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Red Dots on Shotguns?


I have been busy writing the shotgun book as part of the rewrite and update of all existing books.  A great deal has changed since the 1990s. On the discussion of sights, back then the disruptive technology was ghost ring sights. Today, we are putting red dot sights on handguns at a dramatic rate.

Do they belong on shotguns? Lets see.

The first time I saw a red dot on a shotgun was on the cover of one of the last HK International Training Division catalogs. They’d just done a switch to the FABARM shotgun from the venerable Benelli and there was a FABARM with an Aimpoint in the stack. Nobody had ever done that. The FABARM eventually died a quiet death, but the concept of a red dot on a shotgun did not.

Oh, I know…you will get the same arguments we got when we began doing this with handguns.

“It’s a close range weapon and you don’t need sights”.

“It will slow you down”.

The red dot does not change anything about how you use the handgun in an elevator, but boy does it help your hit potential when outside the close confines where sights will again be needed. And if anything, it allows you to hit faster. Is it any different for a shotgun?

I say the answer is an emphatic “NO”.

The shotgun is used in the same environs as the handgun. In fact, the only difference really is that being something you go and get rather than draw reflexively to a threat, it is less so a purely reactive weapon.

It is used in the same realms where a red dot is desired on a handgun. For reactive shooting from the bed to the bedroom door by a non-enthusiast who is trembling in terror it may not be necessary any more than any optimizing accessory. But to the self-selected seeker of martial excellence who will use the weapon in many other places beyond the "bedroom defense" situation, it will be a great asset.

Hitting with a shotgun is dependent on a proper mount that aligns the weapon, and a sight picture, refined as needed and beginning with the axis of the bore all the way to use of the sights, or red dot if present.

Slow you down? No…just as with a handgun, this will only slow you down if your technique is substandard. With a red dot, you do not have to take your visual focus off the threat to see the red dot because it is out there in the same focal plane, and far easier to see than any bead regardless of size or color.

Just as the draw is paramount for a handgun, the mount is for the shotgun. If you do not have a good and consistent mount and hold, it is impossible for your brain to make the adjustment to point the gun correctly. With the dot all variables except the relationship of the dot to the threat are eliminated. This makes you faster, and potentially more accurate.

Red dots on shotguns? Yes, I think so. I think so very much!