You may already know about the benefits of using a red dot sight on your firearm, but they also possess some drawbacks. One of the most notable shortcomings of red dot sights is the lack of magnification.
A rifle or carbine fitted with a red dot sight is intended for close ranges and challenging to use at extended distances.
If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could zoom in just a little further and reach targets at longer distances without having to switch to a higher fixed-power or adjustable scope, you may be interested in using a red dot magnifier.
Best Red Dot Magnifiers
1. Leupold D-EVO
The Leupold Dual-Enhanced View Optic (D-EVO) is one of the most innovative optics available on the market today.
Technically, the D-EVO is not a true magnifier but rather an offset riflescope, fully functional on its own. However, the D-EVO is best used in conjunction with a red dot sight, such as the Leupold LCO or the Aimpoint T2.
When paired with a suitable red dot sight, the D-EVO forms the lower part of a dual-optic combo requiring no levers, hinges, or controls to operate. The shooter has access to both the red dot sight and the 6x magnified optic simultaneously; look up to use the red dot and look down to use the D-EVO.
The D-EVO features Leupold’s proprietary Close Mid-Range Windhold (CMR-W) reticle, which features a large half-ring for fast target acquisition and several bullet drops and windage compensation marks. The CMR-W’s aim point center is accurate at up to 200 yards, whereas the BDC points are accurate at up to 600 yards.
This reticle is compatible with both 5.56x45mm / .223 Remington and 7.62x51mm / .308 Winchester, making it ideal for installation on an AR-15 or an AR-10.
When used on a 5.56/.223 platform, the reticle is optimized for use with 62-grain bullets, such as M855. With a 7.62/.308 platform, the reticle is optimized for use with 175-grain projectiles, such as Sierra MatchKing.
The offset design of the Leupold D-EVO means it will not take up an excessive amount of rail space; however, it will add additional bulk to the right side of the rifle, which you may need to account for while transporting your firearm.
Certain accessories mounted far forward on the handguard (such as tactical lights or laser sights) may partially obscure the view. Make sure your particular setup will not obstruct the D-EVO.
2. EOTech G33 3x magnifier
The EOTech G33 is a sight magnifier designed explicitly for use with EOTech holographic sights.
This model is a classic sight magnifier, mounted directly behind the EOTech holo sight or red dot sight of your choice. It features a 90° hinge system, allowing you to flip the G33 magnifier out of the way when not needed. You do not need to press a button or flip a lever; simply push the optic in or out of the way. The hinge is configurable, allowing the user to set it, so the sight rests on the left or the right side when not in use.
The G33 is compatible with most red dot sights on the market but is recommended for use with EOTech sights, such as the EXPS, 518, or 558 models, as they allow the user to operate the optic’s side-mounted controls even with the magnifier in place.
The magnification provided is approximately 3.25x, making it ideal for use at medium ranges. It is possible to use the G33 to engage targets beyond 300 yards, as long as your sight reticle is sufficiently accurate. Sights featuring bullet drop compensation marks are an ideal companion to the G33.
For example, the 4-dot version of the EOTech EXPS3 features a 5.56/.223 reticle was optimized for 62-grain bullets, with a 50/200-yard center point and BDC marks at 400, 500, and 600 yards.
Mounted on a 5.56mm AR-15 carbine and paired with the G33 magnifier, you obtain a platform that can accurately engage targets at up to 600 yards while still being adequate in close quarters.
3. Aimpoint 3xMag-1 3x magnifier
The Aimpoint 3xMag-1 is a classic dual-purpose monocular and sight magnifier designed for use in conjunction with Aimpoint red dot sights. Aimpoint introduced this product in 2005, and it is still in production to this day.
The 3xMag-1 is a rugged unit made of aircraft-grade anodized aluminum, featuring an ergonomic, shock-absorbing, impact-resistant rubber shell. This magnifier will stand up to rough handling and abuse on the field without loss of function or misalignment.
This unit is also rated to survive environment temperatures ranging between -49°F and 160°F. It will function as expected, no matter how extreme the environment you’re operating in is. The variable dioptric settings (-3 to +3) allow you to adjust the magnifier to your eye for maximum comfort.
On its own, the 3xMag-1 may serve as a rugged 3x monocular. The comfortable eye relief and magnification rate let you observe your environment with ease. However, the primary purpose of the 3xMag-1 is as a sight magnifier, recommended for pairing with the Aimpoint TwistMount and an Aimpoint red dot sight.
When mounted on the TwistMount, the 3xMag can be rotated in and out of the way, letting you choose whether you want an unmagnified red dot sight or a 3x magnifier combo with a simple twist of the hand.
You should pair this magnifier with a sight featuring a small aiming dot, no larger than 2 MOA, for the best results. Red dots such as the Aimpoint CompM3, CompM4, or Micro T-2 are ideal companions for the 3xMag-1.
If you shoot or hunt at night or under low-light conditions, the 3xMag-1 is 100% compatible with night vision devices (NVD). Like other NVD-compatible Aimpoint products, this model is optimized for use with 3rd generation devices, preserving the visual clarity they deliver.
4. SIG Sauer Juliet4 4x magnifier
SIG Sauer is best known for its pistols and rifles, but the company has branched out into other firearm accessories, such as optical sights, laser sights, and ammunition.
The most popular SIG red dot sights line is the Romeo series, available in various pistols and rifles. Fittingly, SIG’s line of sight magnifiers is known as the Juliet series, referencing the Shakespeare classic.
The Juliet4 offers the best of both worlds between the compactness of the Juliet3 and the magnification power of the Juliet6. Although its magnification rate of 4x is lower than the Juliet6 (6x), it is approximately the same length as the Juliet3.
At 4x, this magnifier offers a higher magnification rate than most products in the same category. It is an ideal product for turning your close-range carbine into a medium-range tack-driver with just one twist.
This unit features a quick-release PowerCam mount, designed to be rotated easily when not in use. It also possesses a quick-detach lever, allowing you to install and remove the magnifier from your firearm with ease.
The Juliet4 comes in the box with a selection of risers for compatibility with an extensive range of red dot sights, both from SIG Sauer and other brands. For example, you can use the tall 1.63” riser in conjunction with the Romeo 4T sight or the short 1.41” riser with the original Romeo 5. Other compatible sights include the Holosun 510C or the Aimpoint Pro.
5. Bushnell AR Optics Transition 3x magnifier
The Bushnell AR Optics Transition 3x magnifier provides shooters on a budget with excellent value for the money.
This item is an affordable sight magnifier; it may not have all of the advanced features of more expensive brands, but it does possess high-quality, multi-coated glass, providing high clarity and a wide field of view.
The Transition comes out of the box with an ambidextrous flip mount, compatible with Picatinny rails. Whether you are left- or right-handed, you can easily engage and disengage from the Transition at any moment.
This sight magnifier features a high-durability, waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof housing, designed to withstand rain, harsh weather, and rough use on the field. It also comes out of the box with a lens cover, protective caps, and a multipurpose adjustment tool for additional protection and convenience.
Although it is compatible with most red dot and holographic sights on the market, such as the Holosun 512C or EOTech 552, the Bushnell Transition will pair perfectly with the Bushnell TRS-25.
Engaging and disengaging the Bushnell Transition is easy: Pull backward, then flip the magnifier up or down. It will then lock in place in the desired position.
It is also tall enough to clear most backup rear iron sights as long as they are in the flipped-down position. However, make sure you have enough rail space to accommodate all of your accessories on your top rail. Many budget ARs only feature the mil-spec flat-top rail with no additional rail space on the handguard.
How Red Dot Magnifiers Work
Red dot sights, on their own, are great for shooting at close ranges. They are unmagnified optics providing the shooter with a relatively wide field of view and a simple, intuitive reticle. With a little practice, aiming and target acquisition are faster with a red dot sight than with iron sights.
However, a red dot sight has limitations. Their reticles are usually simple shapes such as a circle or a triangle, designed explicitly for close ranges and challenging to use beyond the intended distances. The purpose of a magnifier is to address this issue and let the shooter see and potentially engage targets at longer distances.
A typical magnifier is installed on the same rail as your optics, behind your red dot sight. A red dot magnifier is just that; a magnifying glass provides a fixed zoom in its most basic form. It is usually mounted on a fixed mount, magnifying your optic at all times. Flip-side mounts, which feature a hinge system, are more expensive but allow you to flip the magnifier out of the way when you don’t need the magnification and back in place when you need it again.
When looking through a red dot and magnifier combo, the magnifier increases the field of view and the size of your red dot sight’s reticle, causing it to appear larger than it is. Higher magnifications would cause that reticle to grow too large and become too imprecise for any kind of accurate shooting; this is why most red dot magnifiers are low-power, usually between 2x and 3x.
Certain specialized magnifiers provide the shooter with higher magnification and even their reticles but are typically more expensive and designed to work only with a narrow range of sights. However, if they work with your favorite red dot sight, they can be an excellent option to improve your firearm’s versatility at different ranges.
It is important not to treat a combination of red dot sight and magnifier as a replacement for an adjustable or variable-power scope. There is a limit to these devices’ magnification power (up to 6x or 7x), and none can replace proper scopes for long-range shooting (beyond 300 yards with a 5.56mm AR-15).
The best way to look at a red dot magnifier is to treat it as an improvement for your red dot sight’s versatility. This setup is intended mostly for use at close ranges (0-100 yards) but with the option to reach medium-range targets (up to 200-250 yards) more comfortably whenever needed.
Pair the sight magnifier of your choice with a red dot sight or holographic sight made by the same manufacturer to ensure perfect function.
Like most optical devices, sight magnifiers are relatively heavy. Adding a magnifier to a rifle or carbine already equipped with a red dot sight will significantly increase its weight.
For example, the SIG Romeo 4T red dot sight is 7.6 oz. The Juliet4 magnifier is 12.5 oz. Together, they add just over 20 oz. of weight to your firearm; 1.25 lbs. You will feel the difference. Extra weight can have advantages in certain situations; a heavier rifle absorbs recoil more effectively. However, if you will carry it more often than you’ll shoot it, it will be uncomfortable and cumbersome.
If you intend to add a sight magnifier to your loadout, keep your firearm’s weight and intended purposes in mind.