How to Use a Red Dot Scope – Beginner’s Guide

Do you want to learn how to use a red dot scope? If you’re a beginner, you may not know how to use these invaluable shooting tools. Many people think they’re challenging or too complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. Red dots were designed to increase the speed at which you can acquire targets while providing impeccable accuracy. If you want to improve your shooting technique, accuracy, and target acquisition speed, try using a red dot scope.

Items You’ll Need to Get Started

First, you’ll need a red dot scope. This article will explain the different types and how to use a red dot scope, making it simple to choose which one you want based on their features. You’ll also need Allen wrenches for mounting the sight. Typically, red dot sights come with a Picatinny rail attachment and the wrenches required for mounting. Don’t worry, it’s relatively simple to mount the sight to your weapon.

You’ll also need your preferred firearm. Red dot scopes can only be mounted on and used with shotguns, handguns, and tactical rifles. However, some scopes can be mounted onto a revolver with the right hardware, though if you’ve never done this, you might want to talk to a gunsmith. The last item you’ll need is a target. Set it up about 25 yards away since red dot scopes lack magnification capabilities and are better suited for close-range shooting.

How to Choose a Sight

Red dot sights are a popular choice for gun enthusiasts because they illuminate the aiming point through the lens viewfinder. They accomplish this by reflecting light, which makes a red dot appear directly over the intended target. Most sights are battery-operated, making them convenient to use. Red dot sights are best suited for close-range shooting, but you can purchase attachments that mount right behind the sight to get more magnification.

Common Types of Sights

Each red dot sight has its own pros and cons based on what kind it is. Red dots are very user-friendly, and most are waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. They’re available in three main types: holographic sights, reflex sights, and prism sights, but the most common type is the reflex sight.

Reflex sights work by projecting light into a mirrored lens, reflecting the aiming point over the intended target. They come available in either tubular or open styles. An open sight has a singular, exposed lens. Tubular sights have a lens on both ends and the light is contained inside the tube itself.

Reflex Sights

Reflex sights can be powered with a tritium aiming point or a battery to illuminate the red dot light. Reflex sights are popular because they can be used with both eyes open to increase the visual awareness of your surroundings. Therefore, they don’t have an eye relief factor, and they also don’t require sight alignment.

With reflex sights, the reticle is located on the same focal plane as the intended target, and the lighted reticle improves visibility when the conditions are poor or in low light. It couldn’t be any easier: just place the dot over the target and pull the trigger! However, reflex sights aren’t magnified, so they’re better suited for close-range work.

Holographic Sights

Holographic sights may look similar to the open or exposed style of reflex sight, but they’re different. They’re built with the electronic reticle image sandwiched between the lens glass layers, with a battery-powered laser diode illuminating the reticle image. Like reflex sights, holographic sights can be used with both eyes open and are best suited for close-range work. They’re typically more expensive than prism or reflex sights, and they also have a shorter battery lifespan.

Prism Sights

Prism sights use a prism to focus on the intended target instead of lenses, and they’re the least common type of sight. They use an illuminated reticle, but prism sight reticles are etched, which is a feature unique to this style of sight. The etched reticle is a failsafe, so the operator can still focus the cross-hairs, even if the batteries die.

Unfortunately, prism sights have a disadvantage: they have an eye relief factor since they can’t be used with both eyes open. They’re more like a conventional scope in this way, which is why they aren’t used as commonly as other kinds of sights. However, unlike reflex and holographic sights, they offer a small amount of magnification.

How to Mount Your Sight

Usually, red dot sights come with all the equipment required for mounting. For sights with no tools, you can use hex keys or Allen wrenches. If you use a rifle, mount your red dot scope on top of the receiver. This allows for optimal balance and stability, making holding zero a breeze. To use a magnifier with a red dot, mount your scope as far up the receiver as possible, so you have room for both.

If you use a handgun, a matching mount plate is necessary to replace the rear iron sights. When mounting a red dot on a rifle, handgun, or shotgun, ensure it’s fully tightened to eliminate any movement. If your screws come loose due to recoil (which can happen), try using Loctite to hold them in place.

How to Use a Red Dot Scope

After you’ve mounted your scope, the next step on how to use a red dot scope is to zero it in. Start by putting your target in place about 25 yards away. Next, co-witness your red dot scope, which verifies that you’re zeroed in accurately. Now, line up the reticle perfectly on top of the iron post. If it’s not sitting directly on the post, try adjusting it up and down. Once you’ve adjusted, you should be perfectly zeroed-in and co-witnessed.

Now, aiming your weapon should be a cinch. Point your firearm and put the dot on the target. If you’ve correctly co-witnessed, the dot should be accurately placed. If you don’t have an iron post at the end of your weapon’s barrel, secure your firearm from recoil and sight in using test-fires like you usually would.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Red Dot Scopes Be Used for Long-Range Shooting?

Yes, they can. However, most red dots are not magnified and are better suited for close-range work. If you chose an illuminated reticle or prism sight, you can get a small amount of magnification. Another option is to mount a magnifier directly behind a holographic or reflex scope, which will increase its overall distance capabilities. If you don’t use a magnifier, red dots are still relatively accurate between about 100-200 yards.

2. Do Red Dot Sights Require Batteries?

Generally, illuminated scopes are battery-powered. However, you can choose a different type of scope which uses tritium illuminated reticles that don’t need batteries.

3. What Does Co-Witnessing Mean?

Co-witnessing refers to a secondary confirmation that you’re accurately lined up and zeroed-in on your target. When you’re in the right spot, the red dot reticle and the iron sight should be lined up together. Just make sure the red dot is directly on top of the post in your viewfinder.

Hopefully, this article has answered questions about choosing, mounting, and correctly using a red dot scope. A red dot scope can be an invaluable asset to any firearm enthusiast, and they’re straightforward to mount and use, making them a very popular choice.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.