The Future of Red Dot Sights on Defensive Handguns?

By Richard Mann
Posted in #Skills
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The Future of Red Dot Sights on Defensive Handguns?

August 5th, 2020

5:05 runtime

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.

Pistol with red dot sights
Reflex sights can be faster to use than traditional sights, they allow target focus shooting, and are much easier for aging eyes to see clearly.

Tomorrow, Today?

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.

Shooting a Hellcat OSP with a mounted red dot sight
One key to effectively and swiftly using a reflex sight is drawing to the sights. In other words, present the handgun as normal – looking for the traditional sights as you do.

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.

Ideal Platforms?

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.

Gear for the handgun shooter
Learning to use a reflex sight on a defensive handgun requires the right technique and practice.

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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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Richard Mann

Richard Mann

Richard has hunted from the Montana mountains to the green hills of Africa. He has a military, law enforcement, firearms instructing and competitive shooting background, and is the author of Handgun Training for Personal Protection and The Scout Rifle Study. Richard currently contributes to a variety of gun and hunting magazines. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on his personal shooting range in West Virginia with the most understanding wife in the world, their kids and a very protective Rhodesian Ridgeback.

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