The reflex sight may seem to be a modern invention, but it was created in 1900 as a better gunsight for pilots and anti-aircraft gunners.

Based on a visual collimator that reflects the image of a reticle on a pane of glass, it allows the shooter’s eye to move in relation to the reticle while maintaining the point of impact.

In the 1970s, when LEDs were refined, reflex sights pioneered by Aimpoint could be used in total darkness. By 1990, professional handgunner Doug Koenig began using them to eventually win 10 world titles.

“Red-dot sights are fast, superior in low light, and allow the shooter to simply focus on the target,” says Koenig. They also have virtually no parallax, a huge field of view, and long eye relief. And they allow aging shooters with presbyopia­—those who wear reading glasses—newfound accuracy. The downside has been their bulk and dismal battery life. Plus, they required custom mounts and were too bulky for routine carry.

But when circuitry was miniaturized, manufacturers could make the sights an inch tall. Most now have a battery life measuring in months.

Currently, Glock, Smith & Wesson, FN, Kahr, and Sig Sauer make guns that easily accept them. No special holsters are required.

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(featured image courtesy of range365.com)