A red dot magnifier is an optical device that extends your red dot’s range. Whether you are a seasoned marksman, a hunter, or a recreational shooter, a red dot magnifier improves your shooting precision and versatility. After testing many magnifiers, we concluded that the EOTech HHS-II is the best money can buy. However, the other four magnifiers have key features that you might appreciate more than the HHS-II. We also included a handy buying guide for your next magnifier-buying trip.
5 Best Red Dot Magnifiers
We tested many red dot magnifiers, but only a few uphold the HuntersHalt standard. Here is a list of our five best red dot magnifiers.
- EOTech HHS-II w/G33 STS Magnifier – Best Overall
- Vortex Micro 3x22mm Magnifier – Best AR-15 Red Dot Magnifier
- Holosun HM3X – Best For Beginners
- Sig Sauer Juliet 3-Micro 3X Magnifier – Best Compact Magnifier
- Vortex VMX-3T 3x Magnifier – Best Value
1) EOTech HHS-II Holographic Hybrid Reflex Red Dot Sight w/G33 STS Magnifier
EOTech, renowned for their innovative optics technology, has outdone themselves with the HHS-II. This hybrid reflex sight combines the performance of the EOTech EXPS2-2 red dot sight with the high-quality zoom functionality of the G33 red dot magnifier into a single reflex sight. I quite like this dynamic duo as it allows me to adapt quickly to different shooting scenarios, ensuring my aim remains true regardless of whether the target is close or at medium range.
We already did a detailed review of the EOTech EXPS vs. XPS holographic sight series, so to remain pertinent to the topic, we will only discuss the G33 magnifier. The G33 has seen some improvements over its predecessor, the G23, in that it is shorter and lighter, making it more appealing.
The G33 is a good red dot magnifier, featuring a 3.25x zoom that will considerably enhance your medium-range accuracy. The G33 features a very innovative toggle mechanism between your holographic sight and magnifier- the switch-to-side mount (STS) allows for a seamless transition between your magnifier and holographic weapon sight, all in one motion. The magnifier is well constructed, featuring a ruggedized waterproof and shockproof design and fully multi-coated optics for maximum light transmission.
My Experience With EOTech
I’ve tested a lot of EOTech holographic and red dots over the years, and EOTech’s innovation doesn’t cease to amaze me. The HHS-II consisting of the EXPS2 and G33 magnifier combo, is a high-quality sight that I recommend to anyone who can afford it. I especially like using it on my AR-15 when stalking hogs in the woods.
2) Vortex Micro 3x22mm Magnifier
Vortex is another highly esteemed player in the red dot and hunting optic sector. The Micro 3x22mm is a durable magnifier built from high-quality aluminum. It is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, allowing you to expose it to severe weather elements without worrying that it will break.
The Micro Magnifier caters to everyone’s mounting preferences, offering both an absolute co-witness or a lower 1/3 co-witness. One feature I really appreciate about the Micro is its ambidextrous flip mount – I shoot with both eyes, depending on the shooting scenario, and having an ambidextrous flip mount can be helpful in that heated, quick reaction moment.
The objective lens is 22mm, and with Vortex’s smart lens coatings, you can expect crystal-clear glass clarity. The scope has a 3x magnification, which is a little less than the G33, but it still can improve your medium-range accuracy dramatically.
My Experience With Vortex
Apart from the favorable ambidextrous flip mount, it is also compatible with any Vortex red dot sight. This means I can quickly switch it to any other gun I have a Vortex red dot mounted on, allowing me to enjoy the magnifier with more than one red dot sight. Vortex Optics is one of my go-to optic brands whenever I need a versatile, highly durable optic adept at handling harsh weather and terrain, and the Micro magnifier does not disappoint.
3) Holosun HM3X
We did a full review of the HM3X, comparing it with the more premium HM3XT and we were overall impressed with the magnifier from Holosun. The magnifier is well-built, featuring a 3x magnification with a field of view of 37.6 ft at 100 yards.
It also has an easily adjustable diopter focus dial, a very clear sight picture, and various mounting options, such as an integrated QD mount with an optional spacer for lower co-witness and absolute co-witness mounting.
My Experience With Holosun
I like most of Holosun’s products, especially the innovative Holosun 507c, which I use predominantly as a pistol sight. My experience with the HM3X is positive overall, and offers very good value for money. However, I would consider paying the extra bit of money for the HM3XT.
4) Sig Sauer Juliet 3-Micro 3X Magnifier
Apart from Sig’s high-performing pistols, they also make quality optics. The Juliet 3-Micro is Sig Sauer’s 3x magnification solution for shooting at distances beyond a red dot’s capabilities. It is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to shoot at close and intermediate ranges.
The Juliet 3 features a push-button mount, so it can be quickly flipped to the side or deployed for different engagement distances. Additionally, the quick detach mount has built-in recoil lugs – allowing for a repeatable zero without the need to make windage and elevation adjustments.
It is an extremely durable little magnifier – built from aircraft-grade aluminum and featuring lens protectors to enhance its durability.
My Experience With Sig Sauer
Although my experience with Sig Sauer is mostly limited to its pistols, I’ve had the privilege to test the Romeo MSR and Romeo 5 red dot sights, and the Juliet Magnifier. Overall, Sig’s optical products, including the Juliet magnifier, are very durable and built to last. I had no problem with the Juliet 3 when I tested it in challenging weather conditions – it works especially well in fog conditions.
5) Vortex VMX-3T 3x Magnifier
For our final magnifier on this list, we have another Vortex product, the VMX-3T magnifier. Similar to the Holosun HM3X, the VMX-3T is also a budget-friendly option. It features a neat mounting solution – the flip mount allows you to switch to your regular optic and right back again with the push of a button.
It is also very durable, featuring o-ring seals, nitrogen purging, and high-grade aluminum housing to prevent dust, debris, water, and fog from damaging your magnifier. The scope is compatible with almost any AR-height red dot sight and allows lower 1/3 or absolute co-witness mounting. This magnifier pairs perfectly with most of Best Red Dots for AR15 that I’ve tested.
Finally, the 3x magnification combined with Vortex’s industry-leading lens coatings enables you to see your target with a crisp view.
My Experience With Vortex
As already mentioned, Vortex is one of my go-to brands for situations that require a versatile scope. The VMX-3T, although not as good as the Micro 3x-22mm, is still a very good red dot magnifier – after all, it is on our top 5 list! It had no problem adapting to different testing conditions, and it worked very well in both very bright and poor ambient lighting conditions.
Red Dot Magnifiers Buying Guide
A red dot magnifier is an expensive piece of optical equipment, and it is crucial that you are well educated on the subject when buying your next magnifier. Therefore, we compiled a red dot magnifier buying guide to help you decide on future buying expeditions.
What Is A Red Dot Magnifier?
A red dot magnifier is a device you place behind a red dot sight, like AK Red Dots, to provide a fixed level of extra magnification. Basically, it is designed to extend your shooting range by making the target appear closer and hence easier to aim at with higher precision.
How We Rate A Red Dot Magnifier
When we rate red dot magnifiers, we consider the following key factors:
- Magnification power: What magnification level does the magnifier offer? We generally want a magnifier to have a 3x magnification – providing a balance between range, weight, and target acquisition speed.
- Optical Clarity: Lens quality is very important, affecting how well you can see in different lighting conditions. The lenses should be built from high-quality glass and have multiple coatings – ensuring good light transmission while reducing light reflection.
- User-friendliness: Generally, with red dot sights, speed is of the essence. Therefore, we evaluate how easily the magnifier can be swung into or out of position – it should be fast and efficient.
- Durability: Nobody wants a scope or magnifier they are too afraid of using in the field because it might break. Therefore, we test the robustness of the magnifier under different conditions, including recoil, rain, fog, and dust.
- Compatibility: A magnifier should be easy to mount and compatible with various types of red dot sights.
How Does A Red Dot Magnifier Work?
As already mentioned, a red dot magnifier is a device you place behind a red dot scope to provide an additional level of fixed magnification. Think of it as a telescope for your red dot sight that enlarges the image seen through the sight, bringing the target closer and making it easier to aim accurately. This is very similar to how a traditional rifle scope works as well.
A magnifier can also be quickly swung into or out of the line of sight – allowing you to easily switch between magnified and unmagnified views, depending on the shooting situation.
Who Uses Red Dot Magnifiers?
There are a variety of individuals and different sectors that use a red dot magnifier, including:
- Law Enforcement Officers – Improves target accuracy during tactical operations.
- Military Personnel – Extends soldiers’ combat abilities by extending the range they can engage with on targets.
- Competitive Shooters – Allows shooters to shoot with better precision and speed.
- Hunters – Improves target acquisition rate and accuracy over longer ranges.
- Recreational Shooters – A magnifier can enhance their shooting experience and improve their medium-range shooting skills.
- Home Defense Users – Improves target identification and accuracy.
Any Downsides To Using A Red Dot Magnifier Combo?
As with all good things, there are some drawbacks. While the benefits outweigh the downsides when you use a red dot magnifier, the downsides are still important to consider:
- Weight: Adding a magnifier to your weapon rig increases the overall weight – affecting maneuverability.
- Complexity: Using a magnifier requires training and building up experience, so that you can ensure a smooth transition to and from the magnified view.
- Space: Mounting a magnifier on your firearm means that there is less rail space for additional accessories like a laser.
- Alignment Issues: If your red dot sight and magnifier aren’t properly aligned, it can cause problems with the sight picture and accuracy.
As long as you get your red dot magnifier setup correct, most of the issues will go away!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a red dot magnifier cost?
Are magnifiers compatible with all red dot sights?
How much eye relief do you need with a red dot sight magnifier combo?
The Bottom Line
A magnifier is a great way to extend your range when using a red dot sight without compromising target acquisition speed too much. However, it is important that you buy a magnifier that upholds good-quality characteristics – one with good eye relief, durable housing material, quality optical lenses, and a user-friendly mounting and flipping system. Of all the red dot magnifiers we tested, the best one is the EOTech HHS-II Hybrid, which is a combination of the EXPS2 holographic sight and G33 magnifier. However, the perfect magnifier will ultimately depend on each individual’s preference. Happy shooting!