• Post author:
  • Post last modified:January 20, 2024

Red dot vs Holographic sight. While most people think they are the same based on initial impression, but the method of reticle project is a little different.

We want to demonstrate this as much as possible beyond the obvious.

Red Dot Vs Holographic Sights - Main Differences 

Red Dot Sight Reticle Projection

Most red dot sights ' LED emitter projects the dot reticle to the front lens and mirrors the reflection back to the user's eye. The dot reticle appears ~20 ft in front of the user, giving that parallax free experience shooters talk about.

red dot vs holographic
holosun 510c vs eotech reticle brightness



  • Much more visible emitter glare on the front lens

Holographic Sight Reticle Projection

Holographic sight uses a laser to project a holographic image, the reticle to the collimating reflector, then to a holographic grating, then mirror the reticle to the shooter's eye. Holographic reticle also appears about ~20 ft in front of the user like a red dot, and in many ways it works the same way

holographic sight


  • Less reticle glare reflection
  • Parallax free
  • HUD (Head Up Display) aiming experience


  • Short battery life using a laser to project the reticle
  • Collimator reflector needs rock solid hood protection


High end mil spec grade red dot sights and holographic sights are all durable to handle field stress, recoil, bump, submersion, drops and rough handling.

holosun 515gm red dot

Lower grade products work for entry level shooters at a good price, but they are not made to endure physical stress beyond normal use.

Things like stripped threads, out of tolerance spec, lose zero, poor lens coating...etc are typically found in lower grade products.

Be sure to check out our mil spec grade red dot sights the professionals pick

Target Acquisition & Field Of View

Most red dot sights and holographic sights are both very fast for acquiring targets. The user can keep both eyes open and maximizes situational awareness. 

The largest FOV red dot sights currently on the market are:

  • Trijicon MRO
  • Trijicon SRO (Micro red dot)
  • Steiner R1X
  • Steiner DRS 1X
  • DI Optical DCL110AD
  • Holosun 510C

The largest FOV holosights currently on the market are:

  • Vortex UH 1 Gen 2 (Bigger window than Gen 1)


Most holographic sights and red dot sights are parallax free, but not 100% especially at CQB distance. Parallax free reticle allows the shooter to place the dot on a target and shoot accurately without having to align the sight picture or center the eye behind the optic.

eotech fov

This gives the shooter tremendous performance capability to operate in CQB environments such as shooting behind cover

Reticle Size

Play with the slider below to see the difference

aimpoint micro 2 moa eotech exps3 68 moa ring

Red dot sights typically features a simple dot ranging from 1 MOA to as big as 12 MOA. The most common on the market are:

  • 1 MOA - The smallest dot available for precise aiming
  • 2 MOA - The most common on the market
  • 3 MOA - Great sweet spot between a big dot and a small dot
  • 5 - 6 MOA - Highly recommend for shotguns, pistols and shooters with astigmatism

Popular holographic sights like the EOTECH EXPS3 and Vortex UH 1 feature rapid target acquisition CQB reticles with ranging capability:

holographic sight
  • 68 MOA (65 & 68 MOA are the same, learn more here)
  • AMG CQB EBR (Similar to EOTECH with open section design for reduced target obstruction & a deliberate bottom triangle holdover reference point)
3 moa vs 6 moa dot sizes comparison

Important things to point out:

  • 6 MOA is much bigger & rounder to see even if the brightness is cranked up
  • Bigger dot has less reticle smear
  • Bigger dot has less emitter glare 
difference between holographic and red dot

A dimmed 1 MOA dot is much better to get a better zero

Reticle Clarity

Reticle clarity is subjective to different users. Both red dot sight and holographic sight can look blurry to users with bad eye sight.

Battery Life

holographic sight vs red dot

The LED technology inside most modern red dot sights last average 30K - 50K hours battery life. LED has much more efficient battery usage than a holographic sight.

A holographic sight lasts about 1400 hrs on average. A laser is used instead of LED, and it drains the battery pretty fast.

Auto turn off feature on a holographic sight is a nice to have to save battery if the user forgets after a range trip. EOTECH & Vortex UH 1 both feature it.


red dot vs holographic

Red dot sights have tons of aftermarket mount options than Holographic sights. Different designs and heights to optimize eye to optic distance on long guns.

red dot vs holographic sight

Aimpoint Micro footprint mounts are very popular, check them out here.

red dot vs holographic sight

Most holographic sights come with integrated mounts and there isn't much optic height adjustment unless using a mount riser.

Ranging Capability

Holographic sights like the EOTECH and Vortex UH 1 have better ranging capability than a red dot sight. Red dot sight users can also range target with a simple center dot with enough practice, but Holographic sight is much easier.

holographic sight

The ring reticle such as the 68 MOA and AMG CQB EBR provides visible reticle reference features to aid range estimation for a known target size.

However, shooters with poor eye sight may not see all the reticle details to make it useful. Any sort of astigmatism or nearsightedness without correction will make the reticle appear blurry.

holographic scope vs red dot

A magnifier scope can help a lot with sight picture clarity for distanced targets. We have a complete guide on the best red dot magnifiers for you to check out on our site.

Target Coverage

eotech exps3 pov 1

The bigger the dot means larger target coverage, which can obscure the target. A smaller dot (1 MOA) is recommended for precision long range shots.

Reticle brightness can obscure the target, and be sure to dial them down when it's appropriate.

For long range precision shots, a 1 MOA center dot is the best for getting a fine zero and fine aiming (even better with a magnifier scope). EOTECH and Vortex UH1 both feature a center 1 MOA dot 

Night Vision Compatibility

Both red dot sight and holographic sight work at night both under white light or night vision.

reflex sight vs holographic

Red dot sights with a smaller center dot (1 or 2 MOA) are recommended for night time use because they are small and they don't obscure the target (Make sure the red dot brightness is dialed down to a sweet spot to prevent emitter glare reflection on the glass)

Holographic sight is also great for night time use, but some users find the the ring reticle cluttering up the sight picture undesirable in low light environment. For night vision goggle users, some are night vision compatible under IR (Infrared)

To check out more red dot sights here