Its been kind of funny to watch the “evolution” of the gun medias coverage of an RDS on a pistol. I liken much of it to the AP outside the gun media. Fully 90% of reporting is nothing more than a re-write of an AP wire. In the old days you could pick up 10 newspapers and they all had the same story, just a re-write of an AP wire, or a flat out copy. Originality was secondary, as is actual testing or fact checking. Why find out for yourself when you can just copy what everyone else is doing. Social Media has taken over much of the Newspapers role, and it seems it uses the same methods.
Evil Red Dots!
Early on, the narrative for pistols was the same as the rifle, an RDS made you “faster” up close. You too can be a “master” without using your irons, or practicing with them. Criticism being you won’t use your irons and of course you will die in a gunfight. Or it will fail, and you guessed it you will die in a gunfight. Distance did not matter because we know ALL gunfights occur at 3 feet, and practice beyond that is secondary. Waste your time at long range and yep you will die in a gunfight. Thats the standard response to anything these days, especially if it comes out of the comp world. If you are a “real” gunfighter anything coming out of a competition world will get you killed. Statistics say (fill in the lie) so real gunfighters only practice to meet the statistics, or what their favorite guru says they should do, real world testing be damned, and reality is mostly inconvenient.
People who actually use them.
Interestingly no one I talked to early on actually using them said that, including the guys using them for years on open guns. It was true back in the “day” with rifles as well. The narrative did not seem to match actual testing. Talking to several top shooters using an RDS on a pistol they said it made sighting easier under certain circumstances, mostly on moving targets and at longer ranges. Its why they used them in open class, or competitions that fired their pistols from farther than 3 feet and required hitting a target smaller than the same 3 feet. When it came to use, they all advocated presenting the same way, using the front sight and the dot is there. Don’t change your presentation eliminating thousands of hours of training, just point in and the dot is there. Every one of these top 10 competitive shooters used comp pistols with no irons, yet somehow, miraculously, they could pick up a box stock polymer wonder gun (or evil antiquated 1911) and shoot lights out! Still, my guess is there is a slew of experts that will tell them they would “die” in a gunfight because they compete with you guessed it, a comp gun.
Let the games begin, expert after expert had some reason to use them, not use them, when they were better or worse. Iron sights behind, in front, none, an entire industry wrapped around it sprung up, but most media coverage was just another re-work of the previous opinion. Its almost a cascading effect. Hmmmmm….so and so the “gun master” says I was wrong the first time, maybe I need to follow up, or really just follow. Wow, all those early testers and adopters found may be true?
So, its almost funny to watch the epiphany today in the social media gun world. It seems that an RDS on a pistol does not necessarily make you faster at close range, really? Oh, and it does seem to make it easier to get hits at ranges from 25+ and when you are moving and your target is moving. Maybe, just maybe, it won’t get you killed in a gunfight? In fact, it seems not ALL gunfights occur at 3 feet, and you may actually need to use sights. Here is a thought, maybe I would rather be at 30 yards KNOWING I can hit them, and they cannot hit me? Heaven forbid, maybe its time I actually tested a pistol with an RDS at range, without a timer. Not just shoot one at a media deal, or “study” what others did, but actually shoot one, consistently, at all distances on targets smaller than a barn door.
What has changed is the industries willingness to accommodate them, and the RDS makers willingness to improve their construction. Here is a surprise, early RDS on rifles failed all the time. I was able to break all of them early on, ALL OF THEM! Over the years a few have stepped up making them as reliable as you can get, they sit on all my rifles that don’t have an optic, and yes they also have back up iron sights. The same is happening with the smaller versions for pistols. Pistol manufacturers are supporting them and aftermarket support is huge. New sights actually hold up under hard use with battery life measured in years not hours. Back up iron sights sit on most not dedicated to competitions. Its easier today than ever to get one mounted to your pistol. But all that does is make it easier to use one, it does not change what they do any more than the latest guru’s dictum. Lastly, and most importantly you also have some reputable instructors that agree you will not “die in a gunfight” if you use one, have practiced with them and will actually help you rather than ridicule you as some sort of gamer.
Whether its on a pistol or a rifle the RDS is an aiming aid, period. Under certain circumstances they make it easier to aim. If you can aim better you may just get better hits. If not, press on, don’t use one, but don’t tell me or anyone else they won’t help. For those of us creeping up on old age the dot is easier to see. Holding a dot on a mover without the need to “align” the irons can be “easier”, not necessarily faster but maybe so. Holding a dot on a target at 40 yards is easier, especially if its zeroed at that range and uses the proper sized dot AND the pistol is not in a ransom rest. Shooting single handed, or from the ground on your back or side (or both), especially at range they can be easier to see. Pretty much the EXACT same things an RDS does on a rifle. Do I feel incapable without one, absolutely not, just as I am completely capable with irons on a rifle inside 300 yards. I can still hit targets at 300 yards plus using my iron sights, I do it all the time, but it is a ton easier with my RDS. Also, I am no faster with an RDS up close with my rifle either, never have been.
There is nothing wrong with speed, but it is not the be all end all that everything is measured against. You should always practice to shoot as fast as you can and get hits, fast misses may get you shot, and likely sued if you are alive after the fight. Don’t add an RDS just so you can be faster, but don’t not add one because some moron says it will get you “killed in a gunfight” and you don’t “need” it.
Especially with a carry pistol its all about getting hits, if it helps you do that then you are ahead of the game, measuring its value in thousandths of a second is pretty useless for most. Assuming you are not a “gun fu master” that does not need to aim, you simply “be the gun” and “will” the bullets on target you need to aim. For some that dot makes that easier, so try it, use it if it works. The social media expert won’t be next to you in that fight, its all on you, I would suggest using any equipment allowing you to talk about it “after” its over.