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  • Post last modified:September 14, 2023

Red dot VS Iron Sights, which one works better?

When it comes to modernizing your firearm, a red dot sight is a way better aiming option assuming the shooter has a good grasp on grip, trigger control, breathing, stance and follow-through shots.

It's faster an better. Here is why:

Iron Sights VS Red Dot

Red Dot Sight - Pros And Cons

Are red dot sights worth it?

aimpoint micro 2 moa

Red dot sight provides fast target acquisition and a super clean sight picture for the shooter. The shooter can now focus the eye on the target and then just superimpose the red dot on the target.

For a zeroed firearm, wherever the dot is placed is where the bullet is going. It eliminates the need to align front sight, rear sight and the target, which makes the brain much easier to process aiming.

holosun 507c acss vulcan vs trijicon sro

In a bad situation, the brain wants to remain focused on that threat. The red dot allows the shooter to quickly acquire the target do that while the iron sight actually pulls your focus away.

Even though red dot is better overall, but practice is still required to get good, and top notch gear doesn't replace poor shooting fundamentals.


  • No perfect sight alignment required
  • Parallax free reticle simulates long iron sight radius
  • Eyes can focus on the target instead of the front sight post
  • Faster target acquisition
  • Much easier to stay on target on a full auto machine gun
  • Much more flexible mounting positions
  • Wide field of view
  • Much finer zeroing with 2 MOA or 1 MOA dot
  • Much faster in CQB
  • Clean sight picture 
  • Works with night vision goggle
  • Better for target ID without the reticle obstructing the target
  • Aim with both eyes open, and works for aging eyes
  • Visible at night


  • Shooters with astigmatism will see blurry reticle
  • Lens glare if the brightness settings is too high

  • Much more expensive

Iron Sights - Pros & Cons

rear iron sight 8 3 battlesight zero

Iron sights have been around for ages, and it works for any experienced shooters. Red dot sights may offer overall better user experience, but it doesn't mean iron sucks.

In many ways, iron sights still provide useful applications to a weapon system even if the firearm is equipped with a red dot optic. 

In fact, iron sights works just as good as a red dot when the shooter is proficient. Some people love iron sights, but they still move onto red dots for reasons listed below:

M1 iron sight vs micro red dot


  • Provides backup aiming if the red dot sight dies
  • Good training tool for sight alignment basics
  • Helps acquire red dot for pistol applications
  • Provides zeroing reference when swapping red dot sights
  • Modern iron sights can be tucked away 
  • Very afforable


  • Front sight post blocks targets down range
  • Requires consistent stock shouldering position
  • Hard to see at night if it's not tritium 
  • Hard to see while facing direct sunlight
  • Much slower in CQB - Rear sight size obscures situational awareness
  • Doesn't work with magnifier scope for long range shots
  • Shooters with poor eyesight just can't aim clearly 


Is red dot or iron sights more accurate?

Red dot sight isn't more accurate than iron sights if the overall shooting fundamentals are wrong. However, a small size red dot sight provides more accurate aiming before sending a round down range.

Should you have iron sights with red dot?

Today, many rifles and pistols have iron sights with red dot. The iron sights on rifles can be folded up and only be used as backup sights. Some users like to co-witness the red dot sight with iron sights.

How far are red dot sights accurate?

Red dot sight can be as accurate as the rifle can shoot. Red dot sight's precise aiming point can be zeroed much more precise if using a red dot magnifier scope.

How far out should I zero my red dot?

Most pistol shooters zero a red dot sight on a pistol within 20 years. The 10 yard zero is very popular. For rifles, many shooters pick the 25, 50 and 100 yard zero for various caliber bullets.

Red dot vs iron sights for concealed carry?

Both red dot and iron sights are great for concealed carry. Handguns without an optic generally are much lower profile to conceal.

Open emitter red dot sight on a conceal carry pistol can sometimes attract dirt, which a close emitter red dot like the Holosun EPS Carry is a much better option.

Red dot or iron sights for home defense?

Red dot sight is highly recommended for home defense. Red dot sight provides the defender much faster target acquisition speed without having to align the iron sights.

In low light situations, a red dot sight is always better. 

Red dot vs iron sights speed

Red dot sight is much easier to pick up than iron sights. Just keep both eyes open and superimpose the do reticle in front.