Sights

Difference Between Reflex Sight vs Holographic Sight

Holographic vs Reflex Sights

As an avid shooter and someone passionate about enhancing my shooting experience, I’ve always been fascinated by the debate about how reflex and holographic sights differ from each other.

While they are still considered red dot sights, they do have distinct differences. For instance, reflex sights feature more basic technology and are usually more compact, while holo sights are more advanced and bigger.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of these two sighting systems, comparing their features, applications, and performance.


What Is A Reflex Sight?

A reflex sight is a compact red dot sight. It uses a simple reticle, projected onto a lens, to create an optical illusion that the reticle is at a distance, aligning with your target.

It’s straightforward, user-friendly, and my personal go-to for quick target acquisition.


What Is A Holographic Sight?

Holographic sights, on the other hand, employ a more complex system. Using a laser to project a holographic reticle onto a viewing window, they provide a more sophisticated aiming solution.

My first experience with a holographic sight was an EOTech holographic sight – it was transformative, offering a clearer sight picture even in challenging conditions.


What Are The Differences Between Holographic Vs. Reflex Sights?

There are nine main differences between holographic and reflex sights.

  1. Size & Weight
  2. Design & Features
  3. Reticle Design
  4. Accuracy
  5. Price Comparison
  6. Field of View
  7. Durability
  8. Battery Life
  9. Night Vision Compatibility

Reflex vs Holographic Sights


1. Size & Weight

Reflex Sights are generally smaller and lighter, weighing less than 2 ounces. They are the go-to for those prioritizing portability and minimalism. Their compact size makes them ideal for handguns and rifles where weight is a concern. I remember the first time I attached a reflex sight to my handgun; the difference in handling and accuracy was night and day.

Holographic Sights are typically larger and heavier owing to their more complex internal components. This bulk can affect the handling of the firearm, especially noticeable on smaller firearms like pistols.


2. Design & Features

Reflex sights have a straightforward design, consisting of an LED that projects a reticle onto a lens. This simplicity means fewer points of failure and easier maintenance. Most models also offer adjustable brightness settings, which I’ve found useful in varying light conditions.

Holographic sights feature a more sophisticated design using laser diodes to project a holographic reticle. This allows for more complex reticle designs and a potentially clearer sight picture in bright conditions.


3. Reticle Design

A reflex sight offers simpler reticle options, usually just a single dot. While this limits versatility, it simplifies targeting and is often sufficient for close to mid-range shooting.

Holo sights provide more detailed reticle designs, like circle-dot reticles, which can enhance target acquisition and accuracy, especially at longer ranges.


4. Accuracy

Reflex sights have good accuracy, but accuracy can be affected by the sight’s alignment with the shooter’s eye. Misalignment can lead to parallax error, slightly shifting the point of aim. Although this scenario is very scarce in most modern reflex sights.

Holographic sights are superior in maintaining accuracy regardless of the eye’s position relative to the sight. This “parallax-free” feature is particularly beneficial in dynamic shooting scenarios or when quick target acquisition is critical.

I find holographic red dots especially useful when hunting fowl and pheasants, where you need something that offers rapid target acquisition when they suddenly shoot out from under a brush.


5. Price Comparison

Holographic sights tend to be more expensive because of their complex design and advanced technology. However, some prism sights can also be very expensive due to the lens material.

However, both types of red dot sights usually cost less than $1000.


6. Field of View

Due to the compact design of reflex sights, they have a narrower field of view than holographic optics. This can cause reflex sights to be limiting in scenarios where situational awareness is crucial.

However, the open design still promotes excellent peripheral vision, which makes up for the narrower field of view.


7. Durability

Reflex sights are generally more rugged due to their simpler construction. They are more resistant to shock and often have fewer components that can malfunction – the Trijicon RMR is a prime example of a durable reflex sight.

While durable, the complexity of holographic sights can make them more susceptible to damage from impact or harsh conditions.


8. Battery Life

Reflex sights typically have longer battery life, an essential feature for extended use or in situations where battery replacement isn’t feasible.

Holosun’s reflect sights can last for up to 50,000 hours, while most EOTech holographic weapon sights have a maximum battery life of 20,000 hours.


9. Night Vision Compatibility

Many reflex sight models are compatible with night vision devices, but this feature often comes at an additional cost.

In comparison, holographic sights usually have built-in night vision compatibility, providing an edge in low-light or night-time operations.

However, if you plan on using night vision devices, go for the holographic sight – they just perform better with night vision equipment.


Which Is Best: Reflex Sight Or Holographic Sight?

The choice boils down to your specific needs and use case. For lightweight, cost-effective solutions, reflex sights are ideal.

Holographic sights are the way to go for advanced features and wider field of view.

Reflex versus Holographic sight


Is A Reflex Or Holographic Sight Better For Hunting?

A reflex sight’s simplicity and durability make it a better choice for close-range hunting.

However, in diverse environments and medium-range hunting, a holographic sight’s advanced features and compatibility with red dot magnifiers make them a better option.


Should You Use A Holographic Sight or Reflex Sight For A Rifle?

For rifles, especially for long-range shooting, choose a holographic sight. The precision and wider field of view of holographic sights go a long way when you’re shooting targets.

However, for general use and self-defense, a reflex sight’s simplicity and efficiency are more than adequate.


Should You Use A Holographic or Reflex Sights For A Pistol?

For pistols, a reflex sight is the better option. Pistols are mostly used for self-defense – an application that requires agility and fast target acquisition. That’s why you should use pistol reflex sights.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Holographic & Reflex Sights Considered Types Of Red Dot Sights?

Yes, holographic and reflex sights are both red dot sights. However, they differ from traditional red dot sights mainly in their projection technology and design.

Are Reflex Sights And Holographic Sights Interchangeable?

Yes, reflex sights and holographic sights are interchangeable if they have the same footprint.

The Bottom Line

In summary, reflex and holographic sights cater to different needs and preferences. Reflex sights offer simplicity, affordability, and durability, ideal for everyday use and close-range engagements.

Holographic sights, with their advanced features and wider field of view, excel in tactical scenarios and longer-range shooting. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed buying decision based on your specific shooting style and requirements.

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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