Tradition typically exists based on a history of proven effectiveness. When a certain piece of gear or technology works well, people tend to take notice, and stick with it until something better arrives. Often, these traditions stick around for decades, or even centuries. Iron sights on firearms are one such piece of technology. The use of metal sight posts to aim at a target has been around for hundreds of years, and despite the drastic changes in other forms of technology, iron sights remain effective today.

Handgun red dot sight SIG pistol gun 3

SIG SAUER Academy Vice President Adam Painchaud demonstrates some of the advantages of a red dot sight.

However, some in the firearms industry are saying that red dot sights are the way of the future, and that they may soon overtake or even replace iron sights. Claiming this for long guns is one thing, but saying that red dots will eclipse iron sights for every-day carry handguns is a somewhat bolder claim.

Handgun red dot sight SIG pistol gun 5

If a pistol is on your person day-in and day-out, it’s likely to be subjected to dust, moisture, pressure, impacts, vibration, heat, and cold. Obviously, it’s essential to be able to rely on your carry gun’s ability to fire reliably, but also its ability to put rounds on target accurately. Some of this comes down to training and practice, but a precise sight is an important element as well.

Adam Painchaud, Vice President of SIG SAUER Academy, says that he believes iron sights won’t be the primary aiming device on pistols for too much longer:

Modern compact red dot sights have gotten impressively tough, light, and reliable. The battery in the Trijicon LED RMR is said to last for two years of typical use. Most modern pistol red dot optics are also shock-resistant and waterproof. A properly set-up red dot can greatly aid quick targeting and transitioning between targets, skills which are essential in a fast-paced self-defense situation.

Ian from Forgotten Weapons makes an argument in favor of pistol red dots in the video below:

Red dot sights clearly have their merits, but from a survival perspective, some may argue that the risks outweigh the rewards. No matter how durable they are, they’re still more prone to breakage than simple iron sight posts. And in a long-term survival scenario, the batteries will run out eventually; finding a replacement coin-style battery that fits will be tough if SHTF. Finally, pistol red dot sights can be quite expensive, so this is also a factor to consider.

So, what do you think about red dot sights on carry handguns? Let us know in the poll below.


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