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Maximizing Battery Life – Features and Tips for Optimal Performance

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Red dot sights, Prism Scopes, and Illuminated LPVOs are often considered some of the best additions to a firearm. Each one serves excellently as a main weapon sight, providing you with many benefits and adding an enhanced level of versatility to your firearm of choice.  

Even though these optic options are known for their longevity, durability, and performance, your optic’s battery won’t last forever and will eventually need to be replaced. Still, there’s a lot you can do now to make sure your battery lasts as long as possible.  


Battery Life and Usage 

In most cases, illuminated optics boast incredibly long battery lives. While the longevity of these batteries varies from optic to optic, it’s more than common to see red dot sights and prism scopes with battery lives longer than 25,000+ hours (almost three years of continuous use). Still, it’s important to make sure that your optic’s battery lasts as long as possible.  

Factors affecting Optic Battery Life 

Outside of regular use, there are several factors which can have a negative effect on your optic’s battery life. Running your optic continuously at higher brightness levels, exposing it to cold temperatures, and leaving your optic on when not in use will quickly drain the optic’s battery life.  

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Unnecessary Brightness Levels 

While this seems like an obvious source of drain, running your sight at max brightness often gets overlooked, especially among new enthusiasts. If you’re new to running a red dot, a common misconception is that you need to turn your optic to the max brightness setting to get the best picture possible, and that lower illumination settings won’t be visible in broad daylight. In practice, though, you don’t need to, and a medium to low brightness setting often gets the job done. Your brightness only needs to be higher when you’re shooting in bright environments, such as a sunny afternoon at the range, but even in these locations, you likely won’t need the max brightness setting. By turning your brightness down, you’ll not only save on power, but you’ll make the reticle clearer.  



If you live in colder environments, cold temperatures can significantly reduce your battery’s overall life. Lithium batteries, which are commonly used to power red dot sights, create and hold their charge from chemical reactions. Extreme cold slows down these reactions, making it more taxing on the battery when in use. Keep in mind that this isn’t something you’ll likely need to worry about unless you live in areas where the weather is significantly colder than average.  

Leaving your Optic On 

We mentioned previously that red dots and other optics can, at times, have battery lives that last upwards of 25,000+ hours. However, if you can remember to turn your optic off after use, you’ll save a lot on power. 

New red dot owners will often leave their optics on simply because they have long battery lives, but by turning them off, you can really stretch out the effective run time of your optic’s battery. Of course, if your gun is being used for personal defense, you may still want that ‘always-on’ readiness, but that shouldn’t prevent you from saving battery life on guns intended for range or recreation. 

If you’re new to running a red dot sight, going over all the technical aspects of them can be a little overwhelming. We recommend taking a look at our article, the science behind red dot sights. It breaks down what they are, how they work, and even some solid suggestions.  

Features and Tips for Better Battery Life 

Battery longevity is one of the foremost features modern red dot manufacturers think about when developing new optics. Due to this, many red dot sights come with features that aid in extending their overall battery life.  

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Automatic On/Off Technology 

Automatic On/Off technology is a term used to describe an optic’s motion sensing activation ability. A lot of manufacturers add this feature, along with automatic shut off timers, to maximize their runtime. Whenever your firearm isn’t in use, the shut-off timer will automatically turn off your optic for you, but once you pick it up, it senses that motion and turns on.  

The amount of time it takes to auto-shut-off varies from optic to optic, but some common times are 10-, 15-, and 30-minute windows, though some can take several hours. It’s a great feature that keeps your optic ready to use without worrying about excess battery drain.  

Brands like Primary Arms Optics, Holosun, and SIG Sauer are just a few examples of manufacturers that include a motion-sensing activation feature on a number of their optic models. An added note, assorted brands often use different names for this feature. For example, on Holosun optics it’s called ShakeAwake™, and for Primary Arms Optics, it’s AutoLive®. 

On another note, many LPVOs don’t have motion-based activation or automatic shutoff. Fortunately, the Primary Arms AutoLive® Battery Cap can add that feature as an affordable aftermarket upgrade, so long as it’s compatible with your optic.  

Solar Power 

Another feature that increases battery life is solar power. Like motion technology, solar power is becoming more common to see on optics today. Optics with an integrated solar unit use solar energy to charge capacitors, which provide power to the optic. This process draws some of the power off the battery, extending its longevity.  

Many optics with solar panels will also incorporate some automatic brightness technology. This can make the optic more versatile when moving between areas of high light and low light, such as moving in and out of buildings or shooting from shaded and unshaded positions.  

Like for motion-sensing activation, brands will often have different names for their solar feature. For instance, Holosun has their Solar Failsafe™ technology, while Vortex uses Auto D-TEC in their solar optics. 

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Preventing Debris and Water Exposure 

Just like your rifle or pistol, optics require maintenance and cleaning after use. Wear and tear are to be expected when using your firearm, but this also applies to your optics as well. 

When you’re shooting in competitions, or training in rough conditions, the battery caps on your optic can loosen over time. This can allow dirt, dust, and other debris to make its way in and around your battery compartment. As dirt builds up on batteries, it can cause them to create a secondary circuit within the battery compartment, which will short-circuit your battery. Another thing to consider is water. Even though many popular optic models are superbly water-resistant and even submersible, in some cases, water and electronics don’t mix well. Water can short out the circuit boards in electronic optics if they aren’t properly secured, effectively destroying your optic. 

This isn’t a huge issue to worry about, though; most optics come with air-tight covers to prevent issues like this from occurring. Also, a lot of red dots are capable of being fully immersed in water, with some models being submersible to up to 15 meters deep. Still, if you know you’re going to be using your firearm in dirty or wet conditions, it’s a good idea to check and make sure all compartments and caps are properly tightened on your optic. 

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When to Replace your Battery 

As we mentioned, you probably won’t have to replace your battery very often. You often won’t notice much loss in performance until your battery is totally depleted. To err on the safe side, it’s a good idea to change out your battery every 6 months to a year, depending on your optic and its role. For a personal defense gun, for example, it’s much more important to regularly change out its battery as opposed to a rifle just used for an annual deer hunt. Remember, some of these optics have battery lives that can last several years, so ultimately, deciding when to replace your battery is at your own discretion. 


Red dot sights are some of the most versatile optics available, and they’re capable of greatly enhancing your rifle or pistol’s performance. Though they’re capable of continuously running for great lengths of time, there are many ways you can maximize their run-time and take care of them.  

Just like any part of your kit, it’s important to take time and make sure that everything is functioning properly. Since you’ll likely be using your red dot sight as your rifle/pistol’s main sight, it’s crucial to make sure they’ll work when it counts. Fortunately, they’re some of the most durable optics available, and will certainly make for a great addition to your firearm of choice.  

If you’re on the fence about running a reflex sight on your firearm, the number of options and different types can be overwhelming to learn about. Our guide on the five things to consider when buying a red dot sight has a lot of solid info that will help you get started in your search.