A Simple Guide to Airsoft Optics - Airsoft Anonymous

When it comes to Airsoft optics, it becomes a minefield. Different types, different brands, different prices. Where to start? Read below to get a better idea on how to understand optics and the terminology surrounding it. Please note that this is only a brief informative article, items are subject to changes.


Red Dot/Reflex 


Red dots are often the simplest of Close Quarters optics. Using a simple 'Dot' for a reticule, it creates an easy and compact way to connect your line of sight with your line of fire. They use a mirror-like platform to reflect a light projection onto the screen. These are the preferred for pistols and CQB weapons. They have no magnification and the dot remains fixed regardless. Brightness and colour can be adjusted.




Holographic sights commonly known as 'Holos' are very similar to red dots in how they work. Using a projection-based system to display a bigger reticule which becomes so much easier to catch with the eye in quick reaction situations. With Holos, the further you pull your eye away, the bigger the reticule becomes. You can adjust the brightness and the reticule colour. These are bulky, despite being the best option for a close-quarters optic.

Combat Optic 


Although they are hundreds of types of combat optic, the most common is the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight or 'ACOG'. These sights are popular among serving forces, and although have a fixed magnification, there are hundreds of different models offering 3x, 4x, 6x and more. The reticule is generally a fibre-optic or battery-powered dot. The ACOG has a small eye-relief for focusing on a single target. Many users opt for a red-dot to be mounted on top for CQB situations.



Magnifiers are what they say on the tin. They sit behind a fixed optic such as a red dot or holo sight to increase the effective range of the weapon. Typically there are two types of magnifier: fixed and flip to side. Flip to side magnifiers flip to the side and out the way when not in use offering a CQB capability utilizing the original fixed optic and then when needed for viewing farther are flipped back to position. Fixed magnifiers sit permanently behind the fixed sight until the user removes it.

Variable Optics 


Variable Optics are a popular option among those who tend to change distances of engagement frequently. The Variable part of the optic means that the magnification can be changed using a collar on the optic. The most common type of variable optic is called an LPVO (Low Powered Variable Optic) and these are becoming popular amongst many modern shooters primarily because of the middle ground they provide between a long range optic and a CQB optic. Many variations exist, common options include 1x-4x and 1x-6x magnification. Brightness of the reticule can be adjusted and sometimes colour can be changed too.

Long Range Variable Optics 


Long Range variable optics are similar to standard variable optics, and do the same job. Except the Long Range optics offer higher magnification for larger distances. Making them ideal for snipers who change their distance frequently from moderate to much longer ranges. They are the most popular long range optic because they offer more freedom and comfortability with shooting

Fixed Zoom Optics  


Fixed zoom optics come in all shapes and sizes. They're regarded as a cheaper, lighter and simpler option over their variable optic cousins. These are more popular with shooters who tend to shoot over the same distance frequently or those who prefer a lighter and less bulky set up. The optics are common in long range form but are also very similar to combat optics such as the ACOG.

Night Vision 


Night Vision. Because apparently Carrots aren't good enough. A lot of NV optics can be mounted to a weapon. They tend to just be a viewfinder but sometimes can have a reticule. NV optics 'aid' viewing in lowlight and darkness, but don't allow for perfect vision naturally. However, nigh vision is very expensive and for airsoft isn't really needed. Unless of course you have the money then by all means!



EYE RELIEF: The eye relief of an optical instrument (such as a telescope, a microscope, or binoculars) is the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece within which the user's eye can obtain the full viewing angle. If a viewer's eye is outside this distance, a reduced field of view will be obtained. The calculation of eye relief is complex, though generally, the higher the magnification and the larger the intended field of view, the shorter the eye relief.


PARALLAX: Parallax occurs when the target and reticule are on different planes within the scope. It is detectable when you move your head or eye around while looking through the scope, and the reticule appears to move or swim around the object at which you are aiming. Zero parallax is what you should aim for.


RETICLE: A reticule, or reticule also known as a graticule, is a pattern of fine lines or markings built into the eyepiece of an optical device such as a telescopic sight, spotting scope, theodolite, optical microscope or the screen of an oscilloscope, to provide measurement references during visual inspections.


MAGNIFICATION: Magnification is the process of enlarging the apparent size, not physical size, of something. This enlargement is quantified by a calculated number also called "magnification". When this number is less than one, it refers to a reduction in size, sometimes called minification or de-magnification.


FIELD OF VIEW (FOV): The size of the area that can be seen while looking through a riflescope is referred to as the field of view (FOV). Field of View refers to the area that can be viewed in feet at 100 yards or metres. Field of view is directly related to magnification. At higher scope magnification, the field of view is smaller.


OBJECTIVE LENS: The objective lens is the light-gathering lens at the front of the scope. The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light will be admitted into the scope. This results in a larger exit pupil with a brighter image. Most riflescopes have objective lens diameters from 32mm to 44mm.


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DISCLAIMER: All optics are subjective with which options and variations are available. This blog is for information only all information subject to change