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Old May 22, 2018, 05:55 AM   #1
OhioGuy
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For those who use Red Dots OR Lasers

Or both?

From your own experience -- or your own research into the experience of others -- why do you prefer one over the other? I've played around with each, but not extensively.

Ideally, both offer:

- Target-focused, both-eyes-open aiming
- Fast sight acquisition
- Aid for those who have trouble focusing on the front sight


Advantages of lasers (?):

- Can aim from anywhere, no sight alignment required
- Less expensive
- Easier to put onto most models of gun, with no machining required
- Grip-activated models available for many popular CCW guns

Disadvantages of lasers (?):
- Shorter battery life
- Can be hard to see in bright sunlight
- Can be too bright in very low light
- Advertise your position (probably not a concern to most civilians, but still)
- My experience: your eyes follow the dot rather than the target, and I find myself looking all over the place if the dot shifts off the target and onto a wall, etc. in the background

Advantages of red dots (?):
- The dot just appears over the target area, regardless of distance to target
- Much longer battery life
- Can be more easily used together with iron sights
- Doesn't jump around nearly as much as a laser does on a long-distance target
- If the brightness auto-adjusts, it can be easily seen in almost any lighting condition

Disadvantages of red dots (?):
- Expensive as hell
- Requires machining to install on most gun models
- The reticle can fog over
- Requires a lot of practice to find the dot on presentation, otherwise it leads to hunting around to find it in the reticle

Would anyone add to, or subtract from the list above? Which do you use and why?

Context: I have a Walther PPS M2, which today has options for both a laser guard from Crimson Trace, and also the RMS-C optic from Shield. I love the gun and would seriously consider adding the laser (by far the easiest and least expensive) or possibly selling/trading for the model with the optic (although the RMS-c is still new...reliability data isn't available...)
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Old May 22, 2018, 06:37 AM   #2
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I disagree that finding the dot is hard to do. It is no more trouble than finding your irons.

I'm new to a pistol (320 RX) with a red dot, but have more experience on the carbine, and my problems are related to the dancing light. It really emphasizes my shortcomings with a steady hold.

Anyway, I'll follow your thread closely, and would like to add a question about the green laser. My gun guy says the green laser is much better in daylight, although the battery life is less than with a red laser.

How often must batteries be replaced in Crimson Trace red lasers? And green ones?
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Old May 22, 2018, 07:13 AM   #3
David R
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I have both. Shooting bullseye or Bowling pins would be much slower with a laser.

Acquiring the red dot should become second nature just like irons or a scope.

Shooting a target with out looking at the sights is the biggest advantage of the laser.

I also can test loads shooting better groups with the laser than irons.

I don't know where you get "less expensive" for laser, a set of CT grips are well over $200. I can buy a red dot sight for $39.00 htat actually works. Mounting it on a pistol just needs a rail. Only a few dollars for one of my 22s. They also make a dovetail mount for CF hand guns that replaces the rear sight.

I leave cost out of the equation. Its a gun with a specific use. What is best is best.

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Old May 22, 2018, 07:21 AM   #4
Screwball
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CockNBama View Post
How often must batteries be replaced in Crimson Trace red lasers? And green ones?

I’ve had CT grips (J-frame and LCP, both are red) with batteries work 2-3 years... somewhat regular use. Signed up for their battery program, and will swap them for free each year from now on. No idea on the green ones, but use is likely a big factor. Normal use, I would think yearly would be the best bet. Lessens the chance of the battery being dead.

In regards to red dots... I have no experience on handguns. I have been tossing around getting a .40 M&P slide that was cut for one. But not really a lot of desire to spend the money. Might get one, if I decide to move into the P320 (when I move, as getting a pistol isn’t as easy in NJ as other states).

For lasers, I use them more for dry fire practice... to be honest. I do confirm zero periodically, but 95% of the time, it is dry fire. I also keep them on my pistols, as it never will hurt. I practice using sights, so if the laser dies, not that much at a disadvantage. But if the situation calls for an odd firing position, it could help. As long as you don’t rely on them (another part that can easily fail), a laser rarely will hurt you.

Red dots on rifles, I’m very sold on. Have multiples, including a magnifier I can toss behind most (use it mostly to get a tighter zero, but it is another tool). Lasers on long guns... not so much. I do have one on my CX4, but not something I use regularly (works great with the reticule on my red dot). Only exception, which I don’t currently have, is an IR laser. With night vision... those do show a little more use than a standard laser.
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Old May 22, 2018, 07:42 AM   #5
OhioGuy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
I have both. Shooting bullseye or Bowling pins would be much slower with a laser.

Acquiring the red dot should become second nature just like irons or a scope.

Shooting a target with out looking at the sights is the biggest advantage of the laser.

I also can test loads shooting better groups with the laser than irons.

I don't know where you get "less expensive" for laser, a set of CT grips are well over $200. I can buy a red dot sight for $39.00 htat actually works. Mounting it on a pistol just needs a rail. Only a few dollars for one of my 22s. They also make a dovetail mount for CF hand guns that replaces the rear sight.

I leave cost out of the equation. Its a gun with a specific use. What is best is best.

David
I guess I was thinking primarily of a red dot or laser for CCW. Red dots that have sufficient reliably history, like trijicon and Leupold, are easily north of $350. Pretty good ones (Vortex, Burris) more like low $200s.
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Old May 22, 2018, 07:59 AM   #6
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I have tried lasers on pistols before, and honestly find acquiring them to be slower than good iron sights (or night sights).
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Old May 22, 2018, 08:19 AM   #7
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My bet is that you will see some kind of MRD pretty much on every semiauto pistol in ten or twenty years.
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Old May 22, 2018, 10:25 AM   #8
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I just acquired my first red dot last last week. It’s a Vortex Viper or Venom (don’t recall at the moment which) with a 6 MOA. I’ve got it on a Ruger MKIII 22/45 Lite.

It took maybe 3-4 magazines (30-40 rounds) for me to adjust to it. It was harder going back to the MkIV with iron sights. I wasn’t looking for tight grouping accuracy so the 6 MOA really doesn’t effect much, but it is very quick on target and will still group well provided I do my part. I expect the groups will get better as I spend more time adjusting to the RDS.
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Old May 23, 2018, 06:33 PM   #9
fl_rich
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My 3 mil Venom cowitness when I'm lining up my irons. As soon as I see the sights begin to align the red dot is right there. For me having typical 50yr old eyes the red dot is a welcome addition to my sight picture. Once it's visible I'm on target and making big jagged holes in paper at 8 yards with my FNX45t with factory milling and a Vortex Venom. About $240 when I bought it.
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Old May 23, 2018, 06:46 PM   #10
DaleA
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This is solely a personal opinion. I've tried a laser a few times and didn't much care for it.

I can tell you one definite thing though, if you're shooting at a crowded indoor range and you're a little shaky there's hardly anything better for humiliating yourself than a laser.

Red dots, for me, are different. For me they're easier for plinking and informal target shooting. Your mileage may vary.

Good luck.
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Old May 24, 2018, 05:48 AM   #11
OhioGuy
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In my limited testing, I have noticed immediately that my tendency with a laser is to "move the dot around" rather than actually aim the gun. Even when transitioning between targets I see a tendency to just rotate the gun slightly so the laser moves, rather than actually move the gun. On the other hand...I make the hits pretty quickly...but that's training myself to aim in a way that will become useless if I ever lose the laser. The red dot is much more like conventional aiming, just faster.
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Old May 24, 2018, 06:29 AM   #12
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My carry came with CT grips , I have problems with my shoulders so point shooting at 21' the laser for me works well.
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Old May 24, 2018, 10:20 AM   #13
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A lot of us old guys use red dots on target pistols. My poor eyesight causes problems with open sights. The red dot helps at 25 and 50 yards. I wouldn't put a dot or laser on a self defense pistol, all it takes to ruin your day is a dead battery. Even with open sights still usable you lose that valuable split second it takes to realize it and switch gears.

My 2 cents for what it's worth.
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Old May 24, 2018, 10:42 AM   #14
gnystrom
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I am an instructor and I guarantee you I can train a person much faster if I introduce a laser into the equation especially with DA revolvers. They have helped me visually point out proper trigger control to my students and I have them on every one of my carry snubbies and the advantage they offer would take many more paragraphs to explain.

Oh, Yea! They have an "off" switch for the purists. For the rest of us that think we may have to shoot from defensive positions that would involve partial cover where iron sight acquisition would be nearly impossible, trigger training & dry fire drills, shooting from very awkward positions, or the possibility that the dot on the bad guy just may prevent one from having to actually pull the trigger, I will keep believing they are just one more effective tool to put on my handgun.
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Old May 24, 2018, 11:03 AM   #15
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Disadvantages of red dots (?):
- Expensive as hell........... No mine was $ 149.00
- Requires machining to install on most gun models
- The reticle can fog over............. Not the good ones
- Requires a lot of practice to find the dot on presentation, otherwise it leads to hunting around to find it in the reticle.......... Once you figure it out it is easy
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Old May 24, 2018, 12:38 PM   #16
rt11002003
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Owned both. Prefer red dots, especially C-More. Presently own ten red dots. Sold the pistol that had the laser: Crimson Trace. It was OK to use when engaged; difficult to engage. Might be better if it had a switch other than gripping the pistol grip, itself. I had it on a self defense pistol. Didn't need something else to think about in an emergency. At my age, 80, I need all the help red dots, and lasers) can provide. Most of my pistols with six inch barrels have enough eye relief for me to use iron sights.
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Old May 24, 2018, 02:09 PM   #17
stephen426
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I don't believe that red dots are not practical for carry. I think laser for practice doesn't make sense. I have Crimson Trace lasers on my Kahr PM9 and Glock 43. The laser sights do not interfere with my sights so even if the batteries die, I'm not up a creek without a paddle. With sub-compact carry guns, the laser provides good point of aim confirmation at longer ranges. You obviously have to do your part with the smooth trigger pull and steady hold, but if your laser is properly sighted it, the bullet should hit where the laser does. The other advantage of laser sights is firing from cover or weird shooting positions where you can't line up irons sights properly. This is pretty unlikely so not that big a deal. You can't do that with a red dot though.
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Old May 24, 2018, 02:41 PM   #18
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subscribed, this seems like a very interesting thread
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Old May 24, 2018, 08:19 PM   #19
David R
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I have 4 guns with CT grips. Some fit my hand better than others. I have fat fingers. The one on my J frame 637 does not always come on when I pick it up.

I was shooting white steel bowling pins tonight with the 38. Folks could see the red dot on the pins. I was using Irons for the match.
Yes, I could have turned them off.

Out the first round with revolver.

Came in second with the Micro 9.

David
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Old May 27, 2018, 06:59 AM   #20
OhioGuy
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A few months ago I picked up a Trijicon RMR Type 2 (auto dimming -- no external controls). I ran that on my Walther Q5, mainly to see what it was like to use one. I got the Trijicon because of its record for durability, in case I chose to begin carrying it. After a week or so I did get much more effective at finding the dot upon presentation.

I've come to like that dot so much, I've picked up a milled slide for my CZ P-07 that came with backup irons already installed, and for the past week I've carried with the RMR. It doesn't change the carrying or concealment one bit. The irons don't make a lot of difference, except for this: if I present the gun and don't have the dot in view, without irons I have no point of reference to guess exactly where the dot might be. With irons, I can tell at a quick glance "Oh, I'm aiming too high, too low, whatever." So in that instance I can more quickly correct my aim.

So based on a week's time, I'm not sure I understand why a red dot would be impractical for carry. However, I think that's where the expense comes in, since the rugged ones like Trijicon cost 2x what others do. With the backup irons present, if the dot ever fails I'm no worse off than I'd be with any other gun. It doesn't affect my ability to conceal it. And it makes it real easy to rack the slide

Now, for any practical CCW occurrence, whether it's enough of an advantage to ever justify the cost, I have no idea. I use this gun for some competitions too, so I didn't buy it for any CCW benefit. More like, as long as I own it and train with it, I may as well carry it.

If the "3 shots, 3 yards rule" for the "average" defensive use of a handgun, holds, then sights don't matter much at all.

I also picked up a cheap (to the tune of $15 on Amazon, with instructions barely in English!) red laser that I've messed around with at the range. I can definitely see the appeal, but whereas both irons and red dots require me to aim from a conventional alignment, with the laser I'm always wanting to just move the dot around on the target rather than shift my actual aim. Although I can see the appeal of being able to aim from almost any position and still make hits.


It'll be interesting to see how the sighting trends continue. More and more guns are being offered with laser sights from the factory -- Sig is starting to sell frames for P320 that have lasers built into the frame and are compatible with existing holsters, etc.


They're selling more models with the Romeo 1 Red Dot, and now Walther is selling their PPS M2 with the new mini Shield red dot from the factory, which I think makes it the first model to be sold with a red dot specifically for concealed carry. If red dots continue to improve in ruggedness while coming down in cost, maybe they'll become the new normal, and new shooters will look at iron sights the way my kids look at phones that don't play video games
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Old May 27, 2018, 07:00 AM   #21
OhioGuy
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A different perspective

How about this -- has anyone here shot with (and/or carried) a laser and/or red dot for a while, and then eventually just gone back to irons exclusively?

If so, why?
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Old May 27, 2018, 12:16 PM   #22
David R
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For me, I have found a dot to be advantage for bullseye or competition. I would not want a dot on my carry piece. A few of my carry pieces have lasers. I use the irons. The laser is for unusual circumstances.

One has night sights, no laser because it's not available on that model. I will put night sights on my Micro 9 that already had CT laser grips. I will take all the advantage I can get.

I only carry small guns concealed. No full size that would be a different story for a dot sight.

David
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Old May 27, 2018, 12:26 PM   #23
Jim Watson
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If you don't mind second hand standing there accounts...

I have two friends who have worked with LEDs.
Shooter 1 has gone to RMR for all purposes, carry and any competition that allows optics. He soon learned to change batteries more often than the manufacturer said was necessary, and has had full availability ever since.
Accuracy is good, speed got good with extensive exclusive practice.
I don't think he has a laser.

Shooter 2 has lasers on his defense weapons. He has gotten pretty good with them. He has a couple of dot sights but finds dot acquisition slow. I think because he does not shoot them all the time. Accuracy is good once he finds the pipper.
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Old May 27, 2018, 04:07 PM   #24
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I'm not a huge fan of lasers. Seems to work great at close range ( where its not needed) and in bad lighting, but outside in the sunshine, it's worthless.

I do like the red dots, but I'm only if I can get a co-witness with irons. I expect most manufacturers to make more models compatible with MRDS, as it will be a priority for more shooters once they get some time behind one.
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Old May 28, 2018, 04:57 AM   #25
stephen426
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@ OhioGuy,

Being from South Florida, carry options are somewhat limited here based on how I typically dress (office attire). All I can carry comfortably is a sub-compact so size really matters. The Trijicon RMR adds an extra inch of height. I carry with a Techna Clip so the gun sits very low in the waistband. Glad it works for you, but It won’t work for me.

I have a Crimson Trace Laserguard Pro which is a light and laser combo that attaches to the trigger guard. Activation is via a button on the grip and totally instinctive. While it adds bulk to the font of the gun, that part is concealed anyway. In addition, it actually breaks up the profile some, making it less likely to print as a gun.
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