How to Use a Red Dot sight What You Need To Know!

Red Dot Scope

Red dot sights are a game-changer for any shooting enthusiast. These versatile optics have become my go-to choice for various shooting scenarios, and here’s why.

First and foremost, I’ve found red dot sights to be incredibly versatile tools. They encompass a wide range of optical devices, including magnified options, and feature illuminated aiming dots or reticles. Whether I’m out on the range, in a tactical situation, or even hunting, red dot sights adapt to the task at hand.

What really sets them apart for me is their performance at different ranges. In close quarters, they’re unbeatable for rapid target acquisition, making them ideal for self-defence scenarios. But here’s the magic – red dot sights maintain their effectiveness even when I need to take those long-distance shots. It’s like having the best of both worlds.

One of the most significant advantages is the ability to keep both eyes open while aiming. This promotes situational awareness and quick target acquisition. It’s a natural extension of my vision, and it feels right.

In low-light situations, I’ve come to rely on red dot sights. They perform remarkably well when visibility is less than perfect, ensuring my shots are right on target when I need them to be.

However, it’s crucial to emphasize that proper knowledge and training are key. Using a red dot sight effectively requires understanding its features and functions. It’s about safety, accuracy, and shot placement. With the right skills, these optics are an invaluable addition to any shooter’s arsenal.

Different Types of Red Dot Sights

Red dot sights come in various types, each with its own unique features and benefits. Understanding these types will help you make an informed choice when selecting the right sight for your shooting needs.

Reflex Red Dot

Reflex Red Dot

The world of reflex red dot sights is fascinating and full of innovation. Let me share my thoughts on this cutting-edge technology.

Reflex red dot sights, operating as reflector sights, have truly revolutionized the way we aim and shoot. It’s like having a digital magic wand in your hands. An LED projects a dot onto a reflective lens, giving you a clear and precise aiming point. It’s almost like the dot is part of the real world.

Now, there are two main types of reflex sights to choose from. The tube-type, resembling a short rifle scope, keeps that LED beam neatly contained within the housing. On the other hand, the open reflex optic dares to expose that LED beam. The difference? Open reflex sights have that red dot in razor-sharp focus right on the same plane as your target, ensuring your aim is spot on. It’s a game-changer, especially for those quick, close-quarters shots.

However, it’s worth noting that, as with all technology, there are nuances to consider. When using open reflex sights, the dot’s focus may reduce when you shift your gaze to a distant target. This can be a bit tricky for shooters with astigmatism, resulting in a “starburst, smear, or double vision” dot image. But fret not; there are solutions and alternative reticle designs that can help mitigate this issue.

One of the standout features of reflex sights is their low parallax. With the minimal point of aim shift when you move your head, accuracy and target tracking are enhanced. It’s like the optic knows where you’re looking and adjusts accordingly. That level of precision is a true confidence booster.

Holographic Red Dot

Holographic Red Dot

Holographic red dot sights are nothing short of futuristic marvels, and I can’t help but share my enthusiasm for this groundbreaking technology.

These sights take aiming to a whole new level by using laser and mirrors to create a red dot reticle image at a distance. It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s real, and it’s incredibly effective.

The heart of a holographic sight is the reticle hologram, generated by a built-in hologram and illuminated by a laser diode. The result? A crystal-clear, razor-sharp red dot that appears to be on the same focal plane as your target, no matter where you’re looking. It’s like having a direct line from your eye to the bullseye.

What truly sets holographic sights apart is the constant focus they offer. No matter how your eyes adjust or where you look, that reticle image remains in perfect focus. It’s a game-changer, especially in dynamic shooting situations where you need to react quickly.

The lens and housing of these sights play a crucial role. They align your eye with the projector and contain all the mechanisms needed for seamless operation. It’s not just about functionality; it’s about precision and reliability.

Prism Red Dot Sights

Prism Red Dot Sights

Red dot sights are a breath of fresh air in the world of optics. Let me share my take on these innovative gems.

What sets prism sights apart is their ingenious use of prisms instead of traditional lenses. This nifty design brings the target image into sharp focus, all while keeping the optic’s profile compact and lightweight. It’s like having the best of both worlds – the precision of a scope without the bulk.

The illuminated reticle, often laser-etched and lit by an LED, is a game-changer. It gives you a crystal-clear aiming point, even in low-light conditions. I’ve found it to be incredibly handy, ensuring my shot placement is on point, no matter the time of day.

One of the unique aspects of prism sights is their limited magnification. Some models offer zoom, typically topping out at 4x to 5x. This extra oomph can be a real asset for enhanced target engagement, whether you’re zeroing in on a distant target or need to spot fine details. It’s like having a versatile tool in your arsenal.

Mounting and Zeroing Your Red Dot Sight

Mounting and zeroing a red dot sight is an essential skill that every shooter should master. It’s not just about attaching a cool piece of optics to your firearm but rather about ensuring accuracy and precision in your shots. Here’s my take on the process, from mounting to zero, and a bit of insight into ballistics as well.


Mounting red dot sight

When it comes to mounting your red dot sight, it’s all about stability and ease of use. Most red dot sights are designed to fit seamlessly on standard Picatinny or Weaver rails. The installation process is usually straightforward, so you won’t need a degree in engineering to get it right.

For AR-style firearms, I’ve found that the sweet spot for mounting the red dot sight is on the forward half of the receiver rail. This placement balances your peripheral vision and the sight’s field of view, making target acquisition quick and efficient.

A crucial tip: avoid mounting on handguard rails. Instead, push the sight forward against the receiver rail. This ensures a more secure and stable attachment.

To prevent any unwelcome surprises in the middle of your shooting session, I recommend using medium-strength Loctite on the mounting screws. This little trick guarantees consistent and stable placement.

By mounting your red dot sight in the recommended forward position, you’ll leave enough space behind it to mount iron sights or a flip-up magnifier if you wish to expand your options.

Quick mounts can be a game-changer. They allow you to make swift and firm adjustments, enhancing the overall stability of your red dot sight on the firearm.

Height Above Bore Measurement

Before diving into the zeroing process, measure the height from the bore to the centerline of your red dot sight. This measurement is vital, as it affects the bullet trajectory and the zeroing procedure.

Bullet Trajectory and Zero Points

Understanding the trajectory of your bullets is key. Bullets tend to rise above the line of sight initially, then intersect at the first zero point, reach a maximum height, and eventually drop to intersect at the second zero point. Knowing this will guide your zeroing process.

Co-Witnessing Red Dot and Iron Sights

While co-witnessing your red dot with iron sights might seem like a neat idea, there are better approaches for setting windage and elevation. Instead, it’s more efficient to zero the red dot first and then align the iron sights accordingly.

Preference for 50 Yards First Zero

I’m a fan of the 50-yard first zero. It aligns well with the ballistic path of the .223 Remington 55-grain PSP bullet. This results in a trajectory that suits a red dot optic for reasonable shooting ranges. It’s a well-balanced choice for those versatile shots.

Zeroing Process

The zeroing process for a red dot sight is quite similar to zeroing a conventional scope. I usually start by zeroing my AR at 50 yards. Once that’s dialed in, I verify the trajectory at 100 yards. Typically, I aim for a pattern that’s about 1 inch high at that distance. This might require a few iterations to get it spot on, but patience pays off.

Be sure to meticulously consider the click values on your red dot sight. These values, frequently provided in either one MOA (inch) or one-half MOA (inch) per click at hundred yards, are vital for making exact adjustments while zeroing. It’s akin to finely tuning a musical instrument, guaranteeing that every note is perfectly in tune.

Ballistics Knowledge

Now, let’s dive into the world of ballistics. It’s vital to have a deep understanding of the ballistics of your firearms and the specific ammunition combinations you use. Different guns and loads will behave differently, and you need to know what to expect.

Online Ballistic Calculators

Online resources, like, can be your best friends. These calculators provide detailed information about your setup, including bullet drop, trajectory, and other ballistic data. They’re like having a virtual shooting coach helping you make those necessary adjustments.

Verification in the Field

Knowledge is power, but it’s only as good as its real-world application. To truly gain confidence in your shot placement, it’s essential to verify the calculated data in the field. Take your setup to the range and put it to the test. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about seeing how your firearm and ammunition perform in practice.

Tips For Using Red Dot Sights

red dot sight for beginners

Using red dot sights can significantly enhance your shooting skills, but it’s not just about slapping one on your firearm and hoping for the best. Here are some valuable tips that I’ve learned over the years to make the most out of your red dot sight:

Practice from All Positions

Don’t limit your training to one shooting stance. Whether you’re standing, kneeling, or lying prone, practice shooting from various positions. This versatility will prepare you for real-life scenarios where you might not always have the luxury of a perfect shooting stance.

Head Position and Cheek Weld

A good head position and proper cheek weld are the building blocks of consistent and accurate shooting. Ensure your eye is aligned naturally with the red dot sight. This not only improves accuracy but also helps you maintain situational awareness.

Proper Sight Picture

A correct head position and cheek weld should naturally lead to a proper sight picture. Your red dot should appear in the centre of the optic window. If it’s not, adjust your position until it is. Consistency is key here.

Emphasis on Accuracy

In shooting, accuracy should always be your ultimate goal. It’s not about how fast you can pull the trigger; it’s about hitting your target with precision. Take your time, shoot deliberately, and pay close attention to shot placement.

Call Your Shots

Actively calling your shots means being aware of where your shots are landing and assessing your accuracy. This self-awareness is essential for improvement. Don’t just fire and forget; know where your rounds are going.

Accuracy Before Speed

This tip is especially crucial in disciplines like three-gun competitions. Speed is exciting, but it should come after you’ve achieved a high level of accuracy. Rushing your shots can lead to missed targets and wasted rounds.

Varied Target Practice

Stay away from one target size or distance. Practice shooting at targets of different sizes and at varying distances. This will help you gauge your capabilities with your firearm and red dot sight under various conditions.

 Familiarity with Controls

Know your red dot sight like the back of your hand. Be familiar with the location and operation of the power, brightness, and reticle controls. This knowledge will enable you to make quick and efficient adjustments without having to take your eyes off the target. It’s especially crucial in challenging conditions like fading light or rain.

Comfortable Eye Position

Mount your red dot sight at a position that allows for a comfortable and natural alignment with your eye. The last thing you want is to strain your neck or eyes while aiming. A comfortable position also promotes consistency.

Avoid Excessive Height

When mounting your red dot sight, avoid going too high. Excessive height can lead to trajectory challenges, making it difficult to calculate bullet drop accurately. It can also result in poor cheek weld and unstable head positioning, impacting your overall accuracy.


How does a red dot scope work?

Well, a red dot scope is a nifty little device. It operates on a simple but effective principle. There’s a small light source at the rear of the scope, which projects a red dot onto the lens at the front. This lens reflects the dot back to your eye, giving you that unmistakable aiming point. It’s like having a laser-guided reference for your shots, and it’s incredibly handy.

What distance do you zero a red dot?

The distance you zero your red dot largely depends on your firearm and its intended use. If you’re putting a red dot on a self-defense pistol, a zero at around 10 yards is a smart choice. Most self-defense situations happen within 7 yards, so this setup keeps you prepared for a variety of scenarios. Remember, accuracy and quick target acquisition are your friends here.

What is a red dot scope good for?

Red dot scopes are like the Swiss Army knives of optics. They’re versatile and incredibly useful in various shooting applications. Whether you’re a civilian target shooter, a hunter, or even a law enforcement or military professional, a red dot sight is your trusty sidekick. They make aiming fast and straightforward, and that’s a game-changer in high-pressure situations.

Can you sight in a red dot scope?

Absolutely, just like any other sight, a red dot scope needs to be zeroed properly. But before you dive into the zeroing process, make sure you’re familiar with the basics. Knowing how your red dot sight works and understanding its controls is key to getting it zeroed effectively.

Can you zero a red dot without shooting?

Surprisingly, yes! While you can certainly use your eyes to line up your red dot with the target, many people opt for a boresighter tool. It’s a nifty gadget that projects a laser sight, helping you align your red dot without firing a single round. There are a few methods, but they all lead to the same goal – getting your red dot perfectly on target.

Can you hunt deer with a red dot scope?

Absolutely, but there are a few things to keep in mind. While some red dot sights offer a bit of magnification, they truly shine at distances of 200 yards or less, especially for hunting big game like deer. A red dot scope’s fast target acquisition is a real advantage when you’re stalking your prey.

How accurate are red dot scopes?

Now, here’s the thing – red dot scopes are precise, but they do have some limitations. You might notice a larger circular error when compared to traditional scopes. This is because the line of sight doesn’t follow the exact path of the bullet, and firearms can have variations in their zero at extended ranges. So, while they’re accurate, don’t expect them to show you the exact point of impact, especially at long distances.


Mastering the art of using red dot sights can significantly enhance your shooting skills. From their versatility to their effectiveness at various distances, these sights are valuable tools for both beginners and experienced shooters. Remember that practice and familiarity with your specific red dot sight are key to achieving accuracy and precision in your shooting endeavors. So, go ahead, equip your firearm with a red dot sight, and elevate your shooting game to new heights.

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