Personally, I like to put red dot sights on most of my short-range rifles. Iron sights are incredible, but most of the time, it is just so much easier to use an excellent red dot. You get a clear sight picture, and your target acquisition is much better.
Although if you want to shoot medium-range targets, your red dot can start to get a little small. For the optimum close-range setup, you need a 3x red dot magnifier.
In This Article:
Red Dot Magnifier Comparison
Below is my list of the best red dot magnifiers for 2022. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of magnifiers.
|UTG 3X Magnifier with Flip-to-side QD Mount||7 Inches||12 oz||$64.99|
|Tacticon Falcon V1 3X Red Dot Magnifier||4.25 Inches||10.7 oz||$69.99|
|Sightmark Magnifier LQD Flip to Side Mount||5 Inches||18 oz||$181|
|Bushnell Optics Matte Black 3X Magnifier||4.5 Inches||17 oz||$136|
|Vortex Optics VMX-3T Magnifier||7 Inches||12 oz||$199|
|HOLOSUN HM3X Flip to Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier||3.3 Inches||10 oz||$199|
|Sig Sauer Juliet 4 Magnifier||4 Inches||12.5 oz||$315|
|EOTECH G33 Magnifier||4.5 Inches||11.2 oz||$579|
|EO Tech Magnifier G43||3 Inches||11.3 oz||$619|
|Aimpoint 3X-C Magnifier with 39mm FlipMount Base||4.25 Inches||7.8 oz||$700|
|Aimpoint 3X-MAG-1 3X Magnifier||4.5 Inches||8.1 oz||$1,200|
Why You Should Listen to Us
Not every rifle needs a full-on scope, but sometimes you need slight magnification. I have tested quite a few of the famous red dot magnifiers on the market today, and they add a lot of flexibility to how you can use a rifle. One minute you are using basic red dot sights within 50 yards, and within a second, you can have an optical system that lets you easily see a couple of hundred yards.
Between my experience and information on the web, I pulled together everything you need to know to make an informative decision on your first red dot magnifier.
Nothing in the firearms industry is one size fits all, so let’s look at the best red dot magnifier for rapid target acquisition and find out exactly which one is best for you.
Our Favorite Red Dot Magnifiers
Sure, everyone wants the absolute best piece of gear on the market, but not everyone wants to pay for it. There are many things to consider when buying a dot magnifier(and we will talk about all of them), but one of the most important things to look at is the price.
So in the following sections, I have separated each red dot magnifier by price, and they get more expensive as you scroll down. Prices also change all the time, so you will not see an exact price, but you will have a ballpark number from which to shop.
Red Dot Magnifiers Under $100
1. UTG 3X Magnifier
While this is the cheapest magnifier on the list, UTG makes a fair entry-level magnifier. They have a lifetime warranty, and the magnifier is relatively standard in terms of dimensions and weight.
It also comes with a quick detach mount that is easy enough to use, but there are better mounts out there, as the price point would tell you.
The UTG magnifier has 3X magnification and sits in an aircraft-grade CNC aluminum housing. It is just under 7 inches long and weighs nearly 12 ounces. Sadly unlimited eye relief just isn’t an option with red dot sights, but this magnifier does offer a decent two inches of eye relief.
This magnifier also sits a little high up with a 44mm center and can be challenging to match up with every red dot optic. You may need additional hardware for your red dot reticle to line up.
However, for the price, it is not a terrible buy.
2. Tacticon Falcon V1
Tacticon is a veteran-owned company. They produce a cheaper red dot magnifier, but for what it costs, it’s pretty good.
The first thing you will notice about the Falcon V1 is that while it’s compatible with Picatinny rails, the actual rail attachment is a nut and bolt and definitely not a quick-release mount. However, the mounting hardware still lets you flip it over and out of the way.
The 3X magnifier is in an aluminum housing and made out of German-sourced objective fully multi-coated lenses that use anti-reflective coatings. It is 4.25 inches long and has 2.5 inches of eye relief.
The whole thing weighs 10.7 ounces.
Red Dot Magnifiers Under $500
3. Sightmark XT-3
This Sight Mark magnifier — coming in just under $200 — is made of rugged 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. It features a QD mount that lets you flip the magnifier up and down.
The magnifier itself provides 3X magnification and is 5 inches long, weighs 1.15 pounds, and has 2 inches of eye relief.
This magnifier is great for the person who wants a compact magnifier that is not bottom-of-the-barrel quality but does not want to spend more than their entire AR cost on a magnifier.
As far as magnifiers go, it is still on the cheap side but much better than the sub $100 magnifiers.
4. Bushnell Optics 3X Magnifier
This magnifier comes from Bushnell, a respected name in the optics world. They have been around for a long time and make optics that most rifle shooters can afford, like this sub $200 red dot magnifier.
Their 3x magnifier is a little over 4.5 inches long and weighs 1.1 pounds, but it is also waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. So you can use it in a lot more situations than the previous ones.
The optics are fully multi-coated (FMC), which allows your image to come through without losing light transmission and clarity, which is especially good in low light conditions.
This is an excellent magnifier to go with if you want an optic from a trusted brand that won’t break the bank.
5. Vortex Optics VMX-3T
The Vortex Optics VMX-3T is a 3X optic made into an aluminum housing. Its lenses are also FMC, and the magnifier is nitrogen purged for reliable waterproof and fog-proof performance, which makes it ideal for the field.
It weighs 12 ounces and is just under 7 inches long, and it has 2.2 inches of eye relief.
The first thing you will notice about this magnifier is the large button you use to flip it. It is straightforward to use and find without much thought. Vortex is an excellent name in the optics industry, and this budget-friendly magnifier is ideal for almost all setups.
6. Holosun HM3X
Similar in price to the previous Vortex, the Holosun HM3X is an excellent little magnifier. It is about 3.3 inches in length and weighs about 10 ounces.
Common to many of these magnifiers, it features an ambidextrous flip mount that is also a quick disconnect mount. It is easy to use and fun, especially when aired with Holosun’s 510C red dot sight.
This magnifier is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof, as you would expect at this price point. It also has a bright sight picture due to its FMC lenses and is built into a durable aluminum housing.
7. Sig Sauer Juliet 4
Sig Sauer’s Juliet magnifier is very popular in the industry. It is commonly sold as a partner to their Romeo red dot sight, but you can also buy it independently.
Unlike the rest, it is a 4X magnifier, which means it is more equipped for long-range shooting and has mid-range capabilities. It is also highly durable and made into a very tough aluminum housing.
It is just over 4 inches long and weighs 12.5 ounces. It has a clear sight picture and 90 MOA windage and elevation adjustments. This magnifier hovers around the $400 mark, but it is a quality red dot magnifier from a proven brand.
If you are looking for both a 3x magnifier and a red dot, the Romeo and Juliet red dot magnifier combo is a match made in Shakespearean heaven.
Red Dot Magnifiers Under $1,000
8. EOTech Model G33
EOTech is known for its holographic sights, and I would take an EOTech holographic sight on any of my rifles. Although they also make nice magnifiers to go with them and other red dots. Plus, this red dot magnifier comes with a ten-year warranty and is sure to hold up to whatever beating you can give it.
The G33 is a 3X magnifier that weighs 11.2 ounces and is just under 4.5 inches long. It is water and fog-resistant. It has an eye relief of 2.2 inches with a field of view of 7.3 degrees.
Its adjustable diopter allows you to focus it specifically to your eyesight. It does come with a flip mount that has a quick detach lever.
9. EOTech Magnifier G43
Much like the previous EOTech, this is a fantastic magnifier, but it is even smaller. You can see how this magnifier looks small and fat compared to the others. It is just 3 inches long and just as rugged as any magnifier on this list.
The G43 weighs 11.3 ounces and is made into a rugged aluminum housing. EOTech is a favorite when it comes to magnifiers, and people rave about this one. It is compatible with many red dots and holo sights and can be used on just about any setup.
Even though it can cost more than a basic AR, it is a quality optic that you will be glad you bought.
10. Aimpoint 3X-C
Aimpoint is just about as nice as you can get when looking for magnifiers. Some people may have other favorites, but Aimpoint has very high-quality magnifiers, and their price reflects that. Their 3X-C magnifier is suitable for someone focused on short-range shooting who wants the best quality gear available under $1,000.
The 3X-C is shockproof and waterproof and is built into a durable aluminum housing with built-in recoil lugs. It features an included flip mount & twist mount base, which is easy to use. It weighs 7.8 ounces and is 4.25 inches long.
This magnifier also has a clear picture and a variable +/- 2 dioptric setting. With the range capabilities of this magnifier, there is nothing your rifle can not do.
Red Dot Magnifiers Over $1,000
11. Aimpoint 3X-Mag-1
The Aimpoint 3X Mag 1 is a step above the rest. We already talked about Aimpoint’s quality, but if you want an excellent magnifier, this is the way to go.
This magnifier is perfect for users who want the best magnifier possible to see extremely well with their red dot past 100 yards.
This magnifier has an extremely clear sight picture and a +/- 3 dioptric focus setting. It is just under 4.5 inches and weighs 8.1 ounces. It also comes with a generous 7-degree field of view, and 2.75 inches of eye relief, which means you should have plenty of rail space to mount it.
It also sits on a very sturdy locking mechanism.
Important Red Dot Magnifier Considerations
What kinds of considerations will you want to look at to know that you will get an excellent magnified optic before you buy? Obviously, you want to look at reviews and what other people are saying about the products, and if that’s what you are currently doing, good job.
Although you also want to look at a few features of the magnifier first hand and make an informed opinion.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most important features and why they matter.
There are always a few new and high-quality companies making exciting and unique products, but most of the time, if you have never heard of the brand, it is likely a good product to avoid.
Every product has its place, and the cheaper it is, the less likely it will stand up to the elements.
That is why you want to check out the companies that make whatever product you plan on buying. If you have not heard of them, but they have good reviews and a solid customer service team, then you should give it a go.
Although if the reviews are constant rants about the low quality and how hard it is to get a human customer service rep, the low price is probably not worth it.
Plus, as with most things, you more or less get what you pay for when it comes to firearms and accessories.
Personally, I believe that there is a point of diminishing returns where a higher price does not add to the product’s value. Still, there’s simply a massive difference between a $100 magnifier and a $700 magnifier.
Is there really a vast difference between a $700 magnifier and a $1,200 magnifier?
Probably not, at least for my money.
We all want to avoid buying an expensive magnifier to have it break from the impact of your rifle falling. Generally, quality 3x magnifiers will be made out of aluminum, preferably o ring sealed, and offer maximum light transmission from the objective lens. The best 3x modifiers will often include a lens coating that increases light transmission and improves usability in low light conditions.
If the company does not specify the kind of aluminum they use, it is probably cheap aluminum and may not be as durable, so look for aircraft-grade or better.
A red dot sight magnifier that’s constructed with an aircraft-grade CNC aluminum housing means you can just about use the thing as a hammer. I wouldn’t recommend trying it, but they are tough.
Next, you want to check the maximum magnification power. What you want all depends on how far you plan on shooting. In general, higher magnification will allow you to see further without blurring. A typical red dot magnifier will offer a magnification level between 3 and 6x, with the sweet spot at 3x magnification for most.
One thing that you will want to pay extra attention to when considering your preferred magnification level is the MOA of your red dot. The larger your MOA, the more area your dot will cover at range. Remember, these magnifiers do not change your red dot in any way; they only magnify it and allow you to see clearer at longer ranges.
So if you are using an 8 MOA red dot, which is typical for close quarters and self-defense, it will likely cover the entire target at the kinds of ranges that become possible with a magnifier.
If you plan on using your red dot at longer ranges, the best you can go with is a 1 MOA red dot. That means that at 100 yards, your dot will cover a 1-inch circle.
At 200 yards, it will cover a 2-inch circle. With an 8 MOA sight, it will cover an 8-inch circle at 100 yards and a 16-inch circle at 200 yards, which leaves an undesirably large margin of error for most shooters, regardless of how well dialed your co-witness might be.
You can see that regardless of the magnification you choose, you will only shoot as accurately as your red dot allows. If you have a 1 MOA dot and equip a 6X magnifier, you can certainly hit a target at 300 yards.
Although if you shoot perfectly, you will have a 3-inch group at best, although you will likely have a bigger group than that.
The purpose of a good red dot magnifier is centered around making your short-range targets easier to see (and easier to identify). This prevents you from attempting to use your red dot sight at distances well beyond its useful range.
Mounting hardware is one of the most important things about your magnifier. You can often buy red dot sights paired with a magnifier as a package, which simplifies things, but that is by no means a requirement. You can buy a red dot sight or reflex sight from one company and a red dot magnifier from another, and they can work together perfectly.
Whether mounting products from the same brand or using aftermarket mounts, your primary concern is their alignment. Important note: a 3x magnifier has a stat known as “center height”. Usually, you will see this in millimeters (mm), which details the height of the middle/center of the sight when mounted. Knowing the center height of your 3x magnifier can help you quickly hone in on whether you need additional mounting hardware, such as a riser.
You may or may not have to buy an additional mounting system for your red dot for it to line up correctly with the magnifier, but many magnifiers have adjustment dials to help with alignment.
As for the red dot magnifier, some of them do not come with mounts in the box, so you will have to look for aftermarket magnifier mounts. I find it extremely annoying to buy a magnifier for hundreds of dollars, and a side mount for over a hundred dollars.
Nonetheless, be prepared to buy a mount if you do not see one noted as included with the product. There are also plenty of mounts and mounting hardware out there — from standard Picatinny options to side mounts and quick detach mounts. Many people prefer a QD mount, but it’s a matter of preference.
Most mounts use a flip-to-side mechanism, and those work great, but you can also find a flip mount that pivots up and down, which some guys prefer because their sights do not rest behind the ejection port when flipped over.
Quick-release mount or side mount, placing your sight behind the ejection port is a good way to get it dirty after extended use, although if you’re not at the range every week shooting with your sight flipped down, this should not be an issue.
Size and Weight
Another thing to look at is the size and weight of your red dot magnifier. A higher magnification magnifier tends to be longer, like the 6X magnifiers, which can be 7 or 8 inches long, and others are short and fat — like you find with a 3X magnifier. This is a pivotal component to consider when you start creating your setup.
Not only is it going to add weight to your overall setup, but the length of the magnifier is going to partially determine where you can place it on any rail.
Even the best red dot magnifiers can have terrible eye relief, requiring you to get much closer to the 3x magnifier to see clearly out of it than you would with just the red dot sight or holographic sight alone. Worth noting: the length of the magnifier can impact this distance and light transmission.
Plus, just because one magnifier is a few inches longer than another does not automatically mean it will weigh a whole lot more. Just consider how much weight you are willing to add and just how long you want your magnifier to be.
Eye relief is ‘the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece within which the user’s eye can obtain the full viewing angle. If a viewer’s eye is outside this distance, a reduced field of view will be obtained.”
AKA the distance your eye needs to be from the coated lenses to see the entire sight picture.
We already mentioned briefly how the length of the 3x magnifier affects this. Eye relief is calculated from the lens closest to your eye, so two magnifiers may have the same eye relief, but if one is longer than the other, you would ideally not have to place your eye as far up the stock. This also depends on how they are mounted and whether you’re using something that would impact your ability to approach the lens, such as night vision goggles.
Guys commonly put these a 3x magnifier as far back as possible, providing enough rail space on their setups. The limiting factor on the AR platform is your charging handle, so there is a good chance you will have to get pretty close to your magnifier and shoot slightly differently than you normally would, but who doesn’t love a challenge?
Why Use a Red Dot Magnifier?
Red dot magnifiers work by increasing the magnification of a red dot sight’s reticle, which enables users to see better at a distance. This helps shooters identify targets better and see them clearer than they could with the red dot alone.
Another great thing about magnifiers is that they can flip out of the way when not in use. This allows your red dot to be used as intended with an optional optic that unlocks additional range when needed.
All and all magnifiers are very effective at allowing you to get the most out of your red dot sight. Although, if you are trying to shoot at distances of over 200 yards, you are better off with a low-powered variable optic and canted iron sights or a smaller red dot for closer ranges.
Price Ranges vs. Features
It is no secret that you will start to get better quality products at specific price points. Here are a few logical price breaks and what you can expect to gain.
- Under $100 – It will be tough to find a magnifier at this price point that will hold up over time. Sure a budget red dot magnifier will work just fine, but the quality of materials will be lacking, and glass clarity will not be the best. You may be better off just investing in a quality set of iron sights or BUIS, which can be had for around a c-note.
- Between $300 & $600 – Most of the 3x magnifiers on the market fall under this price range. Here you will get a good quality product, and you can expect them to have some waterproofing, shockproofing, and fog resistance. These will be good magnifiers that you can use for a long time but won’t be ready for the battlefield. You’ll see lots of well-known brands at this price point, from Sig, Primary Arms, Holosun, and Vortex Optics, many of which are known the producing quality red dots.
- Between $600 & $1000 – These will be excellent magnifiers that are going to be extraordinarily clear and often battle-proven. They are also very likely to have some impressive warranties. These magnifiers are going to be tough and last for a lifetime.
- Over $1,000 – north of $1,000 is more than most people need to spend on a magnifier. However, these magnifiers are top-notch, and they are going to have a very clear sight picture, enormous eye relief, and extreme build quality. Look for these to outlast lower-quality red dot optics.
How We Selected Our Recommendations
Selecting the best red dot magnifier is a subjective exercise, but in addition to my experience with the Juliet red dot magnifier and Romeo5 red dot sight, I leaned on my personal experience with other red dots, studied other online reviews and discussed with my shooting buddies to get an idea of what the best 3x magnifiers are at each price range.
I also have extensive experience with a variety of optics — from the above red dots magnifier combo to LPVOs and reflex sights and a holographic weapon sight which helped shape my recommendations.
Even though I have used a few magnifiers on this list, it is impossible to use them all, but there is always someone somewhere that has.
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