It’s hard to find a new handgun model these days that doesn’t have an optic-cut slide option..or just comes that way standard from the factory. That’s because of the exponential increase in the popularity of pistol red dot sights over the last few years. And that popularity is the reason Crimson Trace introduced a new series of 10 new RAD (rapid aiming dot) sights last year in a range of sizes, features and price points.
The 10 sights in the CT RAD lineup are extensive, with options for everything from micro-compacts to rifles and shotguns.
For full-size pistols carriers, CT has three models; the RAD, the RAD Pro and the RAD Max Pro (thought the larger RAD Max Pro models are probably better suited to AR’s, pistol caliber carbines and shotguns). The RAD will save you some money (about $50) at the expense of a few features (topside battery access, ambient light adjustment, auto-off and shake-to-wake).
The CT RAD Pro red dot sight (there’s also a RAD Pro with a green dot for $25 more) is the premium full-size option for pistols like the SIG P320, FN 509, Smith M&P or, in my case, a GLOCK 19. The RAD Pro is probably the best choice if you’re going to use the sight on a range of guns as it comes with a low profile mount for ARs and other Picatinny rail-equipped guns.
The RAD line uses the Docter mounting footprint. That’s one of the industry’s most popular and there are plenty of adapter plate available so you can mount a RAD sight on virtually any handgun made (see CT’s RAD compatibility chart here).
The RAD Pro’s CR2016 battery is easily accessed on the top side of the sight, meaning you won’t have to remove it and then re-zero when the time comes to change it out. With a 20,000 hour (about two years) rated battery life, you won’t have replace the battery very often.
To make sure the battery lasts that long, the CT RAD Pro has an auto shutoff feature and shake-to-wake so it’s on as soon as you pick up your pistol.
One of the Crimson Trace RAD Pro’s features I like that may not get much mention is the fact that the sight’s brightness adjustments are split, with + on the left side and – on the right. When both adjustments are on the same side, as a number of sights are designed, you can find yourself fumbling with two switches to adjust brightness on the fly. With this arrangement, you know brighter is on the left and dimmer is on the right. Simple.
That little window below the CT RAD Pro’s lens is an ambient light sensor. I’ve shot the pistol at night and in the day. I’ve also shot it while standing in shade at targets in bright sunshine. The sensor does a remarkably good job of adjusting the dot brightness so you’re always working with a clearly visible aiming point.
The CT RAD Pro’s lens is multi-coated and don’t alter the color of your target radically. Crimson Trace has also given the RAD Pro a Goldilocks-size sight window. It’s neither too small or too big…it’s, well, just right.
It’s difficult to photograph the RAD Pro’s 3 MOA red dot, but I’ve shot with pistol red dots ranging from one to eight MOA. Three MOA is and near-perfect size for good visibility in virtually any situation and fast target acquisition.
In the six months or so that I’ve had the RAD Pro, I’ve shot it in almost every type or weather and lighting condition from 90+ degree heat to freezing cold. I’ve also tried to get it to fog up, but the only time it came close was a little moisture that formed on the lens when taking it directly from an air-conditioned car to a hot, humid outdoor range. But even then, the sight picture was still more than useable. That’s a big plus.
I sprayed the RAD Pro with water (it has an IPX7 waterproof rating) and put it in the freezer. I also knocked it around a good bit, but the sight held its zero like a champ.
Pistol red dots aren’t for everyone, although almost everyone seems to want one these days. They take a fair amount of training and practice to develop the consistent draw and muscle memory needed to get it on target quickly and reliably enough for competition and personal defense use. But once you’ve done that, there’s no question of their effectiveness.
If you’ve decided you’re a pistol red dot shooter, the Crimson Trace RAD Pro is difficult to beat for both its feature set, price point and performance.
Specifications: Crimson Trace RAD Pro Red Dot Sight
Dot Size: 3 MOA
Mount: Docter/Noblex, Picatinny rail mount included
Battery Life: 20,000 Hrs.
Battery Access: Top Mount
Power Saving: Auto shutoff, shake-to-wake
Material: 7075 Aluminum Housing
Brightness: 8 daylight, 2 night setting with ambient sensor
Weight: 1.6 oz.
MSRP: $299 (about $279 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Features * * * *
Topside battery access, auto-shutoff, shake-to-wake, ambient adjustment…the Crimson Trace RAD Pro has literally every feature 99 percent of pistol shooters want in a reflex sight. There are sights with more battery life and more brightness and aim adjustment, but those sights cost almost twice as much as the RAD Pro.
Clarity * * * * *
The CT RAD Pro really excels here. The multi-coated lens gives you a clear sight picture in virtually any lighting and weather conditions. It’s nearly fogproof and its 3 MOA dot is crisp and clear with no flare or ghosting.
Value * * * * *
The RAD Pro reflex sight isn’t cheap, but it’s priced very competitively with other makers’ sights with the same features…less in most cases. This isn’t an inexpensive reflex sight, but it’s really well-designed, and has everything most shooters want in a premium pistol red dot.
Overall * * * * *
In the end, the Crimson Trace RAD Pro is a reliable, full-featured red dot sight at a competitive price. It’s difficult to think of a way CT could improve the RAD Pro in ways that wouldn’t significantly increase its price.