If you were to take handguns and rifles and compare the evolution of their sights, you’d find that the rifle has steadily improved and grown over and over. Then, if you look at the evolution of pistol sights, they have been the same for the last hundred years or so. Rifles sights have gone from fixed open, to adjustable, to peep sights, to optics that allow you to engage a target at a mile or at a yard. Pistols have gone from the large front sight and small notch of the single action revolvers to the three even-sized, block-shaped sights of today. Sure we’ve made them bigger, painted them with tritium to make them glow, but in actuality, they really haven’t evolved.
So what can you do to make using your pistol more effective? Well, we all know you can train and train and train. The question is, what can you do equipment-wise when it comes to your sights? One answer is the RMR.
The popularity of RMRs on handguns has steadily been growing for a while. What is an RMR? It’s a Rugged Miniature Reflex sight. It’s essentially a red dot optic installed where the rear sight of your pistol should be. A lot of different companies are putting this optic out there these days.
However, it does take a competent gunsmith to install these sights (that or a scope rail), but I doubt any of us have those on our guns. These RMRs are designed to be installed on modern service handguns like Glocks, Smith and Wesson M&Ps, and FN pistols.
These sights do take some training to get accustomed to. You are using a small red dot to aim, which is a huge difference compared to irons. However, something they do not replace are the fundamentals—if you can’t hit with irons, you won’t hit with a RMR. Applying the basics is the most important thing.
Pros of RMRs
These RMRs actually make longer-range shots so much easier and so much more precise. This is in part due to the simplicity of using a red dot and the fact you see every little mistake you make through the dot. You can observe the dot shaking and moving when you fail to apply proper trigger technique. The small dot placed on a target is so much simpler to see than irons.
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Target transitions are much easier and much faster with the red dot. There is no aligning of the sights. It’s just find the dot, put the dot on target, and squeeze the trigger. Obviously you can see how this works for long-range pistol shooting, but what advantage does this offer for close-range fighting? Well, in close-range environments, you’re not trying to shoot the buttons off his coat…you are trying to aim and shoot as quickly as possible. At close range, you’re not using the dot. You’re simply filling the glass of the RMR with the bad guy’s torso. If he’s filling up the sight, you don’t need a dot. You have gone past “warheads on foreheads.”
RMRs have advanced enough where their batteries are lasting into the hundreds of hours. Now, a natural worry you’re going to have for your RMR is durability, but these things are made tough. They are plenty popular on race and competition guns, but they are built for duty weapons. I’d go as far to say you could use them to chamber a round one-handed on a flat surface.
Cons of RMRs
First and foremost is the training aspect. For someone trained on iron sights, this is a whole new ball game. The first time I fired a Glock 17 with an RMR, I was lost. I had trouble finding the dot because I was looking for it. The sight distracted me at first. I had to learn to look for the front sight and the dot would appear.
After a few hundred rounds, I still have not mastered the optic, but I have observed it’s potential. I’m no pistolero, but I was hitting 9-inch steel targets at fifty yards with ease. That is the max distance I have ever fired a pistol.
Finding holsters for an RMR equipped handgun isn’t exactly easy. I did find that the Blackhawk Serpa holsters worked perfectly with it. Shoulder holsters are pretty much nil. An RMR equipped handgun is more difficult to conceal as well.
The biggest disadvantage is price. More than likely the optic and installation will probably cost as much as your gun. This is pretty disheartening. As they become more popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if the price started falling, and more competitors came out with RMR style optics.
Using an RMR
Do not get sucked into the optic. What I mean by that is, still apply the fundamentals of shooting. You focus on your target and bring you sight to it. You look at where you want to hit and the dot appears there. Do not look for the dot (as I mentioned earlier); this makes finding it much more difficult.
You aim with both eyes open and the target super imposes itself on the target. I learned this style of close-range shooting in the Marines using the Trijicon Acog. The 4x optic worked as a red dot when both eyes were open. The red arrow would appear to be right on the target regardless of the optic’s magnification.
Who sells them?
TSD Combat Systems is an awesome company. They can mill your slide, sell you a pre-milled slide, or complete pistols with pre-installed red dots. They utilize RMRs from Trijicon. I am a bit biased because I love Trijicon optics. I have used them for five years and can’t think of a better, more capable, or tougher optic out there. They outfit and equip Glocks, M&Ps, and SIGs.
In the end…
These sights would be perfect for those with bad eyesight, especially older folks. The red dot is easier to pick up in low light situations, as well as situations where sweat is in your eyes. Your hands can be shaking due to adrenaline or the blood pumping from physical activity, and using the dot is easier than the iron sights.
Are RMRs the future of fight handguns? It may be too early to say, but they are catching on. In reality, it’s going to take adoption by a major metropolitan police force or military units before RMRs have a shot at being standard. This really is something that could happen. Elite units who are allowed more flexibility with their weapons accessories will more than likely be the first to adopt them. Once the picture of that Delta Operator, that SEAL, or Marsoc Marine shows up with an RMR equipped pistol, you never know what could happen.
The good thing is, once they gain popularity, prices will drop and companies will take notice and release their own pre-milled pistols (or even include optics on their pistols). Training schools will offer courses on the proper use of the RMR, and they could even become the new standard in handgun optics.