RMRs: Ways to Fix the Flicker Revisited
By Minion Emeritus Dave Merrill. This article was originally published in late 2016.
If you’ve shot an RMR-equipped handgun for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the dreaded flicker. What this amounts to is that your dot will dim, flicker, and sometimes outright disappear under recoil. This happens when the battery connection inside the optic doesn’t remain constant; a loose wire in a cellphone charging cable isn’t a terrible analogy.
It can certainly be frustrating when it crops up, but thankfully we have multiple solutions available. All of them are relatively inexpensive, and some of them might not even violate your warranty (though best to check first to CYA). Let’s go through ’em right quick.
Start with Quality
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That can certainly apply to this situation. A “one size fits all” pistol MRDS mounting solution certainly sounds appealing, but you can and very likely will run into some issues.
Though better than they used to be, Trijicon RMR bodies aren’t sized with perfect uniformity. When the RMR was initially developed, it was meant to hang out on top of an ACOG or be offset from a variable scope on a rifle, so variations in body size didn’t matter so much. To be clear, the variations we’re talking about are very small, but when you’re recessing into a pistol slide, they matter. The precision with your particular RMR fits a specific weapon can make a very big difference.
[Above photos from ATEi Facebook page here]
The forces applied to an optic on a reciprocating slide are far more abusive than those on an optic that remains static, even when mounted on the biggest bore rifle. The tighter the fit, the less stress on the mounting screws and the less flex in the optic body itself under recoil, which means less chance of flicker. Thus, ideally, you want your RMR hand-fit to your slide for maximum reliability. Another method used by some companies is to mill the cutout for the small end of the spectrum, which may require some minor fitting for a perfect fit.
Install your Sealing Plate Correctly
Some RMR sealing plates are slightly curved (we can’t speak for all since N+1 aftermarket plates are available). If you have one that is, during installation ensure that the arc is upright so it can help keep the battery in place.
This was first explained to me by Doug Holloway of ATEi (which is a superb choice of places to go for slide work, by the way, and a part of the House Morningwood “tactical buyers club” too). With this method, you bend your RMR battery contact slightly inward. This allows for consistent contact regardless of what lateral position recoil or other movement pushes the battery.
Grab a chopstick you saved from your last pseudo-Chinese food binge (because you used a fork anyway), and whittle it down. You can use basically anything non-conductive for this. Tweezers from an electronics repair kit may be ideal; the tip of your favorite EDC knife will not be. Carefully bend the battery contact inward; do your best not to reach the elastic limit and break it.
Some have even gone so far as to insert a wedge or foam block between the connection and the RMR body to ensure constant pressure.
Aftermarket Sealing Plates
I can’t personally speak to the efficacy of this one (it’s a relatively new design), but this aftermarket item from Battelwerx makes sense. The plate is designed to keep upward pressure on the battery and contacts to prevent any electrical disconnection, though it looks like lateral battery movement still may be possible. At $9-11 depending on options as of this writing (including one for MOS-series Glocks) it doesn’t cost much more than a regular OEM sealing plate.
Speaking of which, what the hell Trijicon? Why not include one of these standard with puchase?
For More than Just Shoes
I’m not sure I’ve ever used Shoe Goo on footwear, but I’ve certainly used it for a bunch of other stuff. You might have some of this around the house. It’s a glue-y, viscous equivalent of duct tape. No telling what you’ll use it for.
This method was first brought to my attention by Gabe Suarez. Basically, you apply a little dab of Shoe GOO between the sealing plate and battery. Our version is a little different than his original recommendation, but it’s the same concept. Apply a little bead of Shoe GOO to your sealing plate directly beneath the battery. Don’t use too much — you don’t want Shoe GOO all over your internals. Install the RMR and completely torque it down while everything is still gooey.
This is the same idea as the aftermarket plate, and with a bonus. The Shoe Goo ensures the battery stays high into the optic, prevents lateral movement of the battery itself, and furthermore may offer just a bit of cushion under recoil, reducing punishment somewhat. I’ve found this method to work very well at quashing flickering issues. When the time comes to change batteries, you’ll find your CR2032 is now glued to your sealing plate. Don’t worry about this, as it’ll peel right off with any sharp object.
Red Dots on Pistols: An Extra Tip for Maintenance
Do you find your dot less crisp than before? If you’re carrying daily with an MRDS, it will almost certainly get filled with all sorts of debris and belly button hair and…well, whatever. Anyway, give it a cleaning. Canned air, lens wipes, and Cat Crap or RainX (to prevent fogging) goes a long way. But ensure you also wipe your emitter. A dusty emitter will produce a dot that looks like dick when projected even on the cleanest window.
By no means is this list all-inclusive. Many will combine multiple approaches to attack the problem like the malignant cancer that it is.
Do you have a special method to stop the flicker? If so, let us know in the comments.
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