Disclaimer: I’ve trained with Suarez and I’ve trained with Pincus, so I am familiar with two of the people on opposite sides of this debate. I’m also about 1/100th as qualified to talk to about this subject as the guys I mentioned in the above paragraph, so take what I’m about to say with a salt lick or two.
However, I was a crash-test dummy for this episode of Shooting Gallery on red dot guns, and I’m open to the idea that technology can improve our shooting, mainly because advances in technology have improved our shooting ever since we swapped out handgonnes for matchlocks.
The fact is, a red dot is very, very useful on a defensive handgun, for certain situations. I had a completely open mind when I trained with Gabe: My only experience with red dots on pistols was the el cheapo sight on my Smith and Wesson .22, and I was truly curious to see how they worked on a defensive pistol because they seemed to work pretty darn well on all the Open guns I’d see at a match.
At the beginning of Alf and I’s training with Gabe, both of us were chasing the dot at close ranges rather than focusing on our iron sights. Once we realized that the dot was there to augment, not replace, the iron sights on our guns, we settled down, and our groups tightened significantly.
Is a red dot applicable to every shooting situation? No, but guess what, your iron sights aren’t applicable in every situation, either. A red dot really shines (pun intended) when the distance needed to make the shot gets beyond 25 yards. Sight picture is crucial at those distances, and a red dot makes those shots so easy, even a moron like myself can make them. Is it a good thing to know you can make a 50 yard shot on-demand with your carry pistol? I’d say so.
Are red dots an essential must-have tool in your toolbox? No. Are they the future of handguns? Maybe. Are they more beneficial to the average schmo than $1500 worth of ammo and quality firearms training? Probably not. There is a definite niche for the red dot, though, and it’s a niche that will only get bigger as time marches on.