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Red Dot Optics - Question


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I am at a loss. What are the specific advantages/disadvatages of scope style vs reflex sights? Which would prove better for a general purpose rifle (target, SD, shtf)?

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Red dots are not for precision work. In most cases the dot size is 2 or 4, some even are as big a 10, inches at 100 yards. This doesn't lend well to shooting small groups. Now what red dots ARE good for is quick, almost instinctive, shooting where speed is more important than ultimate accuracy. Red dots also allow for you to shoot with both eyes open so you can have a much wider field of view. The distance of your eye, called eye relief, from the scope is generally unimportant. Parallax is also not an issue with most red dots. Red dots are for CQB work above all else.

The advantage of traditional style scopes is they are more for precise work or for shooting at longer distances. A disadvantage of the traditional style scope is eye relief is important. You have a small window in which the scope will work, too far away or too close and the reticle seems to move more than it should. And parallax is important with traditional style optics. And with a traditional style optic you also have a wide range of reticles. The mildot can be used for pretty recise range estimation to an unknown distance target. The mildot formula is the easiest to use when estimating range.

As far as what works for you is really a matter of choosing the primary job of the firearm. After that all other things will be a compromise. That is if you want a long range precision firearm then fast, instictive shooting will suffer. And likewise a red dot will be great for close in instinctive shooting but will suffer shooting long range.

It is possible to have both a close range gun and a long range precision shooter. You can install an optic that offers the long range performce you are looking for then install a secondary red dot sight. The red dots installed this way are generally at a 45 degree angle off to one side. This allos you to make long range shots but you can also do close in work if need be.

But in the end it is like everything else, a compromise.

Dolomite

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A cheap red dot (most of them anyway) is virtually useless shooting in sunlight. Can't see the dot. Even my Eotech is very faint when shooting in bright sunlight. At times it's hard to pick up quickly. I have a BSA on a 22 that is useless when the sun is out bright. Most traditional scopes, even $30 ones, work fine in bright sunlight. A scout scope has long eye relief, low magnification and traditional cross hairs. Some are as cheap as $50. I have one on a Mosin that works great.

I like the red dot shooting style at close range (50 yards or less). Very pleased with the Eotech on my AR. I am Just saying that unless you spend a few hundred on a decent one, you might not be happy with it ad a mid-day shoot.

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wow what dolomite said is spot on I own an Aimpoint and like it for tactical reason but if I was hunting a scope with mag would be my choice.

Edited by NRA
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I have one from Primary Arms. It's plenty bright in daylight. Very pleased with it.

My aimpoint also works well in day light

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Here is a tip for those of you with a cheap red dot that gets washed out in the sun.

Normally they use a 2032 coin style battery. The 2032 battery is a 3V.

They also make batteries that are 3V but they are 1/2 as thick as the 2032 batteries. They are, imagine this, called 2016. When you stack two 2016 batteries they are the same size as a standard 2032 battery but provide twice the voltage.

And because you are getting twice the voltage you are getting a much brighter dot. I have tried this on several cheap red dots and they work great.

I will give a word of warning. ALthough I can;t confirm I would caution against using this technique in a sight that has electronics like auto brightness.

Dolomite

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Here is a tip for those of you with a cheap red dot that gets washed out in the sun.

Normally they use a 2032 coin style battery. The 2032 battery is a 3V.

They also make batteries that are 3V but they are 1/2 as thick as the 2032 batteries. They are, imagine this, called 2016. When you stack two 2016 batteries they are the same size as a standard 2032 battery but provide twice the voltage.

And because you are getting twice the voltage you are getting a much brighter dot. I have tried this on several cheap red dots and they work great.

I will give a word of warning. ALthough I can;t confirm I would caution against using this technique in a sight that has electronics like auto brightness.

Dolomite

Nice. I may give that a shot. I have a few cheap ones that work barely in bright sun and a few that don't work at all. Thanks.

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take a look at ultradot's products if you want a small, precise dot -- their dot is smaller than most.

Adding to it... red dots replace iron sights and are generally short range. Past 100 -200 yards, you may want a scope. Lots of folks put both a scope and a dot on a tactical rifle. Additionally, red dots are a great help to people with a variety of vision problems.

red dot is optimal for targt pistol and defense. Not recommended in SHTF long tem, due to eventual lack of battery. For general rioting and so on, its great for that too. Poor for ultra long range target practice or any real rifle target practice (unless its a 22 at 50-100 or less yards?!).

Scope is poor up close, and odd on a pistol though people do it. Slower for self defense and can lead to looking with 1 eye, dangerous in combat. Really, scopes are for long range shooting or precise rifle shooting -- target stuff or sniper type combat.

Edited by Jonnin
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What mildot you thinking about? Or what price range?

I have done a lot fo research into mildot scopes. There are some definite hidden gems out there for the price.

Have you used mildots before? I never thought I would like them until I got my first one. After I learned the formula, which is extremely easy to do in your head, I now don't understand how I ever made it without one. I will never buy another duplex scope. I have used mildots on rimfires as well as centerfires and they are great.

Dolomite

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I have a 5x that fits behind the PA red dot. I have a quick disconnect mount now, but will probably pick up a flip-to-side soon. It co-witnesses with the iron sights, so if the battery dies, I can still use irons w/o removing the red dot.

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Have read some people praise the red-dots which have automatic brightness control and have read others curse them. Never had an auto-brightness red dot and dunno. The "manual brightness" ones I've used, if set "too bright" can get "too blurry" which may have to do with mechanics of the eye rather than mechanics of the sight?

Have a 40mm cheap BSA barrel red dot, a 20mm Konus "atomic" barrel red dot, two EOTECH 512 holographic and a Bushnell "made by EOTECH" holographic. I don't pretend expertise using them except those manual-adjustable-brightness units are very easy to see in full sunlight when adjusted properly. When adjusted a "too bright" for conditions they can make an offset ghost image in my eye, which is possibly a fault of my eye rather than the red-dot. Even with a "splattered" too bright red dot, possibly the aiming would go in about the correct location, though it may not be the most pleasant image to look at?

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auto adjusting red dots are designed for average eyes.... they are too bright by default for me. I will take my 10 brightness settings and slightly bigger package any day. A switch control costs no more than a sensor.

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auto adjusting red dots are designed for average eyes.... they are too bright by default for me. I will take my 10 brightness settings and slightly bigger package any day. A switch control costs no more than a sensor.

Another tip for you.

Most of the autosensing micro red dots have "eyes" tod etect ambient light levels. What you can do is take a piece of either clear tap or masking tape and cover the :eye". Then take a sharpie marker and darken the piece of tape. Take the red dot outside and see if it is fixed or still too bright. If it is still too bright repeat the process by putting another pieceof tape over th previous piese and darkening it in. Continue the process until the dot is just right. And if you need it brighter again just remove the tape.

Dolomite

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Dolomite-

I used mildots while a sniper in the 82nd..I never thought of using one on an AR. They cost a buttload then.

I believe I want a shorter scout-type scope - maybe cantilevered or easy remove I started researching online but hard to make decisions without seeing and holding.

As for a red dot I believe small and cheap would prove good enough for this application.

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I may be off base with this but I always felt that your location and situation should play a big part in the choice of optics. For SD/SHTF/RANGE I would argue that a red dot or holographic sight would be the best choice for for my area, and most locations I may travel to.

For SD you don't have the obvious advantages they offer. For SHTF, whatever the situation (zombies, riots, etc..) I would factor my plan in. Bug out or Bug in, if you intend to engage a threat past 100 yards for anything other than suppression I think you would take an unnecessary risk, still would work for defense of you and yours, and although limited for hunting I think it would work well enough for what needs to be done (may be wrong here, I'm used to hunting in wooded terrain with intermittent open ground). Range use may limit you on precision but it's not unheard of for a person to be pretty darn good to 150 meters and adequate to 300 with a red dot. I know some like the magnifiers or the precision with mini dot options but I feel less is more. Less items to break and even with a cheaper red dot optic battery life is pretty long considering.

For any of the above situations I would prefer a plain old ACOG. I know they want a kidney and your first born for one but I like the combination it provides. It may not be better at one or the other but like I said earlier, I prefer to limit additions and attachments if possible (part weight saving, part KISS). I know there are other variable power options I'm not stating the ACOG as the end all answer, just what I like and mostly I suppose for the same reason I like an AR, it's what I know best and fear change :rant:

If I lived in a wide open area like Kansas, Montana, etc. I would prefer the longer range optic with mini dot. The value of it while hunting alone would make me make it work for the other options. This is strictly for a rifle I intend to use for all three of the stated situations.

Everyone has their own ideas and with all things enough training with any optic can easily negate any disadvantage of it.

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Fist,

Well argued...I don't know enough to dispute you. Definitely will consider your suggestions. Thanks

He is dead on IMHO. Except that if you are target shooting for fun, much past 200, most dot type optics cover the entire target with the dot. Take a standard 3 inch circle rifle target, put it at 500 yards, fire up your red dot, and it will *cover* the entire target or nearly so. Fire up your 20x whatever power scope, and you can see the red dot in the center of the target and at least attempt to aim at it and hit it.... this is the main failure of red dot type optics. It is the only thing the dots do not do well, and its the nature of the beast... if you can see the dot, and quickly acquire it for usage, it has to be big enough for that, and if its big enough for that, it will cover X amount of space at Y distance.... any other application, the dots are a great choice.

Edited by Jonnin
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He is dead on IMHO. Except that if you are target shooting for fun, much past 200, most dot type optics cover the entire target with the dot. Take a standard 3 inch circle rifle target, put it at 500 yards, fire up your red dot, and it will *cover* the entire target or nearly so. Fire up your 20x whatever power scope, and you can see the red dot in the center of the target and at least attempt to aim at it and hit it.... this is the main failure of red dot type optics. It is the only thing the dots do not do well, and its the nature of the beast... if you can see the dot, and quickly acquire it for usage, it has to be big enough for that, and if its big enough for that, it will cover X amount of space at Y distance.... any other application, the dots are a great choice.

Unless you own a Zoom Dot like I do. The Zoom Dot allows the dot to go from 1 MOA to 10 MOA with the turn of a knob. It also automatically dims or brightens according to ambient light. It is also a very durable scope. I used and abused mine while overseas and never had a problem out of it. When they were made by MIllett they were in the range of Aimpoints and I felt it was better than an Aimpoint because of the auto adjusting feature as well as the adjustable dot size. And they do not change zero when switching dot size like most scopes out there that have different reticles.

Now they are made by Bushnell and run around $225.

I almost always consider a automatically adjusting scope mandatory if you are going to be going in and out of dwellings. It was always the same thing, people would be adjusting their red dots before going in or out of a dwelling during the day. And if you forgot then you would either loose the dot or the dot would obscure the sight picture because of ballooning. It was almost funny watching everyone doing the same thing, stop and tap the buttons on the Eotech or turning the knob on the Aimpoint.

I do know for a fact that on the smallest setting the Zoom Dot would NOT cover a man sized target at 600 yards.

Dolomite

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well it tells you what it would do right there. 6 moa is close enough to 6 inch diameter circle at 600 yards. So it would all but obscure a headshot, but allow for center of mass aiming at a full on man sized shape. Usable, absolutely. Sniper's choice? Probably not. Rapid aim at that range, probably better than a scope. Depends on what you want.

Edited by Jonnin
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  • 3 weeks later...

I went through this same agony...red dot or magnified optic...and Dolomite is the man...the mission drives the equipment...i personally went with a 2moa red dot as i live hear in the woods in east tn i will encounter very few targets of opportunity past 200 yards...heck past 75 yards is probably a stretch..Ive been very pleased with my vortex sparc so far...and had no wash out in the sun problems at all

Edited by turkeydad
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