Back in February, I wrote about an article about budget red dots. For the range junkies and those getting into competition shooting, these are great options. I own several budget options that suit my needs well. However, what about those who use their guns in more extreme situations. Law enforcement and military, professional shooters and hunters all push their gear to the limits and depend on them every time. For those individuals, price isn't as much about pennies but an investment. In terms of firearm accessories, optics are in the running for top dog. The top 3 manufacturers for red dots are Eotech, Aimpoint, and Trijicon, respectively. I've picked out my favorites amongst these manufacturers and have listed why.
Eotech was founded in 1995 but can trace its roots back to WWII. Its bases are rooted in military technology, so it knows its business. In 1996 it appeared at Shot Show with its HWS and four years later had a whole line of Holographic sights for military, law enforcement, competition, and hunting. Nineteen years later, they still classify their optics into these four categories and stand behind their tuff products. For my purposes, I'm looking at tactical products that can last. The EXPS3 is one of their smallest and best optics offered. The "E" stands for extreme because this optic can take a beating and run a long time. It runs on Lithium CR123 batteries and will last 600 continuous hours at level 12 of 20. It also has ten additional settings for Gen I through III night-vision. It has five different reticle designs to choose from all with 1 MOA sized dots and a 68 MOA circle. Their different reticle options are one of the main things that set this company apart. A couple of other nice features that I like about this optic is the 7mm included quick attach base that allows the optic to co-witness with iron sights and the size. The ability to still use iron sights with your red dot means the back-up irons can quickly be used if you have an unpredictable failure, like battery life eventually running out. The size is small, which makes this a breeze to carry. In terms of physical size, it is 3.8" L x 2.3" W x 2.9" H and weighs 11.2 oz.
Aimpoint is the originator of the red dot, founded in 1974. For this reason alone, they are a top choice for red dots. They have an extensive line of products in their catalog, and it can be a daunting task to search for the right one to meet your needs. One nice thing about their website is their compare function which allows side by side comparison of the products you narrow down to. I settled on the Micro T2. Part of their compact red dot line the Micro T2 weighs only 3.3 oz (with battery included) and measures 2.7" L x 1.6" W x 1.4" H. It runs on a CR123 battery and with the lithium battery has a 5 year (50,000 hours) continuous run time on setting 8 and 500,000 hours on NVD setting 2. Shockproof for days, night vision compatible, long-lasting battery, and minimal size make this an optic you can depend on, in any situation. It is an upgrade to the T1 with new lens coatings and is even submersible up to 80 feet. For hunting and distance applications it is also compatible with a magnifier. To put it plainly, it'll work for everything.
Trijicon is used by the military, law enforcement, competitors, and hunters across the globe. For a good reason. They are awesome. One of their main unique features is that they use non-battery powered inserts to illuminate their optics for a lifetime. Which is why I like their RX34 42mm Reflex Sight. It comes with a 4.5 MOA dot that is powered by fiber optics with a Tritium insert. Tritium is a radiated isotope of hydrogen which is a very rare element. (This explains why their optics are pricey. These things have a half-life of 12.5 years (meaning they lose half their brightness in 12.5 years) and come with a lifetime warranty. It weighs only 8.2 oz (without the mount) is 4.9" long and has a height that co-witnesses with your iron sights. Two possible downsides to this optic are that the brightness level cannot be adjusted and the dot is a bit on the large side. However, for most, this is not an issue. Tough as nails that won't turn off or fail at a moment's notice, the Reflex sight by Trijicon is truly an investment.
Since we are talking about red dots, it's only right to mention the Trijicon MRO Patrol. It is an excellent true red dot with a 2 MOA reticle and a five-year battery life at the three setting. Small, lightweight, and durable.
Red dots have come along way from their first iteration. So many options to choose from it becomes overwhelming. Optics are one of those things that can't be skimped on. This is how you aim your gun, and without aim, you can't hit your target. If you depend on your gun for food (hunting), livelihood (professional competitor), or life (Law Enforcement or Military), then these manufacturers are your go-to. Check out their options yourself and see what will work best for you.
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Prices accurate at time of writing