The Best Pistol Red Dot in 2023

Looking for the best pistol red dot sight can be tough considering the crowded market that has grown around these devices in the past several years. With terms tossed around like emitters, focal planes, and footprints thrown in the mix, it can also be confusing.

I’m here to walk you through all that and give you my top five optics from leading brands that I have used and abused over the past year to find out what I consider the best pistol red dot sights available on the market today. Each of these has gone through rigorous testing and dynamic range evaluation and would serve admirably, and I tell you the good and the bad—with nothing held back. 

Why Choose a Pistol Red Dot in the First Place?

Mini/Micro reflex dot pistol sights or mini/micro red dot pistol sights (with the latter being a bit of a misnomer as some use green dots or do not even use a dot at all) have been around for almost 50 years, with Aimpoint fielding pistol-sized electronic laser dots as far back as 1975. However, it is only in the past decade or so that they have become widespread for use on handguns, be they for target, competition, or defensive use.

The reason they are so popular is obvious once you use one, as they instantly help present to the user a fast aiming point that attracts the eye more rapidly than having to first focus on the fine point of a pistol front sight and then align that front sight to the rear notch to generate a good sight picture.

This makes pistol red dot sights faster on target, shaving seconds when they could be crucial.

It has also been proven time and time over, such as in law enforcement transition training, that moving from iron “dumb” sights to pistol red dot “smart” sights can typically up scores in terms of accuracy, while also stretching the engagement envelope where users can expect to get hits on target. While 100-yard shots with a pistol are tough with iron sights, even from the bench, a good pistol red dot sight that is zeroed in can put them on the table.

Plus, in low-light situations such as inside a building or at night, pistol red dot sights excel.

The military and law enforcement found out the same thing with the use of illuminated RDS, or Red Dot Sights, such as the ELCAN and ACOG, on rifles and machine guns as far back as the early 1990s. Pistols are just catching up today with pistol red dot sights.

Brand Recognition

Some optics lines are household names that have been around for generations. For instance, Leupold stretches back to 1907 when it was founded by Markus Friedrich (Fred) Leupold, hence the name.

Going further, Karl Steiner started a one-man optics workshop in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1947 and thirty years later was the first company to mount a laser on a firearm– the basis for today’s reflex sights.

Other brands, like Holosun, are newer to the game, being founded in California in 2013. Does that mean that Holosun makes lower-quality sights than Leupold or Steiner? Not necessarily.

When it comes to country of origin, that gets complicated as most electro-optics companies these days are international. Take Holosun for instance. They are located in the U.S., but it is common knowledge that most of their optics are manufactured in China, even if they may be designed in California.

Steiner, while Italian owned by the Beretta Group and based in Germany, constructs its laser sights via its Steiner eOptics subsidiary in the U.S.

SIG Sauer’s optics branch is in Oregon but their “value” SKUs such as the Romeo Zero, Whisky, and Romeo 5 are imported from Asia, or assembled in the U.S. from overseas components, while their more expensive Romeo 2s and Tango series optics are made in the U.S.– the latter largely to meet on-shore requirements for Pentagon contract consideration. The latter reason is why optics from companies like Eotech, Trijicon, and Aimpoint are so pricy.

Odds are, the lower the price, the greater the odds it is made or assembled from parts sourced from China, no matter where it is packaged or where the company is based. However, don’t think of the price as being the direct translation of quality, as several sights lean towards a less expensive cost that is still of good design and manufactured to meet heightened quality control benchmarks.


Each pistol red dot sight uses its own mounting footprint, which I will get into, and commonly available button battery, which are replaceable. However, what happens if there are problems? If the glass breaks, the buttons stick, or the dot refuses to zero to the point of impact? That’s where doing your research comes matters.

For instance, Leupold offers a lifetime warranty in which they promise to repair or replace it for free – whether you’re the original owner or not.

Leupold DeltaPoint Pro warranty

Burris offers their style of “Forever, no questions asked, warranty,” which is not limited to the original owner.

Burris forever, no questions asked, warranty

Holosun is more selective, with a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner that specifically applies to the metal structure and optical systems only while the LED illumination system is only covered for ten years.

Similarly, SIG has what they call an “Infinite Guarantee” that is lifetime– but the electrical components are only covered for five years for workmanship defects, something that may be harder to satisfy.

Others offer much shorter limited warranties such as Steiner, who typically cover their optics for two years.

No matter what pistol red dot sight you select and how they are supported after the fact, be sure to save your proof of ownership or warranty card that comes with the optic and register the device with the manufacturer, if possible. This also helps ensure that you don’t have a counterfeit item.


Pistol red dot sights are typically described as Micro or Mini, differentiating these optics from more full-sized red dots meant for use with rifles. The compact nature comes for two reasons.

  1. They must be short enough in length to fit behind the ejection port on top of the slide of a semi-auto pistol. For reference, full-sized pistols in the M1911/CZ75/Beretta 92/SIG P226 range have a sight radius of about 8-inches, with the maximum open “real estate” between the rear sight dovetail and the ejection port only being about 1.85 usable inches. This is the primary reason that pistol red dot sights fall under this benchmark.
  2. It is important that the pistol red dot sight weighs as little as possible so that it doesn’t retard the slide during its cycling process. Hence, the lighter the better, typically 2 ounces or less to ensure continued functionality.


The profile that slides are milled to support is unique to pistol red dot sights and is referred to as a “footprint,” typically by the optic manufacturer’s base plate style. For instance, Trijicon’s RMR is one of the more common pistol dots on the market, so footprints milled to accept it are referred to as RMR, even though other makers use the same footprint.

Sadly, while rifles have largely solidified with M1913 Picatinny rails for their optics mounting needs, there are several different footprints for pistol red dot sights floating around.

Further muddying the waters, pistol makers like to call their footprints different things even if they share a commonality with a known pattern used by other optics companies.

For example, Springfield Armory lists the footprint on their Optics Sight Pistols as the Springfield Micro pattern even though the mounting screws are in the same place as a standard Shield RMSc footprint optic.

SIG does the same thing, labeling their optics-ready pistols as using the Romeo pattern, which is also the same as the Shield RMSc footprint.

Remember to do your research as to what pattern your optic and pistol choices are to make sure they are compatible.

Theory of Use

A key factor in the choice of a pistol red dot sight is the anticipated use of the optic.

For instance, if you plan to jump out of a C-130 from 20,000 feet at night, pop a parachute to make a water landing offshore, then paddle in over the beach and need your dot to work, you may want something that is “bomb proof” such as an RMR, which is the standard optic for USSOCOM commandos.

However, if you are just going to mount it as a backup sight to your LPVO on your competition AR build or home defense rifle that spends most of its time in a warm dry place, a Holosun should work fine. The same can be said for those who most often carry their P365 while grocery shopping in the suburbs.

Of course, make sure you “bring enough optic” to meet your needs, but for most people, excess capability well beyond what is needed is just wasted money.

Emitter type

The LED illumination device, or emitter, which produces the dot or reticle on the sight, can come in a few different types.

The most common is an open emitter, which means the LED that throws its reticle on the lens is open to the atmosphere, leaving it up to the possibility that dirt, dust, mud, or grime can occlude it. Open emitters are so widespread in the pistol red dot sight world due to the fact they leave the sight open which makes it more compact, a selling point for many looking to use an optic on a carry pistol.

Less commonly encountered are closed emitters, which are housed inside a sealed or semi-sealed box. Closed emitters can shrug off atmospherics such as rain and dust easier than open emitters and are less susceptible to giving off a tell-tale “bloom” when seen under passive night vision equipment.

Speaking of PNVs, for those planning to shoot at night with the benefit of night vision goggles, be sure to research the emitter brightness settings on a pistol red dot sight to see if they have a night vision capability. While not an IR beam, which would be ideal, the typical NV mode on a pistol red dot sight produces a very dim reticle that is too subtle to see with the naked eye but still pops out when viewed through an NV device.

Reticle Size

Typically expressed in MOA, or Minute of Angle, in which is 1 MOA is 1/60th of a degree of a circle and amounts to one inch at 100 yards, red dot size varies across most pistol red dot sights.

The basic rule of thumb is that the smaller the dot in terms of MOA, the smaller the expected translation on target. For example, a 2 MOA dot, which covers two inches, is liable to give the user a tighter pattern on target than a 6 MOA dot, which covers six inches.

So why would you want a larger dot? While a bigger dot in terms of MOA size means a wider group on target, these more prominent dots are easier– and thus faster– to pick out, especially in bright light environments. Just be aware that those bigger dots lose precision at distance.

Focal Plane?

When it comes to optics, you often hear a lot about “focal planes,” which are simply the lens in a scope. Adjustable scopes with variable magnification, such as those seen on rifles or large format pistols, will have two focal planes, the first of which is at the eyepiece and varies with the magnification, while the second focal plane inside the scope is fixed and does not move.

With most red dot sights, there is no on-optic magnification, meaning in other words they have a fixed second focal plane with an illuminated reticle. This is sometimes seen listed as a 1x magnification. A wonderful thing about SFP optics is that they can offer virtually unlimited eye relief (rather than the limited eye relief range on an FFP scope), which makes them perfect for use with handguns.

Remember, the simple 1x magnification allows for shooting with both eyes open, allowing for enhanced awareness and rapid target acquisition.

Red or Green?

Pistol red dot sights typically run a red dot. However, there is a movement by several companies to start fielding optics with green dots instead.

The reason for a green dot is that studies have shown them to provide a more rapid pick up to the eye than red because, although red is first in the color spectrum, the human eye processes green hues faster. Plus, it is thought that the green dot provides less eye strain than red and is easier for those with stigmatism to pick out.

The 5 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights

1. Steiner MPS Micro Pistol Sight

Steiner MPS Micro Pistol Sight

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Steiner has been making optics for generations and, through its eOptics branch, has been increasingly moving towards more compact red dots. The MPS, announced last year, is its first attempt at a pistol red dot sights, and the “mailbox” style closed-emitter sight has a lot of good things going for it.


  • Elevation/Windage Adjustment Type: Coin Click, (small coin) 1 MOA per click
  • Reticle: 3.3 MOA Dot
  • Window size: 21x16mm
  • Battery Type: CR1632
  • Night vision Compatible Illumination: Yes
  • Number of Illum Settings: 8 (two night vision)
  • Weight (oz): 2
  • Battery Life (hr.): 13,000
  • Battery Saver: Auto off after 13 hours
  • Waterproof/fog proof rating: 10 meters
  • Mounting Footprint: ACRO (ish)

What I Liked

Coming in as sort of a German version of the Aimpoint ACRO, the Steiner MPS has better styling and almost seems like it has a racier profile, while the ACRO just looks like a box. Still, the MPS has everything you could love about a sealed closed emitter red dot– such as being impervious to dust, fog, and rain.

This also goes a big way towards helping to keep the optic clear of the unidentified “schmutz” that accumulates on the lens through the course of normal carry– lint, cookie crumbs, whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I have made it home after eight or twelve hours away from home, pulled out my carry piece to put it back in the safe, and noticed that the lens on my open-emitter red dot is now almost opaque from the fine silting of lint from my shirt and dust from the roads of my daily travel. The MPS just did not seem to get as nasty in my experience.

The MPS also proved to have a low floor, which easily allowed co-witness on the lower third with the existing pistol sights. This is due to the fact that it uses an emitter that is placed on the roof of the optic, projecting downward, rather than on the floor and projecting upward as with most other red dot sights.

The lens quality is remarkably high on the MPS, and I thought it was crystal clear, and blocked reflections more than other sights I have used.

The 3.3 MOA reticle splits the difference between the field of either 2 or 6 MOA dots that are commonly seen.

When it comes to elevation and windage knobs, they are easy to turn and have a tactile “click” but need either a very small coin or a flat-tip screwdriver to adjust.

The battery is a common CR1632 that top-installs via a screw-top enclosure opened with the included multitool. While the first generation models of the MPS did not have an auto-off and the red dot remained illuminated until the battery died (with its 13,000-hour rating, that would be something like 500 days), the current model has an auto-off after 13 hours to conserve battery life.

What I Hated

While dimensionally about the same as shorter open emitter pistol red dot sights at the base, the top of the MPS is still downright clunky and feels hard to conceal. And I am not the only person to say that aloud.

When you look at the people that are adopting big, closed-emitter pistol red dot sights like the ACRP and MPS, they are invariably law enforcement users such as the Kansas State Police who carry them on full-sized handguns on duty– without having to worry about concealment or printing.

Plus, when it comes to trying to find the dot, I instead found myself moving the pistol around more to get inside the MPS’s box and then sort of hooking it up to my face. In short, I think it takes a moment or so longer when using the MPS to get a good sight picture than with an open emitter sight that is easier to “drop” into.

Further, Steiner says in all its literature that the optic uses an ACRO footprint. However, when trying to mount it with a CHPWS plate on my MOS Glock G47, it simply would not marry up without wiggling. I was able to get it to eventually work with the included Steiner steel plate, which may be somewhat different from an ACRO footprint. I will freely admit, though, that the way the Steiner-shipped plate locks in to the sight bottom is rock-solid.

Compared to the Rest of Our List

While stacking the MPS up against the other sights on the list, the closest face-off in terms of styling is the Burris FastFire 4.

Steiner and FastFire put together on the front side
Steiner MPS (left) and Burris Fastfire 4 (right)

They both are enclosed emitters, at least when the FastFire 4 has its hood and rear lens installed, and are about the same size to within a couple of millimeters. Likewise, they share a similar red dot size (3.3 vs 3 MOA).

Steiner and FastFire put together on the side

The FastFire 4 gets a boost over the German sight as it has the option for the user to swap through four different reticles (3 MOA, 3 MOA circle with wings, 11 MOA, and 11 MOA circle) but vouching for the MPS over the Burris optic, the Steiner is fully sealed whereas the FastFire cannot say the same.

When compared to the open emitter sights on the list, the Holosun, Leupold, and SIG, the MPS is for sure taller and blockier. This, I feel, translates into the design being less concealable. Sure, that is the tradeoff between closed emitter sights and the benefits they bring when it comes to shrugging off atmospherics and it all comes down to the intended use.

Steiner and Holosun side by side
Steiner MPS and Holosun 507K X2G
Steiner and Leupold side by side
Steiner MPS and Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight
Steiner and SIG side by side
Steiner MPS (right) and SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (left)

The window size is smallish when compared to the size of the optic overall, almost the same size as that on the much smaller Holosun 507.

What is the MPS Best For?

Ideally, the MPS would excel on handguns meant for hard use– tactical or practical pistols used in hairy situations or competition– but not necessarily for use on a compact pistol to be carried concealed.

2. Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight

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Leupold’s Delta Point Pro is one of the older optics on my list, having been on the market for the better part of a decade. Why replace it if it works well and people like it, right? What Leupold has done over the past several years is offer it in assorted colors and with an option for a big fat 6 MOA red dot– which is the sight I’m covering here.


  • Elevation/Windage Adjustment Type: Coin Click (small coin)
  • Reticle: 6 MOA Dot
  • Window size: 25.7×17.5mm
  • Battery Type: 1 CR2032
  • Night Vision Compatible Illumination: No
  • Number of Illum Settings: 8
  • Weight (oz): 2
  • Battery Life (hr.): 300-1600 depending on brightness setting.
  • Battery Saver: Motion Sensor Technology deactivates LED after five minutes of inactivity
  • Waterproof/fog proof rating: 33-foot depth
  • Mounting Footprint: Shield RMS/SMS pattern

What I Liked

I got a feeling of robustness from the Leupold, having dropped it several times on concrete and racked the slide by the housing off structure without any noticeable damage. Of note, the company rates it for use with rifles and shotguns and as part of the QC process, a DPP is taken from each batch for recoil simulation tests on what the company calls the Punisher, which drives 5,000 impacts equivalent to a 10mm pistol slide through the optic.

Further, it has a commanding window size and was one of the largest among the optics I used in testing. That allowed the sight to be acquired extremely fast and I saw the shortest split times with the DPP on the range.

The single CR2032 battery can be changed without dismounting the sight, and thus losing zero. Speaking of batteries, the official rating from Leupold when it comes to the expected power source lifespan is super short compared to most other sights– as low as 600 hours on the brightest setting. However, take that figure with a grain of salt as the sight has a particularly good power saver, Leupold calls it Motion Sensor Technology, which shuts down the optic after five minutes then restarts it when it is moved again.

In my experience, I used the DPP extensively for over six months and never had to replace the battery.

Those who knock the 6 MOA dot, which some would argue is too large for precision work, have not done their math. The subtension on a 6 MOA dot at 25 yards is just 1.6 inches, a cone that expands to 3.1 inches at 50 yards and 6.3 at 100 yards. By anybody’s standards, a six-inch point of impact on a pistol out to 100 yards is still tight enough for most uses and is effectively center mass on a high thoracic cavity target.

I found the dot easier to pick up than 2 and 3 MOA reticles and have come to prefer it.

The lens quality on the Leupold, keeping with their reputation for great optics, is clear and high quality. Other than possibly the Steiner, it was the best of the five.

The windage and elevation adjustments are easy to use with a small coin, offering an audible and tactile “click.”

The Shield RMS/SMS pattern footprint it uses is quite common, which means lots of pistols come with a slide that is directly milled for it or can accept an adapter plate to make it work.

Further, Leupold sells a $70 mount designed to fit any Picatinny, Weaver, or cantilever rail, enabling easy compatibility with tactical shotguns and AR platforms. Additionally, they also sell a 45-degree AR mount, which allows the DPP to be used easily as a backup sight to an LPVO or larger scope.

What I Hated

The DPP is not cheap, and it comes with eight illumination settings so you can dial its brightness up and down as needed. However, I have PNV nods and would like to be able to use them in conjunction with my pistol sights. Sadly, Leupold only puts a night vision capacity on its dedicated DPP NV models, which ship with 10 illume settings– the standard eight along with two for use with passive night vision. Bummer.

Also, the Leupold is pushing the envelope when it comes to length and width– a sticky downside to its large window size. That means it will not work on some very compact “micro” sized pistols such as the exceedingly popular Sig Sauer P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat.

Stacked Against Previous Models

The 6 MOA Delta Point Pro, in my opinion, is an improvement on past models which came with a smaller 2.5 MOA dot. Plus, you can tell Leupold has made several small improvements to the optic in these newer models as the settings are different.

Compared to the Rest of the List

For an open-emitter micro reflex sight, the Leupold DPP is huge. Stacking it next to something like a Holosun 507 or the SIG Romeo Zero shows the difference in size.

Leupold DPP and Holosun 507K X2G
Leupold DPP (left) and Holosun 507K X2G (right)
Leupold DPP (left) and SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (right)
Leupold DPP (left) and SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (right)

While the Leupold gets the win here in terms of larger window size, its footprint is too wide and long to be a competitor as it has edged itself out of being able to mount on many of today’s newer carry guns.

What is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Best For?

It is tough to beat the Leupold Delta Point Pro 6 MOA when it comes to having a tough-as-nails red dot for use on a combat-ready handgun. Outside of this list, its closest competitor is the vaunted Trijicon RMR, which I feel the DPP outclasses. The ideal use for a DPP is on a medium-to-full-sized pistol for competition or practical use.

Alternatively, it makes a great option for use on a tactical shotgun or as a 45-degree backup sight on an AR. It can take the abuse.

3. Holosun 507K X2G

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Holosun in the past few years has come out of nowhere and is cutting into the market share of larger, more established, optics companies with some high-performance products achievable at more entry-level prices.

The 507 series first hit the scenes in 2018 as the most compact open reflex optic in Holosun’s lineup. It has gone through several changes since then, morphing generationally from the V2 to the KX2 models, all with innovative updates.


  • Elevation/Windage Adjustment Type: Fine click
  • Reticle: 2 MOA Dot with 32 MOA Circle, Green or Red
  • Window size: 19.6×14.7 mm
  • Battery Type: 1 CR1620
  • Night vision Compatible Illumination: Yes
  • Number of Illum Settings: 12 (10 DL & 2 NV Compatible)
  • Weight (oz): 1
  • Battery Life (hr.): 50,000-100,000
  • Battery Saver: Shake Awake system.
  • Waterproof/fog proof rating: 3 feet
  • Mounting Footprint: Shield RMS/SMS

What I Liked

The Holosun 507K is tiny. With an overall length of just 1.6 inches and a width of just under an inch, this allows it to work on micro-compact carry guns like the SIG P365, wedging directly in front of that pistol’s factory rear sight dovetail with little room to spare.

In my opinion, even though SIG makes an optic that works in this space as well (the Romeo Zero), the 507K is the best all-around pistol red dot sight for that gun, for reasons I will cover here in a bit.

However, what stood out on this little guy is the reticle, which is available in standard red or a soothing green (hence the “G” in the 507K X2G designation). The big deal with the green dot is a concept referred to as luminous efficiency and high visual function, which boils down to the human eye being most sensitive and comfortable with the colors gold and green. While gold is not a thing when it comes to LEDs, green can be, and I love it.

Plus, according to Holosun, besides the super green LED giving the user a better option past red (some people have difficulty seeing in that color spectrum), it also translates to better power efficiency, hence saving on the limited amount of juice in the battery.

When it comes to the battery, it is easily replaced due to a side-loaded tray– which allows the user to retain their zero– and the company says you can expect as much as 50,000 hours of run time out of the single CR1620.

This is largely due to the “Shake Awake” motion feature conserving the battery but shutting off the LED if not used. Unlike most sights that have a feature like this, the 507 can be set anywhere from 10 minutes to 12 hours or deactivated altogether. For those who decide to go with the latter, they can enjoy a 100,000-hour battery life span, which is bananas if you divide that into days.

What I Hated

Did I mention the 507 is tiny? While it weighs almost nothing, it also brings a super small lens along with it. This narrow window, for me, means fishing the gun around a bit more to be able to find the dot. To me, the whole point of a pistol red dot sight is to cut down on the time needed to bring the sight up and get a good image on target, i.e., rapid acquisition. The 507 is borderline when it comes to that.

The glass on the optic, while usable, is not as clear and “crisp” as on some of the other optics on the list. For example, both the Steiner and Leupold were of much higher quality.

Being so small a sight, the elevation and windage adjustments are very fine screws rather than coin click knobs seen on red dots that are just barely larger. A key is needed to adjust these, which means that, for re-zeroing, you need to bring that tool along for the ride or keep it handy.

Another problem I have had with the 507 is that the Shake Awake feature doesn’t always work as seamlessly as I would like. You should be able to draw from a holster and, by the time you are up on target, the dot is there, and that has not always been the case. If you must manually turn the pistol red dot sight on, that is no good when in an immediate need situation.

Stacked Against Previous Models

I can see the reticle in the latest generation of 507 much clearer than the dot in the 407. Also, the settings adjustments feel better and more responsive. While I grumbled about the Shake Awake not always working, the current models are still more sensitive in my experience than when they were first introduced.

Compared to the Rest of the List

The 507 is sort of a “little pistol red dot sight that could” for many and when you stack it up against larger pistol optics such as the Leupold Delta Point Pro the size difference is starkly illustrated. This small size enables it to go places where the DPP and others cannot. Plus, it is night vision compatible, something the DPP isn’t even though the Leupold costs significantly more.

Holosun 507K X2G (left) and Leupold DPP (right)
Holosun 507K X2G (left) and Leupold DPP (right)

However, keep in mind that the lens is correspondingly smaller than many other pistol red dot sights as well.

A big win for the 507 is that its Shield RMS/SMS pattern footprint is becoming increasingly commonly encountered, especially on smaller carry guns where it seems to be the default. In this, its principal rival on this list is the SIG Romeo Elite, which has the same footprint but is both more modular (it ships with a steel shroud that can be fitted) and has a better motion feature in my experience.

Holosun 507K X2G (left) and SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (right)
Holosun 507K X2G (left) and SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (right)

What is the Holosun 507K X2G Best For?

The Holosun 507K X2G is a green dotted change of pace that has a reticle I find to be the best in terms of being able to easily pick up out of background clutter. However, the window is tiny, leaving it less than ideal when compared to a larger pistol red dot sights. Plus, the Shake Awake feature isn’t 100 percent dependable in my use.

While those with a medium-to-full-sized handgun would be best served with a bigger PISTOL RED DOT SIGHTS, the 507K plays well for those who are rocking a compact or micro-compact– just make sure the motion-activated dot feature works well and train for if it does not. Alternatively, it makes a great optic for a rimfire target pistol or plinker.

4. Burris Fast Fire 4

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The latest in Burris’s continually evolving line of pistol red dot sights, the Fast Fire 4 has a lot of positives going for it including a modular layout to swap between open and closed emitter format, an included Picatinny riser mount and four different on-board reticle choices.


  • Elevation/Windage Adjustment Type: Fine click
  • Reticle: Variable between 3 MOA dot/circle dot and 11 MOA dot/circle dot
  • Window size: 29×18.75mm
  • Battery Type: 1 CR1632
  • Night vision Compatible Illumination: No
  • Number of Illum Settings: 3 manual, one automatic
  • Weight (oz): 1.6
  • Battery Life (hr.): 26,000
  • Battery Saver: Auto-shutoff after 8 hours
  • Waterproof/fog proof rating: N/A
  • Mounting Footprint: Docter/Noblex mounting

What I Liked

The Fast Fire 4 is part of a new trend toward making pistol red dot sights modular in terms of their construction and user-configurable for different uses and needs. For example, you can mount the optic either in an open or closed emitter format via the use of an included sheet metal weather hood and back lens.

Also, it ships with a Picatinny-compatible riser mount. This puts the FF4 on the table for use on a wider array of platforms than pistols including shotguns and rifles.

There is the variable reticle which can swap between four different options including a fat 11 MOA dot and a narrower 3 MOA dot, both with further options to add a circle to the dot.

The battery life is great, with a promised 26,000 hours on medium brightness and it has both manual and automatic brightness settings to help stretch that out. The compartment for its single CR1632 is behind the lens so you don’t have to remove the sight to replace it when it eventually dies.

What I Hated

The Fast Fire series use the rather eclectic Docter/Noblex mounting footprint, for which not a lot of pistols are compatible without the use of an adapter plate. For reference, the only other pistol red dot sight (besides Docter/Noblex and Burris) that run the footprint are Vortex on their Venom and Viper series optics. While I like the Fast Fire 4 for a lot of reasons, this is not one of them as the use of this mounting pattern greatly limits direct milled options.

When it comes to glass, the primary focal plane is very clear and is almost on par with the Leupold DPP. However, the cantilever rear glass, if mounted, leans to the opaquer and winds up with a cloudy end product if using the full covered emitter profile.

Also, whoever picked out the screws used to mount the steel shroud to the sight to enclose it should be fired. They are very finely threaded, which is understandable, but are made of soft metal which is prone to be easily stripped– I speak from firsthand experience.

Unlike many pistol red dot sights that have coin-click adjustable windage and elevation dials, the FF4 requires a fine flathead. Sure, once zeroed it is unlikely that you will have to adjust the point of impact on the fly, but it still seems like an inconvenience. Further, the adjustments themselves are hard to feel, which can leave the user guessing on the zero movement on the range.

It is not night vision compatible and, while Burris says it is waterproof (at least in its open emitter configuration), I cannot find the rating which points to it likely being shallow, if at all.  

As a final gripe on the FF4, should you have the optic set up in its closed emitter fashion and the battery dies, you must disassemble the hood (possibly leading to the stripped little screws described above) to replace the power source. Likewise, the elevation adjustment would be similarly out of reach with the hood installed.

Stacked Against Previous Models

I was never an enthusiastic fan of the early Fast Fire series as they felt cheap and ran small. However, Burris has been making improvements on these over the past several years and the new Fast Fire 4 model has a much larger lens window (29×18.75mm compared to the FastFire 3’s 21x15mm) and is far more modular. Moreover, it has better settings– such as the switchable reticle feature– than legacy Burris pistol red dot sights.

There are zero reasons to run an older Fast Fire model if you can get your hands on an FF4.

Compared to the Rest of the List

The Fast Fire 4 has a giant window when compared to many pistol red dot sights on the market today and is the largest on my list, even being a tad bigger than that seen on the Leupold Delta Point Pro.

Burris Fast Fire 4 (left) and Leupold DPP (right) - Front
Burris Fast Fire 4 (left) and Leupold DPP (right) – Front
Burris Fast Fire 4 (left) and Leupold DPP (right) - Side
Burris Fast Fire 4 (left) and Leupold DPP (right) – Side

It also has the most adaptive reticle arrangement, with the ability to swap between four different types at the press of a button.

While the footprint is odd and will likely require an adapter plate to mount on any pistol, it comes standard with a Picatinny riser for use on rifles and shotguns, which is something that you must buy separately on a more expensive Leupold.

Although it is roughly the same size as the Steiner MPS, it features a larger and more accommodating window when fitted for use in its closed emitter format.

Steiner MPS and Fast Fire 4
Steiner MPS and Fast Fire 4

What is the Fast Fire 4 Best For?

The Fast Fire 4 is the best pistol red dot sights that Burris has ever made, and it has some interesting features that no one else has. While usable, and with one of the largest windows in its class, its mounting footprint handicaps its compatibility for use with pistols unless a mounting plate is thrown into the mix.

Its included Picatinny riser makes it a better fit for use on a 45-degree mount for an AR, on a shotgun, or a small caliber rifle, all when used in its enclosed emitter format.

5. SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite

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When SIG Sauer broke the mold for compact pistols by introducing the P365 in 2019, they also painted themselves into a corner by making a gun too small to fit most PISTOL RED DOT SIGHTSs on the market. They soon followed up with the downright mico Romeo Zero reflex sight and the optics ready P365X model pistol announced in tandem in early 2021. This also made it compatible with similarly sized guns like the Glock 43X and Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro.

Today, the Romeo Zero Elite builds on the standard pistol red dot sight and includes a steel shroud that adds protection to the polymer-bodied sight.


  • Elevation/Windage Adjustment Type: Allen key
  • Reticle: 2  MOA Dot/32 MOA circle.
  • Window size: 25.3×24 mm
  • Battery Type: CR1632
  • Night vision Compatible Illumination: No
  • Number of Illum Settings: 8
  • Weight (oz): 0.5
  • Battery Life (hr.): 20,000 hours on medium settings
  • Battery Saver: MOTAC motion activation
  • Waterproof/fog proof rating: 3 feet
  • Mounting Footprint: Shield RMS/SMS

What I Liked

When it comes to a budget conscious pistol red dot sight that brings a lot of features, the SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite has a lot of standard features. It runs in the low $200 range, beating even the “value” priced Swampfox Sentinel in most cases. For that, you get an optic that gives two different onboard reticle choices (2 MOA red dot or 32 MOA red circle dot), a motion-activated battery saver, and an optional steel shroud.

Further, it has a built-in rear backup sight notch that is filled with Super-LumiNova, the same stuff that is used in watch dials to make them glow in the dark. While tritium sights will typically fade away after 10-12 years, Super-LumiNova is a ceramic powder that doesn’t fade, decay, or age.

Even though it is bargain priced, the SIG Romeo Zero Elite uses an aspherical glass lens– not a polycarbonate– which keeps it from distorting the image. It is high quality and I liked it better than that of the multi-coated lens of the Holosun 507.

What I Hated

The worst thing about the Romeo Zero in my opinion is that the batter compartment is on the bottom of the optic. That means you must dismount the sight to swap out the battery, thus losing zero. Further, as you need a torque limiter to avoid cracking the polymer frame of the optic or stripping the screws, this is not something that you can do in the field.

Luckily, I’ve had a Romeo Zero Elite mounted on a P365X for the past seven months and haven’t had to replace the battery…yet.

Speaking of needing tools, you also need to use an Allen wrench for tweaking the windage and elevation. The “clicks” are hard to keep track of and make it hard to zero the Romeo Zero, which is ironic considering the name.

Stacked Against Previous Models

The Romeo Zero Elite has a bigger window (1″x24mm vs 1″x16mm) than the initial Romeo Zero models as well as a steel protective shroud. Further, it is more efficient, with a longer power source lifespan. In addition, it has a luminous rear sight molded into the optic body.

Compared to the Rest of Our List

The Romeo Zero Elite is the lightest pistol red dot sight on my list, coming in at just half an ounce. This puts it roughly the weight of two Holosun 507s or four Steiner MPSs. Even at that, you get a larger sight picture than either of those optics.

SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (left) and Holosun 507K X2G (right)
SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (left) and Holosun 507K X2G (right)
SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (left) and Steiner MPS (right)
SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite (left) and Steiner MPS (right)

Sig made some sacrifices to make that happen, but the sight works.

What is the SIG Sauer Romeo Zero Elite Best For?

For my money, I feel like this pistol red dot sight is the best choice for those using a micro compact carry gun such as a Glock 43 MOS, P365, or Hellcat. Its size and construction rule it out for use with a rifle or shotgun and, should the user have a more full-sized pistol, they would be better served with something more akin to the Leupold DPP.

Final Verdict

So, what’s the best choice? When stacking these five sights against each other, they all have pros and cons but I feel that the optic that cuts through the list with the best balance of footprint compatibility, performance, high quality, and support after the sale is the Leupold Delta Point Pro.

It is about as tough as you can ask for, delivers some of the clearest and rugged glass on the market, and for me has proven the most accurate and fast on target when on the range. Plus, it can be mounted on a number of different non-pistol platforms as well.

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