Prism Scope vs Red Dot Sight: Which One Is Right for You?

To get the most accurate shot, a good rifle scope is a must for hunting enthusiasts. Although most shooters are familiar with red dot sight, there are newer terms that have been thrown around in recent years and gotten even the most experienced shooters perplexed: a prism scope, or a prism sight.


Prismatic scope is a relatively new type of sight, so few people know exactly what it is, or what makes it different from the red dot sight. If you’re curious to know the difference between a prism sight and a red dot scope, and what’s the best scope for you, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll clear up any confusion between a prism scope and a red dot sight, and we’ll help you determine which option is best for your skills and needs.

Prism Scope vs Red Dot Sight: What’s the Difference?

Both the prismatic sight and the ar 15 scope and red dot setup have the same purpose: to provide reliable visual aiming to hit your target and enhance your overall shooting experience.

These two scope sights also have a couple of similarities. For example, both scopes are available with similar types of lenses and various qualities, including multiple layers and anti-reflective coating.

However, there are several differences that make each of these sight systems stand on their own. Here are a few key differences between a prism optic and a red dot optic.


The main difference between the two sights is the reticle – the fine lines of lasers in the eyepiece of the scope. A red dot sight is a more traditional scope. It forms the light source directly onto the lens of the optic, then back to the shooter’s eye. There are different reticle scopes for different people!

In contrast, the newer prism scope transmits light through prisms. The reticle is etched on the glass instead of the reflection, meaning that the light is refracted by the prism and then enters your eye. As a result, prism optics offer superior brightness to red dot sights as they are more efficient when it comes to light transmission.


One of the areas where the prism scope shines is in magnification. Red dot sights operate at 1x magnification (no magnification), while prism scopes operate at 1x to 6x magnification. This makes prism scopes more effective for long-range shooting. You have to pick the best scope magnification for your needs. Some hunters may want a scope magnification for 1000 yards to spot animals. While that maybe too much for other people!

However, the most important thing to note about prism scopes is they generally don’t offer variable magnification.

Battery Power

When it comes to battery power, prism scopes are more reliable than red dot sight. Plus, they don’t rely on battery power for the etched reticle to be visible as it will remain on standby, whereas the reticle disappears once the red dot sight’s battery dies.

However, red dot sight system batteries can last for hours without draining. They are good at conserving energy, especially considering that most of them automatically go to sleep after being idle for a couple of hours. From my testing, many of the Best Hog Hunting Scopes have a great battery life that will last for at least a year!


Another thing to consider is the scope’s size. Although a prism scope is more effective in many aspects, it’s bigger than a red dot sight system. Therefore, a prism optic is more difficult to stabilize, and it slightly impedes mobility while you try to quickly secure your target. Just like an LPVO Scope may be too big for some shooters!

Prism Scope vs Red Dot Sight: Pros and Cons

There is no objective answer to the debate between a prism scope and a red dot sight, as everyone’s preference is personal and based on their habits, skills, and needs. However, there are several pros and cons to consider for each sight system.

Pros and Cons of a Prism Scope


  • Magnification
  • Provides more brightness
  • Energy-efficient
  • Adjustable diopters great for astigmatism


  • Doesn’t offer the best variable magnification
  • Limited eye relief

Pros and Cons of a Red Dot Sight


  • Easier to use
  • Broader field of view
  • Allows for quick targeting
  • Unlimited eye relief options
  • More affordable


  • Less efficient light transmission
  • No magnification

Prism Scope and Red Dot Sight Examples

Whether you want a prism scope or a red dot sight system, there are plenty of options currently on the market that will suit your needs. To give you an idea, here are two good-quality scopes for each option that will enhance your hunting experience.

1) Red Dot Sight, 3 MOA Red Dot Scope

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting us - we really appreciate it!

The Red Dot Sight 3 MOA Red Dot Scope has multilayer coatings for maximum light transmission, as well as optimal glare reduction. As is normal with red dot sight optics, this scope offers unlimited eye relief and promotes rapid target acquisition while precisely providing the user with a point of aim. Made from aircraft-grade aluminum, this scope is durable while maintaining the lightweight nature that has shooters choose red dot sight over its larger prism counterpart. What’s more is that the battery life of this scope is up to 2,000 hours, and it automatically shuts off after two idle hours, allowing you to make the most out of this sight tool.

2) Monstrum P330 Marksman 3X Prism Scope

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting us - we really appreciate it!

The Monstrum P330 Marksman 3X Prism Scope is a prism scope with 3x magnification and a 30mm objective lens that allows you to see targets up to 300 yards away with a crystal-clear view. The reticle in this prism scope is visible with or without illumination to allow you to easily find your target regardless of your lighting or environmental conditions. Made with a single piece of aluminum, nitrogen-sealed, durable anodized coating, this scope is as rigid and sturdy as it is effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a prism scope better than a red dot?

No, a prism scope is not necessarily better than a red dot. In fact, because a prism sight requires your eye to stay in the same spot each time. This means there are certain fast paced situations where the red dot would be better than a prism scope. However, it is a matter of personal preference for each shooter.

Why use a prism scope?

Many shooters choose to use a prism scope because it provides a sharper and crisper image than traditional red dots. In some situations, a red dot can also provide faster target acquisition which is beneficial in tactical situations.

Why are prism scopes better for astigmatism?

A prism scope is better for astigmatism because it minimizes distortion. The lens and etched glass produce the reticle (crosshairs), and since there is no refraction of light, there is less distortion. The color of your scopes dot and reticle can also make a big difference for people with this eye condition. Also, a green reticle is often better for people with Astigmatism and provides a more clear image.

How far can you shoot with a prism scope?

Somewhere between 100-600 yards. However, this will greatly depend on the specific magnification of your scope. The further the distance, the more accurate you need to be with your shot in order for the prism scope to work correctly.


Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the debate between a prism scope and a red dot sight and given you insight into which one is the best option for your hunting needs. If you’re looking for a scope magnification for 100 yards, a prism scope is the way to go.

Before going to buy a new prism scope or red dot sight optics, it’s important to first understand your needs. Although these two sight options have the same general purpose, they’re actually more different than you initially think.

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.

Leave a Comment