how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol

Learning How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on a Pistol?

This how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol guide will cover the tools you will need and the steps on mounting a red dot sight (RDS) on an optic ready pistol. Installing a red dot can eliminate the need to align the front sight post with the rear sight aperture. This will help increase target acquisition speed and accuracy.

Because of the growing popularity of red dot sight, makers of the pistol have started manufacturing optic-ready guns. The optic ready pistol has a slide with a factory milled slide set to mount your chosen red dot reflex sight.

Choose the perfect red dot sight to mount on your pistol. Some red dot sights are not comfortable with a particular firearm, so make sure you choose the right one.

What You Need?

  • Red dot sight
  • Thread sealant
  • Torque driver
  • Optic ready pistol
  • Corresponding red dot sight mounting plate
  • Torx or hex bit/wrench
  • Mounting kit (some sights include this in their package)

You don’t need an optic-ready pistol to mount a red dot sight. You need to purchase a unique mount for a standard gun if it is not included in the package. The primary purpose of the special mount is to remove the rear iron sight or add a rail of a pistol frame.

You can have your present pistol slide custom milled so you can mount your preferred red dot sight.

Steps on How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on a Pistol?

Safety is crucial when mounting the red dot sight. Ensure the pistol is not loaded before you start with the installation process.

Where to Mount a Red Dot Sight?

It is best to mount your RDS in a forward position on the top rail. As compared to magnified scopes, RDS does not have eye relief. So, you can position your head as far or as close to the sight as you want since you can still see clearly into the optic. This is the main benefit of using red dot sight.

Step #1 Remove the Installed Plate

The installation of the red dot sight starts with the removal of the factory plate from your pistol slide. Remove the Torx or hex-type screws from the top of the slide or underneath the slide. Some pistols may have a different kinds of screws.

For pistols with a factory plate underneath the slide, you need to disassemble your gun and remove the slide from the pistol frame.

how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol

Step #2 Choose the Appropriate Mounting Plate

After removing the factory plate, you will need to choose the mounting plate compatible with your red dot sight footprint and corresponds to your pistol make and model. You can purchase the plates from the pistol or sight manufacturers or in other third-party gun accessories sellers.

Step #3 Attach the Mounting Plate to Pistol

Position the mount into the pistol slide slot. Put some thread sealant on the plate screws. Use thread sealant you can easily remove in case you need to remove them in the future.

Attach the mounting into the pistol slide by screwing the mounting screws using a torque driver. Drive the screws until they are tight enough. Complete the screwing with 12-15 inch lbs. of torque. To make sure you are torquing correctly, check the sight and pistol specifications.

Step #3 Change the Old Red Dot Sight Battery

Make sure the mounting plate is installed securely on the pistol slide. The next step is preparing the red dot sight. Most of the red dot sights have their battery underneath the sight. We suggest you replace the old battery with a new one. Test if it is functioning before mounting. Even if the battery is on the side or top, it is best to place a new battery on your optic.

Step #4 Additional Requirements

The next step does not apply to all red dot sight. It depends on your chosen sight. Check the manual and the manufacturer to determine if your chosen model requires any special mounting requirements like an additional plate for waterproofing.

Step #5 Mount the Red Dot Sight

Place the sight on the mounting plate you have secured earlier. Apply thread sealant on the mounting screws. Screw down the mounting screws tightly until it is snugly fit, then alternate torquing each screw. We suggest torque 12-15 inch-pounds. Make sure to check manufactures torque recommendations.

Now that you have completed the mounting of the red dot sight on your pistol, the next thing to do is to sight in your gun with the newly installed red dot sight.

how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol

Tips on Sighting a Newly Installed Red Dot Sight on a Pistol

You must mount the red dot sight properly as it affects your shooting accuracy. Once you are sure it is mounted correctly, you can start sighting or zeroing your pistol. Below are steps on how to sight in a red dot sight.

Identify Your Point of Aim

The first thing you should do is to figure out where your pistol is pointing. Look through the sighting scope on top of the barrel and ensure the dot is sitting on top of the front iron sight. Make the needed adjustment on windage and elevation using the knobs on the sighting instrument.

Fire at least five shots at various distances to determine where your pistol is zeroing. If this is your first time to shoot, it is between 15 and 20 yards.

Adjust Windage and Elevation Using the Dials

Check and determine how far your shots are to the target. Make the necessary adjustments to match the dot with the point of impact. Adjust the windage using the adjustment dial and follow the procedure for elevation adjustments.

Reshoot and fire five shots again from the adjusted distance to verify if the adjustments you have made have zeroed in the gun. Repeat it at least three times to make sure it is accurate.

Prepare Your Pistol

If the zeroing distance is what you expect, you can now pack your pistol and go. Most of the time, the sighting distance is set at 25 yards. But that depends on your firearms. If you require a different distance, move the target and shoot groups.

Check what adjustments you need to make. The change in the point of impact is between 5 and 20 yards, the least, but it depends on the pistol you use.

Keep in mind that you have to focus on the target and not on the red dot. Many shooters get confused.

Final Thoughts

Before you mount a red dot sight on your pistol, make sure you have chosen the right one. You have to consider the footprint and if it can be mounted directly or using an adaptor plate. Follow this how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol guide to make sure you will do it correctly. If you think you cannot mount your RDS, you can look for a gunsmith to do it for you. But, you have to pay for his service. 

For questions, or if you want to share your thoughts about the topic, feel free to comment below.

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