Red dot VS. Iron sights on your carry firearm

I have 2 carry guns with red dots. I like them, BUT, I find that I can “find the dot” faster by using co witness iron sights. Both eyes open, sorta line up the sights and in pops the dot. I shoot better and faster (follow up) with red dots. I have used iron sights all my life but the red dot is here to stay for me.


I recently purchased a new EDC that features a red dot. A gift for these aging eyes! Red dot technology is maturing, and from what I see and have experienced, it has matured to the point of reliability. There is a learning curve to using them vs iron sights or glass tubes: as with any firearms-related discipline, practice, practice, practice.
What I especially like beside faster target acquisition is being able to efficiently shoot with both eyes open. Peripheral vision is greatly enhanced, and just plain feels more natural.

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Iron sights. I have replaced all my factory sights with trijicon night sights but will not upgrade to red dots. to many things to go wrong at the wrong time. Just my opinion.

Train with iron before moving to red dot.

I tried Red Dots didn’t like them .I’m new to EDC I shoot better my Smith & Wesson Performance Plus with Green Tritrium sights .

I’m learning also more to keep both eyes open when acquiring target & have performed better .
My S&W plus doesn’t have a rail to mount light or lazer but I’m told they make one that will work. Not sure how thx

@Mike163 . I’m guessing you use M&P Shield Plus Performance Center. I’d suggest to go with Streamlight TLR-6, which is designed for Shield pistols. There are few more manufacturers, but this one gives the most variety of holster choices.


This is a key point. Doesn’t matter what you can hang off a rail, if you can’t find a happy holster for it what have you got?

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Do you have a favorite drill (or three) to compare how well you shoot the irons vs the red dot? What kind of times/scores did you get with each?

Sometimes a consistent drill with shot timer analysis shows a different performance level than what a person feels

I have 2 Glock 19’s and both are listed on my CCW card. I rotate because while red dots are A LOT faster, they do break and run on batteries. Irons don’t.

I’m seeing few post where people are afraid of durability and power consumption of red dots.

I don’t think it is a case anymore. If you go with good quality system you get 10 years battery lifespan and titanum housing. Your iron sights may become weaker then.

I’m not telling red dot are better, because I know they are not (for me), however it seems that the only consideration to use them or not is how they work for you not how long they stay funcional.


I use a red dot for at night also I have a 9 mm laser I slip into the barrel and I align the laser for distance with that.

Do you mean that you use a laser dry fire or boresight cartridge to zero your red dot?

If so, I would describe my experience that the laser cartridge might not be perfectly aligned with your bore — especially at longer distances that can be significant. Either one will get you on paper for when you actually zero the sight with live ammunition, but don’t count on perfection from a laser cartridge.

Also, keep in mind that any sighting system can only make a straight line, while any bullet will travel a ballistic “lob” away from the sight line at various distances.

Anybody interested in a pistol red dot, checkout Swampfox ASAP.

For those that have gone from irons to red dot, how long did it take you to gain proficiency from a draw to site picture? Anything different from a drill perspective?

I am trialing with (ironically) a Swampfox green dot I picked up July4th sale on an infrequently used pistol that I just recently installed.

The first maybe dozen or so presentations I failed to have the dot in the window… every. single. time.

What I have been doing is every so often pick it up, do maybe 10 presentations. The first presentation is 50/50 whether or not the dot is where I need it. The other 9 (or so) presentations in that set are probably 90% or better the dot is where I need it.

So there is clearly a change needed in my presentation between irons & red dot. But it feels like its close and I am maybe 100 or less presentations into this journey. If you do more presentations, or perhaps just do them more consistently than I do you can maybe get there faster than I will. Especially since this is a low-priority trial for me.

No difference in drills, per se…

With iron sights, I present… and then fine tune my sight picture.

With a dot, your presentation needs to be much closer to final because otherwise you will waste a lot of time focusing back on the irons (lower 1/3rd? co-witness) seeing which direction you are off, and aligning, then refining that sight picture.

I think practicing this with a red dot will make my presentation with irons better as well. So I don’t feel like it is wasted effort to try it out.

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I am strongly perceiving this also, although I am nowhere near ready for EDC with the dot. I can see myself coming along, and what the practice adds to my conventional presentation is worth dividing my attention between the two systems even though time and ammo remain short.

I’m not doing different drills, but I am changing how I practice in order to get up to speed with the red dot. Basically, I’m returning to “beginner mind” for learning presentation and sighting almost from scratch. Put the timer aside, or at least don’t compare “learning red dot” times with “proficient iron” times. Slow everything down until you can present the dot every time, and get the hit accuracy you want every time. Then allow the effort to build speed into the game, while maintaining acceptable presentation and hit consistency. That’s my plan anyway.

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