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Sasquatch the Reaper 02-28-2016 03:16 PM

Pistol questions
This is somewhat related to my previous thread.

When did the trend of putting red dot sights on pistols (specifically Glocks) really take off?

Excalibur 03-01-2016 09:21 PM

The trend has been around since IPSC in the 90s. There has always been a market for putting red dots on handguns. It's only recently in the passed few years where people have decided it might work as a defensive/offensive option on your carry gun/duty gun/ sidearm.

An excerpt from a blog post:
History and Evolution:

Red Dot equipped pistols have been around for over two decades. In the 1990 USPSA Nationals Jerry Barnhart used a red dot scope to win and the same year Doug Koenig won the IPSC World Shoot with a red dot equipped CZ.

The first defensive gun I saw with a red dot was in a Kelly Mccann video back in the late 90's. He had a Doctor Optic mounted to a Glock 19 and I thought it was the most revolutionary thing I had ever seen. After getting one and shooting with it, I quickly lost interest. The window was too small, the optic was too fragile and I had no back up sights.

Fast forward to 2010 and I was reading about Gabe Suarez mounting an Aimpoint T-1 to a Glock. While I liked the idea, the T-1 was still way to big for a carry gun.

A few years earlier, David Bowie of Bowie Tactical, was starting to mill Glocks and M&Ps to accept micro red dots. The major difference between what Bowie and Suarez offers is where the rear sight is positioned. David strongly prefers to put the rear sight in front of the optic and Suarez prefers to put it behind the optic.

In the last year an exciting new mounting option has come out from Unity Tactical. The ATOM mount allows users to change the mounting plate to accommodate the use of different optics. I see this as a critical feature moving forward to provide a platform that can evolve with optics technology.

Sasquatch the Reaper 03-01-2016 11:28 PM

So it wouldn't make sense for a PD's SWAT team in the 90s/early 00s to have red dots on their sidearms, would it?

Mandolin 03-02-2016 12:03 AM

I've never looked, but I don't think any police units uses red dots on handguns.

Pistols with optics is to my limited knowledge limited to IPSC-style shooting competitions and hunting.

Excalibur 03-02-2016 02:28 AM

I have yet to see any police force rocking red dots on their handguns today.

So it would be really weird...unless you're writing a story taking place in some alternate world were firearm techniques and technologies is 20 years ahead of the times

commando552 03-02-2016 02:39 AM

Very recently you have started seeing some police with a red dot on their pistol. The reason that it is only happening relatively recently is that it has taken a while for the technology to get small yet rugged enough to work on a carry sidearm. When they were originally used in the 90s for competition shooting they were large enough that they could not be mounted on the slide and used mounts that attached to the frame. It wasn't until about 2000ish that you started getting sights that could be mounted on a slide.

I believe that the grand-daddy of all of them was made by a British company called Firepoint (sold in the US as the Tasco Optima 2000), who went out of business in 2002 and subsequently the same sight was made by JPoint, and a metal bodied version by Doctor. By the mid-2000s they were being used in combat by some Special Forces experimentally, however at this point in their development they were not particularly reliable. A sight mounted on a slide takes a bit of a beating, and the sights tended to suffer from wandering zeroes, coming loose of their mounts, or just breaking all together. In the early 2000s some companies did start actually mounting these sorts of sights onto their guns at the factory (you could get CZs fitted with Firepoints on the slide), but these tended to be more for competition rather than military/police use.

These days slide mounted sights are a lot more rugged and reliable, so they have gotten to the point where military/police are starting to actually trust them (for example regular uniformed police are starting to use them more, not because they are tacti-cool but because some older officers with not perfect eyesight prefer them). This wouldn't have been the case in the early 2000s though, they were still more of a novelty/competition thing.

If you want to give them something special, give them Crimson Trace grips. They have been around since the mid 90s and would be more likely to actually be used.

Excalibur 03-02-2016 02:46 AM

There's still a stigma with any electronic optics even today in our tacti-cool world. Red Dots on long guns are the norm, but just a few years ago, I know Marines that today are meh with red dots because all they got were iron sights, so to them, technology is something you can't take for granted and what works better 100% of the time are iron sights. So especially in the 90s when red dots are as of yet proven technology, no one would really want to issue them en mass unless they are special forces.

Sasquatch the Reaper 03-02-2016 06:39 AM

Well, the story is kinda in a slightly futuristic setting, even though it's in the 2000s.

Technology is pretty advanced in it. So I suppose firearms tech could be advanced too.

Commando, it alright if I message you?

commando552 03-02-2016 09:59 AM


Originally Posted by Sasquatch the Reaper (Post 42404)
Commando, it alright if I message you?

Sure, go ahead.

Yournamehere 03-02-2016 09:11 PM

Red dots on pistols is still a relatively new thing (2010s and later), mostly for the reasons stated previously (technology becoming effective enough for the application). There may have been red dots used on pistols as early as the 1990s but they were big, clunky, and not very reliable.

In fact, the COMP series which gave rise to the M68CCO used on US military rifles was originally designed to be used on pistols (Aimpoint's website details this). Before that, competitors would use old Tasco sights on their guns which were so heavy and so unreliable that competitors would have three different guns because one would be broken and need to be sent in for repairs, one would break during competitions, and one would be the spare gun (this was from an article in Guns and Ammo).

Additionally, that clunky old red dot scene, while worth noting to some degree, it still something that only really happened in competition shooting prior to 2010, and most definitely not tactical shooting. Moreover, their limited used in this arena (pun intended) doesn't air legitimacy to the use of of a red dot on a pistol by an average joe in 2007. The red dots we see fairly often now (and arguably still not that often for a number of reasons) weren't around in 2007, save for the Aimpoint T1 (which had just come out and probably wouldn't be widely available) and Trijicon's forerunner to the RMR (which would be in the same situation as the T1). Not to mention that installing either of those would require customization via drilling or milling out the slide of a pistol and function checking to make sure the added weight didn't make the gun unrelaible. 9 times out of... 9, if a guy has a pistol in 2007 in any operational or any other capacity, it will have vanilla sights and nothing else.

And this is before the general discussion of whether or not to have a red dot on a pistol now, hehe.

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