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Getting into Handgun Shooting with An Optic

Handgun shooting with an optic is something I thought I would never see myself doing for EDC, but here I am in 2022, after 16 years of concealed carrying, a new convert to optic shooting. All in my earlier life, I was brought up using iron sights. Thinking back to the Winchester air rifle that my dad taught me how to shoot with as a kid, all the way to my 1st purchased gun with my own money, a Taurus Millennium Pro 9mm and every gun in between, they have all been plain iron sights. I considered optics on handguns to be a sacrilege to the discipline. The other thing that I had against pistol optics earlier on is that the ones available 10 -15 years ago were large, unwieldy looking contraptions that ruined the aesthetic of a gun. My last former gripe about optics was that 10-15 years ago there were relatively few companies that made a specialized stock gun model compatible optic cut holster that was comfortable.

In the year of 2021 my opinion on optics for handguns changed. The allure of having an optic mounted edc gun came from watching countless firearms instructors, military special forces operators, and police agencies carry sidearms with mounted optics. That really made me think that if these elite shooters can use this as a tool to better accomplish their mission, then it must have some possible value to me as a personal defender.

Since I have made the switch to an optics edc the main benefits I believe it has added to my self-defense skill set are increase field of view, increase shooting speed, and increase precision on distant targets. My first biggest pitfall in transitioning to optics carry was consistently finding the reticle within my optic during weapon presentation. For me to overcome this it took countless hours of holster drawing and presentation practice. I would practice my draw with an empty gun for so many reps that my shoulder and back muscles would begin to burn. This was good because that minor discomfort was helping to set muscle memory. Muscle memory being the development of neuromuscular pathways through repetitive task, making future performance of that task more fluid, consistent, and automatic. Consistency of draw is important as it allows your brain to know the exact spot in which your hands must be placed in order to bring the optic in your line of sight every time. As an aid in this process, I found lining up the baseplate of the weapon with my nose at full presentation, delivered consistency in the weapon optic window being in my line of sight and seeing my reticle.

Once I could consistently find my reticle after draw and presentation, I progressed on to getting further practice with use by enrolling in defensive carry classes and sending rounds down range. First off, I can tell you in comparison to iron sight shooting, your field of vision opens up more with an optic, thus allowing you to be more threat focused. Instead of getting sucked into intense focus on the front bead of an iron sight, I view an illuminated reticle on a large optic window that allows me not to get sucked into having tunnel vision. My eye and brain are no longer trying to align and reconcile 3 objects (front sight, rear sight, and target) at the same time. I only need to get the optic reticle on my target and make sure my trigger squeeze is smooth. The byproduct of this is confidence that allows you to shoot faster. As soon as I see the green reticle of my Holosun 508t HE508T-GR X2-Holosun on the center mass of my target I perform a controlled trigger press and am able to make good impacts on my target with more ease. I especially find that setting my optic to single dot reticle option and reducing the optic brightness to the point the reticle appears as a fine point greatly helps me with dialing in precision for targets at distance.

Lastly, with optic mounting on handguns becoming so popular, there are now tons of companies out there that create specialized optic cut holsters that are comfortable for concealed carry and fit just about every top manufacturer’s gun models. My top holster manufacturers that make an A1top notch quality, and comfortable concealment holster for optics mounted pistols are T-Rex Arms T.REX ARMS ( and Tier-1 concealed Tier 1 Concealed.

So, if you used to be like me, living in the past and stubborn to change, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, try. Try an optic mounted handgun and see for yourself if it adds value to your shooting experience like it did for me.

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