As of early 2021, Rob Pincus has officially changed his opinion on red-dot sights on pistols for those just getting started in defensive firearms skill development. Rob feels it is important, especially because he is an instructor, to explain why he has changed his mind.
RDS ON PISTOLS IN THE PAST
For many years, Rob believed that red-dot sights on pistols were not a good option, especially for those just starting handgun training, new concealed-carry permit holders, and other beginner-level defensive shooters. But Rob stresses that he didn’t like them in general for any shooters.
Rob’s objections to red-dot sights on pistols were numerous and existed for decades. The major negatives were (and how they’ve changed over time):
Up until a few years ago, a red-dot sight would double (or more than double) the cost of a defensive pistol. Now the price points have dropped significantly.
Many red-dot sights were not able to withstand the pistol’s recoil or were not reliable when being carried around all day or used during a full day of training, especially force-on-force training. Today’s red-dot sights are tougher and more durable.
Open-emitter red-dot sights were and are cheaper than the enclosed-emitter type, but also had more failure points, including that it’s much easier for dust, dirt, water, and other debris to get caught inside the open emitter. This could cause the red dot to be blocked or refracted. With enclosed-emitter red-dot sights, it’s very easy to just wipe off the front or back of the sight to clear it. And this type of sight is now in the $400-500 price range.
There is a learning curve with using red-dot sights if a shooter has been using unsighted fire or traditional iron sights. Some instructors, including PDN’s Don Edwards, have been working for years on developing quick and efficient ways to teach people how to use red-dot sights.
STILL NOT A MAJOR FAN
Rob still doesn’t think RDS are necessary on a defensive pistol, but he is no longer opposing them as one of a shooter’s self-defense tools and accessories on a first pistol. Be sure to get a high-quality red-dot sight at a fair price and train with it appropriately.
This is a brief summary of Rob’s detailed explanations — don’t miss what he has to say in the video.