gold Dot Sight
Different shooters have different preferences when it comes to the color of their reticle. Holosun has jumped ahead of the curve to produce a gold dot reticle that can easily be picked up in any lighting.
The HE403R allows you to quickly pick up targets, even when switching between differently lit environments. Holosun uses pioneering LED technology to produce a bright gold dot with an insane battery life of more than 100,000 hours.
The casing of the sight is made from T6061 T6 aluminum so you can run it over with a truck and it’ll still function. For the rugged shooter craving advanced terrain and a battle with the elements, the HE403R is a well-suited companion.
Brightness control settings are located on the side of the sight, making it easy to adjust while aiming. The sight is also night-vision compatible, further enhancing the flexibility of your rifle when it’s mounted.
If you’ve struggled in the past to pick up a red dot reticle when aiming, then I recommend you try out the Holosun Gold Dot Sight for a quicker and more accurate shooting experience.
- Unique gold dot reticle makes target acquisition easy and quick
- Super-durable construction
- Various side-controlled brightness settings
- Night-vision compatible
- Incredible battery life
- Lower third or low-rise mount available
- Good warranty
- Great value for money
- Gold dot comes down to preference
Sightmark – Wolverine CSR Red Dot Sight
The Sightmark Wolverine CSR Red Dot Sight is designed specifically for short-barrel rifles (SBRs). The 4 MOA red dot is obviously meant for close-range targets and won’t fare well when shooting at long-range.
The Wolverine is incredibly effective at picking out targets with speed and accuracy. It’s difficult to miss the larger reticle, which makes it ideal for fast shooting in competitions.
The sight is made of 6061-T6 aluminum, as well as rubber armor, to ensure it can withstand the most savage abuse from the elements. You won’t have your field of view obscured thanks to the optic glass being anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and fog-proof.
You can take your AR-15 anywhere with the Wolverine mounted. The sight was built to adapt to its environment and it’s been tested in temperatures ranging from -22 to 122 F.
The sight co-witnesses well with a night-vision scope, and there is a variety of brightness settings and night-vision modes that can be adjusted without blocking your field-of-view while aiming.
All of this can be obtained for a very reasonable price. If you’re looking to upgrade your SBR with all the benefits of a premium red dot sight on a budget, the Wolverine will definitely exceed your expectations.
- Super-durable construction
- Various brightness settings, including night vision modes
- Strong optic glass
- 50,000 hours of battery life
- Designed specifically for SBRs
- Incredible close-range target acquisition
- Only suited to SBRs
- 4 MOA reticle isn’t effective at long-range
Crimson Trace Corporation – CTS-1300 Compact Reflex Sight for Rifles and Shotguns
The CTS-1300 Compact Reflex sight from Crimson Trace Corporation can be adjusted in 1 MOA increments to give you a more custom aiming experience. The default setting is a 3.25 MOA red dot that is ideal for close-quarters engagements. The reticle size can be adjusted when shooting at longer ranges. Adjustments to MOA are mad on the side of the sight which prevents you from blocking your field-of-vision while aiming. 7 brightness settings with no option for night-vision support.
The CTS-1300 is one of the most compact red dot sights on the market, which makes it ideal for shooters looking to cut down on their rifle’s weight and prevents it from getting caught on things. Built from high-quality shockproof materials, although the small size means that it isn’t particularly well covered.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and compact reflex sight to allow for quick and accurate shooting with your AR-15, then the Crimson Trace Corporation’s CTS-1300 is a no-thrills option that will last for years to come.
- Ultra-lightweight and compact
- Can adjust reticle in 1 MOA increments
- Seven brightness settings
- Perfect for quick target acquisition
- Simple and effective
- No night-vision
- Reflex sights aren’t ideal for everyone
- Borderline mid-range price
Benefits Of A Red Dot Sight For Your AR-15
Each sighting system has its own pros and cons. With a red dot sight, you’re getting fast target acquisition and improved accuracy. They’re devastating for targets within 100-yards and they can be paired with a magnifier to help you snipe targets further out.
You’ll be able to place targets quicker and shoot with more accuracy if you have a red dot sight on your AR-15. The sighting system is one of the most effective ways to improve shot placement in close-quarters engagements.
Both eyes open
Picking your target with a red dot sight can be done with both eyes open, giving you a full field of view when aiming. Being aware of everything going on in front of you is massively beneficial while shooting.
Unlimited eye relief
You can put your head as close or as far as you want to the optic when shooting with a red dot sight, giving you more flexibility when aiming and allowing you to acquire targets faster.
When you move your head while aiming with a red dot sight, the reticle moves with your view. This means that you’ll still be aiming at your target and you don’t need to keep your head in a fixed precise position when aiming.
When it comes down to the money, red dot sights have a big advantage. You can get one for as little as $20 or you can spend $500 on one. Budgeting is a concern for most of us shooters. I mean, be honest, this isn’t the first article you’ve read about upgrading you AR-15, is it?
An accurate sighting system is a big tick off your list of improvements to make to your rifle and if you can get it without having to explain to the wife where the savings went, then all the better.
How to Install a Red Dot Sight on Your AR-15
It’s easy to mount a red dot sight on your AR-15. You’ll need to buy one that fits onto your rail. Once you’ve got a red dot sight that fits, it’s just a matter of screwing it on… and making sure it doesn’t fall off when you shoot.
Your rifle vibrates when you shoot and this can cause the screws in your red dot sight to loosen. Here are some ways to avoid this.
- Use threadlocker on your screws when mounting your red dot sight. This stops the screws from coming loose and helps you to keep zero.
- Blue Loctite is great for this – but make sure you don’t use red Loctite or you’ll never be able to remove the sight!
- Push your sight forwards while screwing it on to secure it in place and stop it from moving due to force from recoil.
Difference between a Red Dot Sight and a Holographic Sight
At first glance, red dot sights and holographic sights look similar. They aren’t. Red dots are simpler and usually much cheaper than holographic sights. Holographic sights work much better with a magnifier.
The MOA of a holographic sight is generally smaller than that of a red dot sight which makes the former a better sighting system when shooting at long-range.
Red dot sight
- Reticle made from LED laser
- Usually 2 MOA dot
- Aim at the dot to hit the target
- Very long battery life
- Reticle made from laser hologram
- Usually 1 MOA dot
- Reticle superimposed on the target
- Comparatively short battery life
MOA and Red Dot Sights
MOA, Minute of Angle, determines how large your red dot is. Most red dot sights have a 2 or 3 MOA reticle . I recommend you stick with 2 MOA so that the dot doesn’t get in the way of your target. Large dots are useless when aiming at faraway targets.Red Dot Sights Increased in size with a magnifier. For example, if you have a 2x magnifier, then your 2MOA dot will now be 4MOA. This continues to increase the more you magnify your red dot. Holographic Sights Don’t have this problem and that’s one major reason why some shooters prefer them.
AR-15 Red Dot Sights Clarity and Sharpness
The clarity and sharpness of your red dot will depend on the quality of your optic – and your eye. It’s not uncommon for shooters to see a fuzzy red dot when aiming and this can actually be down to how the light reflects in your eye.
If you don’t have a perfectly spherical eye, then you’ll see the reticle as fuzzy and the chances are you won’t be comfortable using red dot sights. This isn’t often taught to shooters and some of them go through multiple sighting systems with no idea why they can’t tango with them.
Weight of Red Dot Sights
You want a lightweight red dot sight. All those extra accessories on your AR-15 do stack up in pounds and this will affect your performance in the field. Having less weight on your rifle will also help you to shoot more accurately.
Brightness Settings on Red Dot Sights
Shooting in broad daylight? You’ll want a very bright dot. Most red dot sights come with multiple brightness settings to allow for a clear reticle in any amount of light.
You can also buy a sight with a green dot. The change in color is considered by many shooters to be easier to see in bright light.
Some red dots also have night-vision settings. Obviously, this is a big bonus and certainly worth investing a little more for.
Battery life of red dot sights
One thing you’ll never have to worry about is your red dot sight running out of juice. Most of them have tens of thousands of hours of battery life.
The LED laser powering the sighting system doesn’t drain much energy, allowing you to have a reliable sight, even if you forget to turn it off after using it.
Battery-free red dot sights
Tens of thousands of hours of battery life isn’t enough for you? Well then, get one that doesn’t even need batteries.
There are two options here: buy a solar-powered sight, or buy one that uses glow-in-the-dark tritium and fiber-optics. You’ll never be caught off guard if you can never run out of batteries.
Waterproof-rating of red dot sights
The waterproof-rating of a red dot sight will matter more to some of you than to others. Your sight is going to get rained on at some point, so you need it to be able to resist the elements.
That being said, it’s not like you’re going diving with your AR-15, so while a waterproof-rating of 30-meters isn’t a bad thing, it’s also not worth paying extra money for.
Most red dot sights have a waterproof-rating of at least 10-meters
Warranties for red dot sights
Nothing lasts forever and problems do arise. A long warranty means peace of mind, so if you can, try to get a red dot sight with a generous policy.
Most mid-range and above red dot sights come with a good warranty that guarantees you repairs if it breaks due to factory deficiencies.
The Best AR-15 Red Dot Sight Reviewed
Overall, the Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight takes first place as the best red dot sight on the market for under $200. The sight is affordable and provides many of the benefits of a premium red dot sight.
The Crossfire has plenty of brightness settings, including night-vision support, and it can work for 50,000 hours before you need to change the battery.
If you want a simple, no thrills, and accurate sighting system for your AR-15 then I strongly recommend that you try this one out. It’ll take your shooting to the next level.