Pistol Lasers and Red Dots, by Francis

Introductory Note: I’m Francis The Semi-Prepper. Two of my articles have been featured in SurvivalBlog:

The Semi-Prepper, Part 1, dated May 26, 2020 and Part 2 dated May 27, 2020


Abandoning Home, by Francis dated Aug 11, 2020

I reference these as they include my background and beliefs. I’m trying to be proactive but I’ll never be a full prepper. I am constantly thinking and trying to do what I have to do to be prepared for the ominous times coming and to pass onto our grandchildren something of value. We already know the Lord but the Lord helps those who help themselves…

With 75-year-old eyes, my aiming with a semiautomatic pistol is not that good, surprise! Thus, the quest for better accuracy. This is most important today with street crime, riots, and racially-motivated attacks. Therefore, I am armed.

My goal here is to explain lasers and red dot sights and how to mount them to your pistol if it has rear dovetail sights (looking at the rear sight from the side, the rear sight dovetail looks like a triangle with part of the top cut off- /____\ ). Some pistols are set up for Picatinny rails, which will not be addressed here. It can be confusing to the novice, as it was to me, to understand the difference between a laser and a red dot for use on a semiautomatic pistol. Note that there are also fiber optics replacement sights for pistols; I will not be discussing them here because the shooter has to align both rear and front sight. I feel the laser and red dot require less “aligning effort”.

You cannot just buy any product that says it will work and expect it to. All of these products are made for a specific firearm or as in the case of the Sylvan sight pusher for many different firearms but not all. Make sure you diligently investigate what you purchase and that it will properly work with your firearm(s).

Learn from others! I participate in IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) and IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation). You can look these up but essentially they allow competitors to shoot at targets, (cardboard, etc), with some targets moving, time limits, reloading and shooters required to move. There is always a safety officer within 2 feet behind you who is tracking safety and your time. There is usually a $20 to $25 dollar fee to participate; it usually takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours to run through each station depending upon the number of stations and the number of competitors.

I recommend attending one in your area just to see how they operate during the competition. If you are not shooting, there is no fee. The pros in these organizations will tell you the differences between the two but I’ve enjoyed each (usually on a Saturday morning). My scores are consistently in the lower 35% of competitors. While stationary, hitting a moving target is difficult and while moving to hit a stationary or moving target is very difficult for me.

Both IDPA and IPSC are really enjoyable and usually require well over 100 rounds each time and are quite safe for shooters. Where I have shot there are usually about 50 shooters, some have “race guns” that are designed to allow quick acquisition of the target. They have a very light trigger pull and specialized carriers/holsters for extra magazines, they cost significantly more than any standard semiautomatic pistol. Several stations are running at the same time.


I have a full size 9mm Springfield XD semiautomatic pistol, which I have had for years. I practice with it from time to time on a regular basis and estimate I’ve put about 7,000 rounds through it. When I purchased the XD pistol, I realized that I needed some help beyond the iron sights. Thus I purchased a red Crimson Trace Laser for the XD. They now also come in green. I should mention that green is favored by many as it’s easier to see). Lasers are bright at night and can be seen on the target. There is no noticeable stream of red light from the firearm to the target. They also give your position away if you are aiming at someone, but then again if you’re in a gunfight, your opponent most likely will already know where you are.

I like the intimidating factor of the laser as from any pistol distance an aggressor might think the firearm is pointing at them but it could be pointing several feet away, left or right, up or down, the beam comes out sharp but does spread out too much as it moves further from its’ source (you cannot see the beam as it spreads out, only when it is on target or near target). It’s difficult or even impossible to see the laser on target during a bright sunny day. Keep in mind they are battery-operated. The Crimson Trace is installed by wrapping it around the trigger guard. It has a small button below the trigger guard near the pistol grip and when held properly for shooting will automatically come on.


The red dot is seen through a viewer and for pistols is mounted where the rear sight of the pistol is located (the rear sight is removed and replaced by the red dot). The front sight is not used and remains untouched for installation of the red dot. It takes a little practice to acquire the red dot quickly. The benefit to a red dot is that you don’t have to line up the rear and front sights. All that has to be done is the user has to put the dot on the target. The dot can be changed in terms of brightness (the Holosun I have adjusts automatically based on the amount of available ambient light) and configuration-a red dot, a small circle, or both. Keep in mind they are battery-operated.

NOTE: Unlike a laser, the red dot cannot be seen by the aggressor but only the user of the firearm. The red dot I use has a small solar panel on top, includes a battery and has several options for the red dot, i.e. single dot, circle, circle with dot, various levels of brightness, etc. Any movement causes it to turn on and stay on for minutes. If I’m walking I’m sure it turns on. It is rated at 50,000 hours, I’m sure it’s on 4,000 to 5,000 hours per year. The red dot has to be adjusted so it can be aimed at a target, this should be accomplished at a range with live ammunition.

Using Both Devices

LASER: If the laser is on target you’re fine. Aiming at a target 60 feet away/20 yards the laser lands on the target with a red full circle that is .6 inches in diameter.

RED DOT: The red dot noted herein has a red circle which I use and it is 32 MOA (minute of arc – 1 minute of arc is approximately 1 inch at 100 yards). Thus if I shoot at a target 100 yards away within the red circle accurately I’ll hit within a 32-inch circle. At 50 yards, it’s 16 inches and at 20 yards it’s about 6.4 inches. I seriously doubt that most Concealed Handgun Permit holders have both a red dot and laser but this is what I’ll use.

How are they mounted to the firearm? The photo below shows the XD with the Crimson Trace Laser and the Holosun Red Dot mounted with an EGW Springfield XD red dot sight mount. Also shown is the box and instructions for the Sylvan sight pusher.

The Holosun Red Dot is mounted where the rear sight was and the Crimson Trace Laser is forward of the trigger guard. The sight mount is between the firearm and the Holosun red dot. The Red Dot comes on when the firearm is picked up (not every red dot comes on automatically) and after a period of no movement turns off) and the Red Laser comes on when the firearm is held properly. The body of the Laser comes down around the trigger guard and just below it note the small protrusion below the trigger guard; this is a small button that if the firearm is held properly will turn the Laser on.

How to install each

The Crimson Trace Laser is simple to mount: small tiny screws hold it together. It wraps around the trigger guard. After installation, the point of aim can be adjusted. I’ve noticed that I must use Blue Loctite on these screws to keep proper alignment. I purchased the Crimson Trace Laser from Optics Planet and have had no problems.  It is cataloged at their web site as: Crimson Trace Laserguard Sight, Black – Springfield Armory XD and XDM – LG448. I believe they are still made in the US. The laser has to be adjusted so it can be aimed at a target, this should be accomplished at a range with live ammunition.

The Holosun Red Dot is simple to mount and it takes a little time. I used a small vise, locked the slide in the vise after removing it from the pistol and attempted to knock out the rear dovetail sight with a punch and 5 lb sledge. After trying for three 1/2-hour  sessions I gave up. Note the rear sight is hydraulically installed at the factory for the XD and goes in left to right as seen with the barrel pointing straight ahead. This applies to the XD only, other pistol manufacturers may install their rear sights differently.  I did some damage to the side of the rear sight using the punch and sledge. It did not move when struck!

So, then I looked for a “sight pusher” on Amazon. Don’t believe the Amazon comments when researching a product! I try to use Amazon, find what I’m looking for, but then order directly from the company. I found a sight pusher made by Sylvan Arms on the Amazon website, it was over $70, but I got an Amazon credit card which took off $50. I looked on the Sylvan’s website and it was not offered. Thus I bought from Amazon. I won’t be using that credit card again, as I’m not too concerned about my credit score. So the cost of having to go to a gunsmith was lower for me doing it this way. Note I saved the rear iron sight when (not if) needed in the future. Electronic devices only operate with some form of power. The photo to teh right shows the setup of the sight pusher installed in a small vise from Lowes. I had the vise previously but must caution those of you who are getting older to hang onto all your tools until the last day before you depart to meet the Lord. I gave away many tools and now regret doing that.

As an engineer, I know how to do almost anything without reading instructions but this time I read the instructions for the sight pusher and found them invaluable as were the instructions for the sight mount and the Red Dot (and the Crimson Trace Laser). I took my time and slowly pushed the rear sight out. It took little effort, I was amazed! I have other pistols and will use the sight pusher as needed. The red dot has to be adjusted so it can be aimed at a target, this should be accomplished at a range with live ammunition.

Who did I buy these items from? The Sylvan sight pusher came from Amazon and was made in China. The Holosun red dot is made in China. The EGW red dot sight mount is made in the United States. Installing the sight mount, which fits in the dovetail where the rear sight was, is easy, I used the Sylvan sight pusher to do that. I purchased from EGW’s website:

HS507C-X2 HS507C X2 Holosun 507C Reflex Sight (Red Dot)


49523 Trijicon RMR / SRO, Holosun 407c / 507c Mount for Springfield XD, XDM

The EGW red dot sight mount is well made and I’ve had no problems with it. I forgot to use Blue Loctite on the screws that affix the Holosun Red Dot sight to the sight mount and it came loose after several months, I reinstalled it with Blue Loctite and have had no problems.

YoutTube has many videos showing what I have discussed here.

I would have preferred to not purchase items made in China, but I feel I need this. The Crimson Trace is made in the USA. I’ve had experience with Holosun’s products before and I recommend them. All the Chinese products mentioned here are well made and well thought out.

I have no financial dealings with any of the companies other than buying their products at retail.

My accuracy has increased dramatically with these products, especially the Red Dot sight. I carry in and around my home and where the Concealed Handgun Permit allows me to.

Unintended consequences

1. The Springfield XD is very much easier to rack with the Holosun in place!

2. I use a small inexpensive lockable car safe for when I have to lock the firearm in the car. With the Holosun red dot mounted, the firearm will not fit in this safe. I gave thought to cutting part of the safe out so the Holosun red dot sticks out but am concerned that over time that I would damage the red dot. If I’m going somewhere where I have to lock my firearm in the car, then I use a 9MM Kahr Arms pistol. I’m either going to buy a bigger handgun safe or plan my travels well in advance.

3. Using the Crimson Trace laser and the Holosun Red Dot at the same time is to me very advantageous and will possibly deter someone from aiming at me but both will give me greater accuracy.

Some Closing Thoughts

I’ll leave you with these thoughts, as a country we are failing. The Mainstream Media wants controversy and hatred.

The BLM movement is a fraud. In 2019, more than 15 convicted killers in Charlotte, North Carolina were released after being arrested for carrying an illegal firearm. They went on to kill someone else and were caught. If the clearance rate for firearm murders in Charlotte, NC is 40-to-50 percent, that means at least 30 people previously arrested for illegally carrying a firearm murdered someone else later on in Charlotte, in 2019. This was reported in The Charlotte Observer. BLM never rioted over these deaths but when one police officer kills someone (most of the times justified) the riots begin.

There is a program wherein Federal employees can give to various charities and political parties. At the US State Department the ratio of donations to Democrats was 95% versus 5% for Republicans. It is lower but significantly the same way for the FBI, and I am deeply disappointed.

God Bless you all.