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  • Post last modified:August 6, 2023

Red dot sights are popular on combat rifles, shotguns and handguns. In the past decade red dot on pistols have really became the way to shoot.

As more affordable miniature red dot sights into the handgun market every year. Learning how to effectively use them is just as important.

In this article you will learn why we use them, problems to encounter, product recommendations and other tips

Biggest Advantages Of Red Dot Sight

  • The shooter can focus on the target plane without aligning iron sights
  • Recoil resistant on pistol slide
  • Rapid aiming if trained
  • Acts like a charging handle lever to charge the slide

Red Dot Sight Cuts Target Acquisition Time

holosun 507c red dot pov

The red dot sight aligns on the same focal plane as the target. This means that when you observe the target, there's no need to adjust your focus as you would with iron sights.

This feature significantly speeds up target acquisition! The introduction of red dot sight optics to shoulder-fired rifles revolutionized the gun world.

Aligning the sight and visualizing the target becomes incredibly straightforward. The shooter simply needs to position the dot on the target and squeeze the trigger. Wherever the dot is placed, that's where the bullet will go.

Recoil Resistant On Pistol Slide

springfield hellcat slide mounting

Most red dot sights on the market today are recoil resistant on pistol slides. As long as they are mounted properly and the screws are torqued to the proper specs, then they are ready to shoot and retain zero.

Rapid Aiming If Trained

fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

Despite the popularity of using red dot sights for handguns for fast target acquisition, some people hate it, and that’s a valid point.

The most challenging part is to present the handgun simultaneously while picking up the red dot inside the small window. The shooter can completely miss the window and not find the dot if the eye position is off.

This has to do with the pistol grip angle, shooting posture and window size. Shooters who spend more time training can significantly increase their rapid aiming skills.

Rack The Slide With It

Racking the slide is much easier with the Trijicon RMR. Just press the front lens frame against something flat or solid to cycle the slide if operating the gun one handed.

Only the most durable optics can do this like the RMR, Holosun 507C and RMRcc.

How To Pick A Pistol Red Dot Sight

  • Buy a red dot sight that matches the footprint on the slide
  • Select a 6 MOA dot size
  • Lockable brightness control for concealed carry
  • Lens with no tint 

Most Popular Red Dot Sight Footprint

RMRcc vs RMSc footprint

Currently the most popular red dot sight footprints are:

RMSc (The most popular)

RMR (The most popular)

DeltaPoint Pro

Vortex Venom

Burris Fast Fire 3

Battery & brightness settings

All red dot sights, known for their long battery life, are battery-powered. Many shooters even leave them on continuously. When choosing an optic sight, prioritize those with extended battery life. This allows for immediate use in high-stress situations without fumbling for the on/off switch.

The same principle applies to having a lockable brightness control button. This feature retains the dot brightness set by the user for specific lighting conditions, ensuring the dot remains perfectly visible without requiring any adjustments.

However, reliance on a red dot sight can be a double-edged sword. If the battery dies during use, you'll be switching to the iron sight.

Lens qualities & window sizes Do Matter

trijicon rmr vs sro FOV comparison

Window size does matter for easier target acquisition. A bigger window sight like the Trijicon SRO, Holosun Compeition or the DeltaPoint Pro offers advantage to find the dot with more room inside the window.

Dot Size Selection Matters


Most miniature red dot sights for pistols have a 3-6 MOA, indicating that the dot covers a 3-6 inch area at 100 yards. In other words, it represents a 3-6 inch group at that distance. This is why using a pistol red dot sight for long-distance shooting is beneficial instead of using iron sight that blocks the body of the target down range.

However, the most crucial aspect to consider is the dot clarity for shooters with astigmatism. A 6 MOA dot is larger, crisper, and easier to acquire. It also appears rounder with less emitter starburst.

Parallax Free Reticle 

Most red dot sights are parallax free to the naked eye, however, they are never 100% absolute parallax free. For pistol applications at close range, a red dot sight does a great job for placing rounds accurately on target.