Red Dots vs Holographic Sights: Which Is Better?

Zerotech South East Whack Stack 264
Zerotech South East Whack Stack 264

If you’re a casual shooter or one that is just making their entry into the world of hunting and firearms, chances are you’ll be picking up a target enhancement that can be paired with your already existing weapon. A red dot sight is the ideal solution; it is a non-magnifying sight that projects a red dot reticle onto the target and enables the user to take perfect aim without worrying about parallax adjustment or eye relief. Red dots come in two variations, prism sights and reflex sights, which differ in their internal construction but use the same technology and have the same advantages.

While red dots have been in the market since 1900, holographic sights have been steadily rising as an advancement in technology over red dot sights. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the definitive answer to getting the perfect shot, and our trusty ZeroTech Red Dot can be the perfect apparatus for you. Read on for our breakdown on red dot versus holographic sights, by examining their various properties, to help you make the right pick.

Technology and Price

The major difference between the two types of sights is the technology used. Red dots are fairly simple in their construction; it consists of a single red LED at the focus that beams its light towards the front lens, which is reflected and directed back to your eye. Holographic sights, on the other hand, use a set of lasers and mirrors to project a holographic image onto the target without using the front lens.

The more complex technology used in holographic sights naturally means they come with a higher price tag. So it all depends on if you’re willing to shell out extra depending on the specifications covered further in this article; otherwise, there are higher-end red dot models that serve their purpose for roughly the same price.

Size and Durability

One area where red dots win out over holographic sights is their smaller size, which means they can be affixed to any kind of weapon, including handguns. Since their technology is simpler, they come in a large variety of sizes; while holographic sights aren’t massive, they currently come only in one standard size that will be very unwieldy on a smaller weapon.

While durability varies with the price tag and higher-end models of both types perform better in rough conditions, one major advantage of holographic sights is that they don’t use the front lens to project onto the target. So even if the lens is partially damaged or blocked with mud or debris, the sight will still work.


The reason red dots are still so trustworthy is because of their very long battery life. The simple LED technology used means red dot sights can last up to 50,000 hours on battery power, and you don’t have to worry about your optics failing mid-shot. Holographic sights, on the other hand, last up to a mere 500 hours in comparison.

Reticle Variation

Zerotech South East Whack Stack 84 Min
Zerotech South East Whack Stack 84 Min

Traditionally, both red dots and holographic sights use a red illumination reticle, since it is the color that is most easily picked up by the eyes. There are some newer models that use green reticles, which is even easier on the eyes, but can be hard to pick out in areas with varying lighting. Green reticles are thus a more ideal choice for competitive shooting where the lighting is consistent.

Night Vision and Astigmatism

With the advancement in technology, both red dots and holographic sights have night vision compatibility, using dimmer settings to easily acquire the target without damaging the device. The ZeroTech Thrive Red Dot comes with 11 brightness settings and Anti Reflective lens coating, perfect for night vision.


If however, you have astigmatism, light sources including red dots are hard to pick up at night and usually display as multiple squiggly lines. In such cases, a holographic sight is the better option.

Both red dots and holographic sights can magnify, and have external magnifiers attached to them. The Thrive Red Dot can be magnified up to 3 MOA.

The difference arises when the sights are used with external magnification. Red dots work a bit like SFP reticles in that the reticle size remains the same when magnified, which means the red dot covers more of the target. Holographic sights, however, project the target relative to the magnification; so even if you were to magnify a 1 MOA holographic dot, the dot stays 1 MOA, while the image can get up to 6 MOA.

Field of View

Banner Homepage Reticle Jan2022
Banner Homepage Reticle Jan2022

The advantage of using an electronic sight is that you don’t need to shoot with one eye closed. But with a smaller field of view, as is the case with older and cheaper red dot models, you may have to stand further behind the sight to get a full picture. Holographic sights generally use a rectangular lens, which affords them a much bigger field of view.

Acquisition Speed

Red dots and holographic sights are both very fast to acquire the target, but again, the technology makes a difference when it comes to selecting multiple targets. Since holographic sights project the reticle in front of the sight and superimpose it on the target, it moves faster with the target and means your eye doesn’t need to focus on both the target and reticle at the same time, unlike with red dots.


While holographic sights do present many advantages that come with the leaps in technology, they come with a stiffer price tag, limited variety and shorter lifespan. Red dots still maintain their reputation as reliable and highly accurate, especially for casual, outdoor and competitive shooting, which the ZeroTech Red Dot is specially engineered for. Contact your local arms dealer to test out the Thrive range today.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping

Win a ZeroTech Micro Red Dot Every Month!

Enter the Monthly Draw to Take Home the Ultra-Light, Ultra-Responsive Micro Red Dot!

Join ZeroTech Optics for your chance to win a brand new Micro Red Dot every month. Experience the pinnacle of performance, innovation, and personal safety — right at your fingertips.

Sign up now with your email to get a 15% discount off your first order, and be the first to know about our latest products, news, and exclusive deals, all while getting a shot at taking home our monthly optic giveaway!

This draw will end in