So, as I have promised, a Best Red Dot Magnifier comparison, here is a detailed written out article about the budget magnifiers that I have compared so far. If you still want to check out the video comparison, here it is: Best Red Dot Magnifier on a BUDGET ($37.99 and more)
These AR-15 magnifiers are all available for sale on Amazon.com and I will include the link for each of them below. Also, before we start, I wanted to mention that this comparison is partially my own opinion and preference, I understand that some might disagree. Let me know in the comments below what you guys think. We will start the comparison from the cheapest magnifier! Let’s do this!
Bumlon AR-15 Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2HPTVV6 – $38.99
Bumlon Magnifying Scope 3X30mm Focus Adjustable with Flip up Mount Picatinny Weaver Rail (as stated on Amazon.com) is the cheapest AR-15 magnifier on my desk and long story short, I love it! Whenever it comes to the quality, yes, you do get the cheap feeling… There is no smooth coating on the tube, the hardware is pretty cheap and somewhat wobbly… So, if you are buying this magnification scope, make sure to be careful not to strip the screws whenever you are installing it. Here is my full video review on Bumlon AR-15 Magnifier Review (Cheap AR-15 Scope).
So, why do I love it? Well, for $38.99 you get a working magnifier, but not only that. The engage/disengage mechanism on this magnifier is amazing! While it needs to be adjusted to operate properly (probably due to bad quality hardware) the idea behind the mechanism itself is the best out of all the magnifiers that I have on my desk. Pretty amazing.
Here are some details from Amazon.com:
- CLEAR SCOPE. 3X magnifier gives you more clear and accurate sight. Optic magnifier is helpful for air-soft shooting to increase field performances.
- FLIP TO SIDE. If you need to use the open sights, the red dot magnifier is quick and easy to flip to the side so that you can get a better look at your target.
- ALIGNED AND DURABLE. The magnifier does make it easier to precisely align the red dot on target, and keep it aligned during the trigger press. If optic magnifier cannot line up with your sight, please add a riser mount to your rail.
- ADJUSTABLE. Adjusting is quite easy and simple.
- EASY INSTALLATION. It’s simple to screw the mount to install or unlock magnifier scope on your rail.
At about 12 oz, this magnifier is pretty light and definitely does not create a bulky feel. Good luck figuring out the eye relief… it is nowhere to be found, but, I would say it is about 2 inches. So, how is the magnification on this magnifier? It works! It works just as well as other magnifiers on my desk. Here are a couple of pics:
On the range this magnifier held very well! So far about 10 hours of range time on mine and it is still on my AR-15, so no problems from recoil…. so far! By the way, it does come with two adjustment dials to help you line up the magnifier with your red dot system.
Conclusion: So, if you do not mind a lack of fancy packaging, a lack of fancy coating, cheap hardware… If you are only going to be using this magnifier for fun on the range and nothing serious… Go for it! You can’t go wrong for $38.99. It is a fully functional rifle magnifier. Of course, if your expectations are sky high and you think that you will get aircraft grade metal and glass for $38.99… well…
TMS Tactical 3x Magnifier Scope – https://amzn.to/2I1VH4S – $88
TMS Tactical 3x Magnifier Scope with Quick Flip to Side FTS Mount 36mm Center Height for Red Dot Sights is our next AR-15 magnifier. As you can see, this one is priced more than double! Let’s see if it is more than double as good as Bumlon magnifier. Here is the video review for the TMS magnifier if you want to see it: TMS Tactical 3x Magnifier Scope Review (AR-15 Magnifier)
So, what is so great about TMS? Well, TMS magnifier comes with bikini covers (yay!), unlike the Bumlon. The packaging is much, much nicer as well. Who cares about the packaging, let’s talk business.
Here are some details from Amazon.com:
- Instantly converts a CQB red dot sight into a 3x long range sniping scope
- Adjustable windage and elevation to center red dot without changing Zero
- 30mm mounting tube. Fully coated lens for the best optical performance
- Includes 90degree FTS quick flip to side mount of 36mm center height that aligns with most EOTech sights of standard height.
- Be sure to check the center height of your mounted red dot sight.
- Should be 36mm or slightly more and less. Check out 42mm model in our store should you need a taller setup, especially when using BUIS the same time
- Magnification: 3x.
- Eye relief: 45mm (1 3/4inch)
- Overall length: 4 1/2inch.
- Flip mount center height: 36mm co witness height
- Accessories: lens covers.
So, as you can see, there are a few improvements over Bumlon. The lens are coated, the weight is a little less, the overall quality feels much better. The included hardware is definitely of a much higher quality compared to Bumlon. The engage/disengage mechanism is a push button, which is not as great (in my opinion) as on Bumlon, but operates flawlessly and feels very good! The glass feels thicker and better quality too. What about the magnification? Well, let’s take a look:
On the range TMS Tactical magnifier held perfectly well. I did not really need to use the adjustment dials, because it was spot on right out of the box. The recoil do not seem to affect it at all. After about 10 hours of usage, it is still in place holding nice and tight, so no complaints there.
Conclusion: So, is this the best AR-15 magnifier on the budget? Maybe! Let’s see. I really have no complaints here besides the fact that I have already lost the bikini covers… and the fact that they are called “bikini covers.” The quality is great, the hardware is great, the sight view looks sharp and crystal clear, the price is still below 100 bucks, the engage/disengage mechanism, while not perfect, still a very good one (in fact, the same mechanism as on the most expensive magnifier on this list Vortex VMX-3T). But let’s look at the other magnifiers.
Beileshi Scope – https://amzn.to/2FBFZL2 – $89.99
So, Beileshi magnifier… Only a $1.99 over TMS, currently on Amazon.com at $89.99. Here is the video review: Beileshi Scope Review (AR-15 Magnifier 4x)
What makes this AR-15 magnifier special? Well, if you did not already notice, this one actually offer 4x magnification!
Here are some more details:
- Crystal Sharp Clear, Fit Various Red Dot Scopes, W/ 30mm Flip Side QD Mount Ring, Diopter Compensation
- This professional grade magnifier scope is adjustable for windage and elevation to better align with the red dot Sight without changing the actual ZERO of the sight
- Ambidextrous design and fully multi-coated optics, Fully coated lens for the best optical performance
- Includes 90degree FTS quick flip to side mount of 42mm center height that aligns with most EOTech sights of standard height
- Fully waterproof, Fogproof and shockproof, great for use under low light condition
- Magnification: 4x
- Objective Lens Dia: 26mm
- Exit Pupil: 6.5 mm
- Overall Length: 115mm (4.5 inch)
- Mount 42mm (1.65 inch, from the base bottom to the ring center)
- Weight (net): 230g (8.1 OZ)
- Eye Relief: 75mm (3.0 inch)
- Field of View: 26 feet @ 100 yards
- Optics Coating: Fully multi coated
- Shock proof that is designed for real fire caliber
- Tube Dia: 30mm
- Click Vaule: 1MOA
- Elevation Range: 40MOA
- Windage Range: 40 MOA
So, as you can see, things are getting a bit more serious with this magnifier, as now, you have an actual waterproof, fog-proof performance. This magnifier comes with only front cover (which I also lost). How about that 4x magnification? Well, take a look:
As you can see, 4x has an obvious advantage over 3x… Obviously. But the question is, do you want that advantage? I will leave it for you to decide. On the range Beileshi did just as good as other magnifiers. The hardware on this magnifier is good quality hardware, so no problems from recoil.
But what about the engage/disengage mechanism? Well, I am sorry to say, but this is where my biggest disappoint is in this magnifier. This magnifier use the pull mechanism in order to engage/disengage the magnifier. Now, if you don’t mind it, good, ignore my complaints, but I am not a fan.
Conclusion: Well, Beileshi is definitely a little step up with all the features that it offers… IF, you do not mind the engage/disengage mechanism. Other than that, great magnifier. 4x magnification, waterproof, fog-proof, good quality hardware, generous eye relief, reasonably lightweight and still under 100 bucks.
AT3 Tactical Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2CLyeRU – $99.99
Alright, time for AT3 magnifier! First of all, I think AT3 is a great company. I have their red dot system, AT3 Leos and it is a very nice red dot system… But can we say the same thing about their magnifier? Let’s see! Here is my video review of the AT3 magnifier: AT3 Tactical Magnifier Review (RRDM 3X AR-15 Magnifier)
Here are the specs:
- No need to choose between the close-quarters advantage of a red dot sight, and the long-range benefits of a scope. Get the best of both worlds with the AT3 3X RRDM (Ruggedized Red Dot Magnifier)
- VERSATILE – Easy upgrade to extend the range of any red dot sight with 3X magnification. Quickly transition between short- and long-range shooting scenarios. Just pull the magnifier and roll to the side.
- ACCURATE – Crystal-clear multi-coated optics for a sharp sight picture. Adjustment screws make it simple to center the red dot in the sight picture
- DURABLE – STEEL flip-to-side mount with positive locking mechanism. Shockproof optic with ruggedized rubber shrouding.
- AT3 Lifetime Warranty
- Fast focus adjustment ensures a crisp sight image
- Magnifier body made of durable 6061 T6 aluminum with matte anodized finish
- Mount body made of steel with matte black finish
- Shockproof optic with ruggedized rubber shrouding, built to withstand recoil of any weapon, including shotguns and large-caliber rifles
- Scratch-resistant optical coating
- Magnification: 3x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 26mm
- Mount Height: 1.5in from the base center of optic
- Eye Relief: 2.4in
- Exit Pupil: 7.0mm
- Field of View: 49 ft @ 100 yds
- Length: 4.2in
- Weight: 11.6oz with mount
- Optics Coating: Fully multi-coated
- Material – 6061 T6 anodized aluminum body on magnifier
- Included in the box: Flip to side mount, 3X magnifier, Hex key, Lens Cleaning Cloth
So, you can see, we are back to 3x magnification… which seems to be more of a standard for AR-15 magnifiers. Here, AT3 is offering us their lifetime warranty, which is nice. However, does not look like this magnifier is waterproof or fog-proof… at least the details do not mention that. The hardware included seems to be of a good quality… Nothing special over Beileshi magnifier though. How does the magnification look? Let’s see:
Looks good, nice and sharp. On the range, AT3 Tactical magnifier performs very well. No issues from the recoil. Engage/disengage mechanism is the same as on the Beileshi, so, a disappointment to me…
Conclusion: Overall, great quality 3x magnifier. Still under 100 bucks (barely). AT3 is a great company and they are nice enough to offer a lifetime warranty on this magnifier. Does not seem to be waterproof or fog-proof. So, is it worth the extra 10 bucks over Beileshi? I will leave it up to you to decide!
Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2FNbXW8 – $147.26
The next magnifier that we have on the table is from Bushnell Optics. I was not a big fan of Bushnell red dot system, but I decided to give the magnifier a try. So let’s take a closer look! Here is my video review: Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier Review (AR-15 Magnifier)
Here are the specs:
- Compatible with any Red dot scope
- Ambidextrous design
- Fast-focus Eyepiece
- Compatible with a wide variety of hunting rifles
- Waterproof: yes
- Fog-proof: yes
- Length: 4.6 inch
- Weight: 13.2 oz.
- Lens diameter: 25 millimeter
- Eye relief… UNLIMITED???????
Ok, so now we have a magnifier that is waterproof and fog-proof, that’s good. It is a little bit on the heavy side, however, at 13.2… The eye relief according to the description is apparently unlimited… whatever that means. According to my own estimates, the eye relief is about 2.5 inches. The engage/disengage mechanism is push. How does the magnification look? Well, here it is:
Looks good! So, by now, you probably have a question, why almost $50 extra for this magnifier over the previous two? Well, I don’t know. I can’t say that the quality feels superior to the previous two magnifier discussed. It held well on the range, just like all the above. The quality of the hardware seems good, just like the above few, the image is sharp, just like the ones above… you get the point. I don’t know why it is $50 more expensive than AT3 or Beileshi.
Conclusion: Good working magnifier. Good quality hardware. Holds very well on the range. Disappointing push engage/disengage mechanism. Sharp, clear image. Unlimited eye relief… (more like, 2.5 inches). Extra $50 out of your pocket. If you are a fan of Bushnell Optics, maybe this one will be the winner.
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2FEYgqV – $199
Alright, we finally made it to our most expensive budget magnifier, Vortex VMX-3T. I have to say here, I am a Vortex Optics fan. I think Vortex Optics is a great company and they make great quality products. Here is my video review on Vortex Optics VMX-3T: Vortex VMX-3T Review (AR-15 Magnifier)
So, let’s talk about the specs:
- The VMX-3T Magnifier and Flip Mount combo adds a 3x magnification to your rifle’s red dot sight. Simple, fast, and effective, the push button design engages and disengages the flip mount allowing the magnifier to lock in at your desired position.
- The lens are fully multi-coated maximizing resolution, light gathering capability, and color fidelity.
- Eye Relief-2.2 inches.
- Field of View-38.2 feet/100 yards
- The VMX-3T does not require any special sight-in. The dot centering screws can be used to help center your red dot image in the VMX-3T’s field of view.
- The magnifier is nitrogen purged for reliable waterproof and fog-proof performance in the field.
- Allows for lower 1/3 or absolute co-witness mounting heights and is ideal for shooters who want to increase the effective range of their red dot sight. Field of View: 38.2 feet/100 yards
- 11.8 ounces
So, Vortex magnifier is definitely a step up in quality over everything that was mentioned above! High quality hardware, high quality construction, high quality feel… The only thing that makes you doubt that high quality is the “Made in China” sticker… The glass is multi-coated and the frame is nitrogen purged for waterproofing and fog-proofing. Here is the view through the magnifier:
The image looks nice and sharp, so no problems there. On the range Vortex magnifier does wonderfully! No matter what caliber your rifle is, this magnifier has no problems with recoil. My only complaint here is that there are no lens covers included at all… I wish they had those awesome flip up covers, like they used on their Strikefire 2 (just my preference).
I am happy about the engage/disengage mechanism on this one though. It is a nice push button!
Conclusion: So, Vortex VMX-3T. Great magnifier! Excellent quality. Great engage/disengage mechanism. Crystal clear image. Water and fog proofed. Vortex Optics brand. Not too heavy at 11.8 oz. Pretty decent eye relief at 2.2 inches. At $199, the priciest magnifier on this list. If you are willing to spend a little extra for a high quality magnifier without spending an arm and a leg… This is it! But, if you want to save some money, the above discussed cheaper options are not too far behind quality wise.
So, which one would I personally recommend? Well, here is how I would sort these magnifiers:
- TMS Tactical 3x Magnifier Scope – https://amzn.to/2I1VH4S – $88
- Bumlon AR-15 Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2HPTVV6 – $38.99
- Beileshi Scope – https://amzn.to/2FBFZL2 – $89.99
- Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2FEYgqV – $199
- AT3 Tactical Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2CLyeRU – $99.99
- Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier – https://amzn.to/2FNbXW8 – $147.26
I personally would go with TMS because I am happy with its quality, performance and also am pleased about the engage/disengage mechanism. My range days are nothing too special or heavy duty so I do not have to worry too much about beating the magnifier up.
My second choice would be the Bumlon just because it is so cheap. Just get it. Even if you are buying another magnifier on the list, get this Bumlon. You can use it on outdoor ranges without worrying about getting your hardware dirty, you can be reckless with it, you can drop it, lose it… It is only $38.99.
I have respect for Beileshi too, probably because it is 4x and stands out of the list. Also, because it offers pretty much everything the same as AT3 and Bushnell and even a little more for $89.99.
Now if I was a little more serious about my range days, I would definitely save some extra and buy Vortex VMX-3T. While this is still a budget magnifier, it is of excellent quality! If you are serious about your time on the range, get this Vortex.
AT3 is a good company, but nothing particularly special about this magnifier, besides the lifetime warranty, which is nice. Now Bushnell, I can’t justify spending almost 150 bucks… If I would want to go up that high, I would rather add $50 and buy Vortex.