Once upon a time, a red dot sight meant exactly that—a sight that projects an illuminated red dot as an aiming point onto an objective lens. It is now a generic term most shooters use to describe a type of weapon sight that uses any illuminated color aiming dot or another shape for the reticle. Many red dot sights will illuminate green and offer different reticle choices other than just a dot with an outer ring. The appeal of the red dot sight is its simplistic operation and accuracy. Beginners to professional competitors thoroughly appreciate all the benefits illuminated dot sights give them.
There are a few different types of red dot sights—reflex, tube, prismatic, and holographic. The difference in the types is how the sight works to project the reticle. Reflex and tube sights use a reflective glass lens and an LED, prismatic sights use prisms and holographic sights use a laser. Sightmark makes three of these sights—reflective, prismatic, and tube.
Dot sights offer shooters a great advantage—speed! Target acquisition with these types of optics is quicker and far easier than with iron sights or magnified scopes. That is because they can reflect the reticle’s projection in parallel with the sight’s optical axis, ensuring the point of aim and point of impact always coincide. They are designed so the reticle is always in focus when pointed at your target. There is no aligning of sights and no adjusting for different distances. The dot stays in focus no matter the distance of the target.
Using Your Red Dot for the First Time
Turn on the unit and check to make sure it is working. Depending on the environment, adjust the brightness of the reticle using the knob or brightness adjustment buttons. If you are shooting indoors or in low-light situations, your reticle will appear fuzzy or have a halo effect if it is too bright. Alternatively, if you don’t have the brightness up high enough outdoors or in bright light, your reticle will disappear.
Sightmark reflex, red dot and prismatic sights offer unlimited eye relief. Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and what your eyes see in the field of view. Red dots can be placed anywhere on your that gun that is most comfortable for you and reduces your line of sight the most. For many, this is centered above the AR-15’s ejection port.
When you have mounted, checked and corrected the brightness, you’re ready to shoot. (Always know your target and what’s behind it!)
- Look at your target.
- While remaining focused on your target, bring your gun up to the shooting position.
- Keep both eyes open.
- You will see the reticle move onto your target as you are bringing up your gun to shoot.
- Fire when the reticle meets the point you want to hit.
Once you have used your red dot for the first time, you will be able to quickly engage a target every time after.
Aiming a red dot is simple and fast. The reticle corrects itself and they are virtually parallax-free. Parallax is the visual movement of the reticle in relation to the target. When you move your head, the reticle will appear to move. Parallax is caused by the reticle not focusing at the same distance as the target. Sightmark’s dot sights are parallax-free anywhere from 10 to 25 yards to infinity. No sight is 100% parallax-free, as parallax will occur at closer distances.
Dot, reflex and prismatic sights are made for close quarters, close range, and for self-defense. They allow you to keep focused on the most important part—the target. With fast target acquisition and an accurate point of aim and shot placement, you hit exactly where you need to, exactly when you need to.
These sights offer an advantage over others because they allow you to remain situationally aware. You still can see your surroundings with their wide field of view and while aiming with both eyes open. When using a reflex sight with both eyes open, your dominant eye views the reticle and the target while the non-dominant eye is only viewing the target. If the reflex sight’s line of sight to the target becomes blocked by debris, the dominant eye still sees the reticle. The brain will continue to overlay the images of both eyes, and in this case, the reticle image of the dominant eye will be overlaid with the target image of the non-dominant eye.
Undoubtedly, red dot and reflex sights help you be a better shooter. They fit on any gun with a rail—handguns, shotguns, rifles…even bolt-action. Even though most reflex sights, apart from Sightmark’s prismatic sights, do not magnify, there are many units that are magnifier-compatible, as well as night vision-compatible. This versatility allows you to engage targets at further distances over 50 yards, as well as getting a close-range night vision scope for a very affordable price.
Unless you are long-distance precision shooting, there is no reason not to have one. With a red dot, you’ll spend more time hitting targets and less time wasting ammo.
Reflex, tube, prismatic, holographic? Which one did you choose and why? Tell us what you like and don’t like about it below in the comments.