TEXAS TACTICAL by Dustin Ellermann

Sci-Fly Bass
February 24, 2024
Fitness for the Outdoors
February 24, 2024

What to Do When Your Pistol Optic Fails

LISTEN: (3 minutes, 14 seconds)


LOVE IT OR HATE IT, pistol mounted optics are more mainstream than ever.  In fact, it would be absurd for a modern handgun manufacturer to introduce a model without an optic mounting option.  I find pistol dot optics to be a huge advantage to marksmanship.  From allowing the user to shoot more precise due to an unobstructed view, to shooting easier at night due to illumination, to shooting faster because you’ll be able to track the dot easier than 2 sets of sights, or defending your life more effectively since you can focus on a single sight plain.  But of course, with the advantages of an electronic optic, there is also potential for failure.  

The glass can fog, it can fill with debris, open emitters do poorly in rain, batteries can die and electronics break.  Instead of being worried about what “could” happen, it’s best to train in case it does.  Of course, back up iron sights are the primary backup, however if the glass is occluded those are useless.

It’s a good idea to practice backup methods in case your pistol mouted optics go down.

It’s a good idea to practice backup methods in case your pistol mouted optics go down.
(Photo: Dustin Ellermann)

Next time you are at the range, take a roll of masking tape with you in order to try a few tricks.  From roughly 5 yards, setup a target and tape up your optic so you can only see the frame.  Occlude all the glass completely.  This will not only simulate an electric failure but even a complete breakage or obstruction.  The first technique to try is the guillotine method – cut the target in half with the top frame of the optic, take a few shots and see where you hit.  If it wasn’t in the target area, remove the tape and repeatedly present your handgun from the low ready until you consistently have the dot on target as you complete your presentation.  By training our hands to match what our brain and eyes want, we will be closer to the target just by habit.

Black Hills Ammunition


Next is the “glass method” where we can imagine that we are still able to see through the glass, even though we can’t.  God gave us two eyes and it helps tremendously in marksmanship.  You should always have both eyes open when you shoot anyway.  With the glass method our non-dominate eye should see the target, and the dominate eye sees the occluded optic glass, take a few shots with this method and see if the results are adequate.

The final “back plate method” is the same that I teach with basic point shooting.  Imagine that you can see through the barrel of the pistol, or just look at the backplate of your slide.  Superimpose it over the target, fire a few rounds, and check the results.

After testing these three methods see which worked best for you, then try it at 10 and then 15 yards.  Hopefully it will give you a sense of security that even if you have a massive failure and can’t co-witness your iron sights that you can still defend yourself and others.  

If you want to see this in detail, as well as a more advanced method of shooting on target with the front glass occulted out to 100 yards, check out my “Top Shot Dustin” YouTube channel for the video.


Email Dustin Ellermann at ContactUs@fishgame.com

< PREV Return to CONTENTS Page NEXT >



Comments are closed.