The red dot sight is one of my favorite sights as it is the most convenient one to use quickly. Plus it is more accurate at close range as you can just point and shoot. Finally, it has no parallax to worry about, which is another great feature. However, one of the areas where it falls short is accuracy for longer ranges. The great news is, however, that you can mitigate that problem by getting yourself a magnifier. This is why I’ve covered the best of the best down below. If you want to skip the buying guide straight to the best red dot magnifier reviews, then just click here or in the table of contents.
Table of Contents
- Things to Consider
- Best Red Dot Magnifier Reviews
- Best Mounts
- In Conclusion
Things to Consider
Most of the red dot magnifiers offer 3X zoom, which will work fine for most long range purposes. Getting a 5X or 6X will obviously make the targets bigger, and you can aim more easily but you also have to consider that it will stretch the red dot reticle as well. If you have a big reticle, then you might want to stick with 3X at most.
Magnifier + Red Dot vs Scope
The good thing about a red dot magnifier combo is that you not only get the zoom, but you also get true 1x when you flip out the magnifier (if you have a flip out mount). With a scope, you usually get something like 1.25x or 1.5x as the lowest default zoom value. This makes the red dot magnifier combo a more versatile option. Something else to consider is the amount of dots you have on your red dot sight. The 2 or 3 dot red dot sights will make it easier to shoot longer ranges, so if you consider getting a 5X scope, then ensure that you have the proper red dot sight to accompany it.
This is one of the most important things that you will want to consider. Having too short of an eye relief distance will give you issues and eye strain trying to aim at targets. You can have the best red dot magnifier in regards to build quality and optics clarity but if the eye relief is too short for you, you’ll just end up struggling. In addition to that, if you have an extended stock then you will have even more issues trying to just see out of the magnifier. This is one of the cases in which more is usually better, so as such I’d advice that you try to get the longest eye relief distance magnifier that you can.
The red dot magnifier combo is pretty bulky to carry around on your gun. This is just something that you will have to get used to, and with some time, you won’t really notice it much. However, getting a lighter magnifier will help you to lessen the load a bit so you can maneuver your rifle with less effort. A point to note is that while lighter is usually better, you don’t want to purchase something that’s super light but has shoddy build quality.
Best Red Dot Magnifier Reviews
Vortex VMX-3T – Best Overall Red Dot Magnifier
This is one of the most popular 3X red dot magnifiers and for a good reason. Coming in at around a third or less of the price of some of the more expensive magnifiers, the Vortex holds the ground well. The optics are multi-coated which should help you to get the optimal light transmission. In my experience, it does hold up to that promise as I found no issues there.
The scope also is nitrogen purged, which means that any residual humidity and water was removed before finishing the scope assembly. Additionally, the scope has a waterproof O-ring that seals to prevent moisture, debris, and dust from polluting your scope. This all means that you won’t have to worry about fog and other things building up on the glass, which can certainly obstruct your field of view when you need to use the magnifier.
Another thing that I liked about this magnifier is the fact that it is adjustable. You can rotate the back of the lens to adjust for your vision with its adjustable vision refractions. The included shim is also useful in allowing you to choose to either mount it in an absolute co-witness or lower third style. The 2 knobs also adjust for elevation and windage via a screwdriver.
Some other specs include an FOV of 38.2’ at 100 yards, a lifetime warranty, a 30 mm tube length and a 4.3-inch total length.
Now for the cons. Firstly, the scope itself flips out to the left side. Unless you’re left handed, this means that it will obstruct your field of view when it is flipped out. Not good. However, you can flip the scope and mount it on backwards which should fix it. The flipping mechanism will take a little getting used to but I’ve had no issues getting used to it, as did some other people I know that had this scope.
The eye relief is also an issue. Contrary to what it says on some websites, the eye relief is actually 2.2” which may be a deal breaker for some. Especially if you have an extended stock, this means that you should look at some of the other magnifier options. To be fair however, if you go through the other best red dot magnifier reviews, you’ll see that it’s actually on the higher end for magnifiers in general. It’s also a little bulky, coming in at 11.9 oz. Finally, there are no included lens caps. And while it is somewhat understandable due to the price differences from the more expensive scopes, an included lens cap would have been appreciated.
All in all, this is a great scope for its price. If you don’t mind the short eye relief and the flip out mechanism when it is on backwards, then you should definitely consider getting the Vortex VMX-3T.
Primary Arms 3X – Best Red Dot Magnifier for the Money
If you’re in the market for the best red dot magnifier, but also are not looking to spend much, then the best budget red dot magnifier that you should consider is Primary Arms 3X. This is the fourth generation scope from Primary Arms and, as its name implies, is a 3X magnification scope that you can use for your red dot sight.
The model IV is an improvement over the model III in several ways. While the rubber outer layer does look less premium than its gen III material, it features much more generous eye relief and is more compact. The eye relief is increased from 1.9” to 2.64”, which I find to be quite comfortable to use.
It is also pretty light at only 7.9 oz., however, do note that this does not include a flip mount, which should also be factored in in the total weight. You need to purchase the flip-to-side mount separately. The Primary Arms basic or quick-detach mounts are good options to consider.
When using the scope, I’ve noticed that you need to be perfectly aligned with it in order to use its full field of view. But it is not much of an issue with some practice. The manufacturer also recommends using a lower third mount for the best alignment, but the choice is up to you.
Some other specs include a 30mm objective, 1-year warranty and water and fog resistance.
Now onto the cons. The warranty span of 1 year is a little shorter than I would have liked. It also does not come with a focus adjustment but it does include azimuth and elevation adjustments. Finally, the clarity could use some improvement but considering the price, there are no complaints here. If you’re looking to get the best budget red dot magnifier, then the Primary Arms 3X will do the job just fine.
Ultimate Arms Gear Dark Earth 5X – Best 5X Magnifier for the Money
If 3X magnification is, too, not enough for you, then you can always get the Ultimate Arms 5X magnifier. And while Ultimate Arms doesn’t really compete with Eotech and other magnifier makers, their products are aggressively priced which makes it one of the best red dot magnifier for the money.
The scope itself weighs 6 oz. and is pretty light. However, some people have reported that it feels a bit heavier than that, so do take that into account.
Regarding adjustments and flexibility, there is not much, which is understandable given its very low price. There is an option to adjust clarity but no variability at all for either windage or elevation.
The lens itself is 5.5 inches long and is 1.5 inches in diameter. The multi-coated lens is also waterproof and fog proof. For eye relief, the reported distance is 1.65”, which is less than I’d have wanted but should work fine. The color itself is also not my style, as I prefer it to be black to match my AR 15, but I’m just being superficial here.
In terms of the mount, it does surprisingly come with a mount, a Weaver Picatinny ring. The only issue with that ring is that it is a fixed scope 1” ring, and I personally prefer to have flip out mounts, like the American Defence AD-SM-01.
All this considered, this is a great 5X magnifier for those who just want to add it to their range bag and play with it a few times seeing that it’s so greatly priced.
Mako Group 5x Magnifier – Best 5X Red Dot Magnifier
Like the last magnifier, this is magnifier is ideal for those who want something more than a 3X magnification. Mako Group makes magnifiers all the way from 3X to 7X, but in my opinion, the 5X really shines the bests in its zoom group.
This scope is rubber coated and this is designed to help with the grip. I personally have no problems with grip and flipping scopes in/out, so it doesn’t matter much to me, but for those who feel that grip is an issue might want to look into this scope. The magnifier is also water and fog-proof thanks to the barrel being nitrogen purged. Finally, it is also shockproof, which helps its durability.
Some other specs of it include a field of view of 6 degrees, a length of 4.5”, and a weight of 9.6 oz with the included mount. The included mount is a 30 mm quick-detach Weaver ring, which, as I mentioned before, does the job just fine but I prefer to have a flip-out mount instead. You can easily replace the mount with no problems though if you already have one.
The cons of this scope are that the eye relief is pretty short – only around 1.65” – but if you don’t mind it then you have nothing to worry about. Finally, the scope itself feels pretty bulky and it takes up more rail space that I would have preferred it to. But quite frankly, at a fraction of the cost of an EOTech, Mako Group 5x Magnifier is a great deal and should definitely be considered.
EOTech G33 – Best Military Grade Magnifier/ Best Magnifier for Eotech
If you aren’t looking for nice toys and want a serious military grade magnifier, then you should go with EOTech. As it is used by the US military, I would imagine that the military won’t be buying things that aren’t top notch quality and have great reliability. But is it really worth the price or is this just another great magnifier?
Well to start off, this magnifier features 3.25 magnification, which is pretty standard. The magnifier itself comes in a nice Pelican box which includes the magnifier, the fixed quick release rail mount and spacer in addition to an optics cloth and an instruction manual. You only need 2 screws to install the scope and I recommend putting some Loctite on each of the screws to prevent any loosening. Loosening is a problem for all scopes, so nothing special here.
As always, the scope is water proof, fog proof and rugged. It also features a field of view of 7.3 degrees and an eye relief distance of 2.2 inches. I will say that the eye relief could have been longer as even the Primary Arms gives you more space than that. And finally, this scope is made here in the USA, which also explains the price difference between this scope and other best red dot magnifiers.
Speaking of price, this would be its biggest con. While there’s no question here that it is a great magnifier, is it really worth all that premium? Well, if you want military grade gear or want to support our workers then this would be the best red dot magnifier that you can get. This is also the best magnifier for EOTech red dot sights, so get this if you already own or are planning to own an EOTech red dot sight. If you just want a great red dot magnifier
American Defense AD-SM-01 STD Riflescope Optic Mount
This is a good option for those looking for a well-built magnifier mount. While it does say riflescope optic mount, this will fit a magnifier just fine. It is easy to adjust as it doesn’t need any proprietary tools for adjustment. Your finger and a simple flat head screwdriver will work just fine. This mount will give you a lower 1/3rd cowitness if you are using an M16, AR 15 and M4 flat top.
The mount itself is made out of T6 aluminum, which is an aircraft grade aluminum, and has a hard coat on top. The only issue with it is with its hinge design, if you move around often, you need to tap the scope to move it back to line up with your red dot as it shifts a bit. Other than that this is a solid magnifier mount.
Primary Arms Basic Flip to Side Magnifier Mount
As its name implies, this is a basic flip to side magnifier mount. No frills, anything special, just a well-built mount. It puts the center of the magnifier around 1.6 inches above of the top of the mounting rail and fits Picatinny rail design. However, this mount won’t give you an absolute cowitness as it will just be a touch lower than that. As such, I’d recommend you use this mount for a lower third cowitness as well.
You can flip this to any direction with no issues, all depending on the way that you mount it. The biggest issue with this is that sometimes, when you flip it out and back, it might be zeroed slightly differently. Not the biggest annoyance, but I would personally rather go with the American Defense instead as that would annoy me too much.
This brings us to the conclusion. In the end, you always want to carefully review all of your magnifier options to make sure everything will fit right and be comfortable. Regarding my personal choice, I like the Vortex the best as it not only has a nice mount included but also has a good price making it a great value.