Tips For Choosing The Best Optic Or Sight

Posted by Frankie Chan on 30th Apr 2024

Man aiming a rifle with an optic

When building out a firearm, especially for a rifle, a well-matched optic or sight can take your shooting from great to excellent. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which one is best for your firearm and its intended purpose? Here, we want to help simplify the optic and sight selection process to help get you fitted with the right gear.

Sights vs Optics

Any marksman knows that pointing a firearm in a direction and pulling the trigger doesn’t mean that you will hit your target. Whether you’re hunting from a distance, an active law enforcement officer, or a competitive target shooter, quick and easy target acquisition is vital. Most people will put a concentrated effort into choosing the best optics for this purpose. Red dots, for example, are a top choice for closer ranges, while longer ranges require a magnified optic.

Sights, on the other hand, offer no magnification. Some use them only as a backup if their optic fails. But AR-15 iron sights also provide a clean and traditional look that other shooters prefer. They are available in a variety of styles ranging from fixed to flip-up or offset.

Popular Types Of Optics and Sights

While the goal of the best optics and sights on firearms is to increase accuracy, there are several styles and types on the market designed for different purposes. Some of the most popular and effective include:

Traditional Iron Sights

When asked which type of firearm sight is simple to use, most people would agree the most user-friendly sight is the tried and true iron sight. This option has been around the longest, well before we had the choice of battery-operated optics. Basic iron sights are almost always a standard, pre-installed feature straight from the factory for both pistols and rifles.

Flip-Up Iron Sights 

Flip-up iron sights give you the freedom to flip them up or down. When flipped up, they’re great for use as iron sights. When flipped down, they leave room for an optic. They’re a great choice for shooters who are more likely to switch between iron sights and optics.

Sight Posts

A collection of AR-15 sight posts

Sight posts are another good option to consider if you’re wondering which type of firearm sight is simple to use, although this option is unique because they are not designed to be used alone. They serve as replacements or upgrades for the front sight posts on traditional iron sights or flip-up iron sights. Many have luminescent stripes for low-light usage, providing the shooter with faster and easier target acquisition.

Holographic Optics

Holographic sights were initially designed for military use, although they are now popular among civilians as well. They use a laser to project a holographic image on the optic lens. Holographic sights tend to be complex, with bullet-drop compensation and several aiming points. Their bright reticle also makes them one of the best optics to use in daylight conditions. The drawback is that they use their batteries very quickly compared to other optics, sometimes as short as 48 hours.

Red Dots

a Strike Industries red dot sight

Similar to holographic optics, these red dot optics are used to increase precision shooting using a red dot that is projected onto a glass lens. Not quite as advanced as holographic sights, red dots are popular among a range of marksmen from the military to law enforcement to civilians because of their ease of use and long battery life. They’re also compatible with both rifles and pistols.

Magnified Optics

The best optics for distance shooting will offer some magnification. There are a variety of magnification levels available, starting with a basic 2x and increasing from there. If, for example, you’re hunting in a large field, even a 2x magnification can help you improve your chances of a kill shot. Other options include fiber optic reticles or variable zoom. You can also get a small magnified optic, called a magnifier, that can be used with a holographic or red dot so you can have the best of both whenever you need it.

Consider Your Needs

A banner about choosing rifle sights based on needs

While all sights and optics are designed to make the shooter more confident and accurate in their shot placement, that does not mean all optics and sights are intended for the same purpose. Whether you’re hunting, need some home defense, or enjoy recreational shooting, Wing Tactical has the best optics and sights available. 


Because most game being hunted with a rifle is at medium range, consider:

  • Red dot sights
  • Holographic
  • Low power magnified optics (2-6x)

Home Defense

Because most invasions take place at night, the best optics recommended are those that can be used in low light. Consider one of these options:

  • Red dot sights
  • Holographic sights
  • Iron sights with luminescence sight posts

Recreational Shooting

Whether it be competitive shooting or target practice, the average competitive shooter is unlikely to be at a range with enough distance that any magnification is needed. Many professionals tend to favor sights such as:

  • Standard iron sights
  • Flip-up iron sights for adding an optic as needed
  • Red dot sights
  • Holographic sights

Consider Your Experience

While choosing the best optic or sight can vary based purely on your shooting style, it’s also important to consider your experience level. Some magnified optics can be complicated and are probably not a good choice for occasional or novice shooters, but anyone can start with iron sights. 

This list is just the beginning of the options available to you. Contact the experienced team at Wing Tactical for more information or if you need a recommendation.