Red Dot Sights: A thing that makes a shooter’s life easier

Author: Eric Sof

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Red dot sights are a non-magnifying sighting device that utilizes a red light-emitting diode (LED) at the focus of collimator optics to show the shooter where to aim. This technology brings shooting to a whole new level.

Introductionpicat

Aiming devices that revolutionized traditional methods of aiming, red dot sights have become an essential part of the equipment for many elite military and police units, particularly those specializing in special operations. These sights offer the shooter a red dot to indicate where to aim and are a non-magnifying sighting device.

Red dot sights are designed to be used with both eyes open, which allows the shooter to maintain their entire field of view and situational awareness while aiming. They are typically mounted on Picatinny rails or special aiming brackets placed on the upper side of the weapon. That means they can be put literally on anything with Picatinny, such as M4 Carbine, Benelli M4 shotgun, SCAR rifle, or FN P90.

Aimpoint Micro Series Red Dot Reflex sights
Aimpoint Micro Series Red Dot Reflex sights (Photo: XY)

Red dot sights are popular with shooters because they enable faster aiming and improved visibility of the surrounding environment. The shooter does not need to close one eye to aim. They are also free of parallax, meaning that the red dot will appear in the same position relative to the target regardless of the shooter’s eye position and distance.

Design

The standard version of these sights utilizes a red light-emitting diode at the focus of collimator optics, which allows the red dot to remain fixed regardless of the shooter’s eye position and distance. This makes red dot sights highly practical as they enable faster aiming and improved visibility of the surrounding environment, as the shooter does not need to close one eye to aim. In other words, they significantly increase the user’s combat efficiency and are entirely free of parallax.

Steyr AUG 9 PARA, Aimpoint on a Bobro Engineering Mount, Hexmag with a Springer Precision Mag Extension
Steyr AUG, Aimpoint on a Bobro Engineering Mount, Hexmag with a Springer Precision Mag Extension (Photo: Imgur/AUGret)

The light-emitting diode emits red light with a wavelength of 670 nanometers. Spherical glass produces an image of the surroundings in shades of light green or turquoise, creating a higher contrast with the red dot and improving lighting. Using a light-emitting diode to project the reticle significantly enhances the reliability of the sight. The diode uses little energy, and its battery can last hundreds or even thousands of hours.

Variants

Today, red dot sights are primarily available in two basic variants: tubular and open. Tubular red dot sights resemble traditional optical sights. They can be fitted with covers to protect the glass from field conditions, such as transparent meshes that prevent the reflection of sunlight from the glass. Open red dot sights consist of a flat base and a frame with reflective optics.

Most models of these sights offer the ability to adjust the intensity of the red dot from extremely bright to barely noticeable. Red dot sights are typically mounted on Picatinny rails or special aiming brackets placed on the upper side of the weapon. While the positioning of the sight on the mount depends on the user’s preference, it is generally true that the closer the sight is to the mouth of the barrel, the faster the target engagement speed. On the other hand, the closer the sight is placed to the stock, the more accurate the hit, as a rule.

Popular models

Some of the most well-known and widespread models today are the sights produced by the Swedish company Aimpoint AB, which was the first to introduce a reflex sight intended for mounting on a rifle in 1975. The CompM3 sight series Aimpoint was introduced in 2005, and the fourth generation of these sights was introduced in 2007 under the name Aimpoint CompM4. These models have proven to be the best sellers to date.

Aimpoint CompM4

The Aimpoint CompM4 model features a 2 MOA red dot, which appears as a circle with a diameter of approximately 54 mm on a target 100 meters away. The model includes a switch with 16 levels of illumination for use during the day and night and has a mount compatible with standard Picatinny rails on the bottom side. The housing is made of high-quality aluminum alloy, making the sight lightweight (265 g without accessories) and resistant to shocks. The manufacturer claims it can function underwater up to 45 meters deep and in extreme climatic conditions ranging from -45° to +71° Celsius. The sight can be adjusted via a click system, with 16 mm at 100 meters in each click.

Aimpoint CompM4 Red Dot
Aimpoint CompM4 Red Dot (Photo: XY)

Aimpoint Micro T-1

One of the most popular models is the Aimpoint Micro T-1, notable for its compact size, as indicated by the name itself. Made of the same alloy as the Comp M4 model, it is also quite sturdy with a weight of 105 grams and can function underwater up to 25 meters deep. The size of the aiming point is 4 MOA, with 12 possible illuminations for use during the day and night. The power supply is battery-powered and provides an operational autonomy of five years.

Aimpoint Micro T-2

Encouraged by the market success of the Aimpoint Micro T-1 model, the company introduced a new model of compact red dot sights, the Aimpoint Micro T-2, with even more advanced performance compared to its predecessor. The new Micro T-2 is made of aluminum alloy, and the surface of the case is entirely anodized and does not reflect light. The miniature sight with the mounting rail weighs 139 grams.

The advanced LED and glass provide an extremely sharp image with a 2 MOA red dot. The Aimpoint Micro T-2 offers the shooter a total of 12 levels of illumination, including 8 for daytime use (one with extreme brightness) and 4 for night settings. Special attention has been paid to improving the sight’s performance in conditions of reduced visibility or complete darkness, and the sight is compatible with night sighting/observation devices.

Aimpoint Micro T-2 mounted on a rifle
Aimpoint Micro T-2 mounted on a rifle (Photo: XY)

The sight is equipped with folding covers on the front and back, with the latter being transparent. It uses a 3V battery type “CR2032” and advanced ACET (Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology) to provide an autonomy of 50,000 working hours or longer than five years. The manufacturer claims the sight can function from -45° to +71° Celsius and underwater up to 25 meters deep.

Trijicon MRO

The Trijicon Miniature Rifle Optic (MRO) is a compact red dot sight designed for use on weapons with Picatinny rail. It features a 2 MOA red dot reticle and a wide field of view, allowing the shooter to acquire and engage targets quickly. The MRO has a durable, aircraft-grade aluminum housing with a hard-anodized finish that is resistant to scratches and corrosion. It is water-resistant and can function from -50°F to 160°F.

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25

The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a compact red dot sight designed for rifles, carbines, and shotguns. It features a 3 MOA red dot reticle and a wide field of view, allowing the shooter to acquire and engage targets quickly. The TRS-25 has a durable, lightweight polymer housing with a matte black finish that is resistant to scratches and corrosion. It is also water-resistant and can function in temperatures ranging from -4°F to 158°F.

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