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Pistol Optics

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Should You Put Optics on Your Pistol?

Last year, Gary Gross and his family were sound asleep at 3:15 A.M. when they were startled awake by noises in their home.

The family, who lives in Columbia Township, Ohio, heard intruders inside their home on a Saturday morning when Gary grabbed a hammer and confronted the men.

A struggle between Gary and the two intruders ensued and Gary lost the hammer that he was trying to use to scare off the suspects.

As the intruders moved around the house, Gary’s main concern was for the safety of his wife and 14-month old baby who were hiding in a back room.

Eventually, Gary retrieved a handgun and fired on one of the intruders.

After hitting one of the men, Gary transitioned to the other intruder shooting him as well, causing both men to the flee the home.

According to Gary, “The only thing going through my mind is if they do something to me there’s nobody left to protect my wife and my son.”

Both suspects who broke into the home were located by police a few miles from the residence and taken to the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds.

The fact is, home invasions are on the rise with seven homes being broken into every minute in the U.S.

In addition, the majority of these crimes involve more than one criminal, typically working as a team or lookout while they steal from their victims.

This is why these days when you create your home defense plan you need to include the fact that you may be forced to deal with multiple threats.

As was the case with Gary Gross, he knew that he had no choice but to stop multiple intruders or they would have gotten to his family.

When dealing with multiple intruders, there is clearly a need for accurate shooting and transitioning from one threat to another.

This is one of the reasons I’m often asked if you should put optics on your home defense pistol.

Here are some pros and cons when thinking about doing this to your gun…


Speed and accuracy. Whether on a rifle or handgun, optics eliminate the need for a shooter to spend as much time lining up the sights as with a traditional 3-dot sighting system.

The optic will give the shooter an in-focus dot that they simply place on the target.

Helps with poor vision. Depending on the specific person, many shooters find that optics can help those with aging eyes see their target easier.

In other words, if your vision is not as good as it use to be and you have difficulty acquiring a front sight, then optics may be easier for you to shoot accurately.

Improves visibility in low light. Optics are not going to make you magically see everything when it’s pitch black, however, in low light conditions, a red dot optic is going to be more visible and easier to see.


Reliability. If you buy quality optics, asking if they will fail is like asking if your car won’t start tomorrow. Yes, it could potentially happen, however it’s not very likely.

With that being said, if you are putting optics on a self-defense weapon you absolutely should set it up where you can still use the iron sights. In other words, if the optic ever does fail, you must have a backup option.

Losing the dot. During a stressful encounter, the last thing you want to do is lose the dot and be unable to deal with the dangerous threat.

So, you need to practice, practice, practice, if you are going to put optics on a self-defense pistol.

In addition, some shooters experience losing the dot during recoil.

What usually happens is the shooter ends up pointing the muzzle down after firing a shot so they have to reacquire the dot.

No matter whether you use — iron sights or optics — the key is to train and practice with your self-defense pistol.

If you think that you may want to try out some optics for your pistol, I would check out Leupold, Aimpoint and Trijicon.




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