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3 Things to Know Before Buying a Pistol Red Dot Sight (Applies to Green Dot Optics also)

3 Things to Know Before Buying a Pistol Red Dot Sight (Applies to Green Dot Optics also)

Hey Freedom Gorillas, today we are going to talk about 3 things you should know before you buy a red dot sight for your pistol. We sell many pistol red dot sights and green dot sights, and we see a lot of “common” issues that only become apparent to customers once they have the optic in their hands.

We are going to share these things with you, with hopes it helps with your research, and helps you make a more educated purchase decision.

TLDR Summary

If you don't feel like reading the whole article, the 3 most important things you need to be aware of before purchasing a pistol red dot are:

  1. Make sure you are 100% confident the red or green dot sight you order will fit your pistol. Use our fitment guides and fitment tables or contact us to confirm.
  2. Prepare yourself to see a blurry, starbursty, or duplicate dot. It doesn't matter if you have perfect vision and no astigmatism, when looking at high intensity pistol red dot laser emitters, you're eye will not see a perfect clear crisp image like you see in the pictures. Instead you will see something that looks like a starburst, or blurry, or duplicate - it's normal and 99.99% of people see the dot like this and just deal with it - it's just the way it is.
  3. Understand that you will need to learn how to "find the dot". When you first start shooting pistol red dots, you will quickly realize that just because you put the pistol in front of you and look through the window, does not mean you will see the red dot. You will need to practice putting your arms and hands in the correct orientation in order to "find the dot". The ACSS Vulcan reticles help with this, you can read more about how they work in our ACSS Vulcan Guide here.

Ok so you want a red dot on your pistol, that’s great, before you go ahead and purchase one, here are (in our opinion) the most important things you should know before you buy.

1. Be 100% confident the red dot you purchase fits your pistol

Here at Freedom Gorilla we try our best to make sure customers purchase red or green dot sights that will fit on their pistol. We created these Fitment Guides, and we have fitment tables on each optic page like this, so you can easily verify fitment. The easiest way to figure out if the red dot will fit your pistol is to find the fitment guide for your pistol here or to read the fitment table in the description of red dot you are looking at.

In order to know which optic will fit your pistol you need to know a few things...

First, you need to know if your pistol is optics ready or not. If it’s not optics ready, then you will need to use a dovetail adapter plate like ones found here or you will need to get your slide milled by a place like CHPWS.

Non-Optics Ready Slide vs Optics Ready Slide - how to identify

If your pistol is optics ready, then you need to know what footprint your slide is. Optics ready pistols come with either a direct mount slide or they come with a proprietary milled slide and multiple adapter plates.

Optics Ready Slide with multiple adapter plate system.

The best way to find your slides footprint is to read your manual, or read our fitment guide for your pistol here.

If you have an optics ready pistol, and know the footprint, you also need to know if you need an adapter plate or special screws. Our fitment guides cover all this information and so do the fitment tables on the red dot product detail page.

But just so you are aware, sometimes the screws that come with the optic are too long, so make sure you do your research or contact us if you need help.

The last and final thing is to understand which aftermarket adapter plates are available for your pistol. Sometimes you may want to mount and optic that doesn’t fit using your current footprint or adapter plates, you can use our adapter plate finder here and find your pistol. Here we list all the aftermarket adapter plates for your specific optics ready pistol.

2. Understand that you have astigmatism (even if you think you don’t) and that the dot will be blurry, fuzzy, starbursty, or duplicated when you look at it.

The second most common occurrence among pistol red dot or green dot buyers is that when they first see the red dot in person, it’s not as crisp and clear as the photo online. Many times they think it’s defective. 99% of the time it is not defective, and what you are seeing is a blurry, fuzzy, starburst dot and reticle because of astigmatism.

It doesn’t matter how perfect your vision it, or that your doctor tells you you don’t have astigmatism, due to the technology of these pistol red dot sights, almost everyone on earth sees some kind of red dot distortion. It’s just how humans eyes are.

So the moral of the story is - expect to see a non-perfect dot. It will likely be blurry, fuzzy, starbursty, or look like you're seeing double. 

Red Dot Sight & Astigmatism Examples. What a red dot sight actually looks like in real life

3. Understand that you will need to “find the dot” and will need to practice to become proficient

If you’ve never shot a pistol with a red dot sight on it before, then you will quickly realize that a pistol red dot isn’t magic. There is a VERY good chance that you will turn on your pistol red dot, install it on the pistol, bring it up in front of you and NOT see the dot. That's right, read that again, there is a very good chance you will look through the glass and NOT see the dot the first time you draw the pistol.

This is because you will have to “find the dot”. Finding the dot is something all new pistol red dot shooters must learn. Just because you can see the window, doesn’t mean you will see the dot.

Similar to iron sights, you will still need to make sure your hands and arms are in the correct orientation so that the dot is visible when you have the pistol in front of you.

The good news is that you can practice this and it will eventually become muscle memory, but at first it is something you will need to learn.

If this is a big concern for you, we recommend checking out the ACSS Vulcan reticle, this helps making finding the dot easier. Here is a guide on the ACSS Vulcan.

ACSS Vulcan Pistol Red Dot Aiming Assist Example - How it works.
How to adjust your aim with the acss vulcan red dot reticle



Our goal isn’t to scare you away, it’s to educate you so you can become smarter and understand what to expect when purchasing a red dot.

We believe the more you know, the better of an experience you will have.

So to summarize, make you you are 100% confident the red dot you purchase will fit your pistol, make sure you understand your red dot will look blurry, fuzzy, starbursty due to eye astigmatism, and understand that you will need to practice “finding the dot” to become proficient at shooting a red dot.

If you have any questions please reach out to us.

Thank you for reading!

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