There can be no doubt that red-dot reflex pistol sights are the most popular sighting system since a brass bead graced the top of a blackpowder Colt revolver. In fact, in 56 years of shooting, I have never seen any handgun sighting system become a “must-have” item for sporting or defense like red dot reflex sights have. Nearly every pistol advertised in gun magazines these days is shown with a red-dot optic attached.
Which Red Dot Is Best for You?
As you might know, I have never been a big advocate of red dot electronic sights for use on pistols. Much of that reluctance about them arose from believing that previous designs were a bit too vulnerable to potential failure, especially for police duty use. But recently I requested a Crimson Trace CTS-1250 Red Dot Pistol Sight for evaluation. I wanted to spend more time working with a red dot sight. The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm pistol I recently tested seemed the perfect option for mounting a red dot reflex sight. The M&P comes with seven adaptor plates to fit various makes of sights.
Crimson Trace CTS-1250
The CTS-1250 is a prime example of a quality red dot reflex sight. Mounting the CTS-1250 was very easy since the S&W M&P 2.0 Compact 4-inch pistol comes with mounting directions that are straightforward.
Battery installation was also quickly accomplished because of the included CTC tool. This tool allows easy access to the battery compartment, which is located just to the rear of the optic window. I like its solid screw down cover, which provides watertight integrity.
- Aluminum construction
- Three-year warranty
- Free lifetime battery replacement
- 3.25 MOA aiming dot
- User accessible windage and elevation adjustment slotted screws
- Shock, impact, fog, water and vibration resistant design
- Rubber protective cap included
- 50,000-hour (5.7 years) battery life at medium setting
The CTS-1250 is turned on by pushing and holding the dot intensity increase button for three seconds. Doing the same to either the increase or decrease buttons shuts the dot off. Once activated, the dot stays illuminated for 10 hours before automatically shutting off. With 50,000 hours of battery life, forgetting to turn off the power isn’t a big deal.
The CTS-1250 worked great on the M&P. The M&P’s tall white dot sights were visible in the lower portion of the sight window. The CTS-1250 was pre-zeroed perfectly and rested on top of the front sight when activated. Using the white dot sights as a quick point of reference actually helped me to locate the CTS-1250’s red dot and really sped up target acquisition. The CTS-1250 and M&P 2.0 Shield both functioned flawlessly.
The CTS-1250 is a high-quality red-dot sight yet has an MSRP of only $229.99. Crimson Trace is located right here in the U.S. and is one of the most trusted optics companies in the industry.
SIG Sauer ROMEO1PRO 1x30mm Reflex Sights
The ROMEO1PRO is built to a Navy Seal level of ruggedness and operational capability. I worked with the ROMEO1PRO on a previous assignment and liked it … a lot. In fact, it was the SIG ROMEO1PRO red-dot pistol sight that changed my way of thinking about the practicality of red-dot reflex sights mounted on defensive handguns.
What really makes the ROMEO1PRO stand out is its Motion Activated Illumination System (MOTAC). MOTAC powers up when it senses motion and powers down when it is stationary. This removes the need to activate a separate on/off switch.
- Point Source Emitter with 12 Settings (10 daytime, 2 night vision)
- TruHold lockless zeroing system
- 20,000 hours (2.28 years) of battery life
- IPX-7 1 meter immersion rating
- Limited five-year warranty
- Protective steel shroud for durability
Additional features like these up the cost some. The ROMEOPRO1 has an MSRP $439.99. It is an optic you can bet your life on.
Docter Red Dot Sights
Docter USA is one of the oldest providers of red dot reflex pistol sights and the only U.S. repair center for Docter sights. And the company operates a little differently than most providers. There is more of a personal touch when you call in or email about products.
Docter Sights Features
- Sights available in black or earth brown
- 3.5 or 7 MOA red dot available
- Stainless steel and anodized aluminum construction
- Automatic brightness control
- Five-year no-questions-asked warranty
- Custom milling is available for precise sight mounting
- Docter sights can be “bulletproofed” for an additional $125 if you buy the sight from Docter USA. This makes them more resistant to the effects of shock generated by the motion of the slide during firing.
- Docter USA has a “buyback plan” for broken reflex sights as long the glass isn’t broken.
For more information about Docter sights, call or email them.
Bushnell RXS-100 Reflex Sight
While a $300 to $400 (or more) red dot pistol sight would be nice, not everyone (including me) can afford one. Fortunately, Bushnell offers a very affordable option.
Bushnell began as an American importer of optics in 1948. While the optics are imported, it is still a solid American company one can count on for quality control as well as being readily available for repair and replacement issues. I have a Bushnell AR Optics 1-8 x 24 mounted on my DPMS DMR. It’s a great performer.
The RXS-100 is a reflex sight that can be mounted on pistols, rifles and shotguns. While the RXS-100 doesn’t have all the features of the previously mentioned sights, it certainly has enough to make it a viable choice. Especially since it’s priced at $99.99!
Bushnell RXS-100 Features
- 4 MOA dot with eight brightness settings
- Top loading CR2032 battery with 5,000-hour (208 days) battery life
- Aircraft-grade aluminum housing
- Five-year lifetime “Ironclad” warranty
- 12-hour auto-shutoff
Due to space limitations, I was only able to give you a short sampling of the red dot reflex pistol optics currently available on the market. With many firearms manufacturers like SCCY (www.sccy.com ) selling pistols with red dots pre-mounted (their optic of choice is Crimson Trace), some of the decision-making is taken from the process. Note that the MSRP of the SCCY CPX-1 with optic mounted is only $339!
Red dot reflex pistol sights are here to stay due to modern reliability and pricing. Who knows, you may see a pistol with a red dot mounted on one of mine someday soon!