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Best Red Dot Sights for Lever Action Rifles

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The lever action rifle is one of the most timeless designs in the firearms industry and has long been appreciated for its reliability and accuracy. Having been around since the late 1830s, they’ve seen their share of upgrades. Today, they can easily be enhanced to feature more modern comforts while retaining their classic look and feel.  

It’s common to see enthusiasts changing their rifles to make them more adaptable in both recreational and hunting applications, thanks to the ever-growing parts aftermarket for lever actions. There are now many optic mounts and handguards available for these rifles, turning them into something capable of running modern optics and accessories. 

While it’s possible for them to run a myriad of optics when in this configuration, one of the most popular options to go with is the red dot sight.  

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Red Dot Sights on Lever Guns 

Like we said before, red dot sights have become particularly popular for lever guns. And the availability of specialized mounts and chassis systems has made it incredibly easy to mount modern optics to these rifles.  

Lever action rifles typically come standard with iron sights, which require you to line up the front and rear sights to use them. Doing so forces you to keep your focus on the front sight rather than specifically on the target. Reflex sights make it easier to shoot with both eyes open, maximizing your field of view and giving you an unobstructed view of the target. Once zeroed, aiming is as simple as putting the reticle on target. This makes for a highly adaptable rifle setup; since red dots have so many benefits over iron sights, they’re well-suited for recreation and hunting.  

Something important to keep in mind with reflex sights is that since they’re a battery powered optic, you’ll need to pay attention to the battery to make sure it’s functional when needed. Our guide on maximizing battery life breaks down everything you’ll need to know about doing so.  


Before getting a red dot sight, you’ll need to check your rifle’s mounting capabilities. It’s common for lever action rifles today to come with upper picatinny rails for mounting optics like on the Rossi Firearms Model 92, but this isn’t true for all models.  

Fortunately, most modern lever action rifles come with mounting points for scope rings and other optic mounts. For most, along the top of your rifle’s receiver, there should be either screws or threaded holes. These are the mounting points for your rifle’s optic mounts. Keep in mind that this isn’t true for all models. Models that eject spent casings at the top of the receiver, like those from Taylor’s and Company, need different mounts that attach to the barrel above the handguard. If yours doesn’t have any mounting points, there aren’t many other options available that don’t require the work of a gunsmith.  

For common brands and models like Winchester Rifles, there is a plethora of mounts to choose from. If you’re looking at primarily mounting red dot sights, we recommend opting for a picatinny rail section. Lever actions don’t typically have dedicated red dot mounts that match your optic’s mounting footprint. As such, a longer picatinny rail section offers the most versatility, allowing you to run optic mounts of varying heights, as well as other optic accessories like magnifiers.  

Top Red Dot Sight Brands 

With your mount selected, you’re ready to seek out the different optics that are available for your rifle. Below are a few options to get you started in your search:  


Primary Arms Optics 

Primary Arms Optics red dot sights are some of the most popular ones that we offer, with our SLx® MD-25 Rotary Knob 25mm Microdot being highly sought-after. This optic is built from a durable aluminum construction that’s designed to withstand use in tough conditions and it has a battery life that lasts upwards of 25,000 hours. Lastly, the MD-25 Rotary Knob 25mm Microdot is available in two configurations; one that comes with a standard 2-MOA dot reticle, and another which uses our ACSS® CQB reticle.  

Our ACSS CQB reticle is an advanced red dot reticle that’s equipped with an outer horseshoe for quick target acquisition, a center chevron for precise aiming, and three hold-over dots for bullet drop compensation. Being a specialized reticle system, it’s quite different from other red dot reticles, but we have an in-depth guide on how to use it effectively.  

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Trijicon needs no introduction, as they’re one of the most popular optic manufacturers around. Known for developing world-class optics, their MRO red dot sight is one of the most popular ones they offer. It boasts a large 25mm objective lens, providing a wide field of view and a clear image of the target. Additionally, it has long battery life that lasts up to 50,000 hours, multiple brightness settings including two night-vision ones, and either a red or green 2 MOA dot reticle.  

There’s also an upgraded version of the MRO, known as the MRO HD. It comes standard with enhanced glass clarity refined for magnifier use and a circle dot reticle instead of the standard 2 MOA dot. If you plan to run a magnifier, or just want a more adaptable reticle, the Trijicon MRO HD is a solid pick.  

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Holosun red dot sights are very well-known for their reliability and affordability. They have a lot of models in their lineup, but the AEMS and Paralow HS503G are solid picks.  

Standing for “Advanced Enclosed Micro Sight”, the AEMS is one of Holosun’s most popular red dot sights. It offers a large field of view, has multiple brightness settings, and has a battery life of up to 50,000 hours. With this optic, you have the choice to cycle between three different reticles: a 2-MOA center dot, a 65-MOA circle, or a circle dot reticle with both elements. Last, it comes with Holosun’s Shake-Awake™ motion activation and automatic shut-off for a longer battery life.  

The Paralow HS503G is an affordable yet durable choice from Holosun. Being based on their popular HS503 red dot sight, the Paralow variant differs slightly from the standard model, in that it was developed in partnership with Primary Arms Optics. As a result, it comes with our ACSS CQB reticle instead of a 2-MOA dot.  

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Vortex Optics 

Though they’re known primarily for their variable power optics, Vortex Optics has many reflex sights to their name, with the SPARC being one of their flagship models. One of the smaller reflex sights on this list, the SPARC, is constructed from aluminum and uses a 2-MOA dot reticle. It has a long battery life that can last up to 50,000+ hours and it accepts the commonly available AAA battery.  

In addition to the standard SPARC model, there’s another option available that uses solar power. The SPARC Solar comes equipped with Vortex’s Auto D-TEC system that automatically switches the optic over to solar power when it detects sunlight. This dramatically increases the prospective battery life of the optic, taking it from 50,000 hours up to a potential 150,000 hours of battery life. To put that into perspective, that’s a little over 17 years. Keep in mind that this depends heavily on the brightness settings you use and the environments in which you shoot in. But, if you’re looking for a low-profile optic built with longevity in mind, the SPARC Solar is the way to go.  

Which One Should You Get?  

It can be daunting to choose a red dot sight when there’s so many options. While it’s impossible to declare one optic as the best red dot sight, there are a lot of solid choices available, and the list above is just a brief glimpse into the world of reflex sights. If you’re on the fence about which one you should get, our guide on the five things to know when buying a red dot sight will point you in the right direction.  


Lever action rifles have continuously withstood the test of time, sharing the spotlight with many of today’s popular rifle platforms despite being nearly 200 years old. And with the proper accessories, modern technology can seamlessly blend with their classic design.  

Before you buy a red dot, it’s crucial that you consider your mounting options and your preferences. Your needs may dictate you choose one optic over another, but with the sheer variety of reflex sights available, there’s something for everyone.  

If you’re still having trouble deciding on which optic is the right one for you, our reflex vs. red dot sights article goes even further in-depth on dot sights and will help round out your knowledge.