There are several mini red dot sights (MRDS) for your handgun available now. Some combined with a handgun as a package and some MRDS that you can buy separately and have your gun’s slide milled for a custom fit. Recently, manufacturers have made MRDS more compact, lightweight, durable, and somewhat less expensive than just a few months ago.
From the very basic research I have done, for me it makes the most sense to buy a complete package with a quality MRDS already factory mounted on your preferred quality gun. I think it is best to not pinch pennies and buy a low-cost MRDS separately for say $200.-$300 and spend the time and much effort to “make it work” on my gun. But, rather get a long-term quality optic that can be properly mounted on a quality gun and that is compatible for the specific gun you prefer together in a package.
All optics are NOT the same, so don’t go by price alone. Here is an opportunity to get that quality gun you always wanted… and with a quality optic fitted for and properly mounted for that specific gun. Well, I know a lot of folks are very budget conscious right now and may be tempted to settle for a less quality optic at a low price and a gun already in their inventory. It might be satisfactory, but again ensure compatibility with your chosen gun and be certain to give attention to precision in mounting, as well as gun type and use and the quality of the optic.
Remember, that not all red dots are able to be mounted to just any gun. Also, if the red dot is slightly off, then your whole aim will be off as well. While some quality handgun optics alone are priced from starting at $300 and upwards to $800 or more for just the handgun optic, usually a package deal with a gun is less costly. But, there are a lot of options. Certainly, don’t be thrifty when it comes to using the MRDS and gun for home defense, carry, or defending your life.
At this time, there are only about 7-8 manufacturers that offer specific MRDS already fitted and mounted for a specific handgun. See my previous article on this website for some examples.
Others are on their way. I see this as a technological trend that will most certainly continue. A few optic manufacturers now even have their red dots mounted on concealed carry guns. Just some MRDS manufacturers for handguns include Vortex, Aimpoint, Trijicon, Leupold, EoTech, JPoint, and Burris. The Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO I am reviewing here seems to be superbly matched with the Sig Sauer’s own Romeo1 MRDS, at first glance before my review. Other manufacturers will follow.
The MRDS have several benefits for both new and experienced shooters, especially for those who have difficulty focusing on objects that are close or shooters who have problems changing focus quickly. The benefits are recognizable:
- faster targeting capabilities
- greater field of vision
- works well with low light
- unrestricted eye relief no matter how far away the shooter’s eye is from the sight
Military Special Operations forces and some tactical law enforcement folks have been using red-dot sights regularly. In my opinion, the MRDS makes it easier (not easy) to train a new, inexperienced shooter, since getting a sight picture (placing the dot on the target) is less complex than the sight alignment process and focusing on the front sight, etc. Us old and more experienced shooters can realize the MRDS benefits for our aging eyes in faster target acquisition, easier target engagement, and increased situational awareness since both eyes are open. Merely finding the dot and pressing the trigger may be easier and helpful to many folks. Are they for you? See my recent article about basic considerations here: Handgun Mini Red Dot Sights: Basic Considerations & Opinions
Recently, I reviewed the Springfield Armory XD(M) OSP 9mm pistol with the attached Vortex Venom MRDS and its 3 MOA and the Smith-Wesson M&P Ported 9L 9mm with the Shield SMS MRDS and its 4 MOA. Both are fine MRDS guns. Here I want to review the Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO 9mm with the Romeo1 Reflex MRDS and its 3 MOA. Thanks to Sig Sauer for loaning me this gun package to review. Since this review is about the total gun-red dot package, before I address the 226 gun, I want to give you the Romeo1 Red Dot optic specifications and features, for your general information.
The Romeo1 made by Sig Sauer has a three MOA MRDS which is a very good-sized dot that helps the shooter balance fast target acquisition with precision shots.
The lens is molded glass (not acrylic which might scratch easier) and the external housing material is made of CNC machined Magnesium, which is lightweight and very strong. The lithium battery has a three-year useful life with average use. Yes, three years, not 1 year. Technology has improved battery life from what this old codger remembers from years ago. But regularly check your battery and YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary.) I change all my batteries every year when I change age on my birthday, so I can remember to do it. This MRDS has 5 manual illimination settings and can be turned on or off. I like that the lens has a protective cover and is waterproof and fog proof. Some optics do not have an easy access battery compartment, but this Romeo1 is easy access. With this hands-on field trial and review, I want to help you with my formal test, my opinions, and the evaluation of this particular Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite 9mm with the Romeo1 MRDS as a package.
Remember with MRDS sights, the shooter does NOT focus on the front sight nor do the usual sight alignment. Rather, you find and focus on the dot, which can be elusive. So, I was anxious to discover if I can accurately shoot the 226 RX with the MRDS and what my learning curve would be. Would I be able to smoothly transition to target/threat-focused shooting, “finding the dot,” and keeping it steady with minimal movement, rather than primarily using my front sight focus and sight alignment with my iron sights? Would I use this complete MRDS-pistol system for my concealed carry handgun? Would I recommend it for any purpose, like home defense? One important concept which I wanted to evaluate was co-witnessing. Co-witnessing means that you can still see and use your (taller) iron sights along with or instead of a MRDS. The iron sight should be placed at the appropriate added height so you can see both the red dot and iron sights. The back-up iron sight (BUIS) would be helpful support for the MRDS in case of failure.
In this review, I want to give you my honest opinions about the 226 RX and Romeo1 MRDS. I already have the 226 in DA/SA and in SAO without the MRDS, so I am familiar with its fine operating mechanics and quality. So what process will I use to test and evaluate this total system of gun and red dot?
First, I want to give you the 226 RX 9mm with MRDS Specifications and Features in a summary chart. Then I’ll list my specific criteria, then compare each criterion to the gun’s characteristics and features, and lastly show my range live-fire test results with the MRDS to help you analyze and compare your handguns and make the best selection for yourself. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. Maybe you want to compare this 226 RX 9mm with a MRDS to the two previous MRDS packages I reviewed: the Springfield XDM-Vortex or the Smith-Wesson-Shield I reviewed here recently or to other current MRDS models. In one of my previous articles here, I presented some general MRDS factors and defined some terms to help you. Know that I am not on the Smith-Wesson, Springfield, or Sig Sauer payrolls, have not been paid by them for my reviews, and have not been influenced by them to say certain things about the guns. I want to be honest and straight-forward with my just my opinions and ideas the way I see the MRDS pistols to sincerely help folks. Specifically for this Sig Sauer 226 RX, I want to learn how accurate is the pistol with the RD attached out of the box and at short and longer distances? Is the MRDS stable, does it hold its zero well, stay securely attached, and not cause zeroing problems? Can the RD battery be easily changed without having to re-zero it? What weight is the trigger press? Is the trigger really light and smooth? Is it a reliable gun with the RD attached and with different ammo? Is the slide stop and/or mag release ambidextrous and does it freely release mags? What are the pros and cons about the Sig 226 RX gun with the Romeo1 MRDS? Is this a 9mm gun system I would recommend for CC and/or home defense, recreational plinking, etc.?
For the Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO and Romeo1 MRDS 9mm gun package, below are two charts that list the Specifications and some Features for the pistol. If you are interested in this package, remember sometimes you can buy it about $50.-$100. or so less than posted retail. Next, I give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated this gun against each of my criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process. Below are the Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO 9mm pistol specifications and features.
Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the M&P 9L SMS. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, ambi mag release, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
In deciding, you make your own tradeoffs according to your personal goals, priorities, preferences, needs, and use, but take a total system perspective and recognize that there are several overall features, characteristics, and pros and cons to include and then consider them.
Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO with Romeo1 MRDS Range Test
Thanks to Sig Sauer for providing some ammo for my testing and evaluation of the 226 RX. I shot their high-quality 9mm ammo:
- Sig Sauer Elite Performance 115 grain FMJ (200 rounds, rated MV=1185 fps & ME=359 ftlbs
- Sig Sauer Elite Performance 124 grain JHP (40 rounds, rated MV=1165 fps & ME=443 ftlbs.
I only fired about 240 rounds total to evaluate this gun (usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days) to decide if I want to carry the gun and/or use it for personal protection or not. The ammo worked very well and I did not have any malfunctions or stoppages. The 226 RX and this ammo work great together. Of course as proven over the years, the 226 has really nice ergonomics and does with the Romeo1 as well. It felt very good in my medium-sized hands, was comfortable, and the standard polymer grips were just right for me. Just from an aesthetics perspective, you may want to buy fancier grips, but the RX standard polymer ones are very nice and function very well. I have the G-10 black grips on my other 226s.
There are several features I like on the 226 RX Elite SAO 9mm. The aluminum alloy with black hardcoat frame helped lighten the gun. With the additional .8 ounce weight of the MRDS, the combined weight with the optic benefits really added to my accuracy. If I buy this gun, I would consider it for carrying concealed, after wearing it for a few weeks, because of its great accuracy. Also, I like the beveled mag well for faster mag insertions. This is usually not included as a standard feature. It does have an ambidextrous manual safety for cocked and locked carry like my 1911s. I like single action only guns because of their inherent accuracy from their light trigger press and reduced movement advantage. The slide was very easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise were very manageable. The stainless steel slide helped. Also, the high beavertail allowed me to grip the gun high for better control. I really like the short reset and short and soft trigger. The night sights were nice and the front sight was very tall which made co-witnessing possible with the Romeo1 MRDS. The mags were steel and held 15 rounds. It had a rail for accessories and an external extractor. Below I will get into my evaluation factors and my opinions for each of the criteria, after the range testing.
Honestly, this Sig 226 RX SAO pistol and red dot sight really impressed me as a very accurate and reliable (with the limited 240 rounds fired by me) home defense and personal protection gun. I may want to consider it as a concealed carry gun with a sturdy belt and solid holster. After initially cleaning the gun and practicing with the red dot and 50 rounds, I decided to shoot it at one of my usual test distances of 7 yards. Now remember I am not an expert shot by any measure. But, my first 15 rounds fired rapid fire with this 226 with MRDS and the Sig Elite Ball FMJ at 7 yards, all hit in a nice 2.25″ group for this old codger. I was amazed and it had to be the gun and ammo. These target hits were great for me for close-up self-defense encounters, especially given my unfamiliarity with this MRDS. Finding the dot was challenging, but I finally learned to do it after practicing with the other two red dot sight packages from previous reviews. I do need more practice and I am not showing you my 20 yard targets. Not the best. However, my shooting partner can verify after my practicing that I rung the steel gong 16 times out of 20 shots at 20 yards when shooting steel 8″ targets. I recognize that I do need more practice. Remember, do not give up when shooting with MRDS because it does take practice to adjust to locating that dot and transitioning from your usual front sight focus and sight alignment. BUT, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities, goals, proficiency, and purpose. Just try a reflex mini red dot sight on a handgun. You will be surprised at how it does help your accuracy. Below are my hits for my 15 rounds at only 7 yards with the Sig 226 RX Elite SAO with the Romeo1 and the Sig FMJ ammo.
Range Test Results for the Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO-Romeo1 Optic – 9mm for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10
The Accuracy of the 226 RX with its 4.4″ barrel, short and soft trigger and short reset, and the Romeo1 red dot sight was very good for personal protection distances of 5, 7, 10, and 20 yards. The 3 MOA dot size was right for finding the dot. My groups at each of the up-close distances of 5, 7, and 10 yards were very acceptable and within 2.0-2.75 inches with the help of the MRDS. Groups were acceptable at 20 yards, after zeroing the MRDS. It took me about 15 rounds to zero the red dot out of the box. At first, given my limited time with red dots, I found I had to take more time than I wanted to “find the dot.” As I shot more, my learning curve improved and I could find the dot quicker. I really enjoyed shooting the gun with the red dot, especially since my old eyes are having trouble at distances of 15 and 20 yards. I want to fire more than only 240 rounds with this gun before I even think about carrying it or using it for home defense. I liked the crisp dot reticle. Trying the gun at night in the dark of my home’s closet, I was honestly amazed. With the tritium front and rear sights and the bright MRDS, I could see all of them really clearly and they stood out brightly in the dark. If only you could quickly identify the intruder in the dark. Do this, of course, before you use those sights and shoot. The 5.0# trigger press I experienced was crisp, short and smooth. It definitely met my personal preference press range and criterion and helped my accuracy. The quality CNC machined slide is stainless steel and it was readily apparent how it helped. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, when I shot the gun.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 9
The Trigger Press averaged between 5.00-5.20 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was certainly acceptable and within my criterion limit for my press range for my personal protection guns and my single action guns. Given the only 240 rounds I fired with it, this press was fine. It will probably improve over time after more break-in and getting 500 rounds or more through it. I prefer that my personal protection guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or so, so this press is great. This is very much personal preference. I like the smooth trigger press and short reset.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
The Trigger had a very identifiable click and the short reset point was easy to feel. I liked the crisp quality feel of the short takeup and positive trigger reset. I experienced no stacking in the press weight and the trigger was not gritty at all. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize both the tacticle and audible reset point. This is a proven and very nice trigger.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 10
The 4.40-inch length Barrel with the high front sight, total weight, and beavertail were nice and helped me control muzzle flip and felt recoil. The stainless steel barrel was high quality and with its DLC (Diamond-Like Coating) it should be very durable and corrosion resistant. When I donned my concealed carry dress (make that garment), the barrel length was concealable in my holster, but I have to carry it for 10 days or so to see how the weight is for carry. This length barrel contributes to good balance, handled & pointed well, seemed acceptable for carry, and I had no feeding problems whatsoever. In my opinion, this gun would do very well for home defense, competition, recreational shooting, and maybe for carry.
5. Sights – Score: 9
The Tritium front and rear sights worked great and really stood out in darkness. The front sight was tall and suppressor height for help co-witnessing. Co-witnessing with the Romeo1 was great and no problem whatsoever. All sights were very bright, distinguishable, and worked well together, independently, and without using the red dot sight. The Romeo1 red dot sight was made by Sig Sauer and worked very well. The Romeo1 weighs only about .8 of an ounce, had a 3 MOA dot, red LED, and the dot was powered by one CR1632 battery. This red dot, primarily because it was so very bright and crisp and was easy to pick up at nighttime, was easy to operate, fun to use, and very effective. The 3-year lithium battery life was an important consideration for me, as well as the bright and clear red dot, relative to some other sights. You can use the on-off button and keep the red dot covered with the included cover to preserve battery life. But anything close to 3 years is a winner. The durable CNC machined magnesium housing of the MRDS was very sturdy but lightweight. I also liked the 5 brightness settings and the Unlimited Lifetime Electro-Optics Infinite Guarantee. Probably with more practice I could find the dot quicker and deploy them better on target. I liked that the viewing window is very large, compared to some other mini sights and that the lens was molded glass for clearer reflection from this reflex sight. The rain protector sight cover can really help save battery life, as well as protect from scratches and damage. For me at my present experience level, I cannot justify any MRDS for my concealed carry purpose. I really liked using the red dot sights and this fine gun, so I would use it for home defense and recreational, fun shooting.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 8
The 34.4 ounce unloaded weight of the 226 RX with the MRDS really did not seem that heavy with the BlackPoint Tactical high-quality and sturdy OWB Kydex holster and my strong belt, while carrying it for 2-3 days. Thanks to BlackPoint Tactical for providing their nice holster. But, I do need to carry the gun for a longer period before making my final carry decision. It was heavy. But it is very acceptable for range use and home defense handling. You must make your own tradeoffs, especially among the added weight and stability for better muzzle flip and felt recoil control, accuracy assistance, and the overall loaded weight. I definitely would use this gun-red dot package for home defense, because the many pros strongly outweigh the weight con.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
I really enjoyed shooting the 226 RX with the Romeo1 and did not want to stop shooting it, but ammo availability was a factor. Its accuracy was really impressive to me and I understand why the 226 has such a high quality and proven reputation. The 9mm gun was comfortable in my hand and I easily handled the recoil and mild muzzle flip. I really like and prefer the 9mm caliber for my main CC and personal protection gun. I enjoy practicing with the 9mm, since it is not snappy, the recoil does not bother me so much, and 9mm ammo is less expensive than some other carry rounds. The 226 RX digested the ammo well without a single malfunction or stoppage.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
There were two steel mags included, both 15-rounders with round witness holes. I liked their high capacity and they were very sturdy and well made. It would be nice to have a third mag included. I believe for almost ALL uses a shooter should have at least 3 mags minimum on hand and included, to save up front expense for buying another and for proper defense. I understand that the added cost of the MRDS and the goal of keeping costs down are factors. I had no feeding problems at all with the Sig Sauer ammo and the mags ejected freely and worked well.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
The Ergonomics of the 226 RX SAO were excellent. It felt great in my hands and the grip texturing was just right when I fired the 240 rounds. The beavertail helped me grip the gun high on the backstrap and it felt secure and comfortable in my medium-sized hands. I was able to easily reach all the controls without changing my grip. The beveled mag well was a plus and very helpful for quick mag changes. The slide stop was very stiff, but it was quality made and after break-in it should be fine. The smooth, contoured edges and grip texture helped me with a solid grip. It fit my hand very well and I liked that the 226 SAO had an ambi manual thumb safety so I could carry it cocked and locked.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9
The 226 is one of the easiest guns to take apart and reassemble and I own 2 of them. As always, I disassembled, lubed, cleaned, and re-assembled the pistol before I shot it. I did NOT have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was quick and very easy to takedown without using any tools. This gun has a lot of safety features like a hammer block drop safety and a firing pin block, in addition to the ambi manual thumb safeties. The gun does not come with a holster, but again I thank BlackPoint Tactical for sending me their standard Kydex OWB for a 226 RX and it fit perfect. I tried my holster for my M&P 2.0 and it also fit fine. The red dot sight is positioned to the rear of the slide enough that holster fit should not be a problem. When holstered, the red dot does not touch the holster. The polymer sight cover for the MRDS will help prevent bumps, scratches, and possible re-zeroing. A nice included extra. The MRDS is molded glass aspheric and has a high performance coating to help with light transmission. I noticed no distortion with the lens. There are 5 manual brightness settings with an auto off after 2 minutes of inactivity. The 226 RX does include accessories in the nice lockable hard case, like the MRDS tool, sight cover, a lock, and 2 owner’s manual for the red dot and gun. The 226 RX has a Lifetime Warranty.
Conclusions for Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite SAO 9mm with Romeo1 MRDS Package
Total Points = 94 out of 100 Possible
I recommend this Sig Sauer P226 RX Elite with Romeo1 reflex red dot sight 9mm handgun and sight package for consideration as your home defense and/or fun recreational range gun. You even might want to consider it as your concealed carry gun after you gain familiarity with it and using its red dot sight. I honestly do like its accuracy, reliability, manageable felt recoil, its high beavertail grip, beveled mag well, and its high-quality build and functioning. I believe that you do usually get what you pay for. As a very nice complement, I also like the quality and many nice features of the Romeo1 MRDS. I have to say it “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?” The gun’s ergonomics, accuracy, excellent trigger, smooth press, couple nicely with the Romeo1’s quality lens, housing, battery, and warranty features for a fine total gun-MRDS package.
There are a lot of considerations in deciding to go with a MRDS system. Of course, cost is one factor and this total package is slightly above most of the competitors prices, but consider the premium quality. Consider that any high-quality handgun red dot optic alone usually costs at this time between $475 to $800. So when you add in about $900 for a classic 226 handgun, the total price is in line. Making the decision is a very personal one and there is no single best answer for all shooters, because we have different needs, preferences, uses, medical and eye conditions, wallet depths, available time, etc. Adding and using a MRDS sight to your present CC/home defense gun, involves many variables, options, factors, prices, and much time and costs for milling a slide to accommodate a red dot, buying high suppressor sights for co-witnessing, and risking incompatibility and inefficient operation from a non-factory matched handgun package. I believe MRDS for handguns are a worthwhile technology that many folks should consider as a viable option. Don’t avoid consideration by saying “the battery will last only a short while” or “I can buy 2 of a particular pistol for the price of this one and I can add my own MRDS.” You have to set your objective, consider the options that will give you the best result and meet your objective, and compare apples to apples and not to oranges, so to speak, and assess your gunsmithing skills. Does everyone need a MRDS? No, but if you can afford it and there is a personal benefit for yourself based on your goal and needs, then at least consider a MRDS. What price to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones? And they are a lot of fun to shoot.
A MRDS sighting system should not substitute or replace the necessity for developing your handgun fundamentals and practicing to be effective with your iron sights, sight alignment, and sight picture . An MRDS alone will not make you a great shooter. Also, you do have to take the time to be able to quickly find the dot and press the trigger for effective hits. I hope this has helped you and saved you some time my friends. Is now the time for you to explore a MRDS system for your handgun? This is an excellent package to consider for your home defense, competitive shooting, and recreational shooting purposes. Maybe after much practice with this system or any MRDS, you can consider it for your CC or desired purpose and shoot an MRDS-gun system to decide for yourself.
Decide on your criteria and objective, how you will primarily use the gun, what features are important to you, which ones you are willing to pay for, then try a gun and MRDS system. Then critically evaluate the gun and MRDS YOURSELF per your criteria, purpose, and skills with standard drills, with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.
Continued Success and Be Safe Friends!
Sig Sauer P226 RX & Romeo1 Reflex Sight
Newington, NH 03801
Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo
Newington, NH 03801
BlackPoint Tactical Holsters
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Photos by Author and Manufacturer.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. or copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].