What Is a Red Dot Scope Sight?

Red dot sight is a quick-to-acquire and simple-to-use optical sight that allows the user to focus on the field of view in front of them. Because of these specific features, a Red dot sight can help first-time shooters with more precise targeting.

More than a specific type of sight, the term “red dot sight” refers to any weapon optic that uses a red dot as an aiming point or reticle. It has a fixed dot size emitted through a light-emitting diode (LED) on a glass plate.

The red dot is non-magnifying; hence it cannot be used long-range with high accuracy, typically use it for 100 yards or fewer.

How Does the Red Dot Work?

A red dot sight uses a red LED. This LED keeps the red dot reticle aligned with your gun regardless of your eye location. A red dot comprises a spherical mirror that is angled to reflect the red LED.

The name “red dot” sight comes from a special coating on this mirror that enables red light to pass through against darker backgrounds.

The mirror is in such a position that the viewer can see a red dot when aiming at their mark. This mirror makes it easier to know where you’re seeking or in the green of the woods. No red dot can catch sight of the other side; this helps in not scaring away animals. 

A reflective red dot sight can endure up to 50,000 hours, while a holographic red dot sight can cover 500 to 1000 hours.

How to Use Red Dot Sight?

The red dot is a sight that allows you to target at moderate ranges. The red dot optic is designed simplistically and uses a simple reticle to get the job done.

When opposed to magnified optics or irons, the red dot sight has the advantage of allowing you to get closer to your target faster because it aligns the reticle with the mark. As a result, as you focus on your target, the reticle instantly comes into view.

You also get parallax reduction. When the eye goes beyond the dot, the sight can move concerning the target. We know that when the scope magnifies, the point of impact shifts. However, in the instance of a red dot, it is insignificant.

Types of Red Dot Sight

  • Prism Red Dot Sight

As the name suggests, this red dot sight uses a prism to focus on the target when looking down the scope. The red dot sighting points of the prism are tiny and provide minimal magnification to the user. 

These lenses don’t work as well as the traditional lens set, so the requirement is pretty low if you’re planning on getting on a gun! The illuminated reticle is red and hence the name.

  • Reflective Sights

These are the most common types of red dot sights. Exposed red dot reflex sights have a point of view. It projects from the rear of the viewfinder (the area used to look into the picture) onto the viewfinder window.

This red dot is typical in gun shows and movies. If you think of the red dots, you probably imagine this reflective sight variation of the red dot.

There are also reflective red dots inside the tube, as opposed to the exposed red dots. They have two lenses and are more extensive. Weapons like semi-automatic and automatic widely use reflex sights for rapid fire at close range.

  • Holographic Sight

Holographic sight uses a laser and a mirror to send a hologram back to you (without using the front glass), unlike other sights which appear to be in the front.

EOTech patents these glasses, and in this system, it sandwiches a reticle between two layers of glass. They are similar in appearance to the reflector red dot sight but have better clarity and precision.

Uses of Red Dot Sight

The target and the reticle are practically in the same optical plane with red dot sights, providing a single focus point.

  • They’re common in speed shooting competitions of police services. Military and police agencies alike have accepted them. For similar reasons, red dot sights are famous among paintball and airsoft players.
  • The shooter does not have to worry about parallax or eye relief because there is no magnification. Because of the long eye relief, red dot sights are suitable for rifles with high recoil. 
  • Military rifle mounts commonly place the sight in the most mechanically convenient location, such as the M16 rifle carrying handle or a rail system (typically a Picatinny rail) on top of the gun. This feature allows for the use of night vision equipment with the red dot sight both together. 
  • Miniature red dot sights for pistols are becoming increasingly popular, both for competition and military purposes.


Red dot sight is the most common non-magnifying sight widely used. Red dot sight has minimal parallax, which makes it beginner-friendly and quick to use. They can endure hundreds or even tens of thousands of hours depending on the brightness setting, thanks to the LED light’s low energy consumption. 

Most red dot sights do not magnify the target and using for fast-paced shooting is the most popular reason for being used in military and law enforcement. As most hunters have started using AR-style rifles, the red dot has become an attractive option. 

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