The future is now, old man. Some may not want to hear it, but optics on handguns is the standard now. Miniaturized Red Dot Sights (MRDS) mounted to handguns are the best way to aim a pistol. Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) are still necessary on the handgun, but the MRDS is the primary aiming method. There are many ways to mount an optic to a handgun, but most people will say that direct milling to the slide is the most optimal way. People in the know will recommend only the best companies, and that leads to this review.
ATEi has a reputation of being one of the best companies to mill handguns for pistols. They were my first choice when I decided to have an RMR mounted to my H&K VP9. That was over a year ago. I received the gun back from ATEi in June of 2019, and have spent the last 13 months testing it. How did it turn out?
The Components & ATEi Cut
The slide I supplied to ATEi was a standard VP9 slide, that had Trijicon suppressor height sights sent in with it. I also supplied a Type 1 RM06 with the slide to be mounted, and bought a sealing plate for the optic. I paid to have the slide re-nitrided, to provide better corrosion resistance to the slide and area that had been milled.
One of the things specific to the VP9 RMR cut was the lack of recoil bosses. Due to the dimensions of the VP9, they could not be milled into the gun. This however was not an issue, as the VP9 cut is the Pro Cut that ATEi offers. The Pro Cut requires you to send in your optic, as the cut is extremely tightly fitted for the specific optic.
Total turnaround time from the slide leaving my hands, to its return was about 11 weeks. As the adage goes, "Good things come to those that wait." Well, the wait was certainly worth it.
Installation & Setup
When I received my slide back, I was very pleased with how everything appeared. The optic cut was very clean and precise, and the nitriding that had been done was better than from the factory. The slide that I sent in had been on a VP9 that I had owned and used quite a bit for about 2 and a half years, so this was great to see.
Mounting the optic to the VP9 was fairly easy. I used a Sony 2032 battery, as it is what ATEi recommends. As a precaution, I also applied 3 small strips of electrical tape to the battery to keep it from moving. The Type 1 RMRs are known to have battery connection issues, and this trick seems to be a quick fix. ATEi shipped longer RMR screws, the Sony 2032, and a proper hex key for mounting the optic. Placing the optic into the cut was simple, and only required a rubber mallet and some gentle persuasion. I loctited the screws in place with blue loctite, and let it set for about 8 hours.
The first range trip with the ATEi VP9 was soon after I received the slide back. I zero'd the optic at 25 yards using Federal HST 124gr +p, and used that zero for most of this review. Zeroing the optic was a simple process, only requiring about 20 rounds fired to be a precise zero.
How did the RMR milling hold up after a year of use?
ATEi Milling Performance
I'm just going to cut to the chase; The ATEi milling work performed phenomenally.
I've shot around 5,000 rounds of mixed 9mm since receiving the slide back from ATEi. There have been no issues with zero shift, or optic movement during the testing process. The RMR has been used to rack the slide many times without issue. I've also safely dropped the pistol on the RMR multiple times too, with no issues. This is a very fine optic cut.
The gun was shot in varying conditions, such as rainy, humid, and extremely hot days. I never ran into an issues with moisture getting beneath the optic, and causing either malfunctions with the RMR, or corrosion in the optic cut. The nitriding on the slide is really holding up well too, and seems to be warding off corrosion that happens to most things on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Over the year of carry, the optic cut and optic have held up very well, and I've got nothing to report wrong with it. After changing the battery one year after receiving the slide, it nearly returned 100% to zero, and only required minor corrections to bring it back to true.
This isn't an article about why you should use an MRDS, as that topic has already been done to death. However, it goes without saying that my par times and accuracy have gotten better when using MRDS. The above Tests are generally better scored and faster than with an iron sighted only gun.
Should You Have ATEi Mill Your Blaster?
I think that it goes without saying, but yeah, you should do it. ATEi is owned and staffed by great folks who do great work. The only con I can say is that ATEi's lead time is a bit long. However, much like food, fast isn't necessarily good, good is good.
The slide work can be ordered from ATEi >>>HERE<<<. Slide milling begins at $100, and increases depending on slide refinishing option chosen.
If you wanted to see what other MRDS we have reviewed at Primer Peak, check out >>>HERE<<<.