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"Is the Red Dot Pistol the Future of Law Enforcement Firearms Training?"

Updated: May 24



Red dot pistols are starting to become the "norm" in Law Enforcement. It's not without controversy, just like the argument we had when we were putting red dots on our carbines in the 90's. However, what I see is a lack of knowledge about red dot sights for a pistol in the police community. Agencies are purchasing these life saving pieces of equipment based on price not quality, poor advise and not education and lack of a true test and evaluation process for these pieces of life saving equipment.


History of the Red Dot Sight

Aimpoint introduced the first electronic red dot in the 1970s designed for rifles. In 1990 United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) shooter Jerry Barnhart pioneered the red dot pistol. Jerry showed up to the USPSA National Championship and crushed the competition with his red dot equipped pistol, thus ushering in the red dot pistol to the shooting competition world.


Anatomy of the Red Dot Sight

There are two types of red dot sights for a pistol, an open emitter and an enclosed emitter. The emitter is what projects the dot onto the optic glass. Most Law Enforcement Officers don't realize when they are purchasing an open dot emitter it has a built in fail point. An open emitter is subject to failure due its exposed emitter from, dirt, debris, water ect.

An enclosed emitter adds one more layer of safety to the officer because the emitter is protected by being enclosed in its housing.

Some red dot sights now have solar panels to "supposedly" increase battery life. seeing how half of the day is night, I don’t see a benefit. It has been my experience that these solar panels cause more issues then help. Especially with an enclosed red dot sight, when that solar panel breaks or gets a crack in it, now there is debris inside the red dot housing causing the officer to have an intermittent red dot.

"Shake Awake" is a devise on some red dots that will turn the red dot on after it shuts off after being dormant for a proscribed time. To me the shake awake is one more fail point built into that red dot sight.


Red Dot Pistol for Law Enforcement

I fully endorse red dot pistols for law enforcement under a couple conditions.

Number 1 - The agency must put the work in testing and evaluating the pistols and red dots for that agency. The agency must document the testing protocol so others in the agency can review the results. I have had some agency’s use the "expert" at the gun shop to make their red dot selection, I can tell you that did not go well. Some agency’s just go on Amazon and buy the cheapest red dot sight, that was a total waste of money. Some agency’s just stay with the same pistol and get a "sweet deal" from the manufacture of a pistol and red dot sight combo and lie about doing any type of testing or evaluating. This is life saving equipment we are talking about and in most cases the individual’s conduct the acquisition of these red dots don't put the proper effort into the testing.

Number 2 - The instructor teaching the course has to be highly competent as an instructor and understanding how to diagnose officers issues when employing a red dot pistol. Encourage your officers to perform dry fire training on their own and teach them how to properly dry fire. Teach them how to develop a dry fire training regiment and use a tool like The Firearms Training Notebook to track their progress.


Red Dot Pistol Training

The training for a red dot pistol can be easy if the instructor fully understands how to diagnose a shooter when they are having difficulty acquiring the red dot during the pistol presentation. At War HOGG Tactical we always start with the red dot pistol presentation. First in dry fire, then live fire. Yes, that’s right we conduct dry fire training on a live fire range. Once the officer has an understanding of the red dot pistol presentation, then all the other tasks like mag change, draw from the holster should become easier.

The red dot pistol for law enforcement is not a one training event and you are done. It is a continuous journey of constant dry and live fire training. You have to master this craft because your life depends on it.


If your agency is interested in becoming more efficient and effective with a red dot pistol reach out to schedule a training course.


Train Hard, Stay Safe and see you On The Range!


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Rick Hogg is the owner of War HOGG Tactical, Inc. and is a 29 year US Army Special Operation Combat Veteran as well as being an SOF K9 handler. Rick has taken his 13 combat deployment, both Iraq and Afghanistan, and teaching experience as a Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC) instructor and harnessed them into a combat proven techniques training company, War HOGG Tactical, Inc. North Carolina based War HOGG Tactical, Inc. offers professional comprehensive mobile firearms training, tactical training and K9 training to civilians, military and law enforcement agencies through combat proven techniques and experience to improve the student's firearm skills. War HOGG also conducts product development and product field testing along with a variety of consulting services in the defense, firearms and entertainment / film industry. War HOGG Tactical also offers free law enforcement firearms training via Project Officer Survival with our industry partners support. If you are interested in hosting a free law enforcement training course send us an email for more info.


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