How To Manage Red Dot Reticle Brightness – When To Turn Up & Down?

Many people have asked questions regarding how to manage red dot reticle brightness over the wide variety of lighting conditions from bright daylight to possible weapon light use in the dark?

In this guide, let's share some pro tips and also cover why auto-brightness adjustment feature is worth checking out.

Pro Tip: Pick the setting that works satisfactorily across all conditions, or for a scenario that has the overwhelming probability of its need


fnx45 with holosun 507c pov

When to crank it up?

  • Bright sunny day
  • Bright indoor lighting

If most shooting is done on a sunny day, it makes sense for the shooter to just crank up the dot brightness until it's visible so it doesn't get washed out by the sunlight or your sunglasses.

Most red dot sights on the market today offer 1 - 10+ brightness settings that work under bright desert sunlight and indoor lighting.

eotech exps3 pov 1

When to crank it down?

  • Transitioning from bright lighting condition to low light
  • Cloudy day
  • Too much red dot emitter starburst and glare, and its obscuring the sight picture

Be sure to dial the red dot brightness down for indoor use on your range / home defense firearm after an outdoor range trip.

Low light with use of weapon light

swampfox red dot sight low light

Must ID targets and what's behind before sending rounds down range

The weapon light's hot spot will wash out the dot at close range if it's too bright.

eotech exps3 in the dark

Pro Tip: Set the brightness to normal daytime setting for low light use

For close range

The weapon light hot spot doesn't wash out the reticle until it's pointed at a white wall at extremely close distance (3 - 5 yards), so you can keep the reticle at a high brightness setting, and use a weapon light without any problem. 

For 25 - 100+ yards

We found it helpful to dial down the reticle brightness so you can ID the targets better with a weapon light with a good throw performance

It will be much easier to aim with a 2 MOA dot red dot sight than a large 68 MOA ring reticle. This is when you can be flexible with your gear selection 

When To crank it up?

  • If the dot is obviously too dim to see, please up the brightness a little bit
  • In a controlled training environment shooting with weapon lights on the entire time

When To crank it down?

  • Shooting from 25 to 100 yards in low light
  • Too much dot starburst and glare (Specially for any ring reticles such as ACSS reticle, 68 MOA reticle and others)
  • Large MOA dot sights with too much brightness

Night Vision Mode

night vision goggle with ar15

Night vision shooting with nods is a completely different ball game.

The best resources for night vision shooting currently we enjoy learning from are TREX ARMS and TNVC.

Be sure to check out their night vision content regarding this topic.

Common FAQ

When To Use Auto Brightness Adjustment Feature?

Trijicon SRO, Holosun's solar fail-safe feature, Sig optics, and many others have started offering the auto-brightness features on their optics so the shooter can transition under the sun to indoors to match ambient lighting conditions without messing with the control.

When To Use

  • For outdoor class training where the sky condition changes throughout the day
  • For conceal carry users in a wide range of lighting conditions (indoor, outdoor, power outrage...etc)

NOT The Best Time To Use, But Still Works

  • Optic can sense light source from the top and sides, but not so perfect when the weapon light beam is pointed forward

Please check out the Holosun optics or our red dot sight guide for more information.

Does Red Dot Brightness Change Point Of Impact?

For a zeroed red dot sight, cranking up the red dot brightness won't change the point of impact, however the emitter glare taking up the whole screen of the optic will obscure the shooter's ability to see the target clearly, which can lead to inaccurate shots.

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