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Old September 17, 2018, 08:17 AM   #1
OhioGuy
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Fastest threat-focused aiming system

In your direct experience what is the quickest way to acquire a good sight picture with both eyes focused on the target?

I've used XS Big Dot sights for a while and can see them well enough to get fairly accurate hits inside of about 15 feet where point shooting is almost as good .

With a red dot, assuming I don't lose track of the dot, I can be way faster and more accurate at almost any reasonable distance. But even with much practice it's still easy to lose the dot and awkward to recover it.

With a green laser I seem to be fastest of all. No question where that dot is and if my trigger discipline is good, the shot will always be within 2" vertically of the dot out to about 90' where I can't realistically see it well anyway. The major drawback I see is that it washes out in sunlight beyond about 20'. But then, most defensive incidents are within that range and mostly not in bright outdoor sunlight.

So -- without commenting on batteries dying and getting you killed -- or "iron sights were good enough to win a world war and they're good enough for me --

What have you personally found to be the quickest way to get an accurate hit on a target without shifting focus away from the target?
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:06 AM   #2
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Lots of dry fire practice.
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:10 AM   #3
OhioGuy
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Lots of dry fire practice.
Yes -- that's true regardless of what kind of sights are being used.

So -- do you have direct experience with lasers or red dots and their ability to get you on target quickly and accurately without taking your eyes off the target?

That means specifically NOT shifting focus onto the front sight. Just looking at the threat.
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:16 AM   #4
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Lots of dry fire!
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:23 AM   #5
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Yes. I will admit I was "anti" laser until I was invited to shoot the Crimson Trace Midnight Invitational. Since, I have shot a good number of night matches and put in some time and effort (besides just white light and traditional sights) on several systems. Lasers, when the lighting is right, is extremely fast, while moving and keeping focus on the target, especially with a long gun held at mid chest level.

Red dots, on a carbine are almost as fast, but a better general sight because they have less reliance on light conditions. I also end up with slightly better accuracy with the red dot as opposed to the laser. There are some trade offs, and it might just be splitting hairs and certainly based on each persons prior training and skills. But when I work with LEOs, I can almost certainly get them faster and more accurate with a green laser as opposed to anything else keeping the target focus.

But on a pistol, at least for the first shot, I am still faster with traditional sights with a Fiber optic. Doing drills like the 8x3, I am faster with a black rear and fiber front compared to anything else. When I go to other sight systems, I lose speed and or accuracy when keeping a solid target focus.
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:28 AM   #6
OhioGuy
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Yes. I will admit I was "anti" laser until I was invited to shoot the Crimson Trace Midnight Invitational. Since, I have shot a good number of night matches and put in some time and effort (besides just white light and traditional sights) on several systems. Lasers, when the lighting is right, is extremely fast, while moving and keeping focus on the target, especially with a long gun held at mid chest level.

Red dots, on a carbine are almost as fast, but a better general sight because they have less reliance on light conditions. I also end up with slightly better accuracy with the red dot as opposed to the laser. There are some trade offs, and it might just be splitting hairs and certainly based on each persons prior training and skills. But when I work with LEOs, I can almost certainly get them faster and more accurate with a green laser as opposed to anything else keeping the target focus.

But on a pistol, at least for the first shot, I am still faster with traditional sights with a Fiber optic. Doing drills like the 8x3, I am faster with a black rear and fiber front compared to anything else. When I go to other sight systems, I lose speed and or accuracy when keeping a solid target focus.
What distances are you talking about for this comparison? For myself, beyond about 15' it seems that the "ghosted" front sight becomes too blurry to be usable when I keep focus on the target and not the front sight.

I've run a red dot on a carbine and that's an awesome solution. The gun doesn't kick around and it's easy to acquire and keep sight of that dot. But on pistol, especially during recoil, it seems so much easier to lose sight of that dot.

I guess I'd describe it this way: with a red dot, so long as I find and keep the dot through a string of fire, is both faster and more accurate for me than the other systems. But the time spent to reacquire that dot can quickly kill any advantage it had.
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Old September 17, 2018, 09:52 AM   #7
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I work on these kind of drills/training from 1 foot to about 10 yards.

Your last statement, totally agree.
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Old September 17, 2018, 10:00 AM   #8
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In my hands, iron sights are quickest with pistols. I can't honestly say whether that is because of their intuitive use, my familiarity with them relative to other choices, or an inherent advantage. Maybe old and grumpy is the best explanation.
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Old September 17, 2018, 10:24 AM   #9
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Personally, I think lasers are a waste of time and money. Tried them a number of tmes, and they drove me nuts each time. To much time is spent looking for that silly dot, that more often than not, is very difficult to see in the daytime, even when you know where it is, when you should just be shooting.

I would say constant practice in live fire is the only way to answer the question for you. Its likely to be different for each of us too, simply based on the time and effort expended getting there.

For me, I can shoot out to around 10 yards without actually focusing on the sights, and still make good hits where I was looking on a photo type target. Beyond that, I start to need the sights. Not saying I dont look at the sights closer either, but I tend to focus more on the target the closer I am and the faster Im shooting.

At closer distances, 7-5 yards and in, Im not usually looking (consciously) at the sights at all. Im sure my brain sees them (I use three dot night sights), and/or the index it has registered for making the hits, but Im usually looking at and quickly shooting the target.

I dry fire (mostly presentations) pretty much every day too, and with a number of different guns, and at different distances. I think its an important part in keeping things straight.

One way to tell if youre on track, is to look at the target, and then close your eyes as you present the gun, keeping your eyes closed as you do. When you open them at the end, you should be pretty much on target, and sights aligned when you look at them.

A lot of this too is what they call "natural point of aim" in match type shooting. You aim the gun as much with your body, as you do your eyes, and this is a constantly changing thing once you start to move and shoot. You need to practice this, and let your brain get things registered, just as much as you do deliberately aiming the gun.
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Old September 17, 2018, 10:34 AM   #10
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Personally, I think lasers are a waste of time and money. Tried them a number of tmes, and they drove me nuts each time. To much time is spent looking for that silly dot, that more often than not, is very difficult to see in the daytime, even when you know where it is, when you should just be shooting.
This has been my experience as well.

While a green laser is far easier to pick up in daylight than red, I still find a pistol-mounted laser to be one more layer of complexity between the shooter and putting rounds on the target.
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Old September 17, 2018, 10:57 AM   #11
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Personally, I think lasers are a waste of time and money. Tried them a number of tmes, and they drove me nuts each time. To much time is spent looking for that silly dot, that more often than not, is very difficult to see in the daytime, even when you know where it is, when you should just be shooting.
I would have agreed with you many years ago. And yes, they do have their limitations. But they have their benefits as well. I would never advocate them as a primary system, but more as a 2nd or 3rd tier for those times when they are at their best. I personally have put my green laser AR in the hands of SWAT team members on some courses at dusk and even with a few minutes of familiarization, saw a verifiable increase in hit rate (speed and accuracy) in dynamic situations. But, even more importantly, their target ID and recall was improved. The only daytime scenario I find them useful in is in offset shooting. Also, not all lasers are equal...

Lots of dry fire also improves the use of the laser as you become more accustomed to using the laser only to verify your hold point.
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Old September 17, 2018, 12:09 PM   #12
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"...both eyes focused on the target..." That's called point shooting and you don't actually use the sights. You look over 'em.
"...their ability..." They don't do that. The shooter does. Lasers or red dots can be a crutch that lends to less accurate shot placement.
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Old September 17, 2018, 12:20 PM   #13
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"Point Shooting vs. Flash Sight Picture"

quote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0RQns6lB9s
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Old September 17, 2018, 12:21 PM   #14
Fishbed77
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I personally have put my green laser AR in the hands of SWAT team members on some courses at dusk and even with a few minutes of familiarization, saw a verifiable increase in hit rate (speed and accuracy) in dynamic situations.
In my opinion, the usefulness of a laser mounted on a carbine (which will more likely be at the ready or low ready) does not parallel well with that of a laser mounted on a defensive pistol (which is far less stable and where you may be shooting from a draw).
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Old September 17, 2018, 12:26 PM   #15
MarkCO
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In my opinion, the usefulness of a laser mounted on a carbine (which will more likely be at the ready or low ready) does not parallel well with that of a laser mounted on a defensive pistol (which is far less stable and where you may be shooting from a draw).
Agree. I have one on a HD pistol still, but most of mine are on long guns, where I feel, at least for my skill level, they offer another option without draw backs.

On pistols, I really only use them when training to illustrate flinch, jerk, poor recoil control.
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Old September 17, 2018, 12:32 PM   #16
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Point shooting or reflexive shooting, whichever you want to use, works the best for me. I can do this out to 10 yds and even at speed keep shots within an 8" circle without much difficulty (probably more like 6"). I don't have to look for a dot (and while I get your comment about lasers in light and the typical defensive distance, I like to be able to hit farther than that as a baseline). It takes a significant amount of practice, but it's valuable.

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Old September 17, 2018, 01:01 PM   #17
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Regarding the usefulness of lasers, it really depends on the distance and the lighting conditions. Your familiarity with your weapon and you point shooting capabilities also plays into the effectiveness of the laser.

With closer distances, point shooting (with practice) should get you very to to being on target. A laser will allow you to focus on the threat and have both eyes open. In addition, a laser will allow you to shoot from positions you normally don't shoot from (low ready or retention). While this does not seem likely for some folks, extending your firearm in a close encounter invites a gun grab, or at a minimum, allows the attacker to push the gun away.

In very bright light, red lasers can get lost. Green lasers are easier for the eye to pick up, but can still get lost in very bright light. This is especially true at longer distances since you have to pick up a small dot. At night, the laser can give away your position if there is dust or moisture in the air (and there almost always is to some degree). Red lasers don't show as much, but green lasers will. The moment you fire a round will immediately create enough airborne particulate that any laser will show. Since it is a battery powered device, be sure to check it regularly and train without it.

For guns without lasers, I think reflex sights (reticle) is the fastest. Bight conditions can affect the visibility of the dot against the background though. They are also much bulkier than iron sights and dependent on battery power like lasers.

For "iron sights", I think fiber optic front sights work great (as long as there is enough ambient light to make it stand out). I think Glock's ball in goal post is the fastest for general sight acquisition, but less precise than 3 dot. I'd love to see tritium bars for the goal post, with a different color front sight.
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Old September 17, 2018, 01:11 PM   #18
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As someone who has a lot more trigger time with a shotgun on clay targets where you NEVER look at your sights, I would opt for no sight over something that is going to take my focus away from the target. Being nearsighted and wearing corrective lenses (when I would most likely be shooting a gun), I prefer to focus not on the front sight like everyone seems to say to do, but on ,y target which I can see more clearly.
I will never be a champion pistol shooter, and that has never been a goal. My handguns are for protection only.
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Old September 17, 2018, 02:11 PM   #19
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As someone who has a lot more trigger time with a shotgun on clay targets where you NEVER look at your sights, I would opt for no sight over something that is going to take my focus away from the target. Being nearsighted and wearing corrective lenses (when I would most likely be shooting a gun), I prefer to focus not on the front sight like everyone seems to say to do, but on ,y target which I can see more clearly.
I will never be a champion pistol shooter, and that has never been a goal. My handguns are for protection only.
That is one of the primary reasons people shoot Red Dot sights on pistols...eyes going away...and allows a sharp target focus.

Most accomplished pistol shooters do in fact target focus at distances inside about 10 yards, some a little more, some a little less. Front sight focus only comes into play for the hard shots (small or far) which is like 20+ yards for most. Even if they "say" they focus on the front sight, they really are not most of the time.
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Old September 17, 2018, 02:13 PM   #20
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For the OP, IMHO, the takeaways are 1. Dry Fire is beneficial regardless, 2. Your skill level and type of shooting you do the most will have an impact, 3. Your vision, and skills, change over time which will likely change the way you see the sights and or the targets.
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Old September 18, 2018, 12:58 AM   #21
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Good practice helps speed more than equipment.

Within limits, a green laser is quite useful. I find when using one on a pistol, I look over the pistol more. If the shot is longer (10+yds during daylight), the laser might get lost, and you have to transition back to the sights. In that event, a nice fiber-optic front sight is pretty quick.
At longer distances (past 10-15yds), most people find a mini-RDS to be the fastest/most precise.

For most civilian defensive cases, things are likely to be less than 10yds, often in dim lighting, and rapidly moving. A laser works pretty well for that, IMO.
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Old September 18, 2018, 03:49 AM   #22
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I don't do the both eyes open thing. I'm right eye dominant but missing a right arm and after 40+ years that right eye does more harm than good.
I use a cowitness sighting system a practice daily in various light and glare situations. Floating between red dot and iron depending which is most visible gets easier and smoother as I go.
Oh, and dryfire.
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Old September 18, 2018, 09:43 AM   #23
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Buy a SIRT.
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Old September 18, 2018, 12:31 PM   #24
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Honestly, I can see a front sight coming on target...that is fastest for me...
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Old September 18, 2018, 12:37 PM   #25
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Today I took a brand new M&P 2.0 along with the Glocks to see how well I could. Shot all from 10 meters (in the hot sun) with both distance-correcting glasses and without using plain safety glasses. More hits in the vital areas (i.e. smaller groups) WITH the corrective distance vision than without. Still not going to put all shots in one ragged hole, but they were in a group good enough to be a small COM gathering of holes. Played with every grip size the M&P comes with as well. Was swearing after initially trying them all that the small was the best - actual firing shows the Medium best with the large surprisingly 2nd best, followed by the ML and last by the small.

To me, this says that trying the grip in the store don't mean squat until you actually shoot....
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