Reflex Sight vs Red Dot Sight

Reflex Sight vs Red Dot Sight | Which one Better for You?

Suppose you are a newbie shooter, or planning for a hunting trip, or enrolled as a new military recruit. In that case, you need to have some basic knowledge about the different types of sights available, their salient features, and points to remember in finalizing their selection criteria. Let’s take a detailed overview of the reflex sight vs. red dot sight commonly discussed and used sights.

Red dot sight:

It is the non-magnifying reflector sight for weapons and other devices. It requires target aiming, which results in an aim point in the form of an illuminated red spot.


It dates back to 1975 when Helsingborg engineer John Arne Ingemund Ekstrand designed the basics. A Swedish optics company executed it, Aim point AB .it was soon followed by other companies, and now a wide range of features and models are available.


Recent red dots are designed parallax-free.

It has a red light-emitting diode (led) at the point of focus. This illuminated reticle stays in alignment with the weapon and target irrespective of the eye positioning.


It is a tilted spherical mirror that has multi-layered partially silvered dielectric dichroic multi-layered coatings. This special coating reflects just the red spectrum, and all the rest colors pass through it. It is this reflected red color that is perceived as a red dot.


It is 670 nm in wavelength. This is nearly at one end of the visible spectrum.

Contrast medium:

A high contrast medium in the background provides a brighter and crisper view. It is given with the help of green background.


  • Dot size; is maintained by a hole in the aperture of the metal or coated glass in front of it.

Significance of dot size: A simple pointed red dot is preferable in many devices because it avoids many optical aberrations. However, if the dot is replaced by other designs such as crosshair, their errors are corrected using complex optics and a combination of lenses.

Dot size is directly related to how quickly it is located in the unit’s head’s up display. It is also associated with the target area covered. The larger the size greater the target area covered and vice versa. Both the size and how quickly it travels to aim the target determines the speed and accuracy.

Minutes of angle (moa); is the unit for measuring the curve of a circle. One moa is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards of distance. Rounding up 1.047 to 1 gives the estimation of the appearance of the one-inch red dot on a target 100 yards away. So smaller moa means more complicated visibility of the target and vice versa.

Smaller dots 1-2.5 moa gives more precision in shots at longer distances.

Larger dots 5-6.5 or more moa improve the speed, but precision is compromised as the broader target area is covered.

They are commonly used in speed competitions, astigmatic users.

  • Power: Zero to one magnification. With no magnification, so chances of optical aberrations are less but have a disadvantage in locating targets beyond their target range.
  • Distance range: best perfect elevation is 50 yards. It has a minimum range of 25 yards and a maximum of 100 yards. You can improve the range by using unique mounts.
  • Footprints /mounts: red dot sights use different types of footprints. Some of them are:
  1. Vortex optics micro with enhanced magnification power
  2. A red dot with red laser and QR mounts
  3. Docter/noblex standard
  4. Aim point micro standard
  5. C-more standard
  6. Shield standard
  7. Red dot sight with tactical offset rail adapters

There is a wide range of these mounts available. A detailed and comprehensive survey of the available options is required before finally selecting one.

Types of a red dot sight

√ Based on design;

  • Open
  • Tube

√ Based on working differences

  • Prism
  • Reflex
  • Holographic
  • Laser

√ Selection criteria:

  • Purpose of buying
  • Budget
  • Reticle size
  • Types of reticle
  • Battery life
  • Brightness and night vision
  • compatible for magnification
  • Footprints compatibility
  • Special features if the user is astigmatic

√ Applications :

  • Precision shooting as in military activities.
  • Speed shooting competitions.
  • Hunting purposes, for example, hunting of turkeys or deer.
  • Playing target games like sporting clays, trap skeet, etc.

√ Examples of best red dot sights:

  • Aim point pro
  • Bushnell 25 AR optics
  • Trijicon MRO
  • Sig Sauer Romeo 5
  • Trijicon RMR Type 2

√ Benefits

They provide speed, accuracy, and a clearer vision of the aim.

Reflex sight:

It is an optical device that helps to look through a glass at the light projection of the target with the field of view. It assists in viewing the illuminated projection of an object. The target is not magnified.

Another name for it is reflectors sight.

Howard Grubbs invented it in 1900. He was an Irish telescope maker and optical designer.

It was first used in 1980 as a German fighter aircraft in World War 1. By World War 2, it had found lots of applications in a wide range of weapons and non-weapon fields.

Principal or mechanism of working:

Images on the focus of a tinted partially reflective glass are at infinity. So image and background are watched at the same time. The alignment of the reticle and device helps in removing the need for a fixed position of the eye while perceiving an image.


  • Field of vision is the area seen through the lens with open eyes fixed on a target.
  • The lens is mirror-like and partially reflecting.
  • Illumination
  • Alignment of eye, image, and object
  • No magnification
  • Far or near the target range
  • Connection to the surroundings is not lost.
  • Mounts, a variety of mounts are used to enhance their functions.


  • Exposed: it has a small, more precise window.
  • Tube: two different types of lens are fixed in a tube. The beam of light illuminates it.

√ Sources of light in the tube;

  • Battery-powered
  • Tritium powered.


  • Lack of eye relief (reacquiring the aim with both eyes open and variable head positions is potentially easy)
  • Good speed of target achieving
  • Cheaper than other sights
  • The accuracy of the shot is good.
  • Battery-free usage
  • Mounting devices helps in choosing variable firearms.
  • Helps in improving skills and experience as a shooter
  • No error of zeroing or parallax
  • Durability, shockproof, temperature, and water-resistant features help make it suitable for military and other tactical shootings.
  • The surroundings are not lost despite the focus on the reticle.
  • Suitable for working in limited light resource areas or even in the dark.
  • The range of shooting is 30 -100 yards.
  • Compact, lightweight, and durable helps in carrying it around.
  • Magnification errors are avoided.

How to choose a reflex sight?

  • Aim of buying; the type of sightseeing and its associated features help select the right choice that fits your purpose of buying it. For example, it is a good choice for hunters, early students of shooting, etc.
  • Reticle and dot; their size (usually4 MOA, but the range may vary) pattern, i.e., cross chair, dot, circular, etc. and color of the dot, e.g., red, green, or blue, goes.
  • Mounts; should be following your reflector sight.
  • The life expectancy of the device; usually, it should be 1000 hours or more.
  • Reticle adjusters; their presence becomes essential in cases of chasing a moving target. For horizontal (windage) and vertical adjustment, elevation is used.
  • Lens quality; has a pivotal role, especially in sophisticated jobs. It should be strong, shock and water, dust and fog proof.
  • Durability; the devices manufactured with high-quality materials should be preferred over cheap, less durable ones.
  • Price range; varies depending upon the brand, types, features, materials used, warranties, etc. The range may be from $ 25 – $500.

Whatever you choose, keep the above points in your mind as your choice should match your future needs.

Who can handle it?

Its operations don’t require some extraordinary natural talents extensive training. An average shooter with essential knowledge and skills can handle it.

Non-professional can use it for practice and developing their skills over time.

√ Significance:

  • Its significance is enhanced in situations of near aiming. For example;
  • Self-defense
  • Home defense
  • General hunting
  • Leisure shooting or other tactical activities.

√ Applications in practical life;

  • They are being used in all kinds of weapons since their invention.
  • They are widely used in fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft gun sights, anti-tank gun sights, and many modern head-up displays.
  • They are used in small arms weapons also.
  • Their non-weapon applications include fixing the sights on surveying instruments, camera viewfinder, or optical telescope pointing accessories.
  • They are also used for the spotlight or follow spot in theatres.

Examples of weapons using reflector sight;

  • Some of the weapons having it are;
  • Doctor sight c
  • Trijicon dual illuminated RMR
  • Bushnell first strike
  • Leopold delta point pro
  • Burris fast fire 3

How to improve your shooting with reflex sight?

  • Mounts
  • Night vision compatibility
  • Practice
  • Following the user manual effectively
  • Of course, by keeping your both eyes open.


Comparison of reflex sight vs. red dot sight, which one is better for you?

Field of view; reflex sights have a heads-up display design that gives a wider field of view. This reflects how much of the image is seen in the objective lens. So you can prefer reflex sights at places with a broader view as in military activities.

The red dot is a general term, whereas reflex sights are specific.

The red dot has a tube-like structure, so it gives a red dot compared to crosshairs over the target in reflex one.

The red dot has longer battery life. It could extend up to 50000 hours. So more suitable for long missions and battles.

The red dot sight has more peripheral vision than reflex sights.

Reflex sights have more extraordinary zooming powers.

Reflex sights have double mirror construction, non-magnifying, and more zooming powers, so it is suitable for the telescope, firearms, and cameras.

Reflex sights on weapons provide enough ergonomics to save the users from injuries, and arms discharge is avoided.

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