You can shoot more accurately with any type of firearm if you use a red dot scope. That’s because using an optic lowers abilities like sight alignment and sight image to just pointing a dot at a target more than 500 yards away. The dot is typically red, occasionally green, and sporadically gold (457 meters).
For many people, this is far too long for practical use, but there are plenty of options available that allow you to get closer to hitting your targets. The greatest red dot scopes have features that make them easier to use, including large lenses that provide good vision even in poor light conditions. They also may come with a built-in tripod or stand so you can get a clear view without worrying about your gear. The following sections offer more information about what makes a red dot scope different from an ordinary magnifying scope, as well as shopping tips for choosing the right one.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Red Dot Scopes
When shopping for a red dot scope, there are several factors worth considering. The following section looks at these in detail.
Before deciding on which model might work best, think about how you intend to use it and what features would help make that experience better.
- Long-range shooting: This type of shooting involves firing a gun beyond the normal range of its sights. Long-range shooting may require an extended sight line or a high degree of accuracy, depending on the game being shot at and your skill level.
- Short-range shooting: At short distances, the ability to see small details is important. A low-powered laser pointer can be used for this purpose.
- Tactical shooting: While not always considered a luxury, a quality tactical rifle scope with excellent optics can make a big difference when you’re engaged in close combat.
There are two main types of scopes: fixed and adjustable.
- Fixed power scopes have a predetermined amount of magnification power. They’re great for long-range targets because they allow you to focus clearly without having to adjust the scope while aiming.
- Adjustable power scopes let you change the size of the image by adjusting the lens system. These scopes tend to be more accurate than fixed ones since they reflect actual eye relief rather than a manufacturer’s estimate.
A standard length for a rifle scope is 16 inches. However, if you plan on using the scope mounted on a tripod or ladder, then you’ll want something longer. Tripod models typically need 24 inches, while ladder versions need 20 inches. Rifle scopes weigh between 1 and 3 pounds, but heavier ones tend to be more durable due to their stronger materials. Heavier scopes also tend to provide a clearer picture through the glass because the increased weight creates a more stable platform on which to hang the scope.
Whether you prefer a single point or a multi-point mount depends largely on how well the scope fits on the weapon and where the mounting holes are located. Single point mounts are easier to set up and take down, though they don’t give you as much flexibility as a multiple-point rig. Multi-point rigs offer greater stability and are harder to remove, but they do give you more options for positioning the scope. For instance, you could place the scope above the centerline of the barrel or below the boreal (the groove where the bullet enters the chamber).
Most scopes come coated with one of three coatings: scratch resistant, waterproof, or both.
- Scratch resistant coating prevents damage from occurring during handling or transportation. It doesn’t stop all scratches, just those made while applying pressure or sliding objects across the surface.
- Waterproof coating keeps moisture out of the optic. This prevents fogging up inside the scope and makes cleaning easier.
- Both scratch resistant and waterproof coatings will prevent most water droplets from entering the scope unless they hit the metal housing directly.
The diameter of the eyepiece lenses has a lot to do with the view through the scope. Bigger is better here as far as resolution goes. But too large a lens can make the scene seem bigger than life, making it difficult to zero in on target. For example, if you put a 7-inch scope on a 12-gauge shotgun, the recoil will likely push the scope off target. So you’d want a scope with a 6-inch lens if you plan on doing any hunting with the gun.
Red dot scopes aren’t cheap, particularly when you take into account that many of them come equipped with cutting-edge technology and high-quality materials. You should probably purchase a custom-built scope rather than settling for less than ideal if money is not an issue.
Ease of Adjustment
If you’ve ever looked into a firearm scope, chances are you noticed that some of them were adjusted manually while others had automatic adjustments. Manual adjustments mean you turn a knob until the desired result is achieved; automatic adjustments use sensors and microprocessors to manipulate the optical system. Manual adjustment usually requires a bit more effort, but the results are worth it. Automatic adjustments often produce perfect results every time without needing to fiddle around with knobs.
Some scopes include batteries, but they’ll only get you so far. Sure, a charged battery gives you plenty of runtimes, but what if the power goes out? Or what if the battery dies before the job is done? Fortunately, many modern day rifle scopes now incorporate rechargeable lithium ion batteries, meaning you won’t be left scratching your head wondering whether or not you’ll complete the mission.
As we mentioned earlier, red dot scopes aren’t cheap. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to over $300 for one of these tools. That said, there are plenty of cheaper scopes available that don’t live up to the same standards as higher end products. However, even at the lower price points, expect these tools to last longer than other items purchased for similar purposes. After all, they’re designed to withstand the elements for years without stopping service.
Types Of Red Dot Scopes
Red dots come in many different sizes and shapes. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before making a purchase.
Miniature scopes are the smallest category of red dot scopes on today’s market. Miniature sights have become increasingly popular over the past few years as they’ve evolved from being purely military optics into more consumer-friendly options. They offer an extremely small window for error when shooting at close range (typically under 100 meters), but their size also makes them incredibly durable and reliable. Miniature scopes typically consist of a very small reticle that is used with either a crosshair or open window style lens. The reticle will be roughly the same size regardless of your magnification level, meaning that if you use a magnifier, your viewport will get bigger, not smaller.
Micro scopes are great for shooters who need a highly accurate weapon without having to carry around a large optic. Micro scopes weigh less than one half pound and can easily fit inside a pocket. Their small size also means that they don’t consume much space and aren’t too heavy to carry around all day long. However, due to their small size, micro scopes aren’t particularly durable. Because they only have room for one reticle, using a magnifying glass won’t help you any. Also, since there isn’t a lot of real estate on these tiny optics, wind call grids and bullet drop compensators won’t be able to do their magic.
Compacts are larger than minis yet still quite light. These optics tend to be best suited for those looking for something between a pistol scope and a rifle scope. While compacts often include a reticle, some may opt to use a holographic sight instead. Compact sights generally have two prongs rather than one, which allows for better grip and improved accuracy.
Full-sized scopes are the largest category of red dot scopes on today’s market. Full-sized scopes are usually designed for long-gun applications like rifles or shotguns, although there are plenty of options available for pistols as well. The advantages of full-sized scopes are obvious; they house multiple reticles and allow for increased flexibility in sighting down a gun. However, they’re also heavier and bulkier compared to their miniature counterparts.
There are several types of night vision technology, ranging from simple thermal imaging to complex digital zoom capabilities. Regardless of how complicated the system gets, though, the basic idea remains the same: light outside this device is amplified and made visible through lenses located within the device itself. Some devices even incorporate infrared technology, allowing users to see heat signatures as well as the actual color of whatever object is being viewed. These systems are expensive, however, and require batteries that must be replaced every few months. In addition to that, most models cannot operate in direct sunlight because the solar radiation causes overheating and failure.
A traditional method of determining distance was to line up a target and shoot a bow or firearm. Today, we rely heavily on electronic devices to make things easier. Rangefinders work by projecting a beam of laser energy onto a screen, where the energy reflected back from the surface bounces off a mirror and strikes a photo detector. From here, the instrument determines the time it took for the laser pulse to travel to the target and return. With that information, software uses triangulation to estimate range based on the speed of sound. Some models take things a step further and actually measure velocity as well.
One advantage spotter scopes possess over other kinds of binoculars is the ability to switch eyepieces, giving you greater control over your field of view. This feature comes in handy when trying to identify a specific type of animal from a distance, especially when approaching wildlife. Additionally, spotting scopes are typically lighter and more compact than comparable binoculars. This kind of optical clarity is nice to have when carrying a rifle or shotgun during daylight hours, and it’s especially useful after dark. You’ll also appreciate the ease of handling spotting scopes when wearing gloves.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We started by searching for the best-rated and most popular red dot scopes on Amazon, professional publications, and other online retailers. Then we read reviews from independent shooters who have purchased a scope like this one.
The majority of these people are very happy with their purchase. Some even go as far to say that they would buy this scope no matter what because it is so good. The only issue raised in the reviews was price point, which is understandable since we are talking about an entry-level product here. However, none of the reviewers complained about quality or performance, which is exactly what you want from a red dot scope.
Frequently Asked Questions About Red Dot Scopes
What magnification is needed for a red dot?
Magnification will vary depending on what you plan to use it with. The larger the objective lens, the higher power you’ll need in order to achieve the desired effect.
How do I mount a red dot sight?
Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers offer detailed instructions that are easy to understand. Make sure you get an appropriate plate carrier/mounting kit and use the included hardware to attach the sight to your firearm. You can also purchase quick-detach pins (usually sold separately) and screws to make installation even easier.
Can anyone use a red dot?
Anyone can use a red dot; however, some people may have more success than others. If you’re looking for something that’s truly accessible to everyone, look towards one of our featured picks below or check out this list of universal options.