6 Best Red Dot for Pistol [2024] By:

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Pistol red dots have exploded, and in a short period of time, they have gone from competition-centric concepts to a full-on duty and concealed carry-worthy concept. Most major optic companies have produced pistol red dots in various configurations and sizes. We’ve gathered the 6 best red dot for a pistol from a crowded market to share with you.

I personally have tried most of these red dots and have slowly morphed my pistols from iron sights only to see how I can use a red dot on most platforms.

I had a bit of a learning curve with red dots, but now I LOVE them and they are definitely my preference when I’m going to the range and shooting these optics.

To help you learn from my experience, we’ve put together a short guide all about pistol red dots after this list of the best red dots for your purpose. That way, you have a better understanding of what you are getting into.

best pistol red dots

How does a pistol red dot differ from any other red dot? What makes a pistol red dot a pistol red dot? Early on, mini red dots were adopted into the role, but these days mini red dots are made expressly for the purpose of pistol use. Early mini red dots, like the Trijicon RMR Type 1, were not made for pistols and would eventually die on the slides of pistols.

Pistols put a lot of G forces on an optic due to their reciprocating slides, and that can destroy an optic. Pistol red dots, like the RMR Type 2, are made to deal with that force without shutting off, breaking, or dying a sad death.

Pistol red dots also need to be small enough to squeeze onto a pistol slide. This keeps things tight size-wise. These optics can be too heavy, and they could interrupt the cycling of the slide, and obviously, adding more weight to a handgun is rarely desirable.

A pistol red dot is a purpose-built design that needs to be durable, compact, and lightweight.

After spending more than twenty years in the world of shooting, I’ve had the opportunity to explore a wide range of red dots and even review several for different brands. This time, however, my goal was to discover the best red dots for pistols—those that offer excellent clarity, shootability, reliability, and features

To create this list of pistol red dots, I revisited the red dot sights that have consistently performed well for me, and I also considered the recommendations from my network of fellow shooters and professional experts. After all, a collective perspective always helps.

In testing these red dots, I didn’t confine myself to the indoor precision of a shooting range. I ventured into the outdoors to challenge them against the elements. Rather than simply ranking them, I’ve organized them into categories. Each red dot sight excels in its own right, ensuring there’s an ideal match for every shooter.

Choosing a red dot sight is a personal choice, what suits me may not be the best for you. Therefore, I encourage you to read through the reviews, experiment with various models, and find the red dot that feels just right for your pistol.

Best Pistol Red Dot Optics

TRIJICON RMR
  • Bombproof design
  • Most proven pistol red dot
  • Only the highest quality parts used
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HOLOSUN 507K
  • Reliable and durable
  • Fits on the smallest guns
  • Versatile reticle selection
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AIMPOINT ACRO
  • Enclosed emitter
  • Unbeatable reliability
  • Clear lenses and dot
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BURRIS FASTFIRE III
  • Durable and Reliable
  • Unbeatable price
  • Top Loading battery
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LEUPOLD DELTAPOINT PRO
  • Massive window
  • Clear lens
  • Extensive durability testing
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HOLOSUN 507C
  • Three reticle options
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for handguns, rifles, or shotguns
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#1 Trijicon RMR : Editor’s Choice

Trijicon RMR

The most trusted pistol red dot optics system available today.

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  • Clarity A+
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Features B

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 7 Reviews

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Trijicon RMR Specs

  • Reticle 3.25 or 6.5 MOA Dot
  • Weight 1.2 oz
  • Length 1.8″
  • Height 1″
  • Width 1.2″

The Trijicon RMR was one of the first pistol red dots to gain mass appeal and respect. Trijicon’s efforts often result in bombproof optics, and the RMR is no different. The Trijicon RMR is a mini red dot designed for duty sized pistols.

The Trijicon RMR is the most trusted pistol red dot among armed professionals in police and military circles.

The RMR comes in what feels like dozens of different variants with multiple reticle color, size, and shape options. When it comes to handgun red dots, the 6.5 MOA red dot is the easiest and most reliable choice.

This big dot makes it easy to get on target and put lead where it needs to be. The RMR’s crisp reticle is hard to beat. It’s a fast and efficient design that’s more than proven itself over a long service life with various police and military units. The RMR is a duty grade optic that’s the gold standard for pistol red dots.

You can check out the full review for the Trijicon RMR here.

Trijicon RMR Pros and Cons

  • Bomb Proof Durability
  • Crisp and Clear Dot
  • Versatile Reticle Sizes
  • Bottom loading battery
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#2 Holosun 507K : Best Micro

Holosun 507K

Holosun 507K

Good things really can come in small packages.

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  • Clarity A
  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Features B

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

Based on 5 Reviews

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Holosun 507k Specs

  • Reticle 2-32 MOA Circle – Dot and Circle
  • Weight 1 oz
  • Length 1.6″
  • Height .95″
  • Width .98″

Micro pistol red dots are a new category for pistol red dots and are aimed at subcompact pistols.

This includes guns like the Hellcat, the P365, and the Glock 43/43X/48 series pistols. These ultra-small red dots are a small category so far, but the Holosun 507K has outshined the competition.

I keep the 507K on my SIG P365, and it’s made me a faster, more accurate shooter in a short period of time.

The 507K has proven itself to be very versatile and well built, capable of withstanding the use and abuse a small pistol is put through.

The 507K is also incredibly small, with CCW in mind. The 507K comes with a 50K hour battery life, a side-loading battery, and 12 total brightness settings. These 12 settings include two-night vision options.

The mini 507K comes packed with three reticle choices, including a small 2 MOA dot, a 32 MOA circle, and a combination of the circle and dot. Versatile options give you an effective red dot for any need. The 507K’s small size and budget-friendly price tag disguise a good degree of performance.

You can read the full review of the Holosun 507K here.

Holosun 507k Pros and Cons

  • Versatile reticles
  • Sideloading battery
  • Super small size
  • Small window
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#3 Aimpoint ACRO : Most Reliable

Aimpoint ACRO

A crisp reticle and ultra-accuracy make this red dot a real contender.

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  • Reliability A
  • Clarity B
  • Shootability A
  • Features B

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

B-

Based on 6 Reviews

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Aimpoint Acro Specs

  • Reticle 3.5 MOA Dot
  • Weight 2.1 oz
  • Length 1.9″
  • Height 1.2″
  • Width 1.2″

The RMR is an ultra-reliable option for red dots, but the Aimpoint Acro is just a hair more reliable due to its closed emitter optic design.

Most red dots feature an open emitter that creates the dot you see on the lens. If anything gets between the emitter and dot, the dot disappears. It’s rare something like this happens, but it could happen.

The Aimpoint’s enclosed emitter prevents this from happening and drastically reduces the chances of any failure. Aimpoint originated the modern red dot, and without a doubt, they are the premier red dot company.

The Acro does nothing less than rule. I’ve been running it on my Glock 17 MOS and love how well done the buttons are, how crisp the dot is, and easy it is to hit targets at 50 yards.

The 3.5 MOA dot is well-sized for use on a handgun. It’s big enough to catch the eye but small enough for precision shots. The Acro packs ten brightness settings with NVD compatibility and a blindingly bright reticle at the higher settings. The Acro is built to last and is strong enough to take some serious abuse.

You can read the detailed review of the Aimpoint Acro P-1 here.

Aimpoint Acro Pros and Cons

  • Highest Reliability
  • Ultra-bright reticle
  • Ergonomic controls
  • Lower than average battery life
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#4 Burris Fastfire III : Best Budget Blaster

Burris Fastfire III

Good quality at an even better price tag.

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  • Reliability A
  • Clarity A
  • Shootability B
  • Features C

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 2 Reviews

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Burris Fastfire III Specs

  • Reticle 3 or 8 MOA Dot
  • Weight 1.5 oz
  • Length 1.9″
  • Height 1″
  • Width 1″

The Fastfire 3 was one of the first pistol red dots I ever purchased, and in my years of ownership, it became my default go-to red dot optic for reviewing guns. If a gun doesn’t have sights, the Fastfire 3 gets tossed on.

It’s outfitted shotguns, rifles, and several optic’s ready pistols.

Needless to say, this budget based optic has always surprised me.

It’s lasted through years of abuse, re-zeroing, and generally being used haphazardly, and it still keeps on ticking.

The Fastfire 3 is a very simple optic with a single button control, three brightness settings, and an automatic mode. Three brightness levels aren’t much, but each setting is appropriate for low light, indoor, and outdoor daylight use. The battery loads through the top, and it comes with a 3 MOA or 8 MOA red dot.

The glass is surprisingly clear with a minimal blue tint. It does provide a very battery life as I’ve used it extensively and never swapped batteries. The Burris Fastfire 3 is far from fancy, but the simplistic design does lend itself to a budget-friendly price tag without sacrifices in the reliability department.

Burris Fastfire III Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Clear lens
  • Single-button Controls
  • Single-button Controls
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#5 Leupold Deltapoint Pro : Best Lens

Leupold-deltapoint-pro-featured-1200x630

Leupold Deltapoint Pro

The best lens and clarity you’ll find for your pistol red dot.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Clarity A+
  • Shootability A+
  • Features B

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 3 Reviews

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Leupold Deltapoint Pro Specs

  • Reticle 2.5 MOA Dot
  • Weight 1.95 oz
  • Length 1.82″
  • Height 1.3″
  • Width 1.3″

By their very nature, pistol red dots have a very small field of view, at least when compared to long gun optics.

With two eyes opened, it’s rarely a serious issue, but Leupold wanted to give shooters a better option with the Deltapoint Pro.

The Deltapoint Pro features the biggest and clearest lens of any pistol red dot I’ve ever used.

The Deltapoint Pro is also built to last with extensive testing done by Leupold’s punisher machine to ensure proper reliability regardless of recoil.

The DPP has a stainless steel shroud and a fog and shockproof design to allow it to stand up to the most demanding of users.

The DPP is not the smallest optic but is surprisingly lightweight. Leipold stepped up their design and ensured the design is as efficient as it is durable. The motion-sensing shake awake technology ensures the optic is off when you don’t need it and fired up when you do. This saves battery and delivers outstanding performance. The Leupold Deltapoint Pro is a duty grade optic designed to last.

Leupold Deltapoint Pro Pros and Cons

  • Wide and clear viewing window
  • Crisp Dot
  • Hardcore durability testing
  • Expensive
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#6 Holosun 507C : Best for Beginners

Holosun 507C

Holosun 507C

A well-rounded red dot sight for new shooters and those starting with red dots.

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  • Clarity B
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A
  • Features A+

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 12 Reviews

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Holosun 507C Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA Dot – 32 MOA Circle – Circle and Dot
  • Weight 1.5 oz
  • Length 1.78″
  • Height 1.15″
  • Width 1.15″

The Holosun 507C is the big brother to the 507K and offers the same three versatile reticle options.

Those three options become much more versatile in this pistol red dot.

If you are unsure about a pistol red dot sight, the 507C might be your best option.

It’s not only a great pistol red dot, but if you change your mind, you can easily toss the 507C on a rifle or shotgun and have a very capable red dot.

The 507C is also perfect for those with astigmatism.

Astigmatism causes normal red dots to appear washed out and hard to see. But the 507C’s 32 MOA circle appears clear and concise. The 507C offers red or green reticles, as well as a side-loading battery, 12 total settings including 2-night vision settings, and shake awake technology.

Shake awake, combined with a solar panel, gives you battery life that’s near unbeatable. The Holosun 507C uses the Trijicon RMR footprint, which allows the 507C to be used on a wide variety of mounts to accommodate the optic on a wide variety of guns. The low price point and versatile design make the 507C the perfect choice for beginners.

You can read the complete review of the Holosun 507C full review here.

Holosun 507C Pros and Cons

  • Versatile reticle design
  • Affordable
  • Solar panel and shake awake features
  • Heavier than most
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If you are still on the fence about a pistol red dot, let’s talk about the benefits they offer. A red dot equipped pistol is faster, more accurate, and more precise at longer ranges, offering the same advantages as it does for a rifle.

With a red dot, there are no sights to align. Just put the dot on the target and pull the trigger—it’s much faster. The small red dot also improves visibility of your target at range, enhancing accuracy and precision. Plus, it eliminates sight radius issues with small guns.

Using a red dot feels more natural than iron sights. With a red dot, you focus on the target; with iron sights, you focus on the front sight. No other weapon in history has required focusing on the sights more than the target. Swords, spears, and even ancient longbows kept the focus on the threat, and the red dot follows this principle.

This makes it easier to track a target, react to changing situations, and engage threats effectively. Red dots take time to master, but the training investment is well worth it.

Size Wise

Pistol red dots come in two sizes, standard and micro. Both are small compared to other red dots. Standard sized red dots are the most common type of pistol red dot. These are made for double stack pistols designed for duty, but subcompact pistols based on duty sized guns like the Glock 26 can accommodate standard-sized red dots. These larger red dots tend to be more versatile off of a handgun and can accommodate more mounting systems.

Micro red dots are made for subcompact single stack pistols like the SIG P365 or Springfield Hellcat. These micro-sized red dots are superbly small and lightweight. There are only a few companies producing them at the moment, and they tend to be optics that only work on handguns.

Reticle Size

Reticle size for these optics is measure in MOA and can range anywhere from 2 MOA to 9 MOA on average. With handguns, moderate-sized dots usually work best. You want a dot that is easy to see and find without the presence of a stock. Larger reticles are typically quicker to see and get on target. Smaller dots are better for more precise shots at longer ranges.

Choosing your reticle’s size is important and more of a focus on what you like to use and feel fits your needs. I’m a middle of the road guy. A 3.5 MOA red dot is easy to use and well suited for various ranges on the handguns I carry daily. Subcompact pistols tend to be better served with bigger reticles since long-range use isn’t necessary, and speed is the most critical form factor in their use.

We break down which size red dot might be right for you HERE.

Battery Compartment Location

Pistol red dots are teeny tiny fellas, and therefore they have to be creative with where they place their battery. There are three main options for installing a battery.

Top Loading – Top loading batteries typically fit behind the lens in the body of the optic. Swapping batteries is convenient and quick with little issues. Top loading batteries can be larger and provide a longer battery life.

Bottom Loading – Bottom loading batteries require you to remove the optic to swap batteries. This involves a rezero, potential issues with stripping bolts, and plenty of Loc Tite needs to be applied. Larger batteries can also be used with bottom loading designs.

Side Loading – Sidel loading batteries have a tray that is easy to remove and swap batteries with. You are limited to smaller batteries more often than not.

Mounting

When choosing an optic, you have to consider the mounting footprint it uses. When attaching an optic to the slide of a handgun, you aren’t using a normal mounting system like Picatinny. You are often screwing the optic directly to the slide.

The slide has to be milled to accommodate the optic, and there are a variety of ‘footprints’ out there to accommodate various optics. I would love the industry to standardize, but alas, here we are. We have three big formats worth mentioning and tying optics to.

The Docter Footprint – This is the most popular footprint out there and will accommodate the widest variety of optics. Optics that fit this footprint include:

  • Docter/Noblex Mini Red dots
  • Vortex Viper
  • Vortex Venom
  • Burris Fastfire 2
  • Burris Fastfire 3
  • Sightmark Mini Shot Pro Spec
  • Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec
  • Leica Tempus

The second most common is the Trijicon RMR Standard and will work with the following dots.

  • Trijicon RMR
  • Trijicon SRO
  • Holosun HS407C and 507C
  • Holosun HS508T
  • Riton X3 Tactix PRD
  • Swampox Kingslayer

The third is the Shield format, which is popular with micro sights and standard sights to include.

  • Shield RMS / RMSc / RMSw
  • Shield SMS
  • Holosun 507K/407K

The final footprint is the full sized DeltaPoint Pro footprint from Leupold.

  • Leupold DeltaPoint Pro
  • Sig Sauer Romeo Zero
  • JPoint
  • Optima

Optics like the Aimpoint Acro, the Meopta red dots, and a few more utilize various proprietary mounts. Aimpoint, in particular, has been very good at releasing plates for various adapters to fit the Acro on every popular handgun platform.

Red DotDocterTrijicon RMRShieldDeltaPoint
Docter/Noblex Mini Red Dotsred dot
Vortex Viperred dot
Vortex Venomred dot
Burris Fastfire 2red dot
Burris Fastfire 3red dot
Sightmark Mini Shot Pro Specred dot
Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPecred dot
Leica Tempusred dot
Trijicon RMRred dot
Trijicon SROred dot
Holosun HS407Cred dot
Holosun HS507Cred dot
Holosun HS508Tred dot
Riton X3 Tactix PRDred dot
Swampfox Kingslayerred dot
Shield RMS / RMSc / RMSwred dot
Shield SMSred dot
Holosun 507kred dot
Holosun 407kred dot
Leupold DeltaPoint PROred dot
Sig Sauer Romeo Zerored dot
Pointred dot
Optimared dot

Dedicated Footprint vs Mount

Pistol red dot sights can either attach directly to your slide via specific footprints or through various mounts. Here’s a simple breakdown:

For defensive purposes, a milled slide with a dedicated footprint for your optic is the best choice. It sits lower, attaches more securely, and ensures compatibility with suppressor height iron sights.

The next best option is universal designs like the Glock MOS Plate system, which uses a milled slide with various plates for different optics. These systems place the optic higher and require careful attention to ensure attachment bolts are long enough. They’re affordable and fine for competition and hunting, but less ideal for defensive use. Ensure Loc-Tite is applied, use adequate length screws, and thoroughly test the setup before relying on it for defense.

Lastly, mounts that replace your rear sight with a plate or picatinny rail are unsuitable for defensive use. They place the optic too high, eliminate rear iron sight use, and are bulky and fragile. These mounts are fine for recreational use but not for a proper defensive pistol.

When you’re picking out a red dot sight for your pistol, there are a few key things to keep in mind to make sure you get the right one. Here’s a down-to-earth guide to help you navigate the options and find the perfect match for your shooting style.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Red Dot for Pistol

Durability: Your red dot needs to be tough enough to handle the recoil and rough conditions pistols often face. Look for ones designed specifically for pistols, with features like shockproof construction and resistance to water and fog. Brands like Trijicon, Aimpoint, and Leupold are known for making rugged optics that can take a beating.

Size and Weight: You want your red dot to be small and light enough that it won’t throw off the balance of your pistol or make it awkward to handle. Micro red dots are great for smaller pistols, while standard-sized ones work well on larger handguns.

Reticle Size and Type: The size of the reticle affects how quickly you can acquire targets and how precise your shots will be. Smaller dots are better for precision shooting at longer distances, while larger ones are quicker to pick up for close-range engagements. Some red dots even offer different reticle options, like dots, circles, or combinations, giving you flexibility for different shooting situations.

Battery Life and Type: Make sure your red dot has a decent battery life so it won’t conk out on you when you need it most. Look for models with long battery life or features like motion activation or solar panels for extended use. Also, check what kind of batteries it uses and if they are easy to find and replace.

Mounting Compatibility: Your red dot needs to be compatible with your pistol’s mounting system or optic cut. There are different mounting systems out there, so make sure you get one that works with your setup.

Ease of Use: Look for red dots with simple controls and easy battery access. You want something that’s intuitive to use and easy to adjust for windage and elevation. Features like automatic brightness adjustment or manual brightness settings are also handy for adapting to different lighting conditions.

Price and Value: Set a budget and stick to it, but also consider what features are most important to you. While high-end red dots might offer superior performance, there are also budget-friendly options that get the job done without breaking the bank.

Adding a red dot to your pistol isn’t a cheap venture, but it’s well worth the cost of admission. It’s likely the best upgrade you could make to your pistol. With proper training and practice, you’ll be amazed at how much an optic can open up your shooting potential.

I personally adore red dots on pistols; as you can see, I can run my mouth on them for nearly forever.

Let’s turn it over to your fine folks; what do you think about pistol based red dots?

Any experience? Any favorites?

Let us know below.

Are there any compact pistol red dots suitable for concealed carry?

Yes, there are compact pistol red dots designed specifically for concealed carry handguns. These micro red dots, such as the Holosun 507K and the Trijicon RMRcc, are ultra-compact and lightweight, making them ideal for subcompact pistols like the SIG P365 and Glock 43. These smaller red dots maintain durability and reliability while providing enhanced aiming capabilities for concealed carry applications.

What is the difference between standard and micro red dot sights for pistols?

Standard red dot sights are larger and are more suitable for duty-sized pistols, while micro red dot sights are smaller and designed for subcompact pistols. If you’re looking for something ideal for concealed carry, micro red dots offer a compact and lightweight option that works well on smaller handguns.

Can I use a green dot instead of a red dot on my pistol?

Yes, you can use a green dot instead of a traditional red dot on your pistol. Some red dot sights offer the option of a green reticle. You might prefer a green dot, especially if you have certain types of color blindness or find it more visible under certain lighting conditions.

How do I know if a red dot sight will fit my pistol?

Before purchasing a red dot sight, make sure to check the mounting compatibility with your pistol’s specific model. Many red dot sights come with different mounting options or adapters to fit various handgun models.

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