The best red dots under $100 add whole new dimensions of accuracy to nearly any shooting sport. These technically enhanced sights so simplify consistent dead-on aim that many hunters have turned to laser reticles over classic iron sights or even modern scopes with vastly impressive magnification. More actively inclined tactical and competitive shooters prize them for virtually instant target acquisition when the seconds between shots count toward hitting one’s mark, an entirely wasted burst of misses, or even coming under fire in an instant. There’s also plenty to be said about the a quality red dot’s confidence-cultivating potential to keep shooting fun for new or young initiates by simplifying aiming and freeing up attention to concentrate on solid fundamentals.
Whatever gawking at Aimpoint red-dot sights priced between $900 and $1,000 might suggest, there are indeed more than a few laser sights priced at one-tenth that price range or less which would be phenomenal bargains at twice their prices. I chose to evaluate these three hugely popular optics based on the four key criteria that should inform shopping for a red dot on any size budget:
- CONSTRUCTION & DURABILITY
Top 3 Best Red Dots under 100 – Comparison Chart
#1 Twod Rifle Scope 3-in-1 Tactical Red(Green) Laser
It’s good to see Twod embrace a full multi-coating process. Alas, it makes up for the washed-out colors its ruby-tinted coating disguises. It might help greens and blues stand out, but it doesn’t do red hues any favors at all. In fact, it can bring out greens to such an extent as to give everything a little bit of an unnatural verdant tint. Nevertheless, the fully multi-coated optics do their job by cannibalizing light and drastically improving sighting brightness in low light.
#2 UTG BugBuster Scope
I wish I could say the BugBuster’s emerald coating provided some revelatory, earth-shattering benefit. Sadly, when it comes to a red dot that doesn’t depend greatly on its magnification, there isn’t a lot of point except possibly bringing out its red and black reticles and colors within the green spectrum. Call it a dirty word if you will, but it’s a gimmick, in my opinion. On the upside, although even the optic’s maximum illumination is difficult to see in full daylight, I appreciated the way the RGB side-wheel brightness adjustment benefited adaptability to a full range of environmental and light conditions.
#3 Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Rifle Scope
I have yet to come across a sporting optics manufacturer that routinely produces brighter optics than Bushnell. Granted, there’s no discounting the pure astounding clarity of Leupold or Vortex glass, but Bushnell has perfected fully multi-coated lenses that transmit light at incredible volumes with virtually no reflection. The TRS-25’s 25mm lens is no exception with its unique Amber-Bright coating sharpening targets into an impeccably high contrast that immediately separates them their surroundings for instant acquisition. There’s always room in any setting for for that kind of definition.
#4 BEST BRIGHTNESS: Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
CONSTRUCTION & DURABILITY
The Twod 3-in-1’s construction is nothing to write home about but nothing disastrous, either. Its versatility earns my respect, since it fits any 20 Weaver or Pickatinny rail with an its impressively easy assembly. It comes with a 1”/25mm and 30mm ring adapter, scope barrel mount, two scope mounts for an 11mm Weaver dovetail rail, Allen key, mounting tool, cloth, and elasticated see-through lens cap, along with all the sight’s actual components major components and battery.
The consistency synonymous with the Bushnell name will always make their products impossible not to consider when shopping within any budget. Like Leupold’s nearly incomparable clarity and Nikon’s famous toughness, virtually every optic boasts the same broadly proven standards for materials and processes that maximize durability. As with any scope, the TRS-25’s nitrogen-purged housing leaves its inner workings flawlessly dry and moisture-proof, as do its thick and durable waterproof gaskets. The internal O-ring seal keeps even the most miniscule dirt, dust, and debris particulates outside and far from its lenses and electronics. This scope mounts on any Picatinny or Weaver rail using an Allen-style cross screw and if you need any further convincing as to how invincibly shockproof it is, consider that it has far outlasted competing scopes in stress tests that have seen the AK platform eat optics alive after 500 shots of stiff recoil.
Whereas Bushnell hinges much of the appeal of its builds on consistent, practical performance and durability, UTG strayed beyond the norm and delivered a red-dot optic that offers extra consideration for user-friendliness. To say the least, the two-inch sunshade came in immensely handy on the clear, extremely bright day I tested the BugBuster outdoors. The rings detach incredibly quickly and make adjustments, mounting, and dismantling just a little bit easier. That’s all nice, but it was the proprietary True Strength Platform (TSP) that thoroughly won me over. This distinctive assembly technique is a UTG/Leaper hallmark in which a unique smart spherical structure controls with the joint-like interactions between the inner and outer tubes. This methodology also maintains precise and responsive windage and elevation adjustments while sealing dry nitrogen inside the body to keep its interior as rainproof and fogproof as the tubes are shockproof. I was even more impressed to learn these manufacturing signatures were tested and perfected by subjecting scopes to performance tests incorporating rifles with some of the nastiest kick in the world.
#4 BEST CONSTRUCTION: UTG BugBuster Scope
#1 Twod Rifle Scope 3-in-1 Tactical Red Laser
This is about where the popularity of the Twod 3-in-1 began mystifying me. The optic offers both green and red illuminated Mil-dot reticles, but I can’t really recommend straying from the green. You can choose from three MOA dot sizes to pair with four unique styles, but the red is truly a letdown in lighted conditions. The open-reflex sight makes for speedy acquisition and there’s a respectable field of view through the 24x34mm-diameter objective, making it a suitable scope if you swap out the red light with its available alternative green laser with a built-in pressure switch.
#2 Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Rifle Scope
By design, the TRS-25’s light source adhesively secured inside the scope’s body partially obscures its field of view. Fortunately, I didn’t really lose out much for the ways Bushnell positioned this undersized tilted this red dot’s LED to create its 3 MOA dot reticle. To its credit, the sight is crisp, sharp, and immediately visible…mostly. It is prone to becoming non-concentric, blurry, and distorted if the intensity is set too high for the surrounding ambient light, especially indoors. The safest solution is to reserve dialing the brightness all the way up only for shooting in especially bright surroundings. As a minor bonus, the control knob turns with a moderate-but-notable resistance intended to ensure the laser doesn’t accidentally activate.
#3 UTG BugBuster Scope
Meanwhile, the BugBuster continued to surprise me. This surprising little optic provides a parallax-free view from three yards outward to infinity. The versatile red and green dual illuminations project against a sizable field of view with ample eye relief, though you may pick up on some minimal edge distortion. Nothing sold me quite like the Mil-dot range estimation feature, a technical standard of every UTG/Leaper scope that arranges a combined 21 aiming points along its reticle lines – nine dots along each side of the duplex crosshairs and the two inner tips. That is uncommon simplification of ballistic adjustment for holdover and windage.
#4 BEST RETICLE: UTG BugBuster Scope
#1 UTG BugBuster Scope
Innovative as it may be in places, the UTG BugBuster is really nothing special when it comes to accuracy. Oh, it has its perks. Meting out ¼ MOA adjustments is really above and beyond for an optic destined to be most popular where few ever sweat their shots being off by that small a margin. The outstanding lockable and resettable zero turrets gave me great peace of mind knowing that it would take one hell of a thud to the sight in order to throw my aim. It’s a crisp, consistent, and precise red dot that does everything you could ask of one with no surprises.
#2 Twod Rifle Scope 3-in-1 Tactical Red Laser
I have no choice but to give the Twod this: it has the advantage over its two counterparts of offering actual 2.5-10x magnification with a 40mm lens. It isn’t exactly a generally coveted feature in red-dot sights, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The 3-in-1 does get the most out of that with a field of view measuring 32.5-8.9 feet at 100 yards, depending on the magnification. The 1 MOA click value doesn’t lend itself to a fine-tuned zero, but considering that red dots are most popularly mounted to AR and AK platforms, I can’t imagine that fact creating too many issues.
#3 Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
It would be difficult to understate how much fun it is to shoot a true 1x sight, given the luxury of quick, perfect target acquisition with both eyes open. That’s the kind of performance the AR and AK platforms in particular were intended to dominate. Bushnell’s parallax-free design requires no centering whatsoever. The dot followers the user’s eye movement while remaining perfectly fixed on target. The shooter finds the mark quickly while maintaining a wide awareness of the immediate surroundings.
#4 MOST ACCURATE: Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
#5 HONORABLE MENTION: Twod Rifle Scope 3-in-1 Tactical RED(Green) Laser
Bushnell making the best red dot under $100 doesn’t surprise me. Versatility and user-friendly simplicity has been the name of their game since the brand’s beginnings. On the the other hand, their being equaled by the UTG BugBuster pleasantly surprised me, but in the most positive possible way. UTG shared Bushnell’s goal of making a red dot that would make experienced and newly trained shooters alike excited to pull the trigger with such fast, pinpoint accuracy. They just went about it in some slightly different ways that served to set their name apart. Well-done.
Related Video: How to zero a red dot sight?