How Does a Red Dot Scope Work?

If you’ve ever played “Call of Duty,” you’d have noticed a red dot on the screen. Red dot scopes have existed since the mid-’70s, and since then, there have been various improvements. In case you’re wondering what they are, we’ll let you know.

What Is a Red Dot Scope?

A Red dot scope is an optical gadget that improves a shooter’s precision using a red dot on the target. It doesn’t use magnification like other scopes. Although some dots can be blue, green, or any other color, their basic operations are still the same. It’s mostly for near and moderate distances, and due to its simplicity, it’s a good fit for beginners.

How a Red Dot Scope Works

There’s some technology behind the way it operates. A red dot scope consists of a Light-Emitting Diode (LED) that reflects a light beam onto a unique glass. This unique glass only displays light emitting from the LED. In addition, the red dot scope has spherical glass with a unique coating, allowing it to only display the red light. 

Only you can see through the scope while someone on the other side can’t. The main purpose of the coating is to prevent light disturbances from other sources. The hole before the LED determines the size of the red dot, and Minute of Angle (MOA) is used to measure the red dot.

Red dot scopes have two models; the open and closed models. In an open model, the lenses are exposed to external environmental factors. For the closed model, the extra lens protects the light source from dust and dirt. It’s worth noting that the smaller dots perform well for average distances while bigger dots are easier to see and set on target. 

Types of Red Dot Scopes

Choosing a red dot scope depends on the shooter’s purpose. There are different types available, and they vary based on how they function or the weapons used.

Based on How They Function

  • Reflector Sights: This is the most popular type. It permits the shooter to view the scope through a lens to see a lighted reflection of the target.
  • Prismatic Red Dot Sights: They’re very small in size and use prisms.
  • Holographic Diffraction Sights: The image of the reticle gets between the lenses.

Based on Their Weapon Use

  • Rifle Red Dot: This type is usually for full-size tubular rifles. The scope comes with 2 MOA or 3 MOA red dots and features an objective lens of at least 2mm. The rifle red dot isn’t for long-distance shooting. A magnifier or night vision scope increases its efficiency.
  • Tiny Red Dot: From the name, it’s evident they’re so small. They are mainly for use with shotguns, pistols and fitted as backups for full-size rifles scopes. 

Upsides and Downsides of a Red Dot Scope

Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons. You just have to choose the downside you can cope with. The same goes with a red dot scope. Thinking of getting a red dot scope? Here are some things to know before purchase.


  • It improves precision.
  • It helps you to locate your target quickly.
  • It’s proper for close and average distances.
  • The sizes range to fit many rifle types.
  • Visually challenged people can use it.


  • There’s no magnification.
  • Regular recharging or replacement of batteries.
  • An increase in the distance leads to an increase in the reticle, making it challenging to see, leading to poor accuracy.

Can You Pair a Red Dot Scope With a Magnifier?

Since a red dot doesn’t have any magnification, aiming for long distances will be difficult. Due to this, some shooters pair the device with a magnifier. If you’ll be shooting longer distances, pairing the red dot scope with a magnifier is worth it.

Does a Red Dot Scope Function at Night?

Some may have an interest in night shooting and wonder if the red dot scope works at night. The answer is YES. Red dot scopes can function in darkness or under any light condition. They have illumination, so you don’t need to worry about shooting in the dark. You can purchase a night vision device and pair it with the red dot scope. If you use the red dot scope device mostly at night, you can purchase one specifically for night shooting.


Now, you understand a lot about red dot scopes. If you’re looking to perfect your close/moderate range shooting accuracy, then red dot scopes are for you. It’s also perfect for beginners. Red dot scopes have been around for more than 40 years, and they have come to stay. Although they have many advantages, they also come with some downsides; it depends on your choice. If you feel a red dot scope is what you prefer, then go for it.

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