11 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights for Concealed Carry in 2024

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We tested dozens of pistol red dot sights and found the best options for concealed carry. We aim to find the ones that offer the most value – not just recommend the most expensive ones.

The Holosun 507 Comp stood out as the best full-size pistol red dot, while the Sig Sauer Romeo-X compact is the best compact pistol red dot sight.

Best Pistol Red Dot Sights
Nine of the red dot sights that were tested by the survival stoic team
Some of the red dots that we tested

We have over 15 years of combined experience training and shooting handguns with red dot sights. This review took over 5 years to complete as we tested these various sights over time.

We reviewed Trijicon, Holosun, Sig Sauer, Burris, Vortex, Primary Arms, Viridian, Leupold, and Shield sights. We also talked to others at defensive handgun training courses and at competitions. We found some new sights on the market today that have surpassed the standard most recommended a few years ago.

Keep reading to find out what we learned.


Quick Comparison of Our Favorite Pistol Red Dot Sights for Concealed Carry

BEST FULL SIZE OVERALL
Holosun 507 Comp

Holosun 507 Comp

RMR Footprint

Large Window

Multi Reticle

MSRP: $435

BEST COMPACT OVERALL
Sig Sauer Romeo X-Compact

Sig Sauer Romeo X Compact

Shield RMSc Footprint

Large Window

Multi Reticle

MSRP: $399

BEST FULL SIZE VALUE
Viridian RFX35

Viridian RFX35

RMR Footprint

Large Window

Affordable

MSRP: $289

BEST FULL SIZE BUDGET
Primary Arms Classic Mini Reflex

Primary Arms Classic Mini Reflex

RMR Footprint

Good Window Size

Lifetime Warranty

MSRP: $149

BEST COMPACT BUDGET
Primary Arms Classic Micro Reflex

Primary Arms Classic Micro Reflex

Shield RMSc Footprint

Aluminum Housing

Lifetime Warranty

MSRP: $149


Best Pistol Red Dot Sight for Concealed Carry

Since there are two distinct sizes of concealed carry handguns, we have broken this down into “full size” and “compact” red dots. Full-size red dots fit on full-size slides like the Glock 19 and Walther PDP. Compact red dots fit on compact slides like the Glock 43X MOS and the Sig P365.

For a better understanding of the different sizes of red dots, see our red dot footprint guide.

We based our review considering the price and our experience testing each of these red dots. Some are just a better value and are “good enough” for concealed carry.

Best Full-Size Pistol Red Dot Sights

Holosun 507 Comp – Best Full-Size Red Dot

Holosun 507 Comp

Other Buying Options: BrownellsOptics Planet

  • Size: Full Size
  • Footprint: RMR
  • Window Size: 1.1” x 0.87”
  • Reticle: Multi-Selectable (2 MOA dot, 8 MOA circle, 20 MOA circle, 32 MOA circle) Red or Green
  • Brightness: Manual, 10 Levels (2 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 50,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $435

The Holosun HS507COMP is a new red dot from Holosun for full-size handguns.

I was immediately struck by how large the viewing window was on this red dot. The only comparable thing is the Trijicon SRO, which is slightly taller and has a round window. This one has more of a square window with a domed top.

While this red dot is marketed for competition use, I find that the large viewing window is a huge advantage for concealed carry.

The Holosun 507Comp on Jason's Walther PDP
The Holosun 507C mounted to our Walther PDP Compact

I really like how the reticle is selectable between 8 different modes. I can select just the dot or any of the three circles, to combinations of the dot and the 3 circles. My favorite is the dot with the largest circle. I find that the circle draws my eye to the center of the dot quicker than just the red dot alone.

The Holosun 507 Comp Reticle
The 507 Comp Reticle

It is also a great training tool since the viewing window lets me see more of the dot and target. It gives me more opportunity to track how the dot moves as I take shots.

This red dot is IP67 rated, so it is waterproof, not just water resistant. The battery is in a side-mounted tray, so I can change it without removing it from the slide of my handgun.

The housing is machined from 7076 T6 Aluminum, and the top corners are thick and rounded to protect the lens. It feels very durable, and I am not worried about breaking the lens if I drop it.

The Holosun 507 Comp on Jason's handgun, shown from the rear
Notice the Beefy Housing

The reticle is an open style, and I was surprised to find drain holes on each side of the base for water to drain. If I ever fall into water or it was raining hard, this gives the water somewhere to go. On other red dots, it will pool around the emitter, causing the dot to be distorted or completely disappear.

The Holosun 507 Comp on Jason's handgun, shown on the right side
Notice the drain hole next to the battery drawer

The only negative I could find with this red dot is the size. It is large but only about 0.20” taller than most other full-size red dots. Since the top is square-shaped and not rounded, it protrudes away from my body more than other red dots, depending on how I carry it.

OWB certainly is not an issue, but in the appendix position, it depends on my holster. I carry this on the Walther PDP, and I have more issues concealing the grip in the appendix position than the red dot. With a CYA Supply Holster (see our best appendix holster guide) the edge of the red dot does not protrude past my belt.

Recommended for:

The Holosun 507 Comp is for someone looking for the best red dot for a full-size slide handgun. The window size is great, especially for beginners who have never used a red dot.

PROS

Window Size

User Selectable Reticle

Water Drain Holes

IP67 Rated

CONS

Large Size


Viridian RFX35 – Best Value Full-Size Red Dot

Viridian RFX35
  • Size: Full Size
  • Footprint: RMR
  • Window Size: 0.86” x 1.03”
  • Reticle: Green 3 MOA Dot
  • Brightness: Manual, 10 Levels (2 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 30,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $289

The Viridian RFX35 Green Dot Reflex Sight is a great option for full-size handguns.

While we say red dot as a generic term for “mini reflex sight,” Viridian offers a number of handgun red dots with a green dot.

What I like about this sight is the viewing window size and the affordable price.

Viridian RFX35 mounted to a pistol
The Viridian RFX35 mounted to our Walther Q5 SF

The measurements above are a little deceiving since this sight is round in shape, and the Holosun is square. This makes the overall area of the viewing window a little less on the RFX35.

The Holosun 507 Comp compared to the RFX35
The Holosun 507 Comp on the left and the RFX35 on the right

The overall size is not that much bigger than a Trijicon RMR. While it looks like it is big initially, the low profile base keeps the overall size smaller while having a comparable viewing window to the bigger Trijicon SRO.

The Trijicon RMR and the Viridian RFX35, shown from the rear
Trijicon RMR on the left, RFX35 on the right. Notice the difference in the viewing window

The price is one of the more affordable on our list, and all the features of high-end red dots make it a great value.

The Viridian RFX35 mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the front
The Front of the RFX35

I like how the base of this sight has a low profile. Even though the base contains the battery, it is only 0.28” thick (you do have to remove the sight from the slide to change the battery.) This gives more room for my iron sights to co-witness inside the window.

The aluminum housing feels robust, and the rounded shape will deflect the shock from the side or top if it is dropped.

I found the dot crisp and clear, and the brightness adjustment has a good range. It shows up well outside on bright sunny days and is also dim enough for night vision.

The Viridian RFX35 mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the top and rear
The Top of the RFX35

The buttons are on both sides of the housing. While it does not affect the performance, I like both buttons on one side. It is just my preference. Also, the zero adjustments require a hex key. I prefer just a slot for a small screwdriver instead.

Recommended for:

The Viridian RFX35 Green Dot Reflex Sight is for anyone looking for a full-size red dot with a large window for an affordable price.

PROS

Large Window Size

Low Profile Base

Affordable

Lifetime Warranty

CONS

Buttons

Hex Key Zero Adjust


Trijicon RMR Type 2 – Most Durable Full Size Red Dot

Trijicon RMR Type 2

Other Buying Options: BrownellsOptics PlanetPrimary Arms

  • Size: Full Size
  • Footprint: RMR
  • Window Size: 0.92” x 0.69” (0.92” x 0.54” effective size)
  • Reticle: Red 3.25 MOA
  • Brightness: Manual, 8 Levels (2 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 35,000 hours
  • MSRP: $731

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is one of the first red dot sights to withstand riding on a semi-automatic handgun slide. You have undoubtedly seen it called the “gold standard” and “the absolute best” red dot for handguns.

I have had my Trijicon RMR for well over 5 years and have used it on various handguns.

Why is it not my top pick?

This is probably one of the most reviewed red dots out there. While I could tell you about all the great things, I will give you what others don’t mention.

Trijicon RMR mounted to a pistol
The Trijicon RMR mounted to our Walther Q5

While it is undeniably the most durable and rugged red dot available, I like to consider what is the most important for my application. While extreme durability would be important in a war zone, it is not the most important factor for concealed carry.

The Trijicon RMR mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the right
The right side of the Trijicon RMR

To get the most durable red dot made, you also have to pay for it. It is expensive, the highest on our list, and twice the price in some cases.

Besides the price, my biggest negative is the viewing window size. It is tiny. It looks like a decent size in pictures, but when I use it, it is just too small. Some compact red dots have a larger window!

The Holosun 507 Comp compared to the Trijicon RMR, shown from the rear
Notice the huge difference in window size between the Holosun 507 Comp and the Trijicon RMR

I listed the window size above, but notice I included an “effective size.” This is because the base is thicker on the rear of the sight, and the lens is recessed. So, when I look through it, the base blocks about 0.15” of the window.

Personally, I would much rather have a larger window than extreme durability. But, if durability is your primary concern, this one is for you.

Recommended for:

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is for anyone who needs an extremely durable red dot, and the price is not of concern.

PROS

Legendary Durability

Rugged Housing

Multiple Models

CONS

Price

Small Window


Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight – Best Budget Full Size Red Dot

Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight
  • Size: Full Size
  • Footprint: RMR
  • Window Size: 0.94” x 0.69”
  • Reticle: Red 3MOA Dot
  • Brightness: Manual, 10 Levels (2 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: up to 50,000 hours
  • MSRP: $149

The Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight is our top pick for the best budget red dot for concealed carry.

It strikes me how affordable this red dot is. At less than $150, you would think it would be a cheap piece of plastic.

But it is not.

The Primary Arms mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the rear
The Top of the Primary Arms Classic Mini

The housing is 6061-T6 Aluminum, just like the more expensive red dots. While it is not quite as beefy as others, it does not feel cheap or flimsy by any means.

I like how both buttons are on one side. They do stick out some but have a protective rubber cover over them. I feel like they could get damaged if I dropped it just right, but I have not had any issues yet.

The Primary Arms Mini and the Trijicon RMR
The Primary Arms Mini on the left and the Trijicon RMR on the right

The dot is crisp and clear, but I would like to be able to get it brighter. At the max setting it is OK in bright daylight, but a little more would be nice.

The base has a low profile similar to the RFX35, so co-witnessing iron sights is easy.

The only real negative for me is the power save “feature.” After 12 hours, the red dot will shut off, and I must press one of the buttons to turn it back on. There is no “shake awake” feature on this one. If you do not carry for more than 12 hours, this may not be an issue for you.

The Primary Arms mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the right
The right side of the Primary Arms Classic Mini

To make sure the dot is always on, I found I had to build a habit of pressing one of the buttons periodically. It’s not the best, but everything else about this red dot compares very closely to the others, and the price is great.

And it is backed by Primary Arms with a lifetime warranty.

Recommended for:

The Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight is for anyone who needs a full-size red dot for an affordable price.

PROS

Decent Window Size

Affordable

Lifetime Warranty

CONS

Auto Off Feature

Brightness


Other Full-Size Pistol Red Dots to Consider

We have not thoroughly tested these, but we think they are worth considering.

Holosun 507C-X2: This is a smaller version of the 507 Comp with a solar backup feature and a 2 MOA dot plus 32 MOA Circle reticle. Choose this one if you want something smaller than the 507 Comp with similar features.

Find it at: Euro OpticAmazonPalmetto State Armory

Holosun 507C-X2 with ACSS Vulcan Reticle: This red dot resembles the standard 507C. The only difference is the reticle. Primary Arms designed it and it includes a chevron instead of a dot and a large circle. The circle is unique because it is not visible when the chevron is in the middle of the window. Once the chevron leaves the window, the edges of the circle begin to appear. This helps you to get the chevron into the window during stressful situations and helps to “find the dot.”

Find it at Primary ArmsAmazonOptics Planet

Trijicon SRO: This red dot is a larger version of the Trijicon RMR and is similar in size to the Viridian RFX35 above. It has been shown to be very durable but is very expensive as well. I have spoken with a number of shooters that like this red dot, mainly at competitions.

Find it at Euro OpticAmazonPalmetto State


Best Compact Pistol Red Dot Sights

Sig Sauer Romeo X-Compact – Best Compact Red Dot

Sig Sauer Romeo X-Compact

Other Buying Options: BrownellsOptics PlanetPalmetto State Armory

  • Size: Compact
  • Footprint: Shield RMSc
  • Window Size:  0.81” x 0.62”
  • Reticle: Red 2 MOA dot and/or 32 MOA circle, selectable
  • Brightness: Manual, 15 Levels (3 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 20,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $399.99

The Sig Sauer Romeo X-Compact is the newest red dot from Sig Sauer, and it is the perfect match for compact handguns like the Sig P365.

The Sig Romeo X-Compact mounted to a Sig P365XL
The Sig Romeo X-Compact mounted to a Sig P365XL

To be a compact red dot, the lens is surprisingly large, almost as large as some full-size red dots. Sig’s spec states the lens diameter is 24mm, but that is not the window size. I measured the lens and listed the dimensions above for comparison.

The reticle is selectable between a 2 MOA dot, 32 MOA circle, or both the circle and dot simultaneously. Like the Holosun 507 Comp, I find the circle and dot combo better than just a dot alone. The circle draws my eye in, and the dot is still there if I need to make more accurate shots.

Right front of the Sig Romeo X-Compact
The Battery is on the side of the Sig Romeo X Compact

The housing is made from 7075 Aluminum and is extended to almost look like a closed emitter optic, but it is an open emitter. The box-shaped design with rounded corners inside gives it strength to protect the lens. It feels beefy but is not overly intrusive on my sight picture.

For me, the standout features are the low deck design and the integrated rear backup sight. Since it has the RMSc footprint, it mounts directly to my Sig P365XL. I found the integrated rear sight is a perfect lower 1/3 co-witness with the stock front sight.

Right side of the Sig Romeo-X Compact
The Sig Romeo X Compact, notice the built-in backup rear sight

The Sig P365 and P365XL have their stock rear sight mounted on the optic cover plate. So, when it is removed, the rear sight is lost, along with the possibility of having backup iron sights. Having an integrated rear sight solves this problem perfectly.

The rear sight even has fiber optic inserts. While I prefer just a black sight for backup, since these sit so low, they do not make my sight picture too busy.

Buttons on the Sig Romeo-X compact red dot
Buttons on the Sig Romeo-X compact red dot

The battery is on the side under a screw-on cap. It makes the right side of the housing thicker in my sight picture than the left side. While not a huge distraction, it is there.

I don’t really care for the buttons, mainly how they stick out on the left side. They have a protective bezel around them, but I would have liked for them to be a little more protected.

Recommended for:

The Sig Sauer Romeo X red dot is for anyone who needs a red dot for their compact slide handgun. It is perfect for the Sig P365.

PROS

Large Window Size

User Selectable Reticle

Beefy Housing

Low Deck Height

Rear Back Up Sight

CONS

Battery Cap Size

Buttons


Holosun 407K-X2 – Best Value Compact Red Dot

Holosun 407K-X2

Other Buying Options: BrownellsOptics PlanetPrimary Arms

  • Size: Compact
  • Footprint: Holosun K
  • Window Size: 0.58” x 0.77”
  • Reticle: Red or Green 6 MOA Dot
  • Brightness: Manual, 12 Levels (2 for Night Vision)
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 50,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $258.81

The Holosun 407K X2 red dot is a compact red dot we have used for a few years.

The housing is made from 7075 T6 Aluminum, and it is noticeable how beefy it is around the reticle. This provides durability without being noticeably obtrusive to my sight picture. The inside corners are rounded, which provides stress relief under shock.

The Holosun 407K mounted on a pistol
The Holosun 407K X2 mounted to our Sig P365 XMacro

I like that it is IP67 rated, which means it is guaranteed to be waterproof, not just water-resistant to a certain depth.

The battery tray is on the side, so I can easily change the battery without removing it from the slide.

The dot has remained crisp and clear in my years of experience with the 407K. The 6MOA size is great for a smaller concealed carry gun like the Sig P365 since it will almost always be used at close range. The lens has a sort of blue tint, but it is barely noticeable.

The rear of the Holosun 407K mounted to a pistol
Notice the built-in rear sight notches on the Holosun 407K-X2

The two buttons on the side are rather small, but I like how they are recessed into the housing.

There is a small notch on the back of the red dot to act as a rear sight. It does co-witness with my P365 XMacro, although it is very short. I can’t see the full dot on my front sight post with it, but I can see the top of the post.

I feel that it is a good compromise though, since I don’t want a bunch of iron sight blocking my field of view. Since this is a compact red dot, there isn’t much space anyway.

The Sig Romeo X Compact is on the left, and the Holosun 407K-X2 is on the right
The Sig Romeo X Compact is on the left, and the Holosun 407K-X2 is on the right

I often find this red dot for less than $250, which is a good value.

Note that this has the K footprint, so if you have a Glock MOS or Springfield Hellcat, you will need an adapter plate (or if you are handy, you can modify your gun.) It does bolt up directly to the Sig P365, though.

Note that the Holosun 507K X2 is the same as this one, except it has a Multi-Reticle (2MOA dot and 32 MOA circle) but is about $90 more.

Recommended for:

The Holosun 407K X2 red dot is for anyone looking for a compact red dot for concealed carry for less than $300.

PROS

Durability

Battery Life

Side Battery Tray

IP67 Rated

CONS

K Footprint (not RMSc)


Primary Arms Classis Series Micro – Best Budget Compact Red Dot

Primary Arms Classis Series Micro
  • Size: Compact
  • Footprint: Shield RMSc
  • Window Size: 0.83” x 0.59”
  • Reticle: Red 3 MOA Dot
  • Brightness: Manual, 10 Levels
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: Up to 50,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $149

The Primary Arms Classic Series Micro Reflex Sight is a smaller compact version of its big brother, the “mini” version above.

Just like the mini, the housing is made from 6061 Aluminum. Where it differs is in the design. Instead of a dome or rounded design, this one has a square window. This gives me more sight area without making the sight wider.

The Primary Arms micro mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the side
The Primary Arms Classic Micro mounted to a Sig P365XL

The overall thickness of the housing around the lens is thinner than the Holosun 407, but not by a huge amount. I feel like the Holosun would stand up to more abuse, though.

Like the mini, I would like to have a little more brightness on the highest setting. In full daylight, it is just OK.

The buttons are on both sides of the housing and are pretty small. I found I had to use my fingernail to press them.

The Primary Arms micro mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the right
Notice how there is no backup rear sight

There is no integrated backup iron sight on this optic. So, if you mount it on a handgun that does not have both an optic and a rear sight simultaneously, you will not be able to have backup iron sights. (For example, on my Sig P365XL, the rear iron sight comes off with the optic cover plate.)

The only other negative is the auto-off feature, just like the mini. After 12 hours, the red dot will turn off, and I have to press a button to get it to come back on. Since the buttons are small, it is tedious to do it while my gun is in my holster. I would have liked the capability to turn this feature off. I would rather change the battery more often instead.

The Primary Arms micro mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the rear
The Primary Arms Classic Micro, shown from the rear.

The big positives, though, are Primary Arms’ price and lifetime warranty. You can’t find another red dot under $150 this good. It also comes with Vibra-tite, so you don’t have to go out looking for some to mount it.

Recommended for:

The Primary Arms Classic Series Micro Reflex Sight is for anyone looking for a budget red dot for their compact slide handgun.

PROS

Affordable

Lifetime Warranty

Aluminum Housing

CONS

Auto Off Feature

Brightness

No Rear Backup Sight


Viridian RFX11 – Best Compact Red Dot for Beginners

Viridian RFX11
  • Size: Compact
  • Footprint: Shield RMSc
  • Window Size: 0.76” x 0.52”
  • Reticle: Green 3 MOA Dot
  • Brightness: Automatic
  • Emitter Type: Open
  • Battery Life: 30,000 Hrs
  • MSRP: $189

The Viridian RFX11 is a unique red dot that is great for beginners and the budget-minded.

The red dot (or green dot, I should say) has a built-in light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness level of the dot.

Personally, I prefer a manually adjustable brightness level on my red dots. I was a little apprehensive when I first tried it, but I can say that it works well. I can see the benefit this would have for beginners or anyone who doesn’t really know what level they should set the brightness at.

The RFX11 mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the side
The Viridian RFX11 mounted to my Sig P365XL

The dot didn’t wash out during bright daylight, and in low light, it isn’t crazy bright.

Since the adjustment is automatic, there are no buttons on this sight. There is nothing to worry about, and it is always on. No buttons to break or get stuck either.

The only real item I found that I needed to worry about was keeping debris off of the light sensor. It is on the top of the base, just in front of the emitter. This wasn’t a problem in the normal carry position, and I had no issues with it.

The RFX11 mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the front
The front of the RFX11

The housing is made from a polymer, not aluminum, which somewhat makes durability questionable. I suspect a drop on concrete would certainly damage the lens.

There is also no integrated rear backup sight, so if your handgun doesn’t have the capability to have a rear iron sight and an optic, you won’t be able to have backup iron sights.

The RFX11 mounted to Jason's handgun, shown from the right
Note the lack of a backup rear iron sight

Viridian does have a limited lifetime warranty. With the auto brightness adjust and affordable price, this makes this one worth considering.

Recommended for:

The Viridian RFX11 is for a beginner or anyone who is budget-conscious. Not having to worry about the brightness setting benefits beginners, those with disabilities, or the elderly.

PROS

Auto Brightness Adjust

Good Dot Visibility

No Buttons

CONS

Polymer Housing

No Manual Brightness Adjust

No Rear Backup Sight


Other Compact Pistol Red Dots to Consider

We have not thoroughly tested these compact red dots, but we think they are worth considering.

Viridian RFX15 – This sight has a green dot and similar features to the Holosun 407k above but has a larger viewing window. The price is just a few dollars more.

Find it at ViridianAmazon


Tips for Choosing the Best Red Dot for Concealed Carry

I have found that selecting the right red dot for my concealed carry gun is more complicated than any other aspect of my concealed carry gear. Here are the tips we have learned over the years that will save you both time and money.

First, make sure you have read our iron sights vs red dot for concealed carry guide. There are some important tips in that guide that you need to understand before moving to this one.

Size and Footprint

Picking a red dot that will fit on your handgun is one of the most obvious and confusing steps at the same time.

Compact Pistol Red Dots
Compact Pistol Red Dots with the Sig P365XL

You must have an optics-ready handgun (outside of having your slide machined) and know the red dot size and footprint it will accept. Many handguns use adapter plates to make them flexible.

Read our red dot footprint guide to learn more if you have not already.

Window Size

The size of the sighting window will dictate how close you have to be in presenting the handgun in front of your eyes in order to be able to see the dot. A larger window is easier and allows a larger margin of error.

At the same time, a larger window means the red dot is larger and may be harder to conceal depending on how what concealed carry position you use.

Full-size handguns will naturally be able to support a larger window versus a compact handgun.

I find a window of at least 0.6″ by 0.9″ is good for concealed carry.

Reticle Type, Size, and Color

Red dots today have various reticles available. Dots, circles, and a combination of the two are becoming more common.

My favorite is the selectable reticles, where I can choose between just a dot or a dot with a circle. I find the circle catches my eye better if my presentation is a little off. It helps me “find the dot.”

The reticle size is commonly shown as a MOA (Minute of Angle) size. We won’t get into everything about MOA here. Basically, a higher MOA is a larger dot or circle. A 1 MOA dot will be noticeably smaller than a 6 MOA dot.

I find a dot between 3-6 MOA to be the best for concealed carry. Smaller dots are harder to see, and larger dots cover too much of the target.

As for color, the standard used to be red. After all, we are calling it a red dot. But green has begun to be popular as well.

After using both for some time now, I can say that it doesn’t make a huge difference to me. The green seems to be brighter to me in full daylight, and red stands out better on darker colors outside. I imagine this is different depending on the person.

Brightness Adjustment

Being able to manually adjust the brightness of the reticle is a feature I a look for. Some red dots will automatically adjust depending on the ambient light. This is nice, especially at night, but I still like to be able to manually set the brightness where I want.

Sometimes, I find that the auto function on some red dots does not get the reticle bright enough in full daylight.

Battery Life

Battery life is something to pay attention to, but it is not the most important. As long as I set a schedule to change the battery regularly, it is not a huge issue. Batteries are not expensive, so changing one every six months or every year is easy. I recommend reducing the expected life that the manufacturer gives by 25%.

Some red dots have power-saving features like “shake awake” and solar backups. These are nice but not a requirement.

I also recommend using Lithium batteries instead of standard alkaline. The reason is lithium batteries last longer, and when they die, they die completely.

Alkaline batteries die slowly, and I find that I start to mess around with the brightness before realizing the battery is dying. I have had some blink on and off as well. Lithium batteries provide a steady stream of power that keeps the red dot brightness consistent.

Battery Location

Most red dots either have the battery on the bottom of the sight, on the side, or on the top.

Two of Jason's red dots showing the battery location
The battery located on the bottom of the red dot and located in a drawer on the side

The most robust location is on the bottom. There are fewer springs and moving parts like trays or caps. However, to change the battery I have to remove the red dot from my handgun totally. This means I have to re-torque and re-zero my dot.

The most convenient location is on the side or top. With these, I do not have to remove the red dot to change the battery.

Most people make the assumption that being able to change the battery without removing the red dot is superior. This could be a bad assumption.

For red dots that have an adapter plate to mount to the handgun, there is a set of screws under the red dot holding the adapter plate to the slide. These screws should be checked periodically. I have seen more than one red dot fly off a handgun at the range, and loose adapter plate screws is the main culprit. Don’t assume they stay tight. I have seen them shear in two as well.

Also, remember that batteries on the side or top make the housing bigger. I feel that having a thin housing around the sight window is best.

Open or Closed Emitter

Open emitters are the most common red dot sight today. They have one piece of glass that the reticle is projected on. Debris or water can fall on the emitter, causing the dot not to be visible any longer.

Jason showing a closed emitter red dot and two open emitter red dots
The Viridian RFX45 closed emitter red dot in the center, with two open emitter red dots on the sides

Closed emitters have two pieces of glass, and the emitter is protected between them. These red dots are usually bulkier and more expensive than open emitter sights.

I tend to prefer open emitter sights for concealed carry. They are usually protected in my holster under my shirt or jacket. If I were planning to be in a harsh environment with my handgun exposed, then a closed emitter would be preferred.

Durability

Keep in mind that a concealed carry handgun is not the best tool for a war zone. It is something to carry to the mall.

Durability is important for almost everything, but I would caution against making it the most important. I do not need the most durable red dot in the world on my concealed carry gun. Other things like window size and reticle type are more important.

Water resistance and drain holes for water to drain away from the emitter are also important for long-term durability.

Price

Of course, price is important with anything. For red dots, understand that buying an expensive red dot will not make you a better shooter. Only training will do that.

Red dots with selectable reticles will be more expensive than red dots without. Spending extra on them as a training tool is worth it. I find I can train through various conditions, and it helps me improve my speed and the presentation of my handgun.

Co-witness Iron sights

For concealed carry, backup iron sights are a must. I prefer lower 1/3 co-witness over full co-witness. I find my sight picture is cleaner and has fewer distractions. Full co-witness defeats the advantages of the red dot I discussed in the iron sights vs red dot guide.

Cowitness sights on the Holosun 507 Comp
The Holosun 507 Comp on the right with co-witness iron sights

On some handguns, I lose the rear sight when I put on a red dot. In this case, it is important to choose a red dot that has either a built-in rear sight or at least a notch so I can still aim accurately if the dot fails. This is one of our tips for choosing the best red dot ready pistol.

This is usually not thought of until after the fact, so be sure to check before you buy.


What is the Best Pistol Red Dot for Concealed Carry for You?

Overall, for full-size handguns, the Holosun 507 Comp is the best we have found. The adjustable reticle and large sight window are great for training, allowing us to get our handgun on target quickly.

For compact slide handguns, the Sig Sauer Romeo X-Compact is the best. It also has an adjustable reticle and one of the largest sight windows for a compact handgun. The built-in rear backup sight is a plus and saves money as well.

Now that you have selected your red dot, be sure to read our guide on how to mount a pistol red dot. You don’t want it flying off and there are some critical steps to follow. Also check out our guide on how to zero a pistol red dot for an easy method to get your red dot zeroed quickly.

Also be sure to check out our full concealed carry guide for guides you won’t find anywhere else! From mindset to holsters, we have it covered.

Go Back: Concealed Carry Guide

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.