Above: SIG Sauer P320RX and ROMEO1 reflex sight combo.
Some history: carry optics began as a provisional division in IPSC, USPSA and IDPA competition, afterwards becoming official, and the go-to division for those action shooters more inclined to compete with a pistol slide-mounted red dot optic. In 2017, when USPSA decided it was time to ditch the production division-derived rule in carry optics allowing for only 10 rounds per magazine, instead updating the rules to allow for mags to be filled to the max―it dramatically changed stage planning for carry optics action shooters. And thus opened the floodgates. Nevertheless, carry optics as a shooting division wouldn’t exist without the dynamic and exciting red dot models available from manufacturers now. Below are the top five red dot models used by carry optics shooters. (Optics are listed in order of popularity at the 2017 USPSA Carry Optics National Championships, as reported by FrontSight magazine’s 2018 Annual issue.)
1) One in five shooters that competed at the 2017 USPSA Carry Optics Nationals named the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro as their red dot of choice. And can you blame them? Compatible with several popular pistol designs; such as Glock (and Glock MOS), 1911s, SIG 226 and Walther Q5 Match (mount included with purchase); this rugged red dot from Leupold will soon be compatible with the S&W C.O.R.E and FN-X Tactical. Both the windage and elevation can be adjusted up to 60 MOA. The DeltaPoint pro is both waterproof and fogproof, using a lightweight aluminum housing along with a spring steel shroud (optic weighs 1.95 ounces total), and a tool-less battery compartment that’s spring actuated for easy battery changes. For power saving, the optic will go to sleep after five minutes of non-use, and it will turn back on to the last setting used when it senses movement. Low power is indicated to the user when the aiming point flashes 10 times. Size is 33mm wide and tall. MSRP: $520, 7.5 MOA and 2.5 MOA options, Leupold.com
2) Pistols mounted with the Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) sight were used by 14 percent of 2017 Carry Optics Nationals shooters. You can read our in-depth reviews of both the first and second generation RMR models, but here’s a quick rundown of the best features. For starters, the housing is designed to absorb impact, optimized for slide ride pistols. It’s manufactured from forged 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum-alloy forged housing―with easy to adjust buttons for eight brightness settings (adjustable LED model, pictured above). You can also set it to automatic brightness mode which automatically adjusts the reticle to available light conditions. The RMR uses one CR2032 battery that Trijicon says can last for up to four years under continuous use at the middle power setting. Adjustment range for elevation and windage is 150 MOA. The dual-illuminated version is battery-free, using both tritium and fiber optics. MSRP: $699 (adjustable LED), $577 (dual-illuminated), $649 (LED), multiple reticle options, Trijicon.com
3) The Vortex Viper Red Dot was chosen by 10 percent of Carry Optics Nationals competitors, and it’s no big surprise, as it’s the most affordable optic in the top five. The Viper Red Dot has a really low mounting height which makes it great for pistols with cutout slides. The bright red 6 MOA dot makes target acquisition fast and simple, and Vortex’s ArmorTek scratch-resistant lens coating will keep the glass in pristine condition. Elevation and windage are adjustable up to 120 MOA. Additionally, protection from water and moisture is provided by O-ring seals that will also keep out dust and debris, making it reliable in different environments. There’s a 14 hour auto-shut off feature to keep extra juice in the battery for when you need it. The Viper weigh 1.1 ounces (minus the weight of the mount), and is compatible with the Glock MOS, S&W M&P C.O.R.E., FNX-45, SIG P220 series, 1911s and the Springfield XD and XDM. MSRP: $329, VortexOptics.com
4) The C-More RTS2 sports a removable battery tray so the battery can be replaced without dismounting the sight. That way it doesn’t have to be re-zeroed. The bright red dot is adjustable with 10 manual settings. There are three reticles available: three, six or eight MOA red dot sizes. There’s a positive locking screw for both elevation and windage, which are adjustable in 1 MOA clicks. The compact RTS2 has a body made from aluminum. The unit uses a lithium CR2032 battery and also has an 8-hour inactivity auto-shutoff feature. Battery life is estimated to be at least 300 hours. Minus the mount, the RTS2 weighs in at 1.16 ounces. Unlike standard C-More sights, the RTS2 dot size can’t be changed by plug-in modules. MSRP: $419, three dot size choices, CMore.com
5) The SIG Sauer Romeo1 reflex sight was tied with the RTS2 in popularity at the 2017 USPSA Carry Optics Nationals (nine percent of shooters for each), also it was the second most affordable optic to make the top five list. (Read Field Editor Chris Christian’s hands-on review of the Romeo1.) This miniature reflex red dot sight provides locked zeroing with TruHold twin adjustment springs. It utilizes a distortion-free molded-glass aspherical lens with a coating meant to ensure brightness. The three MOA dot has several brightness settings. Motion activated illumination powers up the red dot when it senses motion, and turns it off when it at rest. The Romeo1 is manufactured from aircraft-grade magnesium using a CNC process, and is both waterproof and fogproof. MSR compatibility is provided by available Picatinny or KeyMod rail interfaces. Battery replacement (battery is the common CR1632 size) is from the top, so the sight does not have to be removed from the gun. MSRP: $360, SIGSauer.com