LPVO vs Red Dot Sights (Which Should You Choose?)

Nowadays, there are very few hunters & range shooters that rely only on iron sights. With the advancements in modern optics, it is hard to blame them. Most people get hung up trying to decide between an LPVO or red dot sight for their firearm.

There are several factors that you should consider before picking between an LPVO or red dot: use case, magnification, target acquisition speed, field of view (FOV), and more. The easiest way to decide is to determine your desired shooting range & magnification. If you’re going to be shooting from medium to longer distances, you’ll need an LPVO. But if most of your shooting will be within 100 yards a red dot will probably be your best option.

Many shooters overthink & get stuck trying to choose between LPVO vs red dot sights for their weapon. In this post, we’ll break down the pros & cons of both options so that you can pick the best optic for you.

What Is Best: LPVO vs Red Dot Sights?

The table below contains several factors that you’ll need to consider in order to choose between an LPVO or red dot sight for your firearm.

Criteria LPVO Red Dot Sight
Use Case Versatile (Short to Medium Range) Short Range (Up to 100 yards/meters)
Magnification Variable (e.g., 1-6x, 1-8x) Non-Magnified (1x)
Speed of Target Acquisition Moderate Fast
Field of View Narrow at higher magnifications, wider at lower magnifications Unlimited
Eye Relief Limited (shorter distances at higher magnifications) Unlimited (virtually no eye relief issues)
Aim Precision High precision at longer distances Good for quick target acquisition at short to medium ranges
Battery Life Moderate to Long (depends on illumination settings and model) Long (compared to LPVOs)
Weight Heavier due to additional lenses and mechanisms Lighter and compact
Durability Generally durable, but complex internal components can be delicate Robust design, fewer internal parts
Price Range Moderate to Expensive Affordable to Moderate

Your specific use case will ultimately determine how you choose between LPVO vs red dot sights. The reality is that there is no best sight that works for everyone. There are advantages and drawbacks to both options.

  • LPVO – Low-power variable optics are best for medium-range hunting & other non-tactical situations. The main benefits of using a low-power variable optic are the adjustable magnification and the ability to shoot targets from longer distances.
  • Red Dot Sight – Best for close-quarters firing and home defense situations. Some of the benefits include cheaper price tags, unlimited eye relief, and faster target acquisition.

For most people, a red dot sight will work best. However, as we mentioned there are situations where low-power variable optics will be the better option.

picture compaing LPVO vs red dot sights with a green background

What Is A LPVO (Low Power Variable Optic)?

If you don’t know by now, LPVO stands for low-power variable optic. An LPVO is a more traditional scope that is a very good option for short and mid-range shooting. The adjustable magnification allows you to dial in the perfect level of zoom for your needs. This level of adjustability makes them very popular with hunters. The Ozark Armament Razorback is a popular LPVO rifle scope.


Additionally, LPVOs typically have a red dot reticle, which makes them extremely quick and easy to use. If you’re looking for an optic that will give you an edge over the competition, an LPVO is worth considering. It gives you the aiming abilities of p365xl red dot options plus additional range!

However, there are a few downsides to LPVO compared to red dot sights.

  • More expensive
  • More complex to use
  • No unlimited eye relief

When Is LPVO Better?

LPVO’s seem to be popular with hunters looking for more adjustability in their sights. An LPVO scope offers magnification options that can help hunters see game at longer distances, while red dot sights run at a 1x magnification.

When you’re out on a hunt, it is not easy to get within 20-30 yards of your target. If the wind changes, a deer or elk can smell you from hundreds of yards away. In fact, we even have a specific list of the best scopes for hunting deer. LPVOs give hunters an edge for longer distances shots over a red dot scope.

What Is A Red Dot Sight?

pciture of a red dot sight with a green background

A red dot sight is a great close-range optic for rifles, shotguns, and handguns. They are often used in home defense situations because they offer very fast target acquisition. Red dot sights reticles are measured in MOA, or minutes of angle. For example, a dot might be a 6MOA or even a 3 MOA.

  • Red dot sights are also great for low-light shooting. In reality, many combat and home defense situations take place at night time in low light conditions.

The main advantage of red dots is that it allows the shooter to keep both eyes open while shooting. If you are choosing a red dot for an AK or other rifle, this is definitely something you should be interested in. This gives the shooter a much wider field of view and creates better situational awareness in tactical situations. This is what makes red dots the superior Hellcat optic in my opinion as well.

However, there are a few downsides to red dot sights.

  • Need red dot magnifiers for long-range shooting
  • Less adjustability

When Is A Red Dot Sight Better?

As we mentioned, red dot sights are optimal for close-range shooting and self-defense situations. However, as with all optics, your specific use case is what helps you choose the best sight for you.

For example, if you’re a hunter, there are red dots that are best for turkey hunting. And if you’re a range shooter, there are red dot sights that are best for AR-15s. There is a red dot optic that is best for you depending on how you plan to use it.

LPVO For Home Defense

Many shooters are wondering, can use an LPVO for home defense? The truth is you can use low-powered variable optics for home defense, but they are not the best. If you run the LPVO on 1x magnification, you will have a similar zoom & performance to a red dot sight. However, red dot sights provide unlimited eye relief & much less target obstruction than LPVOs.

Lets Shop Red Dot Sights

If you’re in the market for a new red dot sight, you have come to the right place. We have reviewed just about all of the major optic brands on the market today. There are many factors to consider when you shop red dot sights. If budget isn’t a problem, I would recommend looking at the Trijicon SRO or RMR or even the Holosun 507k and 407k.

However, how you intend to use your red dot sights also matters. For example, if you’re a hunter, I would recommend you check out our list of the best hunting scopes. There is a sight out there that works best for all use cases.

FAQs – Red Dot vs LPVO

Can you use a LPVO as a red dot?

An LPOV is not the same as a traditional red dot sight. It has a much wider range of magnification. However, it can be used at 1x magnification, just like a red dot.

Is an LPVO good for home defense?

An LPVO can be a great optic for home defense. The best feature of this optic is its versatility. You can easily lock in on close-range targets with low magnifications. And you can also sight targets from much further distances than you can with red dot sights. Although I would prefer a lightweight red dot sight for close-quarters shooting.

Can you shoot an LPVO with both eyes open?

You can shoot an LPVO with both eyes open on low power. When you use higher power settings, it will be much hard to focus in on your aiming point with both eyes open.

Can you use LPVO without battery?

Most LPOV require a battery to power the scope. While there are a few models that use solar energy, the majority of LPOVs rely on a small watch battery. This battery powers the scope & illuminates the reticle.

Why snipers shoot with both eyes open?

Snipers shoot with both eyes open because it gives them a better field of view & sight picture. When one eye is closed, the brain automatically shuts down that eye's input. In certain situations, a sniper needs to be fully aware of their environment. This is why snipers often choose optics with great eye relief.

The Bottom Line

So, which is the best optic for you? LPVO or red dot sight? It depends on your needs and preferences. If you want a versatile optic that can be used in a variety of settings, then go with an LPVO. If you’re looking for something specifically designed for close-range shooting, then choose a red dot sight like the EOTech EXPS. Let us know what you choose!

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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