Red Dot VS Holographic Sight

Red dot vs Holographic sight. From the POV perspective, they are the same, but they have completely different technology. Let's take a look at their reticle projection method first.

Also be sure to check out this video:

Red Dot Sight LED Emitter

holosun aems red dot

In most red dot sights, the LED emitter casts the dot reticle onto the front lens, which then reflects it back to the shooter's eye. This clever design makes the dot reticle seem like it's hovering about 20 feet in front of you, providing that parallax-free view that many shooters rave about.

It's makes aiming easier without perfect eye alignment with the sight. But at closer ranges, there is parallax more than a holographic sight.

Holographic Sight Laser Emitter

eotech exps3 reticle

Holographic sights work a bit differently than red dots. They use a laser to project a holographic image of the reticle. This image bounces from a collimating reflector to a holographic grating, and finally, it's mirrored back to your eye. Just like with a red dot, the reticle seems to float about 20 feet in front of you, giving a similar effect. 

The way these sights work is pretty interesting. The reticle image gets bounced around a few times inside the optic until it finally reaches your eye. And there's a key part, called the collimating reflector, that's placed right at the top inside the optic. It's super important to keep this part safe, so the outer casing, or the "hood" of the optic, has to be strong and sturdy. 

Red Dot Vs Holographic Sight Durability

Both red dot sight and holographic sight can be durable. Currently on the market, most holographic sights are extremely durable like the EOTech and Vortex Razor UH1 Gen 2. 

For red dot sights there are a wide range of product qualities. The Aimpoint and Trijicon red dot sights are generally the measuring sticks that other products are modeling after.

best ar15 red dot sights

While most holographic sights are fully enclosed, red dot sights can be fully enclosed or open emitter. Most pistol red dot sights like the Trijicon RMR, Holosun 507C, Vortex Venom and many others are open emitter red dot sights. While they do work well, but they suck under raining conditions. snow, mud, dust and moisture can easily obscure the reticle emitter, and the sight becomes unuseable.

closed emitter red dot sights are available for rifle and handgun use. something like the Trijicon MRO, Sig Romeo 5 and the Holosun EPS protects the optic from water, mud and moisture.

Parallax Shift

Most holographic and red dot sights are designed to be parallax-free, especially in mid range distances past 15 - 25 years. However, they're not 100% parallax-free, particularly at very close ranges around 10 yards or less.

When you look at the difference in parallax between red dot sights and holographic sights, you'll often find that holographic sights, like those made by EOTech, tend to have less noticeable parallax shift.

This means that even when you move your eye position, the point of aim in a holographic sight stays more consistent compared to a red dot.

Reticle Options

Red dot sights really stand out when it comes to the variety of dot sizes they offer. You've got a whole range to choose from, including 1 MOA, 2 MOA, 3 MOA, and even larger sizes like 6 MOA, 8 MOA, and 12 MOA. The most popular options tend to be the 1 MOA, 2 MOA, and 3 MOA sizes, as they strike a good balance for different shooting needs.

enclosed emitter red dot sights

On the other hand, holographic sights, such as those by EOTech, typically feature a single dot reticle. What sets them apart is the addition of a 68 MOA ring around the dot. This ring isn't just for show; it's a handy tool for estimating target range based on the size of the target you're aiming at. Most Holosun red dot sights actually feature ring reticles as well.

Reticle Clarity

Most holographic sight users have reported that the reticle appears blurry or fuzzy. This is because holographic sight uses a laser emitter, and the fuzzy reticle is due to speckle caused by the laser diode. 

holographic vs red dot reticle

Red dot sight on the other hand provides a much better reticle clarity. But if you have bad vision or astigmatism, both holographic and red dot will look blurry.

The solution have a better reticle clarity is to use a magnifier scope or correct eyesight.

Battery Life

red dot sight battery life

Most modern red dot sights can last over 50,000 hours. On the other hand, holographic sights, utilizing lasers instead of LEDs, offer a significantly shorter battery lifespan, averaging around 1400 hours. The laser technology employed in holographic sights tends to drain the battery more rapidly than LEDs.

To mitigate battery drain, some holographic sights come equipped with an auto turn-off feature, a convenient addition for users who may forget to power down after a day at the range. Notable examples of holographic sights featuring this battery-saving function include models from EOTECH and Vortex UH-1. 

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