How Red Dot Sights Really Look & Feel In Real Life VS FPS Games

In this fun article, let's show how red dot sights really look like in real life VS in popular FPS games.

fps game eotech pov

First-person shooter games are fun to play and the more realistic ones definitely inspired many people to get into real steel shooting. 

Editor's Recommendation: Escape From Tarkov & Insurgency Sandstorm (ISMC mods) have the most true to life weapon & accessories experience

Red Dot Sight - FPS Game VS Reality

FPS games are meant for fun, and can be educational as they become more realistic. 

FPS Games

  • Eliminate astigmatism problems 100%
  • Can't change optic mounting locations for most FPS games
  • Magnifiers work just like in real life but doesn't simulate eye relief
  • Magnifier zooms in the whole screen instead of just the image inside the scope
  • Aim with two eyes open can't be simulated
  • No holding breathe required for steady aim

However, there are a few things missing compared to real life.

Reality

  • Field of view is much wider as much as your eyes can see
  • Aim down the sight doesn't zoom shooter's point of view
  • Adjustable dot brightness
  • Red dot can be blurry for people with bad eye sights
  • Parallax free so the shooter doesn't have to 100% center the eye behind the optic
  • Can aim with 2 eyes open
  • Too big or too bright reticle can obscure targets down range (Unnoticeable in a game)
  • Steady aim required when shooting with a red dot
  • Red dot has to be zeroed
  • Magnifier requires eye piece adjustment to focus on the reticle relative to the shooter's vision

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare (2019)

modern warfare 2019

The 2019 COD Modern Warfare is lot of fun, and it has many close-to-real-life weapons and accessories in the game, but non of them accurate enough to the real thing.

  • They player can attach optic to the weapon, change reticle, but can't change optic mounting location on the rail
  • Player can aim down the sight and not be affected by rapid movement

Operator Reflex Sight - Holosun 510C

operator reflex sight cod

Named something different, but overall it assembles the look of the Holosun 510C with QD mount (QD mount INOP in the game)

cz evo s3 sbr with holosun 510c
operator reflex sight cod pov

Center dot reticle is the most realistic in the game

holosun 510c pov

Holosun 510C in real life can cycle through 3 different reticles:

holosun 510c reticles
  • 2 MOA
  • 2 MOA + 32 MOA Ring
  • 32 MOA Ring 

Aim-Op - Aimpoint Micro

aim op cod optic

Looks like a Daniel Defense Aimpoint mount in the game

fn scar 17 with aimpoint micro

Aimpoint Micro is the best combat red dot sight on the market, and it can accept many different aftermarket mounts

aim op cod scar optic pov

In the game, the field of view appears to be bigger. In the game, the player can customize reticle patterns

aimpoint with vortex micro 3x

The real life Aimpoint Micro ONLY offers a 2 MOA center dot.

For shooters with astigmatism the dot will look blurry and if the reticle brightness is cranked up too high, the shooter will see glare through the optic lens.

Emitter glare isn't simulated in most FPS games.

Scout Combat Optic - ELCAN SPECTER

scout optic cod

Looks very similar to the ELCAN SPECTOR 1-4X with QD lever mounts

elcan indoor range m249

ELCAN SPECTOR 1-4X is a dual role prism optic used by the spec ops

scout optic cod pov

In the COD game, they named it to Scout optic, and it's a fixed fixed magnification optic with a horseshoe reticle, which is not realistic to the real thing.

For a better experience, please check out the ELCAN in Insurgency Sandstorm below:

ELCAN 4X 7.62 DFOV14-T2 reticle

The real ELCAN can switch between 1X and 4X, and the illuminated BDC reticle is only true at 4X. The center crosshair is designed for a 100 meter zero, and the ranging scale can be used to estimate target distance.

There are 5.56mm and 7.62mm versions available to buy.

ELCAN dual role weapon sight scope shadow

The ELCAN's eye box can be very limiting if the eye isn't aligned behind the optic and the scope shadow will appear

GI Mini Reflex - Vortex VENOM

gi mini reflex cod pov

The GI Mini Reflex optic can be used on all weapons in the game, and it mimicks the Vortex Venom based on looks.

Thin glass frame like the real thing, and it's very low profile

vortex venom FOV

The real Vortex Venom is very lightweight and it offers 3 MOA or 6 MOA reticle. The 6 MOA is highly recommended for shooters with astigmatism so they can see a much crisp dot for close up applications.

3 moa vs 6 moa dot sizes comparison

The glass is also tinted that the game doesn't simulate. Tinted glass works until it's in a low light environment.

fn 509 with venom

Cronen LP945 - Trijicon SRO

cronen lp945 cod pov

The reticle is just like others in the game, it's always zeroed and the player doesn't have to do anything about it.

To learn how to zero a red dot in real life, please read here

This optic mimicks the Trijicon SRO, a large size window upgrade from the original Trijicon RMR so the shooter can acquire the dot faster

trijicon sro on fn 509 ls edge slide
fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

In real life, the Trijicon SRO's large windows helps the shooter to quickly reacquire the dot and not lose it.

Pistol red dot is something FPS video games can't simulate well unless switching to VR such as Onward.

PBX Holo - EOTECH

PBX COD
eotech on cz evo

Not exactly like the EOTECH EXPS3 but very close. The battery access is on the right and the QD lever arm is on the left.

The EOTECH has a protective hood over the main body for extra protection

PBX POV
eotech exps3 pov 1
68 MOA ring reticle BDC dots

The real EOTECH EXPS3 has a 68 MOA ring + center dot reticle. Different models offer different BDC reticles for the standard 5.56mm 


Escape From Tarkov

escape from tarkov game

Escape From Tarkov has the most realistic modeling of optics in the game including the reticles. Way more realistic than Call Of Duty.

Vortex AMG UH1

vortex uh1 escape from tarkov

Just like the real thing including the Vortex brand logo and RAZOR AMG EBR CQB reticle

shooting razor uh1 pov

Has more lens tint in real life

Referenced SupersetCA

EOTECH EXPS3 Magnified

eotech 45 degree leaning left
eotech exps3 escape from tarkov magnifier

The 4 dot BDC reticle is realistic. It's the EOTECH EXPS3-4 model

EOTECH exps3 reticle outdoor

The 68 MOA reticle helps ranging target and allows faster target acquisition with both eyes open.

The reticle can look blurry under a magnifier, and the shooter can adjust the eyepiece to focus on the reticle.

vortex micro 3x diopter ring

This is something FPS players can't simulate or aware of this phenomenon exists in real life


Insurgency

insurgency sandstorm game

The game Insurgency is also very realistic even though graphics aren't as good as Call of Duty, but the weapon and accessories are as realistic as Escape From Tarkov. They are literally 1:1 from real life.

EOTECH EXPS3

eotech insurgency

If you want the most realistic EOTECH EXPS3 experience, Insurgency will give you that over Call of Duty

ELCAN SPECTOR - Much Better Details

elcan insurgency pov

Much more realistic than Modern Warfare.

However, the optic can't switch between 1X and 4X, and the only thing the player can do is mount a piggyback red dot on top.

elcan piggyback mrds insurgency fps game

Everything else is as real as the actual ELCAN optic including the BDC reticle.

zeroing mk18 elcan specterdr
Daniel Defense MK18 ELCAN

Aimpoint Micro With Magnifier

aimpoint micro magnified insurgency fps game

Very realistic just like the real thing.

In real life, the magnifier slightly magnifies the dot the shooter sees through the scope for finer aim.

Since it's a game, the magnifier's eye piece adjustment is NOT simulated nor The eye piece helps correct focus the reticle relative to the shooter's eye sight.

Onward

The game Onward is only available in VR. and the most important thing to point out is the realistic aiming experience that other first person shooter game can't simulate.

onward red dot sight vr
  • Can simulate red dot parallax in VR
  • Sight alignment is based on your posture in VR
  • Sight alignment when shooting on the move
  • Simulates situational awareness just like in real life
red dot sight parallax in vr games

Even though players can't simulate astigmatism problems or shoot with both eyes open, but it's the most realistic red dot sight education even if you have never aim through a real one before.


Ying Xu

US Air Force veteran nuclear weapon officer. Aerospace engineering bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas. Experienced as a certified NRA range safety officer. Working as a search engine expert for BadAssOptic.com