Reflex Sight vs Red Dot Sight – Learn The Difference & Which Is Best!

If you are in the market for a new optic for your rifle then you are probably trying to decide between a reflex sight & red dot sight. Both sights have their own pros & cons. To get the best accuracy and consistent performance it is critical to choose the right type of optic. In this article, we’ll help you decide between reflex sight vs red dot sights for your specific needs!

Main Difference Between Reflex Sight & Red Dot Sight

picture comparing a red dot sight and reflex sight

The main difference between reflex sights and red dot sights is the field of view. Reflex sights have a wider field of view than red dot sights, which gives you a better sense of your surroundings. Also, be sure to read our post on what is a reflex sight to learn even more!

Reflex sights are equipped with a heads-up display (HUD) that creates this wider field of view. The larger your field of view…the more of your target you can see.

Pros & Cons of A Red Dot

There are several benefits to using a red dot sight, and that’s why they’re so popular among shooters.

  • There are several types to choose from, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget.
  • Providing an illuminated aiming point makes it easier to acquire and track targets, even in low light conditions.
  • Provides a wider field of view than iron sights, which means you can acquire targets faster.


However, there are a few downsides to using a red dot sight.

  • Some have small eye reliefs, so your eye has to be positioned just right in order to see the dot.
  • Some red dot sights can be expensive, making them a less attractive option for budget-conscious shooters.
  • Red dot sights rely on batteries for power. This means they can lose their brightness or completely die if the batteries run out of juice.

Pros & Cons of Reflex Sight

Reflex sights are another very popular optics…and for good reason. Take the Trijicon SRO & RMR optics for example. Here are some of the main pros of using reflex sights.

  • Usually cheaper than red dot sights.
  • Usually designed to be battery-free, ensuring that they won’t fail you at the worst moment.
  • Reflex sights offer fast target acquisition by allowing you to shoot with both eyes open. This also serves to provide a very clear sight picture that puts both the target and background clearly in sight.

Just like red dot sights, reflex sights are not perfect. Here are some of the major cons to using this type of sight.

  • Reflex sights tend to be heavier than red dot sights.
  • Do not offer magnification.
  • Reflex sights are not as durable as red dot sights and can be damaged more easily.

Comparison Of Reticles

The size of a reticle is measured in Minute of Angle, or MOA. One MOA is equal to 1/60th of a degree, and it’s used to measure the size of a reticle at a given distance.

  • For example, a 3 MOA reticle at 100 yards would measure 3 inches. At 200 yards, it would measure 6 inches. And at 300 yards, it would measure 9 inches.

Red dot & reflex sights have different options when it comes to reticles. They can be different sizes, but they can also be different colors. Most commonly, red or green dot sights are used. Green dot sights have been shown to be more visible to the human eye in normal lighting conditions.

Not all red dot sights are reflex sights

As the saying goes, all reflex sights are red dot sights but not all red dot sights are reflex sights. This is because a reflex sight is one of the types of red dot sights.

Both reflex & red dot sights are forms of electronic sights that use an LED to project a dot onto a glass lens.

Open type reflex sights

Open-type sights are generally considered to be better for faster target acquisition, as they allow you to aim with both eyes open. They are also called exposed reflex sights. This means that you can keep track of your surroundings while still being able to take a shot quickly and accurately. If you are interested in checking out open reflex sights, check our comparison of the Holosun 407k vs 507k optics!

Tube reflex sight

Tube-style reflex sights get their name from the fact that they have a sight enclosed in a tube, which reflects light back to the shooter’s eye. For many shooters, this makes them more accurate from more than 50 yards.

Other Types Of Red Dot Sights

There are other types of red dot sights aside from reflex sights.

1) Prism Sights

Prism sights are a type of optical sight that uses a system of prisms to reflect and fold the light entering the sight. This enables the sight to be much shorter than a traditional optical sight, making it more compact and lightweight. Prism sights also have the advantage of being less susceptible to shock and vibration than other types of optical sights.

2) Holographic Sights

Holographic sights are a type of optical sight that allows you to focus on both the target AND the reticle at the same time. This is because the reticle is projected onto the target itself, rather than being superimposed on top of it. As a result, many shooters find that they can align the shot more precisely and fire with greater accuracy.

What About Iron Sights

When you think of traditional rifle scopes, iron sights probably come to mind. Iron sights have been around for a long time, and they’ve served their purpose well for hunters and even in the military.

However, in recent years they’ve become increasingly outdated. As technology has advanced, LPVO & red dot sights have become more popular. They allow for faster target acquisition and improved accuracy. When it comes down to iron sights vs red dot sights, Iron sights can still be effective; however, most red dot sights are just better.

What Are The Different Use Cases For Red Dot Sights?

There are many different ways you can utilize a new red dot sight on your firearm. Here is a list of the most common red dot sight use cases.

  • Tactical and defensive shooting
  • Precision shooting at moderate distances
  • Hunting in diverse environments

Red dot sights are most commonly used for tactical shooting and home defense situations. These optics make it much easier to shoot accurately & lock on to your target quickly while under pressure.

Decide Based On Your Weapon

Do not let anyone tell you what the best sight is for your weapon. We all have different goals and use our weapons for different reasons.

  • Law Enforcement & Military
  • Hunting
  • Home Defense

If you’re anything like me, then you love deer and turkey hunting. Check out our post on the Best Turkey Hunting Shotgun Sights to find some great options. Pick a sight that interfaces with your weapon properly and that provides you with the most benefits for your specific goals!

FAQs – Red Dot vs Reflex sights

Are reflex sights good?

Reflex sights are becoming increasingly popular in the shooting world. They are small, lightweight, and usually require no external power source. And they're fast! Because of their simplicity and speed, reflex sights are a great choice for self-defense or combat situations.

What is better holographic or reflex?

Reflex sights are cheaper and simpler than holographic sights, but they have a couple of disadvantages. The reticle in a reflex sight is created by reflecting the light from the target back to your eye, which can result in a blurry image. Additionally, since the reticle is superimposed onto the image of the target, it's difficult to tell if you're actually centered on the target. This is why many shooters with larger budgets prefer to use a holographic sight.

What is better Prism Sight or Red Dot?

Both can be effective, depending on the situation. Red dots are better for close-quarter combat and short-distance shooting, while a prism sight is more accurate for long-distance shots. Prism sights, like ACOG Sights, also seem to be a better option than red dot reticles for people who have astigmatism or poor vision.

What reflex sight does the military use?

There are many high-quality reflex sights used in the military today. For more info, check out our article containing the Best Red Dot & Reflex Sights available online!

Why is it called a reflex sight?

A reflex sight is called that because it reflects light. That's why they are also often called reflector sights. They use a reflective surface to bounce a small portion of the light off the target and back to the shooter's eye. The reflex sight was originally invented by a telescope manufacturer named Howard Grubb in the early 1900s.

Are reflex sights accurate?

Reflex sights are very accurate and effective from short to medium ranges. They work by using a small, red dot as the aiming point. Because the aim is so precise, they're perfect for use on pistols, shotguns, and rifles with shorter barrels.

What range is a reflex sight good for?

Most reflex sights are reliable for around 100 yards. However, there are some that are designed for shorter or longer ranges. It is important to make sure you sight your reflex sight in at the proper yardage. We usually recommend a 36-yard zero for rifles.

The Bottom Line

Now you everything there is to know about how reflex sight and red dot sights work. From short and medium distances, these are top-of-the-line optics that provide many options in all price ranges. There are some basic differences between the reflex sight and red dot sight, so be sure to pick the sight that works best for your specific needs!

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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