Exploring The Different Types of Red Dot Sight Reticles

Chris G.

Just set up your new Aimpoint PRO on your AR-15? Great! The red dot sight is a fascinating optic, isn’t it? The sharp reticle allows you to shoot speedily and precisely to a degree that might even surprise you.

Have you ever thought about the variety of reticles out there and how they could potentially change your shooting experience? From the straightforward 2 MOA dot to the intricate bullet drop compensator, each reticle brings its own set of benefits and difficulties.

This discussion will guide you through the different types of red dot sight reticles, providing you with the information to improve your shooting accuracy and speed. 

Understanding the Basics of Red Dot Sights

A red dot sight is a surprisingly simple yet effective firearm optics. It’s considered a non-magnifying reflex sight, which means that it does not magnify faraway targets.

A solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) generates a beam of light that is focused through a small aperture. The aperture directs the beam onto a spherical mirror. The mirror, often called the lens or window, is a partially silvered multilayer dielectric dichroic coating that reflects only the red spectrum of light while allowing all other light waves to pass through. The result is a floating red point of light—a red dot—which is called a reticle. This red dot is what the user will use as an aiming point.

The user simply superimposes the red dot on the target he wishes to hit. With the right range, conditions, and skill, he can hit the target when he pulls the trigger. 

The rest of the red dot sight’s features, characteristics, and design revolve around this concept. 

Now where do the different red dot reticles come into play? Well, in some red dot sight models, the aperture can be adjusted to allow different shapes of reticles to be reflected on the mirror.

Comparing Different Reticle Options

close-up image of a red dot reticle

Red dot sights offer a variety of reticle options to suit different preferences, shooting scenarios, and firearm applications. Firearm optic manufacturers have introduced reticles with additional features for enhanced versatility. 

  1. Dot Reticle: The classic and most common reticle is a simple red dot, which is a single illuminated dot. This minimalist design allows for quick target acquisition and is popular for its simplicity.
  2. Circle-Dot Reticle: This reticle combines a central red dot with a surrounding circle. It can help with faster target acquisition and provides a larger aiming point for close-quarters shooting.
  3. Crosshair Reticle: Some red dot sights offer a crosshair pattern, which consists of intersecting lines forming a cross. Crosshair reticles can be useful for more precise aiming at various distances.
  4. Multiple Dot Reticles: Red dot sights with multiple dots allow users to choose between different dot sizes. This feature can be beneficial for adjusting the reticle size based on the shooting scenario or target distance.
  5. T-Dot Reticle: The T-Dot reticle features a T-shaped pattern, with a horizontal line intersecting the vertical line. This design can aid in both horizontal and vertical alignment.
  6. Chevron Reticle: The chevron reticle has a V-shaped design, resembling an upside-down “V.” It offers a point for precise aiming while maintaining visibility of the target.
  7. Donut Reticle: Similar to the circle-dot reticle, the donut reticle has a central dot with a larger, illuminated circle around it. This design can be advantageous for fast target acquisition at close ranges.
  8. Triangle Reticle: The triangle reticle features an illuminated triangle instead of a simple dot. It provides a distinctive aiming point and can be useful for various shooting scenarios.
  9. BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) Reticle: Some red dot sights have reticles with additional markings or hash marks to assist with compensating for bullet drop at different distances.

Some red dot sights allow users to customize the reticle appearance or choose from a selection of pre-loaded reticle options. This lets the user enjoy a high degree of personalization.

What is MOA?

MOA is one of the terms that you’ll encounter often if you’re using firearm optics. MOA stands for “Minute of Angle.” It is a unit of angular measurement commonly used in the firearms and optics industry. In the context of red dot sights and scopes, MOA is often used to describe the size of the adjustments in the sight’s reticle or the field of view.

  1. Angular Measurement: One MOA is equal to 1/60th of a degree. In practical terms, it represents an angular measurement. It’s used to describe the size of adjustments or the subtension of a reticle.
  2. Reticle Adjustments: When you make adjustments to the windage (horizontal) or elevation (vertical) settings on a red dot sight or scope, each click typically corresponds to a certain number of MOA. For example, a sight might have 1/4 MOA clicks, meaning that each click adjusts the point of impact by 1/4 of an MOA.
  3. Subtension in Reticles: MOA is also used to describe the size of the reticle itself. For instance, a red dot sight might have a 2 MOA dot, meaning that the dot covers an area that subtends 2 MOA at a specific distance.
  4. Conversion to Inches: At 100 yards, 1 MOA is approximately equal to 1.047 inches. This approximation is often used for practical calculations when adjusting sights or estimating target distances.

The use of MOA allows for precise adjustments and measurements, especially when shooting at longer distances. It helps shooters make fine-tuned adjustments to their sights for accurate and predictable shot placement.


So, red dots are not just about a sight having a “red dot” after all. The aiming point can be of different shapes with different functions that cater to a wide variety of shooting preferences and situations.

The right reticle can significantly improve your shooting precision and enrich your overall shooting experience.

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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