Gun Sights: When To Replace Them And Why

It’s funny that many gun owners will spend oodles of dollars on extended magazines, custom grips, and flashlight rail accessories but never once look at the sights that come standard on the handgun.

Most guns come with basic contrast sights. That usually means that there’s two dots in the rear and one up front. Line up the dot in the front between the two dots in the rear and PRESTO, you’ve hopefully got a shot on target.

What happens when it gets dark?

All of the sudden, those friendly little white blobs can easily be lost. This leads to having to “trust” your gut instincts that a gun is pointed in the right direction. Bad deal.

That’s why night sights are a decent investment for an everyday concealed carry gun. Night sights are usually laced with Tritium – a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 10 years – so they glow in the dark. During the day, most night sights just look like white contrast dots. In darkened environments, they glow a bright green.

This makes lining up the front post with the rear ones a whole lot easier. Easier, in dangerous situations, is better.

That’s just one great reason to take a look at your default sights and consider some alternatives. There’s other sight options out there — like rounded versus square rear sights, 6 versus 8 sights.

SIDENOTE: When dealing with pistol sights, always look at the number printed on the side of them. In general, for pistols, the smaller the number for the front sight post, the taller the sight. For the rear, the opposite is true.

So if you have, by default, a 6 (front) and 8 (rear) and switch to a 6 (rear), your rear sights will be shorter.

Many of the fine details surrounding this may be lost on beginners but they come into play when you are actually able to see the difference.

If all you’re used to is shooting with regular contrast sights, you’re likely not to think too much about the advantage of night sights or different pistol iron sights like the Trijicon HD XR Night Sights.

However, as you progress as a shooter, you may see the added bonus in faster target acquisition and target tracking.

Any serious pistol engagement lasting longer than that first volley is going to be a game of cover, concealment, and using low light to the person’s advantage. Night sights offer speed and reliability that many RMR and red dots can’t offer for larger caliber or smaller platform handguns.

Red dot sights are great for 9mm and under. When calibers wander into the larger range of .40 S&W +P or .357 SIG, red dots can fail. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good, reputable red dot optic makers out there attempting to circumvent this thing. It just means that if your pistol platform isn’t already set to accept a red dot optic or is in a platform not easily modified to accept red dot, night sight iron sights may be the way to go.

Furthermore, with a half-life of 10 years, night sights will burn bright no matter if they’re stored in a gun safe for a decade or carried every single day in an inside the waistband holster. Check out some other sighting options and see if they improve your concealed carry shooting experience.

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