While a red dot (or LPVO) is a given on almost all of my ARs, I’ve recently been exploring the idea of putting my first red dot on a pistol. While we try to focus on ARs, this is a topic we see discussed more and more online. To get an educated opinion on what are the best red dot pistol sights and why a red dot on a pistol is worth considering, we recently spoke with Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project.
Q: Scott, in researching about red dot pistol sights and who is the best guy to talk to, your name came up repeatedly. Can we start with a little bit about who you are and what is Modern Samurai Project?
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: I’m non-military, non-LE…I’m a lifelong martial artist. I say that because when I teach my red dot pistol classes or whatever I teach, there is a heavy emphasis on biomechanics, which for me was influenced by the martial arts, mainly Brazilian ju-jitsu.
Q: Scott, can you explain what Modern Samurai Project is?
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: The best way to do that is probably to explain where the name came from. I live in Northern Virginia, in a town called Leesburg. It is about 22 miles outside of D.C. Technically, it is metro D.C., so it’s impossible to train in the martial arts around here without training with shooters from local, state and federal agencies. So, I helped out a buddy of mine get his blue belt. To pay me back, he offered to teach me how to shoot. That’s how it started. I approached shooting as just another martial art.
I never thought about teaching, but I did want to start my own ‘enthusiast blog.’ I had talked to a buddy of mine, Greg Higgins, as I was trying to figure out what to name it. He said “well, you’re kind of into shooting, martial arts, fast cars…you’re kind of like this ‘modern samurai project.'” When I heard that, I really liked it. Greg was also an artist who did skateboard graphics, and he did the logo for me.
“I got a red dot pistol sight and that changed everything…”
From there, I’ve always been a training junkie, mainly with ju-jitsu and pistol stuff. I started getting into the red dot because my eyes are not that great and the pistol range where I shooting was two light shades above a cave. So, I got a red dot pistol sight and that changed everything. I could see everything and I could keep both eyes open, etc. I ended up getting pretty good with it.
Some friends of mine, Matt Landfair from Primary & Secondary and John Johnston from Ballistic Radio both encouraged me to start teaching. They dragged me into it kicking and screaming but, to be honest, it’s been pretty awesome. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in the country that I would not have met otherwise if it wasn’t for this.
Q: What is it about the red dot pistol sight that gives you an advantage and why is it something to consider?
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: One focal plane…right? It’s the way we’ve been dealing with aiming our entire lives until somebody gave us a rifle or a pistol and said “no, you need to do it this way.”
I will borrow what my friend Aaron Cowen says…we have long been dispatching evil people with threat-focused weapons…rocks, throwing knives, spears, arrows…with those, we’ve always been focused on the target. Then we get the semi-automatic pistol, which until the M9 got adopted back in ’83, sights were not all that great.
So, then we get taught to focus on something other than the target. We’ve been doing that for 40, 50, 60 years now…but now, with the red dot sight, we finally have something that lets us go back to the way we’ve been doing it for tens of thousands of years.
Well, we do that and what do people say? They look at the red dot on the pistol and they say “Oh ,that’s weird or a gimmick.” Well, it’s not weird. It’s the way we’ve always been doing it. So, if this sighting system enables us to do something that is kinesthetically sound, why would we not go back to doing it that way?
Best Red Dot Pistol Sights
Q: There’s a lot of red dots out there…can we talk about what works and what doesn’t? Rather than go negative, is there a short list of best red dot pistol sights?
Best Red Dot Pistol Sights – Trijicon RMR
The Trijicon RMR is the most vetted, most durable, and has the best design. People complain about the small window, and I get that. But at the biggest, you’re going for a 6-MOA dot. You don’t need a huge frame in order to find that, as long as everything else with your draw and your presentation is squared away.
Best Red Dot Pistol Sights – Leupold DeltaPoint Pro
Number two is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. While I don’t like the ergonomics of the brightness settings on the DeltaPoint Pro, Leupold’s reputation cannot be questioned. It also has a bigger window, if that’s your thing.
Best Red Dot Pistol Sights – Holosun 507c
Number three is the Holosun 507c. While new to the market, I have about 3,000 rounds through it and it seems to be pretty durable. As a gateway or even a duty or concealed carry optic, so far the reports have been very, very good.
Q: I’ve noticed something when it comes to discussing these optics…People will say what they think are best red dot pistol sights, but they just don’t have the round counts to be able to say that with any certainty.
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: I will tell you that if you are choosing to go the dot route on your pistol, you have to think about what your own uses are going to be. For example, I have a friend that carries a pistol everyday and he has a Vortex Venom on is Glock 17. I showed him how to put it on properly and he probably shoots in practice maybe 200 rounds a month. That Vortex Venom has not failed him. If he started shooting 1,000 to 2,000 a month, would I tell him he might want to upgrade from the Vortex? Sure…absolutely. In full disclosure, I have friends that work at Vortex and I know they are always working hard to improve their stuff, but I would still tell my friend to upgrade.
However, if you are person who cannot afford a 400-600 dollar optic, and you only shoot 100 rounds a month…is a Vortex Venom going to be good? Yes. Just don’t drop it from shoulder height and understand that it may go out on you.
Now if it’s all about robustness and durability and it’s got to be there 100 percent…well then I would tell that person to get an RMR and have a good maintenance schedule if it is a life and death situation that you’re preparing for. Hopefully that makes sense.
Q: You mention a maintenance schedule for red dot pistol sights…what should that look like?
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: There is never THE way…there is only A way. I can tell you about my specific schedule, that has, knock-on-wood, never failed me:
Number one…I check my screws once a week to make sure they are nice and tight. I then check my zero every time I go to the range. That takes two or three rounds at 10 yards. If I’m hitting point-of-aim/point-of-impact then I know I’m pretty much good.
Number two…I change my battery every six months…not because I have to, but because I want to. I change it on Christmas and I change it on my birthday in August. That’s actually a little more than six months but it’s easy for me to remember.
Number three…With my gun I use blue Loctite. Every time I change my battery out, I put a fresh coat of that on the screws. Also, the batteries I use are only Duracell or Sony.
Q: Finally having the best red dot pistol sight means nothing without being trained in its usage…can you talk about your training classes, and the mindset you want attendees to be in when they arrive?
Scott Jedlinski, Modern Samurai Project: First off, I’d say that “Mindset” is one of those nebulous words like “fundamentals”. You can ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers. My answer to the proper mindset for training is “know why you are there and what you are you trying to accomplish.”
For a beginning student, it’s being able to understand the gun manipulations and being able to put the rounds where you intended them to go.
As you progress, your mindset should be to understand what you are actually trying to accomplish. If you’re going to a class for no other reason than ballistic masturbation or to hear some guy talk about his GWOT stories, that’s awesome, but know that you’re doing that.
“Know why you are going…”
If your idea is that you are wanting to be more accurate when running the gun at distances, or you want to learn more about competitive movement, or you are wanting to go to tactical fantasy man camp and learn CQB for the heck of it, know why you are going there.
Here’s the other thing…If you didn’t get what you wanted to, you need to tell the instructor that or tell yourself that. So, if you were going to a former Green Beret’s class to learn competitive movement, then that’s on you. If you’re going to that same guy and you’re wanting to learn how to quickly draw the gun and deliver rounds quickly on target and get better through a metric and you didn’t get that…that’s on the instructor.
So, you need to be honest with that and seek out the instructors that you know will give you what you need to learn. You also need to be honest about your own shortcomings so that you can get better.
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