Using Red Dot Sights vs Iron Sights When It Comes to Pistols with EDC

The acronym EDC stands for “everyday carry”, defining a concealed carry pistol that you keep on you every day. The only purpose of this type of weapon is to keep you safe if you find yourself in a tight spot while being small and light enough as to not get in your way.

What about the sights, though? Will investing in red dot sights pay off when the time comes or is it no better than using iron sights? That’s what we’re going to find out today!

The most obvious argument in favor of iron sights is the price – they’re already attached to the handgun, so you don’t have to invest any money in them. 

Of course, if you think your iron sights are no good, you can replace them (either with other iron sights or with a red dot sight), but the iron sights on a large majority of handguns are just fine.

Depending on the exact model of red dot sights you’re thinking of buying, you might be saving yourself anything from $99 to upwards of $500 if you stick to your iron sights.

Another argument in favor of iron sights is practice shooting with them. Although red dot sights are more accurate, you should learn to shoot with iron sights first, and only then move on to red dot sights.

What’s the purpose of a self-defense firearm if you can only shoot it accurately in ideal conditions? This is the danger of over-relying on red dot sights.

What if your red dot malfunctions and somebody assaults you while your red dot’s in the shop getting fixed? What if your red dot gets damaged during combat? Is this going to make you a bad shot?

If the answer is yes – you need to practice with iron sights more. We need to master the elementary first, and only then move on to the advanced.

Lastly, red dot sights take up some space on the top of your gun. Iron sights, on the other hand, are smaller and more subtle. Honestly, this isn’t that big of a problem, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re worried about it for cosmetic reasons.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first – red dot sights are superior to iron sights in almost every way, with the only major flaw being their steep price (if you’re going for the high-quality ones).

They’re designed with reflex shooting in mind. To be able to shoot accurately while shooting quickly, the aiming sights must be perfectly centered – and that’s exactly what happens.

The reason for this accuracy lies in the movement of the red dot. Let’s jump the ballistics and optical physics on this one and just say this – if you line your eye up with your weapon well, the red dot will always stay perfectly centered.

This means that you take aim as soon as you point the barrel toward the target – that’s much quicker than lining up the two iron sights with the target. 

Don’t believe me? Run a few reflex shooting drills with iron sights and red dot sights with your pistol and compare the results. Not only will you be quicker with the red dot, but your shots will be more accurate too.

On top of the massive boost you gain in accuracy and speed, there are important tactical advantages that deserve a mention as well.

The first one is the lens itself. You can observe everything in front of your barrel while simultaneously aiming, as the lens filters everything except for the red dot. 

This is why red dots have proven to be immensely useful in the military, as standoffs in real life include a lot of ready-to-fire observation. This isn’t as possible with iron sights, as they require you to focus on them and the target specifically.

Then, we have low visibility situations. If you find yourself in pitch-black darkness, you won’t be able to use iron sights at all. This isn’t a problem with red dot sights, as they work in all lighting conditions.

Lastly, red dot sights are a godsend if you have poor eyesight. It’s much easier to concentrate on a single, bright-red spot than on two grey/black iron sights.

Absolutely! Red dot sights are an instant improvement for any shooter, and they’ll prove their usefulness in the field. They’re a perfect addition to any EDC pistol, especially for people with bad eyesight.

However, don’t neglect your iron sights, as you never know when you’ll be left depending on them.