Custom gun questions: Should I have an aftermarket slide milled for an optic?

We’ve been talking a lot of red dot stuff lately, and there’s no wonder why – red dot optics are taking the CCW world by storm. More and more people are mounting red dots on their pistols, to the point where most major manufacturers are offering a “factory” red dot mount. That leaves shooters with the choice of buying the factory option or buying an aftermarking slide and having it milled.

At this point, every major manufacturer is offering OEM options to mount an optic on your pistol, and with US SOCOM selecting the RMR for their pistol mounted optic it’s fair to say that red dots on handguns is officially A Thing. Now, if you’re first dipping your toe into the slide mounted red dot pool, an OEM option is probably going to be fine. However, you’ll quickly discover that there are advantages to having the slide custom cut for the optic once you start to get serious.

One of the first advantages is that “one size fits most” systems are never as solid as a dedicated mount for a dedicated optic. The OEM option that allows you to mount several different types of optics with an insert is never going to be as durable as a dedicated mount straight to the slide. In my experience, the factory OEM mounts that Glock enthusiasts deal with tend to shake loose unless Loctite is used aggressively.

The second advantage of having the slide milled is that it gets the dot lower on the slide. This is an advantage if you’re using the gun for concealed carry because it reduces the gun’s total footprint. Additionally, competition shooters prefer the sight to be as low as possible to reduce any issues with mechanical offset. The lower the dot is to the bore, the easier it will be to transition to the dot from iron sights.

There’s an aesthetic advantage as well – OEM systems have to be milled for the largest optic’s footprint, so if your optic of choice is smaller, it’s going to leave unsightly gaps fore and aft of the optic. If you’re trying to flex your optic pistol on Instagram, no one wants to see mounting gaps!

The biggest disadvantage to having your slide milled is that it limits you to one specific type of optic. Now, this is a personal opinion, but I think that if you mill your slide for a Trijicon RMR you’re making the right choice.

As mentioned above, SOCOM chose the RMR for a reason over the other options on the market. Not that there’s anything wrong with a Leupold Delta Point Pro, but if you’re picking one optic to rule them all, the RMR is my go to.

Using the OEM option isn’t a bad way to cut your teeth on pistol mounted optics. However, when it’s time to get serious, the best choice is to have your slide cut for the optic of your choice, or buy a slide that’s been pre-cut for an RMR.

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