Red Dot Sights

Red Dot Sights | What They Are and What They Do

We're setting out to help everyone get a better understanding of red dot sight.

It's always a good thing to review, learn about, and get a better understanding of some basic shooting tools, and red dot sights are one of those less-common items that not everyone knows about.

In this article, we're going to take a look at what they are, what they do, and who may benefit from the use of one for better shooting performance. Red dot sights and their creators aim to make everyone and anyone a more rounded shooter, and that's something we can all agree is well-needed.

What Are Red Dot Sights?

Red dot sights are specifically designed for firearms and provide a dot (usually red, but sometimes green or another color) as the central aiming point. Prism sights, holographic sights, and reflex sights are all different types of red dot sights.

These sorts of sights have been around for a long time, but in 1975, the Swedish optics company Aimpoint AB marketed the first battery operated red dot sight combining a reflecting mirror and a light-emitting diode.

What Do Red Dot Sights Do?

Red dot sights work a lot like other optics, but instead of a crosshair reticle, they depict a small dot at the center of the sight picture.

The best part is that they are considered to be a fast-acquisition, easy-to-use gun sights for target shooting and especially hunting. Red dot sights help to place your shot on target with the reticle on nearly the same (optical) plane, allowing for a single spot of focus. This gives the shooter a better point of reference.

Red dot sights are best used out to moderate distances to longer distances. 

How Do Red Dot Sights Work?

For modern red dot sights, it is a simple matter of the battery illuminating the LED light which projects either a red or green light onto a concave lens, giving the shooter an obvious aiming point.

As a simple term, "red dot" is a bit generalized since some of these sights use a green dot or some other shape.

An exposed or open reflex sight has a single lens that's positioned to the front of the scope. This lens reflects back the image of the dot that you see, and since it's open you can acquire your target very quickly.

A tube style reflex sight has two lenses and looks more like a traditional scope. Basically speaking, the light is projected from the rear lens and reflected by the front lens. This makes for a quick target acquisition, but not quite as well as the exposed version.

Different Red Dot Sights

There are there basic types of red dot sights: reflex sights, prism sights, and holographic sights. 

Good quality red dot sights allow you to change the brightness levels for different visibility along with adjusting for drop or MOA.

Red Dot vs. Laser Sights

Since red dot sights and laser sights are not the same thing, let's look at a few common differences. Red dot sights are better at longer distances since they can have unlimited eye relief and a great field of view. In most situations they are easy to use when gathering your target, and they are only visible to the shooter.

There are fewer firearms that are red dot acceptable, sometimes the dot is harder too see in certain lighting situations, and they are generally more expensive.

Laser sights are most effective at close range, which puts them squarely into use as a tactical tool, but they have their drawbacks as well. Once you have a laser mounted correctly, it takes almost no effort to aim.

Lasers are also not well suited for long distances, are difficult to use in direct light, and someone other than the shooter can see the laser.

Who Makes Good Red Dot Sights?

Some of the best in the red dot sight business include TruGlo, FireField, SIG Sauer, Leupold, Deltapoint, Burris Fastfire, Eotech, Trijicon, Bushnell, Holosun, Crimson Trace, Vortex, and many other brands. They all have the honest desire to keep us all shooting more accurately.

With their magnifier capabilities for both handguns and riflescopes and their adjustable aimpoints, compact red dot sights can be the difference between getting on your target quickly and watching it walk into the brush before you can sight in.

Look for a brand that offers good battery life, a dull matte finish, and a mounting system that can be used with most picatinny rails. Watch for what they offer in the way of magnification in a high mount, micro red dot sight. A MOA red dot sight may be more for those looking for a longer distance rifle optic instead of a favorite pistol.

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