Glock Handguns: Do You Need a Red Dot?

— Jason MosherCADRE Dispatch

Do you have a red dot on your Glock handgun? Not everyone does, and not everyone wants one. But there is no denying that pistol-mounted red dots are becoming more popular each year.

I remember when mounting an optic on a Glock pistol was a “custom” because Glock didn’t sell them that way. Nowadays, we’re teetering on the verge of companies making MOS models the standard.

Glock Handguns with optics.
Glock handguns come with multiple adaptor plates to accommodate a variety of optics. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

There are people out there who simply don’t care for optics on their handguns. I have some handguns without optics and some with them. Each year Glock produces more MOS-ready handguns. And I’m going to bet it won’t be long before it’s hard to find them without.

So, are you wondering what the pros and cons are for mounting a red dot on your Glock pistol? You’ve come to the right place. Here are a few of the benefits and drawbacks of mounting an optic on your Glock.

Benefits of mounting a red dot on your Glock

If you own any type of rifle, there’s a good chance you have some type of optic on it, right? This could be a red dot or LPVO on your AR-15, or a scope on your bolt-action rifle.

Think about why so many people mount optics on rifles. When using iron sights, you can shoot much better with a rifle than a handgun because of the distance between the sights.

Competition shooters use optics on handguns because they are more accurate and improve target acquisition. Part of the reason they make target acquisition faster is because you only have to line up the dot with the target.

Glock 49 MOS with Trijicon RMR.
Glock MOS pistols come with multiple adaptor plates making it easy to mount a variety of optics. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

On traditional handgun sights, you must line up the front and back sights with your target at the same time. When a red dot is mounted on your Glock, it’s one less thing to pay attention to.

These benefits are the same for any handgun, not just Glock pistols. But there are some benefits to purchasing a Glock if you plan to use a red dot. Here are a few reasons I like mounting an optic to my Glock pistol more than other pistols.

Here’s why I like using Glock handguns with optics

  1. MOS plates: Glock provides mounting plates with their MOS handguns. Other companies require you to buy a mounting plate from them separately, or they only work with a specific mounting platform. Glock MOS handguns come with multiple mounting plates, making them compatible with most common footprints.
  2. Sight upgrades: Glock sights are easy to change, making it easy to switch out the factory sights for co-witness sights or even suppressor-height sights. Switching out sights on other guns is not hard, but there are more options with Glock handguns.
  3. Holsters: If you want an optic on your handgun, you will also need a holster that fits it. Holster companies like Safariland make optic-compatible holsters for lots of guns, but you find more options for Glock handguns. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a cool handgun only to realize I can’t carry it because there are no holsters available. There are more accessories for Glocks than any other type of handgun. And holsters are one of them.       

The downside to using a red dot on your Glock

It’s hard to find anything in life that only has positive attributes. Even the best guns and gear have some kind of “downside” if you think about it, but when it comes to red dots on a Glock pistol, the negatives don’t outweigh the positive aspects, at least in my opinion. Still, there are some to consider if you plan to make this modern transition with your handgun.

Shooting the Glock 49 and Trijicon RMR red dot.
My favorite combination is the Glock 49 with the Trijicon RMR. [Photo: Jason Mosher
  1. Cost: The cost of optics varies greatly. There are some affordable ones out there, but it’s still an additional cost. The good thing is that you can buy an MOS Glock and use the iron sights until you are ready to purchase the red dot. Because Glock throws in all those optic plates, just about any style of red dot you want will fit your handgun.
  2. Training: This is where many people struggle with the transition from standard sights to optics on their handguns. Learning to use a handgun-mounted optic takes practice. Lining the dot up with the target is easy, but raising your guns to eye level and finding the dot quickly takes practice. This is something you must get used to, but it does feel more natural once you’ve done it for a while.
  3. Battery/Maintenance: Most optics, like the Trijicon RMR have an extremely long battery life, but batteries will need to be replaced, someday. If you don’t want to mess with swapping out batteries once or twice a year, old-fashioned sights might be better. It really doesn’t take that long, and the price of a battery is not high.   

Which Glock is best with a red dot?

This one’s easy: all of them. But the first thing to consider is why you want a red dot to begin with. For concealed carry, select the size and caliber of Glock you plan to carry every day.

A red dot makes it easy to hit some targets way out on the range, but you probably won’t be shooting that far with a .380 pistol. Larger caliber guns benefit more from having a red dot because they have the ability to shoot further. My favorite Glock pistol for mounting red dots is the new Glock 49.

Safariland duty holster for Glock 17.
The Safariland 6360 RDS/ALS is a perfect duty holster for a Glock 17 with a light and red dot attached. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

I have a Trijicon RMR mounted on it and I use a Safariland 7360 RDS holster to carry it in. The 7360 is a duty holster but you can also find concealed carry holsters like the Incog X IWB holster. This concealed carry holster from Safariland is comfortable to wear and works with an optic.

If you want an OWB holster that is easy to put on and take off, check out the 578 GLS PFO-FIT holster. This one has a locking system that releases when you grip the pistol.   

Can you go with a red dot?

On the range, I set up several targets at 15, 20, and 50 yards. Using some 115-grain 9mm ammo provided by, I fired two Glock pistols. One with an optic and one without.

At 15 yards, I had no trouble hitting my target with either gun. I can start to tell the difference at 20 yards, but at 50, it was night and day. The red dot made it much easier to hit the target than using open sights. When transitioning from one target to the other, I could shoot faster with the red dot as well.     

Glock 49 with a Trijicon RMR
Shooting the Glock 49 with a Trijicon RMR optic. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

If you decide to keep it simple and use the old-fashioned iron sights, consider purchasing an MOS Glock. This way you have the option of adding one in the future if you change your mind.

As I mentioned above, having an optic does require some training and practice. But once you get used to using a red dot, your accuracy will improve greatly. This can be beneficial in stressful situations because of the extra concentration of using iron sights.

The Glock is one of the most reliable handguns ever made. Adding an optic will make you a better shot with a reliable gun. That’s a perfect combination for a self-defense gun.   

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