Many (maybe most) people with the experiences of using both iron sights and red dot sights will tell you (if only in private) that red dot sights can be a game changer for shooters. Especially pistol shooters. If you want to be accurate at a distance, a red dot can make all the difference.
But red dots are mechanical and electronic devices. That means that they aren’t immune to damage or to breaking. They can fail.
What do you do if your red dot fails on you when you need it most? Jeremy Stafford has some thoughts on that based on a situation in which a red dot failed on him during a qualification test. Stafford writes,
My latest failure [of two] was with an Aimpoint ACRO during my department’s Bonus Qualification, a challenging course with several fast stages. As I was shooting the first stage — four rounds in 3 seconds, two on the right target, two on the left — my dot disappeared between round two and three as I was transitioning targets. I’m not superhuman, and I wish I could tell you that my transition to irons was instantaneous, but it wasn’t. There was indeed some lag time and I ended up getting one shot into the target and one shot on paper as the target turned. Round three hit in the 8-ring and round four creased the white outside of the silhouette. I finished the qualification course with no problems and retained my expert status because I had redundant sighting systems. If it was a gunfight, I would have still been in the fight and had a chance to prevail because my training and equipment were set up to succeed.
Now, what is the lesson that you can learn from Stafford’s experience?
The lesson is to train with both your red dot and with your iron sights. That way, you have proficiency with what can give you the most accuracy (the red dot) and also have proficiency with what is on your firearm should the red dot fail (the iron sights).
Train with both so that you can shoot based on your iron sights if your red dot fails. Because the life that you save may be your own.
I don’t have Red Dots on any of my pistols (yet), but I do have them on both ARs. MagPul BUIS are set to co witness, so the time lag would be due to the time it takes to flip them up.
I would think it would take a moment or two to process the failure and accommodate for it.
I have also been advised to check the holster and front of the red dot for carry because a bit of dust etc. can cover the lens and render it ineffective when needed.