Red dot and laser sights are two of the most popular sights used for training and target shooting. They work in different ways but ultimately deliver the same purpose: more accurate target aiming.
Having an aiming device with a single focal plane sight picture in long or close-range combat is essential for accurate aiming. Unlike a front sight with a traditional sight picture, single plane sights such as red dot and laser sights enable you to aim at your target more accurately and quickly.
In this red dot vs laser comparison, we’ll explore the differences between red dot and laser sights, as well as the ups and downs of using each. So let’s get started!
Difference Between Red Dot and Laser
Red dots and lasers differ drastically in their working mechanisms and designs. Here’s a quick overview of how each of them works:
A red dot sight consists of an LED light that falls right onto an angled piece of glass. Because the glass intersects the path of the light, a red dot is projected on the rectile. To use a red dot sight properly, you need to line up the dot with your barrel and look through the scope to spot the red dot.
Red dot sights are getting more and more popular these days thanks to their long-range.
Laser sights provide the ultimate eye relief. They enable you to swiftly aim with your gun at targets within close proximity.
A laser sight utilizes a laser beam that can be directed at your target to improve aiming accuracy. It’s basically a laser pointer that’s designed for use in combat.
Laser sights have a pretty basic design, but they get the job done in close-range combat.
Red Dot: Advantages and Disadvantages
Red dot sights are quite effective, but they’re not flawless, either. Here are some of the pros and cons of using a red dot sight with pistols:
Red dot sights are very easy to see in pretty much all situations and times of the day. Not to mention, you can simply adjust the brightness settings yourself, something that laser sights lack. This allows you to tweak the size and sharpness of the dot.
However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not always a good idea to set the brightness at the maximum levels. Dimming the red dot a bit can make it appear sharper, which can drastically help you deliver accurate fire.
It’s also worth noting that some red dot sights have an auto-brightness adjustment feature, which can be quite handy in situations where the lighting conditions aren’t stable.
Only VISIBLE TO YOU
One of the biggest advantages of red dot sights over laser sights is that only you can see them. This allows you to accurately fire your pistol stealthily without alarming your target.
Turned on the Whole Time
Red dot sights are always on; you don’t need to turn them on or off when you need to fire a shot. It might seem like a small thing, but in tight tactical situations, the fraction of a second needed to push a button can save your life.
Lots of Size Options
Red dot sights come in a wide range of size options. A red dot optic can have a dot size of 1.5 MOA, which would be ideal for precision shooting. However, a larger dot that falls within the 5-6 MOA range can make target acquisition faster, something you’d definitely appreciate in a tactical situation when you need to shoot a shot quickly.
Nevertheless, the industry standard for most red dot sights is 2.5-3.5 MOA, which is the sweet spot between small and large dots.
Good for Long Distances
Red dot sights have an excellent range. You can easily aim at targets that are 25 yards+ away without compromising accuracy.
Fits Better With Holsters
Red dot sights are mounted to the slide, not the rail, meaning that you’ll still be able to use your pistol with holsters designed to fit pistols with traditional sights.
Works Well With Grip Adjustments
With red dot sights, grip adjustments aren’t much of an issue. Unlike a laser option, a red dot sight enables you to make adjustments to the grip as it’s not mounted on it.
Getting Used to Red Dot Is Somewhat Tricky
The most significant downside of red dot sights is that spotting the red dot isn’t as easy as it seems, especially if your eyesight isn’t the best or you’re used to iron sights.
It’ll take a while for you to be able to aim with a red dot sight, but once you’re past the initial learning curve, you’ll have the guts to pull the trigger faster.
Red dot sights aren’t readily compatible with all pistol or rifle models, meaning that you need a slide cut to be able to use one with your firearm. There are also mounts that are designed to be attached to the rear sight dovetail.
Laser: Advantages and Disadvantages
Now that we’ve uncovered the perks and downsides of using a red dot sight, let’s take a look at what a laser sight has to offer:
Since lasers are also visible to anyone around you, pointing a laser at your target may tempt them to de-escalate and stop the attack altogether, which is definitely a better scenario than engaging in an armed conflict.
Compatible With Any Rail
Lasers are super easy to mount to any firearm with a rail. Unlike red dot sights that require a special mount or slide cut for installation, you can easily attach a laser sight to your pistol conveniently.
Laser and Light Combos
Another advantage of laser sights is that you can get a light/laser combo instead of having to buy each one separately. In other words, if you’re getting a light sight, opting for one that also has a laser pointer would be a big benefit and save you a lot of money. Not to mention, you might actually need the functionality of both of them in certain scenarios, be it at night or during daylight.
Flexible Aiming in tight situations
With a red dot sight, you must align the red dot with the barrel and look into your scope to be able to aim, keeping your head behind the handgun. That can be restrictive in situations where you need to aim in a compromised position, like taking cover behind walls or sandbags. On the other hand, this gives you the upper edge in tight tactical situations where bringing the handgun to eye level isn’t possible.
Only Suitable in Relatively Close Range
Laser sights are pretty hard to use when aiming at distant targets. You might be better off aiming without a laser if the shooting range exceeds 70 yards.
Others Can See It
Using a laser sight means that your target will notice your presence if you’re not quick, which might compromise your position.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Is Better for Home Defense: Red Dots or Lasers?
A red dot sight would be the better choice for home defence. If you’re using a handgun for personal defence, there’s a good chance you’re not trained to use guns as police officers or army personnel.
So, since you don’t want your target to notice you, a red dot sight will be safe as only you will be able to see it.
Are Laser Sights More Expensive Than Red Dots?
It depends on the model, as well as the laser’s color. However, keep in mind that you’ll also buy a mount with a red dot sight, which can increase the cost quite a bit.
Are Green Laser Sights Better Than Red?
Yes, green lasers are much better than red laser sights simply because they’re brighter and offer improved visibility in bright sunlight.
The human eye can see green lasers more easily than red lasers. However, a green laser sight will cost you more than a red laser sight, so if you only need to use a gun in the dark, opting for a red laser would be enough for an accurate shot.
To settle the red dot vs laser debate, both types of sights can have their place in your tactical gear bag. Red dots are precise, suitable for long-distance shooting, and don’t leave a crimson trace when aiming at your target with your gun or rifle.
On the other hand, laser sights let you shoot from a compromised position. They’re also easier to install into most guns than red dots.
No matter which of them you use, training is key. Nailing your grip and trigger control is also important to get the most out of these advanced sights.