Red dots and laser sights have become more popular with handgun shooters in recent years because each offers a separate advantage over conventional pistol sights. The targeting method is streamlined by removing the need to move the attention from the hazard to the front and rear sights, whether the dot appearing on your target emanates from a holographic red-dot sight (RDS) or a laser beam.
But which is better?
There are several significant distinctions between red dots and lasers, considering their similarity. You’ll have a better idea as to which is right for you by weighing the pros and cons of both.
Pros of red dot
Easy to see
Regardless of lighting conditions, RDSs are always very easy to see.
Always turned on
Although something as simple as hitting a button can seem like a gimmick under normal circumstances, when a person is under threat of harm, the action can be shockingly difficult.
Red dots are invisible to everyone else, so your position will not be compromised.
The ability to change the size of your dot is great for precision shooting. Great for when you need to be quick off the mark.
Cons of red dot
Finding the dot
While the red dot is bright, those with poorer eyesight than others may struggle to locate it.
A slide cut (either from the factory or aftermarket) or a mount designed to connect to the rear sight dovetail is needed for an RDS, unlike a rail-mounted accessory.
Pros of laser
There is a possibility that seeing the laser will prompt potential attackers to comply or, at least, make them less motivated to attack, because a laser is also visible to your opponent.
Attach and go
Most lasers are mounted on rails. This means that as long as there is a rail on your pistol, you’re good to go. By milling the slide, swapping out the sights or purchasing a mount, there is no need to adjust the gun.
From compromised positions, you can fire where you might not be able to get your gun to eye level. Without needlessly exposing yourself to incoming fire, you may also aim from behind cover.
Great training tool
A laser is also a powerful training tool, in addition to the advantages that a laser can give you during a self-defense scenario. When the weapon is kept in a retention position below your line of sight in close quarter shooting, the laser will ensure that your muzzle is on target.
Cons of laser
Easily washed out
The greatest downside to lasers is that, under direct sunlight, they are hard to see. Green lasers are easier to see than red for the human eye, but in bright sunlight, particularly at a distance, even green lasers can wash out.
Beams work both ways
A laser that emits from your pistol points both to the hazard and to you, almost like a weapon-mounted light. A laser may compromise your position, exposing you to threats that are known or unidentified.
In short, depending on the need and use of your firearm, both a red dot and a laser can come in handy.