This guide compares scope and red dot options on rifles, especially the piggyback and offset methods where setting up scope with reflex sight on top for quick target acquisition for hunters, competition shooters and real world military applications.
There are many benefits to setup rifles this way, but there are also cons that this guide will cover.
Regardless of your choice, consistent practice is necessary for improving your shooting proficiency and familiarizing your personal setup.
Piggyback Red Dot Mount
- Minimized lateral profile
- In line with bore
- Tall mount works for cross-eye dominant shooters
- Lack cheek weld consistency
Angled Offset Red Dot Mount
- Offset red dot clears night vision gear on the head
- Flexible prone shooting and other positions as well
- Better recoil management when canted
- Shooting around covers
- Clears gas mask
- Works with center axis relock technique
- Much more natural transition
- Might not align with bore on some rifles
- Zeroing at an angle creates POI offset
Magnified Rifle Scope
Riflescopes essential for accurate long range shots
Magnify sight picture for better target identification
Fixed or variable power options depend on application
Ethical shot determination when hunting
Most modern scopes have variable magnification
Larger objective lenses (56mm) improve low-light performance
Illuminated reticle for fine-tuning in various lighting conditions
High magnification scopes allow parallax adjustment
Parallax adjustment increases accuracy at distances over 200m
It can be bulky for close range use
Tight eye relief distance is not favorable for short range shooting
Going from magnified to 1X takes time even though some LPVO are much easier to dial magnification with a turn lever
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3 Common Scope and Red Dot Setup Options
Option 1 - Long & Short Range Ready Setup
For DMR shooters, a heavy-duty scope is ideal for distance shooting.
To also have close range capability without switching optics, add an angled offset red dot sight.
Tilt rifle for RDS sight picture, and it's the easiest and fastest way to transition from magnified long-range to 1X fixed optic.
Always avoid offset scope ring adapter as it often misaligns, causing zeroing and holdover issues, and increases vertical profile. Read here for proper zeroing of offset sight.
Option 2 - Hybrid Red Dot Magnifier Setup
In recent years, red dot sight magnifier combo setup has been super popular. The shooter can flip the magnifier to the side when transitioning back to 1X for close-range targets.
This one features the Unity Tactical FAST mount. It tucks the magnifier down instead of to the side.
Option 3 - Piggyback Red Dot Combo
The Piggyback red dot optic setup has the optic sits right on top of the primary magnified optic. Sights like the Trijicon ACOG optic, ELCAN, Leupold HAMR are made to have this feature for distance shooting and close up engagement
The shooter just needs to shift his head up or down for transition.
That extra optic height gives the shooter more clearance for wearing a helmet with NV or thermal goggles
- Piggyback red dot sight sits just above your primary sight, and the line of sight sits a bit higher than the bore. The aiming point and the point of impact are more aligned for long-distance shots.
Piggyback setup is not recommended for high height over bore rifles like the Tavor X95
- Angled offset mount is my favorite because it sits low. All you have to do is tilt the rifle and engage the target as you would with your primary optic.
There is no significant offset you need to compensate for. However, when aiming canted with the primary optic, there will be point of impact shifts.
Red Dot Optics Mounted On Scope (Angled)
Red dot sight on an offset scope ring is doable, but it's the LEAST favorite configuration because the optic sits way too high and they don't usually align with the bore.
If I have to pick a scope ring adapter I would pick on that sits straight on top of the long range scopes rather than at an angle.
I want my red dot sight to be aligned with the bore without learning a new holdover.
As the content creator of badassoptic.com, My background in the firearms industry and shooting sports gives me the experience to recommend tried and true products and keep away subpar ones.