Table of Contents
- 1. Laser vs Red Dot. Which One is Best?
- 2. Lasers, Red Dots or a Light Strobe Combination. One Rule to Consider.
- 3. Backup Tactical Options. Flip Up Sights Worth Their Weight in Lead.
- 4. Co Witness With Red Dot Sights.
- 5. Lasers, Laser Light Combos and Their Draw Backs.
- 6. Laser For Self Defense and Why You Should Get One.
- 7. Tactical Lasers Used as Compliance Tools.
- 8. Red Dots and reflex Sights Are Known For Speed
- 9. Red Dot Concerns
- 10. Red Dot Or Laser? Which is Most Effective?
- 11. Keeping it Simple
- 12. They Both Work Why Not Double Up?
Laser vs Red Dot. Which One is Best?
We all want to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. That is a driving force behind why we own firearms and the reason we may have a pistol, a shotgun and an AR. The current trend is red dots and lasers on both pistols and tactical platforms including shotguns, blackouts and AR style rifles. We get asked frequently which one is the most effective in a self defense situation. Well as usual the definitive answer is: It depends.
Lasers, Red Dots or a Light Strobe Combination. One Rule to Consider.
Let us preface this article with a rule we have that everyone should follow. If you are using something that helps you aim, either a red dot, shake and wake reflex, laser strobe light, laser light combo, micro dot or anything else that requires a battery, whatever you do, have a back up. Let me repeat that. Have a back up. That laser looks great but if your battery bleeds out and has fried the internals of your snazzy attachment it is useless. If you forget to replace the battery on your red dot, and when the time comes it does not turn on, you no longer have a red dot on your rifle you now have a heavy, useless and expensive toilet roll.
Backup Tactical Options. Flip Up Sights Worth Their Weight in Lead.
If you have a handgun, the natural back up are the stock fixed sights. If all else fails you can use those. On Tactical platforms the back up would be the flip up sights or iron sights. We cannot stress this enough, if you have a laser or a red dot or reflex sight; make sure you have backup tactical options in place.
Co Witness With Red Dot Sights.
There is no need to remove your flip up sights when buying and installing a red dot. In fact, as stated above, we urge you not to. You can sight the red dot to just above your front iron sight or flip up sight. So as you look through your red dot you will see both the red dot and the iron sight. This gives you double verification that you are on target and you still have the iron sights for target acquisition if your red dot fails. This is called co witness and is common practice with red dots.
Lasers, Laser Light Combos and Their Draw Backs.
We used to shy away from lasers for a few reasons. We didn't like them because you can lose proper form as it isn't necessary to present properly when using a laser; you can literally shoot from the hip and the bullet goes where the green or red dot is. It can create bad habits if it is all you shoot with. The other reason is that if you turn on a laser you are telling everyone in the room your location; imagine a dark room and you are holding a green laser, all the bad guys know where you are. I have reversed my school of thought on lasers somewhat and think they are a valuable tool in home self defence and here is why.
Laser For Self Defense and Why You Should Get One.
If used correctly a laser can be an invaluable tool. It should be practiced with, you should become familiar with its functions: is it left or right handed, does it take a single tap to turn it off, is it sensor on and how will that affect your emergency strategy. Practice with it at the range until you are comfortable. The key here is that you also practice WITHOUT the laser turned on. Be ready to defend yourself with just your sights so you don't develop bad habits and you are ready if you encounter a malfunction.
Tactical Lasers Used as Compliance Tools
The issue with the laser possibly giving away your position can be used to your advantage. We prefer a laser that we have complete control over as opposed to one that turns on automatically. This lessens my chances of turning it on at an inopportune moment and giving away my position. As long as you have control over when the laser comes on you can turn it into a powerful tool. For example, you may just want to let the bad guy know not to come any closer, that you have them in your sights. Turn the laser on and have it directed on them. This is what we call a ‘ compliance tool’ because when someone has a laser focused on their chest they tend to be very very compliant. Not only will this give you the upper hand and keep you safe, a well placed laser can also stop you from having to shoot someone.
Red Dots and reflex Sights Are Known For Speed
The benefit of a red dot is that they can get you on target really quick. Since they have unlimited eye relief you do not need to have an exact head position to get a full view of your target. Since you do not have to have a perfect head position to find your target you don’t have to re adjust to find the ‘sweet spot’ meaning you can find target and pull the trigger faster.
The red dot ( or green dot ) will also attract your eye in low light so it is easier to find your Point Of Impact (P.O.I) quickly. Searching for your peep sights or iron sights in the dark can be difficult, especially if you are under duress.
Red Dot Concerns
There are a few things to consider before diving into the red dot word weather it is for an AR platform or a micro-dot or RMR on your pistol. Our main concerns for a red dot are as follows.
You need good technique-
This may not sound like a drawback but it is something to consider. If you have not used your red dot set up recently it may take a few moments to correctly acquire your target, especially on micro-dots. The other thought is that when you present correctly, giving yourself the entire sight picture, two hands on the gun and a grounded shooting stance you can actually make yourself a bigger target. On the other hand with a laser you can aim and shoot one handed, using the other hand to call the police.
You Are Relying On a Battery-
Battery life is really good on sights now, some coming with a lifetime from one battery. Some will turn on when you pick them up to help preserve battery life plus various dimming options lengthens the time if use. Given all that, we still refuse to rely completely on a battery. If you have had one malfunction and bleed on you then you won't trust them either.
You Have No Magnification-
This is not crucial in self defense situations. In fact magnification can be a hindrance in CQB scenarios, usually causing a longer time to find your target.Most self defense situations will occur at 30 yards or less. Although it may not be essential to self defense set ups, many people want to push beyond a hundred yards so it is something to consider before deciding on your set up. If you want to hunt, target shoot and use your weapon for self defense I would consider another option. Many People use AR Optics made specifically for quick target acquisition that also have magnification and is my preference as a general rule, though I do not clear rooms of bad guys on a regular basis.
Red Dot Or Laser? Which is Most Effective?
There is no hard and fast rule when deciding on which one will work the best for you. You have to consider your skills and strengths. If you shoot a thousand rounds a week you will be able to use any set up effectively. If you have a pistol by your bedside that hasn't been shot in months it is probably best to stick to the simplest set up possible.
Keeping it Simple
Even if you are the person sending a thousand rounds down range each week it is still best to keep it simple. Consider if the off and on is simple and you would be able to use it under stress and in the dark. Even experts try and keep it as simple as possible. In a firefight you actually lose your motor skills,and things that are simple in a calm environment can become difficult. meaning that that weird left finger switch which is fine at the range may be the difference between success and failure.
They Both Work Why Not Double Up?
They both work and we suggest its best to try each out and see which ones suit you and your style best. Some of us at BuyOsprey HQ like the osprey global lasers due to the fact that you can show force without pulling the trigger. You can be on the phone to the police while effectively using your laser, while that isn't possible with Red Dots. Red dots are more tactical and we usually suggest that it compliments the more experienced user. Red dots are more reliant on practice and technique. In our opinion there is absolutely no reason why you cant do both. Put a laser underneath your barrel and a Red Dot above and see which works best for you. A popular Item for the tactical user is a combination of a osprey green laser and a light you can use in one unit. We have laser light combinations available for Ar platform and for the Pistol platform that are worth a look. Coupled with a light you can also blind and disorientate the assailant. No matter which set up you choose make sure you are proficient with it and that you have a plan for the worst case scenario.
Checkout out our range to find the best osprey laser or red dot for you.