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The Red Dot Debate Rages On…Sort Of



So apparently Jeff Gonzales got butt hurt in the article I posted last week taking him to task for stating that red dot optics aren’t the best option for concealed carry.  I know this because, much to my surprise, he posted a rebuttal article entitled “Where Have All The Smart Guys Gone.”  See, if you don’t agree with him, Gonzales doesn’t consider you smart.  Imagine my disappointment to learn that Gonzales doesn’t consider me smart…

Perhaps you may be thinking it’s presumptuous…perhaps even arrogant of me to think the article is entirely about me.   True, Gonzales never mentions me by name…but there are enough references to my article to know he’s at least in part responding directly to my article which disagreed with him.  To be honest, a back and forth debate would have been most welcome…had he anything valuable to say.  Unfortunately, the bulk of Gonzales’ article simply rails against people who post articles and commentaries on subjects posing as “subject matter experts” on topics which they have little to no actual experience or expertise…meaning me.  Ironically enough I question whether Gonzales has enough hands-on experience using a red dot optic on a pistol to draw the conclusions he makes.

The points I made supporting the use of the red dot optic for concealed carry and counter Gonzales can be summarized as follows:

1.  Typical CCW class students are fairly new, beginner level shooters who have little training in both shooting and practicing to shoot.  As such, if they bring a red dot optic equipped firearm to Gonzales’ CCW classes, chances are they won’t perform to their potential.

2.  I cited examples (including my own experience) of people that I knew who had used a CCW and increased their speed and accuracy by introducing a red dot optic, as evidenced by their performance in competition.

3.  I reasoned that the ever expanding proliferation of red dot optics in competitive shooting invalidates the notion that, as Gonzales states, “the ability to quickly pick up the red dot sight diminishes as speed is increased.”

4.  If a shooter has not trained enough to mitigate their panic response to stress, they’re just as likely to have trouble with iron sites as they are a red dot optic.

Now, had Gonzales taken me to task on any of the points I made with valid, well-supported points, I would have welcomed the debate and perhaps even changed my own position.  He didn’t even do a great deal to bolster my impression his own questionable usage with red dot optics.  He spent about a paragraph scoffing at the very suggestion he lacked experience with red dot optics…by making a very vague reference to his having worked “closely with the various manufactures. Everything from procurement, testing and product review.”  He never gets specific with any details on any of this mind you – like disclosing what manufactures he’s referencing or what red dot optic products he worked with, and more importantly exactly how.  Sure, he may be contractually obligated to not disclose the “who” or the “what” but there’s no point in even mentioning he worked with red dot optics if he’s not going to detail what he did with them.  Did he even have any of them mounted on a gun?  Did he do any actual shooting with any?  Long enough to become proficient?  We don’t know.  We’re just expected to take his work that he has significant, valid experience with red dot optics because…well…because he’s Jeff Gonzales I supposed.  He does indicate that this “experience” came during a period from around the 2007-2008 – several of the most widely used red dot optics (like the Trijicon RMR) were introduced a short time later – 2009 and after.  Did Gonzales work with developmental versions of some of these products?  It’s possible – but one would think that if he had, he’d be using one.  If you buy into his insinuations, he’s shaped the development of products which by his own admission he doesn’t particularly believe in for concealed carry use.  Why would a company come to a guy to have input into a product if that guy doesn’t fully believe in the product?

The closest Gonzales comes in this article to actually countering any of the points I made in my article comes in his discussion of his Conceal Carry Tactics class.  In his original article, Gonzales talks about observing students with red dot optics performing poorly relative to the other students “in the 14 Concealed Carry classes we did.”  In his later article, Gonzales lambastes me because, according to him of my “accusation of our Concealed Carry Tactics class being a “basic” class. We have it programmed at the intermediate level, but never mind that little detail.”  Now, Gonzales could have taken a different approach.  When he referenced “Concealed Carry classes” in his original article, I took that to mean the kind of course I personally teach in my own state – a class that students need to take in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.  The 2nd article characterizes the class as a “Concealed Carry Tactics” class – one that is “programmed at the intermediate level” and presumably goes beyond the usual curriculum taught in a class designed to meet a state’s minimum requirements for obtaining a license to carry concealed.  So apparently I was mistaken about the class he originally referenced, but it was an easy mistake to make given how poorly Gonzales referenced it in his first article.  Gonzales could have simply clarified the nature of his Concealed Carry Tactics class in his second article – perhaps even apologized for not being more clear in his first article.  Instead, Gonzales goes for a lengthy paragraph in his 2nd article about how I’m part of “the poor story telling we see these days.”  I think Gonzales is part of the “blame others for my own mistakes” we see these days.  So Gonzales did nothing to invalidate the premise I made (see #1 above) about CCW class students…he simply proved that it wasn’t particularly relevant to his point.  I don’t have a good explanation for the results Gonzales is seeing from the students in his Conceal Carry Tactics class – I only know that the conclusions regarding red dot optics he’s drawing are quite different from my own.  What I do know is that Gonzales reports his data rather inconsistently to say the least.  In the first article Gonzales states that “last year, in the 14 Concealed Carry classes we did we generally saw one MRDS equipped pistol per class.”   However, the follow up article he states “To clarify we had 5 students in total running them and only 1 who passed.”  So which is it Gonzales?

Ultimately, the problem I have with Gonzales is his conclusion that in absolute terms red dot optics are a less desirable option than iron sites for concealed carry…that simply isn’t true.  I could cite several other “big name” or well known people in the industry that feel the same way (Chis Costa anyone?).  Is a red dot optic for everyone?  Certainly not!  But I would say that in my opinion that, with proper training, most shooters can benefit from a red dot optic over iron sites.  That’s why all the major manufacturers of firearms have created offerings of guns that come straight from the factory either with an optic, or ready to add one.  Iron sites may be the best option for Gonzales for concealed carry, but that’s not going to be the case for everyone, and Gonzales really should acknowledge that.  Where have all the smart guys gone Gonzales?  They’re teaching students to try different options and select what works for them.  The smart guys aren’t sticking their heads in the sand with regard to red dot optics, and actually trying them out for themselves, not “taking advice from people they trust.”  The smart guys, Gonzales, can actually have an intellectually honest debate with those that have dissenting opionions without resorting to ad hominem attacks.  There’s a smart guy waiting here for you if you can.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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