Red Dot vs Scope – Which is Better?

If you’re not sure which aiming method is best for you, we’re here to fill you in on every hunter’s big question: should I use a red dot or scope?

Whether you’re shooting game, heading to the range, or taking your rifle into combat, opinions on red dot vs scope are across the board. Some swear by the dot, and others say they can’t shoot without a magnified scope. And then, some say it’s a good idea to collect both.

Let’s break down what each option brings to the table and why frequent shooters might favor one over the other.

What is a Red Dot and What is a Scope?

To put it simply, a red dot is an illusion on your rifle’s eyepiece. Through the wonders of technology, a small light projection creates this glowing dot or reticle in the center of your field of vision. This handy tool is relatively new to the shooting world. First invented by Gunnar Sandberg in 1975, it boomed in popularity by the mid-1990s.

A scope, on the other hand, uses no light projections or alterations to your view. It’s merely a magnifying tool that helps you zoom in on your target. You won’t see any crosshairs, lines, or dots over your vision, but you’ll be able to get a closer look for a more accurate aim.

Pros and Cons of a Red Dot

To understand why hunters use a red dot, let’s look at this rifle attachment’s positive and negative features. Here are the reasons to buy or not to buy:


First of all, there’s no beating the convenience of shooting with a red dot. Like many technological advancements, it merely makes life easier when you’re aiming at your target. The dot helps you pinpoint a moving subject, so you can find your shot and quickly fire off a round.

In the heat of the moment, it’s a relief to have a red dot attachment on your rifle. You won’t need to bother with fussy settings or let your eyes adjust to the zoom. Simply point, line up your shot, and pull the trigger.


On the downside, a main drawback of the red dot is its dependence on a battery. This technical side might come back to bite you if you’re not religious about maintaining your supplies. Unless you’re one to plan before going out in the field, you run the risk of the battery dying at an inconvenient moment.

The other problem with the red dot is the slight loss of accuracy. Although it’s excellent for quickly taking aim and nailing a moving target, it doesn’t compare to the fine-tuned accuracy of a zoomed-in view.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Scope

If you’re using a scope attachment, you’ll want to consider the ups and downs of this aiming device. Here are the main facts to know if you’re taking a scope on your next shooting trip:


Bringing a scope to the field will instantly improve your shooting versatility. You can aim at close and mid-range targets and then simply adjust the zoom to close in on far-off marks. With a magnified scope, you’re much more likely to hit a target that would be difficult to see with the naked eye.

With a scope, you can expect better accuracy and hit rate. Zooming in on the target reduces the risk of missing the shot because you get a much clearer aim.


Of course, there’s the downside of using a scope: no matter how far you zoom, it can still be tricky to land the shot at the exact point you want. Sure, you’ll hit the target, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the center of your aim.

Additionally, shooting with a scope in a high-pressure situation might leave you frustrated with your slow aim. Adjusting the zoom setting takes time, and if you hone in too close, it can be challenging to find your target again once you’ve lost sight.

Finally, a scope will be slightly heavier than a red dot attachment. It won’t be a huge difference, but if you already weigh down your rifle with other bells and whistles, it’s something to consider.

Red Dot vs Scope: How Do They Measure Up?

So, between the red dot and the scope, which one is better? To find out, let’s compare our pros and cons one more time.

Shooting with a red dot, you’ll enjoy these perks:

  • Quick aiming capability
  • Easy to pinpoint where shot lands
  • Helps track moving targets
  • No need for eyes to adjust to zoom
  • Useful in high-pressure scenarios
  • Lightweight

If you opt for a scope instead, you’ll do better in these areas:

  • Improved overall accuracy
  • Versatile shooting at different distances
  • Hits far-off targets
  • No battery needed
  • High hit rate
  • Heavier weight


Essentially, in a scenario where you’re shooting a long-range target that isn’t moving fast, the scope will be your best bet. It can handle all distances and has an unbeatable hit rate.

However, it’s critical to consider that most situations are more complex than merely picking off a still target from the horizon. Whether you’re using your rifle in combat or stalking jumpy prey that could leap out in front of you any minute, the red dot is the versatile option that covers many possibilities.

Our Best Bet: Go With a Red Dot

Every hunter will have their own opinion on the red dot vs scope debate. You’ll meet plenty of seasoned shooters who swear by a magnified scope. It’s hard for some people to part with the faithful technology that got them through decades of great hunting trips as the traditional option.

However, there’s no denying the accuracy you’ll get when you use a red dot. Whether you’re shooting moving targets, tracking uphill or airborne prey, or expecting a sudden shot, the red dot is the most reliable option.

Downfalls and all, the red dot is the rifle attachment we prefer. Just remember to keep that battery charged before you head out.

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.