When it comes to shooting accurately, having a reliable sighting system is crucial for any gun owner. There are several types of sighting devices available in the market, but one that has gained popularity in recent years is the reflex sight. A red dot reflex sight is a sighting device that offers a simple yet effective solution for close-range shooting. It provides faster target acquisition, improved accuracy, an expanded field of view, better performance in low-light conditions, and is easy to use. Whether you are a shooting enthusiast, hunter, or tactical operator, a red dot reflex sight can make a significant difference in your shooting performance.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a reflex sight on a rifle in detail and understand why it has become a preferred choice for many shooting enthusiasts. So, buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of reflex sights and how they can help you shoot more accurately.
- Reflex Sight Vs Iron Sight
- Reflex Sight Vs Holographic Weapon Sight
- Types Of Reflex Sight
- The benefits of using a reflex sight on a rifle
- Common Shooting Techniques with Reflex Sights
- How to Properly Mount and Zero a Reflex Sight on a Rifle
- What is a reflex sight?
- How does a reflex sight work?
- Can a reflex sight be used on any type of rifle?
- Are reflex sights suitable for long-range shooting?
- How do I choose the right reflex sight for my needs?
- Do reflex sights need batteries?
- What are the advantages of using a reflex sight over traditional iron sights?
- Can reflex sights be used in low-light conditions?
- How often should I zero my reflex sight?
Reflex Sight Vs Iron Sight
When it comes to firearms, aiming accurately is crucial for both recreational and professional shooters. One of the most significant decisions when selecting a sighting system is whether to use a reflex optic or an iron sight. Both of these systems have their own advantages and disadvantages, and understanding their differences is essential for selecting the appropriate sighting system for your needs.
Iron sights which are generally open sights, have been around for centuries and are one of the most common sighting systems used in firearms. The system is made up of two components: a rear sight and a front sight, which are placed at the end of the barrel. The shooter aligns the two sights with the target, with the rear sight in front of the front sight, and aims at the target by placing the sights in the center of the target.
The advantage of iron sights is that they are simple, robust, and usually come with a rifle. They cannot be used in the dark, but they’re reliable during the day because they have no moving parts. They also provide excellent accuracy, as the shooter can get a clear view of the target and aim precisely.
However, there are some disadvantages to using iron sights. The shooter must align two sights precisely, which can be difficult for some people. It also takes a bit longer to acquire a target with iron sights because the shooter has to line up both sights. Furthermore, iron sights do not have any magnification, which can make it difficult to see targets at longer distances.
A reflex sight, also known as a red dot sight, is a type of optical sight that uses a reticle, usually a red dot, to aim at the target. The sight is made up of a lens that projects the reticle onto a small screen, which the shooter looks through to aim at the target. The reticle is illuminated by an LED and appears to float over the target, allowing the shooter to aim accurately.
The primary advantage of a reflex sight is that it is fast and easy to use. The shooter does not have to align two sights and can aim at the target by simply placing the red dot on the target. The sight also has the added benefit of magnification, which makes it easier to see targets at longer distances.
However, reflex sights also have some disadvantages. They are more expensive than iron sights, and the batteries that power the LED can run out, leaving the shooter with no sight. They are also more fragile than iron sights, as they are made up of a single lens and are vulnerable to damage.
Reflex Sight Vs Holographic Weapon Sight
When it comes to red dot sights, there are different types to choose from. Two of the most popular are reflex sights and holographic sights. Both are used to help shooters aim accurately, but they function in different ways and offer different advantages.
As discussed earlier, reflex sights are also known as red dot sights because of the small illuminated red dot that appears when you look through them. They work by reflecting a LED light off a partially mirrored lens, which creates the reticle (or red dot) that the shooter sees. A reflex sight is typically smaller and lighter than a holographic weapon sight, making it a popular choice for rifles and handguns.
One of the advantages of reflex sights is that they have unlimited eye relief, meaning that the shooter can place their eye anywhere behind the sight and still see the reticle. This is particularly useful for shooting from unconventional positions or when using a pistol. Reflex sights also have a simple reticle, making them easier to use for shooters who are just starting out.
Holographic sights, on the other hand, use a more complex laser sight system that projects a holographic reticle onto a glass pane in front of the shooter’s eye. This holographic reticle appears to be floating in the air, creating the illusion that the shooter is actually looking through the sight rather than at a reflection. Holographic sights are typically larger and heavier than reflex sights, but they offer some advantages as well.
One advantage of holographic sights is that they are more durable than reflex sights. A Holographic sight also has a more precise reticle, with multiple aiming points that can be used for different ranges and wind conditions.
Which is better?
The choice between a reflex sight and a holographic sight ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the shooter. Reflex sights are generally cheaper and lighter, making them a good choice for shooters who need to move quickly or shoot from unconventional positions. Holographic sights, on the other hand, offer greater durability, precision, and versatility.
Types Of Reflex Sight
There are two types of reflex sight: open sight and tube sight.
An open sight has a small, unobstructed window that the shooter looks through to see the reticle. The reticle is projected onto a partially mirrored lens and appears as a red dot on the target. Open reflex sights are typically smaller and lighter than tube reflex sights and have a wider field of view, making them a popular choice for handguns and close-quarters combat.
Tube reflex sights, on the other hand, have a tubular body that encloses the optical components. The shooter looks through the tube to see the reticle, which is usually a red dot. Tube reflex sights are typically larger and heavier than open reflex sights and offer greater protection against the elements and impact damage. They are a popular choice for rifles and shotguns, particularly for use in hunting and competitive shooting.
The benefits of using a reflex sight on a rifle
Faster Target Acquisition
Reflex sights are designed to provide fast target acquisition, which is one of their biggest advantages. Unlike traditional iron sights, which require you to align multiple sights, a reflex sight allows you to focus on the target without any complicated aiming process. This means that you can acquire your target quickly and shoot accurately in a matter of seconds.
Another benefit of using a reflex optic is the improved accuracy it provides. Reflex sights have a simple reticle that is easy to see, which can help you aim more precisely. This is especially useful when trying to hit a smaller target. The reticle of a reflex sight can also be adjusted to suit your specific needs, making it easier to achieve accurate shots in different lighting conditions and shooting scenarios.
Expanded Field of View
Another advantage of using a reflex sight on a rifle is the expanded field of view. Unlike traditional iron sights, which can obstruct your view of the target, a reflex sight allows you to see the entire field of view while aiming. This can be especially helpful when shooting at moving targets, as it allows you to track your target more easily and adjust your aim accordingly.
Better Performance in Low-Light
Reflex sights are designed to work well in low-light conditions, making them an ideal choice for hunting or tactical operations.
Easy to Use
Reflex sights are designed to be easy to use, even for beginners. They require minimal training and can be mounted easily onto your rifle. They also have fewer moving parts than traditional rifle scopes, which makes them less likely to malfunction or break.
Reflex sights are versatile and can be used for a wide range of shooting scenarios. They are ideal for hunting, tactical operations, and competitive shooting. They can also be used on a variety of firearms, including rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
Another benefit of using a reflex sight on a rifle is its durability. They are built to withstand harsh environments and rough handling, making them ideal for outdoor activities like hunting or tactical operations. Most reflex sights are made with high-quality materials like aircraft-grade aluminum, which makes them lightweight yet strong enough to withstand heavy recoil and rough handling.
Lesser Eye Strain
Using a reflex sight on a rifle can also alleviate eye strain. Unlike traditional iron sights, which require you to align multiple sights, a reflex sight only requires you to focus on the target. This means that your eyes won’t have to work as hard to acquire and maintain focus, reducing eye strain and allowing you to shoot for longer periods without fatigue.
Using a reflex sight on a rifle can also improve your confidence as a shooter. Knowing that you have a reliable and efficient sighting system can give you the confidence to take on more challenging shooting scenarios. With a reflex sight, you can shoot accurately and quickly, even in low-light conditions or when shooting at moving targets. This can give you a sense of control and mastery over your shooting abilities, which can translate into improved performance and satisfaction.
Adaptable for Different Shooting Styles
Reflex sights are also adaptable for different shooting styles, making them versatile tools for a wide range of shooting scenarios. Whether you prefer to shoot with both eyes open or closed, a reflex sight can be adjusted to your personal preference. They can also be customized to suit your shooting style, with reticles that can be changed to suit your preferences.
Increased Situational Awareness
Using a reflex sight on a rifle can also increase your situational awareness. Because reflex sights have an expanded field of view and don’t obstruct your view of the target, you can see what’s happening around you while aiming. This can be especially useful in tactical operations where situational awareness is essential. With a reflex sight, you can remain aware of your surroundings while maintaining a precise aim on your target.
Easy to Install
Another benefit of using reflex sights is that they are easy to install. Most reflex sights can be easily mounted onto your rifle’s Picatinny or Weaver rail using a few screws. This means that you can quickly and easily switch between different rifles or remove the sight for cleaning or maintenance.
Low Power Consumption
Most modern reflex sights use LED technology, which requires very little power. This means that you can use your sight for extended periods without needing to replace the battery. Some models also offer auto-off features, which turn off the sight after a period of inactivity to conserve battery life.
Most reflex sights are night vision compatible. So you can comfortably go out shooting at night without fear of being unable to use the sight.
Finally, a reflex sight can be a cost-effective option compared to other red dot sighting devices. While high-end models can be expensive, there are plenty of affordable options available that offer excellent performance and durability.
Common Shooting Techniques with Reflex Sights
When using a reflex sight, there are some common shooting techniques and stances that can help you shoot more accurately. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Shooting with Both Eyes Open
When using a reflex sight, keeping both eyes open is generally recommended. This allows you to maintain better situational awareness because your non-aiming eye can see what’s happening around you. By keeping both eyes open, you can quickly identify any potential threats or obstacles while keeping your target in focus through the sight.
Maintaining a Proper Cheek Weld
Cheek weld refers to the way you position your cheek against the stock of the rifle. It’s important to maintain a consistent and comfortable cheek weld when using a reflex sight. This helps you establish a stable shooting platform and ensures that your eye is aligned with the sight. A proper cheek weld helps you aim more accurately and reduces the chance of your sight picture shifting.
Using a Consistent Shooting Grip
Your shooting grip refers to how you hold the rifle. Having a firm and consistent grip on the rifle allows you to have better control over the recoil and maintain stability while aiming. Ensure your grip is comfortable and you’re applying equal pressure with both hands.
How to Properly Mount and Zero a Reflex Sight on a Rifle
Choosing the Right Mounting System
When you want to attach a reflex sight to your rifle, get a mounting system that works well with your specific rifle model. The mounting system should be designed to fit the Picatinny or Weaver rail on your rifle. Look for a mount that has slots or screws that align with the rail on your rifle. This ensures a proper fit and helps keep the sight securely in place, even when the rifle recoils.
Mounting the Reflex Sight
To mount the reflex sight on your rifle, follow these steps:
Safety first: Always ensure your rifle is not loaded and the chamber is empty before proceeding with any modifications or attachments.
Attach the mounting system: Take the mounting system designed for your rifle’s rail and align the slots or screws on the mount with the corresponding slots or screws on the rail. This ensures a proper fit between the mount and the rail.
Secure the mount: Once aligned, secure the mount to the rail by using the appropriate screws or levers. You want to make sure the mount is tight enough to prevent any movement during shooting. However, be cautious not to overtighten it, as this can potentially damage the rifle or the reflex sight.
Place the reflex sight: With the mount securely attached to the rifle, position the reflex sight onto the mount. Align the screw holes or attachment points on the sight with those on the mount. This ensures that the sight is properly aligned with the rifle.
Secure the reflex sight: Once aligned, use the screws or levers provided with the sight to secure it to the mounting system. This step ensures that the reflex sight is firmly attached and won’t move or come loose during shooting. Again, be careful not to overtighten the screws or levers, as this can cause damage.
Zero a Reflex Sight for Accuracy
Zeroing the reflex sight means adjusting it so that where you aim is where the bullet actually hits the target. Here’s a simple way to zero the sight:
Find a safe shooting range or suitable area where you can set up your target. Ensure you have a safe backstop and follow all local laws and regulations. Set up your target at a distance appropriate for your shooting abilities and your rifle’s capabilities. Start with a reasonable distance, such as 25 yards.
Next, take a stable shooting position, such as standing or using a shooting rest, and aim at the center of the target using your reflex sight. Make sure you have a clear and steady sight picture. Fire a series of shots while maintaining proper sight alignment and trigger control. Keep your focus on the target and ensure you maintain consistent aim with the reflex sight for each shot. After firing the shots, carefully observe where the bullets land on the target. Pay attention to the group or cluster of shots to determine their center point.
Adjust the windage (horizontal) and elevation (vertical) controls of the reflex sight based on the center of the shot group. Most reflex sights have dials or knobs that can be turned to move the point of impact. Each click of adjustment corresponds to a certain distance, typically mentioned in the manual.
Continue shooting and making adjustments until the point of aim consistently matches the point of impact. This may require multiple rounds of adjustment and testing. Be patient and make incremental changes to achieve the desired zero.
What is a reflex sight?
A reflex sight is a type of sighting device with illuminated dots that helps you aim at a target more accurately. It’s commonly used on firearms like rifles and handguns. It is called a reflex sight because the dot reflects off the lens and into your eye.
How does a reflex sight work?
A reflex sight works by using a light source, usually an LED, to project a red dot onto a lens. When you look through the sight, the dot appears to be floating over the target. The dot aligns with where your bullet will hit, so you can aim accurately.
Can a reflex sight be used on any type of rifle?
Yes, reflex sights can be used on various types of rifles, including semi-automatic, bolt-action, and even shotguns. Most reflex sights are designed to be mounted on rifles with a Picatinny or Weaver rail system. These rail systems are commonly found on many modern rifles, making them compatible with reflex sights. However, you must ensure that the mounting system of the reflex sight is suitable for your specific rifle model.
Are reflex sights suitable for long-range shooting?
No, reflex sights are primarily designed for close to medium-range shooting. They excel in scenarios where quick target acquisition and rapid shooting are crucial. While reflex sights can still be used for some longer-range shooting, they may not offer the same level of precision as high-powered scopes or magnified optics.
How do I choose the right reflex sight for my needs?
Choosing the right reflex sight depends on your specific shooting needs. Consider factors like compatibility, durability, reticle style, adjustability, battery life, and budget.
Do reflex sights need batteries?
Yes, most reflex sights require batteries to power the light source that illuminates the red dot or reticle. The battery powers the LED inside the sight, allowing the dot to be projected onto the lens. However, there are some models that use alternative power sources, such as solar panels, to eliminate the need for batteries or to supplement battery power.
What are the advantages of using a reflex sight over traditional iron sights?
Using a reflex sight offers several advantages over traditional iron sights. You’ll get faster target acquisition, improved accuracy, expanded field of view, and better performance in low-light conditions.
Can reflex sights be used in low-light conditions?
Yes, reflex sights are designed to work well in low-light conditions. Many reflex sights have adjustable brightness settings, allowing you to increase or decrease the intensity of the red dot or reticle to suit the lighting conditions.
How often should I zero my reflex sight?
Once you have initially zeroed your reflex sight, it should maintain its zero unless subjected to significant impacts or disassembly. It is a good practice to periodically check the zero of your reflex sight to ensure it hasn’t shifted due to any accidental knocks or mishandling. The frequency of zeroing checks can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the sight, the amount of recoil experienced, and the specific shooting conditions. There is no hard rule for how often you need to check your zero.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. He also possesses specialized expertise in rifle scopes With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.