Difficult to learn
Now, we aren’t contradicting ourselves. In the intro above we said that MRDS handguns were “simpler to learn” than iron sights. However, what that means is that for a new shooter, it’s easier to learn to align a red dot on the target than it is to line up the rear sight, front sight, and the target for a proper sight picture.
For someone who has been shooting for years and is accustomed to the “front sight, press” school of handgun shooting, switching to an MRDS-equipped gun can be mildly frustrating at best and infuriating at worst. We’ve known several shooters who simply refused to try to learn to shoot a red dot after one try, because they found it so counterintuitive. But if you dedicate yourself to regular practice, a red-dot-equipped handgun may become your favorite tool.
It’s an unfortunate fact of our global economy that anything that is in high demand (and is relatively high in price) will inevitably attract counterfeits from China. So if you are shopping for your “Trijicon” MRDS on sites like eBay or Amazon, be very careful to check multiple sources, read reviews, and learn the tell-tale signs of counterfeits before you get burned on a knock-off at a “great price.”
Tips on shooting a red dot optic-equipped handgun well
The main difficulty most shooters have when transitioning to a red-dot-equipped handgun is “finding the dot.” Since the dot and window are completely independent of traditional sight alignment, many shooters find themselves fishing for the dot, or quickly losing the dot after they find it, or after each shot.
The short answer to this problem is “practice, practice, practice.” The more you practice getting a consistent draw, and a consistent presentation of the gun, the more often the red dot will be aligned with your eye at the completion of the draw stroke. It takes lots of slow, perfect repetitions to allow you to gradually increase your draw/presentation speed, and if you practice enough you’ll find that you don’t even have to think about finding that dot; it will simply appear on the target and you can break the shot.
A very firm grip and a lighter-recoiling cartridge (like the 9mm) helps with tracking the dot through recoil and realignment. Many shooters find they can keep the dot in the window through the entire recoil cycle and watch it re-settle on the target, if they develop a proper, firm grip and practice enough.
Consider installing co-witness iron sights
Moving from iron sights to a handgun without them, one equipped with only a red dot optic, can be a tall order at first. Some experts recommend installing suppressor-height iron sights, or otherwise “co-witness” irons, to their MRDS-equipped handguns, not only as a backup in case the optic fails, but to aid in aligning the pistol properly and locating the dot.
We recommend against “slaving” your red dot to your iron sights, but it can be helpful at first to use your irons to generally guide your eye to the dot. One potential problem with this is you may become dependent on the iron sights to locate the dot, and you may find one day that either the rear or the front sight has gone missing (we’ve had this happen in the middle of a competition stage, when the front sight broke off).