Red Dot & Scope – Which is the Best for AR 15

Red Dot & Scope – Which is the Best for AR 15

Red dots verse scopes which is gonna be best for your rifle. So if you’re new to ar-15s and you’re thinking about mounting an optic on your rifle, you might be debating whether or not to go with a budget red dot or a scope. They’re both great options as you can see I have both on the table here but they also come with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. It really depends on the primary purpose of your rifle. Today we’re going to compare these two optics choices and to do that we’re going to be looking at four different categories:

  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Weight
  • Reliability

And hopefully you’re gonna have a clearer idea of which optic is gonna be best for your rifle.

So let’s jump into it guys, give me your full attention right now because here we go alright so the first category is speed and the advantage here has to go to the red dot sight.

Red dots are simply built for speed when you look at the way they’re designed first of all. They don’t have any eye relief so your eye can really sit anywhere and still see clearly through the optic. They also usually have a very simple reticle that’s gonna be very visible because it’s a bright red dot. Sometimes the reticle is actually designed to give you more speed.

Red dots also don’t have any magnification which can be beneficial if you intend to shoot with both eyes open. Now on the other hand scopes tend to be a little bit slower and I think there are really two main factors that contribute to this.

The first factor is that scopes require eye relief, so unless you put your eye at the correct distance away from the scope you’re going to have trouble seeing through the optic and the second factor is magnification. We’re talking about scopes with a low setting of one power. The problem is most scopes with a one power setting aren’t truly one power, oftentimes they are one point one or something along those lines. So using them with both eyes open may end up being a little tricky for you but before moving on I do want to say that you can be pretty fast with a scope of this type.

The next category is accuracy, see now obviously a major part of being able to shoot accurately is seeing, and magnification allows you to see smaller at distance, so the advantage here has to go to the scope.

Now this scope in particular is a primary arms 1-6x and you can imagine just how much easier it is to make a shot at say 200 yards on six power as opposed to being on one, and with this scope in particular it has something called the a CSS reticle which basically shows you where you need to aim if your targets at 300 yards all the way up to 800 yards. This is my favorite low-end scope because that a CSS reticle is awesome.

Now obviously with no magnification red dots are gonna be at a disadvantage here, especially if you’re like me and you don’t have perfect eyesight. But before moving on here I do have to mention that there are some amazing shooters out there who are really capable of stretching out the range of their red dots.

The third category is gonna be weight, now there are so many different brands of scopes and red dots that it’s really hard to make these types of generalizations about them, so we’ll just use my two examples here to really show some of the differences.

Hollow Sun

The Hollow Sun kind of represents the category of micro red dot sights and the primary arms here represent the category of 1-6x powered scopes.

This Hollow Sun weighs in at just over 4 ounces and the primary arms 1-6x weighs about 16 ounces, so it’s pretty obvious just by looking at the two which one is gonna weigh less, and if you’re looking to shave off a few ounces from your AR, a micro red dot sight is definitely the way to go.

And last we have reliability once again. There are many different brands of optics out there and they all have different price points and different degrees of reliability.

However just to generalize for the comparison. I’m gonna give the edge and reliability to the scope. Reason why is simply because the reticle of the scope doesn’t rely on batteries, and even though there are many red dots out there with amazing battery life. You still have the possibility of the battery going dead or some other type of with the electronics. Whereas with a scope the reticle is etched into the glass so even if your scope does use batteries to light up the reticle. It doesn’t matter if they run out because you can still use the optic. But just to add on to that, one way to counteract reliability concerns with any optic is to mount backup iron sights on your rifle. And you can see I like to use these mag poles because they work well and they’re pretty affordable. So to bring everything to a close here’s my conclusion.

If you intend on having a lightweight carbine that’s fast into action and good from zero to a hundred yards, go with a red dot sight. You can find more information on if you are planning to buy a red dot sight.

But if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of weight and a little bit of speed for more capability at distance, go with a low powered variable scope. Check this guide for more details on the best scope for ar-15s

And if you want the best of both worlds just be like me and get both.

Whether you’re looking for more speed or more accuracy, neither type of optic is going to automatically make you a better shooter, but if you’re looking to improve your fundamentals I have a free guide that shows you how to improve your shooting without leaving your home or spending a dime. It’s a very simple exercise that I’ve used to improve my own shooting and I still use it as practice today. 

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