Red Dot Sights Comparisons and Reviews
Red Dot Sights or Reflex Sights as they are also known are popular with a wide variety of shooters because they are so versatile, small, and lightweight; but like everything else there are both advantages and disadvantages to using red dot sights.
Red Dot Sight Comparisons
|Dot Size||3 MOA||2 MOA||2 MOA||2 MOA||2 MOA|
|Weight||3.7oz||5.9oz||11.6oz||4.1oz w/o mount||4.6 oz|
300 hrs Max.
5000 hrs Min.
|3 Years Med.||5 Years Med.||5 years Med.|
Red Dot Sight Advantages
Many optics are hard to efficiently operate with both eyes open. Because of the combination of no magnification, non critical eye relief, and an easy to see illuminated reticle; most shooters can operate a red dot sight with both eyes open thus greatly improving their peripheral vision. Obviously being aware of your surroundings and of any threats while aiming your weapon is extremely important to those that might have to use their weapon to defend their life.
One of the biggest advantages of a red dot sight is unlimited or non critical eye relief. Unlike a traditional riflescope that requires the shooter to have their eye generally 3.5" to 4" inches away to get a full sight picture; red dots can be mounted very close to the shooter's eye or very far forward. This is especially useful for unique mounting situations like on the top of handguard on a AK-47, or to allow for room to run night vision behind the optic. This non critical eye is also crucial when firing from awkard firing position such as from behind cover or underneath vehicles, furniture, etc.
Placing an illuminated dot on a target and pulling the trigger is about as fast an aiming method as there is, and is why you see competitors in a wide variety shooting sports using red dot sights especially when shooting for speed at close range targets. A quick note on red dot sights, despite being a little counterintuitive you want to use the higher brightness setting in bright light and the lower settings in low light for the best sight picture.
Night Vision Settings
Many red dot sights have low power settings that are not detectable to the human eye under normal lighting conditions. However these low power settings allow the user to mount a night vision device behind the red dot and when looking though this combination of night vision device and red dot, the dot shows up and can be used as a night vision scope. It is important to note that not all red dots have night vision settings and the ones that do require the purchase of a separate night vision device to use those settings.
Lightweight and Compact
In general red dot sights are often considerably lighter and shorter than most traditional rifle scopes, and while an 8 or 10oz savings on an optic might not sound like a lot it makes a difference when trying to keep the overall weight of a firearm manageable. Also, many red dots are less than three inches long while many traditional scopes are a foot on longer which can be a factor when mounting on some platforms.
Red Dot Sight Disadvantages
Precision at Distance
There is know such thing as a free lunch and the things that make red dots so well suited for quick shooting at close range start to hinder them as the distance increases out past 100 yards. Fortunately, most manufactures are making reticles with 2 MOA dots which are better suited for taking longer shots than some of the larger 4 MOA+ dots on earlier models. However, lack of magnification, and dot style reticles start to hinder performance especially on small targets as distance increases past 100 - 200 yards.
Red Dots often used curved or tilted objective lens in combination with special lens coatings to help reflect the red dot. This often leads to a sight picture that has a tinge of a various color to it. Usually the higher end models have better coating and glass and thus a clearer view. Also worth noting, when a red dot reticle is pictured in an ad or on a manufacture's website those pictures are almost always a graphical representation that is perfectly round; however, various factors ranging from the intensity of the brightness setting to the shooter's eye sight can cause the dot to seem less than perfectly round.
Red dot sights definitely have a lot to offer but like any other optic they are not without their disadvantages as well. The key is to make sure you understand how they work, and both their advantages and disadvantages. Thus you will be able to select a red dot sight for an application that suits its strengths such as shooting at close ranges quickly and avoiding applications where they are not well suited like precision or long range shooting.
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