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Red Dots vs. Scopes: A Gun Optics Breakdown

Why do so many shooters use gun optics instead of the basic iron sights that come with their rifles (notwithstanding the fact that many modern rifles don’t even have iron sights anymore)?

Gun optics can gather light, present a clear target picture, magnify the target, and show what’s behind it.

In effect, optics can improve a shooter’s ability to connect with a target and boost accuracy and confident handling as a result.

But not all optics and sights are created equal. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to choose a scope or a red dot sight for your AR, consider the following.

Rifle Scopes
Scopes are some of the most widely used gun optics in the shooting industry. Like a telescope, scopes have an objective lens that gathers light, a tube or body, and an ocular lens that delivers the sight picture to the user.

Scopes can magnify targets at extended ranges, and some are even useful in low light conditions. Some scopes are waterproof, dustproof, fog proof, and shock-resistant.

They are the supreme option for long ranges. For long-distance shooters and most hunters, scopes are the best choice in gun optics.

However, scopes limit situational awareness, require the shooter to use only one eye for target acquisition, and are generally not suitable for targets that are up close or moving quickly.

Red Dot Sights
Red dot sights consist of a glass screen on which a laser projects a single point of light. When calibrated and sighted in, this point of aim is intended to correspond closely to point of impact.

Red dots enable shooters to keep both eyes open for a better overall sight picture and also enable the shooter to make many rapid shots in succession.

In addition, red dot sights are free from the parallax distortion of scopes, meaning that no matter how you mount the rifle, where the red dot appears on the screen should coincide closely with the point of impact. They can even be fired from the hip or with an errant mount. If you can see the dot, you can see where the bullet will land.

It’s also important to note that while red dots offers some of these advantages, they don’t magnify targets, have range-compensating reticles (which some scopes have), and they also require the use of batteries.

The “Magic” Gun Optics
Before you make a choice one way or the other for red dots or scopes, remember that there is a “magic” gun optic that every rifle and pistol should have, regardless of whether or not it’s also paired with another optic.

This “optical device” is waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof, drop-proof, weatherproof, dustproof, and can be entirely corrosion-proof.

This “optic” works in all weather conditions, including in pitch black conditions, and has no batteries, so it will never go dead. They are also easy to sight in and (usually) have no fragile parts.

This “magic” optic also works at all ranges – from 5 yards to 500.

They’re called iron sights. You may have heard of them.

But wait, you need to cover up your iron sights to add a scope or red dot in the first place.

That’s sort of true, so what you need is backup, offset iron sights.

Offset iron sights mount on a cant and can be flipped up or down as needed. They give you the ability to use your rifle’s iron sights if the batteries in your red dot die or if a target appears at a range that is too close to use a scope practically.

You can sing the virtues of either a red dot or a rifle scope (or both, for different uses) but never, ever forgo the basic utility of iron sights. Whatever you pair with your rifle, always include a set of offset backup sights in the build.

Gun Optics at Great Prices
Looking for gun optics or advanced AR optics at great prices? Visit MCS Gearup online at

They carry a wide range of gun optics, including but not limited to red dot sights, reflex sights, scopes, and backup iron sights, compatible not only with a wide range of platforms but also many different mounting options – not just Picatinny rails.

Visit their website online at for more information or contact their customer service at 239-848-6757.

For more information about Gun Accessories and Glock Lower part kits Please visit: MCS Gearup.

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