How Does a Reflex Sight Work

How Does a Reflex Sight Work?

It is hard to hit a smaller target. This only means you need ammunition with precision. A reflex sight is also referred to as reflector sight, enlarges the target in the field of view.

In many cases, shooting a target smaller than what you expect is a challenging task. It means it is hard to hit it with accuracy.

A reflex sight, likewise known as reflector sight, makes the target bigger, meaning the shooter can see the target easier.  After purchasing a good reflex sight, some people do not understand how does a reflex sight work. So, we have written this guide mainly for those who want to know more about reflex sight.

Terms You Need to Know

So you can easily understand how a reflex sight works, here are some terms you might encounter.

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view of (FOV) describes the viewing area size if you peek into the eyepiece from the right to left edges of the sights field stop. It is expressed as number of feet or meters or an angle in degrees at a specific distance.


Sight magnification is a multiplication measurement compared to the naked eye. Generally, the magnification number indicates how many times better you can view the object than without sight. It is the number you usually see in scope performance.


Bore is the measurement of the gun barrel, and most of the weapons were categorized according to their bore size.

How Does a Reflex Sight Work?

Before a reflex sight works, you have to mount it first on the barrel before using it. The optical gadget will project the image to infinity. The sight works the same way as the periscope and the telescope.

The reflex sight is used with both eyes open. It may sound simple, but some users who are not used to using the sight with both eyes open might find it a real problem. Especially those who have been using a rifle scope for so long or right-handed users who have a left-dominant eye need to adapt to this change.

You need to get used to a reflex sight. To do this, you can cover or tape the exit lens. By doing this, you see only the outside environment and the red dot in front of a black background. After repeatedly doing this, you will get used to the perception and remove the tape or cover you placed on the front lens.

The technical principle behind the reflex sight is simple. A small LED produced a colored point of light reflected against the small, semi-transparent mirror and returned back into the front lens like a luminous target.

Because it has a semi-transparent mirror, it reflects only some light, thus enabling you to view the lens clearly. The shooter can see both the reflected point and the target in one image line through a special mirror.

Since the light beam appears directly from the sighting line direction, the point shows up in the right place. It does not matter how you position your eye relative to the sighting accessory.

Nevertheless, you should know the impact of your rifle at various distances. Just like a rifle scope, you can correct the point of impact by adjusting the reticle.

Reflex sights work on mirror-like lenses. Because of this feature, it is known as an exposed reflex sight having a distinct look. You can position your head anywhere as it lacks eye relief. Also, reflex sights are pretty helpful for various weapons for hunting, home defense, and any sort of general shooting.

Advantages of Using Reflex Sights

If you are not sure if reflex sights are perfect for your shooting or hunting adventure, the following advantages could help you determine.

Very Handy

Reflex sights are pretty handy, but it depends on the model. It is recommended for quick sighting short and medium distances since you can use both eyes, depending on the range. It is also an inexpensive alternative to traditional rifle scopes.

Fast Target Acquisition

The biggest advantage of reflex sight over the classic open sight is that it makes acquiring your target much easier. You don’t have to bring the front sight, rear sight, and target to be brought into one optical axis. With the reflex sight, only the target and the luminous point need to match and with the sight lying on one plane.

Used with Both Eyes Open

Reflex sights are used with both eyes open, the one called tunnel vision, used along with telescopic sights, is eliminated, and both peripheral and spatial vision is preserved. And because of this, target acquisition is greatly accelerated by getting most of it and decrease aiming errors.

Disadvantages of Reflex Sights

Overlaps Target

One of the main disadvantages of using reflex sight is the luminosity of the red dot at night. The red dot overlaps the target. Because of this, you need to pay attention to the day and night vision levels to control brightness.

May Tend to Fog Up

Reflex sights tend to fog up when the temperature fluctuates or condensed breath. Open sights are pretty susceptible to moisture, dirt, or rain. Choose closed reflex sights if you will be aiming under extreme conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is it named reflex sight?

It is named reflex sight because it projects light from the rear of the scope that the front lens reflects as the red dot aim at your target.

Is reflex sight and red dot sight the same?

Red dot sight and reflex sight are not the same. A reflex sight is a red dot sight, but the red dot sight is not a reflex sight. The red dot sight is general to all sights that use a red dot for aiming the target.

Are the reflex sights accurate?

The reflex sights are not perfect when it comes to accuracy. But as compared to iron sights, it is more accurate and faster. The main difference between reflex sights and the others is they have zero magnification.

Also, reflex sights are lighter and shorter than a regular optic device. A shooter using the reflex sight will be more accurate than the one who is using other types or not using any sight at all. Sights are accurate, but you should put them in the proper position.

How far can a reflex sight reach?

You can sight 50 yards using the reflex sight. But, that is the most accurate distance you can view your target. You can reach a distance farther, but the quality of the image will significantly decrease.

Why does the sight dot move?

The sight dot moves as you move your head. It is not a virtual image that is stationary or fixed. If you direct your head to the left, the dot location will shift in the same direction. It likewise changes its position once you move your gun and sight. If the dot is directly on the target, it will move. Regardless, whether you move your head or not.

Final Thoughts

The reflex sight works by magnifying images and helps aim at the target accurately. It is helpful for individuals who are into hunting, particularly at night. Buying the right reflex sight is not enough to acquire your target. You have to learn how does a reflex sight work so you can take advantage of its function.

For best results, make sure your head, gun, and sight are in a straight line. If you want to share your thoughts about the topic, feel free to write them in the comment box.

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