A Hellcat Reflex: The Shield RMSc Red Dot
October 17th, 2019
6 minute read
Not that terribly long ago, “red dot” optics were the things of science fiction. Big, bulky and relatively fragile, they were uncommon and expensive. But, as with all things technological, they became smaller, tougher and cheaper. From the deserts of the Middle East and the War on Terror to competition ranges, electronic sights just kept getting better and better — reliable, affordable and attainable.
However, all these sights had one thing in common — largish size. Designed primarily for use on AR-pattern carbines and the like, the vast majority of electronic sights were only practical for long guns. That is until the past few years, which has seen numerous optic manufacturers develop red dot optics small enough for use on a handgun. But why did it take so long?
An electronic sight for a firearm has to combine precision and toughness; it must project an aiming point that doesn’t deviate or move measurably, and it must do this while dealing with the shocks and impacts that come with a firearm that basically touches off a controlled explosion with every trigger pull.
Now, try that for a handgun. Not only are you dealing with all of the above, but it must be substantially smaller, just as tough, be able to handle the shock of being attached to something that shoots, and also deal with the abuse of being on a slide that slams back and forth in a fraction of a second every time the gun is fired. Oh, and it has to do this over and over while also retaining a consistent point of impact. Simple, right?
As I mentioned above, there are several handgun red dot options on the market now, at varying price points and sizes. Some are big, some are small, some are more affordable, some are quite expensive. But, while there are numerous options for full-size handguns, looking for one small enough for a micro-sized pistol such as the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP narrows the field even more. In fact, Springfield Armory currently recommends two optics for the OSP — the JP Enterprises JPoint and the Shield RMSc. We’re looking at the latter of those here today.
Formed in the early 1980s in Great Britain, Shield Sights has produced offerings over the years ranging from suppressors to rifle stocks to today’s electronic sights. And speaking of today’s sights, the company has carved out a really impressive niche with its compact reflex sights designed for handguns.
The Shield RMS — which stands for “Reflex Mini Sight” — established a reputation for quality and was found on handguns ranging from full-size competition pistols to EDC handguns. Featuring a body made from aluminum, the RMS was developed from the earlier polymer-bodied SMS (Shield Mini Sight).
Recognizing the potential of an RMS-style optic for even smaller pistols, Shield set about developing the RMSc, which as I suspect you can deduce, stands for “Reflex Mini Sight Compact.” It features all the tough design and materials of the RMS, but in a smaller package.
While the dimensions of the RMS and the RMSc are overall relatively similar, the RMSc is slightly narrower at the base for slim EDC pistols and smaller overall. It’s also arguably a bit stronger as it doesn’t have the side-mount battery tray of the RMS, meaning it is solid aluminum on both sides.
The RMSc is offered with either a 4 or 8 MOA red dot, with the smaller 4 MOA dot being better for precise aiming and the 8 MOA better suited for faster dot acquisition. The one I received in for testing was the 4 MOA variant.
As mentioned, the body of the RMSc is aluminum, and the entire unit weighs 16.41 grams, or roughly half of an ounce with the one CR2032 battery installed. Yes, you read that weight right. Its length is 1.57″, width is .91″ and height is just .87″. The red LED is projected from a protected recess at the rear of the sight onto the non-magnified coated polymer lens. It’s worth noting the lens is clear with no reflective filter on it. The red dot automatically adjusts to the surrounding light levels, and Shield says it has an always-on battery life of two to three years on one battery — four years in dark storage.
Installation of the Shield site on the Hellcat OSP is simple. Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that the Hellcat OSP’s slide is cut to accept the Shield (or JP Enterprises JPoint) directly with no adapter plate needed. This allows for an extremely low mount as well as co-witnessing with the pistol’s U-Dot sights (to see our full review of the Hellcat OSP, click here; to see our review of the Hellcat’s U-Dot sights, click here).
To install, remove the Hellcat OSP’s cover plate with a T-10 torx key. Align the RMSc on the OSP’s slide, and affix it using the two M4-0.7 threaded screws. Once you have it mounted, you can sight it in by adjusting your point of aim with the windage and elevation adjustment points located on the top rear and rear right side of the RMSc’s body. Considering the Hellcat OSP has sights that can co-witness with the Shield’s red dot, you will ideally want the dot sitting just above the front sight dot when you have the sights aligned on target.
For those unfamiliar with a reflex sight, the benefit of these parallax-free, non-magnified optics is that you simply put the dot on the target and press the trigger. Unlike iron sights where you must consciously align three points – rear sight, front sight and target — a reflex sight simply requires you to align the dot and the target.
Also, as long as you can see the dot anywhere in the window of the Shield, it’s on target. Try it out for yourself. Pick up an OSP with a Shield RMSc and put the red dot on a fixed point/target. Then, move your head around so the dot moves around the expanse of the Shield’s lens. You’ll notice that while the dot moves around relative to your perspective, it stays on target. Just like magic! So, all you have to do is get your eyes behind the sight, get the dot on the target and press the trigger. Once you get a feel for it, it can be very fast. I’ve also found it can make engaging longer-range targets out to 25 or even 50 yards easier than with iron sights.
I have to admit I really like the Shield RMSc on the Hellcat OSP. The combination of the compact little red dot with the excellent U-Dot iron sights of the Hellcat gives me a great combination of options. I have the red dot right there whenever I need it, and I also have the irons backing it up in case anything happens to the optic.
I personally have had trouble in the past with red dots on handguns with finding the red dot in the sighting pane — basically I would have to search a little bit to spot it. On the Hellcat OSP and the Shield, I use the co-witnessing U-Dot iron sights to get me “in the zone” for the first fraction of a second. By starting to align the iron sights like I would with a normal pistol, I get the gun aligned properly so I can quickly pick up the red dot. The more I do it, I find I’m automatically aligning the pistol on the target to see the red dot without having to even think about the irons. As with everything, practice makes perfect.
So, pick up a Hellcat OSP and try out the Shield RMSc. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.