Handgun Hunting: Choosing Scopes and Sights

An Ultradot 30 red dot scope used for handgun hunting.

The author killed a North Carolina black bear with a custom Super Redhawk in .500 Linebaugh, topped with this Ultra Dot 30.

Sighting System 2: Red Dot Sights

This type of sighting system generally offers no magnification, but instead superimpose an illuminated red dot on the intended target. This is a personal favorite of mine for most hunting and shooting applications. The red dot can be adjusted for brightness to compensate for changing light conditions in the field or out on the range, and it is probably the best solution for low-light hunting situations.

A red dot sight

A look down the scope at a red dot sight.

Best of all, it is very easy to acquire in a hurry, a factor that’s enhanced when you choose a model that features an adjustable dot size. This last option is also handy if you’re shooting different sized game, where a large dot can cover up too much of the vital area and actually inhibit accuracy. I find the red-dot sights most advantageous in low-light conditions, where the black crosshairs of a regular scope may be hard to see.

There are essentially two types of red dot sights. The first is a tube type that resembles a scope and is adjusted and mounted in the same manner. The second are the holographic sights, which project a red dot on a small screen.

The holographic-type sight is quite compact and may not add more than a few ounces to your shooting rig. Where this second type is weak is during inclement weather, as it may be difficult to keep the screen clean and procure an unobstructed view of your target.

Red dot-type sights in general are light in weight and don’t change the balance of your gun in any significant way. As with a standard scope, be sure to speak to the manufacturer prior to spending your money, to make certain the red dot you choose is up to the task of withstanding the recoil of your handgun.

In any case, a good warranty goes a long way towards customer confidence. The company known as Ultradot produces a whole line of economical and rugged red dot-type sights that come with a lifetime warranty. I am a big fan of this maker’s products for a number of reasons, but mainly for their reliability.

I have had an Ultradot 30—it has a 30mm tube diameter, hence the designation—on a number of my heavy recoiling revolvers and can report that this sight has exceeded my expectations by a dozen miles. Thousands of full-tilt .475 Linebaugh and .500 JRH rounds have truly tested the integrity of that Ultradot.

Ultra Dot Pan-A-V holographic red dot scope

Ultra Dot’s holographic red dot-type sight, the Pan-A-V.

The poor unit now resides on my ultra-abusive, lightweight Ruger Super Redhawk in .500 Linebaugh. I have not been kind to my Ultradot, but, like a loyal dog, it keeps coming back wagging its tail. See the sidebar at the end of this chapter for more insight on this optic.

The only drawback with any red dot-type sight is that battery failure can leave you high and dry when you can least afford it (think large, toothy animal with bad intent bearing down on you, or the trophy buck of a lifetime striking a pose for you).

Remember to always carry a spare battery and the tools (in this case a quarter!) necessary to change it in the field. From supported and unsupported shooting positions, the red dot shines.