How Does A Red Dot Sight Work

How does a red dot sight work

Red dot sights are part of the solution that improves on aiming as well as eliminating the traditional way of firing a gun by closing one eye, then using the other to perfect the shot.      

Well, what exactly is a red dot sight? Simply said, it is an optic that uses a red dot as the reticle so as to help you hit the target accurately in the close or medium range.      

However, a red dot sight does not feature any magnification. It is a 1X optic, and that is why it is not referred to as a scope. To help you understand it better, I will give you an in-depth explanation of how this paintball gun accessory works. 

What is red dot optic/ sight?

Since reflex sights are the most commonly used for hunting rifle or sniper, I will explain how this type works. The technology or the underlying principle that makes a reflex optic work is a spherical partial mirror. This mirrored lens has a special coating that reflects only the red light so that you can see a red dot from only one side of the optic.      

By partially reflecting only red light, the mirror allows all other colors in the light spectrum to pass through, and that is why you can see through, despite it being a mirror. The result of this is a clearly visible reticle that marks the target in a clear line of sight.       

How a red dot sight actually works?

Source: Opticgearlab

Since reflex sights are the most commonly used for hunting rifle or sniper, I will explain how this type works.      

The technology or the underlying principle that makes a reflex optic work is a spherical partial mirror. This mirrored lens has a special coating that reflects only the red light so that you can see a red dot from only one side of the optic.      

By partially reflecting only red light, the mirror allows all other colors in the light spectrum to pass through, and that is why you can see through, despite it being a mirror. The result of this is a clearly visible reticle that marks the target in a clear line of sight.       

Measurement of the red dot

The red dot created will have its size measured using a standard called MOA. The red dot’s size is then controlled easily using a specific aperture hole at the front of the LED light. 

To see and find your target easily, you’d need a bigger dot, while the smaller dots are important when you are shooting at shorter/ moderate distances. For long-range shots, your red would cover less of your target, meaning that you will locate and hit your targets with much ease. 

Benefits of the Red Dot Sights

The red dot created will have its size measured using a standard called MOA. The red dot’s size is then controlled easily using a specific aperture hole at the front of the LED light.

  • The main reason why you need a red dot sight has to do with the simplicity of the red dot and the reticles, and also the fact that the red dot would increase your chances of success significantly. 
  • The red dot sights are incredibly easy to use, and you won’t need too much time on the practice field. If you are a new shooter, the red dot optics will come in handy because you will be aiming at the red dots, and your aim will be to aim at the red target.
  • The other reason why red dot sights/ optics are held in high regard has everything to do with speed. If you’ve used irons before, then your attempt at shooting with the red dots will register a significant spike in the potential success. Thanks to the red dot optics, when you are at that low-ready position, you’d be putting in accurate rounds on your targets in seconds. Targeting using alternative options like irons often takes significantly more time.
  • Also, you may like the red dot sights because the sights make it easy for you to look through your optic even at imperfect angles but still make the shot. Thanks to the red dot sight, you can make perfect shots when you are in a rush, and you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect alignment.
  • Flexibility is the other reason why you may want to invest in the best red dot sights. The red dot sight is a huge game-changer because you get to switch from one weapon to another with ease. For example, the full-size red dot optic would be perfect for your AR as well as a shotgun. So, if you are looking for versatility, this is what you must have. The other advantage is that the red dot is small enough for use with duty firearms, airsoft, as well as a concealed carry.
  • If you have poor eyesight, the red dot will make the perfect partner for your sighting works. It enhances vision, hence its recommended use in older shooters, as well as individuals with other eyesight-related problems,  
  • The other reasons for using the red dot sight include the long-range, high precision of the aiming systems, as well as the first-shot advantage that comes with the red dot sight. Note that as a result of the versatility of the red dot, you could use it in tactical operations/ applications such as home defense, sports shooting, and even in competitions.

The red dot sights are not perfect, though, as they come with some drawbacks.

The biggest drawbacks include:

Another important component that makes a red dot optic work is the red LED. It is usually placed in front of the spherical mirror, but outside of its focal point.

  • An increased risk of electronics failure. You need to carry fresh batteries with you, and you also need to correct the sight’s ruggedness for ease of use. Alternatively, you might have to invest in an iron height as a backup.
  • You also need some training to use the red dot sight. The practice must involve the exact optic plus the handgun you will be using.
  • The optics are also expensive, and you have to buy the custom mount too.
  • Lastly, there is the risk of temperature and water droplets messing up the projection of the laser. You may also have to struggle with fogging of the optic’s glass. 

At the end of the day, a red dot is crucial, and though an iron sight might come in handy, your red dot would do the work just fine if you charge it upfront and carry extra batteries.

Note that when you are choosing the best red dot sight, you need to look at the device’s overall built, compatibility with slides, the reticle (size of the dot and the ring), and the battery life. 

LED

Another important component that makes a red dot optic work is the red LED. It is usually placed in front of the spherical mirror, but outside of its focal point.       

The good thing with LED is that first and foremost, it is a very energy efficient light source and thus, this sight’s battery can last for thousands of hours.      

Second, LEDs have the ability to produce a very narrow band of light output and thus, the mirror can be accurately tuned to reflect just that narrow wavelength of red light, and allow most of the other light to pass through for a clearer view.        

Color

Even though they are called red dot optics, not all of them have a red reticle. Red might work well indoors but the human eye tends to perceive green color better outdoors, especially when it is very sunny.      

According to Ron LaPedis from policeone.com, human eyes are more sensitive to green light and thus, under the same power level, a green dot might appear 30 times brighter than red light. This means that you can use a green dot reticle at lower power levels, giving you extended battery life.   

For the best performance, however, the top 10 red dot sights usually have both red and green settings with adjustable brightness, and this gives you the ability to shoot using the same level of precision, whether it’s dusk, day time, dawn or night time.      

Types of Reflex sights    

There are two main types of reflex optics. These are:  

1. Tube type sights

These red dot sights are bigger than open sights and are based on a tube design that can only be mounted on full-size paintball guns.       

Although big in size, I recommend this type because you can attach tons of accessories to it such as a kill flash and a magnifier so as to increase your range and accuracy.  

2. Open sights

An open sight is quite small in size because its lens is not enclosed in a tube. This gives it an open design, which cannot be accessorized like the tube type above.

The advantage with it, however, is that the open lens gives you a panoramic view of the target because it lacks the tube that may obstruct your line of sight. A slim profiled lens frame ensures that you get a good view ahead, especially as one eye looks through it and the other directly at your target.

Holographic Sights

Apart from reflex sights, the other type of red dot optic is the holographic sight. As the name suggests, it creates a hologram of the red or green dot by projecting the light to its lens using a laser, which then superimposes the light to your field of view, creating a holographic dot that appears ahead of the gun.     

Since there is no reflective coating on the glass lens, this optic does not block or alter any light from going through and thus, it gives you a clearer field of view as compared to reflex red dot sights.

However, holographic optics are usually more expensive and thus, not very popular.       

Conclusion

Red dot sights are very important accessories to paintball guns because they help in improving the accuracy of your shots. This is especially true considering that paintballing is usually about hitting close to middle range targets (opponents), and this optics are designed for exactly that kind of range.

  • Updated 7 months ago
Anthony Maldonado
 

Smith Brown is a 23-year-old Blogger from the USA. He works for the hunting and self-defense related fields. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and DIY.

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