This is a discussion on A caution about red dot reflex sights for handguns... within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Gabe, I've had an Optima for 10 years. It's still operating on the orginal batteries. It holds its focus, has auto-intensity, is made out of ...
I've had an Optima for 10 years. It's still operating on the orginal batteries. It holds its focus, has auto-intensity, is made out of polymer like a Glock and I haven't had the first issue with it. You say you're not here to argue and then turn around and say the Optima is a piece of crap and I can't compare it to today's technology? I'll describe Optima and you tell us what's so different about its performance and the new technology.
space age polymer
good zeroing controls, which BTW is more than I can say for some of the newer units.
Holds zero superbly
brightens or dims according to ambient lighting levels
runs forever on a battery
is dazzlingly accurate and easy to shoot with
I've done one-hand slide racking with it and it hung right in there
If you read some of the reviews of people that have bought the newer versions you'll see none of them get a five star rating. You'll see owners saying pretty much what I'm saying. Even in this thread a guy posted the difficulty he was having with his newer model. Again pretty much the same thing I'd said.
As a shooting engineer, with some experience with optics, I really don't see how a better material, better lens, better battery efficiency, more robust construction, etc. makes it easier or quicker to see the dot on the new technologies than the Optima. It's not like I can't see the dot in my Optima, it's bright enough, in fact almost too bright most of the time, but still finding it in the view finder can be challenging sometimes.
The fact is, in principle they're really the same thing - a reflex dot that appears in a small window. The batteries may last longer, the lens may be glass instead of plastic (and hence heavier), but the illumination and positioning of the dot is the same technolgy and by the nature of the beast have the same problem, to wit, not seeing the dot, but finding the dot to start with and not losing it due to motion.
I've read everything you've posted, and it still doesn't change what I and others have found to be true about red dot sights. People are already finding the same things to be true in the newer sights that I've said about the Optima. Of course I'm speaking of us civilians with minimal training, limited time and financial resources, even limitations in range opportunities.
I'm not saying anyone should not use a red dot sight. Just as you say you are doing, I'm trying to share facts as I've personally experienced using RDSs and facts as I've read from others and they're quite similar. I guess the difference is I'm not a high-speed-low-drag operator, just a lowly civie, which BTW is what most of us are. While it's true the top shooters, etc. may choose top quality, top dollar gear and training, most of us civies can't claim that. And, given the very same top notch gear just may not work for us as well as we'd hope.
The purpose of this thread was to make the masses of us civie types aware of some of the issues we'd face before we fork out the $400 for something that may not be what we expect, and why it may not be what we expected.
But, if you really believe in what you're selling and you really believe the issues with the Optima don't exist with the modern RDSs, why don't you send me one to try out and I will give an honest evaluation of it from a lowly civilian perspective. That seems reasonable and fair to me and far more productive than what you're accomplishing here.
I have no problem with your counter arguments, but you're missing the point. First, I haven't bought into the concept totally; yet. Like you, I have found issues to be overcome.
My point is... while it is certainly the smart move not to engage if there is any alternative (from a non-LE standpoint), I know of three instances, two involving cops and one involving a non-LE citizen, where the good guy was engaged with rifle fire at distance and had no where to run to. One had no cover handy, either. What to do then, if you cannot get a good enough sight picture to place effective return fire on your antagonist?
THAT is what keeps me hoping I can work out the "slow to find the dot" problem. I feel reasonably certain this class will "make it or break it" for me. That is the only thing holding me back. Carrying this set-up is a non-issue; I have worn it around the house for hours, using the same equipment (RM Holsters low Rider IWB) I carry my HK and "regular" G19 with. No drama, comfort or otherwise. In cold weather, one's body heat keeps the optic warm enough to prevent fogging. The one thing I HAVEN'T tried is, on a very hot day, going into a cold place... that might cause some fogging. No free lunch.
The battery issue... isn't one, as far as I'm concerned. If one adheres to a regular replacement schedule, and uses lithium cells... Bowie has been carrying JPoint-equipped pistols for several years now, and has alleviated all my other concerns. What's left is for THIS "nut behind the wheel" to learn how to drive.
Great thread... I would love to try a red dot at some point on a handgun. This made me laugh...
"Last edited by Gabe Suarez; Today at 02:11 PM. Reason: spelling issues from typing while eating a burrito"
I would suggest that, for most civilian handgun needs, a laser would be a better investment than a red dot. For most of us, money is a factor, and lasers cost less and do not require machining to mount properly.
Lasers can be used without the pistol needing to be up at eye level, which can be useful shooting from awkward positions or from behind cover. Lasers also have an intimidation factor that red dots do not - there are numerous documented cases of suspects being belligerent with police officers with drawn weapons...UNTIL one of the officers illuminates the suspect with a laser. Then, suddenly the suspect gets very docile.
Lasers are everywhere in the public culture - there are several scenes in the kids movie "Despicable Me" where laser sights are used. To the "average everyman," lasers = death...and that is a powerful psychological advantage that you might be able to exploit.
If you read feedback from actual laser users, in real situations, you will see that they can be a useful tool. Lasers are not without their own issues, of course...they can wash out in bright sunlight, there are issues with bore-sighting at extended range, they may not be visible at extended range, and like everything else, they require training - they are not a substitute for training.
There are times when a red dot can be more useful than a laser - in bright sunlight, at extended range, etc.
Both can be useful for folks with "old eyes." My dad, who wears bifocals, cannot see the front sights on a handgun. But, with my Glock 19, which is equipped with CT Lasergrips, he was easily able to get good, fast, accurate hits.
Both allow you to shoot with both eyes open, for better peripheral vision.
Lasers can be mounted on revolvers, red dots cannot (that I've ever seen). So, if you carry a pistol as your primary, and a revolver as a BUG, you may wish to keep your sighting system consistent with both - which would mean lasers.
Considering all of this, my preference is for lasers for mid-range work. Up close, of course, there is no need for any sights at all. If a precision shot is needed up close, lasers are superior to red dots because you do not need to bring the pistol up to eye level to get the precision shot. At extended range, if I need to shoot at all, I am able to use my iron sights (actually, I use Tru Glo TFOs on my G26 which are bright both in sunlight and in dim light). If my eyes get to the point where I cannot see the iron sights any more, then I might consider adding a red dot for long range work.
Given that most civilian self defense situations will be at close to mid range, IMHO lasers are a better investment than a red dot.
Last edited by 10thmtn; February 7th, 2011 at 08:49 AM. Reason: added info
My opinion on this subject isn't even worth $.02. I'll just have to lay out an IOU
Historically, the encounters that an armed citizen had to face were at in your face distances. Unfortunately, we live in changing times.
Because of the recreational mind-set of the masses, we have multitudes of people crowded in large places; which in turn gives a theater for the current trend in shootings. The latest being the shooting in Tuscon.
If presented with an active, deranged shooter, in a large crowded area, any advantage to the armed citizen is a welcome one. If a trained person with the right tools for the job was on scene, it could save lives. Sure, you could run, but I'm glad that a few citizens in Tuscon didn't.
Another growing dynamic is the violence on the border. It is not practical for us all to carry AK-47s, so I can see the usefulness of a sighting aid for longer shots.
The evolution of evil in our society requires an exponential evolution of tactics and tools, on our part, to resist it.
Trust in God and keep your powder dry
"A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source
A caution about everything: Nothing is perfect. However there is a place and time for everything, plus some of us prefer some things over others.
My wife prefers iron sights, so all my red dots live in their little boxes, I don't consider it a waste, there shall be a day when they'll see the light. again......
Before a ten yard mark , a red dot is not necessary, in some case not even the iron sights are necessary. That is a very close range, if engaged I'd have no choice but to respond armed or not.
Past that 10 yard mark, red dots work fine, especially when used to get rid of varmint.
For self defense purposes, this is a grey area, first run for cover, if engaged, I'll go close to the ground to make myself small.
After the 25 yard mark, red dots become a little obtrusive, for accuracy purposes, a x3 scope is better. IMO reticules are better as they give more spatial perspective. For self defense purpose at this distance is better to run for cover.
Of course I don't pretend this would work for everyone, for my eyes only...
Of course another reason might be that the people that tried them found there were more drawbacks than advantages to the concept.
The Optima may or may not be as rugged as newer ones, but other than that, i.e. the functionality, application, and use is essentially the same. If we could mask the visual properties of an Optima and a later technology RDS, I doubt you could tell a bit of difference in sighting accuracy or illumination characteristics. Of course if you sent me one like you're talking about and there was a big difference like you claim, think what an ally you'd have here on DC.
I'm sure you're aware that particular sight does NOT have light detection oriented towards the target? That means it senses the wrong ambient light and can give inaccurate dot intensities in common lighting conditions. Not all conditions but common lighting conditions. OTOH, the Burris Fast Fire Red-Dot Reflex sight has the light sensor oriented toward the threat, and costs $199.
For clarity, let me reiterate, I'm by no means saying red dots should not or cannot be used with some degree of satisfaction on a handgun. Why do you think I am so aware of the features of the different brands? Simple, I've been researching RDSs with the full intent to buy one. I have the money, in hand, to buy any one on the market. So why haven't I bought one since I've done the research and have the money? It's because I've used the Optima enough to recognize some problems that will accompany of the RDSs suitable for handguns regardless of their generation or new technology.
And guys, don't be fooled by this new technology claim. I'm an engineer and quite aware of how technology can dramatically improve things. But in this case, the difficulty in finding a dot in a small 'screen' is completely independent of the technology, When I shoot with my Optima in time-aimed shots applications, as Kelly McCann says, "It's like cheating". But as another poster has stated, you don't always get that dot in view in faster firing applications.
There are problems to be aware of; not deal breakers but simply some facts about the sights that need to be considered. We could see these things on every LEO's guns in the next few years, but then again, we may not.
I really want to like these things, that's why I did all the research, but my conclusion, reading the specs and all the info I could on the new RDSs, I couldn't see any features that over-shadowed my Optima as far as sighting and illumination goes.
However, if Gabe would send me one, not talking about all humankind here, I might be pleasantly surprised. Then again, I might find it's not that much better either; but wouldn't we all like to know for sure!!! At our level I mean.
And Gabe, this isn't about my approval, it's about a guy that's far closer to the average gun owner skill set, resources, etc. than you are. You are trying to sell this things to this group, right? Well, I'm offering you a marketing opportunity representative of the target group, how could you possibly decline that?
I'm too young to be this old!
Getting old isn't good for you!
Interesting discussion. The bottom line is that, like handguns themselves, red dots on handguns just isn't going to work for everyone. For those it does, fantastic! For those it doesn't that's OK, too. Get the sight system that works for you and practice with it.
NRA Life Member
I'm required to wear business attire every day, and work in an environment where "discretion" is called for. My needs are thus more "covert" than simply "concealed," so the Smartcarry is what I use with my G26 and spare mag. There is no room in there for a red dot, so I really don't have a dog in this fight.
That said - I would be interested in what Tangle has to say in his evaluation, since he is a moderator over here. His opinion does carry some weight with me. Even more so, since he is not the one who has come over to this forum for no other reason than to drum up business (before this latest round of posts, Gabe had all of 15 posts on DC). That's fine, more power to you - but I would put more faith in an independent evaluation than in one posted by the guy trying to sell them (and by the way...I'm in sales nowadays). I would venture that others here on DC probably feel the same way.
Yes...I came here as I have other places on the internet, and with my staff to "drum up business". I presume that is what all the site sponsors with ads at the top of the page had in mind as well. Anything wrong with that? I am a capitalist...an unashamed capitalist and the reason I am on the internet is to make money. I also paid to "drum up business" here 10th. What I am not here to do I give away stuff.
Tangle may be a moderator. Great. I respect his position, but that doesn't earn him a $400 optic he has already said he doesn't like or believe in, any more than it would earn you one after your pro-laser and anti-red dot posts. If he wants a RMR-equipped slide (the red dot alone is useless for anything but technical questions), I will be happy to send him one in exchange for a credit card number. He can run it and if he doesn't like it, well...my offer is in one of the posts above. He can even stop by at one of my classes and shoot my Glock that is thus equipped....at no cost other than gas to drive to the range that day.
There it is. Not much else to say on the matter and I am moving on to "drumming" on my other posts.
Tangle - my direct is email@example.com
Yes, as a matter of fact - go see post #50 for my take on lasers. Hopefully you can see that I discuss the pros and cons of both lasers and red dots. There are some things red dots do better, but overall, IMHO lasers are a better choice for civilian self defense needs.
You can also see that I said it is "fine" for you to come over here to drum up your business - BUT members over here may prefer a more un-biased review from Tangle.
As far as whether he wants to take you up on your offer, that is up to him. Given your tone, I would not be too surprised if he passes on your offer.
Then we have the propensity for contagious fire. Sights..? What sights?
Point Shooting, fellas...
What we've got here is failure to communicate.
These are some images of what the package looks like. Simply popping the red dot on the slide using some sort of mount will not do what I am talking about. You need the coincidence of the iron sights you have trained all your life to pick up with the red dot. Rifle folk call it "co-witnesing". That way you do not "lose the dot" or have to hunt for the dot since you do neither of those things with your front sight.
As I said, it is easier to index on target with a small index point. A narrow front sight is better than a thick fat one. And a small dot, such as 6 MOA-9 MOA is even better. You still have to have a steady hand and good trigger press, but the eye thing is taken care of. As I also said, it all depends on what you want for yourself. If all you want to do is defend from the proverbial mugger with a crow bar, hell....juts get a J-fram and carry that in your pocket. Statistically you won't even need a reload. Me, I have seen enough to know "never say never". As one example Jean Assam's shot at the Colorado church would have been much easier...and perhaps deadlier with a red dot equipped pistol. Here is an interesting article from my friend Massad Ayoob on the issue of long shots. Again, if you are a "self-limiter", never mind....ignore me since nothing I say will be of any value to you. If on the other hand, you are a self-selector, maybe I have something of value to you.