Red Dot Magnifier Sight Picture – Does Placement Matter?

aimpoint with vortex micro 3x

The distance between the red dot and magnifier doesn't really matter as long as the red dot magnifier sight picture is clean and the reticle is centered.

A significant gap between red dot and magnifier placement can make the top rail setup look sloppy.

aimpoint 3x c pov

Red dot magnifier sight picture basically look like a magnified prism scope. The magnifier doesn't feature a reticle, but the shooter with can see see the dot with much better clarity.

It helps with shooters with astigmatism, and finer zero.

The red dot reticle remains the same size when looking through a magnifier scope. 1 MOA will still be 1 MOA. 2 MOA will still be 2 MOA. 

If the reticle looks blurry through the magnifier you should try the followings:

  • Correct eye sight or wear glasses for shooters' with astigmatism
  • Adjust the diopter to focus the reticle
  • Clean red dot or holographic sight's lens
  • If reticle still looks blurry, then it means the red dot sight inherently have emitter refraction error, try another one (Check out our best red dot sights guide here on our site)

If your red dot looks blurry, please take this free astigmatism test.

Dot Brightness Setting Affects Sight Picture

If the dot brightness is too high, the emitter glare will fill up the FOV, and it can obscure targets downrange. 

Just dial them down when appropriate to see a clean sight picture.

red dot brightness too high

Can't see IPSC steel target (68 MOA EOTECH Reticle)

red dot reticle brightness dusk

It's easier to see now after dialing down the brightness

The same applies to a single 1 MOA dot

Red Dot Magnifier Setup - Distance Between Them

Mount Too Close

eotech exps 3 vortex micro 3x flipped
vortex micro 3x and aimpoint micro h1
vortex micro 3x on mk18 with aimpoint micro h1

Mounting the two optics too close isn't a problem if there is enough clearance to flip the magnifier to the side without scrapping the red dot.

Just make sure it can be fold/unfold without bumping into each other.

Quick detach magnifier mount makes the adjustment so much easier. Highly recommended over a fixed mount.

best red dot magnifiers

Shop for a red dot magnifier here

Mount Too Far

trijicon rmr with vortex micro 3x

Mounting the magnifier too far behind the red dot isn't a big problem either if the sight picture is clear.

If the red dot magnifier sight picture looks blurry, the user just need to adjust the diopter to focus the reticle. Then center the reticle.

Above is the Vortex Micro 3X and Trijicon RMR combo.

The RMR's American Defense QD lever forces the Micro 3X to be mounted 2 rail slots back. So different types of mounts can affect how close they can be mounted together

A 1X red dot doesn't have eye relief limitation, however, the magnifier scope does. Please be mindful to have enough eye relief distance based on how you cheek weld the rifle. 

scalarworks clickdrive wheel top view

It's okay to move the red dot forward if need to as long as the optic to eye distance works for you.

There are forward leaning red dot optic mount available on the market, and the user can shift any ring clamped magnifier (Aimpoint 3X or 6X) a little bit forward.

vortex micro 3x qd mount on top rail

For example above, the QD lever gets in the way of gripping the charging handle latch if the magnifier QD level mount is too close to the rear.

Try mount them more forward so the shooter's finger doesn't bump into it, or use a larger latch charging handle

Different Height

eotech and vortex micro 3x side view

Optic height can be a problem if they misalign without any rise spacer to compensate. 

It's okay to have a slight height difference as long as the reticle can be centered

Above we have the Vortex Micro 3X with the riser plate installed sitting slightly under the EOTech EXPS3, but when looking through the optic, the reticle is there centered and it works just fine.


Ying Xu

I was a former US Air Force ICBM operator, and now I'm a veteran creating fun firearm accessories content. I also work as the search engine expert for BadAssOptic.com