- In the years since this page was created, red-dot sights have come into use not only on rifles and carbines but also on
- It's crucial to realize that, unlike a laser, the sights do not project a red dot onto the target itself but onto a
treated glass screen, through which the target is viewed. Red-dot pistol sights are typically of the more compact reflex
variety, in which the dot is reflected from below. While some of these sights may be used on rifles, rifles are more
commonly fitted with the prism variety that resemble a 1-power scope sight with the reticle replaced by a red dot.
- The attraction of the red-dot sight is that it does not require a precise alignment of the eye, the rear sight, the front
sight and the target. Even if the red dot is not centered on its glass, the shot will still strike, for practical
purposes, where the dot appears on the target, as it is viewed through the sight.
- The downside of a red-dot sight is that it is dependent on a battery and subject to any other vagary of an electronic
device. Further, such optics may also be impeded by environmental conditions such as fogging or rain drops. Thus, as
with lasers, you will want some usable form of "backup iron sights" (BUIS).
- Some rail-top AR-style rifles are fitted with a front-sight "tower" and use a folding BUIS only at the rear. Others use a
folding BUIS front and rear. Many red-dot sights are mounted to "co-witness" with the iron sights so that, with the
red-dot optic mounted forward of the rear BUIS, looking through the latter, the zeroed red dot will appear at the top of
the front-sight post.
- Some users of AR-style rifles with front-sight towers prefer to use some sort of riser for the red-dot optic for a
so-called "one-third co-witness," in which the front-sight tower does not occupy as much of the field of view through the
optic. While it's not my preference, some users of AR-style rifles with handguards that allow it mount their BUIS at a
- On guns such as two of the versions of Ruger's PC Carbine both the front and rear iron sights are mounted on the barrel,
forward of the rail on top of the receiver, where an optic must mount if the gun has the traditional forend. Most bases
for a red-dot-optic mounted on that rail will block the view of the rear iron sight. On such a gun, a red-dot optic with
a skeletonized riser - such as the Vortex Crossfire or the SIG Sauer Romeo - will allow the user to lower his head slightly,
to a more conventional cheek weld on the stock, to look through the iron sights should the red-dot optic fail.
- Pistols designed to accept red-dot optics for service or defensive use are relatively new to the market. These generally
place the optic forward of the rear sight, if only because the rear iron sight is normally mounted at the rear of the
slide for an optimal sight radius. While a taller optic may allow for a more clear view and quicker "acquisition" of the
red dot, it may also pose more of a challenge to discreet carry. For BUIS, the pistol may need to be retrofitted with
higher sights - marketed for use with optics or suppressors - that will be visible through the optic. At that, their
utility - as with some rifle applications - may be impaired if the issue is one of rain drops or condensation rather than
of battery or similar failure.