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  /  Firearms   /  Firearms Technology   /  Red Dot Sights for Handguns: Co-Witnessing Made Easy

Red Dot Sights for Handguns: Co-Witnessing Made Easy

Red dot sights have been widely adopted on rifles resulting in increased effectiveness of shooters through all professions and sports. Are red dots effective on duty and self defense pistols too? I have become a big believer in pistol mounted red dot optics. A red dot puts the target and the sight in the same focal plane. Shooters with vision problems get a great benefit from this. It promotes shooting with both eyes open for better situational awareness when you need it the most. Taken together, these benefits allow you to shoot faster and more accurately at longer distances. This should result in not shooting things you shouldn’t shoot and quicker and better hits on things that you should.

If you want to get all the advantages the red dot can provide, you need to get the red dot mounted on the side down low so that your presentation doesn’t change dramatically. Then you need to find iron sights that  match the height of your dot. When you get this right, you will see your sights, dot or not, under any conditions.

Sight technology and holsters have progressed to the required reliability and battery life to be serious professional tools, but to graduate from range toy to working hardware, you need back up irons. Dots can fail or break and you have to stay in the fight. Fighting with sights increases you odds of winning. Attaching electronics to the moving slide of a handgun puts them under tremendous stress. Conditions in the field may put water and or dirt in your sight. Batteries eventually run down. Loss of a primary optic can be a devastating loss in a combat, self defense, hunting, or competition.

Co-Witnessing is the ability to use iron sights in coordination with a red dot or a holographic optic. The point of co-witnessing is to line up the electronic dot with the sight plane of back up iron sights. A proper co witness will allow you to transition seamlessly from your optic to your back up iron sights without shifting your head.

The good news is, preparing your pistol and optic to run in coordination with iron sights is easy. if you pick the right gear. With an absolute co-witness, both iron sights and red dot have the same point of impact. The downside, however, is that your sight picture is cluttered with a rear sight, a front sight and a red dot, which could impede your field of view. You have to coordinate your slide cut, red dot sight and iron sight height. If you pick the right components, line of sight coincide and all you have to do is run the trigger.


Absolute co-witness: Both iron sights and red dot have the same point of impact.


Once you have your sights installed, zero the RMR and co-witness with your iron sights. It’s important to maintain your skills with iron sights. Co-witnessing doesn’t matter if you can’t shoot with iron sights.

XS claims that their Night Sights are “The Fastest Sights in Any Light.” I decided to go with XS DXT suppressor height sights for my Grey Ghost/Nomad 9 build. In Day-Light, Half-Light, or Low-Light, all you have to do is “dot the i”. Fast, simple and effective. This is the ultimate self defense sight system that provides sights you can see around the clock.

Some instructors advocate blacked out iron sights with red dots. I find that the white dot on the XS DXT stays out of the way, I don’t even notice it when the dot is on, but it is there in any light when I need it. Using the center of the dot up close and the top of the dot for precision, XS sights are fast and practical.   In low light, the dot’s photoluminescent properties produce an intense glow that is visible before the glow from tritium is noticeable. XS products are made in the USA and backed by a 10 year no questions asked warranty.

XS DXT and DXW sights are designed to optimize fast sight acquisition in all light conditions. Just “dot the i”. Fast, simple and effective.



DXT = Defensive Express Tritium (tritium front, tritium rear)

Enhances sight acquisition in all light conditions
Ultimate “Flash Sight” picture
Excels in high stress defensive situations
Improves Low-Light accuracy
Low profile, snag free design
Available with Big Dot Tritium or Standard Dot Tritium front sight
DXT = Defensive Express Tritium (tritium front, tritium rear)
DXW = Defensive Express White (tritium front, white stripe (non-tritium) rear)
Precision machined in Fort Worth, TX

You can get you XS sights Here $112.57

Trijicon has been the leader in any-light aiming systems since 1981. Famous for ruggedness, the RMR has been the standard for red dot handgun sights since its inception. The American made Trijicon RMR Type 2 sights feature a new button lockout mode and battery saving features, which make this optic ideal for concealed carry and law enforcement use.

The Trijicon RMR is available in three models with a variety of dot and triangle reticle patterns appropriate for virtually any sporting or professional application. I went with the 3.25 MOA Red Dot. I find it easy to pick up and precise to aim.

Trijicon RMR Type 2 Features:
Dependable Electronic Design
Adjustable LED RMR
Button Lockout
Battery-Conservation Mode
Compatible with All Mounts
Dual-Illuminated RMR
Unique Patented Housing Shape
Versatile Sight
Easy Adjustable Windage / Elevation
True-Color Multi-Coated Lens
Waterproof to 20 Meters (66 ft.)

Get your very own Trijicon RMR Sight Adjustable –RM06  3.25 MOA Red Dot TYPE 2 from Rainier Arms. $499

Some factory options like the Glock MOS place the red dot so high that co-witness won’t work with suppressor height sights. Using higher sights can make holster selection difficult. I prefer a milled slide like the Grey Ghost. I decided to go with a Grey Ghost Precision (GGP) because they make great stuff and have the most innovative optics mount available accommodating two major brand red dot handgun sights, the Trijicon RMR, and Leupold DeltaPoint.

The professionals at GGP have extensive backgrounds in the military and in manufacturing. They base their designs on three non-negotiable requirements: the product has to be Accurate, Reliable, and Attainable. The GGP Glock 19 Slide does not disappoint. All GGP slides are stripped slides.

Features of the Grey Ghost Precision Glock 19 Gen4 Slide
Machined from 17-4 Billet Stainless Steel to have tighter tolerances than a factory slide
Stainless steel slide cut and Black Nitride Coated inside and out
Available with an optic cutout for Trijicon RMR (no plate needed) and Leupold Delta-Point.
RMR Cut slides include a custom G10 cover plate and proper screws

Get a GGP slide HERE. MSRP $449.99

The absolute co-witness advantage lets you transition without delay to find your sights. It takes some home work getting the set up right, but when it works it is a thing of beauty. The integration avoids the problems of looking for sights when you should be shooting.

About the Author /

Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.


  • Tony Morris

    July 21, 2020

    Co-witness isn’t necessary, but boy it makes finding the dot a lot easier. If the dot sits to high, you have to re-train your presentation.

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