Red Dot Vs Green Dot | Does It Matter?

The debate between red dot vs green dot has been raging for over a decade now and I feel confident that today, we’ll make an educated decision based on the intended purpose.
Both red and green have a place in the tactical industry because they’re both useful for different applications.
For example, I would use a red dot sight (RDS) if I were still in the military or in law enforcement. However, for CCW purposes and hunting, I prefer the green dot sight.
Stay with me and I’ll explain everything I know and offer my opinions on which sight is better; the green or red dot sight?

Why Would I Need an RDS?

  • A pistol RDS can significantly improve target acquisition time.
  • Do you have astigmatism or macular degeneration? A green dot sight is a perfect solution for those of us that need help optimizing our vision.
  • Do you need help to reach targets past 50 yards with your pistol? An RDS or green dot sight is modern technology’s response to the ever-growing need to gain more range with your sidearm. 

CTS-1550 Red Dot Sight

at Crimson Trace
Prices accurate at time of writing

How Is a Green Dot Different From a Red Dot?

According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, cone cells in our eye register and support our color vision, whereas rods support low-light vision.

We have approximately 120 million rods in our retina to allow us to see in low light conditions such as dawn and dusk. The retina carries 1 of the 3 types of cones that make up the 6 million cones concentrated in our macula (inside the retina). 

Our color vision is broken down into 3 types: Red, Green, and Blue. Red-sensing cones make up most of our color vision at 60%, while Green makes up only 30% of our color vision and Blue tones make up the final 10%.

 American Academy of Ophthalmology Photoreceptor Cell
Credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology

The Visible Light Spectrum Below is the wavelengths that represent how humans can see light. Anything beyond 740 and below 380 is outside the color vision for the human eye.

In fact, some people can’t see violet or indigo color tones due to damaged rods in their retinas. A red laser dot has a wavelength that is between 740-625 nanometers (nm), and green dots are visible at 520-565 nm. 

Besides green light being in the sweet spot for our color vision, green light has a higher frequency and energy output than red light. The green light has a frequency of 5.45 Hertz and the red light has a frequency of 4.29 Hertz. The green light has an Electronic Volt (EV) rating of 2.25, while a red light only has an EV rating of 1.77In short, the green light is not only easier to see in daylight and low light conditions, but it’s also less straining on your eyes, has more power to reach longer ranges, and allows you to see more color tones, clarity, and crispness in your reticle dot.

I’m not an ophthalmologist, but I’m from my understanding, since the green light is a lower frequency, it allows us to see more shades of green than red and purple. Green makes up only 30% of our cones because we don’t need any help to see green. 60% of our retina’s cones are red-sensing because red is a harder color for the human eye to focus on. 



How far can you shoot with a red dot sight?

An RDS will give you added range from an iron sight because you can adjust the windage and elevation much easier than you can with iron sights. I know friends of mine that can shoot their Glock 19s, Sig P226s, and P365s at 60 yards on the range.
Obviously, we would never recommend taking a shot that long in a real-world application, but an RDS with a wide window and adjustable brightness, windage, and elevation can allow you to reach distances you’d never reached before. 

Why does my red dot look like a starburst?

Unfortunately, my friend, you at least most likely have astigmatism in your eye. I had this problem for many years in the military and there was no other choice but to learn to adapt to the tool and overcome the problem.

I did this by always keeping a really low illumination to limit some of the exploding light that my eye can’t make out. Fortunately, today, there are many ways to avoid getting a starburst image or multiple dots in your sight picture. 

The easiest and most beneficial way I’ve gotten over my astigmatism is through glasses or having corrective surgery. I now use a green dot sight on my Glock 43X because the green dot doesn’t flood my eye with light and causes distortion of the reticle. 

Crimson Trace RAD Pro

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Can you use a laser with a red dot?

I wouldn’t use a laser with a red dot sight under any circumstance, but I understand everyone is different. It might surprise people I’m throwing away an up-sale opportunity, but I can’t promote a laser with an RDS.

First, if you have astigmatism, it’s often hard enough to see one dot clearly, let alone a solid laser sitting below your red dot.

Second, I’ve had a hard enough time getting used to an RDS on my pistol to know I don’t want the weight of a laser as well.

Third, having too many attachments to a pistol can be cumbersome and confuse you in a high-stress situation on which button to push or what reticle you want to focus on.

Crimson Trace CMR-204 Rail Master Pro Universal Green Laser Sight and Tactical Light
Crimson Trace CMR Rail Master Laser Attachment

I was privileged enough to experience combat during OIF and I learned I function better under stress when I’m as minimalistic as possible with my guns. Finally, I use a CMR-208 Rail Master Universal Tactical Light along with my RDS.

If my RDS goes out, the CMR-208 gets up to 420 Lumens of LED white light to ensure I maintain a tactical advantage over my adversary. I apologize for the rant, but don’t put a laser on your pistol if it’s already equipped with an RDS.

Maybe it works for some people, but it sounds like people doing too much to look cool, instead of gaining a tactical advantage. 

Why are green dots more expensive than red?

    • Green dots are 32x more powerful than red dot sights
    • From ranges up to 150 yards, green dots are easier to see.
    • Green dots put less stress on your eyes to give you more trigger time with fresh eyes 
    • Green dots have a higher energy output, so a GDS needs a stronger and more expensive battery to power the light

What is the Best Green Dot Sight For My CCW/EDC Pistol?

The CT RAD Micro Pro (Rapid Aiming Dot) Electronic Sight is the best compact and subcompact optic for your CCW or EDC pistol.  This is by far my favorite green dot optic because of all the bells and whistles that it comes with.

For example, the RAD Micro Pro features an ambient light sensor called CT Radiant. CT Radiant is a light sensor that always adjusts the brightness of the reticle to the surrounding light conditions. Whether I’m shooting in low light conditions (dawn or dusk), or if the sun hits my lens directly, the CT Radiant changes the brightness of the reticle with no manual change needed. 

The CT Radiant ensures that regardless of the time of day or environmental conditions, my reticle will be clearly visible and ready to go as soon as I draw my pistol. The next outstanding feature is called the CT Motion. As soon as you pull your pistol up, the motion sensor in the CT Motion will turn it on.

CT called it their shake-to-wake sensor because if you hold the pistol and cant it in any direction or simply shake the pistol in your hand, the optic turns on to the appropriate brightness level for rapid target acquisition. 

The Green dot is my choice for a CCW because it puts less stress on my already tired eyes because of the lower wavelength. The green dot is can be visible for at least 70 yards in the right conditions and at least 50 yards under any condition. There are 8 brightness settings for daylight and 2 for night vision compatibility. I can run the green laser at a 3 or 4 brightness under most situations to conserve battery power. I have to run the red dot at a 6-7 most times because my eyes see green much easier. 

One thing to consider, however, is Crimson Trace offers free batteries for the life of your optic, so if your only hang up from a red dot over the green dot is battery life, I wouldn’t worry about it.

It’s a convenient thing because the green dot won’t have to be replaced as often, but either way, it won’t cost you any money for new batteries so run you don’t have to feel bad if you run your brightness at max level all the time. 

One of the most overlooked features is the construction of the CT optic. One thing CT did to separate themselves from companies like Vortex or Leupold is build their optic out of stronger, more durable steel. Most companies use 6061 aerospace aluminum, whereas CT uses 7075 aerospace aluminum for all RAD optics. 7075 Aluminum is used to make airplane wings and fuselage. 

CT RAD Micro Pro Green dot

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s easy to understand the CT RAD Micro Pro can handle drops, scrapes, and the pressure of the recoil during firing. To make the RAD Micro Pro even better, the Multi-coated Extra Low-Density Glass lens is recessed into the housing to ensure that if you drop your pistol or hit the front of the optic, the 7075 Aluminum will take the hit and not the lens. 

I truly believe Crimson Trace has thought of everything in the development of their new RAD Micro Pro optic and is more than deserving of a chance to impress my fellow gun owners with its incredible performance and easy installation. 

Specs of CT RAD Micro Pro (Green Dot)

Gun TypeSub-Compact and Compact pistols
Optic FootprintCT RAD Micro, Shield RMS®, and JPoint® footprints
Reticle5 MOA (Green Dot) 
WindageManually Adjustable (¼" MOA)
ElevationManually Adjustable (¼" MOA)
LensMulti-coated (Extra Low-Density Glass)
Waterproof or Water-ResistantIPX4 Water-Resistance
Auto-ShutoffYes, 2 min w/no movement
Motion SensorCT Motion Shake-To-Wake Sensor
Ambient Light SensorCT Radiant
Brightness Settings8 Daylight; 2 Night Vision
Construction7075 Aerospace Aluminum 
Battery TypeCR2016
Battery Life7,000 Hours (1+ Year)
Battery AccessBottom Mount

What is the Best Red Dot Sight For Compact & Subcompact Pistols?

We documented the difference between a red dot sight and green dot sight within this blog, but when would I choose a red dot over a green dot? Personally, I would use a red dot if I wanted to use my optic mainly at night or if I was still in the military. For example, as a soldier, a less conspicuous red dot is more beneficial to maintain light discipline and stealth during a CQB operation. 

A red dot sight is harder to see from an enemy standpoint and works better with NVGs than a green dot sight. Since the view in NVGs is green, having a green dot can be difficult to see if the brightness settings aren’t set properly.

The red dot is more affordable than the green dot because it takes less power to use a red dot than a green dot. I don’t worry about stealth as much now because anytime I pull my pistol out, I’m trying to be seen and heard. I want to gain instantaneous target acquisition if I ever have to pull my CCW because it will only be in self-defense. 

Crimson Trace RAD Micro Pro (Red Dot)

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing


Gun TypeSub-compact and compact pistols
MOA3 MOA (Red Dot)
Windage Manually adjustable (¼" MOA)
ElevationManually adjustable (¼" MOA)
Battery TypeCR2016
Battery Life20,000 hours (2+ Years)
LensMulti-coated (Extra Low-Density Glass)
Brightness Settings8 Daylight; 2 night vision
Battery Access Bottom 
Construction7075 Series aluminum
Waterproof or Water-ResistanceIPX4 Water-resistance
Co-Witness Notch-cut to line up with 9mm front sight
Motion SensorShake-To-Wake (CT Motion) Shake-To-Wake Sensor
Ambient Light SensorCT  Radiant

Which Guns Will Fit The CT RAD Micro Pro?

Most compact and subcompact pistols that are drilled and tapped can use the CT Footprint for installation. I list some of the most popular models below, but there are many more models that are compatible. We have a great relationship with Crimson Trace, but there are some questions they have to answer for you, such as pistol compatibility. 

Gun Maker Compatibility 
Glock 43
Sig SauerP365, P365 XL
S&WM&P Shield (2.0)
RugerAmerican Compact Pistol, Security 9, MAX 9
Springfield ArmoryHellcat

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Table of Contents

  • Why Would I Need an RDS?
  • How Is a Green Dot Different From a Red Dot?
  • How far can you shoot with a red dot sight?
  • Why does my red dot look like a starburst?
  • Can you use a laser with a red dot?
  • Why are green dots more expensive than red?
  • What is the Best Green Dot Sight For My CCW/EDC Pistol?
  • Specs of CT RAD Micro Pro (Green Dot)
  • What is the Best Red Dot Sight For Compact & Subcompact Pistols?
  • Specs
  • Which Guns Will Fit The CT RAD Micro Pro?

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