Where To Mount Red Dot On AR Rifles [4 Favorite Spots]

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In this short read, let's discuss where to mount red dot on AR rifles.

It's very simple, and it's about giving the shooter enough field of view, enough room for a magnifier, balance the weight and having a great aesthetics. 

Everyone's preference is different, so let's check it out:

does it matter where to mount optic on ar

12 O'Clock Primary Optic Mounting Location

Buy an nice red dot optic here, see more pics and reviews

scalarworks aimpoint micro on mk18
romeo5 pov red dot reticle on steel target
vortex micro 3x on mk18

Mount magnifier behind the red dot to extend the distance. The distance between red dot and magnifier doesn't matter too much unless it's too far apart

Mount red dot right above the ejection port gives the shooter:

12 O' Clock Rearward Optic Mount Location

eotech exps3 in the dark
romeo5 pov red dot reticle on steel target

Have you ever seen someone mount their optics this far back on ARs? It's not wrong and here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Maximizes field of view
  • Brings up the reticle right in front of the shooter's eye
  • Makes aiming with both eyes open much easier and more comfortable
  • Can also use forward leaning optic mount to offset the location, try Scalarworks Leap Mount

Cons:

  • Optic frame limits peripheral vision and situational awareness especially for a large profile sight like the EOTECH EXPS3 and RAZOR UH1
  • Leaves no room for magnifier or backup rear sight
  • Just doesn't look good

Piggyback Red Dot Mount

ACOG 3.5X SDP with RMR

Piggyback red dot mounts work for scopes and fixed magnification prism sights like LPVO, ACOG and ELCAN.

Simply, the red dot goes on top of an primary optic, and they're generally sitting at the 12 O'clock position.

There are also offset piggyback red dot like the one shown below:

Pros:

  • Just lift up the head without tilting the gun
  • Raises the cheek weld height much higher
  • Works well with helmet / NVG users for head movement clearance

Cons:

  • Red dot sits too tall
  • Greater offset required for close up shots
  • Increased vertical weapon size profile

Top Receiver Offset Mounting Location

holosun 507c on valhalla tactical rukh offset mount

For LPVO users, mounting an micro red dot sight on an offset angle mount is great for fast sight transition.

Simply just tilt the rifle and bring the reticle right up in front of your aiming eye. No need to dial magnification ring on the scope for speed while shooting standing and shooting prone.

There is always enough room to tuck in the offset mount under the primary scope, and the offset extension holds the red dot.

Pro Tip 1: Use the correct angle so it aligns with the bore to minimize offset when zeroing the rifle tilted.

Pro Tip 2: Try different height plate on the offset mount to get a better cheekweld position for the shooter.

Handguard Offset Mounting Location

Offset Red Dot With ELCAN

Yes! you can mount an micro red dot sight on the handguard if the handguard has spots for mounting.

We highly recommend only mounting micro offset optic on a highly precision machined handguard for increased accuracy. We do not recommend mounting on a MLOK to M1913 adapter rail or KeyMod to M1913 because they do not have the same type of tolerance as something like the DDM4 RISII Rail.

DDmk18 upper

We actually recommend mounting the optic on the receiver more than the handguard because not all AR15 handguards align straight along the barrel, so a slight offset can throw off the zero easily.

Carry Handle Rifles

m16 carrying handle optic mount

For the old school M16 A3 style rifles, the only way to mount an optic is on the carrying handle. 

Read More: How to mount optic on rifles without top rail

New to red dot sight?

Check out our in-depth red dot sight guide for beginner

Ying Xu

US Air Force veteran nuclear weapon officer. Aerospace engineering bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas. Experienced as a certified NRA range safety officer. Working as a search engine expert for BadAssOptic.com