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Holographic Scope vs Red Dot – What is the Differences?

holographic scope vs red dot

If you’re searching for a good optic for your personal home defense or as a law enforcement agent and you want to choose between a red dot sight and a holographic sight, then you’ll need some guidance.

In this article, I’ll go over the main distinctions between holographic scope vs red dot. In the end, you’ll understand the strength of each optic, as well as the downsides of each.

Although the primary distinction between the two optics is the pricing. Holographic sight is generally more costly, but you’ll get what you paid for.

However, others argue that a red dot sight is not always inferior to a holo sight. Although they have fewer features, the price of a red dot sight allows you to enter the market at an affordable rate. This provides shooters with a good selection of good products that offer exceptional value for money.

A holo sight costs roughly the same compared to a red dot sight tagged expensive. As a result, the red dot gives those of us buying low-cost more options. In fact, the options are so many that you may become overwhelmed. The comparison between these two systems is intended to assist you in making the best decision. We’ll look at a few items in each area; Best Red Dots and Best Holographic Sight.

The Major Differences

A holographic sight works by reflecting a laser beam created by a diode and configured to appear in front of the eye (holographic image) through a sophisticated system of mirrors. This has an advantage because you would not need the eye to focus on two separate areas at the same time, and it is ultimately faster.

A red dot sight directs a LED light to a coated glass lens, which is then reflected back to the eye as a reticle (aiming reticle). The holo sight is the more complicated of the two optical systems; therefore, there is a possibility that more things could go wrong with this optic. That is a very simplified view of the holo sight, and it doesn’t make it any less dependable.

Genuine holographic sights also provide a wider range of functions that some shooters need compared to a red dot sight.

The Technology in Both Optics 

Red Dot Optic: Prism Sight or Reflex Sight 

Red dot sights exist in two varieties: prism sights and reflex sights. Each type of red dot optic has its own set of pros and cons for a shooter. Shooters deciding whether to buy prism sights or reflex sights should be aware of these differences.

Prisms or lenses

A traditional reflex sight rifle scope gives the shooter a target image via normal optical lenses. The image of the red dot reticle is projected onto the lens. Prismatic sights do not use regular optics in delivering the target image; it uses a prism. Reflex sight uses a lens, and prism sight uses a prism. Meanwhile, an iron sight does not use any of those.


Most prismatic sights have some amount of magnification. The traditional reflex sight will almost certainly need to use a magnifier that is separate from the scope.


The red dot in a reflex sight is projected onto the optical surface, and if the LED fails, the scope is rendered worthless. On the other hand, a Prism sight has an etched reticle that allows the sight to be used even when the LED system is turned off. 

The Holographic 

A holographic sight’s technology is more complicated than that of practically any other type of optic. A holographic scope has a light path that involves a laser, numerous mirrors, and optical lenses. A laser forms the reticle’s holographic image, which is then integrated with the target image.

While the interior arrangement of lasers, mirrors, and optical glass may appear delicate, holographic sights are surprisingly durable. EOTech and Vortex Optics, the two leading makers of genuine holographic sights, excel at this. Another advantage for shooters working in harsh conditions is the ability of holographic sights to continue functioning even if the front glass cracks. Holographic sights, unlike prism sights and reflex sights, do not rely on the front glass to transmit the reticle image.

How Can You Narrow Your Options?

Your decision would be easier if you could specify what you want the rifle scope to do for you. Do you want to engage in short/mid-range shooting during the day, or you are more of a mid/long-range shooter at night? Or do you need a tactical scope for tactical shooting, a 3-gun tournament, or self-defense when the quick acquisition is critical?

Identifying your reason for needing the scope is the first step to choosing the perfect rifle scope for you.

Fast Target Acquisition

If you are thinking of optics with a fast target acquisition, then you should think about both sights, as this is a strength for both optical systems. They are both useful if you are targeting or shooting in a hurry. I’ve opted to start with this because it’s one of the advantages that holographic sights offer.

The distinction between them is fairly subtle. The field of view, clarity, brightness settings, color, and shape of glass may all influence this.

The way your eye focuses can vary by a fraction of a second, and this could be all the difference you need for a perfect or missed shot. As previously stated, the holographic reticle is projected towards the target in holographic optics, eliminating the need to worry about focusing on two different things at the same time.

The holographic reticle will also remain precise under any magnification, providing more precision.


In terms of durability and strength, there isn’t much to compare between the two optics. 

Both are made of quality aircraft-grade aluminum, as well as steel, blended polymers, and titanium. They are so well-made that lifetime warranties on these devices are easy to find. The only major difference in construction would be between those rated for airsoft and those not.

The primary distinction between them is based on internal technology and the susceptibility of the lens. For example, if the front lens is damaged or obstructs your vision because of mud, snow, or any other substance.

When this happens, your red dot is likely done for that day or until it is fixed or cleaned. Even if sections of the lens are rendered inoperable, the holographic screen can continue to function. This is a major advantage it has over red dots. 


Can you use a magnified optic? What happens to both scopes when you add a magnified optic? A shooter that needs a red dot sight is unlikely to make use of magnification greater than 1x. They are particularly helpful for distances of up to 100 yards when they supplement your iron sights. Meaning, you could switch between iron sights and a red dot.

However, some red dot sights can accept add-on magnification, and some are built with it, although they are usually more expensive.

The fundamental distinction is that when you zoom in on sight, the holographic reticle dot sight remains the same size. A 1MOA sight, for example, will maintain its 1MOA accuracy regardless of magnification.


Another difference is that in the aiming reticle of holographic optics, the holographic image from the holographic laser would surround your target, while the red dot sight picture covers the target. Red dot sight is likely to be more vibrant and visible during daytime shooting. Although green dots are almost 6 times clearer, they are hard to find in either system and always cost more.

Red dots are typically available with reticle sizes ranging from 2MOA to about 8MOA. The holographic sights examined in this comparison provide the smallest visibility, which is 1MOA and is often encircled by a circular pattern. 


This is a far more frequent eye problem than you may think. Astigmatism affects about 60% of individuals one way or the other. This can lead to headaches or blurred vision. It happens when objects in front of you develop halos and starburst patterns around them while looking through a scope.

Depending on the astigmatism issue’s severity, the holographic sights will almost certainly provide a superior outcome. If you have astigmatism, you should test your ability to see with a scope before purchasing it.

Field of View

A red dot sight and holographic sights both have an extremely wide field of vision. Some red dots have circular views, similar to standard scopes. The rectangular FOV provided in both versions will certainly provide a superior field of view and contribute to the acquisition time.


Small is beautiful, and that is why some people are naturally drawn to red dots. I love the fact that they can be mounted on a rifle or a pistol. Small is also equivalent to low weight, and for most shooters, the lighter a weapon, the better.

Red dots are lighter and smaller, and they are a logical option for a pistol. Since the weapon would be used at a closer range and will not require magnification.

For a shooter that aims farther, holographic sights will offer extra features in addition to magnification and will be slightly heavier, although not noticeably so. Holographics are more commonly seen on ARs, a few other rifles, and shotguns. Nonetheless, technological improvements are making holographic optics smaller.

Battery Life

Both of these optical systems require power to function. Batteries such as CR1632, CR2032, and AAA can be used as power sources. Some scopes use rechargeable batteries, while others supplement with solar panels.

In general, the higher specs of a holo sight will consume more power than a red dot sight. A laser light generator battery can last 500 – 1,000 hours, and certain red dots will last up to five years.

An exception of holographic sights that consume power is the Vortex Razor, with a lifespan of up to 1,600 hours. The Sig Sauer’s Romeo uses motion sensor activation to shut down and provides power for almost 40,000 hours or more.

Night Vision

Both red dot and holographic sights are capable of night vision. Both include brightness controls that may be changed automatically or manually. Using the higher light settings will provide you with night vision.

In any case, using higher settings will drain the battery life. If you shoot mostly in low light, you should always watch your battery and keep a spare in hand.

Comparison Table

AspectHolographic ScopeRed Dot Sight
Working PrincipleUses holographic technology toUtilizes an LED to project a red
create a reticle on a glass panedot onto a lens
Reticle OptionsOffers various reticle patternsTypically provides a single red
(e.g., circle-dot, crosshair, etc.)dot reticle
Optics and TechnologyMore complex and advanced opticsSimple, less complex optics
Target AcquisitionFast target acquisition andQuick target acquisition with
improved accuracyunlimited eye relief
Battery DependencyUsually requires batteriesGenerally battery-powered
for illuminationfor reticle illumination
Weight and SizeTends to be bulkier and heavierLightweight and compact design
Field of ViewCan sometimes have limited fieldGenerally offers a wider field of
of view due to its designview
ParallaxParallax-free design forSome red dot sights may have
improved accuracyparallax issues
DurabilityOften robust and withstandsDurable but may vary depending on
harsh conditionsthe manufacturer and model
Use with Night VisionCompatible with night visionSome models are NV compatible
Price RangeTends to be more expensiveGenerally more affordable
Best Suited ForIdeal for tactical andSuited for close to mid-range
precision shooting scenariosshooting scenarios
Performance inPerforms well in various lightExcellent performance in low
Low-Light Conditionsconditions and situationslight conditions
Adjustments and SettingsMore complex reticle adjustmentsEasier and quick adjustments
and settingsfor brightness and settings
Co-Witness CapabilityCan co-witness with iron sightsCo-witnessing with iron sights

Holographic scope vs red dot review

Red dot review

A review of some of the best red dot sights you’ll find.

  1. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot
Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot

This lovely red dot sight is a best-seller. Sig Sauer offers a variety of more costly variants in the Romeo line, but the pricing of this adaptable and durable sight is undeniably appealing.

The Romeo 5 can be mounted on almost any firearm, from an AR to a pistol. The on/off power settings take the concern out of battery life with 10 lighting levels, excellent strength, unlimited eye relief, and motion-activated illumination. It’s difficult to find a negative comment regarding this sight. It is well regarded and recommended.

2 Vortex Venom 1×26.5mm Red Dot Sight

Vortex Venom 1×26.5mm Red Dot Sight

This Vortex sight is a low-cost scope, and you won’t have to worry about the build quality. It has a variety of mounting choices, weather and shock resistance, fast target acquisition, unlimited eye relief, ten brightness levels, and a parallax-free view. Vortex placed the controls on the left side so that you never have to adjust your hand position.

You may change the battery by top loading it so that the sight does not move off your forearm. It’s simple to mount on practically any pistol, straightforward to operate, and has the durability and attributes you’d expect. 

3. Trijicon RMRcc Sight Adjustable LED Red Dot 

Trijicon RMRcc Sight Adjustable LED Red Dot

The Trijicon RMR is a great choice for anybody looking for a high-quality red dot sight. There are so many options with and without accessories and it would confuse many individuals who are unfamiliar with its usage. The customizable version may not be what you are looking for, especially given the battery constraints.

There are certain limits to be noticed, such as the 1x magnification, which is standard, but if a shooter purchases this device under the impression that it would work for long-range shooting, then you’ll be disappointed. 

Holographic scope review

A review of some of the best holographic sight you’ll find.

1 Vortex Optics UH-1® Gen ll Holographic

Vortex Optics UH-1 Gen ll Holographic

The Vortex UH-1 is a newcomer in the Holographic World and one of the most affordable of these versions. This is an extraordinarily durable and wonderfully designed sight. It appears clumpy at first glance, yet it isn’t heavy. Closer inspection reveals that this reticle, with its distinctive surrounding ring, catches the light and acquires a target as quickly as any other on the market.

It is waterproof, features rear-facing controls, 15 lighting options for various circumstances, and is night vision enabled. Vortex builds bespoke magnifiers for this model and backs them up with an unbreakable lifetime VIP guarantee.

2 EOTech 512 Holographic Weapon Sight

EOTech 512 Holographic Weapon Sight

Among the common EOTech sights, this holographic sight is exceptionally user-friendly. You can choose between an AA battery (600 hrs) or lithium (1100 hrs).

When comparing the Vortex optics to EOTech sights, there isn’t much area for a laser beam to pass through. One distinguishing aspect of EOTech is its modest weight. Once installed, you’ll scarcely notice it’s there. The 1MOA dot is encircled by a 65MOA circle and provides the best acquisition available. The glass is shatterproof and fog proof, protecting your eyes in the event of an accident. 

3 EOTech XPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight

EOTech XPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight

The XPS2 holographic weapon sight is the smallest, shortest, and lightest. Its small size and light weight make it ideal for shooters and law enforcement agents. It is powered by a single CR123 battery. This tiny lithium-battery design frees up rail space for a rear sight (iron sight or magnifier). Engineered and built to withstand the harsh demands of the dedicated precision shooter.

A red dot will provide you with long battery life, lightweight, and affordability. Holographic sight is essential for a critical, quicker acquisition speed, decreased distortion, durability, and smaller MOA.

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