For defensive purposes perhaps Red Dot sights are pointless?

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by upptick, Sep 15, 2022.

  1. upptick

    upptick Member

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    I've been debating whether I should convert / get my slides milled in order to mount Red Dots on a couple of my handguns. I initially thought it was a great idea. As I've been peeling the onion some, however, it's not so straight forward. For example, I think for range / competition use, Red Dots make perfect sense. For "offensive" use such as law enforcement and military use, they make sense. For longer range pistol use such as in hunting, they make sense. But for pure defensive use where the distances involved seem to be under 30 feet and most cases substantially less than that, and which also involves high-stress / quick decision making, it would seem that the firearm is mostly just "pointed" and not even really "aimed," which would mean a Red Dot would be rather pointless and might actually be a detriment because it also presents a snag hazard when trying to employ the firearm from concealment. I could post some of the data I've come across about how pure defensive uses of handguns don't involve proper aiming, but I don't really think it's very scientific for various reasons. What do you think? Are Red Dot Sights really necessary or even appropriate for a concealed carry handgun?
     
  2. Blue Jays

    Blue Jays Member

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    My thoughts concur with what you posted. I don't have them on handguns.
    RDS seems "a bit too much" for practically halitosis-range defensive shooting.
     
  3. GEM

    GEM Moderator Emeritus

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    This depends. It speaks to the classic debate of that most DGUs are close up. This leads folks to ignore the chance of a longer range, more intense than one mugger gun fight. If you think you might be in a longer range fight (say Indianapolis Mall) or some work environments, it may not be the one economically motivated mugger. In the case, have a better sighting system - if you come up to speed on it may be useful. If you just put on a RDS and don't practice the draw and usage, well - that's not optimal.

    The one mugger close in vs. the more intensive in terms of number and distance incident (of lower probability) is an old debate that breaks out all the time. It is the user's choice of what to prepare for. I say - both. However, the classic is to assume the most likely ALWAYS happens and mock those who contemplate the more extreme scenario.

    But you have to train up on the RDS. Like with anything.
     
  4. beeenbag

    beeenbag Member

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    I have red dots on two defensive pistols, I have trained with them and tried to get used to finding the dot, which I can do when I am presenting from a perfect shooting stance, but throw in any variation and its like I never practiced with it at all. For example, I can quickly get on target and hit a 6" plate at 12 yards while standing facing the target, however seated at an angle to the targets... not so much. For me, I will stick with iron sights on my handguns as it seems to be more instinctive for me to find the front sight in a hurry, as opposed to a dot in a lens. Just my experience
     
  5. SimonRL

    SimonRL Member

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    In a a tight defensive situation most people will point shoot they are probably going to completely ignore their sights. For those who say they are trained well enough to find their sights they’re going to have to find front and rear sights and have them lined up. With a red dot, all you need is the dot on target - it doesn’t even have to be centered in the window - and you are going to hit your target. The real issue with red dots in a defensive situation is that you have to train, train, train. You can’t just pop one on, go to the range, shoot some targets and be good to go. You have to train in a real world environment.
     
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  6. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I had the opportunity to mess with RDS equipped handguns years ago before the "discovery" of the great new thing. Not my cup of tea.
     
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  7. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    This almost makes a case for not having sights at all!

    I personally switched to a red dot largely because of the increasing number of mass shootings in public, which seem to significantly increase the possibility of taking a shot at longer than "normal" defensive distances. I am significantly faster on the "Dicken drill" - named after Eli Dicken of the 40 yard Greenwood Mall shooting - with a dot, and so far have not noticed the gun hanging up more during the draw.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
  8. DesertFox

    DesertFox Member

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    Have 4 setup; G43x MOS, G26 MOS, G34 MOS and G48 MOS. As stated, using RDS requires practice and adjustment. If the shoe fits - wear it. Otherwise stick to irons.
     
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  9. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I tried a red dot on a concealable semi-auto in typical low-light conditions and found that I wasn't much better off than with regular night sights.
    I dropped that idea and went with night sights backed by an internal recoil-rod laser.
     
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  10. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    I think it's preferable to choose a sidearm that you can point shoot hastily with some degree of accuracy, than what sights are on it.

    I figure, if things have gone so poorly that my only option is to draw and fire, Murphy has already had his filthy way and I won't have time to aim anyway, and I'd probably snag the sight on something.

    sure, if you do have time to actually acquire your sights... a red dot is easier.
     
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  11. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    A whole lot of supposition here and not much evidence....
     
  12. CoalCrackerAl

    CoalCrackerAl Member

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    I don't like the red dot sights. My brother is starting to feel the same way i do. I gave him a Bushnell scope to put on his AR. He's a happy camper now.
     
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  13. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    I think the consensus is that they take some getting used to, and that once you do, you are about even with iron sights at close range but ahead at distance, which makes a lot of sense. Aside from carryability in terms of comfort and concealment, I don't see a lot of reason to not use a decent pistol optic.

    Especially bad is the idea that you don't need it because you'll just point-shoot anyway. If that was the case, why have sights at all? Sights give you options for more precise shooting at more ranges than no sights, and a pistol optic does the same. This is the same argument about J-frame revolvers because "defensive shootings are over in three shots or less from three feet away or less in three seconds or less anyway." Maybe that's the average. Maybe it's not, since there's no reliable source of statistically significant data about the technical aspects of defensive shootings. So it could just be urban legend among concealed carriers. But if you find yourself in a defensive shooting situation, by definition you'll be outside the 'average' situation, so I would want to rely as little as possible on 'averages' at that point.
     
  14. Gunfu_Blaster.45

    Gunfu_Blaster.45 Member

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    I dont think a RDS is completely unnecessary, but like you, i think for a defensive purpose even the sights are useless. I do however think whatever sight system works for you should be on you carry piece for "just in case"
    I you are good with an optic, have it, but for a purely SD purpose, point shooting should be practiced also.
    FWIW, some ammo might not function as you think with one handed shooting.
     
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  15. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    In 10 years, and assuming we can still own and carry firearms, red dots or some form of optic will be the rule, not the exception.


    I’ve embraced them because they make me a much more accurate shooter. With proper training, my speed with and without a red dot is about the same, but my hits are much better.

    Folks can certainly have a different opinion, but I saw my 78 year old shooting mate’s love for handguns reignited when I put red dot sights on his pistols and he started shooting bullseyes again.
     
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  16. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Using that argument, why make handguns with sights at all?

    Here is what I recommend. Get yourself a cheap red dot capable gun and try it out. To make it as scientific as possible, get something the same or similar to what you already carry. Example, if you carry a Glock get a Glock MOS or M&P get a CORE model. And give it an honest try. Allow yourself to get used to a red dot because you do have to change your point of presentation compared to iron sights. Then run some accuracy and speed drills. Vast majority of people I run through this course, even novice shooters, shoot faster with a red dot than without.
     
  17. TarDevil

    TarDevil Member

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    I shoot fine with 3 dot sights.
     
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  18. GEM

    GEM Moderator Emeritus

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    Taking some modern training classes and engaging in competitions might be a useful test for an individual. Otherwise, some Internet chatter that sights are not useful is bad advice to follow as is assuming every incident is at arm's length.

    The vast majority of trainers advocate using sights with the caveat of retention position usage for close up and entangled.

    I shoot well with three dots but working on an RDS now as my old eyes are, well, old eyes. NO sights - nope - stupid.
     
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  19. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

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    Red dots make it easier to shoot a pistol accurately, particularly if you are transitioning between targets and moving. While gun games like USPSA and IDPA aren’t perfect corollaries to an actual defensive shooting, the pure gun handling mechanics of moving while shooting accurately AND quickly under (at least some) pressure do hold. Those competitors by and large have found that using red dots improves shooting performance.

    From a defensive perspective, yes there is index/retention shooting (entangled gunfighting) and gross sight picture based on distance to the target. I know at 3-5 yards if the back of my slide is on target, I will have an acceptable hit. At a bit over 5 yards I know that I can look at just the front sight and not worry about lining up the rear sight perfectly and still get an acceptable hit (same thing for a red dot, just using the frame of the window). But if your plan is to just not look at the sights because “that’s what happens in a defensive shooting anyway”, I think that’s more of a training problem.

    And you do have to practice with a red dot. ESPECIALLY if you have many years and thousands of rounds of practice with irons and you intuitively focus on the front sight when you draw. It is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to focusing on the target and bringing the red dot up into your view, you’ll see your groups shrink and your speed increase.



    Outside of my anecdotal evidence, you should review the Sage Dynamics white paper on red dots for duty handgun use.

    https://www.sagedynamics.org/_files/ugd/7dc128_65844d9baead41afab8bfabb23e912fa.pdf

    Pay attention to the force on force section (starting on page 44) where they compare irons vs red dots. Or if you don’t feel like reading, just look at the hit map comparison showing where the rounds landed on the body. Iron sight results are page 55, red dot results are page 56.

    In short, under realistic force on force scenarios, shooters using red dots made more hits, but also significantly better hits. This is particularly evident when looking at a target presenting their side rather than their chest. You have much better groupings (across multiple shooters) in the heart and head with the red dot while it appears that most shots to the side with irons ended up in the abdomen.
     
  20. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Really this all gets back to "There's no one perfect solution for everybody" aspect of carrying.

    A person has to find what worst best for them, and do that. Their identical twin might be better suited with something completely different.

    Different is not "wrong," it's just different.

    Some people will ankle carry a 44 snubbie; that's different from toting an LCP; which is not the same as a 1911 in any of its sizes.

    Goldilocks could be a redhead after all.
     
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  21. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Red dots are like a laser sight but without the laser.
     
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  22. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    Yes, they're absolutely necessary. For the people that use them, train with them and are infinitely familiar and comfortable using them on defensive pistols. That's what theyre accustomed to so that's what they need.

    For those that aren't so well versed, no....they're not necessary and could well be every detriment you outlined.
     
  23. upptick

    upptick Member

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    Actually, it was the section in the Sage Dynamics white paper that got me thinking about whether Red Dots were appropriate for purely defensive handguns in particular. On pages 28-29, there are survey results from cops who were asked to recall whether they stopped to get a proper sight picture on targets within 15 feet and most said they either had not or couldn't remember. That seems to either indicate the cops were automatically and robotically able to get a sight picture, or they just didn't bother with it which is what I suspect is the case but I frankly have no way of knowing one way or the other.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
  24. old lady new shooter

    old lady new shooter Member

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    I always practice shooting one-handed, with either hand.
     
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  25. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    I don't need any evidence to know what works for me. If you use a red dot on your edc, good for you. If you get the jump on your attackers, then I'm sure it might help your aim. That's a big if.
    I don't even really want a safety on my edc and I sure don't want a red dot.
    Then again, maybe the bad guys will wait for me to turn it on and get a sight picture before they attack, or if I've left it on, maybe the battery hasn't died while it was in the holster..:confused:
     
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