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3MOA vs 6MOA: Which Type of Red Dot Sight Is Better?

3MOA vs 6MOA

Looking for the right dot sight for your pistol and rifle?

The most popular MOAs (Minute of Angle) in the market are 3MOA and 6MOA.

To help you decide, we came up with a comparison guide between these MOA options.

After reading this article, not only will you be able to tell the difference between the 3 MOA and 6 MOA dot, you will also have a better appreciation of the intricacies of red dots!

What Is MOA (Minute of Angle)?

By definition, “minute of angle,” also known as MOA, is an angular measurement of the distance around the circumference of a circle.

We all know that a full circle is 360 degrees. A minute of an angle is measured at 1/60 of a degree.

Why 60? Because there are 60 seconds to a minute.

What Is MOA-Minute of Angle Illustration

If that’s too much information to take in, just remember:

One minute of an angle is equivalent to around a one-inch diameter circle at a distance of 100 yards.

How does this apply to target shooting?

When you focus the red dot at around 100 yards, a 3 MOA reticle will look like a 3-inch circle, vs 6 MOA dot, which will appear as a 6-inch circle on the target.

3 MOA Red Dot Sight Overview

Pros

With a 3 MOA dot size, you will be able to shoot accurately over longer distances.

Why? Well, with a smaller dot, you’ll be able to likewise aim at smaller target sizes.

A larger dot might obstruct your view of the target and make you aim at a more general area instead of providing a more precise shot.

The 3MOA is actually the preference of most rifle owners because the sight is 4-5 inches away from your eye, which makes the red dot clearer and easier to differentiate from the target.

Cons

Because this small dot makes it easier for precision shooting, it wouldn’t really prove useful when aiming for larger and more easy-to-aim targets.

You would more or less get the same results as a bigger dot, and you might even put more effort to ensure that the tiny dot is still actually on target.

Moreover, bright sunlight might make it harder to view dots falling under the 3 MOA size since it’s already quite small to begin with.

Something larger, like the 6 MOA size, would be more likely to stay visible even under extreme light conditions. 

6 MOA Red Dot Sight Overview

Pros

The 6 MOA is widely considered to be one of, if not the most popular MOA size (and for good reason).

Bigger is not necessarily better, but when it comes to dot size, then there are certain advantages that come with the 6 MOA.

Having bigger red dot sights make it immediately and highly visible at a glance, making it perfect for those looking to have fast target acquisition.

For close to mid-range scenarios, and even common law enforcement situations, the 6 MOA red dot size is more than enough and is plenty accurate.

Cons

Though a larger dot allows for better visibility and generally makes target acquisition easier, it does come with a drawback.

A 6 MOA red dot may not provide the same accuracy as a 3 MOA dot, because as mentioned, it could cover your view of the target or make it hard to pinpoint precise parts of the target.

Though you would technically be able to hit targets bigger than the dot, it makes it easier to miss small targets or those positioned in tight small groups.

3 MOA vs 6 MOA: What’s the Difference?

Going back to the two main topics at hand, namely 3 MOA vs 6 MOA, what exactly sets them apart?

First of all, it should be noted that the main and most noticeable difference would be that the 6 MOA possesses a bigger dot as compared to the smaller dot found on the 3 MOA option.

  • The 3 MOA dot can be applied and really shine in high precision applications where you’d be able to aim small.
  • The 6 MOA dot, on the other hand, being the bigger and wider variation, works great for close-range shots where proximity can make up for precision.

Of course, you can apply the 3 MOA and 6 MOA dots outside of these two scenarios, and they are not strictly bound to long-range and short-distance shooting, respectively.

Earlier on, we briefly discussed the pros and cons of each type, so you can decide for yourself how to best apply the 3 MOA and 6 MOA red dots for your own use!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is the Best for Red Dots?

The answer really depends on what you intend to use the red dots for and the kind of weapon you have.

While there is no direct answer, we can say that generally:

  • A 3 MOA is best for long-range shooting with rifles.
  • While the 6 MOA is a popular choice among pistol owners who shoot from 25 yards or closer.

In a nutshell, our recommendation is to consider your target area

Is it close range, or does it cover longer distances?

Given the points discussed for 3 MOA vs 6 MOA and their overall benefits, choosing between the two would definitely yield better results than using traditional iron sights.

TAKE NOTE: Iron sights do not use illumination like red dot types, though it still has two sights (the rear sight and front sight).

The main difference is that iron sights use a metallic structure to mark targets (positioned at the front sight section), while red dot sights (like reflex sights) have a dot illuminated from the rear sight and displayed on the front sight.

But what happens when you have both an iron sight and a red dot sight together?

Since they are used to aim at the same spot, they should be aligned (this phenomenon is what we call co-witness).

To some, it might be best to combine these sights so that the co-witness can provide high-precision shots.

We also recommend that you familiarize yourself with the different co-witness types as well as the concept of reticle smear (if you’re really particular about your gun’s reticle).

What Is the Best MOA for Rifles?

Rifles generally cover a larger range than pistols, so a 3 MOA red dot may provide better accuracy over longer distances.

Other shooting enthusiasts like to use a magnifier to enlarge the reticle size. In this case, 3 MOA would go well with this accessory.

What Is the Best MOA for Pistols?

If you are looking for speed in your shooting game, then a 6 MOA would definitely be a good choice for the simple reason that a bigger dot is easier to spot.

However, the choice still comes down to personal preference. Some find the 6 MOA dot size a bit of an obstruction and still prefer the smaller 3 MOA dot.

FUN FACT: The popular choice for law enforcement or defensive use (like home defense) is a 6 MOA dot for their pistols.

Red Dot Sights We Recommend for Accurate Shots

Now that you have a decent background on 3 MOA vs 6 MOA red dots (and the different things to consider regarding sight picture and target shooting), here are some top red dot picks you might want to check out.

1. Trijicon RMR Type 2

Trijicon RMR Type 2

A well-loved and trusted option. The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is widely considered to be mechanically superior and the standard when it comes to reticle options.

Perfect for your pistol, this red dot comes in both a 3 MOA dot and a 6 MOA option.

With this reticle, you’re sure to improve your shot in no time!

2. Vortex Venom

Vortex Venom

The Vortex Venom also offers 3 MOA and 6 MOA options, giving it amazing versatility and variety when it comes to the reticle.

Shoot accurately with this small but precision-ready option, which boasts fast target acquisition at a good price!

3. Vortex Viper

Vortex Viper

The Vortex Viper may be a bit older than the Venom variety, but it’s by no means outdated or obsolete.

This option sadly doesn’t offer a 3 MOA dot size, but it offers amazing focus capabilities.

Being waterproof and shockproof, the Viper is also set to shoot in all situations, be it close ranges to farther distances.

Final Verdict: Which Is Better, 3MOA or 6MOA?

After all that’s been said, the main question at hand really boils down to this:

There is NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER, and there is no one sight that is perfect for shooting 100% of the time.

Only you, as the hunter, customer, and decision-maker, can truly discern what your use case and situation require.

Although this guide may have taught you all you need to know about 3 MOA red dot sights, 6 MOA red dot sights, and the differences between 3 MOA vs 6 MOA red dot sights, either choice should work fine for your rifle and provide you with a worthwhile experience.

Final Words

One piece of parting advice: Make sure to actually try these different red dot sights in person!

In your head, a 3 MOA or 6 MOA might seem ideal for you, but in reality, you might prefer one over the other after trying them out in real life.

Although we might be able to visualize the size contrast between the two, it would really be best to actually get a feel and view of it.

Of course, you need to make sure that the seller offering the 3 MOA or 6 MOA red dot you wish to buy is comfortable with you trying it out.

Now that you know more about the topic, pick your reticle and sight option, and get those guns ready to try your new reticle with a bang!

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