Green Dots and Red Dots – Which Color Wins?

January 3, 2023  
Categories: Gear Curious

Reflex sights, commonly known as red dot sights, offer the easiest aiming tool known to man. Red dots and, by extension, holographic sights offer a point-and-click aiming option for shooters. Red dots can be utilized on basically every type of firearm known to man. This includes rifles, shotguns, large format pistols, standard pistols, and even subcompact pistols can all benefit from a red dot. My Glock 17 slide to my AR rail, they all wear red dots. It’s all about red dots, but what about green dots?

Well, to be fair, the term red dot has become the catch-all term for reflexive sights in general. Even if it’s not an accurate term, that doesn’t apply to gold or green dots. Green dot reticles have taken off in the last few years, and with Holosun’s continued release of green dots, I got around to researching and tracking down the big differences. In fact, I even ordered a green dot sight to experience the difference.

The Benefits of Red Dots

Since red dots rule, we’ll start with the king of the hill. Red dot sights have been the standard ever since Aimpoint delivered their Swedish space magic in 1975. Red was purposefully chosen for several reasons and remained the king color of reflexive optics for a reason. Try not to notice a red dot hovering in your face.

Red dots dominate the market and offer a multitude of colors. They’re good for everything from Sub 2k upgrades to churchin’ up your MP5

A big red dot can’t be ignored. There is a reason red is used for stoplights, stop signs, and brake lights. It stands out, and you pick it up. Since it doesn’t occur much in nature, the red dot never fades into the background of the world around you.

People love the fact that reflexive sights often last for years of continuous use, and that’s what makes them such a popular choice for defensive use. You can turn it on and forget about it for the next five years and never worry. Using red emitters reduces the intensity of the LED and doesn’t drain the battery as fast.

Red dots stand out everywhere.

Green Dots will zap a battery much faster than a red dot. If a red dot can last four years of continuous use, a green dot might only last a year or so.

Where Green Dots Rule

Red dots stand out, but our eyes physically see green fast, and we acquire that green dot faster than a red dot. Green dots can also ratchet up the intensity and get super damn bright. If you are in an environment that’s full of sun and reflective surfaces, the humble green dot gets bright enough to see with ease.

Green Dots are quickly gaining steam.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, green dots typically work better with night vision. They can get nice and dim and be very easy to see through NVGs. However, ANVIS lenses cannot see the green dot at all, so keep that in mind.

People often say a green dot will blend in with a green environment, like the woods. Well, it’s summer in Florida, and it rained every day for two months. Everything’s green, and I live in the woods. So I went out to try this. Guess what? I could see the dot perfectly fine against the greenest of natural environments. That big bright bitch doesn’t fade away at all.

You can’t see green dots against green brush…or can you?

Green dots are also super comfortable to stare at for long periods of time. The color relaxes the eye and doesn’t cause strain when used for long periods of time. It’s nice and pretty to stare at, like your mom.

Red or Green

Like most things, it’s going to be up to the end user. Red dots offer you way more options. Most companies produce a red dot or a variety of red dots and occasionally give green dots a token optic.

Green and red dots make up a massive reflex sight market.

Green dots seem to be rising in popularity. But it’ll be some time before I can get a fancy reticle option in green dot optics. If you like seeing green go green and Hulk. If you like red, well, you have a million options.\

Shop for Green & Red Dots!


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Travis Pike

Travis Pike

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  1. EDOGZ818

    Green & Gold?
    Wassup with the BLUE?

  2. NoMad

    Been running a Trijicon LPVO with green triangle for over a decade now. Never once lost it to background anywhere, including my very green hunting grounds.

    Glad you hit the speed of acquisition point. Learned that little face in the mid 2000’s and never went back.

    Now if only Eotech would get on board…..

  3. GomeznSA

    I have used both and in my experience the biggest determining factor is what background you are shooting against. It is all about contrast unless you happen to be color blind then I have no idea what color would work for you. I’d say try them and then decide.
    BTW the cost for effective dots continues to drop as the technology improves and becomes more available. Yes you can spend a bunch of money for top notch ones but for most of us that is not necessary.

  4. Daniel A Alderson

    The vortex strikefire 2 is a combination red / green dot at an excellent price point, with an outstanding warranty.

  5. James Wilson

    I can’t use a red dot. I can’t see it. I am color deficient and red is one of the colors I have the most trouble with. I am looking forward to getting a green dot once I can afford one like Bemused Berserker.

  6. Bemused Berserker

    Three of my AR’s sport Red Dots. I’d really like to try a Green Dot, but the increased cost prohibits purchasing one on my fixed income.
    On the AR I run with an Illuminated Scope, it gives the choice of Red or Green, and I think the Green side is easier to work with. The Red side I have to turn the intensity down very low. The Green side, I don’t have that problem.

    One of these days, maybe I can save up enough for a Green Dot.


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