The Sliding Trend Of Optic-Equipped Pistols In 2024

A recent study points to a sliding trend, pistols with pre-mounted reflex sights has been declining and “… been performing at a lower level than no red dot since mid-2022.”

by
posted on March 17, 2024
Changing Trend Pistol Optics
Image courtesy of author.

A National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers and National Shooting Sports Foundation report released this month found most enthusiasts purchasing a new pistol either want a red-dot optic on the gun or the ability to mount an aftermarket version easily. The strength of the former trend, however, diminished after the pandemic’s heightened self-defense concerns no longer dominated headlines. The study notes the sale of pistols with pre-mounted reflex sights has been declining and “… been performing at a lower level than no red dot since mid-2022.”

In May 2021, total sales of pistols shipped wearing a red-dot optic verged on equaling those without the sight system. The reduction, in part, is likely rooted in the fact that the number of semi-auto handguns shipped optic-ready surpassed those shipped without optic-ready slides in February 2022.

The study notes reflex sight retail sales account for roughly 27 to 28 percent of optical sights sold annually. The figure hasn’t changed significantly since reaching that plateau and coupled with gun sales stabilizing at post-pandemic levels, enthusiasts prefer the ability to select their own red dot on a self-defense pistol. The report states, “Installed optics have become an expectation to the consumer … ,” yet those guns wearing them from manufacturers, “… have represented 1 [percent] of total semi-auto handgun shipments for the last 18 months.” Figures include up to December 2023.

In the meantime, according to the results, “Overall semi-auto handgun sales have declined YoY [Year over Year] since 2021 … MSR [Modern Sporting Rifle] sales have remained relatively flat since 2021.” The report covers the last 18 months, noting, “Part of this is due to a slowdown in the home defense motivated purchases during the pandemic ‘surge.’ Handguns & red dots show they are decreasing year-over-year at a similar rate, where MSRs never had a huge lift due to the ‘surge.’”

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