Pistol-mounted optics have really come into their own in the past few years. It used to be that red dots were just for rifles and carbines and have become widely accepted by not only military and law enforcement but also by consumers be they looking for practical/tactical competition or defensive uses. Plus, a red dot moves the point of fixation from the front sight to the target, which allows for better awareness, especially in shoot/don't shoot environments. 

Now, pistols are increasingly optics-ready and have a lot of benefits, particularly at range. This is especially prevalent for those with aging eyes. For more on the benefits of using a red dot on a handgun, SIG Academy Instructor Dan Hunt covers that in the below video.

 

 

Some of us are hesitant to change and hate to be pried from our comfort zones-- and nothing can be more comfortable for many than iron sights. However, even iron sights have evolved over the years. Ever looked at the sights on a GI M1911? That sad little fixed notch in the back and half-moon front. Sure, they work and are tough to break, but no one is going to fight you today to contend they are the best sights ever made. 

 

An Army pistol team on the range, circa 1920s. Do you think if they had the choice of running a nice new red dot from the 2020s they would take it or stick with the standard issue of their day? (Photo: National Archives)

 

By the 1920s and 30s, National Match shooters were upgrading them for larger and better adjustable sights that soon became standard. Then came night sights. Red dots-- which first appeared on pistols as far back as the 1980s-- are just an extension of that continued improvement.

By all means, you can still head out to the range to have lots of fun with a traditional 1911 Government Issue-- and there is nothing wrong with that-- but there is also nothing wrong with going for something that can help you see and shoot better. 

SIG Academy Instructor Eric Palmer talks about the process of switching from iron sights to pistol-mounted optics and the benefits of using a red dot on a pistol.

 

 

While Glock, S&W, and others sell pistols and have optics cuts on a lot of their newer models, SIG is kind of unique in the respect that they make both the handguns and compatible red dots as well. 

 

Romeo Zero

 

The smallest and most compact of the bunch, a micro red dot, or MRD, known as the 1x24 Romeo Zero weighs only half an ounce in its most abbreviated configuration due to its ultralight polymer housing-- so light, in fact, that it can run successfully on a .22 rimfire pistol without bogging down the slide. This size also works well on micro compact 9mm and .380 pistols such as SIG's P365 line without being a super big problem with concealment as it stands just under an inch high when installed. The footprint used by the Romeo Zero is shared by the Shield RMS/RMSc series, which is super common. 

The standard $160-ish Romeo Zero is available in either 3 or 6 MOA reticles on an aspheric glass lens and comes standard with eight user-configurable illumination settings. It runs on a single CR1632 battery with a run-time billed at 20,000 hours. 

 

SIG's Romeo Zero series
SIG's Romeo Zero series is no frills but still outpaces several other dots in its price point such as the Crimson Trace 1500 line. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

 

The slightly better Romeo Zero Elite starts at just over $200 and has all the same features as the Romeo Zero (size, battery life, etc.) but offers a 2 MOA red dot/ 32 MOA circle dot or 3 MOA red dot. It also has a rear sight notch filled with Swiss SuperLuminova for those low-light conditions and ships with an optional steel shroud for added protection. 

 

SIG's Romeo Zero series
The Romeo Zero Elite on a P365 X Macro makes a great optic for such a carry pistol. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

 

Meanwhile, the 1x30 Romeo Zero Pro, designed with most popular compact and full-sized pistols in mind, gives a good, inexpensive optic, that will work with SIG PRO/XSeries, and Delta Point Pro footprints. 

 

SIG's Romeo Zero series
The Romeo Zero works for both rimfires like SIG's popular P322 as well as micro 9/380s like the P365X/XL. It will also work on other pistols that have a Shield RMS/RMSc footprint like the Springfield Hellcat OSP, Kimber R7 Mako, S&W M&P9 Shield Plus, and Glock G43X/G48X. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

 

Romeo 1 Pro

 

Getting more into full-sized pistols, SIG's 1x30 Romeo 1 was the company's first-generation pistol red dots but have been replaced with the updated, and slightly longer, Romeo 1 Pro series. The Romeo 1 Pro weighs in at only an ounce and shares the same footprint as the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro series and uses M4 style mounting screws. Using a single CR1632 battery, they have a dozen brightness settings (10 day, two night), a 20,000 run time, and use SIG's MOTAC-- Motion Activated Illumination-- system that powers up when it senses motion and powers down when it does not. Unlike the smaller Romeo Zero, the Romeo 1 Pro uses a CNC aluminum housing. It is available in either 3 or 6 MOA reticles. 

 

SIG's Romeo 1 PRO series
The Romeo 1 Pro is ideal for most P320 series pistols such as the M17, M18, XFive Legion, XCompact, XFull, and P320 Pro. SIG Cautions that it is not rated for sustained use with a 10mm, however, so the XTen and other "centimeters" will have to use the beefier Romeo 2. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

 

Romeo 2

 

Billed by SIG as designed and built "for the most rugged and adverse conditions" the Romeo 2 uses a 7075 aluminum housing that features a modular shroud system including two steel shrouds to provide multiple layers of protection and allow the user to configure their optic in three different profiles. A 1x30mm red dot that fits Sig's Romeo 1 Pro/DeltaPoint Pro footprint, the new Romeo 2 is available with either a circle dot or 3, 6, or 10-MOA red dot-- with the circle dot and 10 MOA in the pipeline-- with 15 brightness settings. 

 

SIG's Romeo 2 series
Two steel shrouds and a polycarbonate rear window allow the Romeo 2 to be used in three different configurations from open to fully enclosed. The optic is rated IPX7 when it comes to waterproofing. (Photo: SIG) 

 

Using a high-efficiency, point-source LED emitter, and molded aspheric glass lens, the Romeo 2 maintains 25,000 hours of battery life on a single CR2032, partially through the use of MOTAC, the company's shake-awake feature, which automatically powers the optic on and off when it senses motion. 

 

SIG's Romeo 2 series
SIG's new ROMEO 2 is a beast, especally in its enclosed and armored format.  (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
SIG's Romeo 2 series
The SIG Romeo 2 is about the most bomb-proof pistol red dot the company makes and we have been running it on their new XTen P320 10mm pistol with great results. Seen here is the Romeo 2 in its more pared-down format (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
SIG's Romeo 2 series
Rather than the blister-packed Romeo Zeroes, the Romeo 2 comes with a lot of goodies as well as a multitool.(Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com) 

 

John Nichols, with SIG Sauer Electro-Optics, breaks the compatible footprints down further in the below 6-minute video including the more rarely encountered Romeo 3 Max.

 

 

Of course, SIG also makes a whole line of rifle optics, but that is a different article.

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