Intellectually I am becoming very interested in the idea of a self-defense pistol with a slide mounted optic like the Trijicon RMR, Leopold Delta Point or Burris Fast fire.
- As sight hunters humans natural focus on the prey (or threat) and these optics allow that single focal plane.
- They move the focus past that just longer than my arm distance that many older people need to read.
- Like traditional notch and post sights, they are a one-way system and don’t give away your position like lasers can and give you that “Red dot point of aim”
- They are small enough that they shouldn’t affect conceal ability dramatically.
So why aren’t they more popular?
I think it comes down to 3 things…
- Cost. At $400-600 dollars + the Gunsmith Machining required to mount them they are a significant cost in relationship to the cost of the gun.
- Awareness. They aren’t popular, because they aren’t popular. It sounds like circular logic, but people tend to do the same things they see other people do and slide mounted optics haven’t hit that tipping point yet.
- Competition. This needs more than one line so keep reading…
Competition has traditionally been the breeding ground for innovation.
Auto racing has provided us things like radial tires, disc brakes, direct shift transmissions, overhead camshafts, aerodynamics, new materials and increases in safety. Most of these items were to improve performance on the track.
This kind of innovation is expensive like Europe’s F1.
But since the sport is fun, other people want to play so other series are formed and rules are established to limited costs. NASCAR for example has rules like all cars have to have pushrod V-8s with no turbos or superchargers, wheels have to be made from steel, everyone has to use the same tires, etc.
One of my favorites was a series that attempted to control costs buy allowing anyone to buy the winner vehicle for $XXXXX at the end of the race. The rules permitted you to spend whatever you liked but you knew you could lose it.
Practical Pistol Shooting has the same systems… Open divisions allow for optics and compensators and magwells. Production divisions have strict limits on how what modification can be done or how big the gun can be or what sights can be used.
This puts the slide mounted optic in an odd position.
The frame mounted optics don’t reciprocate with the cycling of the slide so they are easier to track. This is a huge advantage on a competition gun and makes them a much better choice if they are permitted, so no one would choose a slide mounted unit if the frame mounted one was an option.
The frame mounted units are too big though, so that doesn’t work for concealed carry.
Production/Limited or IDPA doesn’t allow non-notch and post sights though, to keep cost down, so slide mounted optics aren’t even an option.
I think that in the next 5-10 years slide mounted optics are going to become much more common in CCW (likely after the adoption by large police or military organizations). I also believe strongly in competing with what you carry, so where does that leave early adopters that carry a gun with a slide mounted optic?
Would you be interested in shooting an IDPA or USPSA division that allowed otherwise SSP/ESP/Production style guns with slide mounted reflex sights?