There is a common belief that "all reflex sights are red dot sights, but not all red dot sights are reflex sights", but what does that actually mean? Red dot vs reflex sights, what's the difference?

To better understand the differences between red dot sight and reflex sight, this article will explain what each type of sight is, what they do, and which might be best for you.

What Is A Red Dot Sight?

A red dot sight is one of the most common sight types on the market. In terms of the types of red dot sights, there are prism sights, holographic sights, and reflex sights, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, reflex sights are a variation of red dot sights.

Generally, the term 'red dot sights' refers to a broad category of sighting products that offer a reticle that uses a red dot as the primary aiming point of sight.

Using an illuminated red dot as the aiming reticle on a sight, a red dot sight is a type of non-magnifying optical sight that does not use magnifying glass.

How Does Red Dot Sight Work?

The red dot sight is one of the types of optics that are intended for shooting at closer distances, typically around 100 yards or less, when the shot is being taken.

A red dot is projected on a lens that the shooter looks through during the shooting process, allowing them to target quickly and with great precision. Red dot sights are the ideal tools for new shooters because a red dot is so simple and straightforward.

Therefore, the red dot sight is often used for target shooting, hunting, and in police and military applications. As well as being used on firearms, they are also used on a large variety of cameras and telescopes for various purposes.

red dot sight

What Is A Reflex Sight?

Reflex sight, also known as a reflector sight, is one of the three types of red dot sights that works by reflecting light off a piece of glass back to the shooter's eye via an LED emitter.

Among reflex sights, there are two types: open type reflex sights and tube type reflex sights.

Open Style Reflex Sights

The exposed, open style reflex sights are comprised of only one lens that is positioned on the front of the scope, and that lens is what reflects back the dot that you see when you view the scope.

In terms of the sight window, it is not enclosed in a metal tube but is exposed on the outside.

In this type of sight, you will be able to see your target clearly so that you can aim and acquire your target quickly.

Tube Style Reflex Sights

The closed, tube style reflex sights have two lenses and an enclosed sight window protected by a metal tube. The light is projected from the rear lens and reflected by the front lens.

As well, this type of sight is able to give a more precise aiming point while protecting the user against dust and dirt which can be present in external environments.

What Is A Prism Sight?

Prismatic sights are small tube-style sights that are incorporated with a prism as an optical component to magnify the target's image.

There is a clear and wide field of view offered by this device, as well as a high level of accuracy. Shooters who need precise target acquisition find it to be a popular choice.

An optic with a prism in the tube as well as lenses at both ends provides a few more benefits than an optic with a reflex. And people with astigmatism may find a prismatic sight more effective than a reflex sight.

In comparison with traditional optical sights, prism sights are lighter, more compact, and have the advantage of having lower vibration and shock resistance.

What Is A Holographic Sight?

A Holographic sight is an optical device used by shooters to enhance their accuracy, which enables them to focus simultaneously on the target and the reticle.

Furthermore, holographic sights project images of reticles or crosshairs onto illuminated windows, allowing shooters to acquire targets quickly and precisely.

Holographic sights are much more rugged and reliable than traditional sights.

What's the Main Difference Between Red Dot and Reflex Sight?

In terms of the difference between red dot sights and reflex sights, the most significant part is the field of view that both sights offer.

Compared to a red dot sight, a reflex sight has a much wider field of view and therefore gives you a better sense of your surroundings while shooting.

Reflex sights provide a more precise aiming experience and can be used in low-light situations, they are generally preferred by experienced shooters as they provide a more precise and accurate aiming experience.

It is also true that red dot sights are generally lighter and more affordable than reflex sights, so some shooters find them to be an attractive alternative to reflex sights.


I am sure that by the time you finish reading this article, you will already have a very clear understanding of the differences between red dot and reflex sight.

In essence, red dot sight has three types: reflex, prism, and holographic, and the reflex is only one type of red dot sight. Among all of them, there are advantages as well as disadvantages. It depends on your shooting requirements, which option will serve you best and enhance your experience.

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