How To Mount A Red Dot Sight On A Pistol

By neca

Modern firearms enthusiasts are increasingly turning to red dot sights for their pistols. These optics provide a number of advantages over traditional iron sights, offering improved accuracy, faster target acquisition and enhanced visibility in a variety of lighting conditions.

However, mounting a red dot sight on a pistol requires knowledge of the firearm and the proper tools to complete the task properly. This article will provide step-by-step instructions on how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol with precision and accuracy.

When installing an optic on any firearm it is important to use the correct tools and adhere to safety protocols at all times. To properly install a red dot sight onto a pistol, one must possess knowledge of the firearm’s design, understand basic hand tools and have experience working with firearms components.

If an individual does not possess these skills or has any doubts as to their ability to safely install an optic onto their pistol, they should seek professional assistance from skilled gunsmiths or firearms technicians.

Selecting The Right Red Dot Sight

  1. When selecting the right red dot sight for a pistol, it is important to understand the level of magnification it provides.
  2. There are multiple types of optics available, including reflex, holographic, and prism optics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
  3. It is also important to consider the size and weight of the unit and the mounting system, as it should fit the pistol properly and securely.
  4. Additionally, the dot sight should have features such as adjustable brightness, multiple reticles, and night vision capability, depending on the user’s needs.

Understanding Magnification

When selecting the right red dot sight for use on a pistol, it is important to understand magnification. Magnification is an essential factor when determining the type of dot sight that should be used.

The Burris Fastfire series are designed specifically for use with pistol slides and incorporate reticles that do not require magnification. For those who prefer a magnified dot sight, there are several models available that include magnifying lenses to increase accuracy at longer distances.

Dot mounts typically come in two varieties – fixed or adjustable – and provide the user with increased flexibility when mounting the dot sight on their pistol slide. It is important to select a mount that allows for optimal sighting and accuracy, as well as one that can withstand recoil from firing rounds.

Types Of Optics

When selecting the right red dot sight for use on a pistol, it is important to consider the types of optics available and their particular uses.

The most common type of reflex sight is the red dot, which provides a distinct aiming point with no magnification.

These dots come in a variety of sizes, allowing users to choose one that best suits their shooting style and target distances.

For those interested in acquiring greater accuracy over longer distances, magnified optics may be the better choice.

Magnified optics allow for higher precision in aiming and are ideal for use on slides that feature longer barrels.

Additionally, these optics often feature adjustable reticles and dot sizes to accommodate different types of targets and shooting conditions.

Ultimately, understanding the various types of optics available will help shooters decide which type best suits their specific needs.

Acquiring The Necessary Tools

There are various types of red dot sights available, including reflex, holographic, and prismatic optics.

The mount used to attach the sight to the pistol is an important consideration, as it must be compatible with the particular model.

To properly secure the mount, a screwdriver and hex wrenches may be required.

Gunsmiths often recommend applying a small amount of Loctite to the screws and cleaning the area with gun oil and a cleaning cloth prior to mounting.

Types Of Sights

When it comes to acquiring the necessary tools for mounting a red dot sight on a pistol, there is a wide variety of choices available.

Popular options include:

  • The Vortex Venom, which offers an ultra-lightweight design with an impressive field of view and long battery life.
  • The Burris Fastfire 3, which has an easy to use windage and elevation adjustment system as well as an automatic brightness setting feature.
  • Prism sights, which are designed with a high resolution image and offer a wide variety of reticles to choose from.
  • The Mini Shot Reflex Sight, which provides fast target acquisition and is constructed from lightweight materials.
  • Backup Iron Sights, which are usually used as secondary sights in case the main optics fail or become damaged.

Each type of sight has its own unique features and benefits that can help determine which option is best suited for the job. With all these options available, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your pistol. Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference when making your decision.


When it comes to mounting a red dot sight on a pistol, there is a variety of options available.

The most common type of mounting system is the dovetail mount. This mount is designed to fit onto the rear sight dovetail of most pistols and allows for easy installation.

Another option is the rear sight mount, which mounts the optics directly to the rear sight of the firearm.

For Glock pistols, there is also the Glock Sight Mount Plate, which provides an easy way to add optics without having to do any modifications.

Lastly, there are also aftermarket mounts available from brands like Vortex and Burris Fastfire 2 that can be used instead of factory mounting systems.

All these different types of mounts provide shooters with more flexibility when it comes to mounting red dot sights on their pistols.

It is important to note that some models may require special tools or modifications in order to properly mount them, so it is important to do research beforehand.

Locating The Mounting Position

  1. When locating the mounting position for a red dot sight on a pistol, the first step is to determine the model of gun.
  2. Once the gun model is identified, the sight-to-barrel distance must be measured in order to determine the correct mounting position for the sight.
  3. It is important to take measurements from the same side of the gun to ensure a consistent mounting position.
  4. After the measurements have been taken, the mounting position can be marked with a permanent marker.
  5. The mounting position should be marked on the left side of the gun in order to make it easier to align the sight.
  6. Care should be taken to ensure the mounting position is marked accurately and that the mounting screws are installed in the correct position.

Determine Gun Model

In order to mount a red dot sight on a pistol, the first step is determining the gun model. This is an essential step as it will help determine the size and type of mounting unit that should be used for installation.

It is important to note that each rifle carries different types of mounting units in order to ensure proper fitment. Furthermore, depending on the size of the pistol, one must be aware of how much space is available for the unit itself.

Thus, being aware of what size and type of mounting unit is necessary before attempting to install a red dot sight onto a specific pistol is highly recommended. Properly sizing and selecting the correct mounting unit for your pistol can facilitate a successful installation process and result in optimal sighting results for your firearm.

Measure Sight-To-Barrel Distance

After determining the appropriate size and type of mounting unit for a pistol, it is important to measure the sight-to-barrel distance. This is to ensure that the red dot sight will be installed in the optimal position for sighting purposes.

The rear sight should be removed from the pistol and marked as a reference point from where to measure. Depending on the range desired, this distance can vary.

Generally speaking, most dot sight models recommend having between 3mm and 5mm space between the thread and rear edge of the slide. However, this measurement can also be dependent on personal preference; some users prefer having less space if they are shooting at short ranges.

Thus, it is important to consider these factors when deciding on a final measurement for installation purposes.

Mark Mounting Position

Once the appropriate size and type of mounting unit for a pistol is determined, the next step is to mark the mounting position.

This is best done by first removing the factory iron sights from the pistol and marking them as a reference point.

From here, it can be measured in minutes of angle (MOA) to ensure an accurate sight-to-barrel distance.

Many aftermarket slides are pre-drilled with a sight mount, which can make this process easier.

Additionally, some carry holsters are designed with a notch specifically for accommodating an aftermarket slide.

This allows for easy installation when affixing the red dot sight to the firearm.

In any case, proper measurements should be taken to ensure that all components are properly aligned and secure before usage.

Drilling The Mounting Holes

  1. When it comes to drilling the mounting holes for a red dot sight on a pistol, the first step is to mark the position of the mounting holes on the pistol.
  2. After the position of the holes has been marked, it is necessary to drill pilot holes through the pistol’s frame to ensure that the mounting holes have the correct size and depth.
  3. A pilot hole should also be drilled in the red dot sight in order to ensure that the sight is securely mounted and that the mounting screws will not strip the threads.
  4. It is important to ensure that the mounting screws fit tightly in the pilot holes to ensure that the red dot sight is securely mounted on the pistol.

Mark The Position

Proper position is paramount when mounting a red dot sight onto a pistol. To ensure accuracy, the Burris Fastfire 3 Standard Mount should be installed in the right place on the firearm.

When determining this location, it is important to consider the user’s cheek weld and natural point of aim. This will provide optimal comfort and functionality for the shooter.

The mount requires that two holes be drilled into the firearm. After drilling, thread sealant should be applied to each hole in order to prevent leakage. Additionally, thread locker can be used to ensure that all screws remain securely fastened during use.

Care must also be taken to ensure that these components are not over-tightened as this may damage them or cause them to become loose after extended use of the firearm.

Once the position has been marked and the holes have been drilled and sealed, it is time to mount the red dot sight onto the pistol using the included screws and tools. With careful attention paid to detail throughout this process, an accurate and secure installation can be achieved with ease.

Drill Pilot Holes

In order to accurately and securely mount a red dot sight, such as the Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight, to a firearms slide, it is necessary to drill pilot holes. This process should be done with utmost care as improper drilling can cause damage and reduce accuracy.

The proper tools must be used to carefully measure and mark the location of the holes on the factory slide before any drilling begins. Once this is done, a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the mounting screws for the optics rail should be used to drill pilot holes for the mounting hardware.

It is important to ensure that these pilot holes are drilled straight into the slide in order to prevent any misalignment when mounting the optics rail. Special care must also be taken during this step as too much force or incorrect angles can damage both the firearm and optics rail.

After successfully drilling pilot holes, they should then be sealed with thread sealant in order to ensure an air-tight fit that will not leak during use.

Attaching The Mounting Plate

  1. The first step in attaching the mounting plate is to position the plate in the desired location on the pistol.
  2. After positioning the plate, the next step is to secure it in place with the appropriate mounting screws.
  3. The mounting screws should be tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure the plate is securely attached.
  4. Once the plate is secured in place, it should be adjusted for height and windage to ensure the red dot sight is properly aligned.
  5. To adjust the plate, loosen the adjustment screws and manually move it until the desired alignment is achieved.
  6. After adjusting the plate to the desired position, tighten the adjustment screws and make sure the plate is still secure.

Position The Plate

When attaching the mounting plate to a pistol, it is important to position the plate correctly in order to ensure that the red dot sight will perform properly.

The first step is to determine the desired eye relief and angular measurement for the weapon. Eye relief represents the distance from the shooter’s eye to the rear lens of optics ready equipment; this should be determined based on both comfort level and recoil of the pistol. Angular measurement is also necessary, as it dictates how much tilt should be applied when mounting an optic device.

After these two variables have been established, one can proceed with positioning the plate using a 6-second mount method. This procedure involves placing three evenly spaced points on either side of the slide and then measuring outwards from those points in a 6-second fashion until reaching a consistent measurement (typically 1/3rd of an inch).

Once these three points are marked, they can be used as reference points for accurately positioning and attaching the plate onto the pistol.

Secure The Plate

Once the plate has been accurately positioned, the next step is to secure it onto the pistol. Generally, this involves using a screwdriver or other appropriate tool and tightening the screws that connect the mounting plate to the slide. It is important to ensure that all screws are tightened properly in order to prevent any movement of the plate and to increase accuracy when using an optic device.

The Smith & Wesson M&P pistols come with pre-drilled recoil lugs which can be used for mounting a wide array of optics ready equipment. Duty guns often require a special mount adapter due to their unique design, which will require additional time when securing the plate.

Finally, once all screws have been tightened and verified for accuracy, one should double-check that all measurements such as eye relief and angular measurement are correct for telescopic sight operation. This will help to ensure optimal performance when shooting with an optic device attached to pistol.

Adjust The Plate

Once all screws have been tightened and verified for accuracy, the next step is to adjust the plate.

The alignment of the mounting plate should match up with the rear sight dovetail on the pistol. This will ensure that when sighting, the beam splitter type aiming laser device is aligned with the pistol sights.

For carry guns, extra attention should be given to this step as failure to properly adjust can lead to inaccurate shots.

To verify alignment and accuracy, use a bore sighter or other appropriate tool and ensure that the dot or reticle is precisely centered in relation to the barrel of the gun.

Once set, recheck all screws to make sure they are tight and secure before attaching any optic device.

Mounting The Sight

  1. When mounting a red dot sight on a pistol, it is important to choose the right sight for the pistol, as each pistol may require a different type of sight.
  2. Before installing the sight, the gunsmith must ensure that the pistol is prepared properly; this may include cleaning the mounting area, replacing the rear sight, and prepping the slide.
  3. After selecting the right sight, the gunsmith should tighten all screws and ensure that the sight is properly aligned with the bore.
  4. The gunsmith should also provide the owner with instructions on adjusting the sight for windage and elevation.
  5. Before attaching the sight to the pistol, the gunsmith should check that the sight is securely mounted and that it is securely locked into place.
  6. The gunsmith should also check the sight’s performance and accuracy after the installation is complete.

Choosing The Right Sight

The selection of the right reflex sight for mounting onto a pistol is crucial to ensure success in target acquisition speed.

A proper sight picture must be taken into account when considering the size, type and style of the chosen sight.

This is important to consider, as night vision compatibility or faster target acquisition may be desired depending on the application.

It is essential to choose a quality sight that provides an appropriate level of accuracy and reliability for the user’s needs.

Along with these factors, compatibility with the firearm itself should be considered as it will determine if additional modifications would be required prior to installation.

With these factors in mind, one should have no trouble finding an adequate reflex sight suitable for use on a pistol.

Preparing The Pistol

When preparing a pistol for the installation of a reflex sight, it is important to consider the existing setup.

Depending on the make and model of the firearm, there may be existing stock sights or backup sights that must be removed.

Additionally, there may be a solar panel in place that would need to be removed as well.

All of these components must be accounted for before mounting any type of holographic sight, so as to meet the standard requirements for use with that particular pistol.

The removal process should always involve caution and adherence to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disassembly and reassembly of the firearm.

After all components have been removed and accounted for, the pistol should now be ready to accept whatever reflex sight has been chosen by the user.

Installing The Sight

With the gun now prepared for mounting, the next step is to install the sight.

Depending on the type of sight being used, this could involve a few different steps.

For instance, most green dot sights and tube sights require that a reflector sight be attached to the rear portion of the pistol.

This requires aligning the sight post with the desired point of aim and securing it in place with screws or other fasteners.

On the other hand, battery-powered electronic sights may only need to be mounted on an existing rail adapter or directly onto a designated portion of the frame.

In either case, it is important to ensure that all components are securely fastened before proceeding with testing and verification.

A properly installed sight should provide a clear view of the target with minimal obstruction while also allowing for preferred adjustment of windage and elevation.

Finalizing The Setup

  1. When mounting a red dot sight on a pistol, it is important to ensure that the sight is secure and properly attached.
  2. The sights should then be calibrated to ensure accuracy when the firearm is fired.
  3. Failure to do so may result in inaccuracy in the shot placement.
  4. Once the sights have been calibrated, it is essential to test the setup with a few rounds.
  5. This will provide a clear indication of the accuracy and precision of the setup.
  6. If the results of the test are satisfactory, the setup is now complete and ready for use.

Securely Attaching The Red Dot Sight

Securing a red dot sight to a pistol can be an intricate process.

It is important that the dot reticle is properly aligned and in the correct position for the shooter to effectively use it.

The technician must first determine what type of reticle patterns are preferred, as well as if night vision compatibility is necessary.

Once these considerations are made, the technician can begin to securely mount the sight onto the pistol.

To ensure proper alignment, they should take into account any instructions from American Rifleman National Rifle Association, such as adjusting eye position or height of the sight on the firearm.

The final step is to tighten screws and secure any additional components that may be required for mounting so that it can withstand recoil and remain firmly attached during operation.

Finally, all fasteners must be checked for torque and tightness prior to use.

Calibrating The Sights

Once the sight is securely mounted to the pistol, the technician must then calibrate the sight. This involves aligning the reticle with the barrel of the firearm so that it is in its original condition and shooting accurately.

To do this, a battery-powered Giese electric gun sight or Vortex Razor are often used as they allow for quick adjustments and accurate alignment even in low-light and no-light conditions.

The technician will adjust each axis until the dot is aligned with the barrel of the firearm, which allows for increased accuracy and precision when shooting.

The calibration process should be tested by firing rounds at various distances to ensure accuracy before being considered complete.

Testing The Setup

Once the sight is calibrated, it is time to test the setup.

This involves firing rounds of ammunition at various distances to ensure that the accuracy and precision of the firearm is up to industry standards.

The technician will use either a rear iron sight or rifle scope as the gold standard for comparison.

The technician should begin by shooting from a distance of ten yards away using their favorite pistol equipped with the newly mounted and calibrated sight.

From here, they can gradually increase the range until they reach their desired distance.

As each round is fired, accuracy should be carefully monitored to ensure accuracy.

Any issue encountered can be adjusted on-the-fly using the Giese electric gun sight or Vortex Razor previously used during calibration.

When all tests are complete, it can be determined whether or not the firearm has been set up correctly and if any further adjustments need to be made before it can be considered safe and ready for use.


The successful installation of a red dot sight on a pistol requires the right tools, patience, and attention to detail. The process should be done with care to ensure that the sight is securely mounted and properly aligned. With the correct approach, it is possible to achieve a solid mount that allows for accurate shooting and reliable operation.

Anecdotally, I recently helped a friend mount a new red dot sight onto his handgun. After going through the steps outlined above, we were able to successfully attach the sight without any trouble. The result was a setup that looked like it had been crafted by an artist, with everything in its perfect place.

This experience reinforced my belief that red dot sights are one of the best upgrades you can make for your pistol – with just the right amount of effort and knowledge, you can turn your firearm into an even more formidable tool!

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