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Red dot scopes - how usefull in very low light?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dave3006, Jan 25, 2004.

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  1. dave3006

    dave3006 member

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    I am thinking about a Eotech, Aimpoint, or Trijicon Reflex II for my Mini-14 for a night situation. How useful are Red dot scopes when the light is very, very low? Assuming you have identified your target 100%, can you see the red dot when it is dark?

    I have used tritium dots on my shotgun and handgun in almost complete darkness. They work great with almost no light at all. Do the red dots perform as well?

    Again, this all assumes you have properly identified your target...
     
  2. tc300mag1

    tc300mag1 Member

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    Not worth a Damn excuse the language i have stronger words i would use didnt get a shot at a buck becuse of one couldnt make out the deer from the background with it and me standing in middle of road.

    Was last few mins of daylight and past time i could. shoot at my blind so i headed to truck and heard one moving as i got to truck. couldnt get rifle off back as afraid to spook it. Was able to get 44 Mag out of shoulder holster and try to aim with red dot on setting of one i couldnt tell the deer from the backstop of woods..

    The lens are coated to reflect the red dot but that makes them Dimmer even in broad daylight that a regular scope.

    Needless to say red dot came off that Night
     
  3. MiniZ

    MiniZ Member

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    Depends on what dot you have.

    I don't have an Eotech or an Aimpoint, so I cannot comment on them.

    However, the dots I have do have adjustable brightness settings. Mine work great in low light(provided I can identify/see the target).
     
  4. DMK

    DMK Member

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    tc300mag1, just curious, were you aiming with both eyes open?
     
  5. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

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    I've used a Comp M2 and PVS-14's to good effect on the low power settings. With both eyes open it seems to work well even without night vision. Certainly better than the wide aperture rear sight on M16's (the only night ranges I've attended).

    Note that this is with one of the more expensive red dot systems, not a $50 BSA deal.
     
  6. standingbear

    standingbear Member

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    very useful on my ruger comp model.i took some rats in a barn that went running about and stopped to see what had scared them.i prefer it to a scope for faster pickup on the scurring lil rodents in low light range.this after trying a redfield pistolscope and losing them in the shadows and having to find them again.works great on squirrels and rabbits now too for the same gun.bad thing is remembering to turn the thing off or the batteries get weak and its useless without good batteries.
     
  7. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Member

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    I have a BSA illuminated Cats Eye scope. First time I took it out in the evening and tried it, I didn't like the illumination. Battery died, and it's been dead for three years now. Even on its dimmest setting, it blinds you. Works great for shooting into shadows on a bright day, but that's all its good for. I imagine a red dot would be the same. Good for target shooting, but not for hunting in the evening or early morning.
     
  8. dave3006

    dave3006 member

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    Kind of a mixed response. It sounds like they do not work in near pitch darkness like a common tritium insert on a handgun sight?
     
  9. DMK

    DMK Member

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    Even Tritium night sights won't work in near pitch darkness. If you can't be see your target, seeing your sights or reticle isn't going to help much.

    I've never shot anything in the dark, but I've played around with my Novak Tritium night sights, BSA red dot and Millet red dot at night, inside and out with no lights on. With the lowest setting on the red dot, I'd say my Novaks and the red dots are about the same brightness. I think I actually prefer the red dot over the green sights. The night sights have the advantage of not needing batteries of course, but I have no problems with putting the sights on the target if I kept both eyes open and on the target. If you close one eye and look at the sights/red dot you may lose a dim target.

    In this scenario I think the red dot is better since it's designed to be used with focus on the target and the red dot superimposed over it(which is why they are often mounted well foreward, scout style). With night sights, you are supposed to be concentrating on the front sight. By focusing on the target, you are pretty much point shooting. Of course, it is *much* more preferable to put a flashlight on the target, but I wanted to see what a worse case scenario would be like.
     
  10. dave3006

    dave3006 member

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    There is an exception to almost all the so-called "gun truths".

    You may have to fire in near pitch darkness. You could have a confirmed bad guy shooting at you in a pitch dark area. You return fire to the location of the noise and muzzleflash you just saw. You don't have your flashlight for some reason. However, it is obvious someone is trying to kill you in this dark, dark room. You need a way to aim towards the bad guy. The trijicons on my Glock can be seen in complete pitch darkness. I wanted to know if the red dots perform the same way.

    You don't necessarily have to illuminate your bad guy to tell he is trying to kill you.
     
  11. DMK

    DMK Member

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    That's exactly what I was talking about in my last two paragraphs.

    I'd rather ID my target if possible, but you're right. You may get into a situation, where you know beyond a shadow of doubt that there is only you and another person or animal who is trying to harm you. If you just want to pump 30 rounds of .223 into a dark corner, you don't even need sights. Even then though, it's best to get the first round on target rather than night blind yourself and give away your exact position with the muzzle flash of a miss. Every situation is different and you have to decide what's right when you are in it.

    IMO, comparing the Novak Tritiums on my 1911 and the Millet red dot on my AK, they do. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the darker it is, red dot may even have a slight advantage over the night sights because they work better with a focus on the target rather than focus on the sights.
     
  12. B27

    B27 Member

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    The Meprolight Reflex on this AK works so well in low light or just plain dark-

    http://www.fototime.com/2A792546AB536E0/standard.jpg

    -that I prefer it for that use to the Aimpoint Comp and Eotechs I have mounted on other guns.
    As previously stated, these sights must be used with both eyes open to get the full advantage.
    Do that, and this Meprolight gives you a good sized orange ball in your field of view right where you shots will land. And no turning it on and off or adjusting the brightness.

    www.meprolight.com
     
  13. DMK

    DMK Member

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    Nice rifles B27! I love that CZ Mannlicher :cool:

    Is that lever an 1894C carbine?
     
  14. B27

    B27 Member

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    Thanks DMK!:)
    Yep, that's an 1894CS .357 with a Docter Optics mini red dot sight on it.
    Gives 7Up cans at fifty yards hell.:D
     
  15. 3 gun

    3 gun Member

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    Red dots work best when you keep both eyes open. If you can see your target without the sight you will be able to see the target with the sight. Red dots will even allow you to use them with a lens cap on the front, if you're worried about glare from the lens. As long as you keep both eyes open.

    I use a Millett SP1 and on its lowest setting of 1/11 I can see and hit steel plates long after the regular scope and iron sight guys have finished.
     
  16. KW

    KW Member

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    My EOtech 552 is perfectly visible in any lighting condition. The lens (if you want to call it that - it's just some plastic) is perfectly clear. I can adjust the brightness up enough that I can look right at a 100watt light bulb and still make out the reticle, or I can adjust it down enough so that it isn't blinding me even in pitch black. The 552 also has a nightvision mode which gives you a whole nother range of adjustments if you using nightvision gear. I don't have an Aimpoint, but my understanding is that they are much the same - just dial in the brightness where you need it and they are good to go.
     
  17. 444

    444 Member

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    Red Dots are very useful in very low light.
    You can see the dot whether there is any light or not simply because it is electronic.
    I have used my Aimpoint ML2 mounted on an AR15 in several night shoots at formal training classes. Anyone who tried it immediately realized that this was the only way to go short of actual night vision gear and as long as you can see and identify the target, night vision gear really has nothing to offer over the red dot. At one of the classes (Gunsite 223) the instructors had three students offer up their rifles for us to try; one with iron sights, one with a red dot, and one with a Trijicon Scope. We were firing at silhouette targets and steel plates at 100 yards. They had a road flare lit behind the target so it was backlit. This is a situation that many detractors of night sights never consider: you can see the target, but not your sights. An example might be where you are in a building shooting at a target outside and the target outside has moonlight or street light on it, but your sights don't. Anyway, obviously with the iron sights, you couldn't see them at all. The red dot was fine. I hit a steel plate at 100 yards as fast as I could yank the trigger. The Trijicon was also very good, however I would choose the red dot for a general purpose sight.
    Brightness: If you buy a good quality dot sight, you can adjust the brightness. On the Aimpoint you can adjust the brightness down to the point that you can use it with night vision goggles.
    Battery life: The current Aimpoint has a battery life of 10,000 hours. That means that if you never shut it off, it would last for a year and 51 days on one battery.
    Both eyes open is the way to shoot a red dot. If you can see the target, you can hit it, providing your skills are up to the task.
    Cheap optics: A rifle scope or optic is a precision optical instrument. In addition it is designed to withstand the punishment of recoil and ruff handling. You simply can not get a cheap precision optical instrument. People seem to be willing to spend the money on a good quality rifle, but when it comes to the sights (the interface between the rifle and the target) they try to cut corners and save a few sheckles. This is a mistake that is paid for everytime (providing that you actually use it).
    Target ID. Using a red dot in no way precludes you from also using a light. I have a red dot on my AR along with a Surefire 900 series weapons light.

    It has been proven by the US military that optical sights are the way to go for combat rifles. They have shown that a much higher percentage of first round hits are made with an optic over iron sights. It is really the best of both worlds: night or day.
     
  18. eatatjoes

    eatatjoes Member

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    my only red-dot experience comes from using the russian Kobra, but it can be adjusted to a very effective night time setting and i remember reading a review that stated something to the effect it improved daytime shooting up to 2x and night shooting up to 5x.
     
  19. tc300mag1

    tc300mag1 Member

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    DMK yes i had both eyes open usualy dont shoot that way but there wasnt enough light to be able to pick the deer out hard as i tried .. Since i only say 2 deer this season and that was one i wont use red dot again ..

    could i have got it with iron sights?? yeah i think so i could make it out well enough not looking though the red dot .. Could i have shoot at it with best guess and hit it with dot probley but dont take shots like that.
     
  20. 444

    444 Member

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    I wasn't there, so I can't offer any advice, but it seems kinda strange that you could see the deer, and you could see iron sights, but you couldn't see a dot that is lit up with a battery. :confused:
    Or maybe you are saying that you could see the deer, but when you looked through the sight you then couldn't see the deer. But if you had both eyes open, your weak sided eye wouldn't have been looking through the sight ? :confused:

    Whatever works for you is the best. I have just never run into this problem and can't envision it.

    As was mentioned before, even if you close the front dust cover on your red dot, you can still see the dot fine. In fact, if you are shooting with both eyes open, you don't even realize that the dust cover is closed. You still see the dot appear on the target whether you can see through the sight's tube or not.
     
  21. Chindo18Z

    Chindo18Z Member

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    Dave: If you stick to the professional grade optics (Eotech & Aimpoint), you will have zero problems seeing the red dot under any lighting conditions. The Aimpoint & Eotech models have click adjustable rheostat which allows for setting brightness from very dim (for viewing thru night vision devices) to very bright (like looking at a little ruby laser spot). The Aimpoint dot is visible in the darkest tunnel, hallway, or forest and also visible in the brightest desert or snowfield. Of course, you do have to click it to the setting you like best...
     
  22. 444

    444 Member

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    How do you decide where to set the dot brightness ?
    For quick use with a flash sight picture, it doesn't matter. For more precision use, you look through the tube at the dot. If the dot is too bright, it will not appear to be a nice round dot, it iwll be skewed somewhat. If you turn the brightness down, you will reach a setting where the dot is nice and round yet also very easy to see. This setting changes with the amount of ambient light. On my Aimpoint, I might use a setting of 3 at night. During the day I might use a setting of 7-8. A couple seconds of experimentation is all that is required. This does not greatly effect your shooting, it just makes for a nice clean sight picture.

    What about real precision shooting (Note: I am not talking about a benchrest match) ? Doesn't the dot cover the target making a precise shot impossible ?
    No. What you need to do is zero your dot so that the very tip of the top of the dot corresponds with the POI at your chosen range of zero. Then you use the dot like the tip of a front iron sight. For a COM shot, it doesn't matter. But, if you need to place a round at a very exact point, you simply place the very top of the dot on that spot just like you would a front iron sight.
     
  23. tc300mag1

    tc300mag1 Member

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    I could see the dot just not make out the deer though the red dot not enough light. Might work for other but not for me . I had it on the lowest setting and just couldnt make it out though the red dot site ... its hard to explaine
     
  24. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Have used all three sights, though not on a Mini-14.

    The Reflex is less useful than the EOtech and Aimpoint. It has a darker coating on the lens to reflect the reticle and while it works OK in a universally dark setting, it performs poorly in varied light/dark conditions (from darker areas into lighter ones - like say an urban area at night). The EOtech and Aimpoint are both great in these situations provided you adjust the reticle to the correct intensity. Assuming you can see the target, you can hit it with the Aimpoint or EOtech.
     
  25. birddog

    birddog Member

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    propoint 2

    I have a Propoint 2 on my slug gun, and it is far superior to open sights both in target aquisition (fast!) and low light. I am switching it over to my Taurus .44 mag today. The trick is, as many posters have said, keeping both eyes open which will appear to superimpose the dot on the target / deer. In low light conditions, dial the dot down to its weakest power to reduce scope glare. In my experience, if you can't make out the target because the dot is too bright, you are well past legal shooting light.

    Joel
     
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