Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

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Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#1

Post by puma guy » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:36 pm

I was asked by a friend my opinion on whether I would mount a red dot or a scope on an AR-15. He was trying to decide which to purchase at Cabela's yesterday. The scope was a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x which is really a combination red dot and scope I guess. It has a reticle (etched I think) which can be illuminated and though not a simple dot is generally the same thing. The red dot he was interested in was an Aimpoint Pro 1x 2MOA dot. He wants to use it for hogs and anticipates shots from 75-150 yards. I am not well versed on Red Dot and holographic sights and have always used scoped rifles for hunting. I consider hunting a precise shooting situation and to me a scope, even the Strike Eagle lends itself to that better than a red dot. I try to place the shot for DRT precision and for the most part have always been able to do that. With a 2moa dot I would think trying to place a behind the ear shot on a 50-60 pound hog at 150 yards would not be precise. Of course a heart/lung shot would probably not be as difficult. Keeping my hunting experience in mind, i.e. distance, lighting, background, size of the game, etc. I recommended the Strike Eagle scope. He purchased the Aimpoint. I am interested in the opinions of those who use red dots, especially for hunting.
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#2

Post by cyphertext » Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:01 pm

For hog eradication, I like a red dot sight on my AR. Faster target acquisition and allows me to get more shots off into a sounder, and hopefully more hits on the hogs. I typically also limit my shots to 50 to 75 yards with the AR and the red dot. But I don't really care if the hog drops DRT or later that night a mile away.

However, for hog hunting where I want to recover the animal, I prefer a scope as well. A red dot can work though, especially if you use the very top edge of the dot as your POA.


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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#3

Post by jason812 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:08 pm

I have the Aimpoint Pro on an AR pistol and it is setup for defensive purposes. I had the Pro on a 14.5" barreled, pinned flash hider AR and it was ok for hunting but I want a 1x variable for the reasons you mention above. 1x ish power for close range and the ability to dial up to 4 or 6 power for more precision. Seems like a good set up for pig popping ranges which can be 25 yards to whatever you can see them at. (Remember they are a nuisance and dead instantly or not doesn't matter when they are tearing up acres of crops) On the run, I think I would like less than 4 power which is the lowest power optic I have used. I never got a chance to try the Aimpoint on a running target. The problem is there are so many choices because of the popularity of 3 gun that I can't make up my mind which scope I want to save my money for.

Short answer is I agree with your logic.

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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#4

Post by nyj » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:56 pm

I like red dots if I'm out stalking hogs or I know I'll be close to the feeders.

Otherwise, 1-6 variable. Target acquisition is just as fast on a scope, to be honest.

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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#5

Post by The Annoyed Man » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:25 am

I have an Aimpoint Micro on my 10.5" .300 Blackout SBR, but that optic is strictly for SD/HD/CQB purposes. The matching carbine length 5.56 upper for that lower has a 4x ACOG on it. I am going to be picking up a Strike Eagle for the SBR upper for hunting applications. All of my other MSRs have magnified optics except my wife's AR which has an EOTech on it - but even that has a 3x magnifier for it if needed.

If I had to live with just ONE optic for an AR15, I'd go with something in the 1-6x to 1-8x range.
puma guy wrote:I was asked by a friend my opinion on whether I would mount a red dot or a scope on an AR-15. He was trying to decide which to purchase at Cabela's yesterday. The scope was a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x which is really a combination red dot and scope I guess. It has a reticle (etched I think) which can be illuminated and though not a simple dot is generally the same thing. The red dot he was interested in was an Aimpoint Pro 1x 2MOA dot. He wants to use it for hogs and anticipates shots from 75-150 yards. I am not well versed on Red Dot and holographic sights and have always used scoped rifles for hunting. I consider hunting a precise shooting situation and to me a scope, even the Strike Eagle lends itself to that better than a red dot. I try to place the shot for DRT precision and for the most part have always been able to do that. With a 2moa dot I would think trying to place a behind the ear shot on a 50-60 pound hog at 150 yards would not be precise. Of course a heart/lung shot would probably not be as difficult. Keeping my hunting experience in mind, i.e. distance, lighting, background, size of the game, etc. I recommended the Strike Eagle scope. He purchased the Aimpoint. I am interested in the opinions of those who use red dots, especially for hunting.
Puma guy, you'd be right...... the Strike Eagle's reticle is etched. Pretty much all scopes in that class/configuration have an etched reticle, the illumination being secondary. That is the failing point of a RDS — that sans battery, it becomes an expensive tube of short length and less use, with glass on either end. IMHO, use of an RDS pretty much mandates a set of BUIS in the event of a battery failure. An RDS has the advantage of no parallax issues, but when the light goes out inside that tube, it's pretty much worthless. If the battery fails on an etched reticle, the scope is still usable as long as there's enough light to see the reticle against the target. And I agree 100% about the use of a magnified optic for hunting precision. I get cyphertext's point about not caring whether the hog is DRT or dies a mile away, but I would personally prefer a quick and precise kill, even for pest animals. I supposed I would use my RDS for shots inside of maybe 75 yards tops, but beyond that I really don't trust my cataract-infested eyeballs without magnification.

I have a similar though more expensive scope to the Strike Eagle on my DMR rifle — a Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5x24 SMRS. It works pretty well. The reticle is similar to the Strike Eagle's and is etched and illuminated. The big difference between the two is that the Bushnell's reticle is in the first focal plane, and the Vortex's is in the second focal plane. For those who are not familiar with the significance of that, FFP scope reticles are valid for ranging/holdovers at all magnifications because the reticle zooms in and out in your field of view according to the magnification level. SFP scope reticles in that class (1-4x, 1-5x, 1-6x) are only valid for ranging/holdovers at the maximum magnification because the reticle remains the same size at all magnifications in your field of view. So an FFP scope's reticle when zoomed all the way out acts like more of a red dot, but that would NOT be the case with the Strike Eagle, which is an SFP scope.

Left is the Bushnell SMRS reticle. Right is the Vortex Strike Eagle reticle:
ImageImage
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#6

Post by Abraham » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:58 am

I'm going to throw in a bit more to be considered in optic choice: Whether to buy a "tube red dot" no magnification, vs. a "reflex red dot" no magnification.

Since TAM is our scope guru, what say you for puma guy if he goes red dot no magnification?


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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#7

Post by maverick2076 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:39 am

Red dot for hogs, CQB, short to intermediate combat distances (up to 200 meters), other fast moving targets. Scope for precision, hunting, and targets past 300 meters.

I like the 1-6x variable scopes. They are almost as fast as a red dot and give you the advantages of the magnification at longer distances. I have the Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS scope on my 18" AR, and it is awesome. It is literally the exact same scope as the Vortex Strike Eagle (made on same line in same factory) but with a better reticle. The two downsides to the variable scopes that keep them from being my absolute first choice are weight and battery life. Variable scopes are heavy, especially when compared to a micro red dot. Battery life on the illuminated reticle on a scope is measured in hundreds of hours. My PA Advanced Micro Dot has a 50k our battery life, which means I can leave it on in my closet, ready to go for home defense, and change the battery every year on my birthday. Those 2 things give the red dot a huge advantage when movement and speed are a concern.


When it comes to red dot vs. reflex, I prefer the red dot, simply for battery life. The micro red dots especially are awesome, and they don't give you the "looking through a tube" feeling that older, larger red dots do.

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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#8

Post by puma guy » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:55 am

The Annoyed Man wrote:I have an Aimpoint Micro on my 10.5" .300 Blackout SBR, but that optic is strictly for SD/HD/CQB purposes. The matching carbine length 5.56 upper for that lower has a 4x ACOG on it. I am going to be picking up a Strike Eagle for the SBR upper for hunting applications. All of my other MSRs have magnified optics except my wife's AR which has an EOTech on it - but even that has a 3x magnifier for it if needed.

If I had to live with just ONE optic for an AR15, I'd go with something in the 1-6x to 1-8x range.
Left is the Bushnell SMRS reticle. Right is the Vortex Strike Eagle reticle:
ImageImage
Abraham wrote:I'm going to throw in a bit more to be considered in optic choice: Whether to buy a "tube red dot" no magnification, vs. a "reflex red dot" no magnification.

Since TAM is our scope guru, what say you for puma guy if he goes red dot no magnification?
TAM, I assumed you would reply and offer you knowledge and experience. Thanks for sharing and enlightening us. I had to look up some of the acronyms :lol: , but I am more aware of what's available these days. I have a Bushnell TRS -25 that I bought sevarl years ago , but have never installed. Both my AR's have traditional scopes , though I do have a green dot laser mounted on my M4 and a 6-24 on my 20" heavy barrelled rifle. My friend who is my daughter's father-in-law may be changing his mind after he hunts with the Aimpoint. Time will tell. I don't have the chance to hunt with him because he goes to Arkansas to his wife's family farm to do so. He considers me some sort of expert and often seeks my opinion and some times heeds it. He has some ideas that are at odds with my opinions. He won't go to gun ranges and doesn't carry with a round chambered. :shock:
I understand cybertext's point on eradication of pests, but personally I like to see an animal put to death quickly and humanely. I guess being the son of a veterinarian has that effect.
Abraham, That's an interesting point. He never considered a reflex version. The first salesman he spoke to actually recommended the Strike Eagle and also showed him Cabela's version, too.

TAM you piqued my curiosity to do some research and I found an Elcan Specter DR that I'd love to try out if I ever get an extra 2300 bucks!
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#9

Post by Kenneth77 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:52 am

I tried some red dots but they wasnt for me so i went with a strick eagle and love it except when i forget to turn the light off
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#10

Post by bblhd672 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:25 am

When I saw this thread I was hoping it would answer my "what optic should I put on my M&P15 Sport?" question.

While I now know more, I'm no closer to an answer for what to purchase. I've been looking at a few RDS and scopes, pretty much decided the stuff under $100 won't last or even work decently. But I don't have the means to make multiple purchase of hundreds of dollars each to determine what works. So many pros and cons to consider.

Thanks for everyone's input on this subject.


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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#11

Post by cyphertext » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:59 am

bblhd672 wrote:When I saw this thread I was hoping it would answer my "what optic should I put on my M&P15 Sport?" question.

While I now know more, I'm no closer to an answer for what to purchase. I've been looking at a few RDS and scopes, pretty much decided the stuff under $100 won't last or even work decently. But I don't have the means to make multiple purchase of hundreds of dollars each to determine what works. So many pros and cons to consider.

Thanks for everyone's input on this subject.
It really depends on what type of shooting you will be participating in. Run and gun where time is key and a hit on a steel gong is a hit calls for red dot.

Shooting from the bench trying to make one ragged hole at 100 yards is scope.

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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#12

Post by karder » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:09 am

For hunting, I prefer a bit of magnification. A red dot will certainly work, but the older my eyes get, the more I appreciate a little help from my optic.

For my home defense carbine, I like a red dot. I had been using Eotech, but a couple of years ago I switched to Mepro and I have been very happy. For me, that dot helps with quick target acquisition and I don't need magnification.
That being said, I have XS Big Dot sights on my AK, and I bet I can fire that just as fast at 50 yards and under, as I can my AR with a red dot, without the hassle of activating or messing with an optic which, Murphy's law teaches, is subject to failure.

For anything else, I like a little bit of magnification. If I am hunting or shooting out to any distance, a 1x6 or even a 1x4 will cover me for just about everything thing. The ACOG sight with a fixed 3x magnification is a good tool for 50-100 yards and beyond and will help with that "aim small miss small" thing.
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#13

Post by The Annoyed Man » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:45 am

Abraham wrote:I'm going to throw in a bit more to be considered in optic choice: Whether to buy a "tube red dot" no magnification, vs. a "reflex red dot" no magnification.

Since TAM is our scope guru, what say you for puma guy if he goes red dot no magnification?
We need to clarify some definitions first:
  • Holographic sights...... There is only one manufacturer of these kinds of sights: Electro-Optic Technologies. The gorilla in the room is EOTech, but they are also marketed under the name Bushnell. These sights have a laser-generated holographic "photograph" of the reticle sandwiched between two layers of glass, which form a window through which you view the target. They function by projecting a small laser beam backward and upward angle toward that window, and onto the hologram, illuminating it without directing the laser at the shooter's eye. Because the window is not reflecting the light back to the shooter's eye, there are no optical coatings on the glass, and so light transmission is very very good. Being a hologram, the reticle image has three advantages:
    1. It is not as sensitive to the position of your eye relative to the "eye box" of the optic, so that even if your eye is not perfectly aligned behind the optic, if you can see the reticle, it will be correctly aligned with the target. (Try having your eye outside the eye box on a magnified optic, and you may not even be able to see the reticle, let alone see the target.)
    2. Because the hologram is essentially a photograph of the reticle, you can have a reticle that is more complex than a simple dot. Thus, you get EOTech's various reticle options which are able to be used for ranging, bullet drop compensation, etc.
    3. Because the reticle appears in a larger viewing area than a simple red dot, these sights provide more of a "heads-up" display (like in a fighter jet cockpit), and lend themselves well to CQB.
    The downside of course to this arrangement is a larger, somewhat heavier optic than other configurations of "RDS".
  • Reflex sights..... Pretty much all other sights that we label "RDS" (red dot sights) fall under the "reflex sight" category. Instead of a hologram being projected backward toward the shooter's eye, the reflex reticle is (per the provided linkey) "projected forward, from a point behind the objective lens, and is then reflected off the back of the objective lens assembly toward the shooter's eye". The light source for that reticle dot is most commonly a LED, but there are other types like fiberoptic, etc. Because the dot is being projected forward toward the objective lens and then being reflected backwards to the shooter's eye (which is why they are called "reflex" sights), optical coatings are required to accomplish the reflexion, and that can compromise the amount of light that comes through the optic from down range....... although truth be told, most of us would never notice how much it was compromised. Reflex sights tend to fall into one of two categories:
    1. "Heads Up": Examples would be the Trijicon RMR, Mepro 21, and Burris Fastfire.
    2. "Tubular": Examples would include Aimpoint Micros, Aimpoint Pro, Primary Arms Micro, etc.
    It goes without saying that, as with other optics, models fall across a broad price range. My T2 Micro is very pricey, but there are others available at a third or less of that cost.
Neither the holographic or reflex sights are limited by eye relief or parallax. The shooter can mount the optic as far forward or as far back as he wants. As long as he can see the reticle (dot or otherwise), he's good to go. Either system also works well for shooting with both eyes open.

There are two other categories of optics worth considering......
  1. Prism Sights. Examples would include any of the ACOGs at the higher price points, and the Burris AR536 or AR332 at the lower end. These are fixed power optics, typically magnified (3x, 3.5x, 4x, 5x, etc.), but not always. Some are 1x. These combine the advantages of a RDS with the advantages of an etched reticle which can be illuminated by different kinds of sources. For instance, the ACOG gives you illumination provided by both tritium and fiberoptics, while the Burris examples use a battery but also offer both red and green illumination choices according to user preference. But either option will still provide the shooter with a black etched reticle if the light source goes away. I have owned a Burris AR536, and I have owned (and still do) a 4x32 BAC ACOG (TA31F). The ACOG is designed around the Bindon Aiming Concept, which encourages having both eyes open, which superimposes the reticle over the sight picture, and allows the brain to switch back and forth seamlessly between the eye that's on the optic and the offside eye. It takes a little getting used to, but it works, and it works very well. The ACOG has superb glass too. The Burris did not seem to work as well in that regard.......plus it was a fair amount larger and heavier than the ACOG. I eventually sold it when I bought the ACOG. In recent years, Lucid has released its P7 Combat Optic, which is also called a "poor man's ACOG", about which I am curious......but I've never seen one in the wild yet.
  2. More traditional magnified rifle scopes with a simple red dot: Any of the Leupold "Firedot" series comes to mind. I have a 1.5-5x33mm Leupold Scout scope mounted on my 16" .308 Ruger Gunsite Scout. It has a fair amount of eye relief (8" - 6.75"), and consequently a pretty generous eye box. The reticle is a simple, non-illuminated duplex, with a single "Firedot" red dot in the middle of the reticle. It is not much useful for ranging or bullet drop compensation, but this is a "brush gun", and shooting a 150 grain soft point Nosler Partition at a velocity of roughly 2545 fps, I have a maximum point blank zero of 258 yards - well within the maximum magnification of 5x, and the red dot helps to pin the reticle on the target.

    Now, I don't think a scout scope would be the desired optic for an AR15, but Leupold offers this reticle setup on scopes that are appropriate for that platform.
Well, like I said, I have a T2 Micro on my SBR, and a EOTech on my wife's AR carbine. Of the two, I much prefer the Micro for reasons of weight and size, but I have good friends who have also owned both, and they prefer the EOTech. I think it is a tomato/tomahto kind of thing.

BTW, I'm not really a scope guru......I've just spend a lot of research time and money over the years on trying to find what I want. :mrgreen:
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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#14

Post by bblhd672 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:08 pm

cyphertext wrote:
bblhd672 wrote:When I saw this thread I was hoping it would answer my "what optic should I put on my M&P15 Sport?" question.

While I now know more, I'm no closer to an answer for what to purchase. I've been looking at a few RDS and scopes, pretty much decided the stuff under $100 won't last or even work decently. But I don't have the means to make multiple purchase of hundreds of dollars each to determine what works. So many pros and cons to consider.

Thanks for everyone's input on this subject.
It really depends on what type of shooting you will be participating in. Run and gun where time is key and a hit on a steel gong is a hit calls for red dot.

Shooting from the bench trying to make one ragged hole at 100 yards is scope.
Primary reason for wanting an optic is home defense, close quarter battle. To be able to get quick on moving target.


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Re: Red Dot VS. Scope - choice for AR-15

#15

Post by maverick2076 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:34 pm

bblhd672 wrote:
cyphertext wrote:
bblhd672 wrote:When I saw this thread I was hoping it would answer my "what optic should I put on my M&P15 Sport?" question.

While I now know more, I'm no closer to an answer for what to purchase. I've been looking at a few RDS and scopes, pretty much decided the stuff under $100 won't last or even work decently. But I don't have the means to make multiple purchase of hundreds of dollars each to determine what works. So many pros and cons to consider.

Thanks for everyone's input on this subject.
It really depends on what type of shooting you will be participating in. Run and gun where time is key and a hit on a steel gong is a hit calls for red dot.

Shooting from the bench trying to make one ragged hole at 100 yards is scope.
Primary reason for wanting an optic is home defense, close quarter battle. To be able to get quick on moving target.
That's a red dot all the way then. For the money, I highly recommend the Primary Arms Micro Dot. 2 MOA dot, size of an Aimpoint T1, NV compatible, and a 50k hour battery life. with a mount it is right at $200, and it is a lot of optic for the money. If you wait a few weeks, you can probably get your hands on their new micro dot that is being put out in conjunction with Holosun. Same micro dot, same battery life, but with their ACSS reticle, which has a CQB horseshoe, aiming chevron, BDC, and ranging ability. $220 with the mount. I'll be picking one up as soon as it is available.

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