I was working for a writer and photographer around the time digital cameras became popular, and my mentor was absolutely adamant against digital photography. I mean … no one wants to jump on board with the latest, greatest tech only to find out it’s dead and gone just a few years later. I suppose that some of that same kind of reluctance and uncertainty has been going around with the introduction of red dot sights for handguns.

Many shooters have used red dot technology on long guns for upward of 30-40 years. But people got a little crazy when folks started to put red dots on everyday carry guns for defensive use. (The batteries will die! Iron sights are king!) Luckily, the technology rapidly began to improve and prices started to go down. More and more people dove in to research, test and use these devices. And not surprisingly, they found the slide-mounted red dot sight (RDS) to be a really great option.

Seeing Red

I had a great opportunity to get a real in-depth introduction to the RDS on a recent trip to SIG Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire. They provided me with a P320 RXP with ROMEO1PRO and XRAY3 suppressor sights along with some private, one-on-one instruction. In this setting, I could make all the mistakes and ask all the questions. And while I was a little reluctant to jump on the bandwagon (or the red dot revolution, as they’re calling it), it was a very eye-opening experience. Literally.

It took a while to get acclimated to a slight change in body position while presenting the firearm. I had to keep both eyes open and basically change my points of focus so I could see the red dot quickly while acquiring the target. But unexpectedly, I caught on faster than I thought. And I can definitely see the benefits and applications of red dots, not only for competition shooters (who have been using this innovation for years), but also for the everyday defensive gun carrier. The red dot offers a pretty intuitive target-focused system.

It’s also great for aging eyes. And who doesn’t want to hit steel plates consistently at 50 yards? (I know that’s not a defensive shooting distance. But it sure was a whole lot of fun hearing that steel ring over and over again while standing so far back it felt like I wasn’t even on the shooting range anymore!)

Facing the Future

I took home a lot of information and knowledge, but I didn’t get to take home the P320. So I grabbed my XD-s and set up a Swampfox Optics Sentinel, ready to try some dry fire and get out on the range again to front-load my practice and training.

We all know that learning with and using iron sights is a tried-and-true way to go. And they will still be there if a red dot fails, but you shouldn’t turn your nose up at the pistol RDS innovations. And don’t be surprised if red dot sights for concealed carry and everyday use soon become the norm.

Learn More About Sights

Mounting a Sightmark Red Dot
Seeing Red: Training with MRDS
You Can Shoot Without Your Sights