Red Dot Sights

Red Dot Sights and Holsters

One of the problems some modern handgun owners run into relates to finding carry rigs that accommodate a red dot sight. Red dots, or reflex sights, add bulk to the top of a handgun. If you don’t get a holster that has been specially made for it, you will find the gun will not fit.

Red Dot Sights

So, what is a red dot sight? Put simply, a red dot sight (RDS) is an optic that creates a red aiming point on the target. Unlike a laser that sends a concentrated light beam to the target, a RDS uses two panes of glass or plastic that a red dot “floats in”. That red dot is visible to the shooter, but not to a bad guy who is down range.

Hellcat with red dot sight

Also known as reflex sights, red dots can be bulky and stick out a bit from the top of the slide. Some guns, like the Springfield Hellcat, allow for direct mounting of the optic onto the pistol to reduce the overall size of the package. Other guns require large mounting plates; these are not ideal.

Do They Work?

Do red dot sights really improve your shooting? Yes, but you still need to train. Like any shooting skills, you need to practice with the red dot sights on your pistol. Otherwise, the optics are not of much use.

In the research on red dot optics and the Springfield Hellcat, a man was able to conclusively show that shooting performance was improved by roughly 14% in accuracy and nearly 25% in time to first accurate shot.

I don’t know about you, but I consider those to be very solid improvements. Improvements that I’ve started to pursue by changing how I train and what I carry. While I can’t say I’ve hit those gains yet, I can feel them coming.

What About Holsters?

This is where we come in – concealment holsters. Some of these red dot sights – like the Trijicon RMRcc – really stick off the top of the gun substantially. You need to have a special cut or design of the holster that will fit around the sight.

When you holster the pistol, the sight needs to be relatively protected but not blocked from being drawn. Leather and Kydex rigs can usually be retrofitted or modified to work with a red dot sight.

Red Dots on Pistols

Red dot sights on pistols is not a new thing. Competition shooters have been using them for about 40 years. However, they have not become a staple for defensive handguns until the past decade. It’s only been during this time that the sights have been miniaturized and ruggedized to the point that they can be used.

During the 21st Century, the U.S. military proved that reflex sights and red dot optics were effective in combat. While the military used the sights – most often the Trijicon ACOG – on rifles, citizens in the United States followed the lead of competition shooters and began using them on handguns. The effect is the same: increased accuracy and speed. The end result is bad guys are hit more often and faster than good guys. Also, they reduce the possibility of stray fire hitting an innocent bystander.