Skip to comments.Handgun Optics
Posted on 06/16/2021 5:45:09 AM PDT by w1n1
With positives and negatives, deciding if a red dot sight is right for you boils down to your handgun’s mission.
So, in the form of a disclaimer, I am old. Fifty-one years old, to be exact. As a soldier and a cop, I’ve been making a living with a gun for nearly my entire adult life. I can say, with some degree of distinction, that I have carried just about every variety of AR/M-16 that has ever been used by the US military: M-16A1, M-16A2, M203, M4 and the AR-15 patrol rifle.
With age comes a certain amount of suspicion whenever a new product enters the market claiming to be able to do everything. As a point of reference, I have seen VCR tapes, Beta tapes, records, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, laser discs, compact discs, floppy discs and others come and go. I've learned to adopt a "wait and see" attitude whenever a new product presents itself.
In the firearms and tactics realm, I, despite my age, retain a relatively high degree of relevancy when it comes to the carry, use and operation of firearms. I’m a cop, a law enforcement firearms instructor, constant carrier of firearms while off duty, as well as a hunter. So I don't base my opinions only on what I used to do. I base them on what I and others are using currently and what I think will work in the future.
ENTER RED DOT sights (RDS), or handgun optics. Not necessarily a new thing – competitive shooters have been using them for years – but they are definitely gaining mainstream acceptance with military, police, hunters and sport shooters. There is a large number of manufacturers who produce them, many of which are excellent. Most major handgun manufacturers now sell either aftermarket slides with RMR mounts already on them or you can purchase the handgun with an already modified slide.
In some cases, guns come with an already attached RDS. No longer does a person desiring an RMR need to send their handgun in for extensive modification.
Red dot optics on rifles have been the norm for at least the past 15 years, their mainstream acceptance brought on, in part, by successful applications in combat during the War on Terror. On the sporting front, especially during three-gun competitions, they are essential. Iron sights on rifles have been relegated to backup status, only to be used if an optic fails.
So, naturally, red dot applications should automatically extend to handguns as well, right? Well, yes and no. With every advantage generally comes a disadvantage, so it is important for the end user to weigh the pros and cons before making a tactical equipment decision.
The pros of RDSs are obvious. A well-trained shooter with a red dot sight, on any weapons platform, is generally going to be able to get off quicker, more accurate shots than a weapon with a sighting system that requires lining up two different elements (front sight and rear sight). This is especially true at longer distances with handguns, when “front sight focus” (using only your front sight to engage a target) doesn’t work as well. Red dot sights work the same close up and at acceptable distances. Put the red (or green) dot on the target or.... Read the rest of Red dot Sights here.
I am fine with my gold bead front blade and V notch rear on a Red Hawk.
My preference is a green laser since CQC sometimes doesn’t allow time to line up sights, but the first round needs to be on target.
In my experience the biggest problem with RDS equipped handguns is being quickly able to find the dot during the draw especially in a stressful situation. It takes a lot of training and practice.
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I can empty a mag before my opponent finds their red dot.
I’ve never tried a RDS on a handgun, but with my astigmatism the red dot on my AR is more of a streak than a dot. With my rifle however, I can flip up the rear peep sight and that clears up the dot enough for precision shots when needed.
I do have lasers on two carry guns, and for concealed carry they are much easier to conceal than an RDS would be. One advantage of a laser over a RDS is being able to take aimed shots from awkward cover positions without having to be directly behind the gun.
I think RDS are the future for duty guns, but maybe not for all concealed carry guns.
Optical sights are a luxury. Nice to have, but you MUST learn to use the iron sights - don’t care if we’re talking pistol or long gun. Fundamentals first, then enjoy the benefits of the luxury sights.
Glass and lights on pistols/secondaries make them heavy and slow with more points of potential failure.
I’ve spent years in the sandbox and NOBODY does it. It’s a civilian thing... for then range.
A buddy of mine recently got into the shooting sports. The boy went whole hog too.
Was at the range with him and he had optics. For both rifle and pistol.
He let me try his pistol. Hell, having never used optics on a pistol, I never really picked up the dot.
Time and training I guess. Still, I was getting better groupings with my iron sights than he was with his optics. And I hadn’t been shooting in a coons age. Course I’ve been at it decades longer then him.
I kept telling him he ought to learn to shoot iron. It’s like learning to drive stick. It’s fundamental.
He doesn’t want to hear it. 🤷🏻♂️
In slow fire competition with a Ruger MkII 6 7/8" barrel .22LR pistol, I use an aperture on my glasses. That flattens the field of view making the front/rear sight and target in perfect focus. Easy to score 90 to 100 at 25 yards (10 shots). Certainly not even close to a real world self defense condition. I recently acquired a MkIV 6 7/8" model for ease of cleaning.
I was thinking about such a sight, but the slide has to be milled, and, it's just not as last-ditch effective (as iron sights). And a man-to-man close quarter gunfight is definitely last-ditch.
Several good shooters l know have dots on their carry guns. I asked them about the up close and fast scenario. They all said they use the sight housing as a “ ghost ring”.
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