“Looking at one focal plane (the target and the dot) is easier to do than looking at than three focal planes, (the target, the front sight and the rear sight) and then trying to sort out which one should be in focus at any given moment.”
– Scott Jedlinski, aka “Jedi,” of The Modern Samurai Project
Why I chose to put a red dot on my carry pistol
A common question in the dot or no dots on carry pistols debate is “Why do you need a red dot? In a close-quarters, self defense scenario, you won’t have time to even use it.” My reply would be “Then, why do you have and train with iron sights? Why not remove those as well?”
The problem comes when people choose to opine on topics that they have limited to no knowledge about.
The plain an simple truth is that iron sights are completely unnatural. Think about it; just about every other thing we do in life is done from a target-based focus. What do I mean? Think of playing catch with a baseball or throwing a frisbee. You wouldn’t place your focus on the object you’re throwing, then the person, then the object and then fix your eyes on the object from the wind-up, through the throw and ultimately to the person on the other end, would you? Of course not; that would be extremely difficult and you’d most likely miss anyway, because your too focused on the object and not enough on where that object needs to end up.
How does the Red Dot work?
Iron sights require a minimum of three points of alignment (rear sight to front sight to target), but red dots require just one.
The red dot works by changing the focus from the 3 focal point approach of iron sights, to one; simply view the target through the window of the optic & superimpose the red dot onto that target.
Focusing on one point is essential in life-threatening situations. In fact, that’s exactly what our brains tell our eyes to do. When danger is imminent, our natural human tendency is to remain focused on the threat. The use of iron sights in such situations conflicts with this tendency.
How a reflex optic mechanically works, is that an LED laser light beams onto a lens within the optic housing, leaving the image of the dot on that lens (called the window).
Is it REALLY faster, though?
The difference in time to press off a quality first shot will depend on many factors; distance to target/threat, lighting, carry placement, adrenaline, etc, but the actual acquisition of the dot and target will easily shave a few 10ths of a second or more… this could, quite literally, mean the difference between life and death.
Obviously, everyone’s personal preferences are different and there is a WEALTH of information on the subject, so if you are interested in learning more, here are some sources I suggest checking out: