Red Dot On A Handgun? Not As Useful As I Expected

I spent this past week in Phoenix shooting the Superstition Mystery Mountain 3-Gun Competition. I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, which isn’t bad considering that I borrowed all of the equipment. And the guns. And hadn’t practiced with any of it. Or at all, really, for months. Anyway, I was competing in the new “stealth” division, which gives shooters the freedom to have red dots on all their guns — handgun included. I hadn’t spent much time with a red dot-equipped handgun before. Now that I have I can say this with absolute certainty: meh . . .

Let’s start with this: I’m an okay pistol shooter. Nothing special, but I get the job done. I don’t have a problem using the iron sights normally found on a handgun, and my vision is good enough that getting a proper sight picture isn’t an issue. That said, I’m always looking for ways to cheat. If I can buy something that will enable me to be just that much faster or more accurate, I’m all in.

At first glance, a red dot on a handgun makes a lot of sense. There’s no longer any question about whether you’ve got your sights properly aligned — simply put the dot on the target and squeeze. It also can provide some significant assistance for those with poor eyesight, allowing those who normally need special glasses just to see the front sight to focusing on the bigger picture.

Which brings me to benefit #3: the added situational awareness that comes from looking through a red dot and observing everything around you instead of focusing on a tiny front sight post and whats behind it.

It makes sense on paper, but in the field things don’t always match up.

Personally, I found that it was really difficult to find the red dot under the clock. With standard handgun sights it is dead simple to find the sights and line them up, but when there’s a holographic floating dot that you need to find instead things get difficult. I definitely spent a good deal of time after the buzzer started just finding that little red dot.

That’s something that apparently can be fixed with practice — the red dot GLOCK pros claim that it takes a while to re-train yourself to find that dot, and then you get faster. But when I’m already doing just fine with my existing setup (and one that directly translates between my competition gun and my concealed carry handgun) I’m struggling to understand why the average shooter would want to go through that trouble.

Once I did find the dot, I didn’t notice any real differences in accuracy. I was just as accurate with the red dot as without, mainly due to the fact that the fundamentals of handgun shooting don’t change when you trade out a sighting system.

It didn’t feel like putting a red dot on the gun made me any more accurate. What it did instead: exaggerate every movement I made and showed me how I was aiming at the target. In that sense I could definitely see a red dot-equipped handgun as a great training tool, giving real time feedback to shooters about how their grip and stance was impacting their point of aim.

I also felt more confident about my shooting. While I might not have been any more accurate I was a heck of a lot more proficient at calling my shots and making follow-up shots. That’s probably due to the fact that I had a visual confirmation of exactly where the gun was pointing at the instant I pulled the trigger thanks to the red dot.

The dot makes sense for precision shots like a plate rack. When it comes to a “hose ’em down” array of paper targets the dot isn’t really all that beneficial. With a standard handgun I can get a “good enough” sight picture and let the bullets fly. With the red dot I couldn’t visually see how far off I was. All I could tell was that I was looking through a big circle with no indication of how far off that floating red dot was.

I don’t think I ever actually saw that red dot for the paper targets, with the sole exception of when I needed to make a headshot — and then it took me a couple extra seconds to find the dot, put it on target and pull the trigger.

Another issue that comes up when you start adding things to a handgun: reliability. Even when sopping wet from a fresh application of lube, the GLOCK 19 I was running had constant issues with a failure to go completely into battery. You can see that happening a couple times throughout that stage where I needed to tap-rack the gun or just smack the endplate to seat the round.

The added mass of the red dot on the slide was throwing off the delicate balancing act that is the operating system of a handgun and making it much more susceptible to failure. It’s definitely a problem that varies from person to person; my buddy Russel never had the same issues I experienced with that gun. Since that doesn’t happen with a standard issue GLOCK the red dot’s definitely an added point of failure.

Full disclosure: this specific handgun is a pre-production very early alpha design. KE Arms is still working on the final design and won’t release it until it is perfect, but it shows how mich work it takes to make a gun work with a red dot attached when it wasnt designed that way.

As a generally competent shooter trying a red dot handgun in competition for the first time, I’ve got some mixed opinions.

On the one hand it makes taking an accurate shot a little easier, but it’s also harder to get an acceptable sight picture for close-in work and can cause issues with the reliability of the gun. Personally I’m planning on sticking with standard iron sights on my FNS-9 competition handgun, but there are definitely people who would benefit from this kind of setup.

Those with less than perfect eyesight (like Fearless Leader Farago) might see an improvement in their shooting due to not having to pick up the tiny front sight anymore to hit the target. And newer shooters might find it a good practice tool to refine their shooting technique.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a market for this kind of thing. I’m just not part of it.

——-

Special thanks to KE Arms for providing the shooting slot for the competition as well as all of the guns (like the example of their Aimpoint affixed GLOCK 19 slide), and Fiocci Ammunition for providing the ammunition.

comments

  1. avatar Achmed says:

    Good article.

    They make a lot more sense on rifles because with a half way decent cheek weld you tend to catch the dot much more instinctively as the muzzle comes up. Just IMO.

    1. avatar Jack Griffin says:

      Frame mount vs. slide mount.

      1. avatar younggun21 says:

        For a race gun? Heck yeah. For military/police/civilian defensive application? Meh. Starts to add a lot of weight and weight means pain not to mention the difficulty with holsters and concealablity (for civilians).

        1. avatar seans says:

          Military is already got some frame mounted red dot glocks. They got there purpose.

        2. avatar James in AZ says:

          Just dont use it. Doesnt make sense when you are still healthy

        3. avatar RickP says:

          Trijicon RMR 1.2 oz. Hardly backbreaking.

  2. avatar John says:

    I think people are find out with red dot you can not just stick them on your firearms hope they shot straight with out make right adjustments to them. I seen so many people buy red dot on there rifles and handguns seem have no idea that need make adjustment on them make work just like normal scope would. I knew guy had real trick out high price 1911 handgun could hit barn door with because red dot scope was so out adjustment.

  3. avatar Drew says:

    I’ve been giving thought about red dot’ing a glock for the hell of it but not having any examples to try I’ve been hesitant. I think reading this may have put the idea to rest for me.

    -thanks!

    1. avatar WedelJ says:

      Don’t let this article dissuade you from trying a red dot ona handgun. Anyone who has ever shot one for more than one afternoon says one thing: “Give it time to learn how to use it correctly, and then make a judgement.” A red dot isn’t any more difficult to learn than normal irons. A new guy cannot just throw a pistol up and instantly acquire a decent sight picture like someone who has been shooting for years can, so when a seasoned shooter tries a red dot and encounters a learning curve (see article above for example) they tend to immediately hate it and denounce the idea (once again, see above).

      1. avatar Brian Mumford says:

        Agreed.

    2. avatar W says:

      It looks like Nick used a tube red dot (similar to an Aimpoint) on the modified Glock. The open design red dots are very different. They are lighter, so they don’t induce jams. They provide better sight pictures. They also mount lower. I recently put an open design red dot on a Glock and am having zero “hunting for the dot issues.” And by zero, I mean zero. Then again, I both practice and have committed to one pistol. That is, I don’t float back and forth between many different pistols with different attributes, such as grip angle. And, I do practice a several times a week.

      Nonetheless, kudos to Nick for his openness and honesty.

  4. avatar Lando says:

    So you borrowed equipment and didn’t practice and your performance was unremarkable? Shocking.

    1. avatar WRH says:

      And he used it for the first time under the stress of a timed competition.

    2. avatar James in AZ says:

      Unless you are a crap shot, a red dot on a slide wont help you for anything closer than 20yd

  5. avatar jwtaylor says:

    First, nice smooth shooting, Nick. No fumbling on the malfunctions, no rushing anything. Solid work.

    I tried the red dot thing for a while and ditched it on my hand guns, kept it on my rifles. For the handgun, I had an extremely difficult time switching between my red dot guns and my guns with iron sights. I was able to train my self to recognize one of them fast, but I couldn’t switch between the two. As I wasn’t going to red dot all my guns (PM9 boot carry Red dot? I think not.) I stuck with the irons.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      Ditto. I started with a dot on a handgun, and didn’t like it. I, too, had the problem with picking up the dot in the lens. I figured it would work lots better on a rifle with a cheek weld, and it did. Now I have a detachable on one AR, and a 22RF with a dot as the only sight. They have their place, but on everything isn’t one of them.
      Also, for Nick; “throwing off the delicate balancing act that is the operating system of a handgun”? That balancing act is only for autoloading pistols, not ALL HANDGUNS! For revolvers its a non-issue. Its the biggest reason why revolvers are so great, and why they still sell so well,even now when they are not fashionable. They will fire anything from squibs to +Ps with no problems or ‘adjustments’, even mixed randomly in a cylinder full. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting they exist just because they aren’t the newest thing in the world. Lots of new things suck the big banana!

  6. avatar Twistedwacko says:

    My problem with red dots on pistols is my weak eye dominant situation. When I use both eyes open I get two individual dots. Much easier with irons.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Your statement makes no sense.
      The way red dots work – If you can see the dot, then whatever is beyond it is where the gun is aimed, regardless which eye you use. You won’t be able to see the dot with both eyes at the same time.

      Either way, minimal training and practice should give you the muscle memory to bring the gun up in line with your dominant eye each time you draw.

      1. avatar Twistedwacko says:

        The way I compensate is to lay my cheek on my right bicep, by doing so my left eye ( my master eye) takes over and my right eye is used for peripheral vision only. With irons I drive in and can ignore all but the sights. With red dots my peripheral vision pulls in an extra red dot about 3 mils to the right.

  7. avatar Michael Bane says:

    Keep in mind, my brother, that youth is a self-correcting problem!

    I’ve seen that failure to go into battery on one of my dot-sighted Glock 19s as well, and every time I think I have it fixed, it bites me again. No problem on the dot sighted 26, my EDC, and one other G19 dot sighted gun.

    Michael B

  8. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    For me the simple question is this. Can I easily conceal carry a pistol with a red dot sight on it. The answer is absolutely not. So a no go for me. That’s just my two cents worth though.

    1. avatar Aerindel says:

      Do you live in a state where open carry is illegal?

      1. avatar James in AZ says:

        L O L

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      For a very small pistol this is true. But anything larger is not a problem. A red dot on top of a commander sized 1911 or a G19 did nothing to take away from their concealability IWB for me.

  9. avatar O2HeN2 says:

    If you’re a proficient shooter as you draw you see the iron sights in your peripheral vision and start aligning them long before they’re on target. The result is you drive the sights onto the target. This makes different grip angles [somewhat] self-correcting with iron sights. I’m mostly a 1911 shooter, but my iron-sighted Glock always ends up with the sights on the target at the end of the draw – no hunting, no delay.

    However, put a dot on those guns and you have no visual clues DURING the draw as to where the dot is. For this reason put a 1911 [flat mainspring housing] with a dot in my hands and the dot is on target at the end of the draw… Not so with the Glock. Due to the different grip angle, the dot’s always high. Way high. And a-hunting I go… (the problem you referenced)

    Practice, or just a little conscious thought during the draw to crank your wrist down during the draw (1911 shooter shooting a Glock, in this example) will correct the issue.

    O2

  10. avatar D. From OR says:

    Co-witness. Use iron sights until red dot becomes visible. Problem solved. 🙂

  11. avatar Bernard says:

    ALG’s 6 Second Mount for the Glock 17/34 could probably give you better reliability.

  12. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I found it is one of those things that has to work in concert with your muscle memory.

    When I’m using iron sights, there’s a “memory” for how I find the sights. That doesn’t work with a red dot, I’ve found, even when just shooting bullseye. I have to “swirl” the gun around, waiting for the dot to wiggle into view. When I transition from a red dot, after I’ve gotten the hang of shooting well & rapidly with it and I go back to iron sights on a different gun, it takes a few rounds to get my muscle memory back for how to find the front sight rapidly.

    This is one of the reasons why Jim Cirillo used to tape over his students’ rear sights and tell them to just sight down the side of a semi-auto. For some people, you could see their groups shrink right up – radically. People who used to cover a B-27 with wild shots suddenly fit all their shots into an area the size of your fist. They quit “fishing” for their front sight, lined the gun up on the target and started worrying more about their grip and trigger control.

    When I first started using a red dot on bullseye targets, my groups blew out. Then I found the “donut and dot” setting, where I could have the red dot turn into a ring and a dot. I put the ring around the black bullseye, ignored the red dot, and my scores went up – rapidly.

    There ain’t no magic tool or trinket.

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      I bring it up close where the dot is easy to find then then push it out. It makes it real easy.

  13. avatar BDub says:

    A red dot, no, a reflex, maybe yes?

  14. avatar Mark says:

    This new video format is awful.
    Just scrolling down the main page and brushing the video causes it to play.

    Please fix

    1. avatar Chief Master says:

      Agreed. It happens with all Full30 videos. TTAG, please fix this!!!

      1. avatar Mark says:

        Glad I’m not the only one.

  15. avatar Anon in CT says:

    That setup on the handgun looks messed up – I can see the weight affecting the Glock’s operation and giving the operator some tunnel vision.

    I’ve been using a Burris Fastfire III and an RMR on a couple of Glocks, and I love shooting them, but in both cases I also have tall suppressor-type sights as a backup and can see the sights through the Fastfire/RMR.

    My eyes are definitely going, and the optics allow accurate shots at much longer ranges than I could achieve with just irons.

  16. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    They let you shoot with your hat on backwards!?! What’s the point?

  17. avatar AW1Ed says:

    I have one perched on top of my Ruger Mk III Target. Not a race gun, but for training, plinking, and slow fire target it’s a big help. And it’s a lot of fun shooting “Mel Gibson” happy faces on silhouettes to impress the rubes with it.
    YMMV.

  18. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

    A significant number of practical shooting match targets are within the range where point shooting is the preferred way to go. I’ve foud I get all fiddly with the dot and shoot too slow when I try engage targets within 30 ft.

    But that’s just me. I’m 48 years old and still prefer irons. Maybe someday when my vision gets worse.

    Don

    p.s. Its not about having 20/20 vision. Its about near “reading” vision. I’m still 20/15 in both eyes (better than 20/20). and have no trouble with irons on a handgun. I also don’t have trouble with aperture rear sights, which really just serve to align your eyeball. I do have trouble now with tangent rear sights on rifles that are closer than my ability to focus. I know I’m supposed to let the rear get blurry, but it gets REALLY blurry. An example is a Mosin Nagant

  19. avatar AJ187 says:

    “I hadn’t spent much time with a red dot-equipped handgun before.” Says it right there. “I have no training or experience but I’ll give you my opinion.” That set up sucks. You either go with a bigger objective lenses for quicker target acquisition or a smaller one with co-witness iron sights. Nevertheless, you will need to train with it. As if that really needs to be said….

  20. avatar VF 1777 says:

    maybe it’s just cause you suuucckk 😉 LOL – Just kidding, sorry couldn’t resist.

    Seriously though, I’ve kinda come to the same conclusion. Didn’t really make me faster, but did help with the longer shots. And the trade offs in the end didn’t make it worth it for me. Just a different animal on a handgun than a rifle.

  21. avatar James in AZ says:

    I still remember when i last commented on how these slide-mounted optics suck and got responses like “so you never used one” and “they look cool”

    Times change huh?

  22. avatar Bob says:

    I have a trijicon rmr on a xdm
    4.5 in 40 s&w and it works great.

    Finding the dot is a thing. You have to have a solid presentation, your gun has to come to nearly the same spot when you draw. You really have to do the same thing with an iron sight gun, it’s just more forgiving because you can pick the irons sooner.

    Tracking the dot in recoil is also a thing. Being my gun is UNcomped and in 40, I have to work much harder to not lose it during recoil.

    It’s no panacea, but it is fun. I bet if I had it comped I could be much faster with it.

  23. avatar RetroG says:

    You need a bit of practice to shoot fast with a red dot sight on a pistol. Duh. And stop chasing the dot around. What are you, a cat? Let it dance around the center of the target and break the shot.

    I’m shocked that a uber reliable gun like a Glock can’t stand a little extra weight on the slide when every other brand of semi auto tolerates it just fine.

  24. avatar Dave says:

    I wouldn’t recommend it on a pistol unless you SBR it.

    Plus, most dgu’s are within 15 feet.

  25. avatar Damned Lies and Statistic says:

    I’d be interested to know if a See-All Sight would perform better on a handgun (compared to a dot and compared to irons). The consensus I’ve seen is usually that they are inferior to dots on a rifle, but if the problem is finding the dot on a handgun, maybe their design lends them to being quicker to find without a cheek weld?

    Anyone happen to know?

  26. avatar Jimmyjames says:

    You gotta embrace the Dot and shoot with it more/always. The older you get, the more you will appreciate it. I shot a Cmore on a 38super race gun for 20yrs. I find the new dots like the Burris Fast Fire harder to pick up than the Cmore and the Cmore was harder than the Tasco’s and Aimpoints. Having said all that and being a member of the 50+ club, I can still hold my own with a 45 and a set of irons. It’s like riding a bike.

  27. avatar Wiregrass says:

    They are very popular for conventional bullseye competition. Nearly everyone in my league uses a red dot. But I can see problems with target acquistion in 3-Gun.

  28. avatar George Bill says:

    I am 67 and although my eyes are not s good as they once were a red dot isn’t going to help at all in a defensive handgun, draw and fire, if you aim you are dead. u should be able to hit 3 rounds in the chest at 25 feet in a second.

    1. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

      I agree 100%. I spent a weekend practicing with my sights taped and my eyes and mind focused on the targets. My speed went up INCREDIBLY. Accuracy was bad at first, but got considerably better within a couple of hours. Point shooting is where it is at. 5 shots all in the vital zone as fast as I can pull the trigger. I’m a believer.

  29. avatar Sian says:

    “I’m struggling to understand why the average shooter would want to go through that trouble.”

    When you eyesight is no longer perfect, and it takes far too much time to shift your focus between the front sight and the target, the advantages of a red dot become crystal clear. Yes it takes training to get there, but so does anything that’s worth the trouble.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      Why in the world would anyone use the sights inside of the 7 yard line? Anyone who can shoot at all can keep them all in the ten ring without any sights at all from that distance.
      And since that(and shorter) is where a lot of folks practice from, and expect to have to fight from, that is why the average shooter might not want to go through the trouble.

      1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

        Good shooters instinctively pick up and focus on the front sight at close distances to accurately deliver well placed rounds on target in a second or two. If you believe even a top shooter like Jerry Miculek is not using his sights at 7 yds and closer, there’s a lot you still need to learn about speed and accuracy with a handgun.

        1. avatar kenneth says:

          What do I need to know, other than the ten ring is the highest score on a standard B27, and its about six inches by 9 inches? Do you know of some magic ring(not counting the “X” ring for breaking ties) that allows a higher than perfect score that only you know about? If one can put all the shots in the ten, and even in the “X”, without the sights, why would that one use them? Are you one of those who will say the sights must ALWAYS be used? What about at FIVE FEET? Come on, keep it real now…

        2. avatar Mike Smith says:

          Forget about competition–the zone that gives you the best chance of incapacitation on a human face is about 4″ square. Show me you can point-shoot a 4″ circle at 7-10 yards every time, or admit you might still need to use the sights at close range.

      2. avatar Sian says:

        I know it’s stacking low probability on top of low probability, but sometimes you need to shoot from longer than 7 yards. Sometimes you need to hit a pinpoint target because of cover or a hostage, and sometimes, yes, sometimes a sighted, aimed shot is your best course of action.

        1. avatar Mike Smith says:

          Why do so many gun owners want to settle for mediocrity? I want to expand my capabilities, not limit them!

      3. avatar Ted Unlis says:

        You said inside 7 yds (21 ft) not 5 ft so you’re full of $#!t Kenneth if you expect anyone to believe you point shoot and put everything in the 10 ring from 20 ft. Hate to call you out as a one of those virtual small arms experts who practices on a virtual range with a virtual gun but it’s so easy for real pistol shooters to spot clueless dumb@$$es.

  30. avatar Charlie says:

    The kids and I ran the handgun optics problem a couple or three years ago: We put a red dot on our Ruger KMK-512, and found (to our dismay) that it took _*A LOT*_ of time to find the dot and the target. I’m talking seconds, and lots of hunting around, to line up on a target.So we took it off.

    Next we tried a Bushnell Trophy 3X9 handgun scope (for those times when you want to see a squirrel’s head occupy half the FOV). The scope was better, but it still took way too much time to line up on the target.

    Rifles have a fixed point of reference (your cheek weld on the buttstock), but handguns do not. My considered opinion is that optics are pretty much worthless on a handgun unless you have at least 10 seconds to draw, aim, and shoot.

    Charlie

  31. avatar Mike Smith says:

    Dude, you really need to spend some time reading some stuff Gabe Suarez has written on this subject–he’s only been studying it for 10+ years… better yet, take one of his classes and get some hands-on instruction with it.

    Your first mistake is borrowing a competition gun. That’s probably what caused your malfunctions and the setup is entirely to blame for your negative perspective.

    A red dot pistol done right will have iron sights co-witnessed with the red dot. It won’t have a big thing sitting on the rail like that but will have something small and light such as the Trijicon RMR, placed just in front of the rear iron sight. It will have zero impact on function.

    When you do it that way, the sights provide a natural alignment just like you’re used to doing previously. As your sights align your eye will pick up the dot and transition to it AS NECESSARY. At close range, no need. At farther ranges, your precision capabilities are greatly enhanced.

    Of course, as you train acquisition of the dot will happen faster. But no matter what happens, those iron sights you’ve looked at your whole life will aways be there–RMR batteries last over a year constantly on, but if the dot disappears you can still shoot normally. If you are worried about the effect of rain, put some Rain-X on it. If you are worried about mud blocking your view in real life applications then you are probably qualified to figure this stuff out for yourself without consulting the Internet.

  32. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    I came to a similar realization about red dots, unless you’re an advanced shooter, the red dot isn’t a magic optic device that will instantly speed up target acquisition and accuracy. For most intermediate shooters practicing to maintain defensive handgun perishable skills, a red dot is no faster or accurate for center mass shot placement at 3,7, & 15 yds. I’ve used my M&P CORE with a Docter red dot and Apex trigger a few times on PPC qualification courses and didn’t notice any big advantage with the red dot until the slower strings of fire at 25 and 50 yds. If I still practiced as frequent as I used to back in the day, subtle gains in speed would come in competitive shooting scenarios. One thing is certain, for hunting applications and accuracy at 50 yds +, a quality red dot made a big difference for me.

  33. avatar kenneth says:

    Nick:
    You have the beginnings of a flinch starting there on the first malfunction at the 12 second mark. They show up best when either the gun malfunctions, or a dud round is loaded in the magazine by an instructor without the student’s knowledge(one of my favorite little tricks!).
    A little work on trigger control should take care of it, as its not bad yet. If you try some dry fire, and then some live fire, going back and forth during one range day, that should bring it to your attention, and then it will largely correct itself.

  34. avatar Not Jimbo says:

    Well, when Nick states an opinion as fact, he’s usually wrong. Once I have the requisite discretionary funds, I’ll have to get one and try it myself.

  35. avatar ozzallos says:

    hunting pistol applications = thumbs up.

  36. avatar jk says:

    If red dots didn’t make a difference, then you would see guys competing in USPSA Open Division with iron sights. There is a reason you never see that. Red dots can increase your speed dramatically, but you don’t just throw one on and go to town. It takes practice practice practice.

    1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      If you’re a top tier competitive shooter, red dots make a big difference on speed and accuracy even at closer distances. If your a novice or even intermediate pistol shooter who practices enough to maintain basic defensive firearm skills, chances are a red dot will slow you down while providing no improvement in accuracy at 15 yds and closer.

      1. avatar Mike Smith says:

        Not true, a properly co-witnessed red dot will not slow anybody down.

        1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

          Only advanced shooters in competition scenarios will realize any benefit in speed and accuracy with red dots at 15 yds and closer. Sure you need properly co-witnessed iron sights with any red dot, anyone who actually has a pistol with a red dot sight and has spent any significant amount of time on the range with that pistol knows that the iron sights are what the shooter uses to efficiently acquire the red dot, which is precisely why a novice and most intermediate shooters will likely lose speed by adding a second step in sight acquisition and overkill for accuracy at shorter distances. No doubt that Jerry Miculek is faster and more accurate with red dots at any distance, but he’d be the first to tell you they’re an unnecessary distraction in practical close range scenarios for defensive firearm applications. There’s a reason that no serious LE Tactical or Military Special Forces Operators use red dots on their duty handgun, they’re unnecessary, and you’d know that Mike if you spent less time reading a Gabe Suarez sales pitch and more time on the range.

        2. avatar Mike Smith says:

          Holy crap… You just showed how little you really know about the subject. The truth is that as much as they are allowed many elite operators are choosing to add red dots to their duty handguns. That includes law enforcement and military guys.

          I never said that the red dot would be used in close range reactive situations, but I did say that it does nothing to slow you down in such scenarios.

        3. avatar Ted Unlis says:

          You’re full of $#!t Mikie, individual officers such as myself who are gun enthusiast upgrade our personally owned pistols with red dot’s, Apex triggers, you name it, but LE agencies with lax anything goes policy for personal owned weapons carried on duty are rare and usually a smaller less professional agency. Hell there’s still a lot of LE agencies nationwide that won’t allow weapon lights on issue handguns their officers carry. Are you just making up your bull$#it or basing it on some tacti-cool sales pitch you read online? No competent LE Agency allows red dots or any other tacti-cool upgrades on agency owned issue PISTOLS, no professional LE tactical response team or military specialty units do either. Stop digging and study up, you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

        4. avatar Mike Smith says:

          This image is from an incident where a deputy with a southern Texas agency used his duty RMRed Glock to shoot the tire of a vehicle in a pursuit one-handed while driving in 100+ MPH.

          http://s18.postimg.org/4fc7jw989/image.jpg

          In this video the guy is interviewing a real Special Forces guy who talks about how much he likes the red dot on his GLOCK (oh wait–what’s he doing with that?) and how he is seeing more and more military use of the setup.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO9L1WHibbY

          Anyway, there are a lot of guys on Gabe’s forum who are either active duty law enforcement or active duty military who use a red dot on their duty pistol. Either you can conclude they’re all lying and just sucking up to Gabe or maybe you can accept that you don’t know as much as you think you know. Gabe says he gets a lot of orders from active duty special operations guys, and he has gotten messages back from them about how the system was invaluable in actual engagements. Either you can conclude he’s lying for marketing purposes or you can admit you might not know as much as you think you know.

  37. avatar Docduracoat says:

    I know the article was about red dots on pistols
    But is no one going to comment on lasers on pistols?
    My 3 pistols all have Crimson trace laser grips
    They make formerly impossible shots possible
    I can make hits while running away from the target with the laser!
    50 foot shots are childishly easy.
    I can shoot from unusual positions like under the car while I peek around the tire.
    Yes, they have drawbacks, in very bright sun they are hard to see.
    Normal outdoor lighting they work fine
    Indoors they work perfectly
    If the batteries go down, then I am just back to iron sights or instinctive shooting.

    1. avatar JMorton says:

      Red dot batteries last longer, the light doesn’t give away your position, and you can see the dot against something even 50-100 yards away. Those are the only advantages to a red dot over laser. Laser you can use from any position (like shooting from around cover or the hip) and doesn’t have a ridiculous 3 degree field of view like a red dot does at arm’s length. I would use a dot on a handgun for hunting and ‘take your time’ competition only.

    2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      Only a virtual small arms expert who doesn’t know any better would offer up such an embarrassingly lame line of bull$#!t about lasers. Maybe one day you’ll actually get a chance to compare a laser vs a red dot at 15 yds or further, then you’ll appreciate how foolish you actually sounded.

    3. avatar JK says:

      Compare laser to red dot? Hahaha. There is no comparison. Lasers are toys. The only reason that SpecOps use IR lasers is to let their comrades know where their weapons are oriented. They don’t use them to aim. On a handgun, at 50 ft that laser is so far off from point of impact that you might as well be shooting with your eyes closed.

  38. avatar Pete says:

    My god, Nick.

    At least watch this:
    https://www.full30.com/video/7d7c58154f0dd47d55c68b976e36e435

    Spoiler: discusses concealment and how to acquire the do in 3-gun match in Arizona sun.

  39. avatar Mike says:

    I used to say Red Dot sights on rifles were pointless, now I have them on rifles and shotguns
    I am willing to give them a try on pistols . Like the idea of a Glock 9mm, but thinking a .22 would be a good start.

  40. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    Only advanced shooters in competition scenarios will realize any benefit in speed and accuracy with red dots at 15 yds and closer. Sure you need properly co-witnessed iron sights with any red dot, anyone who actually has a pistol with a red dot sight and has spent any significant amount of time on the range with that pistol knows that the iron sights are what the shooter uses to efficiently acquire the red dot, which is precisely why a novice and most intermediate shooters will likely lose speed by adding a second step in sight acquisition and overkill for accuracy at shorter distances. No doubt that Jerry Miculek is faster and more accurate with red dots at any distance, but he’d be the first to tell you they’re an unnecessary distraction in practical close range scenarios for defensive firearm applications. There’s a reason that no serious LE Tactical or Military Special Forces Operators use red dots on their duty handgun, they’re unnecessary, and you’d know that Mike if you spent less time reading a Gabe Suarez sales pitch and more time on the range.

  41. avatar Rutger says:

    Hey –
    I spent an hour at the range today with my Glock 19 and 17. The 17 has a Burris Fastfire, the 19 suppressor height sights only. I was using a Mystic X suppressor and Lone Wolf threaded barrel, suppressor height sights on both. Though I’m new to the red-dot world (on pistols), I clearly took much more time and had mediocre accuracy with the RDS. I’m not sure if this is a function of the Fastfire (a questionable purchase decision) or a general feature of the red dot system. Time will tell.
    I am an athletic 64 y/o, but do have some optical issues,and was looking for this to be a partial solution — at this point I am much more comfortable with standard irons for defensive use. This is not an issue for rifles, as I have 2 of these and shoot just fine with them. Still confused, but Ted Unlis is making a lot of sense to me right now.
    BTW my EDC is usually G43, alternate is Beretta 92 Compact or Sig 228.
    Good discussion, thanks —
    Rutger

  42. avatar Samuel says:

    Reddot manufacturers are idiots.

    The reason you can’t find the dot, is because it’s a dot, and not a large cross. Let me explain.
    Game programmers figured it out more than two decades ago, that you need a large cross with the cross section removed so it does not cover the target. Before I went into shooting sports I played a lot and nearly everyone agreed on that the best is to use a LARGE YELLOW cross for faster target acquisition.

    My first experience with reddot was horrible, it took me probably 3 or so seconds to find that dot. I have absolutely no problems with iron sights, and I’m one of the best shooters where I live. I often take 1st in Olympic disciplines, so no problems with precision there.

    Maybe they will wise up, and make a LARGE YELLOW CROSS, instead of a useless red glowing dot.
    (yellow goes great against plants, sky, against dark against white and even against yellow sand).
    The only thing I liked about it is that I saw that I have the stability to hold the 10 ring at 25m. But for combat, or dynamic disciplines? No thanks, it’s useless.

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