Red Dot vs. Holographic Sights

red dot vs holographic sight

Let's dive into the fascinating world of firearm optics and explore the distinctions between two popular sighting systems: red dot sights and holographic sights. These technological marvels have revolutionized the way shooters acquire targets with their precision and ease of use. While red dot sights employ a simple illuminated dot reticle for precise aiming, holographic sights utilize advanced holographic technology to project a reticle onto a transparent display. 

In this article, we will navigate the intricacies of these sights, shedding light on their unique features and functionality. Whether you're a seasoned shooter or an aspiring marksman, understanding the differences between red dot and holographic sights will undoubtedly enhance your shooting experience. So, let's get started and delve into this exciting exploration of optic marvels.

Technology and Functionality

Red dot sights and holographic sights are two popular options for firearm optics. The main difference between the two lies in their technology and functionality. Red dot sights utilize a simple LED emitter that sends a beam of light towards the front glass. This beam is then reflected back to the user's eyes, appearing as a bright dot on the sight. The dot is superimposed on the target, allowing the shooter to aim accurately.

On the other hand, holographic sights use a more advanced technology. They project a reticle onto a holographic film located within the sight. This reticle is then reflected back to the user's eyes, appearing as a 3D image floating in space. 

The holographic reticle is, therefore, more detailed and provides additional aiming points for precise shooting. This makes holographic sights particularly suitable for longer range engagements or in situations requiring quick target acquisition. However, the more complex technology of holographic sights often comes with a higher price tag compared to red dot sights.

holographic sight

How Holographic Sights Work

When it comes to choosing between red dot sights and holographic sights, it's essential to understand the key differences in their technology and functionality. Let's start with holographic sights. These advanced optical devices employ a fascinating mechanism that sets them apart. 

By utilizing a laser and a series of mirrors, holographic sights generate a three-dimensional hologram that is projected back to the user. This complex technology allows for precise aiming and target acquisition, as the hologram appears to be superimposed onto the user's field of view. With their intricate design and sophisticated operation, holographic sights offer a cutting-edge solution for shooters seeking optimal accuracy and versatility on the field.

red dot sight

How Red Dot Sights Work

On the other hand, red dot sights offer a simpler yet effective aiming system. Instead of creating a holographic image, red dot sights use an LED emitter to project a dot onto a specially coated lens. This dot acts as a point of aim, allowing shooters to quickly and intuitively align their target without the need for complex holographic technology. 

While red dot sights may lack the depth and detail provided by holographic sights, their straightforward design makes them lightweight, reliable, and easier to maintain. Whether you're engaging targets in close-quarters situations or taking aim at moving objects, red dot sights offer a reliable and user-friendly option for shooters of all skill levels.

Aesthetics and Reticles

When it comes to choosing between red dot sights and holographic sights, there are several factors to consider. One of the first aspects to look at is the aesthetics and reticles of the two sights. Red dot sights typically feature a simple red dot reticle, while holographic sights often have a distinctive big ring and small dot reticle. The choice between these two styles ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific shooting requirements.

Size and Weight

Size and weight can also play a significant role in deciding between red dot sights and holographic sights. Holographic sights tend to be larger and heavier compared to red dot sights, which can impact the overall balance and maneuverability of the firearm. For those who prioritize lightweight and compactness, red dot sights may be the preferred option.


In terms of durability, both red dot and holographic sights are designed to withstand recoil forces and provide reliable performance in various conditions. However, holographic sights often have a more robust construction due to the use of higher-grade materials and advanced technology. This can make them more durable and resistant to impact or environmental factors.

Battery Life

Battery life is another crucial consideration when choosing between red dot sights and holographic sights. Red dot sights generally have longer battery life thanks to their use of LEDs for illumination. In contrast, holographic sights require more power due to their use of lasers, which can result in shorter battery life. It is essential to factor in battery life and the availability of spare batteries when selecting a sight.

Parallax Distortion

When it comes to parallax distortion, holographic sights have the advantage of near-immunity to this issue. Parallax distortion occurs when the target and the reticle are not in perfect alignment, causing the reticle to appear to move. Red dot sights may experience parallax problems when the shooter's eye is not perfectly aligned with the sight. This can be a crucial consideration for those who require accurate and precise targeting.


Finally, price often plays a significant role in the decision-making process. Holographic sights generally tend to be more expensive than red dot sights due to their more complex technology and advanced features. This higher price point may make red dot sights more accessible to budget-conscious shooters.

Ultimately, the choice between red dot sights and holographic sights depends on individual preferences, shooting requirements, and budget constraints. It is recommended to consider all the factors mentioned above and carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each sight before making a decision.

Top 3 Red Dot Sights

Trijicon MRO Reflex Sight

High-quality and durable construction

Unlimited eye relief for comfortable aiming

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25

Affordable option under $100

Suitable for various shooting situations

Vortex Venom

Bright red dot for optimal visibility

3 MOA dot size and unlimited eye relief

Top 3 Holographic Sights

Holosun 507C

Infinite eye relief for comfortable sighting

Up to 50,000 hours of battery life

Holosun 507K

Compact design suitable for pistols

Similar performance to the 507C


Night vision compatible

68 MOA ring and 1 MOA dot reticle

Final Thoughts

The decision between red dot sights and holographic sights ultimately boils down to personal preferences and needs. If a shooter values simplicity, affordability, and a lightweight setup, a red dot sight may be the better option. 

On the other hand, if one prioritizes precision, adaptability, and has a larger budget, a holographic sight may be the more suitable choice. Ultimately, users should consider factors such as size, weight, battery life, and budget when selecting between these two sight options.

Still need help choosing between red dot and holographic sights? Contact our team at Optics Force for assistance!


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