Visibility of pistol front sight when looking through a red dot

I recently tried out a pistol at my local range with a red dot attached. I’m thinking of adding one and wanted to try before I buy. One thing I noticed was that the front sight was difficult to see, and therefore find, through the red dot. I wondered if this was a common issue or maybe just the site I was using that day.

For those using red dot pistol sights, is it harder to see the front sight through the red dot, and if so, how do you mitigate it?


With the light on? Why would you try to use a site in addition? To me, that would seem to defeat the purpose.

With the light off, the front site is in the same place as it was before, no? Some of mine have the red dot aligned to the hard sites.

Maybe some answers here?


I’m not necessarily using the sight in addition to the dot, it’s just something I noticed. Here’s why it matters to me. I recently did a USCCA five hour training course. The pistol I was using is equipped with a light and laser combination. At some point fairly early in the course the battery died and I shot the rest of the course without the benefit of the light or laser. My point being, that I can’t always depend on something battery operated. Things do fail.

Now, take that to a defensive situation. If, for some unknown reason, the dot isn’t on when I need it, I want to be able to quickly pick up the front sight. It may just be a matter of getting used to looking through the lens to the front sight. As a newbie to red dots, I just wondered what others had experienced.


Not all pistol sights are compatible with red dot sights. The sights have to be taller to CO-WITNESS with the red dot. You may need different iron sights to use both.


Depends. I’ve set up quite a few different guns, dots, and sights now.

If the sight is off (or, while unlikely, failed), the front sight appears about 95% the same as without an RDS. You are looking through one or more pieces of glass so it isn’t exactly as perfect (and no RDS glass is as bright and crisp as some of the good scopes out there, be it pistol or rifle RDS)…but the front sight is very close through the RDS when compared to an iron sights only pistol.

It’s going to depend on the height of the iron sights and the specific iron sights and what the front sight/dot setup is.

I’d show some pictures but it’s very difficult for me to get a camera (phone) to focus in a way that represents what they eye sees.


I don’t use any red dot sites on any of my pistols,I use what i call on demand laser sights,has a button on the inside grip and my middle finger activates it and to zero the sights i use a snap cap and see where the top sites line up whether top,center or at bottom of rear site,and also the laser is also zeroed in where the snap cap hits the target


@Rick124 , as @James366 posted - you need to be sure that your iron sight configuration allows to be co-witness with the red dot. That has to be verified with manufacturers.
If your configuration is not compatible and the dot dies because of battery - use your optic’s frame as a reference point - center your target in the frame. It works for defensive distance for sure.

and… Welcome to the Community !


I converted to red dot sight (RDS) about a year ago. Several things to know. And yes, battery failure is something to consider.

  1. As for your initial concern, as others have pointed out above, your iron sights must be taller than standard, sometimes called suppressor-height, to be usable through the RDS frame. Most original equipment iron sights have to be replaced when you add RDS to the gun.
  2. The term co-witnessed sights might be a bit misleading. You never use both iron and RDS at the same time; only use one or the other when shooting. It actually means that you have zeroed the RDS and the iron sights independently, so each when used gives aim point as hit point accurately.
  3. For RDS as with laser sighting, you focus on the target, not the front sight. If you have a lot of experience with traditional sight alignment and sight picture with iron sights, it can take hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of practicing target focus to get used to doing this automatically. Use dry fire for this work.
    a. Do not stop practicing with your iron sights. Keep both skills current. Front sight focus is right if your RDS fails for any reason.
  4. With an RDS, do not bother centering the dot in the frame, or aligning it with the iron sights. Once properly zeroed, if the dot is on your aim point on your target anywhere in the window frame, you are aimed. Remember, the dot will be a bit fuzzy, because your focus is on the target.
  5. You probably will need a new holster. The holster must be cut at the top to make room for the RDS and it also has to have space for the taller suppressor-height iron sights. Most all custom holster companies can provide both options.
  6. For close shooting, 3 to 4 yards, you have to know the vertical offset of the RDS. That is, when that close you have to put the dot a few inches higher than your desired hit point on the target.
  7. A lot of good instructors have YouTube videos with solid advice on using RDS. I like John Correia at Active Self Protection Extra and Scott Jedlinski (Jedi) of Modern Samurai Project.

Welcome aboard @Rick124

I recently tried to pair the Swampfox Sentinel to my Hellcat OSP.

Swampfox called them a match. I’m afraid I did not read the fine print where Swampfox recommended their suppressor height rear sight be included in the mix. I like the Hellcat rear sight so I’m in a pickle.

All I can see of the front sight is the very tiptop through the optic.

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I tried for one picture example here

It’s rather difficult, especially holding the pistol in one hand, to get a camera in place to properly focus while also trying for even semi close alignment



I’ve been using a Red Dot for about 8 months now. To be honest, I don’t even notice that my carry gun has a front sight. When I train, my focus is on the target anyway so I don’t feel the need for me to worry about my front sight at all.

I change all the batteries on my optics on my birthday each year to ensure that they are always good to go and the Holosun that I have on my carry gun has a small solar panel on the top for emergency backup.

At a recent pistol class I took, the instructor did talk about what to do if the dot fails. His technique was to use the tip of the red dot itself as the sight, so height over bore comes into play here. Train at the range around 10-15 feet and see how your shots land on target by using the top of the red dot as your sight. You may find you can hit the target a lot better than you think and you won’t be limited to looking through a small window to line up front and rear site.


Welcome to the family brother @Rick124 and God bless you.