Refining accuracy takes time and dedication. A shooter who is only at the beginning of their path will probably have a hard time scoring targets, trying to figure out the nitty-gritty of precise shooting. And even a most experienced hunter will hardly bring down a deer if they can barely see its outline. Precision thrives on skill and visual acuity, and people may struggle with both aspects. However, nobody said we can’t have assistance. Aiming devices have been helping people with shooting more precisely for many a century. Even though our survival no longer depends on the results of hunting trips, precision-enhancing devices have gone through many improvements. Rather simple iron sights that comprised no more than two components gave way to advanced optical sights. Today, hunting optics is a broad category that includes devices of various levels of complexity that all serve the same purpose: to improve accuracy and make the shooting experience more enjoyable. In which manner, you might ask? Well, hitting targets feels very rewarding, and sights help do this more often.
When choosing optical devices for their firearms, hunters are presented with two basic choices: scopes and sights. The mainstay of this choice is the desirable range: rifle scopes excel at long-distance shooting, while sights are indispensable at close-to-mid distances. It would take a while to find a device that combines the benefits of the two, with a high probability of it being a jack of old trades yet master of none. However, you would hardly use a bolt-action rifle for close-range shooting, and if you have to, you can probably shoot the target without a sight. But for those who want to increase their precision with handguns and AR-style rifles, sights might become dependable allies. There are several types of optical sights, but today we will talk only about the most popular ones. Gritr Outdoors presents reflex sights.
Reflex Sights vs. Red Dot
Reflex sights are often confused with red dots. Dozens of articles say that red dots are a parent type, while a dozen others claim the opposite. It’s not, by any means, a dispute worthy of the holy internet war: they work on the same principles, after all. But settling the matter might clarify things a bit (or only add more fuel to the fire, we don’t guarantee anything). We side with reflex-sighters, and here’s why.
A reflex sight utilizes a partially reflecting glass element to show the user an illuminated projection of an aiming point superimposed on the field of view. The light-emitting diode (LED) is the source of the aiming point. It projects a beam of light (that is perceived by the user as a simple dot) onto the objective lens, which is usually set at an angle to redirect the collimated light towards the shooter’s eye. The internal surface of the lens is covered in reflective coating to facilitate projecting the image (a dot in our case) to the eye of the shooter. The external surface is covered with an anti-reflective coating to improve the visibility of the image. If LED is the only element, the reticle is perceived as a simple dot. For more complex reticle patterns an edged diaphragm is used: it stops the passage of light except through an aperture. As a result, the user sees a reflected image in the shape of an aperture, which is basically the reticle.
Though it might seem like quibbling, we think it is crucial to distinguish between red dots and reflex sights. Even though the wording and understanding of each differ from site to site, the general trend is as follows: if you are looking for either a reflex or red dot sight, you will find more or less the same functioning devices either in open or tube configurations. The truth is that red dot sights are actually reflex sights enclosed in a tube. Both of them work on the same principle but have slight differences. Tube sights look similar to rifle scopes and can utilize interchangeable filters, sunshades, or flip-up lens covers. They offer a brighter and more visible reticle and are reported to be more accurate at medium distances. Open sights, in their turn, provide a wider field of view and unlimited eye relief. Both types work well on rifles and handguns, but reflex sights yield more benefits when mounted on a handgun.
Which characteristics can determine your choice when choosing a reflex sight? Unlike red dot sights, which can offer several magnification options, the overwhelming majority of reflex sights offer 1x magnification, meaning that objects appear in their ‘life size’. Such sights are also parallax-free and give users unlimited eye relief. In that, all reflex sights are similar. How are they different, then? The reticle size and type vary from device to device. Some offer reticles in the form of a red dot only, while others combine it with a circle. The initial size of a red dot also varies from 2 MOA to 6MOA. Minute of Angle shows how much of the target the reticle can cover. The number given applies to 100 yards: 2 MOA covers 2 inches of the target at 100 yards, 4 inches at 200, etc. Larger dots cover more of the target, which might be handy for faster target acquisition at close distances. Another variable is windage & elevation adjustability. Some devices lack it, but those that don’t usually offer travel ranges between +/- 30 MOA to +/- 60 MOA. As with every optical device, the lens size can also be different: bigger ones will give you a wider field of view. Finally, there is the color of the dot. You can’t really choose from the entire color spectrum since functionality comes before personal preference. The two colors available are red and green, with some sights allowing changing between the two. The green reticle is more visible in brighter environments, so it’s a more preferable choice during the daytime.
“That’s all good and everything, but where are TOP REFLEX SIGHTS, THEY ARE LITERALLY IN THE TITLE” some of you might think. Well, we’ve gone through this educational journey to give you an exhaustive review of reflex sights to help you understand how they work. Then we compared them to red dot sights to dispel common misconceptions between the two, topping it with all options you can see in reflex sights so that you know what to choose from. Which brands manufacture quality reflex sights that will serve you well? Holosun specializes in nothing else but open reflex and red dot sights and lasers, so their mastery can be trusted. Other brands, like Eotech, Leupold, and Vortex, are experts at producing both rifle scopes and reflex sights. You can’t go wrong with choosing one of their devices. We hope this guide will help you with choosing the sight that will meet your personal needs.