Airsoft Red Dots, Scopes & Aiming Devices – Your Complete Guide

ESS Goggles - Airsoft UK
ESS Goggles Being Used By A Military Contractor

Always set your Hop Up correctly for the weight and brand of BB you are using BEFORE you zero your sights!

A word of advice for people looking for a scope, red dot or aiming device:

Use the Iron Sights that came with your gun! Allow me to explain why this is such a good idea and how you can improve your game by playing with your Iron Sights. If you are new to Airsoft or maybe you have only played one or two games, then there are a few things you will notice pretty quickly; you will notice that the flight of the BB isn’t always a perfectly straight line, you will notice that if you close one eye to look through your sights then you lose a lot of your peripheral vision. Well, learning to use you your iron sights gives you the best possible chance to watch the BB fly to its target and you will get used to the flight time and path of the BB and how to effectively shoot an opponent at the range or whilst on the move or even trying to shoot someone whilst lying on your side under a bus. The fact is that Iron Sights give you an unparalleled field of view and that makes them great for what we do. In Airsoft being able to see your target is arguably the most important thing for staying alive and getting kills. So use your Iron Sights for a bit and get used to shooting people at different ranges, elevations and different lighting conditions and angles and learn how your gun shoots before you dive into the world of optics. Maybe spend the cash on a game at your local site instead and get more practice in.

It is also important to zero your sights if you don’t then they may as well not be on the gun. 5-10 mins adjusting your sights and it can pay back big time on the field, and if you do it correctly then you only need to do it once. Remember trying to line up a shot between two barrels at the range can be tough if the sights aren’t lined up. To continue reading the next bit… 

Zeroing Your Sights

If your sights aren’t zeroed correctly then it makes it difficult to make accurate shots at different ranges. You would be surprised how many times I try someone’s gun on the field and their sights aren’t lined up correctly, and when I point it out the typical answer is “yeah I know but I know it shoots to the left so I compensate”. Whilst this does work you usually have to fire a few shots and give away your position to find your point of aim and half of the time your opponent realises their being shot at and gets down, stealing away your easy kill. If you know that your gun shoots to the left, how far to the right do you need to shoot at 20 Yards?, 50 Yards? 80Yards? it’s hard to tell as the impact point of the BB will drift further and further out the longer shot you are taking, if the sights are set correctly then the only adjustments you will have to think about will be for wind and elevation. Correctly adjusting your sights can make the difference between having a good day and having an amazing day, make sure you do it correctly and this is explained below.

First set your hop up to give you a straight flight path on the BB with the weight and brand of BB you intend to be using. Put the sights/red dot/scope on the rifle and set the sights to the BB impact point at your desired distance. For example, in the woodland sight, I typically shoot at people about 40 yards away so to zero my rifle I shoot a group of 10 shots @ 40 yards, adjust my sights to the point of the most impacts (ignoring any flyers) and keep repeating until the BBs impact point is in alignment with the sights. Boom, it’s that easy.

*Most optical and red dot sights will have adjustments for windage (on the right) and elevation (on the top) and have caps which will need to be removed to give access to the adjustment dials which should be marked in the direction of the BB impact. Try not to lose the caps! It’s a case of trial and error so keep adjusting until your satisfied with the results. Also note that I said the windage dial is on the right, if it’s on the left you may have your scope on its side and you should refer to the operators manual. With Iron sights, you will typically have hand adjustable windage and elevation on the rear sight and more elevation adjustment on the front although a tool is often required for this.

Co-witnessing can save you time, this is normally done between the iron sights and a red dot and it’s the process of zeroing one and matching them both on the gun at the same time. So if the point of aim on your red dot is bang on, put your backup sights on the gun and adjust the sights to be the same as the red dot, well done you’ve just zeroed your backup sights. You may need to check with co-witness vs lower 1/3 co-witness mounts in the tech section below if you have any problems co-witnessing your sights.

*unless you have a magnified optic, then to do it right you will need a couple of spirit levels. Put the rifle upright on the flat surface (or ideally in a vice) and put the optic onto the rifle and tighten the mounts so secure it. Put one spirit level on the rifles top rail (which should be level) and one on top of the scope. Scope caps typically have a flat top Cap for this exact purpose. You can typically loosen the scope from its mount and rotate it until its level with the rifle when you re-tighten it, you must do up the bolts evenly a bit at a time to ensure a solid lock-up between the scope and its mount. This will ensure that your shots at the range are always as on target as you are, more on this is covered below in the magnified options section.

Lens Caps/Lens Covers and Cleaning

I wanted to put this near the top as its important that no matter how expensive your red dot or scope you should take care of it if you want it to work when you need it. Regular cleaning is essential for long term performance. After a day of using your scope or red dot, you should check the lenses and clean as necessary with a microfibre cloth. Use a light touch and small circular strokes working from the centre of the lens out to the outside edge, this can take a few mins if its particularly dirty, if you press too hard you can drag grit over the lens which you won’t be able to polish out so take your time and do it correctly. If you use a regular cloth or gloves to clean your lenses then you can create tiny scratches which will affect the clarity of the glass over time. You can buy concave and convex cleaning pens from retailers which can assist with getting your lenses perfectly clean and often have anti-static properties to help prevent further dirt and grime accumulating in the future. Once clean of dirt and debris its best to put on the scope caps to prevent accidental damage in storage oven if it’s just until next week. Breaking an optic or having one not work properly is annoying and expensive so make the most of the kit you have and take care of it!

Types of Aiming Devices:

🔫 – What is a red dot?

Do I need a red dot? Typically most people choose a red dot as it allows for fast accurate target acquisition, they work well in low light situations plus their cheap!

This is by far the most common type of airsoft sight used and can be found adorning airsoft guns across the land in pretty much every shape, colour and style you could imagine. Most of the sights you will see in the Airsoft world are replicas of popular military sights found in the real world and many people try to re-create a certain look. For example, you can get an ACOG red/green dot whereas the real ACOG is always magnified and many have inbuilt Tridium and fibre optics, people just want the look and that’s what you can get with these types of cloned products. If you are on a budget then try to spend at least £30 and pick yourself up a lens protector or kill flash as incoming BB’s will break the glass at the front. 

You can get almost any style you like as most will give a similar performance and maybe have different colour reticles too. Green is a lot easier to see for a lot of people. The EOTech clones do tend to have more interesting reticles so you can look out for these examples including the half doughnut of death and the radioactive zombie killer reticle. If you can afford it then my best advice would be to get hold of a budget real steel red dot such as the vortex crossfire or something from Holosun, Walther and Primary Arms all of who have some wallet-friendly products. Most have some sort of warranty and certainly, Vortex has confirmed that if your glass gets shot out by a BB then they will replace it for free under their no questions asked returns and warranty policy, so that’s £145 (Vortex Crossfire at the time of writing) for an optic that will always work, forever. After playing for so long and having almost every cheap red dot going, I can say from personal experience that if you buy cheap you may end up buying twice, some have so much rear reflection all I can see is my eye looking back at me which makes it pretty useless.

RMR’s or ruggedised miniature red dots are small red dot sights originally designed to be attached to pistols to assist with faster target acquisition however in recent years they have become more and more popular on rifles due to them being lightweight and practical. They typically have a larger dot compared with a traditional red dot as you hold a pistol further away from your eye than on a red dot sight on a rifle or SMG. You may also find it harder to co-witness an RMR if you put it on a rifle as this was not the intention of the product and a suitable mount may need to be sourced, others come with the mount included. You may also see an RMR mounted on top of an ACOG for example and this would be known as a doctor sight however in this configuration they put the dot at a considerable height over the barrel of the gun so needs to be compensated for or at least considered. There aren’t many RMR’s out there currently but I think we’ll see more in the future.

We have picked out a few top red dots on Amazon that are a great deal! Click below to view them:

🔫 – What are iron sights/back up sights?

Iron sights are used by beginners and expert players alike, they are lightweight and allow you to see the fight of the BB with little obstruction to your vision, they are super rugged and they never need their batteries replacing, they are as simple and elegant as they are functional. Backup Sights such as the Magpul MBUS sights are commonplace and allow you to aim even if your red dot has flat batteries or even worse gets shot out! A fixed front sight is also commonly used as a reference point, you can use it to keep the red dot lined up and for quick reference shooting, it can also be used as a thumb stop, if you shoot thumb overbore. You can also get flip-up sights which will mean you can have them stowed away until you need them(Like the MBUS), again you have to sight them in for them to be of any use. Typically the distance between the sights determines their accuracy and the speed at which you can line them up. If they are mounted closer together they are quicker to line up but they are not as precise as when they are placed further apart, however, placement can often be determined by other equipment mounted to the gun.

Cantilever Sights & 45 Degree Mounts are only of use in very limited situations, probably not enough to justify getting them for most people other than for the fact that they look cool. Airsoft guns need to be shot upright to be effective in a straight line so if you are tilting your airsoft gun 45 degrees to look down the sights then don’t expect the BB to fly in a straight line as it will fly off to the side after 20 feet or so, the only exception here is guns with no Hop-Up in which case go ahead!

A bit more technical on Iron and Backup sights

I can’t remember where I saw it but the human eye picks up a better sight picture through the Half Circle Front Sight and closed rear sight prefered by Hekler and Koch rather than the Outward Palm Leaves of the M16/M4 series of rifles. So if you have the choice go for HK style over the more traditional M4 style and it will help you to get on target quicker.

I mentioned above about using a fixed front sight post as a reference point for your Red Dot (as long as both have been zeroed or co-witnessed with the Rear Iron Sight) however the main use for most people is to be used in conjunction with a hand stop on the lower rail to ensure that the tail switch for a flashlight can sit on top of the rail a be accessible by both hands. In low light situations you can push your weak hand forward on the rifle and find the stop point, then run your thumb down the front face of the front sight to find your flashlight tail switch.

When you use fixed iron sights in conjunction with a red dot and a flashlight then you will notice that as you turn the flashlight on then your re dot will appear dimmer whereas your iron sights will appear sharper as a dark silhouette against a lit-up background making it easier to make quick shots.

If you know you are going to be shooting a lot in the dark you can pick up a sample put of glow in the dark paint and a fine brush so you can make all of your sights glow in the dark, its best done with a steady hand and make sure that any excess will need to be wiped away. Leave to dry properly before testing and bear in mind you may need to refresh them from time to time so don’t throw the bottle out.

Salient Arms M&P Gas Pistol

Salient Arms M&P Gas Pistol

Pistol /Shotgun Sights

These come with every pistol in some form or another and are an important part of the gun itself. However some are better than others and you often have the option to upgrade your sights to fibre optic, Tridium or just put on some glow in the dark paint. All of these options can enhance the potential of getting a fast sight picture. Putting on a fibre optic front sight will increase the visibility of the front sight where ambient light is present, these are typically pretty cheap and effective however beware that often companies sell lengths of brightly coloured plastic advertised as fibre optic rather than the real thing. Tridium sights are full-on glow in the dark, their expensive as you are buying some radioactive material which keeps it glowing and they normally glow for about 12 years effectively so they do run out despite their price tag however I seem to remember there is a company offering to replace the Tritium in their sights for life so have a hunt if you’re interested as that could be a deal-breaker.

If you are planning on running a suppressor on your pistol then you may need to look for suppressor height sights so you can still aim where traditional sights would be useless, these can be found online for whichever model pistol you have. There is even the option to mount an RMR sight however this bit is covered in the red dot section below so I won’t repeat myself. For some pistols you can get grip activated laser which turn on when the pistol is gripped, this could help in a stressful situation trying to make accurate shots however this may change the profile of your pistol so check this before buying if you have a hard shell holster. There is also the option to mount a Surefire X400 to your pistol which has an integrated laser for assisted aiming, surefire recently came out with its master fire holster system which automatically turns on the laser/torch when you draw the gun. Torches such as the X300 and X400 have a tight beam which experienced players and shooters use to line up their shots. Using a flashlight to light up your target will also give you a nice bright background which makes your sights stand out better in low light situations.

Shotguns come with their sights however they fall into a similar category as pistols as the sight options are typically fibre optic or Red Dot/RMR which are covered above and below. However, you may sometimes have a ball sight so get used to shooting whilst looking along the top of the gun if you do as this is a lightweight and functional option.

More Technical on Pistol and Shotgun Sights

People tend to pull their pistols in a hurry so fast sighting systems are essential and should be considered when buying a new gun or upgrading an existing setup. IPSC (The International Practical Shooting Confederation) and 3 gun shooters will try loads of options before they decide which option works best for them and so its a case of trial and error and seeing what works best for you in the situation. Both Pistols and Shotguns both utilise similar options for aiming including Ghost Ring Sights, Fiber Optics and RMR’s and its a case of trial and error and getting used to the equipment you have. Some sights like on a Glock do not allow for any adjustment so if the gun is not shooting straight then give it a good clean and try to fix it as it should be shooting straight! Take it to a local tech or airsoft shop if you need some help or you could always refer to YouTube.

Co-Witnessing Iron sights on a pistol with an RMR can only be done with suppressor height sights and so you will need to consider this in making any investment. Also, some slides are pre-cut for RMR’s however real spec is not always the same as airsoft spec so unless you are buying a set like the Tokyo Marui M&P L Race Gun and RMR combination, it’s best to check.

Be aware that if you are using fibre optic sights on a pistol you should be aware that the continuous recoil of the slide can loosen the fibre optic in its mount and so you should give it a test wiggle from time to time to ensure that it’s still in there nice and tight, this still applies to shotguns however to a far lesser extent.

Ghost Ring Sights have an open ring at the back which you line up with the front sight (this could be a ball sight, front sight post or fibre optic) to get the correct sight picture and aim. As you focus on the front sight the ring at the back will disappear and you will see your target and the front sight in alignment. Many shooters prefer this option on a shotgun as its quick to get the sights aligned for typical engagement distances. People do run Ghost Ring Sights on pistols for the same reason however they are far less common as most people leave pistol sights stock.

More Technical on red dots and holographic sights:

In the world of Airsoft we have all seen the EoTech’s and clone micro T1’s out there by the 1000’s, well unless its the real deal its typically no better than any other clone. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a cheap actual holographic sight or a sight which has a true 2MOA reticle and even if you do add a kill flash or lens protector will reduce the clarity of your sight picture. Larger holes in the kill flash will allow more light so you get a better sight picture than with a finer mesh style.

MOA or minute of angle is 1″ at 100 Yards or 2.5cm at 90M (Approx). This is referred to in both the size of the dot and the adjustments that can be made with each click of the adjustment caps be that 2, 1 or 1/2 MOA per click. The Size refers to how big the dot is at 100 yards, for example, a red dot with a 1MOA dot will appear to be 1inch on a target 100 yards away. Most affordable real steel optics are between 2-6MOA and some of the cheaper options are typically from 4MOA upwards. You will need to judge for yourself how important this will be, I went for a 2MOA dot personally as my gun won’t even shoot as well as 2MOA so it’s fine for what I need. When zeroing a real steel optic on an airsoft gun you won’t be zeroed at 100 yards so remember that 1MOA clicks at 100 Yards are 1/2″ at 50 Yards (45M) and 1/4″ at 25 Yards (22.5M) so it may require a few spins to get it right.

How good are your eyes? Most of us don’t have perfect vision and this can be highlighted or exacerbated when using a red dot and if you have astigmatism is your eye then you may not see a crisp clear dot and rather a squiggle or a line. This can be identified in better quality optics and its not a problem with the optic, its probably your eye. There are a couple of quick and easy ways to identify if you have astigmatism with a red dot sight, I did. Turn on your optic and rotate it 90 degrees, if the line/squiggle doesn’t rotate then it’s your eyes if it does it may be your optic. You can also set up your rear sight and put it on the smallest peephole and then look through the rear sight at the red dot and it will appear a lot sharper, now try rotating the sight 90 degrees and see if you have the same results.

Absolute co-witness vs lower 1/3, this is whether when you line up your sights with the tip of the red dot or whether the dot will float above the front sight (lower 1/3) the advantage of lower 1/3 is that you have a more complete field of view looking through the dot and there is less obstruction from the front sight in your sight picture, you can also have your head higher on the gun which is better if you are running night vision fixed to your head or if you have a face mask on. An absolute co-witness allows you to quickly tell if there has been a problem with your dot/sight alignment and allows you to get your head a bit closer to the stock of the rifle which is more comfortable if you don’t have a face mask.

When we talk about parallax, in airsoft it isn’t such a problem, if the sight has poor parallax I can almost guarantee that the slightest breeze will have more of an effect on the BB and if you’re shooting close range then the parallax isn’t a problem anyway. So parallax whilst may be one of the top-selling points of a few optics out there, and whilst being important for Real Steel shooters, for us it’s not partially important so try not to let it guide your choice. If you care about it then the EoTech’s have the lowest parallax at 0-1MOA and can truly be called parallax-free as the T1s & 2’s have up to 1.5-2 @ 100Yards. Parallax Free is not what it says and is just an indication that it is accurate within certain tolerances. The Eotech and the new Vortex Razor are the only holographic sights most people have heard of and offer extremely rugged options for your rifle, the reticles are typically fuzzier in appearance however you notice them sharpen up when you are aimed and focused on a target and both have a 1MOA centre dot, they are also less visible from the front than traditional red dot sights and they do have less parallax as mentioned above if it is important to you.

Another big draw is Night Vision compatibility and I’m not talking about on the cheap optics where the reticle turns from red to green, I’m talking about where the optic goes dim enough that it can no longer be seen with the naked eye and is only visible under night vision. This is a feature on most sights from reputable manufacturers and it means you have the option to mount a night vision scope behind your red dot and use both in tandem. You will need to make sure that the mounts have a matching height such as absolute co-witness or lower 1/3 otherwise you will end up with scope shadow which will make it harder to acquire your target quickly. Many do prefer this option though as it allows you to run night vision without needing a full set up mounted on a helmet.

Brightness settings, it is important to have easily accessible and easily adjustable brightness on your red dot, if you have ever gone from outside on a sunny day to the darkness inside a building you will know the importance of being able to quickly make brightness adjustments.

C-More and reflex sights are typically used in IPSC Open Division Hi-Capa build where the emphasis is on speed and accuracy with a pistol. Mike Cripps over at eliteshootingcentre has some Hi-Capa sights and red dots and has some good advice on his page. These sights do make it difficult to find a holster and most people doing IPSC have specialised holsters for taking the pistol and the sight however he has holsters for that too.

With cheaper red dots especially you can see a red/green light when looking the wrong way through the optic i.e. facing towards the enemy. This is enough to give away your position if you are playing in the dark against more eagle-eyed opponents or a team running night vision. A lens coating will help reduce this effect which is why it’s more prevalent on cheaper optics as more expensive options tend to come with an anti-reflective coating on the front lens as standard. You can also use a kill flash to help with this to some extent.

🔫 – What are Magnified Optics? (scopes and short dots)

Magnified optics are typically reserved for Sniper Rifles and DMR’s, this is because these guns usually have a high enough FPS to warrant magnification to see the BB at distance. They are also great for identifying targets at a distance, seeing an armband 100 Yards away isn’t always easy and some sort of magnification can come in handy. Also, note that if you are using a gun with recoil then it can be very hard to track the BBs flight through the scope as the recoil will move your point of aim.

With a sniper rifle, it is more important than ever to ensure that your gun is sighted incorrectly, so read above if you haven’t already. The truth of it is that you don’t need more than 4X magnification on your scope. We are only shooting BBs up to 100yards with a tuned rifle and 24X magnification is just impractical when most of our targets are 100 ft away, it leads to the tiniest movement of the scope moving your crosshairs feet off-target and it can be hard to re-acquire your target afterwards. Stick with the lower magnification scopes for more active gameplay.

One of the true military originals is the Trijicon ACOG which comes typically with a fixed 4X magnification, true fibre optic and Tritium for shooting at night, it’s famed throughout the world for the clarity of the glass and its ruggedness, they can run to a few thousand pounds if you want the new versions with the ACSS reticle. The fibre optic on top of ofter too bright for operators of the scope and so the black tape can be used to adjust the brightness.

Short dots are becoming more popular in airsoft as they fill the gap between the red dot sight and the rifle scope with 1-6 adjustable magnification and illumination. I’ve used the Vision King short dot which is a 1.25-5X scope for some time now to limited effect. The optic itself is well made however this makes it heavy so be prepared to add some heft to your gun if you pick one up. The Elcan Spectre is a 1-4X flip magnification scope which also would arguably fill the role of a short dot and also carries a lot of weight.

Flip to Side Magnifiers give you a similar versatility to the Elcan, however usually with a 3X magnification instead of 4X, but magnifiers can be hard to line up perfectly with a red dot and you get scope shadow, so you should try before you buy and if you can, a tip is to try and buy the same brand optic as a magnifier as they will be designed to work together.\

More Technical on Scopes and Magnified Optics

So you want some more information, ok let’s see if some of these tips help you out. So the No1 thing to do is correctly mount your scope to your rifle with a good tight mount, and make sure the scope is in the mount nice and tight, and finally make sure that the bb travels down the centre of the Crosshead or Chevron in the middle of your sight picture. This gives you the best chance of getting those 1 shot kills. Assuming you have done this and are happy with your setup you will need to adjust the position of the scope on the rail you have. If your scope isn’t in the correct place on your rails then you will notice dark half-circles appearing around the edges of your vision, these dark spots are known as scope shadow and these indicate that you have improper eye relief and the optic will need to be moved forwards and backwards on the rail (first) or by adjusting the position of the scope in the mount (second) or by reversing the mount (final option). The way to get the correct eye relief is to cover the front lens of your scope and get into your most common shooting position, notice I say most common and not most comfortable, this is because whilst playing you often try to get closer to the gun and in a relaxed environment and this will change your eye relief. Anyway, once in position, you should remove whatever is coving your front lens (i use my hand) and see if you get scope shadow if you do then move the scope backwards or forwards until you don’t see it any more and repeat above until as soon as you take the cover off the scope you instantly have a great sight picture with the correct eye relief, this tells you where you should tighten your scope mounts.

I mentioned above about the use of small spirit levels to ensure that your scope is mounted perfectly level on your rifle, these can be brought from eBay for cheap. You may have seen that some people choose to have a spirit level attached to their scope to make sure that their shots are always on the level and the shooter will know that any change in the trajectory of the BB down range is most likely wind and therefore can be more easily compensated for on the next shot. I believe that the addition of a spirit level to your Optic in airsoft will help improve your shooting, as long as you put it on a level scope.

Why pay more for an expensive scope? Well in airsoft we don’t need expensive scopes and for most people, a budget-friendly Nicco sterling or strike systems will be sufficient. Make sure that the scope is marked as being nitrogen purged and fog proof, otherwise steer well clear. The reason that scopes on real rifles often cost more than the rifles themselves is people are willing to pay for proven ruggedness and the quality of the glass, you need to have a clear picture of your target at upwards of 500 yards with 24X zoom. We typically don’t have to worry about recoil throwing off our zero and we only need to see targets up to 100 yards. These types of super precision and super high-quality scopes are as practical for Airsoft as many of the cheaper options, saying that if your budget extends to it I’d love to see some real Schmitt & Bender and Leupold scopes out there.

Mounts are also expensive. All the points of contact from the Glass (Magnified Scope) to the rifle have to be shockproof so that you don’t lose zero, this usually requires precision machining and comes with a hefty price tag however this perfectly demonstrates the importance given by shooters to mounting your Glass correctly. Scope rings, cantilevered mounts and quick detach options are also available from various manufacturers, what you get will depend on how much eye relief you need, how much space you have to mount the Scope and how wide the scope is. You have to make sure that you get the correct size mounting option for the width of your scope tube as there are typically 1″, 30mm and 34mm size so make sure you get the right size. Also, most airsoft guns have a Picatinny or 20mm rail so get one which fits that type of rail as Weaver Style will not fit.

Above I made clear that having a zoom above 4X is not necessary for airsoft and in most cases this is correct, especially for newer players however I can hear people with tuned VSR’s and SSG24’s screaming with rage so I’ll revisit this point in a bit more detail. If you have a rifle shooting at 500fps and its zeroed correctly with a good hop then you can get some seriously impressive range, these guys are the exception to the rule. I still wouldn’t recommend going above about 10X zoom as you lose so much peripheral vision and if your taking shots at 100 yards then you may not see the guy next to your target who has just spotted you. So if you have a super precision sniper rifle and want to go for a scope with loads of zoom just make sure that you have the option for lower magnification as this will be what you are using most of the time as those long perfect shots don’t come along every game.

To be able to tell how much magnification your scope has it can be confusing. Lots of numbers and X’s so ill break it down. 3.5-10X30 means that the magnification of the scope is from 3.5X to 10X adjustable and the objective lens (the one furthest from your eye) has a diameter of 30mm. Larger objective lenses such as 40 and 50 will allow more light into your scope should result in better light transmission to your eye giving you a clearer sight picture.

Illuminated Reticles are designed to help you find the crosshair in low light situations. I’ve used illuminated reticles on both short dot scopes and rifle scopes and have always found myself reverting to black i.e. turned off. It may just be me but this seems more of a gimmick, they are usually a light in the scope tube that highlights the etching on the glass, or at least they do on my scopes. So if I was buying again I’d look for one without this option and save myself a few quid.

Killfalshes and sun shades. Unlike with a red dot, your rifle scope is not likely to get shot out and so the kill flashes and sunshades used by players are used for their intended purposes. I have seen lens flare from snipers whilst playing several times and it has given their position away to me, who knows what you have happened if they were using a kill flash and I guess we will never know but if you can find one that fits you may as well use it. Sunshades are more for when you are shooting towards the sun (note, never look at the sun directly or through your scope, don’t be stupid) they this acts in a similar way to a baseball cap and reduce the distraction caused by sunspots, a kill flash will also help to some degree with this problem. In Airsoft you rarely know where you will be shooting from next and often end up shooting from all over the place and from all different angles, so the addition of a sunshade or kill flash may be worth considering. Covering some of the fronts of the objective lens with camo tape (leaving a hole or gap in the centre) is a technique adopted by many and has a similar effect to a kill flash or sunshade.

Crosshairs, Chevrons and Dots. Different scopes will have different reticles and this is one for you to decide what you like the look of. Some will offer holdovers and windage options which can be used effectively in Airsoft as long as you have some experience behind your rifle with your chosen Glass.

Lasers aiming and PEQ units

Lasers are perfect for quickly lining up a shot without having to bring the gun up to your face, they are most effective in the IR variety in combination with some night vision goggles. Typical lasers are either red or green however green lasers are banned at many sights as when shone in someone’s eye can cause permanent and irreversible damage so must be used with extreme care and I would suggest not at all, stick to red which is much less harmful if accidentally passed over someone’s eye. Even more, caution must be exercised when using an IR laser as the person on the receiving end won’t even be aware to close their eyes so permanent damage is certain. These are not toys and should be handled with as much care as the gun itself. However, if you do want to use one then again the same rules apply as above and you will need to zero the laser for the most common engagement distance to make it the most practical when using it in a game. You can set the laser to co-witness your iron or red dot sight to save a bit of time. And don’t forget lasers work both ways!

A PEQ box or DBAL will typically have a white or IR light in conjunction with a visible and IR laser and even the replica units can be expensive. Please note that cheap PEQ boxes are usually battery boxes disguised as a PEQ, so check before you buy to make sure you get what you want.

So you have NOD’s and IR Laser, well I’m jealous as this means you can do heads up shooting. This is a very expensive option for shooting at night but will give you the biggest advantages when playing. You can have the rifle in a low shoulder position and shoot by pointing the laser at your target and pulling the trigger. So without having to properly shoulder your rifle and line up your sights with NOD’s on your head, it allows you to quickly acquire and switch targets with ease.

Tracer Units

No talk of aiming at night would be complete without a bit of tracer chat. A tracer firing illuminated BBs will make it easy to see where your shots are hitting allowing you to make the appropriate adjustments, it’s also pretty intimidating being shot at by a tracer unit so good for the psychological game. Remember that like a laser, a tracer unit will work both ways and you can see where the shots are coming from.

Torches?

Yes, I said it, you can use a torch to aim your gun and it’s especially effective in CQB/CQC games when you have to make quick shots on the move, a torch with a tighter throw such as a surefire scout or X300 will give you a nice aiming circle out to 20 feet and you have the advantage of blinding your opponent at the same time and lighting them up like a Christmas tree in more ways than one.

As a final note, I prefer to stick with a Vortex red dot on my main gun with a lower 1/3 mount in combination with the fixed front sight and steel glow in the night sights on a Glock 17. My shotguns have a combination of fixed iron sights, a red dot and fibre optic, fibre optic being my favourite. My Sniper Rifleshoots 450fps and has a 3.5-10X50 power Strike Systems scope zeroed for .4s, works great but I’m usually using it on the lowest power to get the biggest sight picture.

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