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When To Offset Mount a Red Dot [Canted Sight]

L.p. Brezny | Updated June 10, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money

In today’s world of AR15 rifle enthusiasts, one thing to understand is that you’ll rarely see an AR15 upper receiver with an offset red dot optic system mounted on it simply because it improves the overall look of the rifle. While it gives the AR15 a tactical, take-no-prisoners appearance, an offset mounted red dot optic offers a secondary shooting position when combined with a low power variable optic.

Best Red Dot Sights

For more reading see our write up on the top red dot scope brands out there.

Competition Shooting 

If you’re a veteran AR15 owner, you may already know about two or three gun competitions. While you may have yet to participate in one, you probably know a few competitors who routinely frequent these types of matches. One commonality of both two or three-gun competitions is they both include multiple target approaches and target distances. When traveling through the course, two things come into play: speed and accuracy.

To win blue-ribbon top prize money, it will be up to you to make it through the course in the lowest amount of time and when the pressure is on, hit as close to one hundred percent of the targets. Many first-time competitors rely on a standard LPVO, or low-powered variable optic system mounted in the twelve o’clock position on top of the rail system on their AR15.

While a new competitor may maintain unerring accuracy with this standard configuration, it’s a safe bet another competitor will likely do the same while easily besting a new competitor’s time. Remember that in most of these competitions, not all targets present themselves on the course at the same range.

Hurrying through the match with a standard LPVO, you’ll discover you’ll need to spend precious seconds adjusting your optic system from one target distance to another. That’s when a canted or offset red dot sight system becomes the deal-breaker. When the need comes to hit those close-up targets, all you’ll need to do is tilt your AR15, acquire the targets through the offset red dot, and fire away. Not only can you acquire these close targets more quickly, but you’ll also discover firing your AR15 in this manner is more natural and intuitive.

When sighting through your top sight, it’s normal to place the buttstock in the crook of your shoulder and crane your neck a bit while maintaining proper eye relief as you take the shot. However, sight through an offset red dot means all you need to do is twist your AR15 to the side, sight in on the target, and fire. 

This action typically puts the buttstock in the general area of your chest, with your trigger finger up and support hand down, which feels less encumbered and natural. Also, the unlimited eye relief of a red dot optic means you can acquire the target with very little additional motion, shaving an abundance of seconds from your course time while still maintaining tremendous target accuracy.


While two- or three-gun competitions often reveal how important using an offset red dot optic is when prize money is on the line, there’s another competition where an offset mounted red dot optic system will help. When hunting, you’re competing against the elements and the prey you’re hunting.

While many of your hunting trips may require more extended distance shooting, your top mounted LPVO may be the only type of optic system you need. Suppose you’re stalking through a heavily wooded area, and your intended target suddenly presents itself at less than thirty or forty feet away.

It’s highly doubtful that the game you’re hunting is going to hang around long enough for you to adjust your top-mounted optic system and then take the shot. If a situation like this suddenly occurs, the best way to snap off a shot with any accuracy will be sighting through an offset red dot optic system and snapping off the necessary rounds.

Several hunters who frequently hunt more skittish game will tell you that having an offset-mounted red dot optic system is not only beneficial but, in a lot of situations, an absolute must. When only seconds count between you getting the shot off and the game you’re hunting disappearing into the underbrush, having an offset-mounted red dot optic system on your AR15 is often the difference between stocking your freezer or going home empty-handed.

Tactical Advantage

One situation where an offset-mounted red dot optic helps is reducing exposure. Remember, when sighting through a top-mounted sight, whether ruggedized miniature reflex or hi-powered, most of the top of your head is in line and a few inches above the horizontal plane of your rifle.

When firing from a position of cover, exposing yourself to fire a shot often becomes necessary. Many users of offset-mounted optic systems forced to suffer through dynamic situations have discovered that you can assume a more protected cover position and continue to fire effectively.

Fancy or Necessary

While many AR 15 rifle owners and enthusiasts believe using an offset red dot optical system only has one or two practical applications. Others may tell you there aren’t enough practical applications to warrant spending the money for an offset-mounted red dot sight.

However, after mounting an offset red dot optical system, you’ll quickly discover, as most eventually do, that you now have a perfect blend of long-distance and close-up sighting. 

Priced competitively, you’ll be able to find many red dot offset systems between the one hundred to four hundred dollar range. While most of these solutions are quality optic systems, you may want to investigate a few options, such as flip offset systems that flip up to use for close target acquisition and back down out of the way when sighting through your traditional top-mounted optic system.

If you’re still on the fence when determining whether an offset-mounted red dot is a fancy bell and whistle or necessary, one of the first things you should do is research all the offset red dot options on the market today. Regardless of whether you suddenly find yourself in a dynamic condition, are competing in a two or three-gun match, or are hunting a skittish, quick-moving game, mounting an offset red dot optic system on your AR15 will most assuredly improve the accuracy of your sighting game.  

Fore more reading see: scopes vs red dot sights for AR-15s and RMR footprint optics.

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