Scopes are essential for better aiming and shooting, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a professional.
Thus, it is best to know which is perfect according to your rifle, purpose, budget, shooting situation, and more.
Let’s start by comparing reflex sights vs. red dots.
I tried learning about them on my own and got quite confused. I know the struggle, so I’m here to help you understand!
Know which one is better to use in this reflex sight vs red dot sight guide!
- What is a Reflex Sight?
- What Is a Red Dot Sight?
- Reflex Sights vs. Red Dot: Performance Comparison
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Verdict: Which Should I Get?
What is a Reflex Sight?
- Quick target acquisition
- Magnification (1x)
- Accurate in short ranges (50 m)
- 50,000 hours of battery life
A reflex sight is an open rectangular window that reflects a red light dot at the center. It is one of the three (3) red dot types—reflex, prismatic, and holographic sights.
Designed with a heads-up display (HUD), shooters can see the target through thin glass with this type.
In other words, reflex sights produce a red or green LED light directed to its glass with special coatings. It then reflects light back to your eyes as the shooter.
Depending on the situation, you can use an open or enclosed system for its light source. This is because you can also find tube-style reflex sights like the Aimpoint Pro on the market.
An open system gives you a free and clear view inside and outside your scope. But, a closed one protects your eyes from dust, water, fog, and more.
How do you use it? Open both of your eyes in aim and stop closing your non-dominant eye when shooting.
You don’t have to worry about the complexity of a reflex red dot sight. It is EASY to navigate and user-friendly, which is best for beginners!
- Unlimited eye relief
- Smaller and lighter build
- Battery-powered LED emitter
- The mounting profile is low
- Not recommended for people with astigmatism
- Limited 50m - 150m aiming point range
- Reticle Size at 100 yards (2 MOA dot)
- Front glass dependent
What Is a Red Dot Sight?
- Has three types – reflex, prism sights, and holographic sights
- Magnification (1x)
- 1 MOA – 12 MOA red dot sizes range
- Compatible with night vision
- Useful brightness settings
Red dot sight got its name from the red or green dot shooters can see at the center of their scopes’ reticles.
The dot size may differ from 1 to 12 Minute of Angle (MOA) dot.
These optics have been proven and tested to be EFFECTIVE when shooting for years!
It is not just cheap compared to other high-end tube and prism sights.
It is also easy to use and beginner-friendly, making it popular for practice or competitive shooting.
As mentioned above, red dot sights have three different types. These red dot variations are Reflex, Prismatic, and Holographic sight.
The first one is already explained above—reflex red dot sight.
Thus, below are the other red dot sight types with significant differences in a more internal structure.
- Way more affordable than other traditional rifle scopes
- Easy to use or beginner friendly
- Easily acquire targets
- Helps improve the shooter's accuracy
- Mostly small and light
- Small MOA dot size (1 MOA for Holographic Reticle)
- Not purely friendly for people with eye problems
- Very much dependent on the reticle's front glass (excluding holographic sight)
If you have already seen traditional scopes, the look of prism sights is not new to you.
It is one of the tube sights that has quite better specs than reflex sights. For one, it is more recommended for people with astigmatism.
Other than that, prismatic sights are also small and easy to mount on any firearm you have. Another fact is that these prism scopes offer 1x up to 3x of magnification, and even MORE!
Do not get confused!
It is a red dot sight, like holographic sights, and you can see dual illumination reticles showing a green dot instead or a red one.
- Magnification (1x - 3x)
- Illuminated reticle (green or red illumination feature)
- Glass-etched reticle
- Less eye relief
- Slower target acquisition than other red dot sight types
From the name itself, holographic sight uses “hologram” in its technology to help shooters have a better aiming point.
This means holographic weapon sights create a sight picture of the target on the reticle to be seen by the shooter’s eye.
They don’t use LEDs, like reflex red dot sights and prismatic sights. But rather, holographic sights use lasers to project images.
Only two companies make this type of red dot sight, EOTech and Vortex Optics.
You can argue that having lesser manufacturers for a holographic sight makes the price higher than most red dot sights.
But, the quality and the feature advantages you are just above the roof!
PLUS, it works well with night vision devices. I like to take advantage of this by spending HOURS outdoors!
You just have to prepare extra batteries in case you get caught in the middle of a dying Vortex Optics or EOTech holographic sight while in the field.
- Precise shooting
- It can be used for extended shooting range
- Operated while both eyes open
- Unlimited eye relief (For continuous use)
- Recommended for people with eyesight problems
- Has lower battery life than other red dot sights
- Has a high price range
- Bigger than most red dot sights
Reflex Sights vs. Red Dot: Performance Comparison
What really is better, reflex or red dot sights?
You already know in the previous sections that reflex sights are under red dot sights.
In comparing the two, let’s look at the perspective of comparing reflex sights against the other two types—prismatic and holographic.
This is to avoid confusion that I am just comparing a red dot sight against itself.
I will run through different categories to aid you in choosing the perfect one for your rifle—durability, pricing, power, reticle, and night vision compatibility.
All red dot reticles are proven and tested to be durable. Their durability is more than enough for their designated functions.
For one, the reflex type relies heavily on its front glass, like the one you can see on an Aimpoint PRO.
This is why it is designed to have a STRONG surrounding enclosure, whether it is open or closed—to secure it from moving and shaking.
However, excluding this type, red dot sights still have prismatic and holographic sights.
This makes other red dot sights have more specifications, making them more durable than the reflex ones.
In other words, other red dot types are more INCLUSIVE in having more levels when it comes to durability.
Winner: Red dot sights
Reflex sights are CHEAPER than other red dot sights.
Even most holographic sights in the entry-level are still more expensive than the performing reflex types.
Thus, a reflex sight is the MOST BUDGET-FRIENDLY among all types of sights with red dots.
A lot of companies manufacture this type of sight, so it is sold at more affordable prices.
You can compare specs and prices to your SATISFACTION before purchase.
This is different from the holographic type that can only be found via EOTech or Vortex optics manufacturing.
With the presence of two types, a red dot sight generally has a broader price range you can choose from.
Of course, higher quality also calls for higher purchase prices.
Winner: Reflex sight
I’ve used a few holo sights, but found myself changing the battery too often; whereas my reflex sight is still HIGH in battery power.
Other red dot reticle types have higher features. Thus, they also consume more energy, making their battery life lesser.
Specifically, you can use reflex sights non-stop for five years maximum. This is a total of 50,000 hours of continuous use.
On the other hand, holographic sights require more battery energy when used due to their technology type and higher specifications.
This makes them commonly last at 500-1000 hours of always being on. A lot lesser than the first red dot type.
Thus, a reflex sight is a clear winner when it comes to this category, compared to the red dot sights, prism scopes and true holographic sights.
Winner: Reflex sight
Reticles are that one point you can see at the center of your rifle’s front lens. It is also commonly called crosshair in traditional terms.
Few its types are:
- Fine crosshair
- Duplex crosshair
- German reticle
- Target dot
- Mild dot
All red dot reticles come in different reticle patterns and in green or red colors.
I don’t see the need to pay more for other EXPENSIVE sights just to experience this feature.
Also, reticle size, color, and pattern are the common key points when talking about reticles.
Regardless if it is reflex, prismatic, or holographic sights, they ALL have settings where you can adjust reticles.
I commonly use red dot sights since it does not blend with my environment and helps me acquire targets faster, unlike green dots.
But, you may want to opt for the latter if you have astigmatism or other eye problems. The same is true for better eye relief.
Both red dot types are compatible with night vision devices.
You will not know when you will need a firearm for self-defense or other purposes.
Thus, your optics should be helpful, whether during the dark or in broad daylight.
Reflex, prismatic, and holographic sights come with types that are compatible and not compatible with night vision devices.
However, the reflex type wins when it comes to battery life for continuous use during the day or night.
But regardless of battery life, they are all good with night vision additions!
You just have to be ready with spare batteries to be always ready with home defense at any time.
Different rifles are designed with different effective range specifications. The same is accurate with scope sights.
Scopes are manufactured together with their sights to help shooters aim and shoot better with different rifle types.
In this category, reflex sights have an effective range of 100 yards and below, which is why it is best for SHORT-RANGE shooting guns.
True enough, I’ve only had success at quite short ranges with reflex sights.
While the other red dot types, specifically holographic sites, can go up to 300 yards.
This increased range makes them helpful for longer and bigger firearms for more extended shooting ranges.
Thus, red dot reticles generally have a more extended range and help firearms shoot better at a distance.
Winner: Red dot sight
OVERALL WINNER: Red dot sights
Red dot sights will really win over reflex sights in overall comparison.
Aside from the fact that the latter is under the umbrella of the former, red dot sights have two more types.
This is advantageous for a WIDER array of choices and levels of specs compared to the sole reflex type.
Picking reflex sights need to be specific to their purposes.
But, if you need or want a bigger pool of choices, you would like to consider checking other red dot sight types.
What About Iron Sights?
Iron sights are another option if you don’t want to spend too much for a fancy red dot.
However, given how they’ve been around for years, they are quite outdated and won’t be as helpful as the technology as a red dot sight.
That is not to say that iron sights are not helpful! They are still assist you on the field by acquiring targets quickly.
Iron sights are fast, but red dot sights are even FASTER!
Plus, red dot sights remove the hassle of having to close one eye, which is something that comes with iron sights.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have already discussed a lot about reflex and red dot sights above. But who doesn’t want to learn more?
This section will check out more relevant details for your best rifle sight search.
Which Is Better, Reflex or Holographic Sight?
Holographic sights are a bit better than reflex sights, and no big difference is present between these two.
They have the same purpose but are being designed with a different technology inside.
Reflex sights have a battery-powered LED that reflects a light point to its thin mirror.
This colored print is the red dot you can see in the middle as you spot your target.
Meanwhile, holographic sights work with hologram technology inside.
It captures an image of the target and depicts it on the scope’s mirror with a built-in shake awake feature.
Both of them are accurate, fast in target acquisition, and have no tunnel vision since they can be used with both eyes open.
Holographic sights just excel in providing accurate and precise shots for longer ranges. But, it is more expensive than the reflex sights.
Are Reflex Sights Accurate?
Yes, reflex sights are definitely accurate for short-range shooting.
The illuminated dot makes it easier to focus on both the target and reticle marker simultaneously.
Aim at a target within a distance of 50 meters, and you will not have a problem with the accuracy of reflex sights.
If this red dot type does not perform well, why did it retain its high demand and popularity for years?
But, if you are looking for precise optics at a longer range, you might want to consider holo sights.
NOTE: Accuracy should not only be based on these sights with red dot sights. Their preciseness is useless if they are not used according to their design.
How Far Out Is a Red Dot Good For?
Regarding a red dot, you can expect reflex sight’s 100 yards up to 300 yards for holographic sights.
Different optics also have a VARIETY of range specialties, and the same is true for all reticle types with red dots.
It is valid regardless if they are traditional optics or those in the modern generation, like those manufactured by Vortex Optics.
But if you want to use the maximum advantage from reticle types with red dots, you would want to get as close as possible to your target.
Red dot sights are also way cheaper and more popular than other optics available in the market.
You can UPGRADE from your iron sights without putting a hole in your pocket!
What Is the Best Type of Red Dot Sight?
Red dot sights have three types—Reflex, prismatic, and true holo sights.
All of them are designed to help shooters in a variety of ways, firearms, and situations.
It’s a matter of personal preference; let’s review each one to see which is best for you.
Reflex sights are best for guns like handguns, pistols, and shotguns.
Also, they are top-notch in having the most extended battery life for non-stop usage.
Some significant examples are:
- Trijicon RMR type for pistols
- Vortex Venom for better brightness settings for longer rage shooting
- Aimpoint PRO for your AR15 rifle.
Find more budget reflex sights here!
They share the same technology as the reflex red dot sights.
It has much better specs than the latter, especially for giving better viewing for people with astigmatism.
They have a different technology from the other two—hologram technology with laser usage instead of LED, making them best for a longer range of shooting.
Thus, get rid of iron sights and look at your current firearm. There is undoubtedly a perfect red dot sight for that!
You can check out this comparison guide between two popular holo sights; the EOTech 512 vs. 518!
Final Verdict: Which Should I Get?
A reflex sight is under the banner of the red dot sight, meaning that what you can experience in reflex sights is also present in red dot sights.
However, the latter also has other types—prismatic and holographic- with strengths lacking from the former.
Thus, your choice should depend on your purpose.
The red dot reflex sight is for you if you wish for easier-to-use and more accurate optics for a shorter range.
But, if you need wider reticle needs, you should go for a red dot sight.
Specifically, you should pick whether it would be a prismatic or holographic sight.
They might be different in technology used in the internal structure, but they are one in purpose—better and more accurate shooting.
In my experience, red dot sights cover MOST of my sighting needs. Check your firearms context first before you look for the perfect sight to purchase.
All reflex sights are red dot sights.
The red dot is the GENERAL name used for optics with red or green dot sights on the center of their reticles.
You can rely on these optics regardless if your rifle’s purpose is for self or home defense. Choose any type of red dot that best fits you and your rifle’s needs.
At the end of the day, sights are present to serve budding or expert shooters one purpose—to aid us in shooting firearms.