How To Mount A Red Dot Sight On A Pistol [All Methods]

How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on a Pistol

Hey shooters! If you want to know how to mount a red dot sight on a pistol, you have landed at the right place. 

Mounting problems haunt most red dot shooters. There is no universal mount for pistol red dot sights, so we rely on different mounting methods. 

Let’s cut to the chase, no mounting method is perfect, but gun milling is the best one you have. Why? I will explain later.  

You should trust my opinion because I’m a writer at Scopes and stuff, and my team and I test tons of red dots and try all mounting methods. 

So, after my experience and research, I would suggest the best method is that you get your gun milled. 

Keep reading to know why it’s the best method and how you should do it. Also, learn about all alternatives to this method. 

Let’s dive into it. 

Mounting A Red Dot Sight On A Pistol: All Methods

1. Gun Milling 

Gun milling means cutting your gun slide in its rear for your red dot. To get your gun milled, you should send it to a gunsmith. 

What To Keep In Mind?

Choose a reputable custom shop. An inexperienced gunsmith can mess with the gun’s internals while machining, leading to failure. 

Some good options are:

Why Is This The Best Option?

  • With a milled slide, the red dot sits low on the pistol, so there is no added bulk.
  • There is no added height, so it allows co-witnessing. Now, whether you should co-witness or not is another debate. But having an option is always good. 
  • Direct attachment means fewer potential failure points. 
  • It is also the most durable option because an adapter plate can break with recoil. 
  • Good holster compatibility

What Are The Cons?

  • A permanent slide cut for a particular footprint limits your red dot options. Very few red dots share the same footprint, so you are stuck with one. 
  • Not a cost-effective option

How To Make It Work?

A slide cut is durable and reliable, but you are stuck with one footprint, which is also not cost-effective. 

So, you can test your red dot with options such as an adapter plate, and when you are sure about using the optic, you can get a permanent cut. 

Or you can use this method if you have a permanent red dot choice. 

Step-by-step Guide To Mount A Red Dot On A Milled Slide:

Once you get the slide cut, installation is a cakewalk:

  1. Clean the red dot cut from any dust or debris. You should use a little bit of Acetone on a Q-tip for thorough cleaning. 
  2. Place the sight on the cut.
  3. Apply thread locker to the screws and install them on sight. 
  4. Use a Torque Wrench to tighten the screws to 10-inch pounds. Torque the screws to 10-inch pounds. This is what professionals at C&H Precision recommend. 
  5. Your red dot is mounted. 

I learned some important mounting tips from C&H Precision professionals

Aftermarket Cut Slide 

If you want a slide cut but are weary of permanently modifying your pistol, you can buy an aftermarket cut slide and replace your stock slide with it. Like this RMR cut slide for Glock

Various companies offer aftermarket cut slides today, such as Grey Ghost Precision and ZEV Technologies.

2. Factory Option 

The next option for mounting a red dot on your pistol is getting a factory option like a Glock MOS System or the Smith and Wesson CORE Series.

These systems come with different mounting plates that allow you to mount many red dot options. 

I have taken help for my research on the optic from red dot sight reviews.

What Are The Cons?

  • The addition of a plate makes the sight sit higher. It sits higher than gun milling. 
  • First, you attach the plate with the gun and then mount the sight to the plate. More screws mean more potential failure points. 
  • The factory plates that come with these systems are not reliable. For example, Glock plates have issues with quality and have low tolerances. 

How To Make It Work?

You can make the system work by adding aftermarket plates available for these systems. C&H Precision is a reliable brand of aftermarket plates. 

Expert Scott Jedlinski regard it as the De facto choice for mounting plates. 

Step-by-step Guide To Mount A Red Dot On A Factory Slide Cut Pistol:

  1. Dissassemble the pistol. 
  2. Remove the factory cover plate using a Torx or Hex tool. 
  3. Clean the area of any dust, oil, or debris from the factory. Use Acetone and a Q-tip to clean that. 
  4. Place the plate on the slide keeping the marking side up. 
  5. Put Blue Loctite on the mounting screws and install them on the plate. 
  6. Use a Torque Wrench to tighten the screws. Torque the screws to 10-inch pounds. This is what professionals at C&H Precision recommend. 
  7. Mount the optic.
  8. Again use Blue Loctite on the screws, install screws on sight, and use Torque Wrench to tighten them. 
  9. Your mounting is done.

Check out how professionals at C&H Precision mount a red dot. 

3. The Dovetail Method 

Handguns come with a front, and rear sight installed. In the dovetail method, you remove the rear sight of your pistol and fix an adapter plate using a dovetail mount. 

Why Is It Good?

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy installation 

What Are The Cons?

  • You cant use your rear sight as a backup in case your optic dies. 
  • The plate adds height to the gun. 
  • You attach the plate to the gun and the sight to the mounting plate. So there are more points of potential failure. 
  • Some dovetail mounts start to bend when used repeatedly, which can throw off your sight. 

How To Make It Work?

You can make this process work by mounting plates with included backup sights. One example would be the Raven Concealment Balor mount.

Step-by-step Guide To Use The Dovetail Method:

  1. Disassemble the pistol. 
  2. Remove the rear sight. The simple way to do it is to use a wooden pencil. Simply push the rear sight by applying pressure on one sight.
  3. Remove all the screws from the mounting plate, including the two screws that hold the dovetail mount.
  4. Slide the dovetail mount piece into the rear sight slot. You can do this using a sight pusher. 
  5. The mount piece should be in the center of the spot.
  6. Attach the plate to the mounting piece.
  7. Use Blue Loctite on the screws and install them with a screwdriver into the plate. 
  8. You can also use the Torque Wrench to tighten the screws. 
  9. Put your red dot on the plate where the pins on the mounting plate will line up holes on the red dot. 
  10. Again use Blue Loctite and install and tighten the screws into the sight.
  11. Assemble the gun. 

I found a video on Youtube with a method different than mine. Do check that out too. And choose the method that suits you. 

4. Frame Mount Method 

The last method I want to discuss in this article is the frame-mounted method of installing a red dot sight on your pistol. A mounting bracket contains the red dot you attach to the pistol’s frame.

You don’t need a slide cut or adapter plates in this method. 

But the installation process is complicated, and you need to get it done professionally. 

What Are The Cons?

  • It adds a lot of bulk to your pistol. 
  • The added bulk is not ideal for concealment. 

How To Make It Work?

Once you get them installed by a professional, it is a good option for competitive shooting because the added bulk is not a big deal there. 

Endnote 

Mounting your red dot sight to your pistol has many methods. 

You can get your slide cut for a specific red dot by a gunsmith. Also, you can buy an aftermarket slide for your pistol and replace your stock slide with it.

These two options are the best because they give you a precise fit. 

Other options include getting factory ready slide system, the dovetail method, and the frame mount method. 

I hope my guide: How To Mount A Red Dot Sight On A Pistol [All methods], will help you pick your best method.

FAQs

How do red dots mount on pistols?

The three main ways to mount red dot sights on a pistol are as follows:

  • Getting your gun milled to a specific red dot sight.
  • Getting a factory slide that comes with different mounting plates. 
  • The dovetail method of attaching your sight. 

Can you put a red dot on a pistol?

You can and should put a red dot on a pistol. Today, shooters use red dots on pistols for all applications: tactical, competition, and defense. 

A red dot sight gives target-focused shooting and allows faster target acquisition than the traditional iron sights, where you need to align the rear iron sight to the front sight and the target before shooting.

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