Not too long ago, a friend of mine went to a practical pistol match and entered the concealed carry division. The division’s rules simply stated that you had to compete with your everyday carry gun. When my buddy pulled out his compact pistol (a Glock 19, as I recall) to load it for the first stage, the range safety officer noted the reflex red dot sight and questioned its use in the concealed carry division. When my buddy replied that it was indeed his EDC gun that he carried AIWB, he was allowed to proceed, much to the chagrin of some of the other competitors. When telling the story, he said that had been his concealed carry rig for some time and would continue to be until something better came along.
OPTICS FOR SMALL PISTOLS
Early optics-ready pistols were either full-size or compact models. Today, a number of manufacturers have introduced sub-compact and micro-compact pistols with slide cuts for the installation of a micro red dot (MRD) reflex optic. Several of these manufacturers even offer pistol/optic combinations direct from the factory.
THE RIGHT FIT
When choosing a sub-compact or micro-compact optics-ready pistol, the most important consideration is fit. This includes how it fits your hand (including shootability), how it fits your preferred method of carry and how it fits the MRD that you want to use. If a pistol is too large or too small for your hands to grip properly, it is going to be difficult to shoot accurately, especially under duress.
Presumably, the main reason for choosing a small pistol is for ease of concealment. So, you must be able to conceal the pistol/red dot combination comfortably where it is easily accessible. Finally, the preferred pistol must have the proper slide cut and mounting system so that your MRD of choice fits and functions properly.
Fitting your desired MRD to the sub-compact or micro-compact pistol of choice is not necessarily a given. Some MRD/pistol combinations are much more compatible than others. Not all slides are machined to accept all MRDs. Some MRDs are simply too long for the slide cut. Other combinations won’t work because the hole patterns aren’t compatible or no adapter plate is available.
When possible, I recommend a combination where the MRD bolts directly to the slide and an intermediate plate is not required. Adapter plates just create one more place where something can come loose or be misaligned. Some MRDs now also include multiple reticle choices in one optic.
FIND A HOLSTER
Another area of concern is the holster. Not all holster designs, especially custom fit and molded types, are compatible with a mounted MRD. Make sure that the holster that you want to use will accept a pistol with an MRD attached. Some will work for pistols either with or without an MRD, while others can be modified by the end user. Still others must be custom molded to accept an MRD. Generally, leather will be somewhat forgiving whereas Kydex will not. Suppressor height co-witnessing sights may also cause an interference fit with some holsters.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Choose wisely when selecting a concealed carry pistol and red dot setup because your life might depend on it. Keep it as simple as possible. Check your battery every time you holster your gun. Have backup iron sights if possible. Remember, just putting an MRD on your concealed carry pistol isn’t going to make you a better defensive shooter. The key to coming out on top in a gunfight is preparation and proper training.
MRD VS. IRON SIGHTS
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