Red Dot Sights

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I was recently asked in another forum about red dot sights, by someone who was thinking about putting some on their gun. They never bothered to say whether that was a rifle or pistol, but considering the group that it was in, I thought he was talking about a pistol. That’s a bit of a tricky subject, because red dots, while good, have their limitations as well.

Most people don’t really modify their firearms, unless you’re talking about an AR-15 or adding a scope to a hunting rifle; but I tend to modify the guns I use considerably. I’ve found that there are a lot of little things that you can do to pistols and rifles which will improve accuracy and speed; both of which I consider to be important.

Red dot sights were invented for military use, as an improvement on iron sights. The idea was to have a sight that soldier could use quickly, allowing them to get on target faster, increasing the hit per shot ratio. They accomplished this with the red dot, by eliminating the need to align the front and rear sights and then overlay them on the target. With a red dot, all you have to do is align the dot with the target. If you do that, you’ll hit it.

Logically, shooting with a red dot is faster and easier than with iron sights or with any other sort of sights for that matter. That makes them an excellent choice for the military and actually an excellent choice for anytime one needs to be able to get on target quickly, such as in a self-defense scenario.

So, why don’t I have one on any of my pistols?

Even with all the advantages that red dot sights offer, they have their drawbacks as well. Not only are they bulky, making it harder to conceal a pistol, but they don’t work well at dawn and dusk, the prime times for criminals to be active. To make them usable at those times and still be able to see the target, their brightness needs to be turned down. That kind of negates the speed advantage that the red dot offers, unless you take your gun out to change the brightness setting a few times a day… just in case.

That’s not to say that a red dot is useless. There are people who only carry away from home and who aren’t away from home during the twilight times of day. In those cases, a red dot is a good option, especially if concealability is not an issue. If I were working in a gun store, where I would be carrying openly, that’s probably what I would opt for.

Likewise, I can see a red dot as being the option of choice for private security or in any situation where someone is carrying openly indoors. Carrying openly negates the worries about concealability and being indoors pretty much ensures that the lighting will be somewhat consistent.

Nevertheless, instead of a red dot, I use tritium sights on my carry pistols. Tritium is a radioactive substance that glows in the dark. It’s not harmful and has been used on watch faces for more years than it has for gunsights. It’s the best solution I’ve seen for low light.

That’s not to say that I don’t have a red dot on any of my firearms though. I can hear the outrage already, before I say it, but I have a tactical shotgun with a red dot mounted on it. Yes, I know that most people think a shotgun is a point and shoot weapon; but considering that 00 Buckshot can go through three interior walls, I want to be sure that I’m actually pointing at my target, before shooting. Adding a red dot to that shotgun helps ensure that I’m actually pointing and shooting where I want to, rather than missing the target and hitting someone or something I don’t want to.

There are actually two different types of sights that can be called red dot; the original red dot and holographic sights. They look similar, but operate differently, with the holographic sight being clearly better than the original red dot. Of course, as in many cases, better also ends up meaning more expensive. But if we leave cost out of the picture; that would be the way to go. Just be sure to keep extra batteries on-hand, as they also go through batteries quicker.

Making a red dot part of your EDC may make sense for you; if you can work it out. If so, it’s just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand; it will help to keep you alive… and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Dr. Rich

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