Red dot sights on pistols offer a ton of advantages to us as shooters, but they have to be zeroed to the pistol to offer all the marksmanship advantages! Here are a few tools and techniques I use to get a good zero on red dot equipped pistol.
Check all of your mounting screws prior to zeroing to make sure they are tight, I recommend blue Loctite for these.
Adjust the brightness of your dot so that it is visible but small and clean. This give you a much more precise point of aim than having the dot adjusted for full sunlight.
Use a small target. I draw 4” squares on the white side of a USPSA target. The white background allows you to easily see the impacts without walking to the target. With the 4” squares, aim at a corner of a square, this gives you a very refined point of aim and helps get a true zero. Also each 4” square can be 4 separate targets. I typically zero the pistols at 15 yards because I find it easier to see point of impact and make adjustments without having to walk to the target. This allows me to get a good working zero very quickly. Zeroing at 15 yards allows me to do everything I need to do with a pistol and easily hit 6” plates at 50 yards. Zeroing at 25 yards works well also but a little harder to see impact without walking to the target.
When you zero any optic you have to apply 2 base fundamentals of marksmanship - place the sight on the target and press the trigger without moving the sight. To accomplish this STABILITY is a key word in zeroing. You can accomplish stability by resting the gun on something more stable than you. A bench works well or something simple, that’s already at the range. I put an ammo can on top of a barrel and then use an FP Stability Bag between the gun and the ammo can, this really helps keep the dot stabile when zeroing.
I designed the FP Stability bag years ago for rifle and carbine shooting, but it is also a great tool for zeroing pistols. Another tool I have been using lately is putting a flashlight on the pistol. Obviously if you use your pistol for duty or defense it may already have a light on it. For a recreational pistol or competition pistol I would recommend putting the light on while zeroing. The light allows the stability bag to cradle the light and offer more points of contact thus more stability. It also keeps the slide and muzzle well away from the bag and the slide cycles cleaner and the dot returns to target much easier.
I hope these tips help you get a better zero faster so you can enjoy shooting, Fast, Accurate, Easy!
Many of these same concepts, including the FP Stability Bag also work very well for zeroing Carbines. Check out my target and concept for getting a 50/200 yard zero for your carbine at 10 yards. Frank Proctor Shooting 10 Yard Carbine Zero Target