Though skeptical of red dot pistol sights for years, I carried my 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 with a Crimson Trace CTS-1250 from April through August. And there are a lot of advantages to carrying a defensive handgun equipped with a red dot sight.

Why Was I Skeptical About Red Dot Sights?

I have more extensive experience with red dot rifle sights than with the pistol version. I thought this red dot/pistol combo had promise. And after my initial trial, I was impressed enough to purchase it for long-term carry and use.

This additional time has allowed me to reconcile several previous concerns I had with pistol optics, including durability and usability. Previously, I had thought red dot sights too delicate to be used on duty handguns. Would they fog up when needed? Or lose battery power at inopportune times? Break if bumped or dropped? I was also concerned about the ability to activate and get the red dot on target quickly during urgent circumstances. And finally, I was uncertain a red dot sight would give me any real advantage over quality iron sights.

CTS-1250 Red Dot Is Built to Last

Considering the current generation of sights, my first concerns were groundless. Battery life is phenomenal on most models these days. The CTS-1250 has a battery life of 55,000 hours on its medium setting. It will be years before replacement is needed.

As far as toughness goes, the better-quality pistol red dot sights are shock-, impact- and fog-resistant. My concern was recently put completely to rest by the adoption of red dot pistol optics for duty pistol use by the LAPD and U.S. Navy SEALS. If they are tough enough for them, they are tough enough for me.

Ready for Action

As far as getting in the sight into action for immediate use, I recommend never trying to carry a pistol with optic mounted with the protective cover affixed. The optical glass will stay protected by your holster and covering apparel.

Sights of the new generation don’t need to be turned on at the “time of need” to get into action like previous generations of red dots that ate up batteries. Once activated, my CTS-1250 stays on for 10 hours before it shuts off automatically. Hit the up or down intensity button and it runs for 10 more. I usually hit the button at bedtime so the dot is available all through the night.

Finding the Crimson Trace Red Dot

I first experienced a red dot sight during an academy range training day about eight years ago. One of my instructors had installed a red dot pistol optic. I found that I had great difficulty in locating the red dot during practice sighting. So, I was, to say the least, unimpressed.

I found that the “tall sights” that came on my M&P 2.0 Compact alleviated the problem of dot location. And I could find the red dot rapidly and consistently during many practice draws by locating the white dot rear sight first. No need to look for the tall front sight; the red dot takes over. I think tall sights are a must in terms of achieving the fastest red dot acquisition.

Unforeseen Advantages

At age 64, my ability to simultaneously see three focal points at the same time — target, front sight and rear sight — is greatly diminished. While I can still get a good “flash front sight picture,” sharp alignment with the rear is slower. The red dot pistol sight compensates for this.

Any red dot requires only one point of focus placed on the target: the red dot. The target remains sharp and clear along with the red dot. This means you can more easily achieve threat identification with a sharply defined target, which helps prevent tragic shooting situations. I also have found that the frame of the optics window does not occlude the target as much as I thought it would. It fades into the background. A proper red dot sight is a boon to older shooters or those with minor vision issues.

Wrap Up

Red dot pistol sights offer advantages that iron sights can’t. They are clearly here to stay and are up to the challenge. And they are staying on my M&P.


Crimson Trace:
Smith & Wesson:

More About Red Dot Sights:

Jumping on the Red Dot Bandwagon
Mounting a Sightmark Red Dot (Video)
Seeing Red: Training with MRDS