For defensive purposes perhaps Red Dot sights are pointless?

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

  1. Ethan Verity

    Ethan Verity Member

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    I can see why people like them... but I've personally never been a fan. Just too bulky for my taste, and I don't like anything that requires a battery on my guns. My only exception to that is the white light on my home defense gun.

    You can call me old fashioned, and you would be correct... I love good'ol reliable iron sights, and do very well with them! :D
     
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  2. Tcruse

    Tcruse Member

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    Think about the mass killer that was stopped at 43 yards. Would you be able to accomplish that better with an optic sight?
     
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  3. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    BUIS don't require a battery.
     
  4. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    Are you referring to the Texas church incident with the hero Jack Wilson?
    That was between 43-47 feet, not yards. And near as I can tell, no RDS.

    no matter your gear, it pays to be fluent with it.
     
  5. bltmonty

    bltmonty Member

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    I was quite happy to get red dots on a few pistols, and they have really helped me improve my accuracy at long distances. I have practiced the draw and sighting many times to feel proficient. But, recently, when I ran through a few shooting drills using four metal plates spread five feet apart at 7 yards, my times were always faster and more accurate with plain steel sights. I had a better awareness of my surroundings too. Am I doing something wrong? My EDC pistols now have plain sights.
     
  6. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    No, Ironicaintit, he was not referring to the White Settlement Church shooting. He was referring to the Indiana mall shooting in July. Elisjsha Dicken fired 10 shots with 8 hits inside of 15 seconds of the shooter opening fire at 40 or more yards. There is now a drill developed for this shooting situation called the Dicken Drill.

    Would Dicken have done better with a red dot sight? Quite possibly, he might have been much quicker and with better aim if he was proficient with a RDS, but there is no way to know for sure. He might have done better with a less powerful caliber, shooting faster and hitting better. He might have done better with a heavier caliber, dropping the shooter well before firing 10 shots.

    If it took 10 shots to accomplish the goal, then the goal could have been accomplished with any number of shots less than 10 to be considered better.
     
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  7. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I alluded to it in post #7: the Dickens incident is one of the reasons I am finally making the switch from a revolver to a 10mm auto with a dot. While it remains completely true that most instances of defensive gun use involve few shots fired, and at close range, it does appear that lunatics with rifles are a phenomenon that is not going to go away.
     
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  8. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    Thank you, gentlemen, for the clarification.
     
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  9. Ethan Verity

    Ethan Verity Member

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    Backup iron sights? Well, yeah... they are iron sights... that's what I use, just as my primary sighting system because there is no optic on my gun potentially needing backup.
     
  10. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I consider anything that has to be turned on or that has a battery to be a back-up for the main sights, whatever they are.
    Many years ago I was working on a design for built-in red dot sights that folded almost flat on the slide and popped up when the safety was disengaged.
    The iron/night sights could still be used if the red dot failed.
    I still did not like it - K.I.S.S.
     
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  11. WrongHanded
    • Contributing Member

    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    If you can see your iron sights well enough to make good hits at likely defensive distances, I think a RDS is a waste of time, money, and effort. That pistol is to defend your life with so if it works, don't try and fix it.
     
  12. Anchorite

    Anchorite Member

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    This. Couldn’t have said it better. I guess that makes me more old school, I don’t know, but I can’t wrap my head around the idea of the sight for CCW.
     
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  13. film495

    film495 Member

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    I like a red dot, have used one more than a few times. I can see them being a benefit for a longer shot, but most defense is close and personal, and at 15 feet or less I find them to be a distraction.
     
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  14. starling

    starling Member

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    Bought a spare pistol upper and have been trying a little with a loaned red dot from a friend. Im not new shooter by any means. So far I have not been overly impressed. If standing in the same position stationary with very little movement its not too bad. Any variation from that I find them very slow compared to irons. The differene for me seems to be with a rifle you have more stability and a cheek rest. I have shot red dots on pistols a good bit but it was always frame mounted tube dots on pistols built for more bullseye style stationary target use. These newer slide mounted ones seem to required me to stay extremly rigid upper body wise while doing any sort of movement making target acquasition slow and less natural. The opposite of a red dot on a rifle actually. I am not anti tech in terms of pistol shooting but so far its a no go. I find lasers amazingly useful any soort of shooting that requires "sub" optimal stances or positioning as well as low or no light.

    Slide mounted optics have been around for quite a while but they would break pretty frequently. Optima was the first I tried quite a while back. I have no doubt these new ones are much more durable which is good. The tube dots mounted on the frame held up the best for me back then (ultradots etc)and mine still work fine. Still trying this new fad or technique though so I have not given up quite yet but its not looking real great for me so far.

    Be nice if we could get some actual scopes that small for handguns so maybe it will eventually lead to other things. Honestly I am pretty impressed that a few manufacturers have actually been able to make a slide mounted optic durable enough that people are trusting it for carry weapons. That new Aimpoint is impessive durability wise but its kinda BIG for a carry pistol.
     
  15. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    • Red dots allow a target focus instead of a front sight focus. That can be a tremendous advantage in a defensive scenario.
    • Because of the single plane of focus at the target, they work great for people with presbyopia -- which is pretty much every single person over 45. Some people's lenses stay more flexible than others, but this affects everyone to some degree. This absolutely applies to defensive use. The less your eyes can focus on the sights, the less useful they are. Anyone who can focus on the target will find the red dots will also be in focus, though astigmatism may mean the dot is not a dot, but some other shape. It still works.
    • Red dots aren't hindered by the short sight radius on short-barreled guns. Making accurate hits with a short sight radius can be difficult under pressure and the red dot can make this easier, which could be helpful in defensive use.
    • Quality red dots like Trijicon and Aimpoint seem to be about as reliable as fixed sites and the most rugged adjustable sights, both of which also break. Batteries last from 2 to 3 years which is more than enough to allow for something as simple as annual maintenance. There are other failure modes, but none of them are unrecoverable. Front occlusions, rear occlusions, glass breaks, diode obstructions, maladjustments, and other damage and failure are all possible, but guns can still be aimed on other index points or along the edge of the slide. We don't have to fall back on point shooting just because the sights are out. We do have consider failures modes and train for them and that's true for any type of sight. Personally, I wouldn't bother with BUIS, especially if they had to be suppressor-height to co-witness. It's too much clutter. Keep it simple. Count on the dot to work and have an alternate technique rather than additional equipment for the rare circumstance it fails.

    There are trade-offs.
    • Good dots cost as much as many pistols.
    • Dots often require a different holster and add bulk and weight in concealed carry.
    • It can be difficult to find the dot. This is not the dot's fault per-se. It is a function of multiple things like the window size, the handgun's grip angle, and the shooter's grip technique. Some shooters (and this includes experts that teach red-dot classes at famous academies) have had to change pistols to find one that worked better with one dot sight or another and their preferred wrist-angle. You can't just put a dot on a pistol, find yourself wiggling the gun around looking for the dot and then conclude that dots suck. You'll either have to adapt your technique (things like the default amount your wrists break over), change out your grips or gun, or try dots with bigger windows. If you're wiggling the gun to find the dot, something is wrong. Needless to say, competitors who use dots successfully have found solutions and do not put up with occasionally losing the dot. If you fix the cause, you will not have this issue for defensive use either.
     
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  16. JJFitch

    JJFitch Member

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    Great explanation covering all the aspects of the use of sights and real stats. Facts I've observed for many years. (Retired LEO, POST Firearms Instructor and Rangemaster. :)
     
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  17. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    How is this argument different from the argument saying that a .22 derringer is a good carry choice because in most cases defensive display of a firearm was sufficient to ward off an attack and that in a large number of additional cases where a gun was fired defensively caliber was not deterministic of the outcome?
     
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  18. starling

    starling Member

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    I have to agree with you there. Hence the reason I just bought a spare pistol upper for trying out a red dot mounted on the slide. Range fun stuff only. No way I am trusting something like that on a defensive weapon for myself. Just too many variables can come into play in an uncontrolled environment like a defensive situation should it happen. Not trying to piss anyone off but I want things as simple as possible for carrying a pistol. Nerves and shock do crazy things to the body and training in controlled environments only takes you so far. Athletes know this fact very well. You can and should practice as much as possible but there is no substitute for real world experience. Unfortunately with firearms real world means you risk death so thats a no go. I see so much silly stuff in the firearms industry being promoted these days it makes my head spin. Unfortunately its just what happens when something gets popular and people are doing whatever possible to cash in on the craze.
     
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  19. redcon1

    redcon1 Member

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    Well, I think it's a different argument because it's a different argument but that doesn't make either argument invalid. The first rule of being in a gun fight trumps everything else. In a gun fight, the .22LR derringer in your pocket or wherever is a far superior weapon to the full size double stack 10mm sitting in your gun safe. That being said, I would never consider a .22LR derringer as a primary carry weapon. I wouldn't even consider it as a back up gun. I might consider it as a back up gun to the back up gun and, honestly, I would be entirely comfortable considering it as a second back up gun to the back up gun's back up gun. :)
     
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  20. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    This is one I wondered about, until I started getting higher round counts on my 365X.

    The presentation for the Romeo Zero (on mine at least) is exactly the same as for irons. So, once the firearm comes to presentation, the POA is already right there. The RZ is shake awake, so, there's no thinking about it, it comes out of the holster and up to the eye and is there.

    And, there's no delay in finding front and rear sights--to me, at least--as the dot Is Right There.

    If I take the time to look at the sight alignment, the irons are right there, and everything checks out.

    Now, that's my experience with the Romeo Zero; other will differ.

    And, I will concur with many above about the "tube" RDS that are high above bore axis. And, anything that wants switching on. I'm not that sold on pressure switches for things, either, as it's one more thing that wants volition and deliberate action, which are durst hard to come by in a high pressure situation.

    Now, this is my subjective reality (which makes it objective from my point of view). It very well may not be the solution for others, and I demur to suggest that it is. I only offer my observations for the consideration by others, not as prescription.
     
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  21. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    Jerry knows a little ;) about shooting he states his preference for the dot about 35 seconds in:


    Another pro & con:
     
  22. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    For whatever reason, dots dominate on the competition circuit. I don't think there is any question that they are faster, and probably more accurate - at least once you've got the details sorted out.

    Are they too bulky for concealed carry? Everyone has to sort that out for themselves. It's too subjective for there to be a "right" answer.

    Are they reliable enough? Jury is still out, as far as I can tell. It seems to me that the evidence is leaning toward "yes", but I honestly doubt that any battery-powered, electronic-and-glass contraption is ever going to be as reliable as a couple of hunks of steel.

    I'm giving it a go with a Trijicon RMR on a Glock 29. It's still a work in progress. Both the gun and the sight are so different from what I'm used to that I'm not yet competent with them. I certainly am better with the "dotted" Glock than with the "ironed" Glock, but I'm still faster and more accurate with my .357 revolver. It's obviously going to take a lot of work - but we've all had to put in that work, if we're any good with whatever we are carrying.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2022
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  23. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    My big thing is that now that we have a lot of backup iron sight options that work well with a lot of available optical sights, the tradeoff isn't as severe anymore. Before getting a rear sight with an optic on a pistol was basically nonexistent, so you were betting on the clearly less reliable optic vs. the fact that when it's working it's a faster and more accurate system. But now we have common sights and optic cuts that are all compatible with suppressor-height sights and even in some cases with standard-height sights, so you can eat your cake and have it, too.
     
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  24. redcon1

    redcon1 Member

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    At the pistol range, I can rapidly make multiple head shots at distances that are far beyond typical concealed carry self defense distances using a crimson trace green laser on my Glock 19x. It's impressive. But I used to have to leave that gun in my car while at work and I left it in my car in the dead of winter and the northern Ohio cold straight up killed that laser. But I didn't initially realize that it was the cold that killed it. I sent it back to crimson trace and they replaced it and I put the new one back on and did the same thing with it again-I left it in my car in the dead of winter and, once again the prolonged exposure to the cold weather killed it. This time I managed to put 2+2 together and I figured out that green lasers die when exposed to the very cold winter temperatures for 12 hours. I have been hesitant to put electronicals on my weapons ever since then. For a range gun? Absolutely. For a self defense weapon that may be subjected to extreme weather conditions for prolonged periods of time? Like I said, I'm hesitant. I would like it to be subjected to a military torture test first and then I would be more comfortable with such things. I also had a scope bubble level freeze and burst in winter and I had a hammer on an AR10 snap in two during another winter. Cold weather can really show you where your equipment's weaknesses are.
     
  25. starling

    starling Member

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    Good to know. I have never heard anything about cold temps effecting lasers (which I use a bit on pistols for night time carry). Thank you
     
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