Mounting a Sightmark Red Dot | Into the Fray | USCCA

Red dot sights are all the rage on pistols these days, but they often require some extra work when it comes to installation. If you want to try shooting your pistol with a red dot sight without dealing with milling the slide, you can try the Sightmark base plate system.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This would have been a more useful video if you had zoomed in to show the base plate to slide interface. Anyhow, thanks for letting me know that this system exists, i might try it on my older P89 if it fits since it is not easy to find night sights for it.

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As my eyes get older I cannot see the black sights on my beloved Browning Hi-Power anymore. I have settled for replacement sights on my Glock as well, but always wondered how a red dot system would be. This looks like a relatively inexpensive way to " try before you buy" a RDS without heavily investing in a new group of pistols.
I look forward to anyone’s comments on how this works for concealed carry.

You should check out what JT DEFENSE has in red dot mounting. I have one on my glock and Springfield and I think it is more securely mounted than the sightmark. There is no way for the mount to move with their system.

What I’m looking for is a RDS that co-witnesses with the iron so I don’t have to choose either or.

I have three handguns with red dot’s on them. I will say for older tired eyes they do make it easier to see, but no mater, young or older, you will have a rather large learning curve. If you don’t spend a great deal of time practicing then your just wasting your money on a red dot.
I personally would not use one that is pressed on like the one your demonstrating; too much chance of it moving.
Oh yes you should always be able to use co-witnesses sights.

I may be an outlier but I don’t care for the red dot on a pistol myself, especially if it’s going to be a carry pistol. The large protrusion is just asking for complications in my opinion. So far, I prefer iron sights on pistols and standard scopes on rifles (except AR-15s; the red dot is nice on them). But then maybe I’m just an old dog reluctant to learn new tricks.

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There are now several companies making rear sight brackets for pistol red dots. I have one on a Strike Industries bracket on a Glock 30, and one on a Glock 19 slide, that’s milled and co-witnessed. They’re all fine, but I don’t need them on ALL of my pistols. The mounting brackets tend to stay put just fine. The higher co-witnessed sights work great with a suppressor. If you’re not running this way, a bracket is just fine. You may not like that brackets elevate the sight several millimeters more than the way that a cut/milled slide presents the sight. I’ve gone back and forth with no issues, but the aesthetics of the milled slide and it’s solid grip on my RMR is nicer. There are no “absolutes” with this. But I do like my guns with the red dots ALOT!

I agree with Gary104 that the visual on the process needed a bit better attention, but glad you made a video of it. I have a problem with red dots on pistols for concealed carry too. It has nothing to do with the cumbersome nature of the sight, but that it is battery powered. I know that many of them have 5,000 hour battery life (advertised) but when do you know you’re at hour number 4999? also the nature of the site does make it less impervious to damage than a set of irons. Yes, I’m an old timer but the more systems (especially electronic systems) the more prone anything is to failure. I like to rely on “light pipe” front sights Although you can break them it’s obvious and easily replaceable with a big enough hammer and some time.

I built a Polymer 80 G17 pistol and used a slide I got from Brownell’s that had an RMR cut on it. Then found a Series 1 RMR used for a good price and after finishing the pistol with higher irons to co-witness through the RMR and an assortment of Glock and after-market parts took it to the range. Since this was the first Red Dot I’ve shot, I had to learn a little about how to aim and align things and was quite surprised how easy it was to shoot and hit what I aimed at without having to align the front and rear sights. Very impressed with these now and since my aged eyes aren’t what they used to be, I’ll be retrofitting more of my pistols with these. The RMR will end up bankrupting me so I’ll probably search for some less expensive red dots.

Check out suppressor sized sights. They’re taller than (regular) sights and therefore easier to co-witness. Hope this helps

I’m not going to say whether or not red dot sights are better. I think it is personal preference. I personally like using the iron sights. Not a fan of red dot. That doesn’t mean I think they’re junk, I just don’t use them.

I mounted a SeeAll tritium sight to my Glock 19. I have difficulty focusing on the front sight through my progressive lenses. My main complaint with the SeeAll is target aquisition. The firearm needs to be perfectly oriented in order to see the delta through the sight lens. If the target is close enough, I won’t need the sight anyway. It definitely helps my grouping when I can take the time to aim.

To co-witness with standard height or OEM sights will require a milled slide so it sits low enough to be inline with the sights. Someone can correct me if wrong but I haven’t seen a RDS (yet) that is small enough to be mounted on a dovetail adapter plate AND co-witness w/standard height sights.

I’m running a Vortex Venom using a Outer Impact adapter plate on a M&P 9FS. It’s our first RDS and we’re still in the familiarization and practice phase. Still have standard height front sight and it’s not visible. I’ll buy a suppressor height set soon and use just the front. The RDS has rear index marks that should suffice as a rear sight if the RDS fails.

Simple solution to battery life concern: Change it once a year. Seriously, if you get a good RDS and use a quality battery, battery life is just not a major factor.

My wife and I are dealing with ‘old eye’ syndrome and wanted to see if a RDS would work. We’re not ready to shell out $200-300+ for a milled slide or buy an optic ready pistol. Thus, using a dovetail mount vs. milled slide when starting out w/RDS just made sense for us. Some of our lessons learned shared here along with the trade-offs.

  1. Ideally you have an extra common model pistol that you can familiarize and practice with before committing to EDC with a RDS.

  2. No rear sight, but some RDS have index marks or other methods of approximating a rear sight.

  3. A standard height front sight will very likely not co-witness. For the familiarization and practice phase I found this is not a concern as that ‘crutch’ is absent and does not distract. IF your RDS is zeroed, not having a front sight forces you to “See The Dot, SHOOT THE DOT” and gain confidence with it. YMMV. Next step for us is a Night Fision (our favorite sights on 4 pistols, check em out) suppressor height set.

  4. Concerns over plate mounting stability can be alleviated by following both the adapter and RDS manuf. mounting instructions including use of Loctite and properly torquing the screws. Get a torque wrench if you don’t have one! Invest in a Wheeler FAT Wrench (~$45 Amazon), you won’t be sorry.

  5. Dovetail adapters/mounting plates are more available than a few years ago. Here are a few vendors that I found during my search to mount a Vortex Venom on a M&P 9FS.

Outer Impact (my choice)
US Tactical Supply
Dueck Defense - Unique Backup Rear Sight Design

There are others out there, search “red dot dovetail adapter” or variations thereof with your RDS and pistol model.

Hope this helps.


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I usually enjoy Kevin’s videos. However, I have to say this was a terrible video, not the topic or Kevin’s explanation…, but the video work iteself. I dont need to see Kevin’s face, I would rather see what he is doing.

I usually enjoy Kevin’s videos. However, I have to say this was a terrible video, not the topic or Kevin’s explanation…, but the video work iteself. I dont need to see Kevin’s face, I would rather see what he is doing.

I recently put a venom on my glock 17
Love it, a lot easier to find the dot then the sights
It’s now my everyday winter carry gun
We’ll have to figure out something for the summer

Or, you can purchase a Glock MOS Gen 5 Glock 19 with the co-witness iron sights on the gun. Or you can purchase a Sig and any number of hand guns set up in the same manner. You do not want to lose your rear sight just in case something happens to your red dot.

Every battle rifle I have has some type of co-witness or backup sight configuration, the only guns I don’t bother with adding that extra stuff would be the long guns intended to be able to communicate with people at long distance.

I do not believe in turning any gun into some type of “Frankingun” too much stuff attached is just stupid, if you have been in combat you know ounces equal pounds and you do not want to add junk, keep your guns simple with no more than what you need for their intended purpose. You see people show up at the range and they think they are some kind of one man band with all the crap they have bolted to their AR’s or even worse AK’s, keep it simple stupid!

Red dots are the coming thing, actually they are the shooting world right now, your carry gun if you conceal may not have one but the weapon you keep with you in you car, your battle gun of choice should have a red dot, nothing to line up, put the thing on the thing and pull the bang switch and down goes your problem.

Semper Fie

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