Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Best Cheap Red Dots Under $100 [Destruction Test]

Red Dots Under $100


On a budget but still need a reliable red dot for your Slickgun?

Red Dots Under $100

We got four of the most popular red dots under $100.

Shot them a bunch. Got video view-throughs.

And threw them onto a big rock to check function and zero shift.

Red Dot vs Rock
Red Dot vs Rock

And for something so visual…check out our full YouTube Slickguns Review first.

Please sub to our channel if that was cool…we upload something every week!

Now onto the article!

Best Cheap Red Dots Under $100

1. Bushnell TRS-25

One of our favorites and this tested TRS-25 has been with us for many years…

Bushnell TRS-25
Bushnell TRS-25

Racking up almost 3000 rounds…with the last 1000 or so on a harsh-recoiling AK-pistol.

WASR10, PSAK47, PAP M92
TRS-25 on the Bottom AK

It’s what we recommended to all our friends/family just getting into red dots.

For around $60 and sometimes cheaper on sale…the TRS-25 is solid.

However, there are some trade-offs…

Bushnell TRS-25 Green Hue
Bushnell TRS-25 Green Hue

The lens is pretty green.

It’s noticeable when you shoot but one advantage is that it allows easier acquisition of the red dot in really bright environments (like above).

Check it out in action on the range…

And indoors…

The reticle is 3 MOA (covers 3 inches at 100 yards) which makes it a little larger than its counterparts at 2 MOA.

TRS-25 Glob
TRS-25 Glob

Easier to acquire targets but may cover up smaller stuff at closer ranges.

And the “glob” of glue that holds in the red dot emitter at 5 o’clock is a little chunkier.

Again…budget red dot.

Battery life is meh comparatively…it’s rated at somewhere around 1000 hours (with conflicting data).

Bushnell TRS-25 Battery Compartment
Bushnell TRS-25 Battery Compartment

That may be true with it on…but when it’s off you gotta change the battery at least every year (even when it’s off).

Mine has gone through at least 5 changes in the last 5 years.

For this reason I wouldn’t put it on a “bump in the night” Slickgun because it could have drained its batteries.

But for a range Slickgun…game on!

Bushnell TRS-25 in Action
Bushnell TRS-25 in Action

How about other stuff?

Its brightness knob is quite nice…good amount of resistance and you can turn it both ways (immediately go from 0 to max 11 brightness).

And zero? It’s held it great for its entire life…even on an AK pistol platform.

But now…we set up a target 50 yards away and zero on a small target.

Red Dot vs Rock
Red Dot vs Rock

Then we drop the unloaded rifle directly onto a rock and shoot at another target.

TRS-25 Zero Shift
TRS-25 Zero Shift

Actually not too bad for a direct hit onto exposed elevation turrets…about a 3 MOA shift.

Still perfect good for minute of bad guy.

But RIP to the turrets.

TRS-25 Elevation Dent
TRS-25 Elevation Dent

And a little damage to the rear glass. Optic still worked though!

TRS-25 Rear Glass Damage
TRS-25 Rear Glass Damage

All in all…I still love the TRS-25. For under $60 and even cheaper sometimes, it does its job.

I’d opt for the non-riser edition since the one it comes with SUCKS.

Most Affordable Red Dot
53

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

53
at Amazon

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Amazon (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[15942] = {
“id”: “15942”,
“title”: “Bushnell TRS-25”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/TRS-25-300×244.jpg”,
“tag”: “Most Affordable Red Dot”
};

Then get yourself a UTG 1″ slim riser for 1/3 cowitness (more on this at the end of the article).

Bushnell TRS-25
Bushnell TRS-25 with UTG Slim Riser

2. Primary Arms Classic Red Dot Gen 2

Another big contender in the under $100 red dot world is the Primary Arms Classic Red Dot (Gen 2).

Primary Arms Classic Gen 2 Red Dot, Side
Primary Arms Classic Gen 2 Red Dot, Side

It’s a definite step up from the TRS-25 with better battery management (I haven’t needed to change batteries for over 18 months).

And a sub-$100 acceptable 1000 hour on battery life.

But really…it has better build quality.

But it is around the $89 mark.

How’s it perform?

The glass is quite clear and the red dot is still very visible even in the bright-ass desert.

PA Red Dot View Through
PA Red Dot View Through

Its 2 MOA dot is smaller but better for precise shots up close and farther targets where a larger dot might obscure the entire thing.

Plus the glob of glue at 5 o’clock is much smaller and doesn’t obstruct as much as the TRS.

And very negligible halo effects.

One small thing I don’t like about it is that the brightness adjustment knob doesn’t turn from 0 to 11…you gotta go all the way around.

Primary Arms Classic Gen 2 Red Dot, Rear
Primary Arms Classic Gen 2 Red Dot, Rear

Zero also held well through our testing for the last year or so.

Ok…rock time!

PA Red Dot Rock Damage
PA Red Dot Rock Damage

Direct hit on the elevation adjustment knob which caved it in a little. We needed pliers to remove it.

But the optic still worked and with no glass damage.

PA Red Dot Zero Shift
PA Red Dot Zero Shift

Zero shifted around 6 inches low though.

Which further extends our guess that all these budget red dots (and maybe higher end ones) will experience shift when their adjustment knobs are directly hit.

Still…I highly recommend the Primary Arms Classic Red Dot Gen 2 if you’re looking to stay under $100 and have a bright, clear, and reliable red dot.

90

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

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90
at Primary Arms

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Primary Arms (See Price)
  • Amazon (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44297] = {
“id”: “44297”,
“title”: “Primary Arms Classic Series Gen II”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Primary-Arms-Classic-Gen-II-1024×682.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

What’s your take on the PA Classic Red Dot?

Readers’ Ratings

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3. AT3 RD-50

AT3 has a great rep online and I was excited to try their RD-50 red dot.

AT3 RD-50, Front
AT3 RD-50, Front

Their main claim to fame is having the upgraded generation of red dot technology in a sub-$100 category.

Mainly…it has a 50,000 hour battery life at a low setting.

AT3 RD-50 in Action
AT3 RD-50 in Action

If having an always on red dot (because 50K hours is 5 years) on your rifle is your thing…AND you gotta stay under $100…get the RD-50.

The only complaint we have is that the crisp 2 MOA dot is a little dimmer than the Bushnell and PA.

Again…bright-ass summer day in the desert.

AT3 Red Dot View Through
AT3 Red Dot View Through

It worked perfectly fine on other days and of course indoors.

Note it does have a little bit of halo effect on the sides when you crank the brightness to the max.

AT3 RD-50 Halo
AT3 RD-50 Halo

But much less noticeable and at less angles than the TRS-25.

And the 5 o’clock glob is in between the TRS-25 and Primary Arms.

Brightness knob time…it does allow you to turn both ways. But…it’s a little stiff. I know…very nitpicky.

AT3 RD-50, Front
AT3 RD-50, Adjustment Knobs

Let’s throw it on the ground (I mean rock).

AT3 RD-50 Rock Damage to Battery Cap
AT3 RD-50 Rock Damage to Battery Cap

This time, the RD-50 landed on its battery cap instead of the elevation knobs like its predecessors.

It kept on chugging…and the zero stayed pretty consistent for a hard hit.

AT3 Original Zero
AT3 Original Zero
AT3 RD-50 Zero Shift
AT3 RD-50 Zero Shift

I still highly recommend the AT3 RD-50 if always on battery life is important to you.

Brightness is a little dimmer so unless you’re on the surface of the sun like us…you should be fine.

Glass is clear, dot is crisp, and there’s only a slightly bigger glob and halo effect compared to the Primary Arms.

75

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44302] = {
“id”: “44302”,
“title”: “AT3 Tactical RD-50 Red Dot”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/AT3-Red-Dot-1024×914.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

For $75 it doesn’t come with a riser…so you can always opt for the UTG Slim…or get AT3’s $99 combo with their own angled/slim riser.

AT3 Riser Combo
AT3 Riser Combo

Now…the best for last…

4. Dagger Defense DDHB

Just kidding…this one isn’t great comparatively.

Dagger Defense DDHB
Dagger Defense DDHB

The Dagger Defense DDHB is the cheapest red dot with decent Slickguns Reviews and comes in at $40.

The front lens is shiny silver (so watch out for the snipers, lol).

It comes with its own mount that seems ok.

And gives you a dial for brightness and red/green color choice.

DDHB Red Crosshair
DDHB Red Crosshair

Plus a little dial for 4 different reticles.

 DDHB Green Sight, Post Damage
DDHB Green Sight, Post Damage

So far…actually seems ok right?

And it is…for $40.

But there’s bad halo-ing and it was very difficult to see in bright sunlight.

We could barely see the green circle reticle.

Dagger Defense View Through, Green Circle Reticle
Dagger Defense View Through, Green Circle Reticle

I couldn’t find stats on its battery life when on…but the official Amazon seller says the battery should power it for a year.

Its elevation and windage adjustments are also Allen key screws on the side and top which doesn’t instill confidence. And there’s a zero lock-in Allen key too…

So how did it do against Mr. Rock?

DDHB Rock Damage
DDHB Rock Damage

It landed on the top side and put a little dent.

And badly cracked the front lens.

Dagger Defense Lens Damage
Dagger Defense Lens Damage

It turns on but is effectively taken out of the fight.

How did its zero fare?

DDHB Zero
DDHB Zero

And post-drop we had to hold 6-inch high to get on paper in roughly the same spot.

DDHB Zero Shift
DDHB Zero Shift

Still short range minute of bad guy? Up to you…

If you’ve absolutely only have around $40 to spend…you could do worse than the Dagger Defense.

40

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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PPT_APS[44305] = {
“id”: “44305”,
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“tag”: “”
};

But if I were you I’d save up for the TRS-25 if not the other ones.

Cowitnessing Sights

Red Dot Risers
Red Dot Risers

If you’re on an AR-15 type platform…you’re going to want some sort of red dot riser so you’re not breaking your neck.

Lower One-Third Cowitness, Cheekweld View
Lower One-Third Cowitness, Cheekweld View

Then it comes down to your preference of having a lower one-thirds cowitness…where with a normal cheekweld the red dot is over your irons…

Or going with an absolute cowitness where having a normal cheekweld puts the red dot directly in line with your irons.

Absolute Cowintness, Cheekweld View
Absolute Cowintness, Cheekweld View

In my opinion it gets too cluttered.

To go with a lower one-thirds cowitness, make sure to get a mount that is 1″ high. Like our recommended UTG Slim Riser.

UTG Slim Riser
UTG Slim Riser

Or for absolute…get the shorter .83″ version.

Conclusion

Wooh, there you have it.

Lots of shooting and some destruction testing of some popular el cheapo red dots.

Budget Red Dots, Front
Budget Red Dots, Front

Let’s sum it up…

My bare bones recommendation is the Bushnell TRS-25. It’s our most tested affordable red dot and will do great for a plinking Slickgun.

Most Affordable Red Dot
53

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

53
at Amazon

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Amazon (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[15942] = {
“id”: “15942”,
“title”: “Bushnell TRS-25”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/TRS-25-300×244.jpg”,
“tag”: “Most Affordable Red Dot”
};

My higher-end recommendation for something under $100 is the Primary Arms Classic Red Dot.

It has better battery everything than the TRS-25 and has much clearer glass.

90

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

90
at Primary Arms

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Primary Arms (See Price)
  • Amazon (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44297] = {
“id”: “44297”,
“title”: “Primary Arms Classic Series Gen II”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Primary-Arms-Classic-Gen-II-1024×682.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

If battery life is your name of the game…go for the AT3 RD-50.

Some halo effects and a bigger 5 o’clock glob…but it’s negated by its awesome 50K battery life…WHEN ON.

75

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44302] = {
“id”: “44302”,
“title”: “AT3 Tactical RD-50 Red Dot”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/AT3-Red-Dot-1024×914.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

Any other affordable red dots you’d like us to test that aren’t complete Chinesium? Otherwise if you’re ready to ball it up a little check out our main Best Red Dots article.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

The post Best Cheap Red Dots Under $100 [Destruction Test] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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