We first began work on this concept when we sought an answer to a question posed by many of our older students. They simply could not see their sights and the target at the same time, or had such difficulty transitioning focus between sights and target that they had to either focus on long range shots or close range shots exclusive of one another. In frustration they sought various unsuccessful answers, and never really solved the problem. We knew the solution was the same one that they opted for with their rifles. Add a red dot sight to your AK or M4 and your shooting skill improves. Why not do the same to the handgun?
We began with the Aimpoint, simply, because that was what we had. We had an Aimpoint H-1 in the office and we popped it atop a Glock 17 to test the concept.
While it worked very well, the entire package was big...very big. Not something that you could comfortably carry with you 24-7. Yet the concept was a success. The red dot sight did in fact make sighting far easier, and thus shooting became more accurate, across the spectrum of distances. The quest then began for a suitable red dot sight to combine with a handgun.
I will point out that we were not the first to do this. the competition crowd has been using red dot sights on their handguns for a very long time. Those rigs however used very large optics and as such, they were unsuitable for daily carry. The first man to actually use a "mini" red dot sight on an actual defensive pistol was Kelly McCann, who used a Docter sight on his well worn and traveled Glock 19 pistol.
When looking for a viable sight, we examined every single optic available today. We wanted something that was bright with a clearly defined dot (or other aiming device) that was visible along the greatest variety of lighting conditions.
We wanted something that had a reasonable battery life and was waterproof enough to be submerged in a bucket of water. We wanted no dials, adjustments, or on-off switches, a characteristic also eschewed by McCann as the possibility of the unit becoming mis-adjusted or turned off during holster carry was totally unacceptable.
We also wanted as small as possible a footprint to fit as many different types of slides as possible.
We obtained samples and tested them. While all of them share similar characteristics, all were found lacking except for one. We tested the Burris, the Leupold, the Insights, and J Point, and C-More and others. ALL OF THEM had some issue to cause de-selection. There are others out there putting the Burris unit on their guns for example. The problem with the Burris is the ON-OFF switch, the very thing they seem to think is an asset is a serious liability as we had the sight get switched off while carrying the weapon in the holster several times. That could be a very bad thing in a dynamic-reactive gunfight.
The only Red Dot Sight that had all the desirable characteristics and none of the safety issues and tactical problems of the competition was the Trijicon RMR. So we contacted Trijicon and obtained several samples for further testing. Thus far our in-house guns running Trijicon RMRs have held up to the extensive testing done by our staff.
One of the other things we wanted was a viable back up sighting system, because as tough as the RMR is, anything man-made can fail. We played with various systems from dots and bars cut into the RMR unit, to notches, to all manner of unsuccessful solutions. All failed our requirements. For that matter, so did the J-Point fail with its supposed "built in back up sighting system". It looked good on paper but you could not zero the sights to coincide with the dot. Finally, we opted for the simplest, yet most successful solution. We left the sights exactly where they were and just made them a little taller to use over the RMR unit. The availability of suppressor style sights solved this nicely.
One might ask why the dots, or bars or notches cut into the unit were not a good idea. basically each sighting system, red dot and BUIS, must be zeroed independent of one another. If you cannot do this, any cowitnessed zero will be impossible. The only way to achieve this is via independently adjustable sights.
Zero the irons and then zero the red dot to coincide with them...or vise versa.
Another attempt at the problem was the mounting of the iron sight in front of the red dot system. This is a solution to a myriad of handguns whose owners now want iron sights, but who have had the red dot sight mistakenly installed into the rear most position on the slide. Sadly, the intermediate position of the sight will not work as well as suppressor sights in the traditional positioning and the red dot sight RMR from Trijicon set forward of the rear sight. While TSD will install these red dot sights anywhere on your pistol that you want, the traditional sight position works better because -
Uses existing skill sets of acquiring sights
Places the dot visually on top of the front sight requiring zero learning curve
Uses same sight system as on your M4 or AK set up with co-witnessed sights (RDS between the irons)
After countless reps picking up the iron sights, this system exploits that existing skill set to put your dot on target without any delay
Provides instant verification of zero
Provides instant back up in the event the dot is out
Users of the TSD Glock find that they no longer have to switch focus from target to sights and invariably eliminate the "front sight focus" so difficult for older shooters. They can now do as nature intends for them to do, focus on the threat. Moreover, because the indexing of a small red dot is far easier and sharper than the same task with three pieces of steel, they find they can take shots beyond what was considered possible with iron sights. Hitting steel at 100 yards on the first shot is very possible for these people, as well as running close range drills at times that they could never achieve before. All simply because the concept uses the eyes in a more normal manner.
In a few years, I expect we will see the RDS/BUIS concept come on factory self defense guns just like adjustable back straps and accessory rails do today. For owners of TSD Pistols, that future is now at their hands.
Visit OST for all slide modifications for red dots!