How to Hunt With a Red Dot Sight

The red dot vs. riflescope is a hot topic for many hunters, and the debate centers around which one is better for any given hunting scenario. If you’re a fan of modern technology in the field, especially when it comes to guns, you will find this article extremely helpful.

Knowing how to hunt using a red dot sight, and having knowledge into the differences between a scope and red dot sight will enable you to make an informed decision about what tech to take with you on your next hunting expedition. Helpful reviews can be found at outeroptics.com where you can make an informed decision on your purchase for hunting gear.

What is a Red Dot Sight?

Red dot sights are the perfect optical device for hunting over short distances and for quick target acquisition. Using a red dot sight is similar to an optical illusion because the dot always appears to be at the same distance as your target. Inside the tube (or other enclosure on top of the gun), the red dot is projected onto any forward surface.

The dot can also be seen as a line or reticle, but the purpose of the dot in hunting is to help the shooter get a better idea of the distance between themselves and the target, and improve accuracy.

Red dot sights are compact devices that operate at 1 x magnification. This is what makes it possible for the shooter to look through the sight with both eyes open. It can also be helpful for someone who wears glasses or feels comfortable keeping an eye on more than one thing.

There is a thin layer of casing material that keeps the lens in place, and it is this coupled with the 1 x magnification that widens the shooter’s field of view significantly when compared to a riflescope. By using a red dot sight on a driven hunt, for example, it makes possible for the user to observe the movement of more than one animal at a time. If you use a red dot sight during the day, you can set the brightness level on the device to take the sun into consideration.

The eye relief is considerable when using a red dot sight. You won’t have to place your eye into an exact position to see the dot placement and this is what many shooters find to be one of the key features of this equipment. When the unlimited eye relief is coupled with the fact that red dot sights are also parallax free (the aiming point is targeted regardless of where the shooter’s eye is positioned), red dot hunting begins to make a lot of sense.

How Do Red Dot Sights Compare to a Riflescope?

When most people think of hunting, they will have an image of a riflescope in mind. The biggest plus to using a riflescope instead of a red dot sight is that most of them have variable power settings. When the shooter can use variable power settings, adjustments can be made faster and easier.

A riflescope magnifies images, whether you are using a fixed or variable power, and this allows you a thorough inspection of the target. This is an essential feature to have for any shooter who hunts on their own and doesn’t have a guide or spotter with them. The riflescope enables a solo hunter to judge an ethical shot and make a determination if the animal is suitable. This is why it’s one of the best accessories to accompany rifles.

Using the variable magnification to adjust the sight based on the target distance is a feature found on many contemporary scopes. Riflescopes offer exceptional low light performance as well. If the target is at a distance of 164 yards/150 meters away, for example, a red dot sight is not going to help you at all. If you are  hunting with a riflescope with an illuminated reticle + high magnification, you will achieve greater accuracy.

A Quick Overview of the Riflescope/Red Dot Debate

Red dot sights are not nearly as accurate as a riflescope. A part of the reason for this is to do with the limited amount of target space the red dot covers, or sub-tension. Riflescopes offer a much better illumination level width compared to red dot sights, and even though there are some red dot models on the market that offer magnification capabilities, the distances covered by the majority of red dot sights are limited.

The superior situation awareness a red dot sight offers the shooter is what makes this piece of hunting tech so popular. With the ears blocked by hearing protectors and with the shooter operating in low light levels, the additional sensory capabilities provided by a red dot sight are much appreciated on the field. Focusing on the target with both eyes open, no matter if the target is moving or stationary, means split decisions can be made at close distances of around 100 yards/91 meters per 1 MOA.

Don’t let the distance limitations hold you back from trying out a red dot sight in the field. We couldn’t put it into better words ourselves than those of the leading red dot sight manufacturer in the world: When you are hunting with a red dot sight, all you have to do is simply look at the target, then place the dot, and pull the trigger. It’s that easy 1-2-3 style of shooting that makes red dot hunting so popular.

What Features Should I Look for When Buying a Red Dot Sight?

First, you need to decide on your budget and whether you prefer an open or tube sight. Consider the size, construction, illumination, and most importantly, weight. Many shooters find it quite challenging at first having to get used to the additional weight of a red dot sight on their rifle.

The size of the actual red dot itself is directly related to how quickly you will be able to locate the dot in the sight’s display, and how many targets the red dot will cover. Both of these factors will significantly impact your accuracy.

MOA: Minutes of Angle

As you can see when looking at the above image, the smaller the red dot on the sight you buy, the harder it is to see. Alternately, the larger the red dot the easier it will be to see, but less accurate.

The illuminated red dot is measured in MOA. Minutes of angle is a unit for the angular measurement of a circle.

  • 1 MOA = 1 inch at 100 yards
  • 1 MOA = 3 cm at 100 meters
  • Both these measurements are interchangeable

With these measurements as a basic guide, you can gauge that 2 to 2.5 MOA is a small red dot that doesn’t obscure the target, especially if it is far away and compact. 4 MOA is the correct balance between engaging a target at a distance or having a close-up shot while maintaining accuracy. 6 MOA is for fast-moving, close-up targets that are in sight for a split second.

DOT SIZE 5m 15m 25m 50m 100m
2 MOA 0.3 cm 0.9 cm 1.5 cm 3 cm 6 cm
4 MOA 0.6 cm 1.8 cm 3 cm 6 cm 12 cm
6 MOA 0.9 cm 2.7 cm 4.5 cm 9 cm 18 cm

1 MOA = 1.18 inches/3cm at 100 m/100 yards

The Argument for Using Both a Riflescope and Red Dot Sight Together

What are the benefits of using a dot sight mounted on a riflescope? If the target is at a distance of 50 meters (54 yards), use the red dot sight; if it’s further away, use the scope. This is an extremely useful combination to have when the target closer, say up to 20 meters (21 yards) away.

If never having to watch a target bolting out of range from a miss is your main objective when hunting, using a setup that gives you the advantage of both optical devices is the best solution. The weight might take some getting used to at first, but the bulkiness is the trade off against the practicality of being prepared for any scenario in the field.

A riflescope/ red dot combination excels in situations where you will be operating with sparse tree cover on one side and dense vegetation on the other. You can only use a riflescope for 100-150 meter/110-164 feet distances in sparse tree cover so you can check the target with magnification first. If the animal moves into the dense vegetation and suddenly appears close by, you can swap to using the red dot.

Red dot sights can also be used for bow hunting, pistols, and medium range handguns. Getting to hunt or use a red dot sight in any situation is an exciting outdoor activity for any sportsperson.

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Rodney Heaton
 

I'm Rodney Heaton and I love hunting in the wild. In the past, I was in the military for over 5 years. After that I became a licensed hunter and a mountain guide.