Optics-Ready: M&P9 Ported, FNX-45 Tactical, G17 Gen4 MOS
Tested: S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported, Glock G17 Gen4 MOS in 9mm and the 45 ACP-chambered FN-USA FNX-45 Tactical. All three are game changers, but we’d buy the Ported.
If there is one new trend taking hold of pistol manufacturers, it is making optics-ready pistols. These handguns come out of the factory with the ability to mount a reflex-style red dot sight. The newest is the Glock G17 Gen4 MOS, which debuted in 2016. Kahr, SIG, and the Canik from Century Arms may also see optics-ready models in 2016. Custom gun makers have been crafting pistols with reflex sights for years, and back in 2012, both S&W and FN launched optics-ready pistols. Just like Picatinny rails have emerged as a widespread feature and laser pointers are being offered on many handgun variants, the optic mount is the next evolution of the handgun. We have seen this same scenario play out with AR rifles, where optics were once an anomaly and they are now the norm. Why? Ease of aiming and faster target acquisition. What, perhaps, has slowed the trend is cost. Reflex sights can add anywhere from $240 to $600 extra, depending on the sight. There may also be a need to purchase a new holster to accommodate the optic on the handgun and taller iron sights. This seems a little odd to us because many shooters might consider the cost to be excessive on a handgun, but we don’t think twice about mounting a high-quality optic on a rifle. There is no doubt that in the same situations, red-dot reflex sights allow users to aim faster and easier compared to iron sights. Also, reflex sights allow users to aim with both eyes open, peering through a small glass lens that the sight uses to project a reticle onto it via a light-emitting diode. The sight provides an unlimited field of view since there is no magnification and no tube, so tunnel vision is less of an issue when aiming. Also, there is also no need to align three planes — target, front sight, and rear sight — as with iron sights. However, during testing, we found that taller iron sights that co-witnessed with the red dot were preferred because they can help find the dot. Also, BUIS are there in case the optic fails or the battery dies when we need it most. A proper maintenance schedule can alleviate this concern. To see how various red dots could be mounted and used on factory optics-ready pistols, we acquired a Glock G17 Gen4 MOS, an S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported model, and an FN America FNX-45 Tactical FDE. The Glock and S&W were 9mm striker-fired pistols that are well known to us. We have reviewed numerous Glock G17 models over previous model generations, but this is first G17 Gen4 MOS that our testers have evaluated. The same is true with the S&W M&P9. We have tested other variants of the M&P9, but this is a first for the S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported model. The 45-caliber FNX-45 Tactical is also new to our testers. What we were looking for with these optics-ready pistols was ease of installation, accuracy, ease of use, and durability.