Red Dot vs. Holographic Sight – A Brief Comparison


When it comes to riflescopes, Red Dot and Holographic Sight are words that are constantly thrown around. Are they the same thing?

Even though both devices are used on hand guns, rifles and shot guns to help shooters make high precision shots on their targets, they use very different principles to operate.

Holographic Sights work by creating a dot that seems to hover or float on your target. They depend on a mirror and a laser diode to, in a sense, project this red dot onto your target. Because of this mode of operation, a broken holographic sight is just as good as a new one, and you will be able to keep using it even when a whole chunk falls off. The main disadvantage of holographic sights is that they consume a lot of battery power, draining the battery really fast.

An example of a holographic sight is an Eotech XPS3.

Below are its features.

Eotech XPS3

EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
  • EOTECH XPS3-0 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
  • Night Vision Compatible - Works with all Gen 1-3 night vision devices
  • Compact Design - Leaves more rail space for rear iron sights or magnifier
  • Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails

This scope is made for exceptional performance even in the harshest environments. It presents a 22mm objective lens which is made of glass and laminate, delivering crystal clear vision to the user. As a parallax free device which also offers unlimited eye relief, you can be certain that target acquisition will be easy due to guaranteed precision. To be practical even in harsh environments, it is made to be fully water and fog proof. It can withstand a good deal of impact and recoil thanks to its sturdy aluminum build. For use in multiple light intensities, it comes with 30 brightness adjustment levels, 10 of which are compatible with night vision. When it comes to battery life, it lasts a duration of 1,000 hours.

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Below is a summary of its specs.

Eotech XPS3
Red Dot Size
1 MOA, 68 MOA ring
Objective Lens Diameter
Brightness Adjustment Levels
20 + 10
Reticle Color
Battery Life
1,000 hours

Red Dots depend on LED emitters which project the reticle or red dot onto a glass lens. It is then reflected back to your eye. Owing to this simplicity of operation, red dots have exceedingly long battery lives, ranging from 10,000 hors to 50,000 hours and even more. However, once broken, a red dot lens is considered useless, and you will have to replace it.

One of the most popular red dots is a Holosun HS510C. Below is a brief description.

Holosun HS510C

Holosun HS510C 2 MOA Dot Or A 65 MOA Ring Open Reflex Circle Dot Solar Power Holographic Red Dot Sight
  • The Holosun HS510C New advanced technology LED allows up to 50,000 hours of operation on one CR2032...
  • 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA ring, Dot only, Ring only, or Dot and Ring reticle combinations
  • Unlimited field of view, Titanium-alloyed, shock resistant hood
  • Powered by both battery and solar

This red dot is a particularly small device that presents a good deal of impressive features. With a 24mm objective lens, you are going to enjoy a wide field of view for better target acquisition. This lens is made using high quality material and it is also a parallax free device which offers unlimited eye relief.For use at any time of day or night, it comes with 10 brightness adjustment settings, 2 of which are compatible with night vision. The scope is made to be fully water and fog proof, and it takes a good deal of impact without shattering, thanks to its exceptional build. The Holosun HS510C will last you a good deal of time, thanks to its 50,000 hours battery life.

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The table below gives a summary of specifications.

Holosun HS510C
3.3 inches
2 MOA Dot, 65 MOA circle
Mounting Type
Multi Height Mounting
Objective Lens Diameter
Battery Life
Up to 50,000 hours


Holographic sights are more preferred to red dots due to their versatility and ability to support superior visual features. They are, however, a good deal pricier than red dots. Red dots are great for use in multiple settings, and even though they have longer battery lives, they are not as reliable as holographic sights.


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