Reflex sights are among the most popular types of sights for the AR-15. However, with so many reflex sights on the market, many gun owners simply buy what they can afford without really fully understanding how they work or what to look for in one. Read on for an extensive look at the reflex sight and the best reflex sights that are currently still available on the market today. However, if you are looking for a iron sight, click here for more!
Reflex Sights: A Brief Introduction
A reflex sight is not just an improvement over iron sights, but it also works completely differently. Reflexes utilize a reflective glass element to brighten your view while super-imposing a reticule. This allows for much greater accuracy and faster aiming.
However, many variations existed on the market not only for the optics but also for the reticule. However, they typically use electronic components. At the same time, they also incorporate other dynamics like battery life into the equation of your build.
The Criteria for A Great Reflex Sight
Before buying a reflex sight, it is important for any gun users including you to consider several aspects that makes for a great sight. Here are some aspects to help you consider that perfect reflex sight!
You will preferably want a reticule that not only makes sense to you in design, but also is on point. Units often have different sizes of reticules, which are measured in minute of angles (MOAs). The smaller the minute of angle (MOA), the smaller and more precise the reticule. Although larger reticules are easier to spot sooner, they can also obstruct your target if they are too large.
Solid Battery Life
For any AR-15 components that uses a battery, you will definitely want a long-lasting battery. Not only that, you will also want one that is easy to replace on the fly with a compartment that preferably does not require any or much tools to open. However, you will still want one that is continuously secure and will not open on its own.
The best reflex sights allows you to adjust your brightness, which is great for erratic and inconsistent light conditions. The greater the number of brightness levels, the more advanced you can get your brightness levels. At the same time, some units have an auto-brightness function that automatically sets the best brightness levels that you may prefer.
Red Dot Sights: Useful Information That You May Need
We have come up with an extra section where we feel is equally as important for you to know, but does not quite fit in elsewhere. Hence, the purpose of this section. Here are some of the most useful and equally as important information you should know about the red dot sight.
You can see how red dot sights are also some of the most popular reflex sights you can find for an AR-15 rifle. It isn’t just popular, but it is also quite common on the market too. Although it feels like sometimes red dot sights are not magic, they are still awesome feats of engineering that gives you hawk-like vision when you are out on a hunting trip or for a shootout.
While a lot of red dot sights are usually non-magnifying, the best red dot sights are usually light in weight, durable, uses battery powers quite effectively and maintain their calibration with the target quite well. It is accurate and lasts pretty well in zeroing too.
The Special Features of the Red Dot Sights
When you are looking for a red dot sight, you will want to strike a balance between particular features you want for sighting your firearm. At the same time, you will want to steer clear of getting tempted by some extra features not similar to that of a traditional red dot sight.
There are many different kinds of red dot sights that are currently available on the market. However generally, if you come across additional features such as magnification or illuminated reticule, then these features can often take the place of many primary features of a great solid red dot sight.
If you have the money to spend, go for a particular red dot sight that specifically fits and works well with an individual firearm or class of firearms. AR-15 red dot sights are a good example of this method because you then get great performance, durability and interchangeable functionality. Since that one red dot sight can usually fit a wide range of AR-15s.
Some red dot sights may have a green dot (reticule) as opposed to a red one. However, the most important thing to remember here is that the dot needs to be visible to your eyes. The dot represents the firearm’s alignment with the target you wish to hit.
Sights also have different reticule patterns and sizes. The best ones usually allows a good range of variation. This is so that you can adjust the size and pattern to one which you are personally comfortable with. Too big a dot and it can be very hard to clearly distinguish between the target. At the same time, too small a dot will serve as a distraction, which a lot of your effort is wasted on going to try to locate the reticule.
The cost of budget red dot sights can go as low as below US$50 in pricing. However, you will be strongly advised to stay away from anything below US$140 if you do not want to keep replacing your red dot sights. Anything up to around US$200 is still considered budget, but for around that price you can get some really solid sights that may need to be paired with a magnifier if you need any extended magnifications.
Some of the best sights cost around US$240 right up to over US$550 in price. However, you will have to match your specific requirements to a particular sight, otherwise, adaptability generally takes away from maximum performances.
As far as the dot size goes (MOA), 4MOA sights will usually do a good job across a variety of handpieces – especially rifles. However, these dot sizes can also help you in estimating the range of your firearm in relation to the red dot sight’s accuracy.
The most common sizes for a red dot sight you are likely to buy (as a private consumer) range from 2 MOA to about 3.5 MOA. It can reach maybe even up to 4 MOA for more professional race gun shooters and the likes of it.
All the Benefits of a Red Dot Sight
The major advantage of choosing a red dot sight over other types of optical scopes is the good performance it offers at a comparatively affordable price. What many gun owners may not know is that red dot sights are also considerably safer than sights like those that use holographic technology (holographic sights). If a holographic sight’s lens cracks, for instance, your eye may come into direct exposure to the laser. This can cause permanent damage if you are not careful.
Red dot sights also enjoy the collective advantage of their ever-decreasing weight. The best sights optimized for weight via the aluminum or aluminum alloy used in their construction is one of their leading benefits.
The ultimate benefit of having a red dot sight is that of being able to attain targets pretty quickly. As using a scope that fits well with a wide range of firearms and preferably viewing your target precisely with both eyes open (the natural way) anyway.
The Correct Position for Your Red Dot Sight
Below is a quick video on how to position your red dot sight.
The Best AR-15 Reflex Sights – Reviewed
Now that you have updated yourself on your reflex sight knowledge, it is time to gather up the best on the market. Keep in mind that while we have categorized our picks according to what they are the greatest at, you will still want to evaluate the ups and downs to make sure that you are happy with the products and that they suit your needs.
1. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight (Black R52001)
As opposed to what a lot of gun owners believe, the Sig Sauer Romeo5 proves that you do not need to spend or invest an excessive amount of money to get exceptional features.
With an incredibly crisp and precise 2 MOA red dot, you will definitely enjoy virtually unparalleled accuracy to enhance your shooting. On top of that, its elevation and windage are both easily adjustable with simple dial twists, which makes audible clicks. All these are visible through a fairly standard, but generous, 20mm objective diameter.
As for illumination, you will get 8 settings for daytime and 2 night vision compatible settings. That allows for precise shooting in any condition. This encompasses the fact that the unit is entirely waterproof up to one meter and is completely fog-proof too.
Not only is the unit sturdy, but so is the battery. The battery can last up to an incredible 450 hours on the highest setting. A lot of units can last only a fraction of this, so this is quite a remarkable feat.
At the same time, the unit is adept of automatically powering off or on when it detects movement. This enables you to push practical battery life beyond 50,000 hours by the manufacturer’s estimation.
It comes with an integrated M1913 Picatinny interface for mounting on your AR-15 rifle as well as any other suitable rifles. Included with it is a low-mount riser, as well as a co-witness 1.41 inch riser mount, so you can use your preferred iron sights.
As true as a lot of gun owners say, this sight is a great value. Our only disappointment would be that there is no automatic brightness setting but given all the other features available and the asking price, we think this is a great value.
The bottom line is that, it is an excellent and sturdy unit with exceptional battery life and a crisp picture. Sig Sauer offers a great value with a red dot sight that should be a baseline standard in quality in all honesty.
2. Burris Fastfire III Red Dot Reflex Sight
Offering a great set of quality of life improvements for an unassertive increase in price over our top pick, the Burris Fastfire III is an improvement from their acclaimed Fastfire II.
You get three brightness settings in this new and updated reflex sight, which may not seem like much at cursory glance. However, there is an auto-brightness setting which is actually grittier than the included three. However, it works well enough that you will likely never manually set your brightness levels anyway.
Choose from a precise 3 MOA dot or a larger eight MOA dot, which is perfect for those shooting at closer ranges. Windage and elevation are completely adjustable with the use of a coin or similar-sized and shaped tools.
Compared to dials, this is obviously more effort but is preferred by some gun owners who like their windage and elevation that are more secure. You may also choose whether you prefer a quick-attach Picatinny mount or a weaver rail mount too.
You also get a useful low battery indicator, and the power shuts off after eight hours of use to prevent any needless drain. When the battery does run dry, it is easily accessible from the top without the use of tools or the need to remove your sight from your rifle too.
Overall, it is a great option for those who prefer to not adjust brightness on their own and want the quality of life features like a low battery indicator.
In summary, for a reasonable market price, Burris offers a reflex sight not only designed to do the job well, but with really useful features like automatic brightness.
3. GERO Tactical Green and Red Dot Sight
This is a popular choice for being the best reflex sight for an AR pistol, as well as a great value for budget shoppers among a lot of gun owners and gun users. It is the GERO Tactical Green and Red Dot Sight that takes up that position. Despite its affordable price tag, it offers an excellent suite of features and great performance.
As the name implies, you may choose from either a red dot reticule or a green dot reticule that are available in four different patterns. For those who are not aware or are unsure, both colours function pretty well in low-light conditions. However, the green one tends to be better picked up during the day when the environment is more soaked in warm tones.
Despite it being affordable in its pricing, the unit has been manufactured to survive tough conditions. It is built to endure direct hits to the glass by .68 calibre speeds without a scratch. Furthermore, it is made to resist water and shock, which allows you to consistently take it into a range of environments.
A built-in Picatinny mount base guarantees easy and fast installation or detachment. This, together with the price, makes it an outstanding option for those considering a reflex sight but are still on the fence about it. It is definitely affordable enough, and with easy installation and great features, it provides an exceptional opportunity.
This is further boosted by the unconditional 1-year warranty included. For budget parts, this is extremely rare. Sure, it is not a lifetime warranty. However, for the price, we find it to be highly generous and within budget range, and it should dispel any concerns about the quality of this unit.
All in all, it is pretty hard to beat the price of this reflex scope without sacrificing on quality or features. GERO Tactical provides not only a resilient and full-featured scope at a great price, but also a generous 1-year warranty too.
4. CVLIFE 1x22x33 Red/Green Dot Gun Sight Scope Reflex Sight (with 20mm Rail)
If you are really on a tight budget or have a need to stock up on spare sights, then fret not. There is always an affordable option that’s actually worth your money and won’t break the moment you open the package. They may not be easy to find, however, but we are definitely excited to say that CVLIFE has released such a unit.
To our surprises, the unit is very rugged, made from high-grade aluminium alloy rather than cheap plastics. You also have a 22mm by 33mm screen that comes with the reflex sight, and your choice of three reticule types, including a circle dot, crosshair, a 10 MOA dot or a 3 MOA dot. Furthermore, you can even choose from a red or a green dot. 5 brightness intensity levels are also available in this reflex sight.
This actually comes with a very surprising range of features on a budget unit. A 10 MOA dot does border on being too big to be useful, although the 3 MOA dot is perfect and on point for a lot of gun owners.
With all these features and such a rugged construction, you would expect some worthy trade-offs. However, we have continuously find great features. The lenses are fully coated to counterattack any glare. An integrated Picatinny mount makes for an easy installation. Fully adjustable windage and elevation turns with easy-to-reach knobs.
If you really want to be fastidious, the unit does not boast any waterproofing, but considering how affordable this unit is, we are not surprised. That being said, since the unit is durable, it may well be resistant to harsh environments and abuse. However, the manufacturer does not specifically mention any proofing, so we recommend you do not test it out.
To put it simply, we have really got to hand it to CVLIFE. Thus, it is considered a great budget and affordable unit. While you are less likely to receive waterproofing or big extras like auto-brightness, the unit is sturdy and offers significant features at a real steal of a price.
A reflex sight is a great and popular way to improve your rifles’ precision and accuracy. However, the gun accessories market is flooded with both cheap and expensive parts that aren’t worth any of your money. It’s best to read up online guides to determine the best fit for your rifles and rely on the general top picks to improve your shooting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) some gun owners may have regarding the reflex sights.
Q: How does a reflex sight work?
Using a reflex sight is pretty straightforward and easy to use. The unit sheathes a reflective glass component that lights up your view. At the same time, an electronically-powered reticule overlays the image. Oftentimes, the electronics also allow for the electronically-powered reticule to be highlighted to fit various lighting conditions, while knobs or other components lets gun owners to adjust windage and elevation.
Q: What’s the difference between a reflex sight and a holographic?
In all honesty, they are both quite similar. As a matter of fact, a holographic sight is simply a slightly different variation of a reflex sight. While most reflex sights use an LED to reflect the reticules onto curved glasses, holographic sights use a laser and a screen. Because of such difference, holographic sights tend to have a lower battery life compared to the reflex sights.
Q: What is a reflex sight used for?
Reflex sights can serve many purposes. They are a great use for shooting in low-light conditions thanks to adaptable brightness. They also feature very accurate reticules that help gun owners and gun users achieve more accurate shooting. Because of this, they can be used for anything from hunting activities to self-defence, or even sport and military uses. They are superlative at any given time that iron sights are insufficient due to poor lighting or if there is a need for greater precision.
Q: Is a reflex sight necessary?
For us, it is a great add-on if you don’t have one red dot sight already. It is actually pretty nice to have when you have to shoot in a place where it has a poor lighting. The convenience had given us great experience during the shooting and so we would total recommend it!
Hello there, it’s Michael here. A gun lover since young, served the country for the last 20 years. I started the blog to share my experience and gun-related knowledge accumulated throughout the years. Hopefully, you will find something useful over here or just have fun! You can learn more about me here.