Red Dot Sights for Home Defense

This is a guest post by Gary Fretwellred dot

Have you ever considered getting a red dot sight for home defense?

If not, you probably should.

As a matter of fact, red dot sights are gaining an incredible amount of popularity and even in handguns, thinks that red dot optics may soon eclipse traditional iron sights!

Honestly, the standard iron sight isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but electronic sight options on a variety of different weapons are gaining popularity. Both laser sights and red dot sights are getting smaller and more effective, which makes them perfect for defending your home and yourself!

The benefit of red dot sights is that they are extremely accurate and shooters are able to put their aim on the target much faster, especially at longer ranges. Originally used and created for tactical rifles, like the AR-15, red dot sights were meant to make target acquisition easier and shooting more accurately. This ideology now applying to all firearms, including handguns.

Why use a red dot sight?

There are lots of different home defense weapons sights that you can choose, but a red dot site is one of the best choices. The idea of a red dot sight is that it should compliment your firearm. It should make it easier for you to find your target faster and hit your target more accurately. Competition shooters and those who utilize weapons for self-defense are quickly catching on to the benefits of using a red dot sight.

For home defense specifically, getting a red dot sight is perfect because criminals often attack in low light conditions at night.

Also, if you are using your firearm at the range for target shooting, whether it’s a rifle, shotgun, or a handgun, you’ll likely notice a huge difference in your accuracy when hitting the target when using a red dot sight versus the iron sights.

What is the best red dot sight for home defense?

The answer really depends on what you plan to use it for and for what firearm? When determining the firearm, there is a best for each one, so I will break it down into 3 categories:

  • Rifle (tactical rifles like AR-15, but not .308 rifles or 30-06 rifles, etc.)
  • Shotguns
  • Handguns

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a red dot site for home defense:

1. Quick Target Acquisition

Like I stated earlier, this is one of the biggest benefits of using a red dot sight in general, but not all red dot sights are created equal.

Red dot sights come in different dot sizes, different dot colors and different shapes. And even though it’s called a red dot sight, you might find one that comes in green. This is all personal preference, but the main thing here is that you need to find one that allows you to find your target the fastest.

Another things to consider is the size of the dot. Some dots are bigger than others. A larger dot might interfere with the way you look and find your target through the sight. You don’t want the dot to cover the target so much that you don’t know what you’re shooting at.

At the same time, larger dots are better for up close shooting because it is easier to get the dot on the target whereas a smaller dot allows for a more accurate shot at longer range.

2. Ability To Use at Night

Some other things to consider is the brightness of the light, as light brightnesses vary between different red dot sights. Criminals primarily attack at night so you will need to get a red dot sight that has a lot of illumination so that you can see what you are aiming at. But not a super high amount that your eyes can’t see past the dot. You still need to be able to see the dot AND the target through the sight for an accurate shot.

For low light conditions, a red dot sight is sometimes even easier to see than a night vision scope. What’s nice too is that the red dot can still work in bright light situations. Some red dots sights are equipped with light sensors that can adjust the brightness automatically, which is perfect for transitioning from low light to bright situations.

3. Efficiency and ease of use.

For home defense, you should look for a red dot optic and mounting solution that is very durable. You also want the option of retaining the iron sights on the firearm. A weapon designed for combat and home defense needs an optic that you can trust your life on.

Red dot sights are also great if you have poor eyesight. The red dots are easier to find than the iron sights and allow those who have poor vision to still be very effective with a handgun.

You also want to make sure the sight is made well. This is where choosing a reputable company is also extremely important, like Bushnell, Vortex, Burris, Trijicon or EOTech.

4. Concealed or bed side?

Are you planning on carrying and concealing a handgun while at home for home defense or primarily keeping your firearm at your bed side or in another location? Some red dot sights are bulkier than others and it may be more difficult to conceal.

For concealed carry, does the red dot have a battery or no battery? Some red dot sights offer a battery free miniature red dot sight that absorbs the light and turns it into the reticle or dot. This can be a really good option to reduce the bulk of the sight.

But if you use a battery, that’s ok, as this is primarily the way most red dot sights operate. Just be sure to know its battery life and when all else fails, use the backup iron sights.

Ok let’s get to the best red dot sight for each firearm, a rifle, shotgun , and handgun.

Best red dot sight for a rifle

Red dot sights were originally created for tactical rifle’s so there are a lot of different red dot sights to choose from.

My home defense rifle of choice is the AR-15, so for that I would recommend the Vortex SPARC Red Dot Scope as the best AR-15 scope to use for home defense. It’s a tube style scope that features a red dot and it’s reasonably priced. It’s light weight, which is perfect for a tactical rifle like an AR-15 and is built extremely well.

It’s also parallax free which allows for more rapid shooting while you have both eyes open, perfect for home defense. There are too many amazing features that I could name, but you should just check it out for yourself. It’s by far my favorite red dot scope for a rifle.

Best red dot sight for a shotgun

Honestly, most people laugh at the idea of putting any kind of sight a shotgun, let alone a red dot sight. Most think of shotguns as a point and shoot firearm and let the shot pattern hit the target. The “spray and pray” as they call it, which does work, but don’t be surprised to find out that you can find a red dot sight to equip to your shotgun now and it’s actually very effective.

Using a red dot site is a faster and more accurate way to aim your shotgun than its iron sights. A small bead front sight on a shotgun might not be as quick for aiming, as you’ll only want to fire one shot if you’re defending your home, whereas the red dot sight is quicker, you get a bigger sight picture, you know you’ll hit the target as long as the red dot is on it, and they work great in low light conditions!

My recommendation for the best red dot scope for your shotgun would have to be the Bushnell Trophy Red Dot TRS-25.

The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a full featured red dot, with a generous 3 MOA dot, 11 brightness settings, and comes in camo or black color. The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 one of the best red dot sights you can get for the money as the value is high quality for under $100 and it is designed very well.

Best red dot sight for a handgun

Red dot sights for a handgun are typically much smaller (to fit on a handgun) and are sometimes referred to as ‘miniature red dot sights.’ Because of the smaller size, they use a very simple reticle. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty common to find a red dot sight that is just 1.2 ounces in weight.

Sure, they add some bulk, but you’ll barely be able to tell a difference in weight.

If you are going to conceal your handgun at home, look into getting a red dot site that doesn’t use batteries. The only scope manufacturer that I know that offers technology like this is Trijicon. Regardless, you can find red dot sights that are extremely small.

My favorite red dot site that I would recommend for a handgun in home defense is the Trijicon RMR LED Red Dot Sight.

Its on the pricier side, but it’s a Trijicon so you know it’s quality. It uses battery power to illuminate a 3.25 MOA red dot. You can even adjust the brightness settings from super bright to night vision modes, and even auto brightness can be enabled.

This is by far my favorite red dot site for a handgun.

Any Cons?

The cons of getting a red dot sight are usually its price. For home defense, I wouldn’t recommend getting anything under $100 (the Bushnell Trophy TRS25 being the exception). Your life depends on using a reliable red dot sight for home defense. Don’t be cheap.

Another negative is that most models rely on batteries which can sometimes be an added hassle.

For some, the extra bulk on a concealed handgun is a negative factor.

Also, the added training necessary to learn how to effectively use the red dot sight can be a negative factor. Someone who is only used to traditional iron sights will take some time to use a red dot sight effectively.

Final Thoughts

Red dot sights have huge advantages to a home defense shooter. To recap, some of the benefits include rapid target acquisition, easier long distance shooting, easier and more accurate aiming, ability to see targets at night or in low light conditions, and they simply just compliment any firearm.

Remember, it can never replace skill or talent, so if you get a red dot sight, learn how to use it.

What do you think about red dot sights? Do you think it’s a good option for home defense?


Gary FretwellThis is a guest post by Gary Fretwell, rifle optic guru and big game tracker, at

Speak Your Mind


Send this to a friend