Early handgun sights were almost non-existent, mostly amounting to a slight groove in the rear and a small and narrow bump on the barrel. This began to change as target shooting became more prevalent, but only in the last 30 years or so have we seen real advancement in defensive handgun sights.
Now we are experiencing another trend with defensive handguns, and that’s their paring with very small, compact red dot sights. Check out my video above about this, and keep reading this article that continues below.
Red dot sights are nothing new on handguns. They have been used in competition and for hunting for a long time. However, it was not until the compact reflex sight that a red dot on a defensive handgun became practical.
There are, however, some concerns with their practical application. With electronics, there is always the possibility of failure. But using reflex sights that still allow for the use of conventional sights mostly eliminates the first concern. In addition, today’s optics are proving to be remarkably resilient and tough.
When I wrote the book Handgun Training for Personal Protection in 2013, I predicted this transition. Now, seven years later, we may not be to the point of full acceptance of the reflex sight for personal protection, but we are a hell of a lot closer. We are so close in fact that many new defensive handguns come out of the box ready to accept a reflex sight.
Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat OSP is a perfect example of a modern defensive handgun that can be perfectly paired with a reflex sight. This sub-compact 9mm semi-automatic weighs only 18 ounces, and that’s with one of the excellent Shield Sights RMSc mini-reflex sights installed. Pair this handgun with some quality defensive ammunition and a good holster, and you have a concealed carry set up you can trust your life to.
Honing Your Reflexes
The key to effective use of a defensive handgun with a reflex sight is learning how to find that red dot in a hurry. Many shooters struggle for some time trying to become as fast with a reflex sight as with traditional sights. The trick is to stop looking for the dot and practice the right drills.
In the video at top, I break down my “45” drill, which has four parts with five elements within each part. I’ve found that this drill really has helped me hone my skills with the Hellcat with a reflex sight on it. If done with frequency and attention, in no time at all most will find the reflex sight faster than traditional sights.
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