How To Shoot With A Red Dot Sight [+ Tips]

aimpoint micro fov

The main reason to use red dot sight is for faster target acquisition without aligning iron sights. 

This means:

  • Shooter can be 100% target focused
  • Provides CQB aiming solution to long range guns
  • Provides night time aiming solution
  • Shooter can aim with both eyes open to maximize situational awareness
  • No need to perfectly align sight picture
  • Faster target acquisition - Point of aim is point of impact (assume zeroed)

Pick The Right Dot Size

MOA dot size represents the reticle coverage area. Big dot can obscure smaller targets down range. Smaller dot can provide finer aiming point.

1 MOA and 2 MOA dot size are generally the best choices for rifle applications.

3 or 6 MOA dot sizes are generally for pistol and shotgun categories. 6 MOA is preferred for pistol usage. Much bigger dot, easier to see, better for astigmatism.

Learn more about 3 MOA or 6 MOA here

3 moa vs 6 moa dot sizes comparison

Using Red Dot On Rifles

aimpoint micro 2 moa

Using a red dot sight on a rifle is extremely easy.

Wherever the dot is placed, the bullet is going there (basic concept)

Most modern rifles feature standard pic rail to accept all types of optic mounts. The challenge most people run into is finding the right optic height.

ddmk18 red dot aimpoint micro

1/3 cowitness and 1.93" tall optic mounts are the most popular right now.

The shooter can naturally bring up the rifle without having to put strain on their neck to see through the optic.

For NVG users, taller optic mounts provide enough room to work around.

Optic Zero Distance Matters

Different calibers yield different zeroing result. For most red dot users, the most preferred zero is the one that has the tightest group. This means the shooter doesn't have to think hard about holdover.

36 yard zero 1 3 co witness height

This is a 36 yard zero using standard 5.56 NATO 55gr ammo. Most shots land within a 8" circle between 5 to 100 yards.

Extend Red Dot Range

To extend the range of a red dot sight, simply mount a magnifier behind it like this: 

3X(Most popular), 4X or 6X

aimpoint micro with 3x magnifier scope
holosun hm3x magnifier

Using A Red Dot On Pistol

fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

A pistol with a red dot means the shooter can focus on the target, keep both eyes open, and shoot accurately.

No need to align iron sights. In fact pistol red dot shooter can also be slightly off sight picture alignment and still hit targets.

The most difficult part of shooing a pistol with red dot sight is sight picture acquisition where people struggle finding the dot. 

Try Holosun 507C ACSS Vulcan Reticle

holosun 507c acss reticle

The ACSS Vulcan reticle helps guide the shooter's eye to find the reticle. The 250 MOA ring acts like an arrow indicator to help the shooter recenter the dot.

Other things to consider:

Grip Angle Matters

Trijicon sro on fn 509 ls edge

Did you know ? - Simply changing the grip angle just 1 - 2 degrees can help you align the optic window to the eye, and find the dot faster.

For High Tang Grip - Added back strap panel would help you offset that space around your thenar eminence hand muscle group, to angle the muzzle down a bit for better sight alignment.

Try Different Back Strap Panels

The grip panel slightly change the grip angle to fit your natural point of aim. 

Once you've found your sweet spot for gripping for a particular gun, you will notice a significant differences when acquiring the sight. 

Guns like Springfield XDM, Springfield Hellcat, FNX 45 Tactical, FN 509, 1911, Shadow System MR920L, Canik TP9sfx and many more all features adjustable backstraps for better grip to help you aim better with an optic.

Enlarged Window Optic Helps A Lot!

An enlarged window optic helps you can find the dot better, faster and never get lost in the window.

trijicon sro fn 509 center axis relock pov

Try the center axis relock technique to bring the optic close to the eye while keeping 4 - 7" distance to prevent the slide from smacking into the shooter's face.

Control Your Draw Speed

Control your pistol draw speed appropriately will significantly avoid overshooting the optic sight picture.

Here is a tip - Pretend like there is a rubber band tension between your wrist and waist. As your arms extend the tension increases, thus slowing down the draw.

The slowing down the draw will give you that nice smooth sight picture acquisition.

Pistol Red Dot Co-Witness

glock 43 rmrcc pov

Is pistol red dot co-witness important?

Yes it does, a tall front sight can help guide the eye to center the optic window to pick up the reticle right away without fishing for it.

We have a whole article about this topic on our site, and you can read it here.


Shooter Practice & Tweaks

holosun 507k x2 on p365 xl pov

Practice with the gun you have and get good at it! Eventually you will get used to the grip and find the dot faster.

Once you get enough shooting practice, you can quickly notice good grip feature on a gun that people don't practice may not notice.

Shooting On The Move

This one takes tons of practice - It's easy to shoot on a flat range while standing still, but when dynamic movement is introduced, all bets are off.

This requires a bit of foot work and breathing technique to keep the sight picture steady. You can practice this at home dry firing.

A cost effective way is to use an airsoft pistol with a red dot at home as many times as you like.

Cross Eye Dominance

It's not a problem if you're cross eye dominant when shooting a red dot equipped pistol. In fact, shooting with a red dot sight allows you to focus on the target plane with both eyes open.

Maintain proper grip, and then just shift your head to aim with your dominant eye.

Ying Xu

I'm a former US Air Force ICBM operator, and now I'm a veteran creating fun firearm accessories content. I also work as the search engine expert for BadAssOptic.com