The Best Shotgun Red Dots – Aim Your Scattergun

Red dots rule—so much so, that we’ve allowed them to easily move from rifles to handguns. While their use of rifles and handguns has become widely accepted, many shotgunners despise the idea of a red dot on a shotgun. These same people likely think you don’t have to aim a shotgun. I’m here to tell those people to pound sand.

Shotgun red dots offer shooters the same advantages we get from mounting a red dot on a handgun to a rifle, such as being able to quickly aim, be precise, and use a target focus. A red dot might not be the best option for a bird or clay gun, but it’s right at home on a defensive shotgun. The question here is, which red dot? 

shotgun red dots
Different strokes for different folks. Regardless of the shotgun, a red dot makes it better.

Shotguns differ a fair bit from rifles and handguns, and their red dot needs differ as well. These guns are well suited to pistol-sized red dots. They don’t need great big windows, and too big of an optic makes it tough to port reload over the top. Shotguns tend to work well when mounted low unless they feature an inline stock like the Sentry 12. 

The Best Shotgun Red Dots 

The above rules aren’t written in stone by any means, just general guidelines and what I feel tends to work well with shotguns. I’m breaking the very rules I set up in one of my selections. Finding a good shotgun red dot is all about examining your weapon and examining your needs. I do have a few that I think work better than others, and hopefully, they’ll give you a good jumping-off point for finding the right red dot. 

Burris Fastfire 4 

On the more budget-friendly side of things, the Burris Fastfire 4 continues the Burris legacy of handgun-sized optics. Like most Fastfire dots, it offers a lot of value for its quality. I’ve been using a Fastfire 3 problem free for over five years now. The Fastfire 4 had a ton of changes, and one of the significant changes is the fact you can choose between one of four reticles.

Burris Fastfire 4
The Fastfire 4 is simple and affordable and comes with awesome reticles

The reticles include a 3 MOA dot, an 11 MOA dot, an 11 MOA dot with a circle, and a 3 MOA dot with a circle. Sadly Burris won’t publish the size of the circle, but if I had to guess, it’s in the realm of 45 MOA. On a shotgun, I’d use one of the reticles with a circle, and I’d pattern my chosen defensive buckshot load inside that circle. I’d know at what range pellets begin leaving that circle and hitting elsewhere. 

Burris Fastfire reticle dot and circle
I like the 11 MOA Dot and CIrcle.

The Fastfire 4 also offers an optional hood to protect the emitter, which is a nice touch. We get 26,000 hours of battery life, a nice big sight window, shake awake technology, and the whole thing only weighs 1.6 ounces. It’s well suited to be one of the more defensive-oriented shotgun red dots. 

Meprolight Foresight 

This is my rule-breaking choice. The Meprolight Foresight is a full-sized red dot designed for rifles with inline stocks like the AR 15. It will be awkward on your Mossberg 590 but will be at home on most mag-fed shotguns with modern designs. The Foresight is potentially the highest tech optic I’ve ever used and oddly works well with shotguns. 

Meprolight Foresight
The Foresight might be the future of optics.

For the optic to work best, it needs to be connected to an Android or iOS device. Through their app, you can zero the weapon, switch between reticles, and even switch between zeroes. The optic can save ten different zeroes, and that’s where it becomes beneficial to shotgun users. You can zero for several different types of buckshot and slugs. 

Admittedly, in a defensive encounter, you aren’t likely to be swapping zeroes on your phone. However, before going hunting or training, you can swap between what load you plan to use that day. The Foresight is well suited for use at the range, hunting, and defensive purposes. This is one of the more versatile shotgun red dots out there. 

Shield SIS 

The Shield SIS is one of the latest red dots from British optics maker Shield. SIS stands for Switch Interface Sight. There are two models, and for shotguns, you want the Center Dot model, not the ballistic drop model. The Center Dot variant packs four reticles in one, we get a 1 MOA dot, a 1 MOA dot with a ring, an 8 MOA dot, and an 8 MOA dot with a ring. The 8 MOA dot with the ring is perfect for shotguns. 

SIS Shield shotgun red dot
The Brits make one hell of an optic.

Shield doesn’t say how big the ring is, but it’s fairly large and made from a series of dots, not a solid line. This means less of your view is obstructed, but you get the benefits of a big circle to pattern your load into for maximum pellet accountability. The bigger 8 MOA dot is perfect for eye-catching, close-range firefights as well. 

SIS Center Dot reticule selection
Ring-and-dot is perfect

The Shield SIS is a small, very compact red dot but features an enclosed optic design to allow for maximum reliability. Two massive side buttons make the optic easy to adjust, and Shield produces some of the clearest red dots I’ve ever used. 

Romeo3XL 

Sig’s red dot lineup includes plenty of options for handguns and rifles, but the Romeo3XL seems almost purpose-built for a shotgun. It’s bigger than most pistol red dots and grants you this big, massive window, but it’s still compact and lightweight. It’s way bigger than most optics in this genre and comes in either a three or six MOA dot. I prefer the six MOA dot for shotguns. 

Sig Romeo 3XL shotgun red dots
The Romeo3XL is huge for an open design but perfect for shotguns

It’s big, eye-catching, and easy to see for defensive use. It’s a big dot in a big window that gives you a nice heads-up display for easy aiming. The thin sides allow for a nice, open view and allow you to keep your situational awareness high. 

The Romeo3XL uses a C-MORE RTS footprint, and plenty of mounts are available for Picatinny rails. Your shotgun will need a rail, and it will sit a little high but still be perfectly useable. This is one of the most expensive shotgun red dots but is very useable, and that massive window combined with the compact design is super nice. 

Holosun 509T

One of my favorite shotgun red dots is the Holosun 509T. It offers me everything I like in a defensive red dot. First, it’s an enclosed optic that adds a new layer of protection to the red dot emitter. This ensures it’s functional in all situations. It mounts to an RMR footprint, and that opens it up to tons of good shotgun mounts. 

Holosun 509T shotgun red dots
The 509T is small, uses an enclosed emitter, and has some great reticle options.

The reticle varies between a 2 MOA dot and a dot and circle combination. I prefer the 32 MOA dot. It’s clear, easy to use, and perfect for my chosen load of Federal Flitecontrol. I patterned my load inside the 32 MOA circle, and I know that at 15 yards, my chosen defense load all stay within that circle. 

Holosun 509T reticle with 32 MOA circle
The 32 MOA circle is perfect.

On top of that, the battery can be swapped via the side of the optic. I have a solar backup, and the optic is tiny, pistol sized. I can toss the 509T on my shotgun and get the benefits of both an enclosed optic and a handgun-sized optic. To me, it’s perfect for shotguns. 

Seeing Red 

Red dots allow you to shoot faster with more precision and can be used at any time of the day or night. They are perfect for shotguns and work exceptionally well at the ranges in which shotguns work. Shotgun red dots are just a natural extension of the modern shotgun. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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