How To Shoot With A Red Dot Sight [Pistol Tips]

In this guide we are going to share some tips on how to shoot with a red dot sight on a pistol. More importantly, it's about how to acquire the dot faster and more consistently.

It's all about the angles!

Let's check it out other tips.

Pistol Red Dot Acquisition

fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

The greatest thing about using a red dot on a pistol is to be target focused. The shooter can have both eyes open to maximize situational awareness.

With this aiming method, pistol iron sight co-witness isn't as important as long as the shooter can focus on the target, and the dot is superimposed on it.

The most difficult part of shooing a pistol with red dot sight is sight picture acquisition where people struggle finding the dot. 

So here are couple things to consider:

Grip Angle Matters

Trijicon sro on fn 509 ls edge

Did you know ? - Simply changing the grip angle just 1 - 2 degrees can help you align the optic window to the eye, and find the dot faster.

Most shooters struggle finding the dot is due to inconsistent angles. Bigger window optic like the Trijicon SRO can help, but it's not going to work if the angle is too far off.

For High Tang Grip - Added back strap panel would help you offset that space around your thenar eminence hand muscle group, to angle the muzzle down a bit for better sight alignment.

Try Different Back Strap Panels

This is a trick that most people don't talk about enough, but it works very well!

Once you've found your sweet spot for gripping for a particular gun, you will notice a significant differences when acquiring the sight.

The grip panel slightly change the grip angle to fit your natural point of aim. 

Guns like Springfield XDM, Springfield Hellcat, FNX 45 Tactical, FN 509, 1911, Shadow System MR920L, Canik TP9sfx and many more all features adjustable backstraps for better grip to help you aim better with an optic.

Enlarged Window Optic Helps A Lot!

An enlarged window optic helps you can find the dot better, faster and never get lost in the window.

trijicon sro fn 509 center axis relock pov

Try the center axis relock technique to bring the optic close to the eye while keeping 4 - 7" distance to prevent the slide from smacking into the shooter's face.

Shooters who have difficulties finding the dot within window are because:

  • Poor sight picture alignment angle
  • Dot easily get lost near the edge of the lens frame
  • Dot lost during muzzle flip
  • Poor grip angle
  • Dim dot brightness
  • Dot is too small

Does An Bigger Window Optic Really Work? An enlarged window optic gives the shooter just a bit WIDER view to find the reticle that tend to disappears "just a hair" near the edge of the lens frame.

With a proper grip and follow up discipline, the shooter can acquire the dot fairly fast and consistent without getting lost.

Our favorite two options are Trijicon SRO and DeltaPoint Pro.

Control Your Draw Speed

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Control your pistol draw speed appropriately will significantly avoid overshooting the optic sight picture.

Here is a tip - Slow down the draw as you extend the arms out, and don't snap lock your elbow joint

Pretend like there is a rubber band tension between your wrist and waist. As your arms extend the tension increases, thus slowing down the draw.

The slowing down the draw will give you that nice smooth sight picture acquisition.

Try Holosun 507C ACSS Vulcan Reticle

holosun 507c acss reticle

The ACSS Vulcan reticle helps guide the shooter's eye to find the reticle. The 250 MOA ring acts like an arrow indicator to help the shooter recenter the dot.

Pistol Red Dot Co-Witness

Is pistol red dot co-witness important?

Experienced shooters who use both eyes open to aim anyway don't need co-witness. However, pistol co-witness still serve it's function during the zeroing process or in low light situations.

We have a whole article about this topic on our site, and you can read it here.

Shooter Practice & Tweaks

deltapoint pro on fn 509 ls edge top view

Practice with the gun you have and get good at it! Eventually you will get used to the grip and find the dot faster.

Once you get enough shooting practice, you can quickly notice good grip feature on a gun that people don't practice may not notice.

Shooting On The Move

This one takes tons of practice - It's easy to shoot on a flat range while standing still, but when dynamic movement is introduced, all bets are off.

This requires a bit of foot work and breathing technique to keep the sight picture steady. You can practice this at home dry firing.

A cost effective way is to use an airsoft pistol with a red dot at home as many times as you like.

Cross Eye Dominance

It's not a problem if you're cross eye dominant when shooting a red dot equipped pistol. In fact, shooting with a red dot sight allows you to focus on the target plane with both eyes open.

Maintain proper grip, and then just shift your head to aim with your dominant eye.

Ying Xu

I was a former US Air Force ICBM operator, and now I'm a veteran creating fun firearm accessories content. I also work as the search engine expert for BadAssOptic.com