Tactical Rifleman: How to Use Red Dots at Night

Training is always ongoing, especially when it comes to firearms, as it is a perishable skill. I will be the first to admit that I do not get out enough to train as much as I want to. However, just because I am unable to attend live fire courses on the regular, doesn’t mean I can’t keep up by training with other methods. I do dry fire practice, read articles, or watch videos to increase my knowledge of gear, tactics, and methods. YouTube has a ton of great content on there with good information, depending on the source. Just remember, like anything else, consider the source and instructor to make sure they’re not blowing hot air.

I have been watching a lot of videos from the Tactical Rifleman [YouTube channel] over the years and I always learn something new there. Retired Sergeant Major Karl Erickson has over twenty-five years of experience in the US Army, eighteen of those with US Special Forces. In his videos, he goes over training points and explains it all very well in an easy-to-understand format. I just watched his video titled: How to shoot red dots at night.

I got into red dots on my pistols last year and have attended a few courses since then. There is definitely a learning curve to deal with but once you get some training in behind the red dot, the advantages over iron sights are quickly apparent. There are many things to consider running a red dot and in this Tactical Rifleman video, Karl goes over a lot of training points for using red dots in the dark or in night conditions.

Karl states that he believes within four-five years, all combat pistols will come standard with red dots installed. I have to agree with that, red dots are the future, kind of like how they were put on rifles.

tactical rifleman discussing pistols with red dot sights on them
Karl discusses night shooting considerations with red dots.

Weapon Lights

He highly recommends a weapon light so that you can identify the target and decide whether it is a deadly threat or not. With a weapon light in play, it may make it difficult to see the reticle. If your red dot has auto-brightness, Karl suggests setting it to manual if you’re using your red dot pistol in home defense, combat, or everyday carry.

Presentation of Weapon Lights and Red dots

Karl prefers using a passive aiming set up with a red dot and utilizing a weapon light over a visible laser. With that in mind, Karl stresses a weapon light will compromise your position and to use it when you need to.

Using Red Dots with Night Vision

binocular night vision
Karl going over binocular night vision and how to set them up for your red dot.

With Binocular or Quad tube night vision devices, Karl recommends that you set the tube over your dominant eye to be focused to see the dot clearly. Then set the other tube for distance so you can identify targets. If you’re running a PVS-7 with a single tube, he recommends setting it for distance. Even though the dot will be a bit blurry, you can see your target, which is more important.

For PVS-14’s, a single tube, Karl says it comes down to preference but he suggests running the tube over the non-dominate eye and setting it to infinity so you can see your target clearly while your dominant eye can see your red dot nice and clear. If you want to run it on your dominant eye, also set it for distance for the same reason, although your dot will be blurry. Karl states that you will still hit your target with a slightly blurry dot and that seeing your target is more important.

Karl with the PVS-14 and his preferences on setup with a red dot pistol.

Brightness Setting for Night Vision

When it comes to brightness settings on your red dot in conjunction with your night vision, Karl’s personal recommendation is to leave it bright enough for daytime in case you have the lights turned on. He says if that happens, just flip up your night vision tube and use white light and your dot because you won’t have time to adjust your dot’s brightness. I’d have to agree with him.

Karl in action with night vision using his red dot.
Tactical Rifleman in action with night vision using his red dot.

There are a lot of considerations covered in this video. And, as Karl points out, practice will make you more effective and this knowledge will be the best tool in a gunfight. I couldn’t agree more.

Fifty Shades of FDE is a full-time LEO in California with about a decade's service in a very large metropolitan agency. He’s a husband, father, and firearms enthusiast. He is a supporter of the Second Amendment and a proponent of law-abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves with concealed carry permits. He runs his @fiftyshadesofFDE page on Instagram and writes gun/gear reviews on www.fiftyshadesoffde.com - when he's not writing for The Mag Life, of course.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap