Best Optics For MK18 Style Rifles 2020 – Red Dot & Holo sights

In this buyer's guide, let's check out the best optics for MK18 style rifles.

Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Aimpoint Micro
  • EOTech EXPS3
  • Holosun 503GU
  • ELCAN SpecterDR
  • Aimpoint PRO

Shooting mk18 with aimpoint pro

Aimpoint Micro and ELCAN are probably the two most popular high-end optics used on MK18 in the field, but there are other affordable options available.

MK18 SBR is the go to CQB rifle, which provides the shooter many advantages while working in & around vehicles and other tight spaces.

Let's Check it out...


Best MK18 Optics 


Aimpoint Micro T2
aimpoint micro on HK 416 full auto
  • Features:Aimpoint Micro style body, 2 MOA dot, 7075 T-6 AL, 0.5 MOA / Click 
  • Benefits:Lightweight for CQB & medium range engagement, Fast target acquisition, Mil-Spec durability  

mk18 with eotech exps3
  • Features:6061 T-6 AL, 0.5 MOA / Click, 65 MOA Ring + BDC dots, Night vision mode
  • Benefits:Fast on target CQB holdover reticle dots, 1/3 co-witness for perfect sight picture cheek weld, 

trijicon mro on ar15
  • Features:2 MOA Dot, 0.5 MOA /Click, 7075 T-6 Construction, Aftermarket mounts accepted 
  • Benefits:Large FOV with reduced tube effect, Reduced lateral view obstruction, Battle-proven durability

elcan specterdr on mk18 sbr
  • Features:Bomb proof 7075 T6 housing, 1-4X variable power, BDC reticle  
  • Benefits:Ultimate combat optic used by U.S. Spec Ops, Instant magnification swap 1X - 4X, Made by Rayetheon (Missile Defense Contractor)

EOTECH EXPS3-4 - Best CQB Holdover Reticle

daniel defense mk18 cqb with eotech

Image Referenced TREX ARMS

EOTech is the world leader for making holographic sights. Over millions of units are sold to military and law enforcement around the globe to combat terrorism and other threats.

For MK18 CQB usage, the sight's large unobstructed 30 X 23 mm window is great for instantly placing the reticle on the target while shooting on the move or transitioning.

The EXPS3-4's 65 MOA rings with ballistic compensator is great for long distance precise holdover up to 300 yards, and it's large enough to clearly pick up under night vision goggle compared to a 2 MOA center dot.

Daniel Defense MK18 ELCAN
Why Spec Ops Teams Use It - The ELCAN and MK18 just go together in the battlefield. For many years U.S. special forces are equipped with the dual role (1-4X) combat optic in the war on terror.

1-4X instantly - What's special and unique about the ELCAN SpecterDR is going from 1X to 4X by just pulling a magnification lever, which skips 2X and 3X, and no other optic on the market offers this cool feature. You can engage targets at medium range with its BDC reticle, and quickly switch back to 1X for CQB missions just like a red dot sight.

Not everyone is going to love this optic just based on the community conversation, but it features by far the largest field of view in the industry with its large 8mm exit pupil & 70mm eye relief, which creates a large eye box for the shooter, and it performs well in low light.

Built like a tank - The ELCAN is made with aerospace aluminum, and it mounts on the rifle using the default ARMS QD lever mount. For civilian use, the ELCAN will survive any drop, kick, bump, shear and other physical abuses to retain zero.

Elcan SpecterDR Dual Role 1-4x Optical Sight, Integral A.R.M.S. Picatinny Mount, Anti-Reflection Device, 5.56, CX5395 Ballistic Reticle, Flat Dark Earth, DFOV14-T1 - $1,739.00

Retail Price: $2,712.00
You Save: $973.00
from: OpticsPlanet, Inc

Holosun 503GU - Best Aimpoint Micro Alternative

Holosun 503gu on mk18
Don’t let the price fool you because the HS503GU is basically bomb proof!

For Aimpoint Micro lovers who can't afford the optic, here is the good news. The Holosun 503GU is a solid Aimpoint Micro alternative with similar durability & even way longer battery life by 2X - 100,000 hours.

Holosun has been a disruptor in the red dot industry for making high strength, lightweight 7075 T6 body optic that feels just like an Aimpoint Micro.

holosun 503gu reticle

Being able to switch between 2 MOA center dot to a 2 MOA dot inside a 65 MOA reticle ring, which is an awesome feature for transitioning between CQB & medium range on the go without swapping optics.

All in all, we picked this optic because it's lightweight and low profile for MK18, and you can also use the SAME aftermarket mounts for Aimpoint Micro.

Preview Product Rating
HOLOSUN HE503GU GR Elite HOLOSUN HE503GU GR Elite 75 Reviews

MUST WATCH TORTURE TEST - Watch Holosun 503GU Survives Thermal Drift Test

Best Spot To Mount An Optic On MK18

DD Mk18 optic mount location

Generally speaking mounting optics right above the ejection port is the common spot for mounting optics for any AR-style rifles. The only concern you have regarding moving the optic forward or backward all depend on whether if the sight obscures your view or not.

This is why I recommend the Trijicon MRO because you can mount it closer to you or more forward, you will still have a great view with less parallax

Another benefit of mounting optics above the ejection port is that you will have the rail space to add a magnifier scope for long-range engagement and target identification.

Wide Field Of View Is Perfered

Can you imagine clearing a room using the MK18 rifle with an optic that has so much view obstruction when you bring it up close? Just check out the image below:

Trijicon MRO field of View comparsions

You see the difference now?

This is why it's important to have a large optic field of view when doing anything CQB. Otherwise, you don't have an optimal setup for the MK18.

An optic like the Trijicon MRO outward tappered body design is wide enough for you to see everything in front of you and also has a very minimum side to side optic frame blocking your situational awareness so you can better protect your family with confidence inside a house.

MK18 Effective Range

The effective range of the MK18 is based on various factors involved such as bullet weight, bullet type, powder charges, and barrel twist rate. You will get various results depends on what you have.

Generally speaking, any standard 55gr 5.56mm boat tail close-up is going to be deadly regardless of muzzle velocity or energy, but as far as muzzle velocity and projectile energy at a long distance is dramatically lower than a 16" barrel.

When you pick a holographic or red dot optic, you need to know three things:

  • 55 gr & 77 gr 5.56mm NATO round performs differently at longer distance
  • Zero your optic to what makes sense to you
  • Pick an optic reticle that allows you to estimate holdover easier

MK18 CQB Holdovers

When you shoot super close up, you always have to aim higher above the target based on where you zeroed your optic.

The biggest question you want to ask yourself is do you understand your favorite ammo's ballistic profile? if so how are the shot groups?

The more you understand what your rifle setup and bullet can deliver, the better confidence you have knowing exactly where to offset your aim.

EOTech's bottom ring reticle mark is a good reference point for holdover for some long-distance shots, but it's not always perfect to estimate exactly where to hold while engaging a target 4-7 feet away from you.

The best thing is to experiment and practice on the range for 2 yards, 4 yards, 8 yards and so on.

For the best teaching, please watch the video by Lucas from TRex Arm as he explains mechanical offset.

Optimal MK18 Optic Mount Height

When using the MK18 for close-range shooting or home defense, I recommend 1/3rd co-witness without a doubt. Its the optimal optic height for perfect cheek weld position while still able to get a perfect sight picture.

Whether you have a PEQ or MAWL mounted on the rail, Trijicon MRO sits higher so you get a clean sight picture.

The MK18 is basically an AR15, nothing has changed besides the shorten barrel on the front, the rest of the gun stays the same.

Whether you're wearing a bulky ear protection or not wearing anything (Highly recommend you to at least wear some cheap earplugs), 1/3 rd co-witness height is perfect for any AR15 style rifles.

The alternative solution is to mount your optic on a riser mount for extra height if needed.

MK18 Optics Round-Up

MK18 pistol setup with Trijicon MRO

Picking an optic that gives you a large field of view and wide situational awareness are important elements for an MK18 setup. You wouldn't buy or build an MK18 for no reason other than having a lighter and more maneuverable weapon system for CQB.

Aimpoint Micro and EOTech are great options, but the Trijicon MRO is honestly the best for its large field of view, minimum side to side view obstruction, and it's lightweight.

Perfect for the CQB application!

If you're going with the MK18 MOD 1 configuration, pairing the MRO with a 1/3 co-witness mount will clear the view if you have a PEQ or MAWL mounted on the top rail.

Read More: Best Red Dot Sight For Fighting Rifles

Jason gordon

Jason has 15 years of experience in software engineering, and his hobby on the weekend is to master firearm skills for fun and for protection. His engineering background also landed him a side job at the local gunshop where he is in charge of the daily operation of online sales, so he is surrounded by guns and gun experts. He is an also an active competition shooter in IDPA, USPSA and 3-gun with 7 years of experience.