Benefits of Using Red Dot Sights in Close-Quarters Combat

Chris G.

Close-quarters combat (CQB) is an intense, fast, strategic, and often life-threatening battle. A quick and precise move can tip the scales in your favor. Speed and accuracy can be the difference between life and death—the difference between a successful or failed operation. 

Red dot sights come into play in CQB, acting as powerful assets. These tools help you to rapidly spot and accurately target. They are user-friendly, versatile across different firearms, and offer a broad visual field.

In this article, I’ll discuss why red dots are excellent for CQB as well as how to train with red dots so you would be proficient in CQB.

How Do Red Dots Work?

It’s high-tech but simple and effective. A red dot sight operates on a straightforward principle: it uses a solid-state light emitting diode (LED) emitter to generate a beam of light, usually in the form of a red dot, on a spherical mirror at the front of the optic. The mirror is coated with a partially silvered multilayer dielectric dichroic coating which reflects the red spectrum while allowing all other light waves to pass through. 

This red dot—usually called a reticle—is reflected back to the shooter’s eyes. This is what you use to aim; point and superimpose the red dot on the target. If the conditions are right, the range is right, and the red dot is properly zeroed, the bullet should hit that target after you pull the trigger. 

And that’s basically it. This lightweight system simplifies sighting; you don’t have to spend time and effort to align the rear and front sight of your firearm.

The main advantage of red dot sights is that they offer a single point of focus for quicker target acquisition. They’re generally reliable and seldom malfunction unless damaged. 

Red dot sights, whether open reflex or tube-style red dots, can be used on a wide array of platforms such as concealed carry pistols, full-size handguns, shotguns, and carbines. They can be easily fitted on firearms with Picatinny or weaver rails. These are just some of the reasons why red dot sights have become increasingly popular.

Effective Range of Red Dots

a man doing some combat drills at a firing range

The effective range of red dot optics is generally considered within close to mid-range distances. Red dot sights are non-magnifying optics that provide a simple illuminated reticle to quickly acquire a close-range target. While they excel in short-range rapid target engagement, their design limits their effective range compared to magnified optics like scopes. 

Thus, red dot sights are particularly well-suited for close-quarters engagements, making them popular choices for handguns, shotguns, and rifles used in home defense or tactical situations. In these scenarios, the effective range is typically within 0 to 100 yards.

You can push their effectiveness past the 100-yard mark with proper training and technique. Note that the red dot sight’s role isn’t to zoom in on your target. It’s to give you a sharp, accurate point of aim, regardless of light conditions or angle.

The size of the dot may also impact your effective range. If you choose a smaller dot, like a 1 MOA dot, you’ll get more precision at longer distances, but it could be more challenging to locate swiftly. On the other hand, a larger dot, for instance, a 6 MOA, enables quicker target recognition at close range, but may obscure too much of a distant target. 

While some red dot sights have larger reticles that can be visible at slightly extended ranges, they are generally not designed for precision shooting beyond mid-range distances.

Some shooters pair red dot sights with magnifiers to extend their effective range. Magnifiers are secondary optics that can be flipped into place behind or in front of the red dot sight, providing a temporary increase in magnification for more distant targets.

Pros of Using Red Dot Sights in Close-Quarters Combat

During high-pressure situations in close-quarters combat, the use of red dot sights can notably boost your proficiency. They offer several advantages in situations where rapid target acquisition and quick engagement at short to medium range are critical. 

  1. Quick Target Acquisition: The illuminated reticle allows shooters to place their point of aim quickly on the target, reducing the time between identifying a threat and engaging it.
  2. Both Eyes Open Shooting: Red dot sights are designed for both eyes open shooting. Keeping both eyes open allows you to have a clear view of the surroundings while aiming through the sight, making you more aware of other potential threats.
  3. Unobstructed Field of View: Red dot sights provide an unobstructed field of view. You can see the target and the surrounding environment without the visual clutter associated with traditional iron sights. 
  4. Ease of Use Under Stress: In high-stress situations, shooters may experience tunnel vision or heightened anxiety. Red dot sights simplify the aiming process while reducing the cognitive load.
  5. Effective in Low-Light Conditions: Many red dot sights feature adjustable brightness settings, making them effective in low-light conditions. The illuminated reticle ensures visibility in environments with reduced lighting such as indoor settings or nighttime operations.
  6. Increased Hit Probability: Aiming a red dot sight on a target is intuitive, which contributes to an increased hit probability. This is especially true in instances where targets may be moving quickly or appear suddenly.
  7. Reduced Parallax Effect: Red dot sights have reduced parallax compared to other types of optics. The point of aim remains consistent regardless of your eye position. 
  8. Minimal Eye Fatigue: The simplicity of the red dot reticle reduces eye fatigue during extended use.

Training Tips In Using Red Dot Sights for Close-Quarter Combat

a man aiming a gun with a green field as his background

The red dot is only a tool. To truly be an efficient CQB shooter, you must consistently practice shooting your firearm with a red dot. Here are some tips to enhance proficiency with red dot sights in close-quarter scenarios:

  1. Familiarization with the Red Dot Sight: Become familiar with the specific red dot sight you are using. Understand its controls, brightness settings, and any additional features it may have. 
  2. Both Eyes Open Shooting: Train to shoot with both eyes open. This technique maximizes situational awareness, allowing you to see the target, surroundings, and potential threats simultaneously. 
  3. Target Acquisition Drills: Conduct drills that focus on quick target acquisition. Use various targets at different distances to simulate CQB scenarios. 
  4. Movement Drills: CQB often involves movement. Practice moving through environments such as doorways and hallways while maintaining a sight picture with the red dot. Incorporate lateral movements, quick turns, and shooting on the move.
  5. Transitions Between Targets: Set up drills that require rapid transitions between multiple targets. This helps improve target acquisition speed and ensures efficient engagement of threats from different directions.
  6. Low-Light Training: Practice using the red dot sight in low-light conditions. Adjust the brightness settings as needed and train in environments with reduced lighting to simulate scenarios encountered in indoor or nighttime operations.
  7. Stress Inoculation: Introduce stress into training scenarios to simulate real-world conditions. This can include timed drills, simulated distractions, or incorporating physical activity before engaging targets. Stress inoculation helps improve your performance under pressure.
  8. Multiple Engagement Positions: Train in various shooting positions commonly encountered in CQB, including standing, kneeling, and prone positions. 
  9. Use of Cover and Concealment: Incorporate drills that involve the use of cover and concealment. 
  10. Emergency Reloads and Malfunction Drills: Practice emergency reloads and clearing malfunctions with the red dot sight. 
  11. Team Coordination Drills: Conduct training exercises that involve teamwork and coordination. Practice communicating with team members and engaging threats while maintaining awareness of your surroundings.
  12. Scenario-Based Training: Create realistic scenarios that mimic potential CQB situations. Incorporate decision-making elements into the drills to enhance cognitive skills alongside marksmanship.

Consistent and focused training with red dot sights in close-quarters combat scenarios will enhance your proficiency, speed, and accuracy. 


The use of red dot sights can indeed revolutionize your experience in close-quarters combat. These devices are instrumental in quickly locating your target, providing a broader visual range, and enhancing your precision in shooting.

Both seasoned marksmen and novices can benefit from the significant improvements to shooting performance that red dot sights bring. It’s important, however, to remember that proficiency comes with practice. Devote time to train and become adept at using these devices.

About the author

The name's Chris. Just a regular dude who loves firearms. I've been shooting since I was a kid. My old man taught me the ropes.

I'll never forget the first time I missed an easy shot on a buck, thanks to a bum scope. The image was fuzzier than my dog's butt. After that, I got obsessed with understanding scopes. What makes the good ones tick and the bad ones trash. After a few years and a few thousand bucks, I learned what separates the winners from the losers. Once I had a good stockpile of knowledge, I launched this site.

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