How to choose a red dot sight for different types of weapons

What types of collimator sights are there?

Depending on the type of operation, collimator sights are divided into two types. Active collimators operate on batteries. The brightness of their aiming mark does not depend on the time of day. Passive sights require sufficient illumination. It is this that determines the glow of the brand.


The device of any collimator includes a light source, a lens and a correction mechanism. Open red dot sights are simpler and more affordable. The lens (2) scatters light from the source (1), which is reflected from the inside of the input lens (3) and goes in a parallel beam towards the eye. As a result, the shooter sees the reticle and the target (4).

Features of open collimators:

  • cannot be used during snow and rain, as they do not have protection from weather factors;
  • have the function of changing the aiming mark;
  • lighter and more compact than closed ones;
  • provide sighting with two eyes;
  • do not obscure the field of view.


The difference between closed type sights is the presence of protective glass (4) and a housing on both sides. The optical design is the same as that of open collimators. Protective glass protects the device from weather conditions and prevents dirt and moisture from penetrating inside.

Features of closed sights:

  • in addition to the front lens, they have an eyepiece lens;
  • due to the body, the aiming area is obscured;
  • more dimensional;
  • When installing an additional optical attachment, the magnification of the sight increases by 2 times.


When deciding how to choose a collimator sight for a smooth-bore weapon, it is worth considering holographic models. Outwardly, they are similar to open sights, but have a different operating principle. A laser beam with a recorded image of the brand is emitted onto the photographic plate (1) from the reference radiation source. The result is its holographic projection (3). The image can also be obtained using a holographic grating (6) and a collimating reflector (5).

Features of such collimators:

  • holography is better perceived by the human eye in daylight and night lighting;
  • the brand is visible regardless of the degree of illumination;
  • have virtually no parallax errors.

Which collimator is better, open or closed?

The advantage of a closed sight

The closed type of sight has good protection from mechanical damage and negative environmental factors.

The advantage of an open sight

Better compactness compared to a closed sight, aesthetic characteristics, greater visibility than its competitor.

Disadvantage of a closed type device

Larger in size compared to open sights.

Disadvantage of an open type device

They are short-lived and have less protection than closed-type sights.

Planks and brackets

Most collimators are made in one piece along with the bracket. Such models can be quickly installed on an aiming bar. What other collimator mounts exist:

  • "Dovetail". The simplest and most universal design of the seat for most shotguns. The design is simple and reliable, ensuring maximum service life. The mount is mounted on the zeroed place, so after installing the collimator there is no need for new zeroing.
  • Picatinny rails with 0.394 inch pitch. You can move the installed device along the upper corrugated part, and thanks to the slots, you can fix it with levers or bolts in the right place. Thanks to the slots, the plank is lightweight and ventilated.
  • Weaver rails with 0.18 inch pitch. This is an improved version of the dovetail with a more complex design. The bar is screwed along the entire length of the sight. It has an additional stop for adjusting the instability of the sight. Can be installed on pistols and sporting crossbows. Sights with Weaver mounts will also fit on Picatinny rails.
  • Fastening via rings. They are designed for mounting a cylindrical sight. Most often included with the collimator.

About unreliable options that should be avoided

Sometimes domestic “masters” install a Weaver landing even on a “dovetail”. Special adapters are made for this. Moreover, there are no standard devices - each time a special approach is needed. For example, on the steel console of a device manufactured in Volgograd (VOMZ), you can place another sighting device with various mounting options. But the collimator sight designed for the 16-caliber IZH-27 can only be placed on a sighting bar with a maximum width of 7 mm. Such designs are not recommended for use not only because of the increased weight of the weapon, but also because its alignment is disrupted. Such adapters weigh 100 grams or even more. Those who have already used such homemade mounts in practice say that they have little reliability and after a dozen shots they already begin to become loose. The optical device can be installed with minimal weight. But according to calculations, for the IZH-27, the collimator sight should weigh within 90 grams.

Basic recommendations for selection and review of popular models

During the selection process, it is important to pay attention to the reticle. Personal preferences are allowed here. The classic version is a red dot. Today there are collimators with switchable brands, due to which they can be used on different types of weapons.

For shotguns, options with a circle-mesh have been developed. There are rice stamps, as well as color changing ones. Recommendations for choosing the type of red dot sight:

  • Closed models are recommended for long-barreled weapons. Medium and large calibers are acceptable. Such scopes are chosen for hunting in densely populated areas and in difficult weather conditions.
  • Open collimators are the optimal choice for small-caliber carbines and hunting in open spaces. The problem of contamination is solved very simply - buy protective caps for the eyepieces and lens. The sight is also cleaned regularly.
  • Holographic models are recommended for installation on shotguns.

EOTech EXPS3-2

If you don’t know how to choose a red dot sight for a carbine, then be sure to pay attention to this model. It is recommended for installation specifically on light weapons: carbines, automatic and semi-automatic rifles. The cost of the device varies between 60,000-65,000 rubles.

The collimator is very accurate, allowing you to detect a target at a distance of 280 m. The model is distinguished by the absence of the parallax effect. Thanks to the complete impermeability and improved protection of the case, it can be submerged to a depth of 3 m. Compatible with night vision devices. To switch from day to night mode, the collimator has side buttons.

Aimpoint Micro H-1 Complete 2MOA

The Aimpoint Micro H-1 sight is designed for use with firearms, rifled or short-barreled. Also suitable for shotguns. Acceptable calibers are up to .500 Nitro Express. Due to its light weight, the collimator can be installed on lightweight weapons. Compatible with bows, crossbows and hunting revolvers. The sight costs about 30,000-36,000 rubles.

SightMark Laser Dual Short Sight collimator with laser center

Hunting scope equipped with an integrated laser target pointer. Users note that the device is suitable for hunting in a raid and from ambush, including from dense thickets. The sight can also be used for sporting weapons. Installing the SightMark Laser Dual helps solve the question of how to choose a red dot sight for 12 gauge. The model belongs to the budget category, since it costs 5000-8000 rubles.

Features of choosing sights

Professionals have an unspoken rule - red dot sights that cost less than $50 are not considered full-fledged sights. This is due to the unreliable design of these devices; they get knocked down by any shock (even while loading the gun).

If a collimator is purchased for a maneuverable medium-range weapon, you should take a closer look at the closed model, it is more reliable. When using a long-range gun, an open collimator sight in an elongated body is suitable, which allows you to aim even at long distances. An open collimator with a single lens in a frame can be used for both an air pistol and a rifle.

Comparative table of characteristics of red dot sights

To choose a suitable collimator model, you must study the main characteristics of all options. For ease of comparison, they are presented in the table:

CharacteristicsSightMark LaserAimpoint Micro H-1 Complete 2MOAEOTech EXPS3-2
Lens33x24 mm21x15 mm33x23 mm
Working temperature-10 to +50 °C>From -30 to +60 °C-40 to +65 °C
Mounting typeWeaver or Picatinny rail with 17-23 mm seat.On the brackets.On the Weaver bar.
  • does not require adjustment after re-installation or dismantling;
  • unlimited eye relief;
  • red reticle 4 modifications;
  • lens with anti-reflective ruby ​​coating;
  • 7-step brightness adjustment;
  • multiplicity 1x.
  • 12-step mark brightness adjustment;
  • waterproof housing;
  • Includes protective rubber covers;
  • mechanical brand intensity switch;
  • Acet energy saving technology;
  • lens with double-sided multilayer Anti Reflex coating;
  • reduced recoil due to special fastening.
  • sighting network A65/1 2-dot – circle with a diameter of 65 MOA and two dots (1 MOA);
  • 10-step brightness adjustment for night mode, 30-step for daytime.
Weight, g162105317
Power typeCan work for 2 hours with CR2032 lithium battery.CR2032 batteries operate for up to 50,000 hours.Operating time from one lithium battery is up to 600 hours.


Rating of the best red dot sights for a 12 gauge smoothbore shotgun

There are several series of optical devices of the same brand on sale. All their advantages are noted based on reviews from athletes and hunters, which are easy to find on forums and websites of the relevant topic.

Prices are approximate, for the Moscow region, in Russian rubles.


Model SM1

Series 3005. This red dot sight is perfectly suited for fishing in low temperature conditions. At temperatures down to -25 ºС, the brightness of the glow does not change. The light weight of the device, protection from mechanical damage and falls from a height make it attractive for lovers of outdoor hunting. Price – 9,000.

Series 3003B (BOX 1x33). Open type collimator. Advantages - excellent panoramic visibility, the presence of several types (up to 4) of aiming marks, which ensures the accuracy of the shot with both a bullet and a shot charge. Price – 6,290. Series 3001. Attracts, first of all, with its small dimensions. This device belongs to the category of mini-sights, so it is perfect for those hunters who prefer to fish in places with dense vegetation (forest belts, etc.). The specific design of the lens provides visibility in a large sector without moving the barrel of a 12-gauge weapon. Price – 8,190.

Model SM2

The 6003 series collimator sight stands out here. Such models are called ultra-compact (weight - 60 g). Type – open. The battery capacity allows for continuous illumination (when fully charged) for 8–9 days. Hunters note the ease of use when proactively shooting, that is, at a moving object (hare, taking off ducks, etc.). Price – 8,430.


Model SCP

Series RD40RGW-A. Collimator type – closed. The main advantage is quick installation on smooth-bore weapons. This allows you to carry the device in a special case while moving to the hunting location. Another plus is that there are 2 colors for the aiming mark: red – clearly visible against the background of foliage and grass; green – for autumn and winter fishing. Price – 2,680.

DS3028W Series.
Another closed-type collimator sight. Advantages - good protection from impacts, ease of installation on smooth-bore weapons, sufficient viewing angle (at a distance of 100 m it is equal to ± 160). Price – 3,890. How to make a camouflage net for hunting with your own hands - instructions

Aimpoint Micro

This model of red dot sight is considered one of the best for 12 caliber smoothbore weapons. It optimally combines the advantages of open (ease of use, light weight) and closed (reliability, inertness to recoil) types of optical devices. The battery is designed for 48,000 hours of operation, and the quality of the backlight does not decrease even at extremely low temperatures.

This collimator is not afraid of water (allowable immersion is 5 m) and can be installed not only on a 12-caliber smoothbore shotgun, but also on other types of weapons equipped with a ventilated rail. Price – from 32,990.

DOCTER Sight (Model III 3.5)

The type of collimator sight is open. The main highlight is the ability of the optics to independently adjust the brightness of the backlight depending on the lighting conditions. This creates convenience during winter hunting - you don’t need to press against the cold butt for a long time and take aim. The mount is proprietary, universal. Price – from 18,190.

The red dot sights given as an example are not the only high-quality ones. There are also models on sale from other manufacturers, to which there are no special complaints - “Hakko BED” (Japan), “EOTech” (USA). But this is explained not only by their high reliability, but also by low demand - they are much more expensive, which is why they are purchased less often by owners of smooth-bore weapons. Accordingly, there are not so many reviews.

To be fair, it should be noted that all devices under these brands entering our market are manufactured in China.

There are many positive reviews about the Russian development of optics for smooth-bore weapons. The Cobra collimator (EKP-8-21 series) is excellent for 12 gauge. The price is significantly lower than many foreign analogues - 12,780, and the quality is not inferior to them.

( 2 ratings, average 5 out of 5 )
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