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Many shooters — this one among them — harbor a certain level of gun snobbery. We see anything too modern, anything too “tacticool” as a method of separating a lot of fools from their money. As we know, a lot of people have been separated from their money in short order for a whole bunch of things.

Right now, that separation is in full force. As tax refunds begin to trickle in, many of us are plotting how we’re going to spend that “found” money. And your local gun store is only too happy to help.

Chassis-based rifles, for instance, are too heavy to do anything but shoot at the range. But the truth is that only a minority of gun owners actually hunt. Suppressors don’t actually make anything silent. They only attenuate noise so a hunter can reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage.

But not everything gun-related is just a vehicle for ripping off suburban gun owners with more money than sense who like to buy black guns in the midst of their looming midlife crises. In fact, sometimes those hot items make too much sense to ignore.

One item that really can make a big difference in your shooing is a good red dot sight. In fact, they may be one of the best of the “recent” improvements to pistols and rifles. The make target acquisition — on either a rifle or a handgun —  so much easier and since they work in low-light environments even better than many night sights out there…frankly, standard iron sights seem inadequate. 

And it’s actually a little strange that they haven’t been a thing before.

You see, red dot sights, which many people are starting to refer to as RMR sights, despite that being a brand name from Trijicon, are actually a modern version of reflex sights, which have been in use in military applications since at least World War II. The idea actually emerged around the start of the 20th Century, with the Irish designer Sir Howard Grubb.

Grubb envisioned a compact optic which used ambient light to illuminate a reticicle, with a mirror mounted inside the optic. The ambient light, mirror and curved lenses function as a collimator, aligning the image with the reticicle at any distance without parallax. After a few decades of development, reflex or reflector sights – as the reticle seen by the user is actually a reflection and moves with the target – found use on anti-aircraft guns, artillery and even on aircraft themselves.  

The heads up display in many fighter jets today is a fancy version of the RMR sights that work so well on our pistols.

They’ve gradually been deployed on small arms which, as it turns out, was exactly what Grubb had in mind. My next gun will more than likely have one.

What about you? Is there any new-fangled bit of gear that you eventually came around to?


Tim lives in the Spokane area. He grew up around guns and the outdoors and spends as much time around both as he can. 


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  1. i have used them (though never owned them YET) and while they can be hard to get used to at first they do help quite a bit with accuracy

  2. The range I attend, we speed shoot. Shoot 5 steel plates as fast as you can. (yes rules for missing or shooting the numbered steel plates out of order. I use a red dot on my S/W MP15-22. Fastest time for hitting all plates in order is 1.58 seconds. Range record is 1.20 seconds by a pastor. If you want to see the game that is growing in popularity, check out Take a few minutes and check it our. The most fun you can have with a gun!! We have as many female shooters as male. It is amazing.
    Metal Madness Sports Shooting Association.

    I think TTAG needs to contact the owner and chat with him for a few. Name is Ed White. Grand Rivers, Ky.

    • 🙂 just your comment alone has got my curiosity peaked 🙂 now to see if we can get it going in australia 🙂

  3. Red dots are nice on rifles, in handguns it takes me too long to find the reticle. Maybe I could get better with training, but I don’t own a pistol that can accept one.

    They don’t have to cost an arm and leg like Trijicons. I don’t plan to go fight a war with my rifle. I don’t throw my rifle in sand and mud. Bushnell trs 25 for $60 is perfectly serviceable red dot optic for my needs.

    • Honestly, there are now some very good combat-grade red dots in the $200 range as well, for anyone (like me) who likes gear that’s a step up from “range toy” quality but doesn’t want to pay $600+ for an Aimpoint

  4. “As tax refunds begin to trickle in.”

    Hahaha. That’s rich. Sure would be nice to get one of those. Next year, maybe. After the tax cuts kick in. I’ll tell you one thing though, being punished for making “too much money” (which really isn’t that much) turned me from a moderate to a staunch conservative almost as fast as gun control did. I went from being in poverty to have a good stable job over the past few years, and boy did the federal government hate me for that.

    (Sorry not trying to hijack the thread.)

      • I’m sure as hell not in the 1%, but in talking with our tax professional this year, going by what our perceived tax cuts would be for next year, my wife and I will actually GET a refund. Unlike paying in $2300.00 like the last couple years…so, yeah, the tax cuts are only for the rich.

      • Why not? I’m far from the 1% and I would have saved a between grand to fifteen hundred this year at the new rates.

      • That’s all BS, Pat.

        Since the tax cuts, my pension payments have gone up considerably, not due to an increase but because a substantial reduction in what Uncle Sam is taking. Projecting ahead to next year we’ll be paying considerably lower taxes. I’m not in the top 1%, probably not the top 8%. Of course, I did work for a living and still have a couple of paying gigs that earn income.

        Want to bitch about taxes, take on those who only take from the pot, not anyone who is contributing.

      • Thanks for the dishonest democrat talking point Nancy. I think you forgot to use the focus grouped phrase “crumbs” though.

      • huh, weird. I’m no where close to the 1%… make well below the 6-figure mark currently. But I’m saving something like $1500-$1800 on my taxes next year, plus my company increased their 401k matching percentage, all as a result of the tax cuts. If you’re not a fan of the cuts, there’s a blank on your tax return where you can voluntarily donate any additional money to the IRS. I’m sure on your 2017 return they’d be happy to have you send back whatever your savings are.

      • Hey bud, the democrats core platform is to tax anyone that is above the poverty line, back into poverty. The 1% are the liberal elite that will retain their wealth much like the elite that rule every socailist country. Socialism is the ultimate support of the 1%. If you really want to “take down” the “1%”, you should support a vicious free market capitalism that will drive competition of the large corporations. Such competition has solid net benefits for the average consumer that leads to lower prices and better products. This is the economic truth your liberal professors don’t want you to know.

      • I got a nice raise this year. The additional money in my check from the raise was doubled by the reduced withholding for the new tax law. Anyone who says only the 1% benefits from the new tax law needs to do their homework.

  5. In the past 5 years, i went from rehabbing/improving a few working-class rentals, with my cash & sweat, so I could increase my income, to going deeper in debt, THANKS to ‘Obama-care’ !


  6. I love, love, LOVE my Trijicon MRO on my SBR. I plan to get one for my Mini-30 and possibly for my 10/22 ISB.

    • +1, for my MRO on my SBR’d PS90. For my pistol though? I might try for some range fun but that’s about it.

      • Eh, I’m with you on that. I shoot mostly rifle and my pistol’s purpose is for me to get to my rifle in a fight if necessary, so I prefer a slimmer profile than a red dot can offer. They’re fun to play with and there is a definite advantage in sight acquisition over iron sights, but still, eh.

    • i wish i could still use semi auto rifles here in australia. i learnt to shoot on one (a gevarm .22LR) and i loved that little rifle. it was the only semi auto i ever owned the rest i had being mostly because at the time i was just starting out and did not have much money. if i had the money i would have had a Franchi SPAS12 and a AR10 or variant thereof. along with a number of actual high powered bolt guns capable of real long range accuracy

  7. Got a Red Dot mounted on *cough* my HiPoint 9mm carbine. Lotsa fun plinking with that and a good shooter when zeroed @ 50 yrds. Also have one on my Ruger 22/45.

  8. I’ve bought a few of the cheapies off amazon and I hate them. Don’t know if it’s because I’m only spending $30 or if it’s I just don’t like them.

    My problem is they seem to be impossible to zero because my cheek weld is slightly different each time. I do fine with a scope because I make the fish eye consistent each shot. And no problem with iron sights ever.

    The only thing I found them superior for was shooting slugs out of an unrifled shotgun barrel.

    Someone tell me I’m an idiot and how to use them properly or to get a better brand.

    • Too little information to fully diagnose, and I’m no expert, but my first thought is don’t buy the $30-60 models. Spend a bit more and get a Vortex, Holosun, Sig or Primary Arms sight. They generally have less parallax and actually hold zero. I’m a fan of the Sig Romeo5.

      From what you described, I’d say to just slow down and ensure consistent cheek weld while sighting in. Once a dot is zeroed, the beauty of them is at distances beyond 25 yards (most have some parallax at closer range) and assuming the point of impact holds, where the dot points is where the shot goes regardless of cheek weld.

      • I second all those companies listed. Ran each of them hard on everything up to 308 and 12ga, and zero issues. My favorites are the Sig Romeo5, Vortex Venom (for pistols or ultra lightweight rifle setups), and the Vortex Prism 3x.

        • Another vote for the Romeo 5 here, I’ve got one on my Rock River (bought used, pre betrayal) and it excellent. Check out some of the torture tests on YouTube, that thing can take a pounding

        • Agree with the above list. I run Holosuns on my equipment- one traditional red dot and one micro with the modified ACSS reticle- and both are outstanding bits of kit. Only have the two as I’m on a severely restricted budget, but will gladly pick up more when budget permits.

    • I’ve had one or 2 cheap red dots and I had all the same problems. Some things you can get away with buying cheap but not sights. With them you get you pay for, especially red dots.

      I have a EOtech now and its great. No issues with cheek weld, if the red dot is on it, then that is where the bullet is going.

    • Easy fix: stop buying garbage. And your issue isn’t a cheek weld problem; it sounds like the sight just won’t hold zero. Which, if you paid $30 for it, sounds about right

    • Thanks for the advice guys, I’ll try some better gear.

      The reason I bring up cheek weld is I put it in a tripod stand kind of immobilized and moved around and I noticed the point of aim was all over.

  9. TTAG, we still cool and all, but just what in the hell was this piece of tripe? If I’m going to spend my time to click on a story with this headline, I’d expect that it be more than an obvious Fudd’s judgmental, preachy revelation that red dot sights (which I’ve never once seen or heard referred to as RMR’s, by the way) actually work.

    This was a useless piece of clickbait garbage.

    • RMR “Ruggedized Miniature Reflex” is a Trijicon trademark. Maybe why you have not heard it used for reflex sights in general, neither had I. Could cost you more than the gun it is on easily.

      • I’ve never heard RMR used as a general term for reflex sights either. The reflex sight’s usefulness was widely accepted at least five years ago. This fellow is way out of touch.

  10. As an older gent with eyes that have difficulty keeping the front sight and the target in focus, those red dot sights havd been the best thing since sliced bread! I rarely shoot at anything farther than 200 yards and hitting EVERYTHING I put the dot on within that range is guaranteed – at least for me.
    This old man definitely approves!

    • Until you get age-related astigmatism and the ‘dots’ turn into comets or flares.

      Which really bites when you’ve got a whole corral of ML2s, ML3s, PROs, and a few T-1s. Wish someone made a 1x prism as durable and reliable as my aimpoint RDS. Vortex’s and Burris offerings are very nice to look through, and Vortex has a good warranty, but they are just not as well put-together as my aimpoints.

  11. 45 degree offset sights

    never liked shooting irons through the red dot

    forget the battery running out

    what if the red dot fogs or glass breaks and you cant see through it

    just tilt the rifle

    having them always there and up and wanting to check zero on them every trip to the range forces me to practice using them

    turns out my eyes are still good enough that sometimes i actually shoot as good or better with the irons than the red dot or scope

  12. Why do some hunters hold other gun owners in such low regard? It’s fine if you aren’t interested in the hobby for the same reasons but you come across just as judgemental and preachy as the libs do when you criticize “black gun” owners. You can thank those hobbyists for the nearly every convenient aspect of modern gun ownership. I highly doubt this site would exist without them.

  13. Meprolight’s M21 optic is awesome. Tritium power for night time, fiber optic for daytime. No batteries, always on.

    Wasn’t really a fan of reflex sights before getting it. Now I’m sold on the idea.

  14. “Chassis-based rifles, for instance, are too heavy to do anything but shoot at the range.”
    Um, WUT?
    Was this ever true, or just something really ignorant people think?
    It sounds as bad as “no one uses an AR to hunt with.”

    • i have had so many people try to tell me that carrying a heavy barreled rifle hunting is too much hard work. i have carried a full wood Lee Enfield .303 all day hunting before and i am female. shows how many wusses are out there 🙂

    • Count me as one of those wusses. I recently started hiking (8,200′ elevation) with my 24″ .975″-.960″ barreled AR as opposed to my older 6lb MRO sighted 10.5″ sporter(?) barreled AR. I think it is way harder and suffer what I imagine are the tortures of the damned, but I haven’t switched back yet. I am trying to get back in some semblance of shape.

  15. Tried a red dot on my buddy’s AR – it was really really nice. It’s hard to go back to iron sights, the red dot will spoil you.

  16. I Luv mine even with a stigmatism ,try different manufactures and models and you will discover one that will work for most.

    • I have astigmatism in my right (primary shooting) eye. If using my normal glasses I have no problem seeing a round red dot on my Sig Romeo 5, my ancient Aim Point on a 1911 or any of my thin wire/dot scopes. I’ve also found that using my music reading glasses for normal iron sight handgun shooting allows me to focus on the front sight much better. I do use single vision-only glasses however, never used bifocals/trifocals.

  17. Nobody calls a red dot an r m r
    A red dot is exactly what the AK needs to improve accuracy
    I like mine mounted way out there on the gas tube
    As for astigmatism, wear glasses or get a prism sight like the vortex spitfire (Burris and primary arms also make prism sights), they have adjustable ocular lenses that can be corrected to your eye.
    As for pistols, I use a crimson trace laser on all my pistols
    The laser is visible out to 30 yards in Florida sunshine
    You do not have to bring the gun to eye level to make hits, so firing and hiring from the hip or while running is possible
    Laser are more compact and far superior to red dots for the close in pistol distances

  18. “gun snob” or perhaps just an ordinary horse’s ass or FUDD?

    “vehicle for ripping off suburban gun owners with more money than sense who like to buy black guns in the midst of their looming midlife crises.”

    You get that BS line from the MOMs or Mike Bloomberg?

  19. I’ve never been a fan of something that uses batteries on my firearms but I built up an AR in .300 Blackout a few months back and stuck a Sig Romeo 5 on top that was on sale. I chose it because it has a 2 MOA dot, some dots are 4 and larger which is a hell of an area at 100 yds. (See if you can figure it out…) Zero magnification, or 1X.

    Once sighted in I can sit at the 200 yd berm in a regular sitting position and by shooting steady at a rate of around a shot per second, keep the hits within the 200 yd bull. I think that’s pretty cool for plinking. Has an automatic shut off and return to power when movement is sensed if one was in the field, so to speak.

  20. Holy crap. Who wrote this? Sounds like an ignorant gun grabbing type. Good grief.

    Red dot sights have been the norm for over a decade. FUDD much?

    We are currently blessed with a market of many excellent options in the $200 price range. If you want to splurge on a Trijicon or Aimpoint more power to ya

  21. Well, I’ve worked hard for this midlife crisis and it’s my money, so I’ll spend it anyway I want, you young whippersnapper!

    Seriously though, the average age in our bullseye league is around 60, so pretty much everybody uses red dots on their target pistols. They work great with old eyes.

  22. Red Dots have made rifle shooting a blast for me again. My advice to anyone thinking about acquiring one is to buy a parallax free sight. They cost more, but well worth the extra expense. I use 1 MOA dots, because the larger sizes cover too much area as the distance increases.

  23. I find red dots to be excellent for rapid target acquisition on rifles, but that’s about it. They are too bulky on a handgun, and too imprecise for long range shooting. So I have them on ARs and 10/22s(as seen above) and that’s about it.

  24. I have two I bought this year; a Sig P320 with a Sig Romeo reflex sight and my gunsmith milled the slide and put a Trijicon RMR sight on my Glock 17. Both are fun range guns, since they’re too heavy to conceal carry. My conceal carry gun is a Glock 43. They may be the handgun optic of the future, but they’re too big to carry…for me.

  25. If you wear bi-focal glasses red dots are the fix. I have used them on my Glocks since the early 90’s…startfed with Tasco’s, then Burris, now vortex on both pistols and rifles…love em.

  26. I recently switched from carrying a 5-7 with a DeltaPoint to an iron sighted 5.25″ revolver. I don’t know what to call the sort of partial sight picture I get, but I find it is faster and accurate enough for defense at 7 yards for sure. I am not saying I’d recommend it for others but rather that almost just point shooting is more comfortable for me under simulated stress. I guess if I was sure I was going to get in gun fight (and couldn’t simply avoid it) I’d stick with the 5-7 and Delta-Point but I would need to practice even more to minimize those infrequent times I don’t find the dot right away. I suppose the 5-7 doesn’t point as naturally as the heavier revolver for me for some reason.

  27. Too many red dot sights are a complete rip off. All you have to do is read the complaints by people who have bought them and they even complain about the sights that are $600 to $1,000. Remember too that anything electronic probably can and will fail you when you need it the most. Batteries go dead, circuits corrode and short out etc. etc. Everything “the lastest” is not always “the greatest”.

    For those who like to play with toys the Ultra-dot is not a bad sight for around $200 plus dollars but it is basically the size of a pistol scope which brings us to another big disadvantage of even the much smaller red dot sights and that is one of bulk. Often people need an exceedingly small handgun to carry concealed especially in hot weather that has become the norm now that Global Warming is destroying the very earth we live on and the red dot sight just is to much extra bulk to let you carry concealed.

    When one practices only with red dot sights one soon loses the ability to master the more difficult iron sights which will be the sights on the very small pistol your most likely to actually carry for self defense. Big heavy pistols mean the average Joe will leave them at home or under the seat of the Car because they are not very concealable and never comfortable to carry. The people most likely to carry everyday without fail are the people who carry believe it or not the .25 acp because they can carry them comfortably and they are the easiest of guns to conceal. Unfortunately the Arms companies have pretty much stopped making them these days.

    Like most people I stated out carrying a multi-shot 9mm then went to a much smaller .380 and then ended up with carrying a .25 acp. Its the only gun I stuck with when carrying it everyday instead of sometimes leaving it at home or in the car. Reality is Reality and what happened to me also happened to each and every one of my friends but we were around when the .25 acp was king and the young generation has never even heard of this caliber.

    I think when you look at the President Reagan attempted assassination when only a .22 lr. was used and 3 grown men were blasted right off their feet it should teach the arm chair no nothing commandos that yes the .22 and .25 can and do kill people and will incapacitate them depending where you hit them but that is true even when using a .12 Ga. shotgun with slugs. Hit them wrong and they keep on shooting back.

    In our home town one gentlemen was attacked outside a bar by 3 thugs who thought he would be easy to beat to death but he killed all three with 1 quick shot each from this .25 acp automatic.

    A Lady cab driver was kidnapped and taken to a remote spot to be raped and killed and the killer even took away her glasses but at the last minute she pulled out a .25 acp and blew him away.

    Just two examples that dispel the arm chair commando myth that nothing less than a 44 magnum will do when needing a self defense weapon. Only gun writers that are prostitutes of the gun industry believe their own propaganda. Real hunters and or people that have actually had to use weapons know the truth.

    • No one has ever been “blasted off their feet” by a hand gun except in movies. There is insufficient momentum.

    • This has to be the most FUDD comment I’ve ever read. To anybody reading this comment, for the love of god do not take this guy with any modicum of consideration. Only nut jobs account for consideration of global warming for their optics

  28. while i wouldn’t have one on a carry gun, i have had one before and even the cheap ones can give you an idea of how much potential they have. while they do make it easier, at the same time i worry about it making me lazy and losing my ability to shoot IS well, just on pistols.

    i guess you would use one to build muscle memory faster. saying that because alot of the elite competition shooters use the “no sight” shooting method, lik in IDPA.

  29. Red dot sights are great, the best thing since scopes.
    But spend the money to buy a decent one. You wouldn’t put a $30 scope on a $1,000 rifle, so don’t expect to put a $30 Chinese red dot sight on a $1,000 rifle or pistol and get consistent accuracy (or even a zero that will hold up under recoil).
    Many people have scoped rifles where the glass costs as much as, or even more than the rifle.
    I recommend spending as much on a red dot sight as you would on a scope.
    This doesn’t mean you need an $850 Aimpoint or Trijicon on every rifle, but just like with scopes, expect to spend at least $200 to get a good quality, accurate optic that will stand up to recoil.
    Another tip: any used Aimpoint, Trijicon, or Eotech (which often sell for half price even if only used ONCE!) is better than a brand-new Chinese piece of junk. I’ve bought a couple barely-used Aimpoints that looked like brand-new for 50% of the price if new, and never regretted it! A battery life of 8 years when left on, mil-spec durability, waterproof, accurate, what’s not to like?

    However, look out for forgeries on name brands, especially if buying on eBay (EvilBay). If someone is selling a “brand-new Trijicon RMR” on EvilBay for $49 (when new ones cost $500), then I guarantee it’s a Chinese forgery that will break in a week! Ditto for Aimpoint, Eotech, etc. Go to the official websites for Aimpoint, Trijicon, Eotech, etc., and they’ll tell you exactly how to tell the difference between forgeries and the real thing, so you don’t learn the hard way. Some of the forgeries even duplicate the trademark names, so you can’t tell from the photos, but you can tell by the price — if the price sounds too good to be true, it is!

    Yes, if the battery goes dead in one month instead of five years, then you’ll know it’s a forgery, but by that time the seller has changed their seller ID. And good luck getting your money back from EvilBay, because EvilBay management hates guns and gun accessories, plus they don’t know a real optic from a forgery, so you won’t be able to prove you received a forgery. I’ve reported Trijicon forgeries many times to EvilBay, but they do nothing about forgeries for gun accessories. If it’s a forgery of a handbag, EvilBay will ban that seller, but if it’s a gun accessory, they don’t give a damn!

  30. Sure is a lot of ==== on this article. Bullseye shooters have gone to red dots or reflex sights for the last 15 years. Makes it easier to get the .22 target pistol on the bullseye when many Bullseye shooters are getting older. One hand shooting at the bullseye targets does not seem attractive to the younger set.
    I have a cheap dot on my 9mm AR carbine, but on the .223/5.56 I use a Millet 1.5 -4X scope that has an illuminated retical. I hope to put a micro dot on a 9mm pistol soon, but have not decided on which one or which pistol.

  31. I think red dot sight is a bad idea on a pistol. When using a pistol you focus on the front sight, if your grip and posture is correct the back sight is in line also. The reflex sight doesn’t add a lot in such a small sight radius. Further more when a pistol is a secondary weapon you should regard it as an emergency weapon, meaning you don’t want any part of it that can fail. A reflex sight is a thing that can fail, by breaking or by battery being depleted.

    • “A reflex sight is a thing that can fail, by breaking or by battery being depleted.”
      Not every reflex sight requires batteries. Trijicon makes several that don’t need batteries, including the Trijicon RMR “dual-power” models, which are “amber dot” sights that use fiber optics in the daytime (powered by sunlight or artificial light), and tritium at night.
      I own two of these, and I can attest that they work great in all light sources, including sunny days, cloudy days, indoor light (artificial light), incandescent light, fluorescent light, total blackness (using the Tritium glow), etc. They automatically adjust brightness (without any batteries!) to the situation. No batteries, period, means it’s always ready when you need it. It’s also tough and waterproof. Best sight ever, for a pistol or shotgun. For rifles, it’s not precise enough for precision shooting, because it has a 7 MOA dot, but it’s good enough for lever-action rifles (and so small that it doesn’t mess up the looks of your lever gun), or as a backup 1-power sight on a scoped AR.

      However, the one situation where the dual-power RMR doesn’t work well is in a dark room when using a weapons-mounted light, because the weapons light totally washes out the amber dot. One solution to this, assuming you can afford it (but you’ve already spent $450 on the RMR, so if you can afford that, you can probably afford a laser too!) is to add a green laser to the gun that has a weapon-mounted light, such as the Viridian C5L or Viridian X5L, which has a combination of green laser and bright light. The green laser is bright enough to see the dot even with the weapons-mounted light turned on.

      A cheaper solution is to not mount a weapons-light on any gun that has the RMR on it, because if you’re a civilian, you’re unlikely to need to clear rooms in total darkness, you’re more likely using the RMR for hunting and target shooting in the daytime. Revolvers don’t have weapons-mounted lights (there’s no bottom rail for mounting a light, and it would look stupid anyway), so I put a dual-power (fiber-optic and tritium) RMR on my GP-100 revolver. If I’m in a situation where I need a weapons-mounted light, I won’t use my revolver, it’s that simple!

  32. Trijicon Accupoint 1-8 FFP MOA! The RMR will sit at 45 degrees. Oh, and a Black Aces Tactical suppressor, you know…because you have to operate operationally while watching operas.


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