What are red dot scopes?

Although the dot can be colours other than red, the category has become known as ‘red dot’ scopes, and sometimes as ‘holographic’ and ‘reflex’ sights. Although the arrangement differs slightly for each, as the name suggests, they make use of a dot, that is generated by an LED (Light Emitting Diode) instead of a crosshair reticle to provide an aim point. Typically the dot is projected onto a small screen within the sight which the shooter overlays onto the target. Red dot scopes should not be confused with laser dot scopes that project a dot onto the actual surface of the target.

On their own, red dot scopes do not offer any form of magnification, although it is possible to purchase a separate magnifying unit and position it in front of the sight itself. 

Why use a red dot scope?

Most airgunners use red dot scopes as an alternative to traditional telescopic sights for informal target shooting and back garden plinking as they are intended to facilitate fast target acquisition, making them a popular choice for speed shooting. Paintballers and airsoft shooters also like them for this reason, as, of course, do law enforcement and military. Some shooters who struggle to use a telescopic sight due to issues with their eyesight find it easier to use a red dot scope. 

What to look for

For airgunners, the main factor to consider is whether a red scope will be suitable for the type of shooting they plan to do. 

The lack of magnification means they are unlikely to be suitable for precise target or range shooting at anything other than short range for example. In addition, given the low power of air rifles, hunters will typically use a telescopic sight to ensure more precise shot placement on their quarry. 

Although some airgunners like the additional challenge of target shooting with a red dot scope, most tend to use them for informal target shooting and back garden plinking, especially as they encourage shooting at speed. The fact that the red dot will stay aligned on the target regardless of eye position also means the scopes are popular with air pistol shooters.


Some models offer the ability to adjust the intensity or brightness of the dot. Whilst this is useful, it is not vital given that most airgunners will be shooting over short distances. 

Red dot size

Some models offer the ability to adjust the size of the red dot which helps those with eyesight problems. Increasing the size of the red dot will, of course, make it easier to see but will also obscure more the target. Whilst that is less likely to be an issue for informal target shooting and back garden plinking, it makes precise shot placement more difficult.

The Best Red Dots for Air Rifles

Whenever you throw around terms like ‘the best,’ especially in the world of air rifles, you’re bound to stir up some debate. It’s a natural reaction, really. You might be thinking, ‘What does this guy know?’ And honestly, that’s a fair question. There are plenty of folks out there who are just as, if not more, experienced in offering their two cents on this topic. But here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve been in the thick of it with air rifles for around 40 years, owning, using, and reviewing a whole lot of scopes – or in this case, red dots.

So, if you’ve stumbled upon this article in your quest for the perfect red dot for your air rifle, I’m here to share my insights. These aren’t just random picks; they’re choices honed from decades of hands-on experience, particularly in hunting.

I’ve decided to tackle this topic from three distinct angles, each catering to a different aspect of airgun shooting.

Firstly, we delve into the world of hunting. Here, the requirements for a red dot scope can be quite specific, especially when precision and quick target acquisition are key. We explore what makes a red dot scope suitable for hunting and how it can enhance your experience in the field.

Next, I shift our focus to those who are on the lookout for budget-friendly options. We understand that not every airgunner is looking to make a hefty investment, especially those who are just stepping into the world of shooting or primarily engage in casual plinking and target practice. This segment is dedicated to finding quality red dot scopes that won’t leave a dent in your wallet, proving that affordability doesn’t always mean compromising on performance.

Lastly, I’ve curated a selection of red dot scopes under £100, striking a balance between cost and quality. This section is particularly aimed at shooters who are looking for a blend of reliability, functionality, and value – scopes that deliver without the premium price tag.

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter, a recreational shooter, or someone in between, I hope this information can help you! That said, it is always worth testing out multiple products for yourself as well.

Richard Saunders: An Experts View

All of our reviews are based upon Richard Saunders opinions. Richard has been shooting air rifles for nearly forty years. Today he hunts and carries out pest control on more than a thousand acres spread across different locations in the south of England. He is a regular contributor to Airgun Shooter magazine, writing mainly hunting features and product reviews, as well The Airgun Show on YouTube.


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The Best Red Scopes For Hunting

Hawke Reflex

The Hawke Reflex Dot Sight, is a notable contender in the red dot sight market, especially for shooters seeking a balance between quality and affordability. This sight is designed with versatility in mind, featuring a weaver mount that makes it compatible with a variety of firearms. Its compact and lightweight design ensures it adds minimal weight to your setup, enhancing ease of use without compromising on stability. The sight’s 3 MOA red dot, complemented by 9 stages of digital brightness control, offers clear visibility for quick target acquisition across different lighting conditions. Additionally, the 25-layer multi-coated optics provide maximum clarity, while its waterproof and shockproof construction, capable of withstanding high recoil, speaks to its durability and reliability.

While the Hawke Reflex may lack some of the advanced features found in more expensive models, it stands out for its straightforward functionality and robust build. It’s an excellent choice for both experienced shooters and newcomers to red dot sights, offering a reliable and user-friendly experience. Whether used for casual shooting, target practice, or hunting, this red dot sight is designed to enhance accuracy and shooting enjoyment, making it a valuable and practical addition to any airgunners arsenal.

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Hawke Endurance

The Hawke Endurance stands out as a high-quality red dot sight designed for shooters who value precision and reliability. This sight is equipped with a 3 MOA red dot featuring 8 stage digital brightness control, ensuring clear visibility under various lighting conditions. The 25-layer multi-coated optics provide maximum clarity, enhancing the overall shooting experience. Versatile in its use, the sight comes with both high and low Weaver mounts, making it suitable for a range of firearms including pistols, ARs, and hunting rifles. Its robust aluminum construction, along with being nitrogen purged, ensures the sight is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof, essential for durability in different shooting environments. An added feature is the sight’s ability to enter standby mode after 5 minutes of inactivity, conserving battery life.

While the Hawke Endurance is an excellent choice for its durability, clarity, and versatility, its higher price point may be a consideration for casual shooters or those with a limited budget. However, for those who prioritize top-notch performance in a red dot sight, this model offers exceptional value. Its user-friendly design, coupled with superior construction quality, makes it a suitable option for both experienced shooters and newcomers. Ideal for various shooting activities, from target practice to competitive shooting and hunting, the Hawke Endurance Red Dot 1×30 Weaver is designed to enhance accuracy and provide a satisfying shooting experience.

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Walther EPS3 PS22

The Walther EPS3 PS22 red dot sight is excellent for short range airgun use and comes with a 3x flip in/flip out magnifier to help more precise shot placement.

Aimpoint’s Range of Red Dots

Swedish company, Aimpoint lays claim to having invented the red dot sight. It has been making them since 1975 and is recognised as one of the category’s premier brands. Its hunting and sport shooting range – there are separate products for military and law enforcement – comprises four main products – the 9000L, 9000SC and the 9000SC-NV, which is compatible with night vision. All of which are based on a 30mm tube. The fourth product, the Acro C-1 is intended mainly for use on pistols due to its low profile and compact size.

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The best cheap budget mini red dot scopes

Pellpax mkII Reflex Red Dot Sight

The Pellpax MKII Reflex Red Dot Sight stands out as an accessible and versatile option for airgun enthusiasts. Designed with a weaver mount, it’s compatible with a range of airguns, including CO2 pistols and air rifles. The sight features two brightness settings, offering adaptability to various lighting conditions, which is a significant advantage for both indoor and outdoor shooting. The package’s inclusion of a cleaning cloth and an allen key adds a practical touch, reflecting Pellpax’s attention to the shooter’s needs. While the sight may not boast the high-end features of more expensive models, its solid build and functionality make it a great entry-level choice.

In terms of pros and cons, the Pellpax MKII’s versatility and affordability are its strongest points, making it an ideal choice for casual shooters or those new to red dot sights. The two brightness settings enhance its usability in different environments. However, experienced shooters might find its features somewhat basic, and its long-term durability in extreme conditions remains untested. Overall, the Pellpax MKII Reflex Red Dot Sight is a practical and cost-effective option for those seeking to enhance their shooting experience without a significant investment, perfect for informal target shooting or plinking.

Feyachi RDS-25

While the Feyachi RDS-25 Red Dot Sight is the only product on this list I haven’t personally tried, it’s a name that comes up often down at the shooting range, so I thought it deserved a mention. My review here is based purely on what I’ve read about it, and it’s worth noting that it’s one of the more budget-friendly options out there.

The Feyachi RDS-25 is designed to be user-friendly and approachable, making it a solid choice for both new and seasoned shooters. Its compact and lightweight design ensures it doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your firearm, which is a big plus for comfort during extended shooting sessions. Typically, this sight offers adjustable brightness settings, which is a handy feature for adapting to different lighting conditions, whether you’re indoors or out in the field. The build quality is reportedly good for its price range, offering a balance of durability and functionality. However, as with any budget-friendly product, it’s important to keep in mind that it might not have the advanced features or ruggedness of higher-end models. For those looking for a straightforward, cost-effective red dot sight for general use, the Feyachi RDS-25 seems to offer decent value and functionality, making it a practical option for enhancing your shooting experience without a significant investment.

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Crosman Wide Angle Red Dot Sight

The Crosman Wide Angle Red Dot Sight stands out as an appealing choice for airgun enthusiasts who value both cost-effectiveness and functionality. This sight is designed with a versatile 9-11mm rail mount, making it suitable for a wide range of airguns. Its compact size (80 × 30 × 20mm) and light weight (76g) ensure it adds minimal bulk to your setup, while the wide-angle lens offers an expansive field of view, crucial for quick target acquisition. Simple to mount and adjust, it’s an excellent option for both experienced shooters and newcomers to red dot sights, providing a clear and broad view that enhances shooting experiences, especially in dynamic scenarios.

However, it’s important to note that while the Crosman Wide Angle is a great value, it may not meet the needs of advanced shooters looking for more sophisticated features. Its performance in extreme conditions and long-term durability are not extensively tested, so it might not be the ideal choice for heavy-duty use. Overall, this sight is a solid entry-level option or a reliable pick for casual shooting, offering straightforward functionality and ease of use. If you’re in the market for an uncomplicated, budget-friendly red dot sight that effectively improves your shooting, the Crosman Wide Angle Red Dot Sight is certainly worth considering.

The best red dot scopes under £100

Hawke Vantage 3

Hawke is a name many airgunners will be familiar with. Its Vantage Red Dot range of scopes are excellent quality and represent value for money at less than £100. The line up comprises six products, three each designed to fit picatinny and 9-11mm dovetail rails with objective lens options ranging between 20 and 30mm and variable reticle brightness levels.

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Main Red Dot Scope Brands

Most shooting optics companies offer red dot sights. Hawke, Sightmark and Walther all offer excellent affordable products. More expensive are sights from Aimpoint and Eotech with Sig Sauer and Vortex filling the middle ground.


Swedish company, Aimpoint lays claim to having invented the red dot sight. It has been making them since 1975 and is recognised as one of the category’s premier brands. Its hunting and sport shooting range – there are separate products for military and law enforcement – comprises four main products – the 9000L, 9000SC and the 9000SC-NV, which is compatible with night vision. All of which are based on a 30mm tube. The fourth product, the Acro C-1 is intended mainly for use on pistols due to its low profile and compact size.


US company Eotech offers a wide range of red dot, or holographic, sights for law enforcement, military and sporting use. With its origin in the early 1970s, the company marketed its first sight in 1996 and today offers a broad range of dedicated red dot holographic products as well as hybrid sights that make use of a separate snap in/snap out magnifier to aid precision shooting. Magnifier units are also sold separately.


UK company, Hawke Sport Optics produces a wide range of products aimed primarily at sporting shooters. Its telescopic sights are highly popular with airgunners. As far as red dots sights are concerned, the company has three product lines. The six products in the Vantage range offer 20, 25 and 30mm objective lens options. At less than £100, they represent excellent value for money and build quality. The two Endurance models are slightly more expensive. In addition, Hawke offers five ‘Reflex’ holographic style sights.


Sightmark offers one of the largest ranges of red dot and holographic sights with 25 models currently available in a range of objective lens sizes, dot colours and body colours. Its brands comprise Wolverine, Element, Core Shot, Mini Shot and Ultra Shot. Many of them are compatible with a range of Sightmark magnifier units. 


Best known for its rifle barrels and branded air rifles, Walther also produces a range of affordable red dot and holographic sights, one of which, the EPS3 model comes with a snap in/snap out magnifier.


How does a red dot scope work?

A red dot scope should not be confused with a laser dot scope which will project a beam of light (laser) onto a target. A red dot typically uses an LED (Laser Emitting Diode) which is reflected from a mirror that is treated to only reflect red light, or green light in the case of a green dot, and projected onto a glass screen which the shooter then aligns with his or her target. The term ‘red dot’ tends to be applied to the general class of sights, but comprise two slightly different sights – reflex and holographic.

How to use a red dot scope?

The appeal of red dot scopes is that they are very easy and intuitive to use. Once zeroed in you simply place the red dot over the target you want to hit. Unlike traditional scopes, the reticle is a simple dot and therefore does not have markings to enable you to accurately assess hold over/under for distances further or closer than the zero.

How to mount a red dot sight on a scope?

Red dot sights are mounted in the same way as conventional scopes, using mounts designed for either picatinny or dovetail rails. Most red dot scopes have an integrated mounting rail, so make sure you buy a red sight that has a compatible mount for your rifles or you need buy an adapter.

How to zero / sight in a red dot scope?

As with conventional scopes, most red dot scopes have adjustments for windage – to move the aim point left and right – and elevation – to move the aim point up and down. Assuming your rifle shoots consistently, the easiest way to zero is to place a small target on a large piece of card at the distance you want to set your zero. Then shoot a group of three to five shots. Note where the group hits in relation to your target aim point. Use the windage and elevation adjustments and then shoot another group aiming at your target. Repeat the process until your group coincides with your aim point.