Cheap vs Expensive Red Dots: What’s the Difference?

At SHOT Show this year I took some time to speak with Mike Branson of Gideon Optics (formerly of Primary ands and Swampfox). Mike’s a friend and a true optics nerd, and I figured he could help give folks an understanding of some of the fundamentals of modern firearms optics. Today, we are going to talk about the differences between cheap and expensive red dots. Just what does a couple hundred bucks extra get you, and why?


  1. I love his candor. He seems like a straight shooter no pun intended. I would definitely trust his judgment, and buy one of his red dots.

  2. He hit the nail on the head: both sides of the price debate are right (for firearms etc. as well as optics) as long as they’re honest. The SEAL or professional competitor needs capabilities that come at a premium. The regular guy is also correct that an affordable mainstream-manufacturer’s product is “just as good” for everything he will ever do in real life. The regular guy who thinks he can buy SEAL or champion status, OTOH . . .

  3. This guy is refreshingly honest about his product.

    You really have to respect his approach.

    At Hewlett Packard, I was in the opposite position.

    I had the “Aimpoint” electronic instrument to sell,
    and had to justify to my customers why they didn’t want a Gideon.

  4. While the $600 red dot & the $35 red dot both make almost identical oddly shaped blobs for me, the $35 one has a lovely flicker as well. Sometimes with every shot. I thought I could rescue a cheap one a local shop overcharged a buddy for in a “Package Deal”. That shop closed years ago & I have no idea where that scrap aluminum junk is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.