RDS with cowitness irons sight or without on your handgun

Most of the advices I was given were - YES, you have to cowitness your sights with your optics.
Even my last EDC purchase was setup this way.
I spend 3 days exchanging emails with FFL who got the handgun in stock, discussing the option “carry sights” vs “tactical sights”.
I still wanted iron sights but with optic ready slide. You know… eventually every older eye needs help. :wink:

So, of course after several emails stated “man, you have to go with tactical sights to cowitness them with your RDS” I made a purchase.

Now, after my handgun has RDS added, I know better… :no_mouth: and I learn on my mistakes. :face_with_peeking_eye:

It took only few days to figure it out that cowitnessing sight don’t work for me at all. Even worse… the front sight drove me crazy, messing with my eyes, especially with focusing on the target.

So my current setup is completely different.

  • Clear full view over RDS window. Why do I need iron sight for fast self defense action? If the battery or RDS dies I can still put the whole window on the target and get accurate hits.
  • iron sights are setup on the bottom RDS frame, just around 1 mm above. When RDS is not operational and I need precision, I’ve got time to find these tiny irons and get an accurate hit.

That’s my opinion and my experience.

I found a lot of different opinions, jumping between threads and the reason for this post is to get information in one place.

So please share your thoughts - What works for you - cowitnessed sight or not?


I have my RDS’s sighted in for point of impact…I don’t care if the dot is co-witnessed with my sights…I’m more interested in knowing where the round will hit


I have several pistols with RDS and irons both. I have full cowitness, totally blocked low irons, and a few positions in between.

My personal preference is a lower witness where I can see and use the irons through the window but generally the dot is above them. One of the dot advantages is that it doesn’t obscure the target/threat like irons do and full cowitness kind of partially defeats that benefit


When i started looking at carry optics i did a lot of investigation and followed the advice of Scott Jedlinski from Modern Samurai Project. I do not co-witness my iron sights.

I do however like to retain them in a lower 1/3 of the optic so that in the unlikely event the optic were to fail i at least have something to use.

That said my current EDC still has the regular SIG night sights right now


I have not tried an optic on pistol so I could not have an opinion. I do have a TLR6 laser/light combo and it is mounted to the trigger guard of my M&P 9 Shield. It is set up for point of impact but not co-witnessed with my sights. The bullet does hit where the red laser is on the target. But I rely more on my irons.


I have a Holosun on my M&P 2.0 and the size of the optic forced me to need to remove the rear sight. The slide was not milled, so I needed it to be custom-cut.

Personally, I don’t mind not having co-witness sights and I feel it makes it easy to pick up the red dot.



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I whole heartedly live by the KISS philosophy and have no electronics on my weapons


I have 2 pistols with RDS. On the Hellcat the irons are in the lower 1/3. Still not fast enough with them. More practice. On the Glock I went with the Leupold DeltaPoint Micro dot. It replaces the rear sight and acts as a ghost ring if you lose power. It is a small sealed tube rather than a large window. It is more instinctive.


My EDC pistol had an RDS pre-installed when I purchased it. It also came with suppressor height sights (tall sights). When I use the iron sights only, when I align them (sight alignment), they can be seen on the lower portion of the RDS window. If the pistol would not have had the the taller sights, I could not use the iron sights at all as they would be completely obscured by the RDS.

When I set the zero on the RDS, I zero with the dot in the center of the window placed at the center of the target I want to hit. In this configuration the dot is significantly above the tip of the front sight. There is a gap between them. I have the pistol zeroed at 15 yds. This allows me to see the sights through the optic clearly, but they are located on the lower portion of the RDS and do not impede the dot. When using the dot, I don’t look for iron sights at all. Using the RDS is also completely target focused fire, I see the dot hovering over the target but I’m not focusing on the dot.

So my sights co-witness and are usable on the lower portion of the RDS only but they are NOT used with the dot.


I have a Holosun 507C on my Glock 22 and I have not put any co-witness sights on it yet. I plan to get some soon but I am still getting comfortable with the optic. It is currently not in my EDC rotation, since I have not trained with the optic yet.


I have a Deltapoint micro on Shield and really like it. I colored in the rear dimples.


Not a fan of rds or optics on any defensive piece. I know lots of folks love them, but to me they a simply another potential failure point on a machine where only 100% reliability is good enough. I have used and like CT grips. The laser allows shooting from any position and still delivering good accuracy, plus, even if it Does fail I still have solid nightlights to use.


And that’s the great example of handgun personal preference. :+1:

I cannot disagree with any options, we do whatever works the best for us.
I am completely reversed in laser / RDS thinking. :grinning:

I love RDS and even it fails it still works better (in self defense) than iron sights. I keep the threat / target within RDS window and I’m 100% accurate at distance up to 15 - 20 feet.
I don’t trust lasers… even they work, hey don’t give me any advantages. :man_shrugging:


I have been working on NPOA instead of a RDS/Irons.
I want to be able to keep my full attention, sight, on what’s the threat.


Having consistent NPOA is a winner in self defensive situation. :+1:
Once you get it… RDS or iron sights… doesn’t matter. In my case RDS works better, because I found myself being mostly focusing on the target / threat even using iron sights.


For a while I ran my xdm with a RDS and without the rear sight. One day, something told me to put the rear sight back in. Last week while at the range, my RDS crapped out. If I hadn’t had the rear sight in, my range trip would have been over, but I was able to continue aiming with the irons. Glad I put the rear sight back in when I felt I should. RDS is currently on vacation to Vortex for repair.


As you said, different strokes…. I like that a laser will still work on a “shoot from the hip” where you don’t even have time to bring the piece up to line of sight. Even when shooting from a standard position the green dot on the target is “confidence inspiring”. (My wife’s level of confidence went WAY up when I put a CT on her S&W EZ). My son is big into RDS-to me it just makes the weapon harder to conceal. Go figure? I did have an RDS on a Buckmark Target that was stupid accurate.


Correct argument :point_up_2:
That’s something to be considered before using RDS.
Some RDSs compromise concealment, some not. Fortunately the big variety of RDS models gives us plenty options.


IMO this is a solid reason to run an RDS.

Now, when you bring your gun up and go for accurate shots using your sights, you have two redundant sight systems right there in the same place. Each of those sight systems is 100% functional completely by itself. RDS and also iron sights.

Neither the iron sights or RDS are 100% reliable (nothing is 100%). But by combining them your chances of being without a sighting system are that much lower.

(personally I have had more iron sight failures than I have RDS failures, FWIW)