Should I Put A Red Dot Sight On My Pistol?
The epidemic rise in handgun sales over the past years has sparked a prominent debate among shooters: should one opt for a red dot sight on their pistol or not?
In a bid to lay the matter to rest, or at least shed some light on it, we delve into the merits and demerits of mounting a red dot sight on your pistol.
How A Red Dot Sight Works
The modern red dot sight uses an LED emitter to project a reticle onto the glass lens contained in the optic, which gives you the image of the dot. Since most of the emitters are red, ergo a "red dot sight."
Since the image is projected to infinity, there is little to no parallax. Since there is no magnification, the shooter can use both eyes.
It isn't the first optic of this type, of course. Reflex sights, invented in the early 1900s, use reflection to project a reticle onto a lens in a scope, creating the same effect. Later reflex sights, such as the Thompson sight of the 1970s, used fiber optics to achieve the same effect.
The first modern red dot sights, which use an LED to project the image, emerged with the first generation AimPoint scopes, which arrived in the 1980s. Red dot sights of today are merely miniaturized versions of the same idea.
The Case for Red Dot Sights
Red dot sights have been widely adopted among military and law enforcement professionals, affirming their credibility in professional circles. The benefits? Speed, accuracy, and simplicity.
1. Improved Accuracy: The red dot aids in precise aiming, reducing instances of missed shots. It allows shooters to keep both eyes open, providing a wider field of view and enabling faster target acquisition.
2. Speed: Red dot users tout how much faster they are able to aim and fire accurately when compared to using traditional iron sights. This could be life-saving in high-stress, self-defense situations.
3. Simplicity: The single-focus plane of a red dot sight simplifies the shooting process. With iron sights, your eyes must align the rear sight, the front sight, and the target. But with a red dot, your eye needs to focus only on the dot and the target.
The Case Against Red Dot Sights
Despite these advantages, some shooters maintain a steadfast loyalty to their iron sights. Their reasons?
1. Dependability: the prevailing theory is that iron sights are less likely to fail or break due to being part of the gun or run out of battery. If a red dot sight fails, you effectively have no sighting system or at least a less precise one.
2. Training: Learning to accurately use a red dot sight takes significant practice and training. One must train their eyes to focus on the target rather than the sight, which can be counterintuitive.
3. Cost: Red dot sights represent a significant additional investment. High-quality, reliable models can be pricey, and not all shooters can (or want to) afford them.
Should You Put A Red Dot Sight On Your Pistol?
Ultimately, it's all down to preference.
The truth is there are lots of great sport shooters who have done amazing things with iron sights. There are plenty of police officers and soldiers who have put away evil people with iron sights. The reverse is also true.
If you have no issues shooting an iron sighted pistol really, really well...then don't bother trying to fix what already works.
However, beginners, novices and those with aging eyes will often find a red dot sight helps them improve a great deal by simplifying sight alignment. The additional and instant feedback from the trigger press (ie the dot moves with the gun does) is greatly beneficial in live and dry fire.
So if a red dot sight isn't necessarily going to help you, you might as well not bother. But if it very well might...then you may want to give one a try.