PB Top Picks: Top 5 Budget Red Dot Sights
The Vector Optics RDSL 15 sets the standard for entry-level Red dot sights for Airsoft. This sight features an integrated 20mm Picatinny mount, raised line of sight ideal for use with facemasks and multiple reticle types allowing the user to select between a dot, crosshair, or ring with which to aim their primary. Similar looking sights are very prevalent across many different retailers, but as many of these sights are cheap plastic sights borrowing the "reflex sight" look, many intended for Nerf or Cosplay, we always advise you to purchase a known brand such as Vector to avoid disappointment. The sight is constructed from Aluminium and is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, offering a lot of functionality for not a lot of money. The only balancing factor is the lack of a protective hood/enclosed design; whilst this will speed up your shooting it makes the sight particularly vulnerable when compared to tube designs if dropped from a height.
The Vector Optics 1x35 Red dot scope is a great option for a newcomer to the sport, providing a wide 35mm objective lens giving you a great view of the target and surrounding area and 5 levels of brightness adjustment for both the red and green dot modes. The sight includes an integrated 20mm Picatinny mount and can be adjusted for both windage and elevation using the sight's well-sealed capped turrets. The sight can be paired with riser mounts of various heights to suit different rifles and choices of face protection, and is short in overall length making it great for even the most compact AEG primaries. The 35mm objective lens is perfect for preventing tunnel vision as it allows you to see far more of the area around your target than other tube-styled RDS's typically do, letting you stay abreast of enemy movements and avoid being flanked.
The Theta Optics Compact Reflex sight is a T1 style optic with an integrated 20mm Picatinny mount offering both a low profile and wide field of view. The sight offers both red and green dot illumination with 5 brightness levels for each, and is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Whilst not a direct clone of the T1, this sights T1 styling lends itself well to a civilian tactical build, or mounting on a replica which requires a low mounted sight to co-witness with its iron sights, such as an M14 or tacticool AK style rifle. The short overall length of this sight makes it perfect for use with a magnifier, even on shorter rail systems. The sight can be combined with a riser mount to allow it to be used effectively with a full face mask, and provide co-witness with M4/AR15 iron sights.
The Theta Optics Battle Reflex is a classic sight design, styled after the Aimpoint M2 which is currently issued to the US Army as their primary close quarters optic and was once issued to US Special forces. This design is notable due to its robust construction and wide variety of mounting options available, due to its 25mm/ 1-inch tube design. The tube design provides some additional protection from drops and ensures the sight is well sealed and fog resistant. Naturally, the styling suits a military M4 build perfectly, but would also suit a civilian tactical build, and its medium sizing with a large field of view makes it perfect for any mid sized AEG rifle. This sight, like all of our Top Picks, is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and comes ready to mount to any 20mm Picatinny rail with its included cantilever mount.
We said top 5, we kinda lied, but since these are a family of holographic reflex sights we figured bending the rules a bit was okay! The Theta Optics TO series of sights are styled after a very famous and popular sight design which has been around for a long time in one form or another. Issued to many Militaries, Special Forces units and Special Police units worldwide, this style of sight is appropriate for anything from the British Armed police to the Russian Spetznaz GRU.
The TO series feature aluminium protective hoods, giving them excellent drop resistance, together with an open sight design with an advanced reticle. The holographic style reticle combines a precise dot for ranged shooting and a wide outer ring for rapid close range snap-shooting. All of these sights feature an integrated Picatinny rail mount in the base of the sight itself and a sight picture which is raised to line up with M4/AR15 iron sights. The sights are adjustable using a flathead screwdriver, using the adjustment screws on the right side of the optic. The controls can be found at the rear, with the arrows controlling the brightness of the optic and the NV button allowing the user to toggle between red and green reticles.
The TO552 is the longest variant, affording it the ability to use cheap and widely available AA batteries. This sight is one of the earlier variants of the Holographic style sight, and looks great on an M4 or AR36, especially when set up to mimic KSK or Delta Force of the early 2010s.
The TO551 is the compact variant of the 552, which is identical in function but shorter in overall length, and takes 2x CR123a batteries. This sight pairs well with an SMG-5 or UMP replica, as it was designed for compact weapons and has been sighted (teehee) on MP5s used by the US Navy SEALs, as well as UK Police Armed Response units.
The XTO is the ultra-compact variant, featuring a revised aluminium protective hood design and a further shortened overall length which is intended to improve the optics compatibility with magnifiers and shorter carbine weapons systems. This sight takes a single CR123a battery and is well suited to any modern Special forces setup, including a MK18 mod.1, MP7 or HK416 rifle.
The TO series are so well-loved by us due to their solid build quality, clear reticles and of course, attractive price! These sights are hard-wearing, flexible, and are compatible with flip to side magnifiers for longer-ranged engagements. There are many replicas of this style of sight out there, but we haven't found any as consistently reliable at this price as the Theta Optics offerings.
So that's it, our favourite budget Red Dot Sights! Any of these sights would be a fine addition to your Airsoft primary, be it AEG or GBB! If you are new to the sport and need some further advice on what sight type is best for your chosen setup and role, check out our Guide on Optical sights.