• Post author:
  • Post last modified:January 14, 2024

In this red dot vs scope comparison. Let's do a side by side comparison on which optic option is best for your AR15 carbine applications in the context of range use at 25, 50, and 100 yards.

At the end, we will touch a little bit on our best recommendations for home defense, Competition shooting and long range marksmanship.

Red Dot VS Scope Differences

Choosing between the two depends on your shooting style and needs. Red Dot Sights offer speed and simplicity, while scopes provide precision and adjustability for long-range shooting.

scopes vs red dots at 100 yards

The perks of Red Dot Sights are pretty clear:

  • Simplicity: They're super easy to use. No messing with knobs or dials, just point and shoot.
  • Speed: In fast-paced situations, these sights are a game-changer.
  • Weight: They're usually lighter than traditional scopes, making your setup more agile.

However, they do have some drawbacks:

  • No Magnification: They aren’t made for long-range precision unless we are using magnifier scopes
  • Battery Life: They need battery to work, which can be a downside compared to iron sights.
rifle scope lens and aiming reticle

The advantages of scopes:

  • Precision: They allow for highly accurate long-distance shots.
  • Adjustability: They cater to those who like to fine-tune their settings for the perfect shot.

But scopes also have their cons

  • Big Learning Curve: They require more skill and understanding to use the reticle effectively.
  • Slower Target Acquisition: They're not as quick as Red Dots in rapid-fire situations.

When deciding between Red Dot Sights and Scopes, consider these key differences:

  • Magnification: Red Dots have none, while scopes range from low to high.
  • Target Acquisition: Red Dots are fast; scopes are slower but more precise.
  • Weight: Red Dots are lighter; scopes are heavier.
  • Complexity: Red Dots are simpler; scopes are more complex.
  • Battery: Red Dots need them; scopes don’t always.

Red Dot Sight

In close quarter combat situations, red dot sights are quicker to use due to their unlimited eye relief and ability to quickly acquire targets. 

They are also lightweight and small, making them ideal for use on pistol caliber carbines and centerfire carbines.

valhalla tactical RUKH offset mount on scar 17

Additionally, they can be used as an offset sight on DMR rifles. When it comes to close range shooting, red dot sights offer more benefits than magnified scopes.

At 25 yard

Shooters can keep both eyes open and focus on the target plane to aim, while the non aiming eye can keep the peripheral vision wide open. A 25 yard target is fairly easy to aim with a red dot sight without magnification.

romeo5 pov red dot reticle on steel target

Simply, just point and shoot (Assuming it's zeroed). A red dot sight is very easy to use during the day and night (with a good rifle light to lit up the target)

At 50 yards

Depend on the size of your targets down range, a red dot sight is still viable at 50 yards or even 70 yards as long as the user can still see the target while aiming.

vortex amg 50 yards

This is the part where the user has pick the right reticle brightness setting or the reticle size. Sometimes the glare on the glass or reticle smear combined with astigmatism that can obscure the target down range. 

Red Dot Sight MOA Sizes

Dot sizes matter for a red dot sight for long distance shots. 1 MOA is the smallest option available.

36 yard zero 1 3 co witness height

Depending on the ballistics performance, the shooter can still expect center mass hit without significant holdover.

If the reticle is larger than 2 MOA, it can obscure a small target as well. This can be an issue when zeroing a red dot at 50 yards.

At 100 yards

A red dot sight can still hit a target at 100 yards to get a 2 MOA accuracy, but it will be much hard to see especially the target background is busy. It's even harder in low light conditions or aiming facing direct sunlight.

holosun hm3x magnifier
aimpoint micro with 3x magnifier scope

When trying to aim at a target 100 yards away, it can be difficult to see (especially with astigmatism) and accurately hit the mark without some sort of magnification. This is where a red dot magnifier comes in handy. 

By mounting a magnifier scope behind your red dot sight, you can zoom in on the target and get a clearer view of what you're aiming at. This can greatly improve your accuracy and make it easier to hit your target.

Overall, a red dot magnifier is a useful tool to have in your arsenal when trying to take down long range targets

EOTECH exps3 reticle outdoor

The shooter can expect much better target sight picture, and also notice slightly more reticle tremor and dot placement error on 3X or 6X than at 1X.

Rifle Scope At 50+ Yards

Riflescopes are great for shooting past 50+ yards. A riflescope inherently provides much better target identification and finer aim at longer distances than a red dot sight.

Currently, low power variable optic is the best hybrid riflescope that can perform CQB at 1X and long range shooting at 6X, 8X or 10X.

The Most popular option is the 1-6X LPVO for competition shooting, and paired with an offset red dot for faster sight transitions.

Long Range Shooting

vortex razor HD scope turrets

For engaging targets past 100+ yards, red dot sight is no longer a viable option. This is where a riflescope is needed for much more accurate shot and sight picture magnification

For precision shooting, we recommend 1st focal plane scope that features a Christmas tree reticle like the Horus H59 with an open center aim point (Open center crosshair doesn't obscure the target). 


These type of reticle can help the shooter estimate target range, windage and elevation holdover.

These type of reticles are not bullet drop compensators. In fact they are calibrated for precise MOA adjustments to zero your shot.