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Seeing Red: The Pistol Red Dot

Gear + Kits
Gear + Kits
October 4, 2017
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Tossing a red dot on a pistol isn’t that revolutionary of a concept. It’s been going on since C-More invented a red dot small enough to be on a pistol. What is new(ish) is the fact that optics on pistols have become a realistic concept for concealed carry and duty guns. Previously red dots were on race guns, most commonly 1911s and CZ 75 variants used in competition shooting. As red dots got smaller and smaller their presence and purpose on handguns grew.

What’s really new (to me) is actually owning a red dot equipped pistol. I handled a few MOS Glocks at Shot Show’s range day, and now, 8 months later I’ve finally pulled the trigger so to speak. I purchased a Gen 4 Glock 17 MOS model and tossed my Meopta Meosight 3 on it. After about a week of owning the gun, and over 500 rounds of cheap 9mm down range I’ve become a red dot convert.Why?Well, I’ve found a number of different benefits to the system.

It’s Faster

On my first range day, one I brought out a CZ 75 with iron sights and the Meosight 3 equipped Glock 17. I love my CZ 75 and shoot it well. I wanted to compare how well I shot with irons versus how well I could shoot with a red dot. Previously I’d done some significant dry fire practice and learned to quickly locate the dot when aiming.

I zeroed the dot quickly and started the drill.My target was a 21-inch-tall steel popper from Shoot Steel and I started at 10 yards. My goal was to start at the low ready and fire 5 rounds at the popper, and time it. I wish I could say I was immediately impressed, but at 10 yards I wasn’t seeing much of a difference in time on target. Both guns hovered within fractions of a second of each other.

I moved back to the 20-yard line and repeated the same drill. Now, I started seeing the difference. I was immediately more accurate and faster by as much as three-quarters of a second on ringing steel. I repeated the drill 5 times and 5 out of 5 times I was faster with the Glock. Remember this was day one with a red dot, versus a gun I’ve had for years.Over this last week as I’ve gained more experience with the Glock and Meosight 3 I’ve seen that time gap widen to a full second when I’m warmed up and in the zone. Getting on target is simply faster with a red dot.

It’s More Precise

“Aim small, miss small,” isn’t just a cool saying from the Patriot. It’s sound advice for any shooter. The red dot reticle is much smaller than iron sights so it obscures less of your target. This means it’s easier to see, and therefore easier hit smaller targets. Hitting clay pigeons with a handgun at 20 yards with iron sights is a challenge. Doing the same thing with a red dot is easy.

Even backing off to 50 yards I can ring the Steel Popper 5 out of 5 times if I take my time. With irons, I can barely see the target and feel good when I hit it 3 out of 5 times. When it comes to long-range shooting the red dot dominates iron sights.

Night and Day Difference

Who needs night sights when you are rocking a red dot? The red dot dominates both night and day shooting. My Meosight 3 adjusts to the light around it and automatically compensates for low light and bright light environments so I’m never without my dot.

Some red dot optics are even compatible with night vision, which may be of interest to our friends in Law Enforcement. Iron sights and night vision don’t work well together, but night vision has no issues with red dots.

Situational Awareness

When it comes to shooting handguns we’ve all heard the term front sight focus. When you focus on your front sight you shoot with more precision, but unfortunately, you don’t have a clear picture on your target anymore. With a red dot that’s not an issue. You don’t to cycle between front sight focus and target focus with a red dot.With the red dot superimposed over your

With the red dot superimposed over your vision, you can see both the reticle and your target without having to lose focus. This leads to increased situational awareness when focusing on a threat, or multiple threats. It keeps peripheral vision open and allows quicker reaction times.


As with anything, there are a few drawbacks to tossing a red dot on the ole’ mohaska. The biggest is going to be added bulk and weight to your gun. This is more of an issue for concealed carry than duty carry, but it’s worth mentioning. Typically, concealed carry guns aim to be smaller, not larger.

There is also some significant cost involved. High-quality red dots that are designed for duty and carry use run in the hundreds of dollars. You may also have to pay for slide milling, which can be another hundred dollars. There are a few out of the box precut options like my Glock MOS, but they are few and far between.

You’ll also be cutting your holster options a bit. Some companies’ holsters won’t be compatible with a red dot equipped gun. Losing options always sucks, but there are a few great companies making holsters for red dot equipped guns.The final drawback is going to be relying on anything made of glass and electronics. You increase the chance of something failing. For that reason, investing in suppressor height sights that allow you to co-witness is a must if it’s a duty or carry gun. This adds even more initial cost to the platform.

The Future?

With companies like Sig, Glock, Walther, S&W, and Canik all producing factory model red dot ready firearms the trend is gaining forward momentum. The advantages these systems offer is significant. Will it be the future of handguns? Maybe, but before that’s declared we’d have to see significant interest from the world’s military and police forces in the concept. As your everyday concealed carrier, I’m excited to see where the concept goes in the near future, and how it’ll evolve and grow.--Travis PikeRead more shooting articles here.

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