[Pros and Cons] Red Dot On Conceal Carry Pistols For Defensive Use

springfield hellcat on the range

Referenced Roger Barrera

We all know the advantages for using a red dot on the range, but are red dot sights on conceal carry pistols worth it for defensive use?

This is an interesting question that people have always asked, but there are just as many pros as cons and each situation is different.

In this Q/A informational guide, let's break it down into pros and cons and cover a few things that aren't so obvious.

Pros

One Hand Manipulation

Use the red dot sight front lens like a large slide charging stop!

It sticks out on the top of the slide, it's large and it's easy for the hand to grab if gross motor skills are affected due to cold weather, slippery hand or injuries.

It aids poor motor skills in stressful situations to clear slide malfunctions with two hands or one hand.

Press against:

  • Hard surfaces
  • Belt
  • Corners
  • Door frame
  • Etc...

Sights like Trijicon RMR and Holosun 507C are built rock solid to survive rough handling like this:

Focus On The Target Instead

glock 17 with rmr law enforcement encounter

When danger is presented, the eyes are focusing on the threat period due to natural body response in flight or fight mode.

The shooter can focus on the target focal plane with both eyes open and superimpose the reticle on the target without having to shift focal plane between the target, front sight post and rear sight.

This gives the shooter fast sight acquisition, faster follow up shots and overall situational awareness.

Works In Improvised Positions

If the defender is in a improvised shooting position and the sight alignment is off center, the parallax free red dot can still get on target accurately as long as the dot is visible to the shooter within the window.

The dot reticle can be on the edge of the glass, and wherever the dot is placed is where the bullet is going.

Cons

Accidental Button Press Under Clothing

holosun 507k x2 conceal carry

The buttons can be pressed by accident while carrying it under your jacket if the sight doesn't have a reticle brightness lockout mode.

By the time you draw the gun, the reticle is either too bright or too dim.

Solution: Use a sight with lockout mode feature, click here for more

Added Bulk

A red dot sight on a CCW handgun does increase the size profile slightly when tucked under a shirt in a holster, and it could print on the cloth depend on the person's body profile and how they are dressed.

People can get away with it for Winter and Fall, but hard to do during the Summer.

There are smaller optics like the Holosun 507K X2 available for sub compact handguns, check out the review here.

Open Emitter Design Attracts Dirt

holosun 507k x2 conceal carry appendix carry

Most open emitter handgun optics can attract dirt, hair, dirt and moisture when holstered under clothing facing up, which can refract the reticle projection on the lens if it's not cleaned.

Solution: Keep it clean or use a closed emitter reflex sight!

Please check out Holosun 509T or Aimpoint ACRO P1

Hard To Find The Dot - Tons Of Training Required

holosun 507k x2 pov

When a person is in a life threatening defensive situation, finding the dot might be the last thing the mind is focusing on while the body is in freeze, flight, or fight mode because:

  • Adrenaline is pumping
  • Pupil dilating
  • Losing depth perception
  • Getting tunnel visioned

Red dot on pistols are fast for sure if practiced a lot, but we can't assume most people can do it or have trained enough to have consistent grip so the dot appears right in front of the eye.

Everyone is different when experiencing stress; some people totally shut down and some can hold it together, and that's just a fact.

So Close You Might Not Need It

Most personal defensive situations happen so quick and so close in point blank distances or in a entangled situation where aiming with a red dot isn't needed.

The defender will be better off having a weapon light that sticks out pass the muzzle, so the slide won't go out of battery if the situation escalated to a contact shoot.

Keep safe distance!

Cost

Having a red dot on a pistol for defensive use isn't a MUST have. From a cost perspective adding a $300 - 600 red dot on a CCW pistol just for the sake of having it so you don't miss out on the latest trend is lot of money for someone new to firearm. 

Hope this helps, please email us if you would like to give feedback on this article. We would like to hear your thoughts.

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