How Does A Red Dot Sight Work

How does a red dot sight work

Red dot sights are part of the solution that improves on aiming as well as eliminating the traditional way of firing a gun by closing one eye, then using the other to perfect the shot.      

Well, what exactly is a red dot sight? Simply said, it is an optic that uses a red dot as the reticle so as to help you hit the target accurately in the close or medium range.      

However, a red dot sight does not feature any magnification. It is a 1X optic, and that is why it is not referred to as a scope. To help you understand it better, I will give you an in-depth explanation of how this paintball gun accessory works. 

How a red dot sight actually works?

Since reflex sights are the most commonly used for hunting rifle or sniper, I will explain how this type works.      

The technology or the underlying principle that makes a reflex optic work is a spherical partial mirror. This mirrored lens has a special coating that reflects only the red light so that you can see a red dot from only one side of the optic.      

By partially reflecting only red light, the mirror allows all other colors in the light spectrum to pass through, and that is why you can see through, despite it being a mirror. The result of this is a clearly visible reticle that marks the target in a clear line of sight.       


Another important component that makes a red dot optic work is the red LED. It is usually placed in front of the spherical mirror, but outside of its focal point.       

The good thing with LED is that first and foremost, it is a very energy efficient light source and thus, this sight’s battery can last for thousands of hours.      

Second, LEDs have the ability to produce a very narrow band of light output and thus, the mirror can be accurately tuned to reflect just that narrow wavelength of red light, and allow most of the other light to pass through for a clearer view.        


Even though they are called red dot optics, not all of them have a red reticle. Red might work well indoors but the human eye tends to perceive green color better outdoors, especially when it is very sunny.      

According to Ron LaPedis from, human eyes are more sensitive to green light and thus, under the same power level, a green dot might appear 30 times brighter than red light. This means that you can use a green dot reticle at lower power levels, giving you extended battery life.   

For the best performance, however, the top 10 red dot sights usually have both red and green settings with adjustable brightness, and this gives you the ability to shoot using the same level of precision, whether it’s dusk, day time, dawn or night time.      

Types of Reflex sights    

There are two main types of reflex optics. These are:  

1. Tube type sights

These red dot sights are bigger than open sights and are based on a tube design that can only be mounted on full-size paintball guns.       

Although big in size, I recommend this type because you can attach tons of accessories to it such as a kill flash and a magnifier so as to increase your range and accuracy.  

2. Open sights

An open sight is quite small in size because its lens is not enclosed in a tube. This gives it an open design, which cannot be accessorized like the tube type above.

The advantage with it, however, is that the open lens gives you a panoramic view of the target because it lacks the tube that may obstruct your line of sight. A slim profiled lens frame ensures that you get a good view ahead, especially as one eye looks through it and the other directly at your target.

Holographic Sights

Apart from reflex sights, the other type of red dot optic is the holographic sight. As the name suggests, it creates a hologram of the red or green dot by projecting the light to its lens using a laser, which then superimposes the light to your field of view, creating a holographic dot that appears ahead of the gun.     

Since there is no reflective coating on the glass lens, this optic does not block or alter any light from going through and thus, it gives you a clearer field of view as compared to reflex red dot sights.

However, holographic optics are usually more expensive and thus, not very popular.       


Red dot sights are very important accessories to paintball guns because they help in improving the accuracy of your shots. This is especially true considering that paintballing is usually about hitting close to middle range targets (opponents), and this optics are designed for exactly that kind of range.

  • Updated last month
Anthony Maldonado

Smith Brown is a 23-year-old Blogger from the USA. He works for the hunting and self-defense related fields. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and DIY.

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