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For defensive purposes perhaps Red Dot sights are pointless?

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

  1. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    If a new shooter is starting today, with a quality RDS, and that is what they know/train with then it may be a good option.

    For me, it is not as I have decades of iron sights behind me and I struggle with an RDS. Surely, not something I want to add to a defensive situation. If I hit the lottery and have a LOT of free time and $$ maybe I could spend enough time with one to change my mind; maybe.
     
  2. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    One of the myths is you need to shoot thousands of rounds to get good with a red dot sight. Not really true.

    You can do a LOT of draw and dry fire and learn to get a consistent sight picture in your living room with no ammo around.

    Guys who have seasoned eyes can definitely benefit the most, as the dot may be a starburst, but it’s easy to see. And you keep both eyes open with a red dot.

     
  3. JJFitch

    JJFitch Member

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    Full disclosure: Retired LEO, Retired action and precision pistol competitor with both iron and RDS's!

    In a defensive shooting the sights may or may not become a factor depending on the situation. A gun mag writer once stated that most defensive shooting takes place in less than 3 seconds and at 3 yards or less. If the defender requires sight acquisition to hit center mass at 3 yards he shouldn't be carrying! (Use of deadly force means you are responsible for every round that leaves your firearm)

    Shooting beyond 7 yards, a RD will benefit the average shooter in order to make a precise shot but not necessary until 25 yards!

    In military and LE making precision shots beyond 25 yards will benefit in using RD's!

    Practice, practice and practice some more!

    Just my $.02's! :)
     
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  4. Matthew Temkin

    Matthew Temkin Member

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    Evan Marshal recently posted that before we train for that 40 yard shot we should be well versed in preparing for bad breath distance situations.
     
  5. Matthew Temkin

    Matthew Temkin Member

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    And lasers sure have faded from common usage.
     
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  6. Atavar

    Atavar Member

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    My personal opinion is that I don’t want anything that relies on a battery for defense purposes. Murphy is very plain on what will happen to batteries when you need them.
    I do have laser grips on my defense handguns but I don’t rely on them. If they don’t work I can still aim and fire, if they do work it is a great confidence bonus.
     
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  7. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I won't try to change your mind - and have zero problem with guys who prefer irons - but most of the dots available today are automatic (you don't need to turn them off or on) and have a battery life measured in years.
     
  8. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Same concept, newer technology.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
  9. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Iron sights on a red dot equipped pistol is common practice.
     
  10. JDeere

    JDeere Member

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    To each his own and they have there place for certain uses. The tacticool crowd has bought into them full speed as they have been marketed well. Personally I don't need anything extra on my SD pistol that can go wrong at the wrong time. They are nice for target shooting...ymmv
     
  11. Choctaw

    Choctaw Member

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    Exactly. All of my red dots, on both pistols and rifles, have shake awake technology and a battery life of at least 50,000 hours. I change all the batteries once a year. Takes about five minutes. I'm not "tacticool" but I do have 35 years of experience carrying a guns for a living and serving felony warrants on the most heinous criminals Texas has to offer. And for those of you who think you won't use sights in a gunfight, good luck winning. Sounds like you need substantially more training.
     
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  12. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

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    I have dots on an N frame S&W and a Ruger MKII. I love to shoot both of those at the range. I do not, however, want a dot on a carry pistol. I know dots are trendy but so were lasers a few years ago. I also put a dot on a SD carbine and didn't care for it. Took it off and put the 4x scope back on. The dot was a huge disadvantage at 200 yds.

    Dots will help a new shooter with trigger control and has actually helped me correct a few off my faults. Other than that I don't think they're needed on a carry pistol. I shoot just fine at 15 yds without one. YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
  13. shafter

    shafter Member

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    Pistol doctrine states that accurate fire depends on sharp, front sight focus. This is problematic in high stress defensive situations because our eyes naturally want to focus on what is threatening us. With a red dot sight there is no front sight focus. The dot is placed on the target and the focal plane is the same. There is a learning curve but I believe that red dots provide a tremendous advantage.

    Point shooting can work pretty well at close range but it takes a lot of training with that particular pistol and most will never shoot enough with their carry piece. It's important to remember that just because the confrontation is at close range it doesn't mean that precise shot placement won't be needed. A red dot gives you all of that.

    From what I've seen in numerous LE/Military, and civilian courses, if there are two shooters of otherwise equal skill, the one with the red dot will shoot the pants off the one with irons. It usually isn't even close. The only reason I haven't made the switch yet is that I want to keep my on duty and off duty systems as similar as possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
  14. redcon1

    redcon1 Member

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    In a moment of weakness, I recently purchased a Seecamp 380 to evaluate as a deep concealment/pocket gun/BUG. The Seecamp has no sights on it. I'll copy and post what Seecamp has to say about this feature as it's interesting and provides some actual numbers that go along with what has already been mentioned.

    Q: Why aren't there sights on Seecamp pistols?

    If shot placement is so important, why no sights?


    An exhaustive NYPD report (NYPD SOP 9) revealed that in 70% of recorded police shootings (the majority under poor lighting conditions) officers did not use sights while 10% of the time officers didn’t remember whether sights were used. In the remaining 20% of the cases, officers recollected using some form of visual aid to line up the target ~ which could be the sights themselves or just the barrel.

    The NYPD statistics showed no correlation between an officer’s range scores and his ability to hit a suspect at close range. The mean score for NYPD police officers (1990-2000) for all shootings is fifteen hits per 100 shots fired, which is almost the identical hit ratio seen among Miami officers ~ who in the years 1990-2001 fired some 1300 rounds at suspects while recording fewer than 200 hits. Almost unbelievably, some NYPD figures show 62% of shots fired at a distance of less than six feet were complete misses.

    The 1988 US Army training manual for pistols and revolvers [FM 23-35], in apparent recognition of the disconnect between sighted shooting at the range and the ability to score hits in short distance combat, wisely calls for point shoot training at distances of less than fifteen feet. The ability to shoot targets at 25 yards using sights sadly seems to provide little or no advantage in close combat. Nor are there recorded instances where an officer required a reload in close combat. When reloads do occur, there is no immediate threat to the officer’s safety and the perpetrator has usually barricaded himself in a defensive posture. A study by Etten and Petee (l995) showed that neither large capacity magazines nor the ability to reload quickly was a factor in shootings.

    Speed reloads at short ranges just don’t happen, and practicing paper punching at long ranges using sights appears to prepare one for short range conflict to the same degree it prepares one for using flying insect spray. (Hitting an annoying yellow jacket buzzing a picnic table without spraying the guests or the food might be better practice for combat than long range paper punching. So might a plain old-fashioned water pistol fight.)

    In the FWIW department, of 250 NYPD police officers killed in the line of duty in the years 1854-1979 there was only one instance where it could be determined an officer was slain at a distance of over 25 feet ~ by a sniper 125 feet away. Of the 250 fatal encounters, 92% took place under fifteen feet and 96.4% under 25 feet. In the remaining eight instances the distance was unknown.

    But how do I qualify at 75 feet without sights?


    If you hold the LWS pistol at a 45-degree angle semi-gangsta style there is a groove formed that can be used as a sighting tool. The 25 yard shooting proficiency test for carry qualification required by many issuing authorities is absurd. It's a request to perform a feat that would land you in jail if you ever tried to perform it "in self-defense. "It's like passing a driver's test that requires you to slalom between traffic cones at 120 miles an hour. Seventy-five feet shooting proficiency is not too much to ask from a police officer who may be firing at a barricaded target, as the ability to drive at high speeds is not too much to ask from a Trooper pursuing a fleeing vehicle, but it’s ridiculous to ask it of civilians. Shoot an "assailant" at 75 feet. Then try to find a lawyer good enough to keep you out of prison. On the one hand the law demands that you use deadly force only when you are in danger of serious bodily injury or your life is threatened. On the other hand they demand that you have the ability to commit a long-range homicide with a firearm before they give you that right.

    Using sights at shorter ranges invites problems


    In order to use sights a shooter has to put at least one hand in front of their face. This obstructs the view behind the hand they have placed there. When the focus is on the upper torso of the threatening individual, the lower portion of that person is partially or completely hidden from view by this deliberately chosen visual obstruction. The closer the target, the greater is the degree of visual impairment that may cause the shooter to fail to recognize potentially important information below the sight picture.

    Statistics show pistol sights generally go out the window once shooting starts; however, this does not mean sights are not used prior to the commencement of hostilities. We can see on reality TV police programs numerous instances where officers in a Weaver stance point guns at suspects who are in absurdly close proximity to them.

    With both hands in front of one’s face, one is less able to recognize whether a possible threat is reaching for a gun or a wallet when the landscape below the target area is blocked from view. One might perceive movement but one cannot see what is being moved. There is no doubt in my mind accidental shootings of unarmed individuals have in many instances been caused by sight shoot training, in which a trained focus on a clear sight picture leaves one necessarily with an incomplete view of the important overall scenario.

    The potential hazard of losing perspective of the complete picture of the environment is well illustrated by American Matthew Emmons. He lost what appeared to be a safe Gold medal in the 2004 Olympics by shooting, with great accuracy, holes in his neighbor’s target. Overmuch concentration on the bull’s eye, which can be achieved with sights that exclude distracting but possibly important stimuli, may assist in hitting what one is aiming to hit but it can do so at the great cost of making an improper choice of target.
     
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  15. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Necessary? For what you describe, I am not sure that sights are even necessary all the time. Are they appropriate for a concealed carry handgun? Sure, if it works for you. I don't happen to like red dot sights on handguns because they actually slow me down. They actually lower your ability to sight in low light situations because of the reflective coating that only blocks a small amount of light, but in low light, a small amount may be a significant percentage of available light. I am not a fan of lasers for SD shooting either because ran drills with and without and they slow me down (I tend to chase the target with the dot). Either, with proper instruction and practice, could be exceptionally effective. In fact, I am all for anything that helps people shoot more effectively.

    Oh, and gutter sights. Cool looking, works great with melted slides and frames and reduces sight snag potential to near zero (if not zero), but they don't work for me. Some people love them.


    There are a variety of other more normal sights with combat pyramids, bar alignments, U's, etc. that I don't like either. Three dots or no sights works well for me.

    If you don't think they will work for you and you haven't tried them, then you don't know.

    With that said, I am not convinced that if I am going to be in a gun fight that it will be at less than 30 feet. Statistically, it will be, but statistically I won't be in a gun fight, either. Statistically, I won't need more than 3 rounds in the gun fight at less than 30 feet, but I am not only going to carry 3 rounds.
     
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  16. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

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    I’m not sure I follow. That white paper is basically set up in a format like:

    There is a problem
    Here is proof the problem exists
    Here’s a solution to the problem
    Here’s proof the solution actually works​

    It sounds like you got to the <here is proof the problem exists> section, said “there’s no way this problem could ever be fixed” and stopped reading. The section you pointed out relates only to iron sights - you should look at the scenario based comparison if you’re trying to determine if using a red dot on a pistol is actually helpful in a defensive scenario.

    If you look at pages 49-50 (student questionnaire based on the force on force comparison of irons vs dot) you can see that when the student was using a red dot equipped pistol, they reported using the sights 90% of the time. Even at 15 foot and closer distances.

    If you look at page 53 (same force on force questionnaire, but iron sight data) you can see that 69% initially did not use their iron sights. Some of them were able to eventually gain a sight picture, so overall only 31% of the students did not use their iron sights at all during the scenarios.

    So we see that the irons performance is slightly better when compared to the earlier study, and we also see that with a red dot not only did students actually use the sights but they were able to get significantly better hits and fewer misses as well.

    And just for the record - the scenarios for the comparison test are in the write up. These are not law enforcement specific scenarios - no traffic stops or SWAT type events. Scenario 3 was actually a low light mugging. That’s a pretty reasonable non-LEO defensive scenario.



    If you just like irons and want to justify not buying a red dot, cool. I also expect you’d feel similarly about night sights because if you’re never going to use them, why bother.

    Next time you’re at the range, get a gun with a red dot and one with irons (could be a pistol or rifle) and do a box drill. Walk forward, 90 degrees right, backwards, then 90 degrees left (coming back to where you started) engaging the target while moving in each direction. I guarantee that you’ll see a big improvement in your ability to accurately hit the target when using the red dot.
     
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  17. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    I had not tried a red dot until this year; I've been shooting since the 1980's.
    I'm a bit nearsighted, if I'm wearing glasses they fuzz the front sight; but, they make a red dot clear.
    It took about 600-700 rounds (different practice sessions) for my red dot speed to be on par with fixed sights at 7-10 yards.
    I had red dot on Glock MOS and after my last shooting session couple days ago I'm sending a Glock slide to get milled. More dot.
    As distance increases past 10 yards so does the advantage of the dot.
    With fixed sights I have to focus on the front sight (and end up closing one eye); with the dot I can keep both eyes open and be more target focused.
    Dot cleaned up (tweaked) my draw, if I draw consistently and don't duck my head down to the gun (like I was doing) the dot is where it needs to be.

    I was hesitant about the dot, but this guy said he was seeing the dot and that was the push I needed.
     
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  18. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I would even go so far as to claim that it isn't necessary to dryfire. As you no doubt already know, one of the most critical skills when adapting to a dot is the presentation. If you do it badly with irons, you can easily see the misalignment and correct it. With the dot, you see...nothing. (A good sign that the dot user is new is that he is waving the gun (or his head!) all over, trying to find the dot.)

    So part of my daily practice regimen is simply bringing the gun out of the holster and pointing it at my target, just continually "grooving in" that muscle memory. I don't even press the trigger; just bringing the pistol out, expecting to see the dot immediately, then re-holstering and doing it again and again.
     
  19. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    We are doing the same thing, but I’m pulling the trigger.

    one thing to consider, dry fire practice with a red dot can be telling, as you will better see the dot move when you press the trigger.
     
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  20. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I am training at home with a laser system, so after I have "warmed up" with the presentation drill, I am "dry firing" at reactive targets. So I certainly don't mean to imply that dry firing is not an important component of practice, but rather that for the critical skill of acquiring the dot during the presentation, something as simple as just drawing the gun is all it takes.
     
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  21. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    At close range, whoever shoots first usually wins.
    At close range, whoever is still forming a "sight picture" when the other guy shoots usually gets shot first.
    At farther distances, whoever can hit a small moving target with a pistol has a decided advantage.

    Most people can't hit small moving targets with a rifle. Let alone a pistol.

    But if you think you might have to take that "technical shot" with your pistol, the chances of making the shot really improve with a dot-sight.

    And its a proven fact in the competition games, the guys with the dot sights can hit multiple targets, at distances farther than "just point," much faster than almost all iron-sight shooters. Interesting how the competition games like to set up targets at sufficient distance that you MUST use the sights, or your score will be terrible.

    Dot sights are ordinary and affordable now.
    I'm still not putting a dot on my Bodyguard 380.
    I have one on my G17. Its amazing. I used to miss the 15-yard plates a lot at the range. I hardly ever miss now. And I'm a LOT faster running the whole bank. Which makes me proud at the range.
    Bang-Ping...Bang-Ping...Bang-Ping...Bang-Ping...Bang-Ping...Bang-Ping!!!

    Whenever I'm having trouble finding the dot, I can find it every time if I line up the irons on the target. So I usually just look for the front sight when I'm presenting the G17. The dot just magically appears as soon as I see the front sight. Some tactical guy scolded me for even saying that - the remark about "look for the front sight" really upset him. I'll never be tactical enough for some people.

    I still haven't put a FLASHLIGHT on the G17.
    I probably should. But then I'd have to buy a bunch of new holsters.

    I'm not sure how much the dot or the flashlight help at "just point" distance.
    Probably not at all.
    Because whoever shoots first at that distance usually wins.
    If you expect all your self-defense shoots to occur at just point-distance, get a gun you can draw-and-shoot really fast.

    The 380 conceals completely in the watch pocket of my jeans "All American Carpenters Jeans."
    And I can draw it really fast.
    SW bodyguard 380.jpg


    I haven't had the dot-sight slide on the Glock very long.
    Its kind of bulky.
    But I bet I can hit a STATIONARY beer can at 20 yards on the first shot.
    Probably will miss if the can is in motion.
    That's a SWAMPFOX slide and dot-sight. Good kit.

    Glock 17 liberty swampfox wolverine.jpg

    I sometimes slip-up and carry my 32-20.
    Which is not tactical, and is pretty bulky, and probably not very effective against an attacker.
    I usually carry it when I'm attacking a chocolate sundae at the ice cream store.
    I like living on the edge.

    loaded with ammo pouch 2.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
  22. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    My problem is that I pocket carry.
    Red dots don't fit in pockets, especially in clothing that you would wear in deep south Texas.
     
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  23. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Back to the for each to their own.
    I have enough to carry in pocket as is, so my answer (which I can only assert works for me) s a supertuck IWB. Which winds up being no bulkier than toting a Galaxy S21.
    But, everyone is different, and that's all the better for us all--or, as our French friend say, "Vive le differnce."
    20220621_201836.png
     
  24. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Nice! You are doing it right. I want one of those. What system do you have and how do you like it!
     
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  25. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Funnily enough, I think I was able to get just about everything from Amazon.

    I am using this Glock 17. The gun is an Umarex airsoft gun converted to laser by "Laser Ammo". The action is cycled by "green gas" which is stored in the magazine. Each fill is good for around fifty shots. It is reasonable quality and so far has been reliable, though it is fairly new to me. The only trouble has been finding spare magazines. I so far have had several that don't quite fit.

    For targets I am using the Laser Ammo brand "Multi Target Training System". It probably is too expensive for what it is - this is not especially high-tech stuff - but it works. You can apparently go down quite a rabbit hole with accessories and controllers, but so far I have kept it relatively simple and have been satisfied with it. It is a very good supplement to live fire - especially for folks who might be limited to "square ranges" - and I would do it pretty much the same way if I had it to do over.
     
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