Best Red Dot for Pistol Shooting

Our frequent client and professional firearms photographer pal Matt wondered about getting into pistol red dot sights, so he reached out the the original and best shooting experience, the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience. We forwarded his inquiry to pistol pro Ben Weiser!

“Ben, I appreciate your willingness to answer some questions.

I am new in the red-dot research forum. I have a buddy who had his 1911 milled and added a Holosun (all that was a Christmas gift, so he hasn’t tried it out yet). I know Trijicon has good reviews, but is pricey.

I haven’t heard much about the Vortex Viper or Venom. I know Vortex has a great reputation and Shepard always speaks highly of their rifle scopes. I like the lower looking profile they seem to have then some of the other brands and models.

I run a Glock 19 as my ccw gun. Are red-dots worth all the hype they get? How hard are they to adjust to? And are Vortex making quality red-dots? I may have some Vortex specific questions if you recommend them if you are willing as well.

Sorry for the lengthy email, but I appreciate your time!


Ben’s response:

Hey Matt,

Glad you’re getting into the pistol dot world, it’s a lot of fun. Vortex isn’t my go-to brand for red dots but I’ve heard good things about the Viper and Venom dots.
From my experience, Trijicon’s red dots are excellent and very dependable. The RMR and SRO are my first choices and I’ve personally found them to be worth the higher price tag. Holosun products have also proven themselves over the last several years as very high-value red dots. They’re reasonably priced and offer most of the capabilities of more expensive options.
Trijicon and Holosun are my two top picks, but Vortex has a great reputation and good warranty service if anything were to fail. I don’t have as much experience with their pistol dots but if you’re specifically looking at a lower-profile optic, they seem like a good option.
If you are already a competent pistol shooter and want to take your skills to the next level I think trying out a dot is a great idea. It offers a more intuitive method of aiming and with some training, I think you’ll find it allows for a more “seamless” shooting experience. For me, shooting with a red dot is more natural and allows me to process target information immediately while shooting accurately at speed.
In my experience, you’ll “adjust” to shooting with the dot proportionally to how skilled of a pistol shooter you already are. If you can already consistently present the pistol and have your sights immediately aligned, you won’t have to search for the dot upon presentation. If your grip is already excellent and your sights consistently return to your original point of aim after shooting, you’ll have no issue losing the dot during recoil. The red dot allows you to take maximum advantage of your existing pistol shooting skills. If you have room to optimize those skills, the dot will push you to a higher standard than iron sights would.
I hope that answers some of your questions. If you have any others I’m happy to help.

Interestingly, neither of them mentioned Leupold?