Red dot vs Rifle scope – Which one is better?

Would a rifle scope be more effective for hunting compared to a red dot sight? We all know that most game shootings are within the short or medium range shooting distance. Therefore, it’s usually a problem to decide whether to attach a red dot or a rifle scope to your new gun.

Red dot vs rifle scope

Let’s dive deeper into the way user preferences are formed when comparing rifle scopes vs red dot sights.

Red Dot VS Scope 

Red dot sights and rifle scope comparison

There are pros and cons to using magnified scopes and red dot sights. Neither will be naturally perfect for all shooting applications or shooter’s requirements. Red dot sights are quick and simple to operate, but rifle scopes have magnification and long-range accuracy and take longer to adjust settings.

Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages to help you visualize the benefits and drawbacks of magnified scopes and red dot optics.

Red Dot Sight Pros & Cons

red dot sight pros cons

There are several advantages and disadvantages of using a red dot sight on your rifle.

Red Dot Sight Pros:

  • Quick target acquisition: A red dot optic can be used quickly (fast target acquisition) because you do not need to adjust any setting before taking a shot.
  • Both eyes open: When using red dot optics, you can aim at your target with both eyes open.
  • Long eye relief: A red dot sight is usually mounted far away from the eyes compared to rifle scopes, therefore you don’t need to worry about “scope bite” when using a red dot sight. 
  • Light/Compact: Red dot optics are lighter and would not add extra weight to your weapon. 

Red Dot Sight Cons

  • Not for long-range: You cannot use a red dot for a long range shooting.
  • Requires battery operation: This device needs a power source to produce the red dot.
  • No magnification: You cannot zoom in and out of this device because it does not have a magnified optic. As a result, seeing targets that are far away would be impossible.

Rifle Scope Pros & Cons

PROS & CONS

Rifle Scope Pros:

  • Variable magnification: A rifle scope is a magnified optic device and it has two types of magnification (fixed and variable). Variable magnification makes it easy to zoom in and out when sighting a target.
  • Extremely versatile: A rifle scope has more uses than other sighting devices.
  • Accurate at longer ranges: When a rifle scope is properly mounted and zeroed to the right shooting range, you are almost sure of hitting your target at every shot.
  • Various reticles: A rifle scope can have different types of reticles.
  • No batteries required: This optic does not need a power source when trying to aim at your target.

Rifle Scope Cons:

  • Heavy/bulky: Rifle scopes are heavier and they add extra weight to your rifle.
  • Limited eye relief: Because you have to zoom in and out of the scope, it always comes with shorter eye relief.
  • Limited FOV: Your field of view in a scope is limited. You can get a bigger field of view if you zoom out of the scope.
  • Prolonged Target Acquisition: When aiming with a rifle scope, you want to be sure that you have your target in the right place and that your magnification is in the right settings. A rifle scope does not have a quick target acquisition.

Red Dot vs Scope: How to Choose?

Purchasing a rifle scope or a red dot should generally be based on how the weapon will be used. The user’s preferences and intentions determine if a scope or red dot optic would be perfect for the shooting application.

Because you will be selecting your optic mostly based on intended uses and features, here are a few comparisons of the red dot optic vs a rifle scope.

AR15

What do you get when red dot optics and rifle scopes are mounted on AR15 rifles?

The current AR weapons are incredibly modular, with virtually limitless possibilities for stuffs that can be added to them. Would it accept a scope, a red dot, or a combination of both?

For some reason, the red dot has always been the optic of choice for ARs and tactical carbines. They are quick to use, simple to train with, take up minimal rail space, and may be used with a variety of extra optics and accessories. Also appealing is the fact that you can take a shot as long as you can see the dot.

A magnified scope, on the other hand, can be mounted on the Modular Sniper Rifle and used for long distance shooting. 

Manufacturers have just lately combined the two features of red dot optics and rifle scopes to produce the LPVO (Low Power Variable Optic). This new device offers the numerous advantages of a red dot and the greater distance engagement and power of a scope, with 1x magnification. For those who are confused about their choice of optics, the Low Power Variable Optic may be the ideal sight for your new rifle.

Hunting

What are the results of mounting a red dot sight and a rifle scope on a hunting rifle?

Whenever it comes to hunting, it’s impossible to say which is superior because both types of optics are utilized for different kinds of game. Weatherproofing, hunting ranges, environment,  rifle type, and other considerations will all influence this decision.

If you are in the woods using an AR or shotgun at ranges of about 100 yards or less, a red dot sight will suffice. In these scenarios, close-range and fast target acquisition would be important, especially if the target is mobile.

Magnified optics will not make you a better shooter, but they will allow you to see better, especially if you are hunting in a wide area. The 3-9x magnification is a highly popular hunting scope option.

Although red dot sights are accurate up to 200 yards when used by an average shooter, most people only use them for shots up to about 100 yards. Rifle scopes have an advantage due to their magnification, BDC reticles, and extended range capability.

100 Yards

For some reason, many shooters do not fire beyond the 100 yard shooting distance. Plinking, 100 yard target ranges, or Close Quarter Battle operations eliminate long distance shooting from the list.

Its common to find people shooting in the 10, 50, and 100-yard ranges. Although you can shoot at these ranges simply using iron sights and no optics, a red dot sight would however enhance vision and accuracy, and make shooting a lot faster and easier.

The quick visibility of the red dot on the target, particularly in dynamic tactical and Close Quarter Battle operations, together with the choice to open both eyes makes it the best optic for close-range engagements.

If the target is within 100 yards of shooting distance, a magnified scope will make the shot accuracy easier. Closer shots within the 100 yards shooting range with a red dot optic, on the other hand, are faster since you have unlimited eye relief and a wider Field Of View in the red dot compared to the scopes.

Target Shooting

Rifle scope, red dot sights, and shooting targets

Target shooting or range shooting can be used to sight in an optic device, plink, or just to keep the shooter’s marksman skills strong. Whether the target shooting is with a red dot or rifle scope, it is always an enjoyable experience.

A red dot optic can help you strike a target every time if you routinely fire at the 100 yards range. You can practice different stances and postures or do routine training to get better results.

A rifle scope, on the other hand, will complement your shooting technique if you frequently shoot from a bench or go beyond the 100 yards shooting distance. Many people believe and it is true that a rifle scope is more accurate than a red dot sight and allows for more precise groupings. 

There is a lot to take into consideration, from tracking accuracy and adjustments to the mechanical accuracy of the rifle and shooter’s abilities, and so much more.

If frequent trips to the shooting range are your primary reason for purchasing a new optic, consider the distance limitations as well as whether you want to shoot primarily from a dynamic or prone position. Your rifle, shooting distance, and abilities will all contribute to your accuracy.

Competition

Every competitive shooter needs to use their own preferences for the kind of optic they like and find useful. Most competitions need firing at extremely close ranges such as 25, 30, and 50 yards before engaging targets at further distances.

Red dots are wonderful for quick shooting at a close range target, but getting more points at a longer distance requires precise targeting and accuracy.

Competitive scopes typically incorporate throw levers to swiftly alter magnification between low and high levels. However, even smaller powers may not be able to compete with the advantages of having a red dot.

A magnifier at the back of a red dot sight is included in several common combinations. The magnifier may be swung in and out of position when needed. A rifle scope and red dot combination is another option. When utilizing a swing or offset mount, you have the option of employing a red dot for close range shooting and a First Focal Point scope for longer shots.

Speed

Which is more convenient to use? Is it better to use a red dot or a rifle scope?

The red dot sight is no doubt the fastest. The bright red dot is obviously basic, catches the attention, and is designed to be quick to aim and shoot with. Furthermore, the red dot sight is far more tolerant of poor head and cheek weld locations. You can aim at your target with both eyes open, with unlimited eye relief, true 1x magnification, and unlimited FOV, making for fast target acquisition.

In terms of speed, a magnified rifle scope cannot compete with the red dot. When speed is the goal of the game, it would take you too much time going through the process of putting the rifle to shoulder, eye to eyepiece lens, changing magnification, and then aiming at the target.

Weight & Size

Rifle scope vs red dot sight size comparison

Red dot sights are more lightweight and compact than magnified scopes. With a weight of less than 16 oz, a red dot optic is a lightweight device for an AR-15 that probably has more accessories than it needs.

Scopes have glasses and magnification, which adds weight to the rifle. Sometimes, scopes can be as light as 10 oz, but most are between 16 and 25 oz. Heavier and bigger rifle scopes often feature 30mm and 34mm thick tubes, high variable magnification, and a massive objective lens with apertures greater than 44mm.

The mounting accessories for a rifle scope or red dot will add weight to the entire package. 

The optical size and mounting framework must be addressed since they might have an impact on the mounting profile.

Visibility

Seeing a target through a rifle scope or red dot sight is quite different from seeing your reticle. There are several types of reticles available for scopes and red dot sights, and existing visual impairments can compromise focus and viewing quality.

While red dots are popular because of their luminosity and easy dot reticle, persons with astigmatism will struggle to use them. The dot may appear as two dots, clusters, a smudge, or another oddity. This may need the shooter to explore prismatic sights, which may aid in reducing aberrations.

If you’ve determined that red dots aren’t an option, a magnified scope may be your only alternative. However, not every scope is suitable for old eyes. Other factors to consider are glass quality, eye relief, and others.

The final lesson is that most people can overcome visual impairment difficulties with a magnification scope rather than a red dot sight.

Price

Red dot sights and rifle scope worth

Notwithstanding your budget, rifle scopes and red dot optics are available at different price ranges. Under $100 scope and red dot sights are available. 

Which is the more costly option? Rifle scopes are more expensive than red dots.

If you were to compare some popular and expensive optics, the best rifle scopes would be more costly than the best red dot sight.

Some of the best red dot sight might cost thousands of dollars too, but you’re sure of getting specialized hybrid features like lasers, magnification, infrared, night vision, and more. Remember that when you look into specialty features like infrared and night vision, scopes become far more expensive.

Which Is Better: Red Dot or Scope?

red dot or scope better

In general, the red dot is quick to use and works well over short distances. It provides several benefits that the rifle scope cannot match. Rifle scopes, on the other hand, provide better precision at a longer distance with magnification that allows you to view and place crosshairs on the target.

Whichever option you select, it means you’ll have plenty of range days to train and become acquainted with your setup.

Other Types of Sight

Apart from the rifle scope and red dots sights, we also have other types of sight like the Iron sight and holographic sight. 

The iron sight is mostly a rear sight on the rifle, it is not a tube sight like the red dot and scopes. 

Holographic sight eliminates the reflective coating found on dot sights in favor of a laser emitter that illuminates a glassed-in reticle. The advantage of this setup is that the viewing sights are not discolored in the same way as dot sights, and the laser allows for a considerably illuminated reticle, eliminating the need for a closed tube sight. You can use the open or reflex sight style.

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