Photograph by Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. ·


Red Dot for Everyday Carry Guns?


If you follow any popular firearm social media sites, read firearm related magazines, or even watch TV lately, you’ve seen them. You may not notice them or have already written them off as gimmicks but you cannot deny their existence and their quick rising popularity. A quickly growing trend these days is a red dot equipped pistol for concealed carry weapons and other service sized pistols. Red-dots, reflex sights, holographic sights, etc., are collimating optics; they’re a weapon sight that provides a single aiming point with little or no parallax and while many times referred to as “red dots”, they can have reticles of many different sizes, shapes, and colors these days. But why? Why would you want to add something like that to your carry gun? Well it’s pretty simple, it makes things easier. Red dots on handguns, just like on rifles make it easier to shoot the weapon accurately under stress, with adequate training (just like with any other platform).

I recently jumped on board the proverbial “red dot” train after reading about how great they are on the many different social media platforms I follow. I also spoke with guys in several different career fields that involve firearms whom I hold in high regards as subject matter experts from their time. My initial plan was to equip a “woods” pistol for carry when hog hunting at night or general all around outside use, but it has quickly become one of my go to carry guns for daily use. I started with a Glock 29SF I had in the safe and paired it with an awesome gift from my little brother, a Trijicon RM-01 model RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex). The Glock 29SF, while considered a “subcompact” pistol, is almost the same size as the Glock 19/23 with a slightly wider grip and slide. The slide is the perfect width for the RMR and there is no hang over of the sight like on the slightly narrower 19/23 platform. As I mentioned earlier, this pistol was set up with my hog trapping/shooting and the fact that I’m outside in the woods more often than not in mind. I have always had a love for the 10mm round and while other calibers improvements in ammo selection and performance have bridged a long time “power gap”, going down that rabbit trail is not the intent of this article. The red dot sight is equally at home on any of the popular defense caliber handguns. We’ve already established that for most people, the red dot sight aids in accuracy under stress. What are some of the other benefits? Well, when you need to get precise with a handgun, a red dot on a pistol with a clean trigger break is very tough to beat. It also makes shooting at longer distances, boringly easy. What about the cons? There are always cons. The most common I hear and see are:

“But they have batteries…”

That’s very true. They do have batteries and as of now, there are no coin shaped lifetime batteries. The battery in the Trijicon LED RMR is said to last for two years of typical use. As a side note, I am focusing on Trijicon RMR’s as I have the most experience with them, there are many other, equally as good options offered by Docter, Leupold, Vortex, Eotech, Burris, Bushnell, and several others. Back to the battery life, two years is pretty impressive in my eyes….. Which I use to confirm my red dot is glowing brightly and as intended each day before holstering my firearm for the day’s adventure. If it were off or weaker than normal, it would be changed before leaving the house. So what happens if you need your firearm and the battery is dead? Well hopefully you have back up iron sights of the appropriate height that co-witness to the red dot. I have “extra tall” or “suppressor height” tritium night sights on my pistol for just that reason. If the red dot is gone, I still have a sight picture that I can make accurate shots with. This also allows me to confirm my red dot is still “sighted in” if there are any hard bumps into the optic, as I know exactly where the red dot should be situated in relation to my iron sight picture.

“What happens if they get dropped or submerged in water or rained on…?”

Modern compact red dot sights have gotten impressively tough, light, and reliable. Most modern pistol red dot optics are also shock-resistant and waterproof.

“They don’t fit my gun….”

This one is a tricky one. The short answer is, it is very likely you can have your gun customized for a red dot of your choosing. The downside to this is that the process can be an additional expense. In my personal opinion (and one I share with many, many others), the “best” way to mount an RMR is by having the slide of the weapon milled or shaved down slightly to allow for mounting the RMR directly to the slide of the gun. This gives the red dot a factory look but also allows for co-witnessing of sights and a rugged mount that is not easily bumped around. There are several machine shops that specialize in doing optics cuts and other customizations on several different brands of handguns. There are other options though if you are not interested in diving in without knowing if you will like them or not. There are removable options that use the back sight channel or other modes of attachments. Lastly, there are many factory options available from the “big gun companies”. To name a few of those options, Glock (MOS models), Smith and Wesson (CORE models), Sig (RX models), Springfield Armory (OSP models), FN (FNX-Tactical Models), Walther (Q5 models), and many more. These are the everyday priced handguns too, when you go a custom route, your configurations are only limited by your imagination and budget.

The fact that we are seeing so many factory available options is very telling to the likelihood that these optics are here to stay and we will be seeing more and more of them in the future. As in all we do, any leg up to be successful is welcomed. Are they for you? Maybe or maybe not, only you can decide that. This article is intended to introduce the idea if you are unaware of it. As with anything shooting related, take some time to research it further, then find someone with one to try out and get out and shoot! At the end of the day, even if you don’t adopt it into your carry rotation, you still got outside and got to shoot!