The red dot revolution reached handguns years ago and now has taken over.
Companies both big and small offer red dot versions of their handguns. While plenty of full-sized and even compact guns wear dots, the market for subcompacts, single stack 9mms, and micro compacts has grown significantly. If you are packing a little gun, that doesn't mean you have to be optics-free, and today, we are looking at the best micro red dots on the market.
The benefits of a red dot on a handgun are numerous, and I think that on a small handgun, those benefits are even more important. These guns have a short sight radius, but that doesn't matter with a dot. A micro red dot will make it easier to shoot straight, increase your effective range, and make it easier to shoot faster without losing precision. Don't let the name fool you. Micro red dots have a lot to offer shooters of any experience level.
The original SIG ROMEOZero hit the market as one of the early adopters of the micro red dot concept. The original had a few durability issues, and SIG wanted to ensure concealed carriers could always rely on their optics and upgraded to the Elite model. Shooters can pick from a 3 MOA dot or a combination of a 32 MOA circle and 2 MOA dot. The little optic weighs only half an ounce and lasts 20K hours on a single battery.
SIG went hard with the ROMEOZero Elite and designed the rear of the optic to act as a rear sight for your firearm. The optic sits low enough to co-witness with standard height sights, and the rear integrated sight even has a notch filled with high lume SuperLuminova. On top of that, users can add a metal shroud to ensure total durability in all conditions.
Swampfox might be a new company, but with products like the Sentinel, they are making a big splash. The Sentinel is an affordable micro red dot that avoids the plastic and polymer lens traps. It's all metal with a glass lens for strong durability and clarity. The Sentinel comes in red or green dots, and shooters can choose between the Auto-adjusting always-on model or the manual adjustment and shake awake contest.
The Sampfox Sentinel offers a crystal clear 3 MOA red or green dot as your reticle. The design is IPX7 waterproof, so don't be afraid of rain, and it can take 1500 Gs of shock. It's super durable and yet only weighs .62 ounces. Swampfox's Sentinel might be the new kid on the block, but it's making a big splash.
Trijicon pioneered the pistol red dot with the original RMR and wanted to do the same for the micro red dot market. The Trijicon RMRcc brings concealed carry to the RMR series of optics. Trijicon's rugged design translates well to the micro red dot market. They just shrunk the RMR while keeping all the good features.
This includes unbeatable durability, the ability to shrug off water, dust, and shock, and four years of battery life. The Trijicon RMRcc keeps things small but is far from the smallest optic on this list. Shooters can choose between a 3.25 or 6.5 MOA red dot reticle. The little RMRcc is rugged, reliable, and proven.
Shield started the micro red dot revolution with the RSMc. Shield produced the original micro red dot and designed the footprint that's become the industry standard for 99% of micro red dots. The Shield RSMc offers one of the clearest lenses out there with a super clear dot to back it up. The design does implement a no-button design with an auto-adjusting reticle that doesn't turn off.
Even without turning it off, you get two years of battery life at a minimum. The optic wears a notch at the rear to act as a rear sight and sits low enough to co-witness with the front sight. The Shield weighs only .57 ounces, and every corner and side is melted to be snag-free for a concealed carry draw. Shield did it right the first time, and almost everyone has tried to copy their success.
The Holosun 507K takes the number one spot by innovating. The optic features external controls, a side-loading battery, multiple reticles, and a long battery life. Like other successful micro red dot optics, it has a rear notch to act as a rear backup sight. The reticles vary from a 2 MOA dot to a 32 MOA circle with a dot.
It's tiny but does weigh an ounce, making it a little heavier than most. Still, it's just an ounce. The clarity isn't as great as the Shield, but that's not a huge deal. The innovative feature, conveniently placed battery, and awesome controls make it the most user-friendly of the bunch. The Holosun 507K takes the top spot for now, but with the progress the micro red dot industry is making, it might not be there for long.
This is still a small market, and even in a small market, it's chock full of crap-tier options. It's sad today, but a 59-dollar optic isn't worth betting your life on. If you are willing to invest in a micro red dot, then spend the money necessary to get a good one. Any of the five above will give you outstanding performance and serve you well for defensive applications. Oh, and if you need a holster compatible with all these micro red dots, we have you covered.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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