Some observations about the “doctor” type sights for CCW- an update see OP

Some observations about the “doctor” type sights for CCW- an update see OP

This is a discussion on Some observations about the “doctor” type sights for CCW- an update see OP within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I bought a Optima 2000 a number of years ago thinking that this would be an ideal tool for CCW. Clearly it solves a number ...

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Thread: Some observations about the “doctor” type sights for CCW- an update see OP

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    Some observations about the “doctor” type sights for CCW- an update see OP

    I bought a Optima 2000 a number of years ago thinking that this would be an ideal tool for CCW. Clearly it solves a number of problems. First, generally, as Kelly McCann puts it, “This sight is like cheating.” It definitely improves the sight picture and sighting process. It doesn’t project a traceable beam like a laser sight. Absolutely no sight alignment (i.e. front sight with rear sight) is required, the dot is in the same plane as the threat so that eliminates the need to focus on the front sight. It is a good replacement for night sights, for one, because it’s a red dot, and two it doesn’t get dimmer with time. BTW, I find night sights dim noticeably in about five years.

    I thought the defeating problem with the sight was the battery life. If you carry this thing day after day the battery would discharge quickly. QKShooter set me straight on that. The battery is good for something like 17,000 hours and about double that, IIRC, if the cover is replaced when not in use.

    Kelly McCann has this sight on his CCW, and has had for many years, and speaks very highly of it so that piqued my interest in this sight again, so I re-installed the Optima 2000 on my Glock 19 (19 Dec 2008) and have worked with it since. I discovered some interesting things.

    It has an illumination control to help it dim or brighten in varying conditions of ambient lighting. However, there are some very real conditions that can trick the sight in the wrong direction. Whether this is ‘defeating’ or not remains to be determined as far as I’m concerned but here’s the issue. This is the one of most concern: imagine me in a dark doorway and a threat in the very bright sunlight outside. One would think the sight would get bright to match the threat in the bright light, but it does not, at least not the Optima 2000. The sight matches ambient light around the sight. Hence given the above condition, the dot would be dimmed, not brightened. The times I’ve tested this, I have found it very difficult to see the dot on a brightly illuminated threat. A similar thing happens when using a flashlight. The threat is brightly illuminated, the sight is in ambient darkness, so the dot dims and washes out on the threat.

    The opposite is also true, i.e. the sight in bright ambient light and the threat in the dark. E.g. you’re in the sunlight approaching a dark doorway and a threat appears. Because the sight senses the bright sunlight, it brightens the dot and really dominates a threat in dark light. This isn’t as bad as the former issue.

    However, I have found another issue that really concerns me. Acquisition of the sight can be elusive. When the gun is drawn and the dot is in the sight window, it’s great. The problem is when the dot isn’t immediately visible in the sight window. Sure, I can stand at the range all day long and do the same tactical draw a hundred times and see the sight in the window. But, when things are ideal and the sight doesn’t appear in the window there is a serious problem – finding the dot.

    First let’s consider how we deal with the same situation with conventional sights. With conventional sights, the eye and mind sees more than just a little sight window. E.g. if the front sight is not visible, there’s only one reason why, it’s too low. If it were too high we’d see it and if it were off to the left or right we’d see it. The worse it’s off, the easier it is to recognize and correct.

    Now what happens with the ‘doctor’ type sight if the dot is not immediately visible? We will likely have no idea how to correct. Sometimes we might, I find far more often that hunting is required. Here’s the problem: I have the gun in front of my eye and see no red dot, where is it? It doesn’t take much misalignment to produce this so there’s little orientation information to assess the problem. Let’s say the sight was just a bit low and left out of the sight window. Well I can’t tell that by looking so I move the muzzle upward hoping to see the dot. What happens is the dot moves upward but it’s still off to the left so the dot didn’t show up in the vertical movement. So, I move it to the right some. The dot may be too high from the previous effort and is now slightly high and right but still out of sight. And on it goes. Imagine this occurring in a gunfight.

    Although this is speculative at this point, I have to believe when movement of both the shooter and target is introduced, this ‘lost dot’ problem will be even worse.

    OTOH, the effectiveness of red dots on battle weapons has been clearly demonstrated, but they are on carbines, not handguns. So that raises the question, why is a handgun different? I’m not sure, but from my experience there is in fact, a big difference.

    Update: 26-Jan-2009:
    I did something interesting last night. I stood in front of a mirror so my image could be a threat. I turned the light out in the room and adjusted the ambient light by closing the door until I could clearly see my image, though darkly and raised the gun up (unloaded of course) to see if I could get a sight picture. I could not! Well, I could not within anything close to a acceptable time frame. I had to really work the gun to pick up the dot. I tried it more than once with the same results.

    Interestingly, my gun also had a night sight on it and it was no trouble at all picking up that sight. What I realized from this is that I could not see the 'window' frame of the red dot sight and it turns out that is critical in aligning the sight. A night sight doesn't have this issue because it is not restricted to a sight "window".

    conclusion:
    Under any lighting condition that does not allow a quick visual of the sight frame (window) it will be practically impossible to reliably acquire the dot.

    Another consideration is, under these conditions, use the NS instead. rocky raised this question in a later post (#6) and I will address it as a reply to his post.
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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Interesting post. I've used ACOGS and cheap BSAs for airsoft, which are essentially a red dot sight, but not holographic like the EOtechs. I've also never used the JPoints or other little handgun red dots.

    To address your questions...one reason they might be easier to acquire on carbines than handguns is longer sight radius. Not for the sight itself, but with a rifle, the longer overall length makes it easier to point in the right direction before ever trying to acquire the sights. Also, most rifle dot sights have anywhere from a 30 to 40mm window, while the handgun ones are going to be under 20 most of the time. There's a lot more area for the dot to end up in and still be visible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by C9H13NO3 View Post
    Interesting post. I've used ACOGS and cheap BSAs for airsoft, which are essentially a red dot sight, but not holographic like the EOtechs. I've also never used the JPoints or other little handgun red dots.

    To address your questions...one reason they might be easier to acquire on carbines than handguns is longer sight radius. Not for the sight itself, but with a rifle, the longer overall length makes it easier to point in the right direction before ever trying to acquire the sights. Also, most rifle dot sights have anywhere from a 30 to 40mm window, while the handgun ones are going to be under 20 most of the time. There's a lot more area for the dot to end up in and still be visible.
    That's what I'm thinking as well. The shoulder mount proabably makes a big difference, and with a handgun the wrist has a huge influnce on pistol orientation. The wrist influence on a carbine would be quite small.
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    Doggoneit Tangle...Your thread here just reminded me that I plumb fergot to respond to your last PM. My apologies.

    Great thread you've started here. Good job!

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    Thanks for sharing your observations. I have a lot of respect for McCann's opinions and background but have often wondered about this topic given that you don't see many people using a red-dot on a fighting/ccw pistol.

    I can definitely see how the "reduced stability" of a pistol compared to a long-gun could present problems (fewer points of contact with the weapon, less weapon to point, etc.).

    interesting...
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    Interesting topic. i imagine a dot would be great , but it obviously needs to work all the time to be considered for defensive work. I wonder if a rear sight could be incorporated into the optic for a back up / co witnessed sight picture?
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    I can see the problem you are describing. I have only used a few red dot sights on other folks guns a the range. I too had the same problem of searching to get a sight picture in order to take a shot.

    I guess if you practiced a whole lot, you could eventually instictively get to the point where you draw aim and have a good sight picture, but would you want to rely on that in a SD situation.

    As far as the rifle being easier, it probably has to do with the length of the weapon, and the fact that you typically instictively bring your cheek to bear on the butt of the rifle, or take an aiming position with your head. Your not strictly relying on the gun to be brought into your eyesight like a pistol, your actively doing both bringing the gun to the eye and at the same time bringing the head and eye to the gun.

    Nice post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    Interesting topic. i imagine a dot would be great , but it obviously needs to work all the time to be considered for defensive work. I wonder if a rear sight could be incorporated into the optic for a back up / co witnessed sight picture?
    The Optima 2000 actually has a notch, I presume for a co-witness with the dot. However, when I mounted the red dot, I figured the quick way to get it on target was to align the dot with the front sight and the notch in the red dot sight.

    When I got to the range I found the dot was waaaay off target, well, the POI and it took me a while to get it zeroed. Hence, the red dot does not co-witness with the notch and front sight. I guess it was about 8" high at 15 feet.

    But, that isn't to say the front sight could not be used. Many use only a NS on the front of their gun instead of a front and rear NS combo. The thinking is that if the front sight is on target, you're good and that's true. So from that perspective, yes, a front NS could be used if the red dot were unavailable.

    The question in my mind is how much would the red dot sight interfere with acquiring the front sight?

    Quote Originally Posted by farronwolf View Post
    ....I guess if you practiced a whole lot, you could eventually instictively get to the point where you draw aim and have a good sight picture, but would you want to rely on that in a SD situation...
    Exactly my concern.

    Also, the hand shake is much more obvious with the dot than with iron sights - well for me. Some of that may be eye related, but I think it's still true because the dot is so definitive that any slight motion shows up instantly and fully.
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