Every now and then, you get a chance to try something outside your skill set, pay grade, or general place in life. Like the time I drove a 911 Turbo or shot steel at 1000 yards. Sometimes, it’s purely luck. Others, you’re just in the right place at the right time with the right gear. The Apex Tactical RDS Mount is definitely in the latter category. I just happened to have a new-to-me M&P that I purchased from Nick Leghorn, and a Leupold DeltaPoint that the kind folks from Beaverton, Oregon loaned me. And like all good things, the third part fell into place when Scott Folk at Apex shot me an email to let me know that they were now doing red dot sight (RDS) mounts using the DeltaPoint and M&P slides . . .
My M&P already had the Apex Trigger Kit it needed, so I only had to send the slide off for a little machining. Scott and I bounced a few emails back and forth about what I wanted, and we were off to the races.
Specifically, I wanted just the RDS mounted and per Scott’s suggestion, I had him remove material from the front of the slide to cut down on overall weight. And because — I’ll admit it — I thought it would look wicked cool. I had the option to add a rear sight dovetail for a bit more money and I’m now regretting not doing it. But more on that later.
Six weeks after I sent the slide and RDS off to Scott, it arrived back at my door. The work was actually done within about three weeks, but it had to be sent off to get recoated, and then SHOT Show happened. It was a long six weeks, but totally worth it in the end.
The pictures really don’t do justice to how good this gun looks in the flesh. The machining is absolutely flawless. In fact, Scott cut some material from the side of the slide that you can see as shiny metal in the picture above. You can’t even tell that there used to be metal there. The cuts in the slide are all symmetrical and provide a nice gripping surface for reloading, should you ever choose to grab your gun by the front.
As soon as my schedule allowed, I was at the range happily burning through 9mm parabellum. Within about ten shots, I had the sight adjusted to hit two inches high at 7 yards. At some point, it dawned on me that this gun is now way over my head. I’m not an open class shooter by any stretch of the imagination. All of Scott’s hard work might be wasted on a total noob who had no idea what he had in his hands. So I did the only logical thing and turned it over to Master Class shooter, Karl Rehn to give it a go. His thoughts below:
The time I spent evaluating this pistol was the second time I had looked at an M&P with a red dot mounted in place of the rear sight. Unlike the gun I used a year ago, this pistol had no traditional front sight. This particular pistol was a 4.25″ (standard) M&P, set up with the 2.5 lb Apex competition trigger kit. To me that seemed an odd combination, since the 4.25″ model was not as well suited to competition as the 5″ Pro model, and the 2.5 lb competition trigger was not appropriate for a practical carry gun.
My primary interest in the pistol was as a potential “match gun” for the low light live fire shooting competition conducted every year as part of the annual Polite Society Tactical Conference at Tom Givens’ Rangemaster facility in Memphis. The match typically consists of some surprise stages using reactive 3-D targets (which only fall when hit in the 6″ center plate or the much smaller head plate), and some timed fire standards shot with a smaller “A Zone” than typical IPSC or IDPA targets. To evaluate the pistol for that purpose, I ran a 50 round low light shooting test that included 3, 7 and 15 yard presentations as well as strong-hand-only and weak-hand-only drills. I ran the drill with the red dot pistol, as well as a standard iron sighted M&P, and an M&P equipped with a Crimson Trace lasergrip insert.
What I found was essentially what I found the last time I evaluated a similarly configured pistol: For two handed shooting at 7 yards and beyond, the red dot pistol is quick and easy to use. For targets closer than 7 yards, particularly targets shot using one hand, picking up the red dot was quite a bit slower and more difficult than picking up iron sights or using the laser. For this type of shooting I found the laser to be the easiest to use.
My input on the issue isn’t radically different from others who have evaluated the slide-mounted red dot sights on pistols in the past: backup iron sights should be considered ‘essential’, because they provide a coarse way to align the pistol when the presentation isn’t perfect and speed is crucial.
And that right there is why I’m kicking myself for not having Scott cut a rear sight dovetail. Without a backup set of irons, this gun is relegated to fancy range toy status. And that’s totally fine.
If you’ve never used an RDS-equipped pistol, I highly recommend it. That little red dot does not lie, and when it comes to tracking your your aim through the trigger squeeze, you’ll be very surprised to see see how much you can learn about the crucial milliseconds before the shot breaks. This holds true more than ever in this ammo-restricted world. This gun is now my default dry fire practice gun.
Specifications: Apex Tactical RDS Mount
- Available Guns: M&P series of pistols
- Time: 6 weeks total +/- a week depending on the current workload
- Finish: Melonite
- Price: $230
- Sight Installation – $110
- Cocking serrations – $50
- Melonite coating – $50
- Shipping and Handling – $20
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit & Finish * * * * *
Having never run a mill or a lathe, I’m completely in the dark on how you could get such a smooth finish, but the guys at Apex have done it. There are zero machining marks, dings, or other marks that would indicate that this is anything but a factory modification. My slide came back with the RDS mounted, and tightly at that.
Function * * * * *
I only ran a few hundred rounds through this M&P before I sent it off, but I experienced zero failures to fire, feed, or eject once I got the gun back from Apex. I utilized everything from cheap steel Wolf to high end defensive ammo without a hiccup.
Overall Rating * * * * *
We haven’t gotten a chance to put our hands on the new M&P C.O.R.E. gun yet, but if you’ve been considering mounting a RDS on your M&P, I can’t recommend Apex highly enough. Their craftsmanship is top notch, the turnaround is quick given the work being done, and the price is very right.