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Red Dot and Reflex Sights

Differences between Red Dot and Reflex Sights

Red Dot and Reflex SightsWhile the term ‘red dot sight’ is commonly recognized by many people, it is not easy for some individuals to interpret this category of sights. The term is typically used to mean any kind of non-magnified sight that uses a red dot reticle to illuminate the target.  There are many different versions of red dot sights for AR-15, which fall into the category of red dot sights. Literally, all of them are electronic sights. However, many people searching for the difference between red dot sights and reflex sights seems not to understand the exact variation. Therefore, this article is going to explain the different types of electronic sights available in the market.

Electronic Sights

Electronic sights are generally referred to as red dot sights, but you can find many types of electronic sights. Some of them do not use red dot when aiming a target. There are those that use green dots while others use crosshairs and other aiming reticle styles. However, all of these sights use an illuminated aiming point and are non-magnified. In other occasions, you may find several models with a 2x magnification feature while other high-end models have a separate 3x or 4 x magnifier optics features. Such optics can be mounted behind a 1x electronic sight to be used for both medium and long-range shooting.

However, there are standard electronic sights that are used for short and medium-range shooting. In those shooting applications, a shooter generally uses iron sights but the electronic sights can be used instead. With an electronic sight mounted on a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, the hassle of lining up your eye with the iron sight and the target is eliminated. So, you only need to look through an objective window as you put the reticle aiming point or dot on the target and then pull the trigger.

Electronic Sights

Though the electronic sights are non-magnifying, they do not have parallax errors when it comes to target shooting. This implies that the aiming point stays at the same position regardless of the angle at which you view through the sight. In short, the electronic sights are generally quick to target and make an accurate shot. That is why they are becoming more popular among shooting range enthusiasts, as well as among hunters.

Reflex Sights vs Red Dot Sights

Many people search information about the difference between the reflex sights and red dot sights. Also, the difference between the holographic sight and the red dot sights is also searched. But it is worth noting that holographic sights and reflex sights are two different kinds of red dot sights or electronic sights. This means the term ‘red dot sight’ refers to the red dot aiming point.

Based on the electronic sights, you can find reflex sights, laser sights, and holographic sights. All these feature a red dot aiming point, though they function in a similar manner whereby they use an illuminated aiming point. However, the difference between them is significant. Also, there are companies that produce other types of electronic sights such as prismatic sights that work similarly as the standard scopes. Most of the electronic scopes have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, before buying you need to understand each type, how it works, and what is suitable and not suitable for you.

Reflex Sights

The term ‘red dot sight’ has been referring to the reflex sights. These use a LED that produces a beam of light, which is then reflected within the sight to form an illuminated aiming point. There are generally two types of reflex sights; tube-shaped and non-cylindrical reflex sights. The tube-shaped are the most common because they require a special curved mirror lens to capture a beam of light. On the other hand, the non-cylindrical sights use a LED but they send out the beam of light.

By comparing the reflex sights and the holographic sights, hunters and those participating in shooting competitions will generally choose between the two sights. Apart from the method used to form the illuminated aiming point for these two sights, the performance of the sights can be affected by a few factors including battery life, image clarity, aiming point, and objective window.


Regardless of any factor that determines whether to choose the reflex sights or holographic sights, the process of selecting the best model is a bit tricky. Actually, your choice should be guided by the specific factors that are important to your needs.

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