The use of MRDs (mini red-dot sights) on pistol slides is an exciting and stimulating trend that’s relatively new in the marketplace. Just 20 years ago, competitive shooters wanting to use an optic on a handgun mostly gravitated to Aimpoint 2000s and Tasco Propoints. These sights attached to mounts that were drilled and tapped to the frame of a 1911 or Tanfoglio or used a mount that replaced a grip panel that attached via the two grip screws. Both of these systems ended up quite high over the bore axis.
Adding to the overall height of the optical center was also the large diameter of the optic used. The higher above the bore axis the aiming point is, the harder it is to have the same point of aim/impact at different distances, and it’s also much less intuitive to aim the gun. Plus, the structural integrity of the products was such that shooters with high round counts planned on replacing them at least once or twice a year.
Enter the MRD. With the passage of time, electrical sighting products have gotten smaller and stronger. What is really different and stimulating is that now, these tiny red-dot sights are being installed directly on pistol slides, allowing the lowest possible aiming point-over-bore axis. Not all MRDs can withstand the violent acceleration and abrupt slamming that living on a recoiling pistol slide requires. Such ferocious use demands utmost recoil resistance, and most manufacturers are not capable of making such a product. A $100 MRD on your favorite centerfire pistol will have a short life, indeed. The Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, Vortex Razor, SIG Romeo 1 and the Burris FastFire 3 are the hottest players.
Apparently, while we’ve been sleeping, there were tip-of-the-spear warriors using slide-mounted MRDs for quick head shots on bad guys in faraway, sandy places. Slide-mounted MRDs have also been warmly received by the shooting public as fun and useful. What’s astounding is that they have become accepted by many as a legitimate main sighting option on concealed-carry pistols. And some holsters will accept a gun with a mounted MRD.
“Using a dot is much faster, because it simplifies the sighting equation: No longer is there rear sight, front sight, target. Instead, it’s just a target with a dot on it.”
One of the most important fundamentals I learned early in pistolcraft was, “Front sight, front sight, front sight.” Everything revolves around the front sight. With a slide-mounted MRD, the gun is brought up to a slightly lower level than with iron sights; but even more unusual is that you can focus on the target instead of the front sight. The dot superimposes over your clear target, and you continue to view your target in focus, allowing the dot to hover over your aiming point.
This provides greater situational awareness. Using a dot is much faster, because it simplifies the sighting equation: No longer is there rear sight, front sight, target. Instead, it’s just a target with a dot on it. It’s fast, fast, fast!
Factory pistols are now available with cut slides ready to accept the most popular MRDs. Or, you could send out your slide to a custom shop—there’s a large industry devoted to milling slides and other custom work. Another option is to buy a new slide from one of dozens of parts houses that have sprung up around the country. Prices vary from reasonable, at a fraction of the cost of a new gun, to full-blown customs that cost substantially more.
“Not all MRDs can withstand the violent acceleration and abrupt slamming that living on a recoiling pistol slide requires.”
But you don’t have to drop a lot of dimes to mount a red-dot on your favorite pistol. Mounts are available that replace the rear sight and adapt an MRD to your slide so you can be just like the cool kids. I bought my Glock 22 when the .40 S&W was a very exciting, new cartridge, and it made major power level when shooting IPSC. I shot in a league for years with the stock gun and carried it as a private investigator. I hadn’t shot the gun in a while, and it seemed like a good candidate for a facelift. Evolution Gun Works offered a mount specifically for my Glock slide with a footprint that matched the Vortex Razor I put aside for this project.
The $50 mount went on appropriately snugly with the not-so-gentle persuasion of a wooden mallet, because sight tools generally won’t work with a part so large. A set screw further secured the mount in the center of the slide. It has a clean look and matches the contour of the Razor. At the range, the gun performed perfectly, and I’ve never had such easy target acquisition with this gun before. It’s also a lot of fun to lend to folks who have never experienced this type of aiming system on a pistol. It’s a bit unorthodox to us old-school shooters, but in time, it will prove to help in faster and more accurate shooting overall.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.