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  • Post last modified:January 8, 2024

Red dot vs green dot sights, do they matter at all?

When diving into the world of optics, the debate between green dot and red dot sights often emerges. Both have their merits, and the choice often boils down to personal preference. However, there's more to the story.

red dot brightness night

Your choice between red and green dot sights should hinge on your specific needs, preferences, and the conditions in which you'll be using the sight. Test both types if possible, and choose the one that feels right for you.

Red Vs Green Dot Visibility

While most people prefer a green dot to be more visible under daylight shooting environment. Even when the brightness setting is slightly set to low than a traditional red dot sight.

Here is why:

holosun 507c red dot pov

The human eye houses approximately 120 million rods and 6 million cones. These cones detect color, with about 60% sensing red, at about 30% sensing green, and 10% sensing blue. (According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology)


The human eye is indeed equipped with two types of photoreceptors—rods and cones—that serve different functions in the process of vision.

  • Rods are more numerous, with around 100 million present in the retina. They are highly sensitive to light, which makes them crucial for night vision. However, rods do not mediate color vision; they are more responsive to the intensity of light, which is why we mostly see in shades of gray in very low light.

  • Cones are less numerous, with about 6 million in the retina, and are responsible for color vision. They operate best under higher light levels. The three types of cones are sensitive to different wavelengths of light, corresponding roughly to red, green, and blue colors. This is the basis for the trichromatic theory of color vision.

The distribution of cones is not uniform across the retina. The fovea, the central part of the retina, has a higher concentration of cones and is responsible for sharp central vision and color perception.

The distribution of cones you mentioned—60% red-sensing, 30% green-sensing, and 10% blue-sensing—is a simplification, but it serves to illustrate why certain colors may appear more vibrant or easier to see.

color visible spectrum

Referenced Wikimedia Commons

This means our eyes naturally detect green with more depth and clarity. So, in broad daylight, green dots often outshine their red counterparts.

Both green and red dot illuminations are suitable for target shooting on various targets like white paper, black shoot ‘n see, and steel targets.

In general, both dot colors work. However, if the target color blinds the dot color, then it's going to be hard to see.

For example:

  • Aiming a red dot reticle at a red target
  • Aiming a green dot reticle at a green target

Green Vs Red Dot Astigmatism


Conditions like astigmatism can distort how we perceive the dot. Red dots, especially in reflex sights, often present issues like star bursting or multiple dots.

Green dots, on the other hand, offer a clearer view, especially for those with refractive errors.

  • Shooters accustomed to red illumination might find it challenging to switch to green. Their brain instinctively looks for a red dot, affecting their speed.
  • Green, being distinct, might stand out more, aiding in quicker sighting.
  • Green Dot Sight

    holosun eps green dot sight


    • Historically, red dots were more budget-friendly for law enforcement. However, with green dots becoming increasingly visible in various lighting conditions, they're gaining popularity among officers.
    • During daylight, green dots are easier on the eyes, reducing fatigue. But as dusk approaches, red dots stand out against dark backgrounds, making them a preferred choice during the golden hours of hunting.

    Red Dot Sight

    rmr red dot sight


    • Red dot sights take the crown here. Their longer wavelengths consume less energy, offering extended battery life compared to green dots.
    • While green has been a standard for night vision displays, red dots stand out more prominently against the green backdrop, making them a preferred choice for night operations.

    Red Vs Green Dot FAQ

    Why are green dot sights slightly more expensive? 

    Green dot sights are typically slightly more expensive but not by much. Green dot sights shine brighter than red ones because of their wavelength. Our eyes see green more clearly than red, so it looks even brighter.

    Currently, red dot sights generally come with a friendlier price tag compared to green dots. But as technology advances, this gap might narrow.

    Can I use both red and green dot sights on the same firearm

    Yes, some sights offer both colors, allowing users to switch based on their preference.

    Are dot sights suitable for beginners

    Absolutely! Dot sights can help beginners aim more accurately and gain confidence in their shooting skills.

    How long do the batteries typically last

    While it varies, red dot sights often have a longer battery life, sometimes lasting several years with regular use.

    Main Takeaways

    Green dot makes a strong argument, but the choice varies for every shooter. Personal likes, uses, and past experiences matter a lot. Whether you prefer green dot or red dot, think about what's best for you.