Red Dots VS Lasers For Competition Shooting

I know a lot of competitors in Open, Carry Optics and PCC divisions swear by red dot sights. I tried to run one a couple of times when I briefly tried out Carry Optics Division last year and I can’t say that I’m a fan. Even after several practice trips to the range, I still couldn’t figure out how to get that stupid little dot to position correctly in the window. It would constantly change depending on my head and body angle. To be blunt, I hated it. (To be fair, I wasn’t in love with the Canik TP9SFX I was using either. I ended up selling both on consignment through a local gun shop.)

Since the wife is giving me the go ahead to purchase a PCC once she gets her share from the sale of her mother’s house in Virginia (FINALLY!), I’ve been considering what I will be using for an optic. Right now I am strongly leaning towards a green laser. Probably either a Crimson Trace 206 or a LaserMax Spartan. Some say you can’t see the lasers in bright sunlight but I’ve also read where the green lasers are supposed to compensate for that. I just can’t see myself attempting a red dot again so this seems to be my most viable alternative.

I guess my only other options would be a regular scope or iron sights. I’m not even sure if a regular old gun scope is legal in USPSA. I’m fairly competent with iron sights on both long guns and handguns. (I shoot Single Stack Division right now.) The idea is to get on target quicker though so iron sights are out.

So mainly, I’m looking for opinions on lasers for competitions. Have you tried a laser in competition? Would you try it? Should I just stick to Single Stack and keep reloading every 10 rounds?


I’m not a fan either, but aging eyes come in and you warm up to it
however, the dot is always on target, so don’t try to position the dot, rather focus on the target, once you do that getting the dot on target will be intuitive and you’ll likely love it

Now lasers IMO suck, unless you have a super steady hand or great reflexes for the moment that dot is center target they will probably do more to lower your confidence

and old scopes are old for a reason, remember, its competition, you want quick and intuitive, great job asking, that with continued effort and you’ll get there!


I have NOT done any competition but, dots on carbine’s is not the same as on a pistol I do have both. A shouldered firearm is very fast with a dot.

I have never owned a laser but have shot pistols with lasers and was not a fan, I have never shot a carbine with a laser to be fair.


Red dots on rifles Rock. Hand guns take a lot of practice to present. Dry fire w/a handgun for a few hours of practicing your draw and presentation and a red dot on a handgun will be good. With a rifle as long as you shoulder the rifle properly the dot will be there. Big difference between red dots on long guns and pistols. Lasers are almost useless in bright daylight.


Have you tried suppressor height sights?


Well, it takes LOTS(!) of practice with a red dot on a handgun to get it down. I have no idea how you could lose the dot once acquired. I also find that while I have many decades of shooting a 1911 grip angle muscle memoried in, if I deviate from that the red dot is impossible to find from the draw. But in Steel Challenge using .22 I can take my position (no draw), find the dot, and from then on I have it for the entire string.

Lasers in bright sun… Even a green laser will be invisible in bright sun since what we can buy in the USA is limited to 5mw. Beyond bad breath distance, where you don’t need it, it’ll be useless. A green or red dot in a micro sight on a PCC will not be the same as on a handgun. Trust me. I’ve been using a red dot on a PCC for MANY years and if you can use a 'scope on a rifle a red dot will be faster and just as foolproof for acquisition. If the sight is set up correctly the PCC is shouldered and the dot is right there.

There are lasers that can be used in bright sun but you must buy them overseas and get them shipped in. I have a 300mw green laser and it can be seen wayyy out there. It looks like a small flashlight and can’t use primary cells. Primary cells are drained in a few seconds. Literally, seconds. It must use rechargeable Li-Ion cells to work due to the high current draw. But after using the laser for a few years I only found it of value for the first shot or 2 and only if the target was up close so that I could shoot while raising the PCC. It saved a split second at most. For having such a large item at the end of my fast swinging PCC for the entire match it just wasn’t worth tolerating. My PCC now only wears a MRD. But that’s competition only.

My HD gun wears a MRD and a tiny 5mw green laser/light because in the home and probably at night if I need to clear my own home the laser would be worth having since it would be used much as I used it for competition. Just don’t confuse what can be done out of sunlight with what you want to do in sunlight.

For competition the laser is a waste of money, but the MRD sight is a huge benefit. Don’t hesitate to mount a MRD, you’ll be glad you did. Just don’t go cheap, get a good one.

I have a buddy whose red dot has gone dead during a string 3x now. He goes through lots of cells, but he saved $. Mine is powered by the sun and even if my battery dies I’d never know it. In fact I recently went to the range and tried to shoot from under the cover. I couldn’t do it. The battery was dead. But I got out from under cover and the sight worked perfectly.


I have not. Never had a reason to since I never had a suppressor.

Again, to be fair, my experience was with red dots on handguns. I have not tried them on a rifle of any type.


@BrianK - Thanks for the detailed breakdown!

You guys have pretty much convinced me to take another shot with the red dots. We will see if PCC verses handgun is the game changer to alter my opinions.


With handgun just seeing the front sight helps to get the red dot in the vision and on target. But it’s too late since you sold it.

With PCC if it’s a straight line stock don’t be afraid to raise the sight up so that shouldering the rifle puts it where it needs to be and keeps the PCC in the shoulder pocket. I’ve had shooters comment on my high red dot, but like the M16/AR15 the sights need to be high since there is no drop at the butt. The shooters who comment? Once they try it the light goes on and they have an “ahh, hah!” moment. If you can’t shoulder the gun properly and the sight picture is “there” it’s probably because the sight isn’t high enough.

OK, now, in use you’ll need to compensate for hold off. I simplify that. Close in for an A zone head hit I aim just over the top of the A zone for 100% hits. For chest A zone hits just put the dot in the zone. Further away A zone head hits just aim dead on. That’s sighted in at 40-50 yards.

Once you get accustomed to the red dot you’ll find it to be similar to a video game and the vast majority of points will be A zone hits. It gets boring to not even go forward and stay back putting the PCC away and hear for target after target, " 4 alpha, 6 alpha, 4 alpha…". You get the idea. I can get sloppier to change that scoring, but I just can’t move myself faster to lower the scoring. Aging is the pits when it comes to moving faster.

Oh, dot size… I like a 2moa dot. The brightness can be turned up to make it appear larger and turned down it assumes normal size. With my Holosun sights I just let them do what they want when running off of the solar panel. For competition I never put them in manual mode.

If you’re having problems with it don’t be silent. If you find that you like it let us know that too.

Gotta run now. Good luck!