Red Dot Sights for Tactical vs. Hunting Purposes

Chris G.

Red dot sights are commonly used optics in the world of shooting. They are so effective and versatile that those who consider shooting more than a sport swear by them. We’re talking about law enforcers, soldiers, competitive shooters, and hunters whose lives and livelihood revolve around using their firearms.

This guide will help you understand the key differences between tactical and hunting uses for these sights. We will discuss the pros and cons of red dot sights for tactical operations and hunting expeditions. We will also determine what kind of optics are. 

Pros and Cons of Using Red Dot Sights for Tactical Operations

Police officers, military personnel, special operations teams, and competitive shooters use red dot sights because these optics offer a lot of advantages. However, they also have some drawbacks.

Pros of Using Red Dot Sights for Tactical Operations

  1. Quick Target Acquisition: Red dot sights allow operators to aim quickly and accurately in dynamic and fast-paced situations.
  2. Both Eyes Open Shooting: With both eyes open, operators enjoy enhanced situational awareness. This is crucial in tactical operations where awareness of the surroundings is essential.
  3. Adaptability in Low-Light Conditions: Many red dot sights have illuminated reticles that make them effective in low-light or nighttime conditions. This adaptability is critical for tactical operations that may occur in diverse environments.
  4. Minimal Parallax Error: Red dot sights are designed to be parallax-free, which lessens inaccuracies that are caused when your eye shifts positions while sighting.
  5. Compatibility with Night Vision Devices: Certain red dot sights have adjustments that make them compatible with night vision devices. Operators often have night missions, so these night vision-compatible red dot sights will definitely come in handy.
  6. Rugged and Durable Construction: High-quality red dot sights are capable of withstanding the tough demands of tactical use and adverse environmental conditions.
  7. Improved Target Tracking: The reticle of a red dot sight aids in tracking moving targets effectively, which is essential in fluid tactical situations.
  8. Reduced Eye Fatigue: Using a red dot sight can reduce eye fatigue, especially during extended periods of aiming.

Cons of Using Red Dot Sights for Tactical Operations

  1. Dependency on Batteries: Red dot sights usually rely on batteries to power the illuminated reticle. If the battery fails or runs out, the sight becomes unusable.
  2. Limited Magnification: Most red dot sights offer no or minimal magnification.
  3. Lens Risk: The exposed lens of a red dot sight is susceptible to contamination from dirt, debris, or moisture. It also becomes susceptible to damage.
  4. Potential for Overreliance: Operators may develop an overreliance on the red dot sight, neglecting proficiency with iron sights. 
  5. Possibility of Reticle Washout: In very bright conditions, the red dot reticle may appear washed out or less visible. 

Pros and Cons of Using Red Dot Optics for Hunting

a man holding a rifle in the forest

Red dot optics can also be beneficial for hunting although they also have their drawbacks

Pros of Using Red Dot Optics for Hunting

  1. Swift Target Acquisition: With red dot optics, hunters can aim swiftly and accurately. This is particularly useful for fast-moving or elusive games.
  2. Shoot with Both Eyes Open: Red dot sights enable hunters to keep both eyes open while aiming, improving their situational awareness and maintaining a clear view of the surroundings.
  3. Versatility in Shooting Positions: With red dot optics, hunters can shoot from various positions, making them suitable for diverse hunting scenarios and terrain.
  4. Effective in Low-Light Conditions: The reticles in red dots are illuminated, which makes them visible in low-light conditions.
  5. Wide Field of View: Red dot optics offer a broad field of view, enabling hunters to scan the environment quickly and locate targets more efficiently.
  6. Night Vision Compatibility: Some red dot sights are compatible to use with night vision devices. Thus, hunters can hunt at night when many kinds of games prowl in the darkness. 
  7. Reduced Eye Fatigue: Using a red dot sight can reduce eye fatigue during extended periods of tracking targets.

Cons of Using Red Dot Optics for Hunting

  1. Dependency on Batteries: A battery failure makes the sight useless during a hunt.
  2. Limited Magnification: Most red dot sights are not suited for long range hunting. It needs to be paired with a magnifier scope if a hunter needs to aim at long range, usually more than 100 yards.
  3. Lens Exposure: The exposed lens of a red dot sight is vulnerable to damage. Dust, grime, and dirt can affect the sight picture.
  4. Learning Curve: Some hunters may experience a learning curve when transitioning to red dot sights, particularly if they are accustomed to traditional scopes or iron sights.
  5. Limited Precision at Longer Ranges: Red dot sights may have limitations in precision at longer ranges compared to magnified optics, potentially affecting accuracy in certain hunting scenarios.

Best Types of Firearm Optics for Tactical Operation

Aimpoint T2 on a rifle

The ideal types of firearm optics for tactical operations depend on the specific needs, preferences, and mission requirements of the operator. Here are some commonly used firearm optics for tactical operations

  1. Red Dot Sights
    • Ideal Use: Close-quarters combat (CQB) and fast target engagement
    • Examples: Aimpoint T2, Trijicon MRO
  1. Holographic Sights
    • Ideal Use: CQB and rapid target transitions
    • Examples: EOTech EXPS3, Vortex AMG UH-1
  1. Magnified Optics (Low Power Variable Optics – LPVO)
    • Ideal Use: Versatile for various distances, good for both speed and precision
    • Examples: Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x, Trijicon Accupoint 1-8x
  1. Prismatic Sights
    • Ideal Use: Close to medium-range engagements
    • Examples: Trijicon ACOG, Primary Arms SLx 3x
  1. Night Vision Optics
    • Ideal Use: Nighttime operations
    • Examples: EOTech ATPIAL, PVS-14 night vision monocular
  1. Collimated/Canted Sights
    • Ideal Use: Transitioning between magnified optics and close-quarters engagements
    • Examples: Offset iron sights, canted red dot mounts

Best Types of Firearm Optics for Hunting

Vortex Crossfire Red Dot

Choosing suitable firearm optics can significantly improve your hunting experience. The ideal types of firearm optics for hunting depend on various factors such as the type of game being hunted, terrain features of the hunting grounds, and typical engagement distances. 

  1. Rifle Scopes
    • Ideal Use: Hunting medium to large game at varying distances
    • Examples: Leupold VX-3i, Nikon Monarch 3, Swarovski Z5
  1. Shotgun Scopes
    • Ideal Use: Hunting birds, turkey, and other fast-moving game
    • Examples: Bushnell Trophy Shotgun Scope, Vortex Crossfire II Shotgun Scope
  1. Red Dot Sights
    • Ideal Use: Fast-moving or close-quarters hunting situations
    • Examples: Aimpoint PRO, Vortex Crossfire Red Dot
  1. Low Power Variable Optics (LPVO)
    • Ideal Use: Hunting in diverse terrains with potential for both short and medium-range shots
    • Examples: Trijicon Accupoint 1-4x, Vortex Viper PST Gen II 2-10x
  1. Spotting Scopes
    • Ideal Use: Scouting and spotting game from a distance
    • Examples: Vortex Viper HD, Leica APO-Televid
  1. Night Vision Optics
    • Ideal Use: Nocturnal hunting or low-light situations
    • Examples: ATN X-Sight 4K Pro, Pulsar Digex N450
  1. Range Finders
    • Ideal Use: Ensuring precise shots at various distances
    • Examples: Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W, Bushnell Elite 1 Mile CONX


Whether in tactical activities or hunting, red dot sights can significantly improve your shooting experience and effectiveness. Armed with the correct information and the perfect red dot sight, you’re on the path to truly perfecting your shooting abilities.

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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