HUNTING OPTICS FOR SEMI-AUTO HANDGUNS

My eyes are just not what they once were, but I also never really did well with open sights on just about any firearm. I put a cheap, used scope on my .22 LR when I was in high school – and that was unheard of back then. All my Contender handguns have worn some sort of scope if I shot them often, and my Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 magnum sports a “One Ragged Hole” aperture (“peep”) type sight. When I recently began looking at semi auto pistols for hunting, the sights were the main drawback. The glowing insert “night sights” are better than simple open sights, and even the brightly colored “dots” I painted on my Taurus 1911 help some, but a better system was something I wanted and needed. The problem with a semi-auto is the slide, where the standard sights are installed. On a large caliber, having a scope or reflex sight slam back and forth as the slide cycles might not be a good idea. Also, you really need to be able to cycle the pistol by hand, and a sight mounted too far back – even with a “frame” mount – can interfere with that. On the other hand, if a scope is used and mounted too near the muzzle to get room to grasp the slide by hand, muzzle blast can dirty the front lens, or fog it up after the first shot. I found this to be more extreme with the compensator on my .460 Rowland, and especially when shooting Buffalo Bore Hard Cast lead ammo, which “smokes” more than jacketed bullets do.

This Weaver 2X pistol scope would be a great choice on a .45ACP, except it is difficult to manually operate the slide with it mounted so far back, even on a rail mount.

This Weaver 2X pistol scope would be a great choice on a .45ACP, except it is difficult to manually operate the slide with it mounted so far back, even on a rail mount.

If the scope is too far back, it is hard to manually cycle the slide. Too far forward, muzzle blast hits the lens.

This 2.5X x 7X variable scope is a good choice, optically, but the one end is too far back to allow manual cycling, and the other is too close to the muzzle.

This 2.5X x 7X variable scope is a good choice, optically, but the one end is too far back to allow manual cycling, and the other is too close to the muzzle.

Blast from the compensator on my .460 Rowland is worse than normal muzzle blast, because it exits the top of the comp.

With the scope pushed forward enough to manually rack the slide, the compensator on my .460 Rowland barrel assaults the scope with the hot gases expelled from the muzzle, seriously "fogging" the lens and heating the scope at the same time.

With the scope pushed forward enough to manually rack the slide, the compensator on my .460 Rowland barrel assaults the scope with the hot gases expelled from the muzzle, seriously “fogging” the lens and heating the scope at the same time.

Another option I tried is a “red dot” scope. This is a budget priced unit, but a “good” one is a valid option for quick sighting.

This budget prieced red dot had already been abused on a 12 gauge slug gun, but top quality versions should work well on a semi-auto.

This budget prieced red dot had already been abused on a 12 gauge slug gun, but top quality versions should work well on a semi-auot.

This Burris FastFire III mini-holograhic sight is mounted on the slide of my G20 Glock, using a Burris mount that replaces the rear sight in it’s dovetail slot. So far it appears that it will stand up to the relatively light recoil of the 10mm, and offers a very quick sight picture.

The Burris FastFire III is a moderately priced  mini-holographic sight with good features and several mounting options, including a dovetail mount on the slide, as shown.

The Burris FastFire III is a moderately priced mini-holographic sight with good features and several mounting options, including a dovetail mount on the slide, as shown.

I completely destroyed a budget priced holo sight on the .460 Rowland, even using a frame mount. Renee at Clarks Custom Guns did not think the FastFire would fare much better, so I am trying a C More “Tactical Rail” mount that fits my frame mounted base. The C More is a definite “step up” in quality over the Burris, and I am hoping it will hold together. It definitely has a great sight picture, with adjustable beam intensity and a glass lens or screen.

See More with C More?: MikesTexasHunt-Fish

The C More Tactical Rail sight has a secure mount that can be made even stronger, if needed, and fits on a Weaver type base. It is larger and a bit heavier than the Burris, but seems more solidly constructed.

Holographic sights give as fast a sight picture as a shooter could ask for, and since there is no parallex, both eyes are left open, and there is basically no “lining up” of the sights – once sighted in properly, just get the dot on the target – it doesn’t matter where on the screen the dot appears (no centering required). I checked this, by the way, by moving the holo sight around to put the dot in various points on the screen while my laser bore sighter was in the barrel. Some shooters prefer to use a tall set of open sights and “co-witness” the red dot with the sights, and this is reassuring, but really not necessary. Of course there is very little, if any, magnification with these sights, so they are not useful at long distances. At handgun hunting ranges of 50, maybe 75 yards maximum, however, they should be a big advantage over normal open sights. As I get mine fine tuned and do more shooting with them, I will certainly report my results!

A holographic sight projects a red - or green - dot onto a glass or plastic lens as your aiming point. Just put the dot on the spot you want to hit, and pull the trigger! That is, if the sight is properly zeroed, and you have a good rest to shoot from.

A holographic sight projects a red – or green – dot onto a glass or plastic lens as your aiming point. Just put the dot on the spot you want to hit, and pull the trigger! That is, if the sight is properly zeroed, and you have a good rest to shoot from.

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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