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A Complete Guide To Mount And Sight A Red Dot Sight On A Pistol

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Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog Introduction

If you need a red dot sight on your pistol, then you already know the reason you need it there – better aiming as you shoot. We have already seen our counterparts using different types of laser sights. On the other hand, how they are mounted is different depending on the approach each one used.

If one of you is using the custom slide option, someone else had their slide machined a little to accommodate the sighting instrument. To clear out the confusion and know what you need to mount your red dot, here is a guideline that you can use to get your gun ready for the shooting expedition.

Part 1: Basic Pistol Mounting Considerations

  1. The Dot Technology

In pistols, you have three basic options to choose from:

  • Adjustable LED only: Uses LED light to sight
  • Tritium dot: This dot uses a radioactive isotope of hydrogen
  • Dual technology: It has both LED and Tritium

Tritium dots are suitable during the night time or in low light conditions. However, it is sometimes hard to use it in ambient light, and that’s why it’s recommendable to stick to LED only. The dual technology types will suit both conditions, but you have to spend more on batteries.

  1. MOA (Minute of Angle) Size

Red dots come with different MOAs. You could get one with 6 MOA, 3 MOA, 3.25 MOA, 1 MOA, etc.

  • You may get various recommendations depending on the shooting distance and the gun you are using.
  • In pistols, 3 MOA is enough since you will not be aiming longer distances. On the other hand, even in longer distances, it will still function as expected.

If you need to change to a red dot with a higher or lower MOA, it’s advisable to pick a brand that has different options. If you choose Vortex Company, for example, and pick the vortex viper or venom red dot sight, it will be easier to switch to the other since they all have the same mounting specifications.

  1. Mounting Considerations

Most of the people who don’t too much mounting work will go for the milled custom slide. If you choose to go for it, here is what you need to know:

  • First, it varies depending on who did the cutting on the slide.
  • Next, it might limit you to the dots you can use. If you need something that needs a different mounting method, it will be hard to use it.
  • It will also cost you more to have the slide machined for the custom slide. At a minimum, you need $100.

Nowadays, the pistols coming into the market have already been cut to fit an optic. Therefore, it is better to go for Glock mounting plates which you can change depending on the sighting optics you are using.

  • Remember, as you mount, you need to have the right plate.
  • For proper mounting and to make sure the optics sits tight on the pistol, carry with you the blue Loctite for the screws. The red one is okay too, but you will need extra heat to drive the screws out.

Part 2: How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on a Pistol

Since we already have pistols with cut out slides to fit in optics, we are going to explain how you can use the dented area to fix your optics.

  1. Place the lower mounting piece on the back part of the slide. If you have mounted a rear sight, remove it and leave the cut off area open.
  • From the Glock, the lower piece is screwed on the mounting plate. You will have to remove the screws first to access it.
  • Place the lower mounting piece on the space and clamp it in. You can also push it using a sight pusher if you prefer sliding it in but make sure it’s centered.
  1. Place the mounting plate on the slide. After the first step above, now place the mounting plate on the slide.
  • Make sure the rear screw holes are in line with the holes on the lower mounting piece you inserted in step 1.
  1. Use the screws to tighten the base. Once the plate is in line, get the mounting screws and drive them down.
  • Before you drive each of them, apply a little Loctite on them and then use the screwdriver.
  • Work on one screw at a time to make sure the Loctite works.
  • Do not drive to tighten until you have worked on them both.
  • Now tighten the screws. To check on how tight they are, you can use a torque wrench, but it’s optional.
  1. Place the sighting optics and tie loosely. Once the mounting plate is secure, place the sighting instrument on it and align the screw holes.
  • Use Loctite again for the top screws before driving them to the holes.
  • Tighten the screws loosely but make sure the dot sight is secure. You will tighten them later after sighting is over.

Part 3: How to Sight in a Red Dot Sight

Mounting can make or break your shooting accuracy. You need to make sure that you have mounted the red dot properly before sighting or zeroing your pistol. After successful mounting, the last part is sighting before making decent shots.

  1. Determine the point of aim. In pistols, this is the first thing you have to do to figure out where your gun is pointing.
  • First, look through the sighting scope, over the barrel and make sure the dot is sitting at the top of the iron sight at the front.
  • If it’s on the iron sight, make the necessary windage and elevation adjustments using the knobs on the sighting instrument you are using.
  • Shoot groups at different distances to see where your gun is zeroing. Mostly, when trying for the first time, it is somewhere between 15 and 20 yards. As you shoot, make a minimum of a five shot group.
  1. Use the dials to adjust. Now, once you realize how off your pistol is, it’s time to use the adjustments to match the dot with the point of impact.
  • For windage, use the windage adjustment dial. Use the same procedure for the elevation adjustments.
  • Reshoot a group from your distance to verify if the gun has zeroed.
  • Do it twice or thrice to make sure it’s correct.
  1. Ready your gun. When the zeroing distance matches your expectations, you can now pack and go.
  • A reasonable sighting distance is about 25 yards. However, that depends on the preference.
  • If you need a different distance, move to the range you want, shoot then see the corrections you have to make.
  • The point of impact change between 5 and 20 yards is minimal, but that depends on the ammunition in use.
  • One thing you should always remember is that you need to focus on the target and not the red dot. Most people get confused about that.
  1. Watch for different impact points with various ammo. Different ammunition will give you different zero distances.
  • Make sure you sight based on the ammo in use.
  • It is essential to spend more time with your pistol before moving to the actual shooting. There is a learning curve to go through as you perfect shooting.


Now that you know how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol, it’s time to practice and know your pistol better using the sighting instrument. You can now do it without the help of friends and share some tips too if they ask how you did it.

Author Bio

This is Steve Coffman. Editor of I’m the person who served in military. Currently working as a shooter, hunter and outdoor expert. I enjoy to share my experience and knowledge who loves to spend life like me.

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