What Is A Prism Scope? Compare Red Dot And Prism Scope

I’m sure you’ve heard of prism scopes, but many people aren’t exactly familiar with them. Wondering what exactly a prism scope is? In this article, we will go over some of the basics of prism scopes, compare them to other scopes, and then make some recommendations.

What Is A Prism Scope

What Is A Prism Scope

Basics of Prism Scope

Prism scopes are a newer scope technology. The easiest way to explain how a prism scope works is to compare it to a traditional lens scope.

A traditional rifle scope works similar to a telescope. It uses a series of lenses to focus light in a specific place. The lens of the scope that is closer to the barrel is called the objective lens. It is larger, which allows for increased light transmission. The lens closer to the eye is called the ocular lens.

Light passes through the objective lens and is focused on a specific point inside the scope. When you look through the ocular lens, the focus point is magnified.

A prism scope functions similarly, but it uses a prism to focus the light rather than lenses. As a result, it is a much more compact optic. Prism sights generally have an etched reticle and an illuminated reticle.

Prism Scope vs Red Dot Sight

The term “red dot sight” isn’t a specific term. It is actually a more general term that can describe any type of sight that uses an illuminated red dot as an aiming point. One example of a red dot sight is actually a prism scope.

However, when you think of a red dot sight, you are probably thinking of a reflex sight. These come in many shapes and sizes, but are generally some form of lens pane that has a battery operated red or green dot sight.

A prism scope differs from a reflex-style red dot sight in that it is generally magnified and has an eye relief. Prism scopes don’t offer much magnification, but they do offer more than a traditional reflex sight.

For those that are unfamiliar, eye relief refers to how far your eye has to be from the ocular lens to look through the scope. A reflex style red dot sight has no eye relief, meaning that you can accurately shoot with it however you want. A prism sight will require that your eye be in the same spot to use it each time.

Another positive is that the prism scope has an etched reticle generally. This means that if your battery dies or your illumination fails for whatever reason, you will still be able to use the sight.


Now, you are probably wondering when you should or should not use a prism scope.

If you are hoping to shoot at extremely long distances, you would be better suited for a traditional lens scope. These are available with a much greater magnification range.

For fast paced, tactical shooting, a reflex sight is probably better for you. The fact that you can shoot them with both eyes open and with no eye relief will be much easier and quicker for you.

However, a prism scope is also decent for tactical shooting. They are compact in size, and do acquire targets relatively fast.

If you are just doing casual range shooting, either a prism scope or a reflex sight will work just fine.

For a survival rifle, I would recommend a prism scope. The etched reticle will make the scope useful regardless of whether or not you have batteries.

If you are hunting, I would also recommend a prism scope, for similar reasons. 

If you are using AR15, best scope for ar15 for hunting is good choice.​


As you can see, prism scopes can be very useful. Their combination of compact size, magnification, etched reticle backups, and easy to use red dot aimpoints make them extremely useful scopes for a variety of different uses.

Harvey Specter

"Sometimes hunting is the only thing that makes sense"

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