How Does A Red Dot Sight Work

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  • Post category:Red Dot Sights
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holosun 510c reticle emitter

Here is how a red dot sight work:

Red dot sight eliminates the need for the traditional 3 plane alignment - Rear sight, Front sight and the Target plane for faster & accurate aim.

The battery powered LED emitter shines the beam onto a coated and slightly titled lens, then the glass reflect the reticle for the shooter to see.

It's completely eye-safe compared to a laser which produces an emission that can be harmful to your eyes.

Types Of Red Dot Sights

holosun 507c vs deltapoint pro vs trijicon sro

Miniature Red Dot Sights - These are small open emitter red dot sights typically go on offset mounts, pistol slides, shotguns and pistol caliber carbine.

Sights like the Trijicon SRO, Swampfox Sentinel, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro are miniature red dot sights.

aimpoint micro on f1 ar

Fully Enclosed Emitter Red Dot Sights - These are full size tube profile red dot sights fully sealed to keep debris away from the internals. Some are as small as an Aimpoint Micro, and some are as big as the Aimpoint Comp 4.


Red Dot Sight Benefits

Aiming With Both Eyes Open

fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

Red dot users can aim at the target with both eyes open to maximize situational awareness and target acquisition speed. Sights with minimum frame obstruction provides the best POV for competition shooting, hunting and tactical applications.

All the shooter has to do is focus on the target and have the red dot reticle superimpose over the target.

Flexible Head Movement

Features Holosun 507K

The shooter can be slightly off-center, and still get on target at the effective ranges. Like this:

Since most red dot sights are parallax free, the shooter doesn't have to center the eye behind the optic perfectly every time, which provides more flexible head movement.

Use Red Dot For Aging Eyes

Shooters with aging eyes can benefit from using a red dot sight by eliminating the need for front sight focus.

Glaucoma, macular degeneration and age-related loss of acuity will limit a shooter's ability to see clearly, and red dot sights are here to help.

A Great Learning Tool For New Shooters

507c vs 509t

Learning how to shoot a firearm with iron sights is important, and a red dot sight can help new shooters visually understand:

  • Trigger control
  • Follow up
  • Steady aim
  • Breathing

Every subtle motion and hand tremor can throw off the shot, and a red dot reticle is a great indicator for how steady the aim is.



How Accurate Are Red Dot Sight Sights

Red dot sight can be as accurate as you can see it assuming it's zeroed. The best red dot reticle size for long range accuracy is 1 MOA.

1 MOA dot is the smallest dot available on the market, and it doesn't cover up the target so the shooter can see with much more precision than 3 MOA or 6 MOA

Can Red Dot Sight Be Used For Long Distance Aiming ?

A red dot magnifier can zoom in the aim for long distance shooting. They are great for zeroing a red dot sight, better dot clarity, positive identification and for medium range engagement.

The magnifier scope aligns with the red dot, and the user can tuck it off the side when not in use. This gives the firearm the ability to go from CQB to mid range in no time.

Does A Red Dot Sight Work At Night?

Red dot sight works under any lighting conditions including night time use. However, the shooter must be aware of the red dot brightness setting to make sure it's not too bright or too dim to see. Click here to learn how to avoid red dot lens glare.

For more comprehensive red dot sight guide, please click here


I thoroughly test every firearm product before recommending it for civilian use. This involves personally purchasing or borrowing each product and rigorously using and testing them for content creation.