American Rifleman - August 2021 - 55

T
ubeless, reflex-style sights have come a long way
since the cumbersome and unsophisticated early
iterations of the mid-1980s-the first slidemounted
red-dot ever evaluated by this magazine
had literally been epoxied atop the gun. Designs
are now so lightweight and compact that they
don't impair the function of most contemporary
autoloading pistols or lend the host gun a topheavy
center of balance, and modern innovations such as
auto-on/auto-off capability, solar-powered battery back-up
and the ability to self-regulate the intensity of the aiming
point to best suit ambient lighting conditions have only
added to their utility.
As a result, the integration of a micro red-dot (MRD)
sight atop a pistol slide cut expressly for the use of such
an accessory has been one of the most active trends in the
firearm industry during the past few years. Today, essentially
every major optics company already offers its own
renditions of the former, while virtually every notable gunmaker
is now in production of at least one (and in some
cases dozens) of the latter. And for good reason, as an MRD
aboard a handgun offers a bevy of practical benefits for
both novice and expert shooters alike.
Once thought of as a premium upgrade rarely encountered
on real-world guns, an optic-cut slide has become
such a standard feature these days that new pistol introductions
without this ability are becoming conspicuous
for its absence. In fact, far from requiring an exorbitant
upcharge, pistol manufacturers have become so efficient at
the process that most optics-ready (OR) models now cost
only marginally more than their base designs-and even
many budget-priced semi-automatics are currently offered
in an MRD-compatible variant. As you'll see in a moment,
the list of available options on the market today includes
multiple sub-$500 guns (look no further than p. 48 of
this magazine for two great new examples from Taurus),
and even a few quality options that can be had by the
OR-curious gun buyer for less than $400.
However, a great deal of confusion has seeped into the
modern optics-ready marketplace over the years, resulting
in a quagmire of moving parts that, unfortunately, I
believe dissuades many prospective buyers from taking
the plunge. The purpose of this article is to shed some light
on-and hopefully help demystify much of the uncertainty
surrounding-this equally fun and advantageous segment of
the firearm industry.
The premise is quite simple-or at least it should be:
Two holes bored through the optic allow it to be affixed to
the drilled and tapped OR slide by way of a pair of screws.
A series of (either two or four) dimples in the flat bottom
of the MRD line up with corresponding pegs in the
top plane of the mounting surface of the gun to both help
keep the red-dot secured in place and to arrest the recoil
energy exerted on the optic by the sharp reciprocation
of the slide. All of these holes, dimples and pegs must be
properly aligned for a given optic and a given pistol to be
used together. So far, so good.
Photo by Forrest MacCormack
americanrifleman.org
But, as more and more MRDs and optics-ready pistols
entered the marketplace, manufacturers began to experiment
with the configuration of their products' mounting
interfaces. By altering the width of the gap between
the screw holes and/or the orientation of the anchoring
dimples, a number of distinct footprints were created that
do not play well together. Suddenly, there was no guarantee
that Optic A could be used atop Pistol B.
Gunmakers responded in two ways: by drilling their
slides with more than one set of screw holes and/or by
developing adapter plates configured to accept some of
the more popular mounting footprints. Taken together,
this allowed a particular OR pistol to play host to the
MRDs of multiple patterns. But even today-with the
abundance of optic-compatible pistols, pistol-compatible
optics and adapter plates available for consumers to
choose from-there is still no assurance that an MRD
randomly pulled from the shelf will be able to mount onto
the gun of your choice, so some forethought before making
a purchase is greatly encouraged.
With that in mind, and in an effort to provide prospective
OR customers on either side of the pistol/optic equation
with as much pre-purchase information as possible, I
conducted a thorough survey of the current optics-ready
landscape, contacting each company individually so as to
get the information straight from the horses' mouths. The
results are presented below in the form of two tables. The
first catalogs many of the optics industry's currently available
MRD models, as well as which mounting footprint each
is built around. The second lists the optics-ready pistol
models available on the firearm market today, along with
details regarding the mounting system they employ and
which optical footprints that system can accommodate.
As this important information regarding compatibility
is sometimes not made readily accessible by the companies,
I thought it would be valuable to compile it all
in one place for easy reference by potential buyers. But
first, a bit more explanation is necessary in order for all
of what follows to make sense.
Much of the confusion surrounding OR guns and their
optics stems from a total lack of standardization within both
industries regarding the identification of the various mounting
footprints-a situation that has created the false impression
that many more patterns exist than actually do. For
example, one company may tell you that its MRD uses the
Burris FastFire footprint, while another lists on its website
that its model is built around the Vortex Venom footprint.
Well guess what? Both the Burris FastFire and the Vortex
Venom employ the same footprint-and it was first developed
by Docter back in 1998, so that company deserves the
credit. I have found this phenomenon to be rampant within
the optics industry, and it occurs on the gun side as well,
serving to really muddy the waters for consumers.
However, once you realize that the vast majority of today's
micro red-dots use one of only four main mounting patterns-
the C-More, Docter, RMR and Shield footprints-a great deal
of the seeming complexity falls away. Of these, the Shield
august 2021
55
http://www.americanrifleman.org

American Rifleman - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - August 2021

Contents
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Cover1
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Cover2
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 1
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Contents
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 3
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 4
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 5
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 6
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 7
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 8
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