Reflex Sight vs Red Dot Detailed Explanation & Key Difference 2020

Last updated on October 16th, 2020 at 07:30 pm

If you own a gun and you are planning to buy a red dot sight you might be confused between the types. We are here to guide you about the types and the differences between them. The first thing that might come in your mind is how to differentiate Reflex Sight vs Red Dot.

Reflex sight vs red dot

Red dot sight is a commonly used term for all types of sights. People misunderstand these types because they are not aware of the technical differences between them. Before we jump on to elaborate on the differences between them; we will throw some light on the types of sights you might be offered while searching for the most suitable one for you.

Reflex Sight vs Red Dot-Key Difference 2020

There are three types of red dot sight. By having a thorough understanding of each type you will be able to differentiate reflex sight vs red dot.

The three types are Given below.
1-Reflex sights
2-Holographic sights
3-Prismatic sights

Reflex Sight

This type of sight is made by using a lens. It functions as a mirror. It is designed with a square shaped or rectangular shaped window. The targeting surface is exposed. It reflects an aiming dot. It is covered with a thick hood to protect it from any accidental damage.

Reflex sight

However, this type of sights is also available in a tube-shaped design. This tube shaped reflex sight is made with two lenses on both ends of the optic tube.

The use of LED light that bounces back to the shooter’s eye is the basic principle on which reflex sight works.

Prism Sight

A prism sight is designed like a short tube. It works by using a prism to focus and target the image. They are perfect for distant shooting. This type of sight has a smaller eye relief. You have to keep your eye closer to the optic tube to get a proper picture of the target.

Prisom Sight

Holographic Sight

The holographic sights are made by using a rectangular field for viewing the target. They are very accurate in shooting the target because they have a very small reticle. This small aiming reticle helps to shoot the target with more accuracy.

Holographic sight

Reflex sight vs red dot Comparison:

Now that we have briefly discussed the three types of sights, we are ready to dive in explaining the main points that will help you differentiate reflex sight vs red dot.

To help you get a better understanding of the differentiation in reflex sight vs red dot, we will discuss how they differ in their structure, manufacture, and principles on which they function. So, let’s get started.

Differences Between Prism Red Dot Sight and Reflexive Sight

Constructional Differences

A prism sight that is also referred to as a red dot sight is different from a reflex sight in its construction. It looks like a traditional rifle scope but is smaller in size. Prism sight has a short optic that is in the form of a tube. It has a smaller eye relief. It has a prism inside the tube and has two lenses one at each end of the tube.

The reflex sight has a very distinct look. It has a small open window like structure where the shooter can see the aiming point. Reflex sight also has another style that is in the shape of a tube. It has two lenses one at each side of the tube. The rear lens projects the aiming point to the forward one.

Functional Differences

As the name suggests prism sight works with the prism inside the tube. Prism scope has a small magnification and illuminated reticle. It has a smaller eye relief hence; it is difficult to reacquire the target while using this type of red dot sight. This is perfect for shooting distant targets.

On the other hand, reflex sight works as a mirror by using a reflective lens. The tube design of reflex sight contains the light beam inside the tube and projects the aiming point on the front lens through the rear one.

Pros and Cons of Prism Reflex sight vs red dot

Prism red dot sight has illuminated and glass etched reticle while reflex sight uses LED light to reflect the aiming point. Prism sight can be more compatibly used by astigmatic people as compared to the reflex sights.

A few drawbacks of this type of red dot sight are smaller eye relief which makes it difficult to get on target. On the other hand, reflex sight has no issues of eye relief.

Prism sight may use more battery power than a reflex sight.

Differentiate Holographic Reflex sight vs red dot

As they fall under the same category as red dot sights they need to be differentiated from reflex sight.

Constructional Differences

This type of red dot sight is constructed with a rectangular shaped field of view. It has a very small reticle. If we compare their structure with a reflex sight, reflex sight has an open reflective glass lens.

Functional Differences

Holographic red dot sight works on the principle of the hologram of the reticle in the glass. The reticle is illuminated by using laser light. It does not work on the reflection principle of a reflex sight which on the other hand, works by using an LED light.

Pros and Cons of Holographic Reflex sight vs red dot

In both holographic red dot sight and reflex sight eye relief is not an issue. Because you do not have to align your eye with the optic tube and you can target while keeping both eyes open.

Holographic sights are rare as compared to reflex sights. They are easy to use and have a very high accuracy in terms of targeting.

If we compare the price of two, holographic sights are up to ten times expensive than reflex sights.


Why most people find it difficult to differentiate reflex sight vs red dot?

The answer is because red dot sight is mistakenly used as a general term for all the types of sights. In easy words, you may say that reflex sight is a red dot sight but not all the red dot sights are reflex.

Hence, the bottom line is that you should be well aware of how to differentiate reflex sight vs red dot before finalizing your decision of buying one for you.

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