Using Just the Box of the Optic

What happens when your batteries die in your red dot, and you don’t have suppressor height sights? Are you supposed to roll over and die? Give up? Run? Is there a solution? What if you just used the box of the optic as a rear sight? Put the target in the window and just pull the trigger. Will it work? I was curious if the idea would work, how well it would work, and how far it would work. I grabbed my P365, which is equipped with a Holosun EPS, and hit the range running. 

Just the Box 

I planned to run a number of drills with just the box versus the dot. The first thing I did was try to shoot a simple group at five yards. I shot the first group without the optic on, aiming dead center in a rectangle roughly the size of an ISPC A-zone. I fired six rounds, and they went low and right in a very long, vertically strung group. At a mere five yards, I was pretty far off my point of aim. I popped the dot on, shot another group, and created a nice tight group dead center. 

There is a very clear difference at only five yards. I tried it again at ten yards. By then, three of the rounds were off the paper, and one was out of the A-zone. One shot landed in the A-zone. That’s not quite the group I want to see at ten yards. It is just an A-zone, and at ten yards, my rounds would have very likely still hit the threat as long as I was presented with a full-sized threat. 

What about longer ranges with bigger targets? I know that I wasn’t going to hit the A-Zone at 25 yards. However, at 5 yards, I could likely point-shoot my way out if I needed to. Let’s back off the 25 yards and use an entire IPSC target. At 25 yards, I ‘aimed’ as dead center as I could and let it rip. Surprisingly, I landed two out of three. Two out of three became my mantra for this range. I always hit at least two out of three, and I always hit low, but I hit. 

Toss In the Timer

My heart wasn’t racing, my adrenaline wasn’t pumping, and no one was moving and shooting back, and those are factors we have to consider. With that in mind, let’s try a timer and some faster-moving drills. I went to the range and began throwing lead a little faster. I fired from the low ready and tried my hand at a Bill Drill, then a Mozambique drill. The results were not great. Without the dot and just the box, I slowed myself while trying to find it. 

The muscle memory of finding the dot kept me from shooting as fast as I could. My accuracy fell apart, and my shots still landed way too low. I dumped the six rounds in a group I’d never brag about. I felt like that guy who shouts ‘combat’ accuracy about his gun. The Mozambique was more like two to the belly and one to the neck. 

Using just the box of the optic works, kind of, and if you’re in a pinch, it might be a way to get out. However, be aware your point of ‘aim’ is big, and you are likely to start throwing rounds all over the place. As the range increases, it obviously gets a lot worse. My advice would be to check your batteries and invest in suppressor height sights. Using the box of the optic isn’t the most reliable option.

I can get hits on the static range, but when you factor in performance flaws due to stress and a target that’s moving and fighting back, it’s going to fall apart really quickly. You can probably train and get better, but suppressor height sights seem like a worthwhile investment. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.