​ How to Choose the Perfect Reflex Sight for Your Gun

There was a time when gun sighting devices were deemed a luxury, affordable only by the selected few. That time is long gone - now is the era of abundance and availability. Reflex sights now crown more firearms than they’ve ever had, yielding only to telescopic sights in sales. As befits any sought-after accessory, reflex sights come in many variations. The surplus of information and options can easily inundate even some of the more experienced gun owners, let alone newbies who’ve just acquired their first gun. To prevent the deluge of facts and models from capsizing you, we’ve compiled this brief guide to choosing the perfect reflex sight for your needs.

Consider Your Gun Type

While no reflex sight is limited to a certain type of firearm, some models might be more suitable for a particular gun size than others. That has to do with several characteristics of the sight, like weight and size. In a perfect world, you’d want your sight to be a fine addition to your weapon and not a burden. For example, pistols might need a smaller and more compact reflex sight than rifles or shotguns.

If you are looking for pistol reflex sights, opt for a device that is lightweight and small in size. That will allow you to mount them comfortably on handguns without adding too much bulk or weight. These sights usually feature an open design with a single red dot reticle, allowing for quick target acquisition and accuracy.

Rifle and shotgun reflex sights can be larger than those used on pistols to compensate for the increased recoil from these weapons and align with the firearm’s size. Such sights might have a bigger objective lens and, consequently, the field of view. With that being said, some reflex sights are designed with a particular weapon in mind, like Burris SpeedBead. This sight is recommended for shotguns, as the specific shotgun SpeedBead mount eloquently suggests.

Determine Housing Configuration

When it comes to housing, there are two main types to consider: open-reflex sights and closed-tube reflex sights.

Open reflex sights are typically lighter in weight and offer a wider field of view for target acquisition. That makes them ideal for close-quarters shooting, as they provide an unobstructed view of the target. However, open-reflex sights are not as durable as closed-tube reflex sights and can be more susceptible to dirt and moisture. Their light emitters are usually left unprotected due to design peculiarities and thus can get obscured by water if the weather is too unforgiving. The fact that you might need to clean a sight on the go doesn’t flatter open reflex sights, but this is a possible scenario.

Closed-tube reflex sights offer greater durability than open-reflex sights due to their enclosed design. They are also more accurate at longer distances, making them better suited for precision shooting. However, they tend to have a narrower field of view than open reflex sights. That can make it difficult to acquire targets quickly. Additionally, they can be heavier than open reflex sights due to their construction.

Thus, there are two major performance differences between open and enclosed reflex sights: performance in foul weather and FOV. If you are choosing a sight for a pistol, we recommend opting for an open one. A sight like that will be lightweight and compact and will provide a comfortable field of view without obstructing your peripheral vision. Similarly, the enclosed reflex sight will shine the most on long guns. They are sturdier, impervious to weather influence, and usually bigger, which will allow them not to get lost on the firearm.

With that being said, both types can be utilized on all types of firearms that can mount them. They offer unique advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account before purchasing either type of sight.

Decide on Reticle Size

The size of the reticle in a reflex sight can have a big impact on its performance. Reticles are measured in Minutes of Angle (MOA), which is an angular measurement system that divides a circle into 360 degrees, with each degree further divided into 60 minutes. The size of the reticle is determined by how many MOA it covers, with the smallest reticles measuring 1 MOA and the largest measuring up to 10 MOA or more. In reflex sights, MOA determines the area the dot will cover at 100 yards. 1 MOA reticle will cover 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, 1/2 inch at 50 yards, and so on.

Even though we’ll talk about matters of lesser and greater precision now, it’s important to remember that all those things refer to close-to-mid-distance shooting. While no reflex sight can compare to scope in terms of precision, we can nonetheless discuss the matters of accuracy with reflex sights.

Smaller reticles are often preferred for precision shooting because they provide greater accuracy when aiming at small targets. You can say that smaller reticles are preferable for situations when you need to strike a particular point on the target, not the target in general. On the other hand, larger reticles can be beneficial for faster target acquisition since they cover more area on the target. That makes them ideal for close-range shooting, where quick target acquisition is essential.

When choosing a reticle size, it's important to consider your intended use and what type of shooting you will be doing most often. For example, a smaller reticle would be best suited for shooting from greater distances. If you plan on doing a lot of close-range shooting, a larger reticle would be preferable. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your particular needs.

Need a Co-Witness?

There is an additional feature that can alter your experience with reflex sights: co-witnessing. It’s not a purely reflex sight-related thing - you need a firearm that features iron sights.

Co-witnessing a red dot sight is a technique used to align the iron sights of a firearm with an electronic optic, a reflex sight, in our case. The purpose of this practice is to bolster your precision and provide an alternative sighting system, should the electronic optic fail.

When you co-witness a reflex sight, you're putting it in line with the front and rear iron sights of your firearm. This can be done in two ways: absolute co-witness and lower 1/3 co-witness.

Absolute co-witness means that when looking through the optic, the iron sights are visible directly in the center of the view. This setup accelerates your adaptation to changing lighting conditions and eliminates the need to realign your weapon.

Lower 1/3 co-witness means that when looking through the optic, the iron sights are visible at the bottom third of your field of view. This can be achieved by mounting your sight on an elevated mounting platform. With a setup like that, the picture you see through your sight becomes less cluttered. However, you’d need to realign your angle when switching between the two sets of sights.


It’s hard to go the wrong way when choosing a reflex sight, at least what concerns different configurations. There is always a possibility of coming across an unscrupulous manufacturer, but we spare no effort to hand-pick the most reliable brands in the industry to bring you the best goods the market has to offer. The general rule is to combine lightweight arms with compact lightweight optics and bigger weapons with sturdier sights. It’s not like you can’t do the opposite - those are just recommendations. Tested by many a seasoned shooter, but recommendations nonetheless.


What is a reflex sight good for?

One of the main advantages of a reflex sight is that it allows for rapid target acquisition. That makes it ideal for close-quarters and fast-paced shooting situations, such as home defense or tactical operations. Reflex sights are indispensable for close-to-mid-distance shooting.

What is the effective sighting distance for a reflex sight?

The consensus on reflex sight efficiency is as follows: up to 100 yards they are 100% reliable. Everything that goes further is a bit more ambiguous. A lot will depend on your level of precision, but in theory, 200 yards and 300 yards are quite achievable.

Do reflex sights work at night?

The reflex sight itself is not dependent on lighting conditions. In that regard, it outperforms traditional scopes. But you won't see much through its window if there's dark outside. The other option you have is to utilize night vision devices - there are night vision-compatible sights that can make such a duo possible.

Are reflex sights more accurate than traditional iron sights?

As there is no need to line up the front and rear sights to take an accurate shot, it is easier to aim with reflex sights. They also provide greater accuracy, particularly when shooting from long distances and can work in low-light conditions.

Apr 17th 2023 Gritr Sports

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