Are you in the market for a new red dot optic? You have a wide selection to pick from including units from Bushnell, Vortex, Aimpoint, and EOTech. You could pick from many mid-range units including the best red dot under $500. In this range you can get good durability, features, and reliability.
What should you look for in an under-$500 red dot sight? It starts with the basics, including size, weight, and material. Then there’s the design like open or tube style. The reticle is another issue to consider including options like clarity, MOA, and patterns. The battery type and battery life should also be considered to determine the unit’s longevity and availability. Even the price is an issue since the under-$500 range is half a grand.
Best Red Dot Optics Under $500
1. Strikefire II Red Dot Sight by Vortex Optics
- Red/Green dot
- 10 brightness settings
- Unlimited eye-relief
- Multi-coated lenses
The Strikefire II (click HERE to see the reviews on Amazon) is a durable and reliable red dot optic. It can be used in a wide range of shooting applications including target shooting and hunting. You have flexibility with the 10 brightness settings. So, you could make tweaks based on different lighting conditions based on factors like weather conditions and time of day. The multi-coated lenses also offer a clear field of view (FOV), so it’s easier to get on target.
The Strikefire II also offers an ultra-durable construction. There’s a one-piece 30mm aluminum chassis that’s compact/lightweight. This Vortex optic is fully waterproof and fog-proof with features that include O-ring seals and nitrogen purging. The unit is also shockproof to withstand recoil/impact when you’re in the field.
Strikefire II offers a red and green reticle. The green dot is more ideal for daytime lighting while the red dot is better for nighttime shooting. You can also make easy windage/elevation adjustments. The dial provides audible clicks that move the dial ½ MOA.
Let’s talk power. This sight is powered by a CR2 lithium battery. Meanwhile, the power controls are easy-access, so you could easily make tweaks when necessary. This allows for easy power on/off and tweaks of the dot intensity levels. It even returns to the dot intensity you used when powering up the optic.
The unit also offers more versatility for mounting. You can shift the sight forward to use the sight with iron sights and magnifier on the rifle’s rail. You get more versatility with the lower 1/3 co-witness mount model. This allows you to install the optic bore 44mm higher than the base surface.
2. PRO Patrol Rifle Optic by Aimpoint
- 3V lithium battery
- Works with NV devices
- Anti-reflection devices (ARD)
- Patrol rifle-compataible
- 2MOA red dot
- 3-year battery life
A key benefit of this Aimpoint sight (click HERE to see the reviews on Amazon) is it’s patrol rifle-friendly. It might normally be tougher to find optics for these specific rifles, but it won’t be an issue with this Aimpoint model. It’s a good option for various applications including law enforcement.
The unit is also durable starting with an aluminum alloy housing. It’s also durable enough for extreme weather since it’s waterproof for a maximum of 150 feet. In addition, you can add an anti-reflection device (ARD) for better clarity. The lenses are also kept clean using the front/rear flip covers.
This Aimpoint sight features 2 minute of angle (MOA) for precise target-shooting for all distances. You can use the sight when both eyes are open. In an emergency, you can also operate the sight when both eyes are closed. That’s right!
The unit operates on a 3V lithium battery. An extra feature is reminders for battery change date. This makes tracking/maintenance of the unit easier, which is a plus.
This unit offers more accuracy versus magnified scopes and iron sights. It helps to boost the percentage of first-shot hit. Furthermore, you can get on target faster, which is another perk of this optic vs. others on the market. It also works with 1-3 gen. night vision (NV) devices. The unit even works with in-house Aimpoint magnifiers.
Next, the PRO optic has a 3-year battery life using one unit. This ends the need to keep switching the unit on/off, which can become a hassle each time you operate the sight.
The unit is also available at a budget-friendly price. This makes it a good option if you’re on a shoestring budget, want to buy bulk optics, etc.
3. Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight by Bushnell
- 3MOA reticle
- 11 brightness settings
- Waterproof when submerged /fog-proof
- Shockproof design withstands bumps and drops in field
- Mounts on rifles, shotguns, and pistols
Bushnell is a US company founded 70+ years ago in 1948. This is a durable unit. The sturdy metal housing is designed to be water-proof, fog-proof, and shock-proof to survive rough use in the field and extreme weather. It won’t even fog up when it’s exposed to fast temperature changes or high humidity.
Another big plus of the TRS-25 (click HERE to see the reviews on Amazon) is the flexibility it offers. It includes 11 easy-adjustable brightness settings so you can use it in different lighting environments. In addition, you can mount the unit on most Picatinny rails, and it works with rifles shotguns and handguns.
The unit also includes several other features that add value. They include multi-coated lenses for high-end clarity, unlimited eye relief for more comfort, and scope cover to protect your investment. There’s also Amber-Bright optics so you can distinguish the difference between brown game and trees.
4. Sparc II Red Dot Sight by Vortex Optics
- Compact sight
- Unlimited eye relief
- 3-piece base
- Sturdy/lightweight design
- Multi-coated lens
The Sparc II (click HERE to see the reviews on Amazon) is a durable yet lightweight red dot optic. It’s made of sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum to boost the unit’s lifespan. It also includes a 1-piece body that provides shock-proof functionality to withstand impact /recoil. The unit is also water/fog-proof for higher durability in the field.
A key feature of this Vortex unit is the versatility it offers. For example, you can use it on a wide range of platforms, including rifles and shotguns. The 3-piece base offers 4 different mounting heights for weapon customization. You can also use the sight for 1/3 co-witness when you want to combine the optic with iron sights.
Then there’s the optic’s clarity. The lenses are multi-coated for clear FOV. You also get unlimited eye relief and parallax -free viewing for clear/comfy use.
Sparc II also offers ease of use. For example, you can easily tweak elevation/windage settings when operating the sight. There are also rear-facing power controls that also increase ease of use. In fact, you’ll only have to use 2 buttons for operating the unit’s 10 brightness levels.
We’ve just reviewed some of the industry’s top sights in the best red dot under $500 category. All of these units have some key features and benefits. However, we can only select one as the best of the best. Our pick (drumroll, please) is: Strikefire II Red Dot Sight by Vortex Optics
Vortex was founded over a decade ago in 2004. It’s already become an industry leader and even produces a holographic sight.
The Strikefire II is ultra-durable with a 1-piece chassis made of durable metal. That’s just the start. The unit is also waterproof and fog-proof, so you can use it in different weather conditions. It’s also shockproof to withstand recoil/impact.
This Vortex sight also includes outstanding flexibility and ease of use. You get 10 brightness settings for different light environments. There’s also unlimited eye relief and multi-coated lenses for comfort and clarify. The power controls are also located at the rear for ease-of-use. If you want to install a magnifier or iron sight you can also easily shift the sight.
Finally, the Strikefire II offers both green and red dots. This provides flexibility for light and dim environments and it’s another reason this sight gets a green (and red) light.