Are you new to shooting or do you have years of competitive, hunting or sport shooting experience? Most of us fall into one of these categories. However, shooters who use pistols for Everyday Carry (EDC) for actual, kinetic self-defense, including an increasingly high percentage of women, is almost always a novice. Like every one of us at one time or another you are wondering should you upgrade your sights?
The Need To Have The Best Gear By The EDC Community Is Growing
That’s because it is the first time most EDC shooters face an actual threat requiring instant reaction using the pistol they have; with the skills they have acquired. There is no time to get a different caliber, additional practice, or better sights when a deadly threat is ten feet away and closing. You have what you have, so understanding handgun sights for your level of experience and the different tasks you may need it for ahead of time is essential. When a shooter gets more experience or gets into a different shooting activity, one of the most asked question is should they upgrade their sights especially going to a red dot electro-optical sight. An EDC shooter needs to already have asked that question and answered. The myriad and confusing different types, styles, and operational characteristics of pistol sights, especially for first-time gun owners, can be overwhelming. Which one to use is dependent on the purpose that varies from self or home defense, sport shooting or even hunting, with some particularly good for almost all possible uses. So, what are some of the options, and which are the best overall?
Types of Sights
Sights can be the classic, basic iron sights with the traditional vertical, squared front sight and notched back sight. They are aligned so the target is just touching the top of the front sight that is even with the top of the rear sight. Also there has to be equal amounts of space between the front sight and the sides of the rear sight notch for perfect alignment. An upgrade was the introduction of contrasting colors for the front sight and around the rear blade to help pick up the front sight and place it flush and equal in gap of the rear notch. “Open” or “Iron” sights can be fixed or equipped with an adjustable rear blade that can be moved right or left to adjust for windage with some for distance with up and down adjustment for precise elevation. With professional training and consistent and correct repetition, the shooter will be able to use muscle memory to present and align the sights day or night, cool-headed or under stress. A great, practiced consistent presentation, grip and stance is a transferable skill ensuring precision and accuracy with any sighting device.
Why are Night Sights Important and Why Do They Matter?
Planning for whatever conditions that will exist when a threat might present itself is at best difficult and sometimes completely impossible, so compromises and generalizations based on real data are common. Will it be close? Probably, the statistics say so. Will you have any forewarning or time to plan? Probably not, so it will be seconds of sheer muscle-memory responses, adrenaline-fueled reaction, and instantaneous decisions. Will the attempted crime be in a low-light condition? Probably, the statistics say so. That makes it critical to be able to place rounds accurately, quickly, and exactly where you want. So, a great enhancement is the use of tritium self-illuminating inserts or fiber-optic threads to provide a low-light capability that unmarked, or even painted sights could not. The great feature about these sights is that the skills used to master them directly helps any other kind of handgun sighting system.
What Makes Tritium Sights Glow?
Tritium sights use vials filled with a gaseous radioactive tritium that emits charged particles that interacts with a phosphor coating causing a reaction that produces radioluminescence and phosphorescence the shooter sees as a glowing dot. The Tritium constantly decays through the emission of beta particles by a process called a half-life which is the amount of time the source takes to naturally decay by half. The half-life of tritium is 12.32 years meaning that in about ten years the tritium sight has lost about half of its “glow.” Their effectiveness is that most major gun makers like Kimber, Glock and Sig Sauer offer a variety of OEM night sights as options. A good example are the tritium-lit Mepro Tru-Dot® pistol sights installed by various manufacturers on pistols shipped to their customers as a factory optional upgrade. The Mepro Tru-Dot® family of sights are available in fixed, adjustable and suppressor height, all with tritium illumination for day light, low-light and night-time use. Meprolight® is the world’s leading supplier of OEM and after-market upgrade self-illuminated sights.
Additional Proven Sight Upgrades
Another excellent option is the Mepro Hyper-Bright™ fixed pistol sight featuring a contrasting ring (green, yellow, or orange) around a tritium-illuminated dot in the front sight. The contrast in colors helps to quickly acquire and focus on the front sight and align it with the tritium-illuminated back sight.
The fiber optic sight has an optical fiber embedded length wise exposed to absorb natural light and transmit the illumination to the end facing the shooter. The optical fiber is an optically dense plastic or a glass filament that draws in available light that bounces off the internal cladding until reaching the end of the fiber where all the collected light is released. The shooter sees an illuminated dot, image or reticle that is always brighter than the available, surrounding light because of the concentrating effect of the internal reflection. The Mepro FT Bullseye™ rear sights have an innovative fiber-tritium optical rear pistol sight that features a bullseye point of aim indicator illuminated for day use by fiber-optic and tritium for night use. The Mepro FT Bullseye™ is a low-profile, single sight (meaning that you don’t need the front sight) making it the smallest reflex-style optic for pistols! In fact, I have one on my Glock 43 EDC pistol! Sig and Canik offer models with this sight installed at the factory.
Why Are Red Dot And Micro Red Dot Sights Coming On So Strong?
A relatively recent addition to the options available to a pistol shooter looking to upgrade their open sights is the red dot or micro red dot (MRD) sights. They are basically three sizes of red dot sights, with the largest and more robust for long guns, the medium to small sized for service and large-frame pistols, and the MRD for subcompacts mostly for EDC use. Red dots come in either open or closed emitters, with the closed emitters having the light emitting diode sealed within the unit while the open, usually less expensive but exposed to debris and moisture, is smaller and lighter. Red dot sights are called “Reflex sights” because the red dot is reflected on the screen to the shooter’s eye. Red dots sights are sometimes not red or even dots as they can be a different shape and several other colors. The colors are important because while red is the most common, shooters with sight impairments such as farsightedness or stigmatism usually find that adjusting the size, color and brightness of the reflex sight makes a big difference.
Red Dot Sights Will Give You The Edge You Are Looking For
The HUGE advantage of the red dot sight is that it simplifies the aiming process for the shooter. This is where training and consistent practice pays off as even in a crisis situation, as a shooter will draw, punch out and instead of focusing on the front sight, maintains focus on the target or threat. Instead of aligning open sights the shooter simply brings up the red dot up and out to superimpose it on the target or threat. In the real world it makes plenty of sense, and actually easier to train. Law enforcement agencies are now equipping their officers with micro red dot pistol sights. An example of a useful red dot sight is the Mepro microRDS red dot sight. It is a 3.0 MOA, reasonably priced red dot sight for optics-ready pistols using a special plate and QD adaptor as well as a standard Picatinny rail mount for rifles or shotguns. The lightweight, open emitter red dot can be removed and replaced or placed on other mounts without re-zeroing.
Should Upgrade Your Sights? Yes, Most Definitely.
We’ve come a long way from the small, black notched sights going back a thousand years to the earliest Asian firearms that used a bead front sight and a series of vertical rear apertures as a rear, tangent sight. Now with a variety of designs, luminescent and colored dots a pistol shooter can match what works with the tasks at hand. They help a shooter acquire and steady up a sight picture. Once a shooter determines what is best for their shooting needs, better sights can be a game-changing lifesaver. Meprolight® sights are a great place to start finding out what works best for you before you find out the hard way what doesn’t.