This is a guest post from Michael Denmon. Michael is a Dad who is working on being a better man, one project at a time. Catch up with his latest attempts at Dad Level Viking.
The seller’s market for pistols is booming and with that boom comes many concerns regarding the safe ownership and use of pistols by the inexperienced. I understand that concern and believe that the key to being a responsible owner of a pistol is to know how to operate and use it safely and accurately. Optic sights are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to safety and accuracy and in this article I’ll discuss the advancements of sighting technology currently available in the marketplace.
The Default Setting
Iron sights are the traditional aiming system for a pistol shooter. You simply align two metal objects with your target via linear arrangement and then pull the trigger. For many an old timer, iron sights are the only things to depend on for firing accurately at a target. They cannot run out of battery life, they do not require special hardware to mount them to any style of pistol, and they don’t cost extra. They are old school and hard core. However, as many an old-timer begins to experience the loss of eyesight that comes with advancing age, iron sights become problematic. Having to use your dominant eye to aim at the target and try to keep focus on a very small dot, all while assuring planar accuracy, gets tougher as eyesight dims and with it comes the loss of joy of firing a pistol at the range or while hunting. Luckily, optic sights can help someone with less than perfect eyesight or an astigmatism still enjoy the past time they love and remain accurate and confident.
There are several types of optics for pistols including scopes and their advantages vary depending on their intended purpose. For example, a scope for a pistol allows for magnification of a target at long distances, providing a clearer and larger target to hit. These are especially useful for hunting or long-distance target shooting. A red dot optic on the other hand, is typically used for ease and speed of aim when firing in quick scenarios such as competition or self-defense. These are ordinarily closer contact or short-range scenarios and are critical advantages to the shooter.
But the real purpose of optic sights is to provide the user with confidence, plain and simple.
Having an optic sight allows for assured aim through the design of the lens system within the optic because if you are not aligned in the correct manner, the red dot does not come into focus and that means that your aim may not be true. By contrast, there is no ensuring alignment indicator with iron sights: only experience and know-how allow for a true aim and accomplished marksman. With optics you only need to look through the sight, get a correct sight picture, align the sight to the target, and squeeze.
One of the most valuable aspects of optic systems is the ability to quickly acquire the sight in a scenario where you must draw, aim, and fire in rapid succession. Self-defense situations are an example of how the difference in time between firing via a red-dot system versus aligning rear and front sights with a target can literally be life-or-death. Tight quarters, potentially unbalanced or compromised firing positions, and a need to act when your life counts, are all reasons why the optics system is a more advantageous choice when compared to traditional iron sights.
Finally, the beauty of adding optics to your pistol is that you now have two systems with which to aim at a target and fire accurately. In most cases, you do not have to remove iron sights to add on an optics system, and you don’t have to remove the optics system to be able to use the iron sights. You can simply choose which aiming tactic is better for the scenario you are in and use that system. You do need to train yourself to only use the system you prefer at any one time though, to not try and use both systems at once which will cause a missed aim. You still maintain versatility however and in self-defense scenarios, a back-up is never a bad thing.
Ultimately, you must decide if adding optics to your pistol is best for your needs or not. Most people are scared away from optics because they simply aren’t informed enough about them, and that is why I suggest you find a high-quality local gun dealer who can show you what is available, allow you to try them out, and help you make the best choice for arming yourself with a sighting system that brings multiple advantages to your firearm ownership and use. A good gun dealer will help remove the fear of the unknown, make you feel comfortable that you are getting the highest quality system, and develop a relationship with you that will provide untold benefits in your future of gun ownership.
Photo courtesy of SigSauer.com.