Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot Sight: Truth You Need To Know

Which is better, a red dot sight or a reflex sight? This is a question I hear being asked quite often. And what this signifies is that a lot of people know very little or nothing about electronic sights. This is understandable given that the term red dot sight is thrown around quite often.

Furthermore, there are a lot of people searching on Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot. In fact, this is one of the most searched topics among hunters and gun enthusiasts. So, is there a difference between these two terms or do they refer to one and the same thing? This is the question I want to answer in this reflex vs red dot sight article.

Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot Sight

Reflex Sight vs Red Dot Sight

There is a fine line between red dot sight and reflex sight. Well, A Red dot sight is just terminology, not a sight itself. It is a combination of different sights, which uses a red dot to mark and aim the target. Under that term, there are 3 kinds of sights such as,

  • reflex sight,
  • holographic sight and
  • prism sights. 

More clearly, a reflex sight is a red dot sight; a holographic sight is a red dot sight, and a prism sight is also a red dot sight. But you can not say red dot sight as a sight technically.

Reflex Sight vs Holographic Sight vs Prism sight Quick Comparison

Reflex sights are a type of a red dot sight and can be compared to the three other types of red dot sights as below.

Reflex sight

Holographic sight

Prism sight

Infinite eye relief

Infinite eye relief

2-4 inches eye relief

No magnification

No magnification

1x magnification

Long lasting battery

Battery lasts for up to a month or so

No batteries needed

open-non tubular design

Tubular design

Tubular design

Uses a battery-powered LED to project light onto a lens

Uses laser illumination to project light to a lens

Uses prism to project light to a lens

Today’s Best Reflex Sights

SaleBestseller No. 1
Feyachi Reflex Sight - Adjustable Reticle (4 Styles) Both...
Feyachi Reflex Sight - Adjustable Reticle (4 Styles) Both...
Very sturdy and secure rail mounting system. Will not come loose, made to last.; Parallax corrected & unlimited eye-relief, where the dot goes, so does the bullet!
$43.55 −$19.56 $23.99 Amazon Prime
SaleBestseller No. 2
Feyachi RS-30 Reflex Sight, Multiple Reticle System Red Dot...
Feyachi RS-30 Reflex Sight, Multiple Reticle System Red Dot...
Made of high grade aluminum alloy which makes the red dot sight durable and light weight.
$40.95 −$2.50 $38.45 Amazon Prime
SaleBestseller No. 3
CVLIFE 1X22X33 Red Green Dot Gun Sight Riflescope Reflex...
CVLIFE 1X22X33 Red Green Dot Gun Sight Riflescope Reflex...
Tubeless design with 33mm reflex lens aperture provides a wide field of view.
$28.99 −$5.00 $23.99 Amazon Prime

Last update on 2024-06-24 / Please note that Prices and Availability Are Subject To Change /Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Today’s Best Red Dot Sight

Last update on 2024-06-27 / Please note that Prices and Availability Are Subject To Change /Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out our excellent pick of the best red dot sight under 100 and 150 dollars also don’t forget to check which sights we made as the top ar reflex sights lists.

The Red Dot Sight 101

Let us start with the more popular red dot sight. Now for those not in the know, the latter term refers to a sight that uses a holographic red dot. Notice I did not use the word scope in my definition. That is because contrary to what Call of Duty might have you believe a scope is not the same as an electronic sight. These are two totally different optical instruments. The most significant difference between a scope and a sight is that a sight does not have magnification.

That being said, the term red dot sight does not refer to one specific type of electronic sight. In fact, red dot sights can be categorized into three main categories. These are

  • prism sights,
  • reflex sights, and
  • holographic sights.

Yes, you read that right, reflex sights are actually a type of red dot sights. Among archers, the red dot sight can be likened to the single-pin bow sight.

How Red Dot Sights Work?

Both in theory and practice, red dot sights use an LED and a specialized mirror to project the red dot. The LED becomes energized and shines a light at the mirror. When this light is shone on the mirror, it bounces back to the shooter. The reason being that the mirror on these sights is usually slightly tilted.

However, not all light wavelengths are bounced back to your eye. Due to the mirror being coated it reflects red light, and this is where we get the red dot. Due to their simplicity red dot sights do not require any kind of focusing or additional lenses to be clear.

Types Of Red Dot Sights

As stated, red dot sights can be categorized into three. 

Prism sights

Prism sights use prisms to focus on to the target instead of a series of lenses as in scope. The benefit of these types of sights is that they usually come with a small magnification. Additionally, some prism sights feature illuminated or etched reticles. The number one drawback to using these sights is that they have a short eye relief. This means your eye has to be closer to the sight for you to see your target clearly.

Additionally, compared to other sights, prism sights are relatively pricier. Nevertheless, their prices have been reducing for some time now.

Holographic sights

Holographic sights, on the other hand, use a picture of a reticle that is in between glass layers. These types of sights are rarer than prism and reflex sight. Moreover, since EoTech has a patent on holographic sights, they are the only company that makes them. Similar to the other two types of red dot sights, holographic sights are easy to use.

However, unlike prism sights, you can use these sights with both eyes open. The only drawback of these types of sights is that they are expensive. Considered by some as the best red dot sight, EoTech’s holographic sights can cost up to three times the cost of common reflex sights. Their price is another reason why they are not so mainstream.

If you are gun enthusiast and have the popular glock 43 then you might need a sight for that awesome gun. If you are searching a best night sights for glock 43 then read the reviews from the linked text.

Reflex Sights

Now let us look at reflex sights and what they can do. These types of sights use a lens mirror to project a red dot, which is then reflected back to your eyes. Reflex sights come in two distinct shape designs.

The first type, which is considered the reflex sight, is the exposed reflex sight. This type has a unique no-tube shape that features only a small clear window. It is this type of reflex sight that you will find attached to most tactical and hunting rifles. The second type features the more traditional tube shape complete with two lenses a front and back lens.

One of the reasons why reflex sights are loved is their lack of eye relief. This means it is fast and easy to re-acquire a target and also you can use it with both eyes open. Additionally, your head can be positioned anywhere and you will still be able to acquire your target. To add on to this, some reflex sights usually feature battery-free use.

Another reason why these types of sights are so popular is that they are cheaper than both prism and holographic sights. While the one major con of these sights is that they lack magnification. Nevertheless, there are some that come paired with riflescopes that do not have an aiming point.

Also unlike riflescopes that tend to be long and sometimes bulky, reflex sights are small and lightweight. As such, they can be used on a wider variety of weapons from tactical rifles to handguns.


It is quite common to hear people discussing Reflex Sight Vs. Red Dot. But as you have found out a reflex sight is simply a type of a red dot sight. When compared to other types of red dot sights, the benefits of reflex sights become visible. For starters, reflex sights consume less battery power compared to their holographic counterparts. Additionally, reflex sights are cheaper than both holographic and prism sights. That being said, reflex sight can be attached to a wide array of weapons from tactical to hunting rifles. In conclusion, it is essential to differentiate between a reflex sight and the other type of red dot sights.

4 thoughts on “Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot Sight: Truth You Need To Know”

  1. so sir which sight would you carry on a 3.1 inch barrel SCCY handgun for concealed carry. I am 75 years old/spent1.5 years in Vietnam and have never had a handgun but want to buy one now. needles to say my eyes are not what they use to be but I do not wear glasses and would like to get one of the sights you have written about.
    thanks for your help

  2. Thank you for the clear and concise information. I obtained my first red dot twenty years ago and didn’t know what I had until today. I liked it on my machined XD Wilson. Gave the whole outfit to a friend. Recently he gave to me a Sig P365SAS which has sights I don’t like. I’ll purchase a Villain whenever I can get a base plate. I’m 91 now and probably don’t have time to waste.

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