Which is better a red dot sight or a reflex sight? This is a question I hear being asked quite often. And what this signifies is that a lot of people know very little or nothing about electronic sights. Which is understandable given that the term red dot sight is thrown around quite often.
Furthermore, there are a lot of people searching on Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot. In fact, this is one of the most searched topics among hunters and gun enthusiasts. So, is there a difference between these two terms or do they refer to one and the same thing? This is the question I want to answer in this reflex vs red dot sight article.
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Reflex Sight vs Holographic Sight vs Prism sight Quick Comparison
There is no difference between a reflex sight and a red dot sight. Reflex sights are a type of a red dot sight and can be compared to the three other types of red dot sights as below.
Infinite eye relief
Infinite eye relief
2-4 inches eye relief
Long lasting battery
Battery lasts for up to a month or so
No batteries needed
open-non tubular design
Uses a battery powered LED to project light onto a lens
Uses laser illumination to project light to a lens
Uses prism to project light to a lens
The Red Dot Sight
Let us start with the more popular red dot sight. Now for those not in the know, the latter term refers to a sight that uses a holographic red dot. Notice I did not use the word scope in my definition. That is because contrary to what Call of Duty might have you believe a scope is not the same as an electronic sight. These are two totally different optical instruments. The most significant difference between a scope and a sight is that a sight does not have magnification.
Our Top Pick Of Best Red Dot Sight
Last update on 2019-10-18
That being said, the term red dot sight does not refer to one specific type of electronic sight. In fact, red dot sights can be categorized into three main categories. These are
- prism sights,
- reflex sights, and
- holographic sights.
Yes, you read that right, reflex sights are actually a type of red dot sights. Among archers, the red dot sight can be likened to the single pin bow sight.
How Do They Work?
Both in theory and practice, red dot sights use an LED and a specialized mirror to project the red-dot. The LED becomes energized and shines a light at the mirror. When this light is shone on the mirror, it bounces back to the shooter. The reason being that the mirror on these sights is usually slightly tilted.
However, not all light wavelengths are bounced back to your eye. Due to the mirror being coated it reflects red light, and this is where we get the red dot. Due to their simplicity red dot sights do not require any kind of focusing or additional lenses to be clear.
Types Of Red Dot Sights
As stated, red dot sights can be categorized into three. Now for purposes of this section, I will focus on the holographic and prism sights.
Prism sights use prisms to focus on to the target instead of a series of lenses as in a scope. The benefit of these types of sights is that they usually come with a small magnification. Additionally, some prism sights feature illuminated or etched reticles. The number one drawback to using these sights is that they have a short eye relief. This means your eye has to be closer to the sight for you to see your target clearly.
Additionally, compared to other sights, prism sights are relatively pricier. Nevertheless, their prices have been reducing for some time now.
Holographic sights, on the other hand, use a picture of a reticle that is in between glass layers. These types of sights are rarer than prism and reflex sight. Moreover, since EoTech has the patent on holographic sights, they are the only company that makes them. Similar to the other two types of red dot sights, holographic sights are easy to use.
However, unlike prism sights, you can use these sights with both eyes open. The only drawback of these types of sights is that they are expensive. Considered by some as the best red dot sight, EoTech’s holographic sights can cost up to three times the cost of common reflex sights. Their price is another reason why they are not so mainstream.
Now let us look at reflex sights and what they can do. These types of sights use a lens mirror to project a red dot, which is then reflected back to your eyes. Reflex sights come in two distinct shape designs.
The first type, which is considered the best reflex sight, is the exposed reflex sight. This type has a unique no-tube shape that features only a small clear window. It is this type of reflex sight that you will find attached to most tactical and hunting rifles. The second type features the more traditional tube shape complete with two lenses a front and back lens.
One of the reasons why reflex sights are loved is their lack of eye relief. This means it is fast and easy to re-acquire a target and also you can use it with both eyes open. Additionally, your head can be positioned anywhere and you will still be able to acquire your target. To add on to this, some reflex sights usually feature battery free use.
Our Top Pick Of Best Reflex Sight
Last update on 2019-10-18
Another reason why these types of sights are so popular is that they are cheaper than both prism and holographic sights. While the one major con of these sights is that they lack a magnification. Nevertheless, there are some that come paired with riflescopes that do not have an aiming point.
Also unlike riflescopes that tend to be long and sometimes bulky, reflex sights are small and lightweight. As such, they can be used on a wider variety of weapons from tactical rifles to handguns.
It is quite common to hear people discussing Reflex Sight Vs. Red Dot. But as you have found out a reflex sight is simply a type of a red dot sight. When compared to other types of red dot sights, the benefits of reflex sights become visible. For starters, reflex sights consume less battery power compared to their holographic counterparts. Additionally, reflex sights are cheaper than both holographic and prism sights. That being said, reflex sight can be attached to a wide array of weapons from tactical to hunting rifles. In conclusion, it is essential to differentiate between a reflex sight and the other type of red dot sights.