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1-4 Scope vs Red Dot: Which Is Right For You?

L.p. Brezny | Updated February 23, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
LPVO on a gun on the left and a red dot sight on the right

When it comes to 1-4 scope vs red dot, it can be difficult to decide which one is better. However, both are great tools to use when aiming at your target. 

That said, various distinctions determine which one is better for you. 

Up Next: Best 1-4x Scope Under $200

After this article, we’d suggest you take a look at the “best 1-4x scope under $200” where we recommend the top 1-4x LPVOs on the market.

The Distinctions Between the 1-4 Scope and Red Dot

First off, the size and weight are one significant difference between the 1-4 scope and the red dot. Compared to the red dot, the 1-4 scope is somewhat bulky and heavy. However, unlike the 1-4 scope, the red dot can’t magnify the sight of the target. 

So, generally speaking, using the red dot on a short-distance shooting range is better. Otherwise, you may have a better target aim long-range with the 1-4 scope. 

Other than that, the other significant distinction is affordability. A 1-4x scope would be more expensive than the red dot in most cases. (Reference: Red dot vs LPVO)

Pros and Cons of the 1-4 Scope and the Red Dot

As incredible as the 1-4 scope and the red dot are for training to shoot at various ranges, they both have pros and cons. Comparing these pros and cons in depth will help you make the right buying decision.

Black Vortex LPVO mounted on a gun on rocks

Pros of the 1-4 Scope

  • Variable magnification – the magnification of the target can go up to four times when sighting your target, giving you further range while retaining 1x ability for close-range targets.
  • More versatile – because of the access to different magnifications, you can apply it in various scenarios, whether that’s CQB or shooting past 100 yards.
  • Better long-range accuracy – this is due to the ability to mount and zero in at the proper shooting range of your target. 
  • Different reticles are available for your rifle. 
  • Requires no batteries to aim at your target.
  • More advanced reticle options available.

Cons of the 1-4 Scope

  • Heavy/bulky, which adds weight to your rifle.
  • Limited eye relief due to its design, and unlike the red dot, you usually can only use the scope with one eye open.
  • Slower target acquisition may occur because of the need to adjust magnification for better aiming.
  • Costs more than a red dot.
  • Not as flexible on mounting locations because of eye box demands.
  • Reticle illumination is not as bright and doesn’t last as long as a red dot’s.
Rows of different red dot sights lined up

Pros of the Red Dot

  • Faster target acquisition – easier to see the sight picture because of unlimited eye relief and no need for setting adjustments.
  • Both eyes can be opened when using red dot optics to shoot, giving you maximum peripheral vision.
  • Bright illuminated reticle easily catches the eye even in bright daylight.
  • Light and compact – barely adds weight to your weapon.
  • Great value for the money, more budget-friendly than LPVOs.
  • Long-lasting battery life.

Cons of the Red Dot

  • Only suitable for short-range shooting.
  • Requires batteries to produce a red dot.
  • Shooters with astigmatism may have a problem when viewing the red dot.  
  • Has no magnified optics, which makes it impossible to see or identify your target far away.
  • Advanced reticle designs are rare and often difficult to use.

Now, for the debate between a 1-4x scope or a red dot magnifier, check out this video that clears that up:

For more reading, take a look at our write up on the various LPVO focused Youtube channels & forums out there and our write up answering: are LPVO scopes good for home defense.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which is better, the scope or the red dot? 

Various factors determine whether the scope or the red dot is better. It comes down to your purpose.

For one, the red dot works well for shooting targets at short distances and is also quick to use. On the other hand, the 1-4 scope is more precise when it comes to long-distance shooting than the red dot due to its magnification. 

Is a low-power scope better than a red dot with a magnifier? 

A low-power scope is not better than a red dot with a magnifier. However, a 1x scope has its benefits and will show what the eyes typically see, like a red dot with no magnification. 

How far can a 1×4 scope see? 

Using a 1×4 scope can let you see from 100 yards (91 meters) to as far as 500 yards (over 450 meters), perfect for CQB to medium-range shooting.


  1. Sig Sauer, Red Dot Sight or Scope: What is the Best Optics for Your Rifle? Retrieved from https://www.sigsauer.com/blog/red-dot-sight-or-scope-what-is-the-best-optic-for-your-rifle

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