Handgun Sights

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by TranterUK, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    There are many types of handgun sights, which do members prefer for self defence or service use?

    I have seen many from those that are flat black, wide and blocky to those like the early 1911s, little U with a tiny, thin blade front. Then there are two dots like on the Beretta 92 series, top and bottom, to three dots across, to tritium to a white Millet type outline. Front sights that are flat black, inserts of various colours. We must not forget perhaps the biggest variable, adjustable or fixed?

    Any thoughts gentlemen?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2008
  2. user

    user Active Member

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    It appears to me that the big trade off is between the rapidity with which one can acquire the target and accuracy. Since defensive weapons are intended to be used in emergencies, the latter is given short shrift in my opinion. So I think only Meprolight makes an adjustable sight designed for defensive use. And the XS "Big Dot" tritium sight is characteristic of those products which optimize acquisitian.

    My personal opinion is that it doesn't matter how quickly you have to shoot, you're shooting at something, and it might as well be the target. As Erich is fond of saying, "shot placement is king..." So I like sights that at least have the potential for accurate shooting. The fixed sights that come standard on guns like the Sig 226 drive me nuts.

    I've got an S&W revolver set up pretty well, I think, with an XS regular dot front sight (there is no rear sight on that J frame model) supplemented by a Crimson Trace lasergrip. It doesn't matter that it doesn't have an adjustable rear sight, since the thing is dead on accurate without it. But I tried to set up the Sig 226 with Truglo TFO set and that's been a disaster - I let a "gunsmith" put them in, and he neglected to tell me that the front sight I'd bought was a #6 and should have been a #8, and he busted up the fiber optic rods getting the things in. But it does have the CT lasergrip, so it does work, but I'm going to have to fix those sights.

    Speaking of fiberoptics, I've got a Ruger GP100 with a Hi-Viz green dot in the front and a Bowen Classic Arms "Rough Country" white outline in the rear. As long as it doesn't get too dark, that thing is dead-on. Of course I had to remove the barrel several times to shave metal off the face of the frame to get the front sight to line up correctly. But I like that combination of sights. But that's an out-in-the-woods-defense weapon, not a stereotypical self-defense in the suburbs weapon.

    I am a big fan of the XS tritium sights and of the CT lasergrips.
  3. Xaiver56

    Xaiver56 New Member

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    Hey User, I have a set of Crimison Trace laser grips on my Ruger P-89. I bought them just to have them actually, just wanted a new toy :D All I can say is I have had the hardest time trying to get them to line up... so much so I just quit trying. I am a pretty good shot with the Ruger, but for whatever reason I cannot get the laser to line up. I am wondering if you have any hints or tips to getting them aligned. I started with Paper Targets at about 12 feet and I would adjust with the little tool thingy, I would think I had it lined up and fire, and I would be low and to the left, then a bit more adjusting and high and to the right. So it is at this point I am certain that either I am doing something terribly wrong (always a possibility) or I just don't have enough patience (maybe?) :confused:
  4. user

    user Active Member

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    I had a similar experience at first, but then realized that I wasn't being consistent with which way I turned the little screws. I found the directions difficult to understand, but once I figured it out, and tried turning the thing like an eighth of a turn at a time, I managed to get it exactly right. One key thing is only turn one of them at a time. That is, get the horizontal/windage set correctly first, then worry about elevation/height. Or vice-versa. Whatever you do, don't overtighten, 'cause the little screw will come loose inside the unit and you'll never be able to get it out again.

    What they say is in terms of moving the laser up and down or side to side, but not what effect that's going to have on the point of aim. But I figured that what's really going on is that the elevation screw is pushing the back end of the laser down when you screw it into the unit, so the point of impact is going up when you do that. It's the opposite of a conventional adjustable iron sight, if I recall correctly. And similarly, screwing the windage screw into the unit pushes the back end of the laser diode to the left, which means the point of aim is going to the right.

    The main thing I recall is having been confused. So I've either got it right here or backwards. You'll need to experiment to be sure.

    If you get to the point where nothing seems to be working, sometimes you have to back both screws out and start over. Seems the pressure from one will affect the other, if they're both in a good bit.

    Here's their instructions, quoted verbatim:

    SIGHTING ADJUSTMENTS

    Lasergrips are pre-sighted at the factory for 50ft. Many times no further adjustments are required. Lasergrips are fully adjustable for windage and elevation if further adjustments are desired. A good starting point is to align the laser with your fixed sights.

    A two-screw alignment system is used to adjust for windage and elevation. The adjustment screws are located just behind the laser aperture. Place the included allen wrenches into the adjustment screws. To move the laser to the right, turn the windage screw clockwise. To move the laser up, turn the elevation screw clockwise.

    DO NOT overturn adjustment screws. A little adjustment goes a long way.
    Rarely is more than one complete turn required.

    SIGHTING ADJUSTMENTS

    Start by adjusting the beam to line up with your fixed sights at the desired distance Most people sight In their laser at between 20 and 50 feet However, because of the small amount of mechanical offset between the laser and the bore, the actual change in point-of-impact from these distances is very small.

    Occasionally one of the laser adjustment screws may not adjust enough to line up with your sight picture, or will not move the laser at all This is usually caused by over adjustment of the screws. To fix, back out both the elevation, and windage adjustment screws until you have 1 or 2 threads protruding from the diode housing on each screw. (Do not remove adjustment screws totally out of the diode housing) Tap on diode housing with a blunt, soft object such as the plastic butt end of a screw driver to reset the diode back into place inside the housing. Now begin turning the adjustment screws back down into the housing a quarter turn at a time, alternating between adjustment screws, (i.e. 1/4 turn windage screw, 1/4 turn elevation screw, repeat until both are back inside the diode housing.
  5. Xaiver56

    Xaiver56 New Member

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    Thanks User, I am going to give it another go next time a head out to the range. Besides I have not shot the Ruger in about 2 months so it needs some range time regardless, thank you for the tips and I will let you know how it all works out.
  6. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    I like the low novak-style combat rear sights and a dovetail-blade front sight post.

    The original low profile sights on a 1911-A1 government have never bothered me. Liked them since I was a kid.

    On revolvers (non-hunting) I've always very much preferred a full top strap sighting groove instead of a rear sight...like on a Ruger Police Service Six .357, and some SA revolvers...love the sight picture. (It's almost impossible for a groove to lose zero too)

    Dots....

    I like the two dot system where the front sight has a dot and the rear sight has a single dot that aligns directly under the front.

    But I've never liked the 3-dot sights. Even when the front sight dot is a different color than the rear sight dots, in a really stressful situation they can be badly misaligned in a rapid sight picture.

    The white outlined rear sight and dot front sight combination has served me well on my old Glock.
  7. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    I prefer the Glock style sights with the squared U weather it is on a Glock or not. Those styles usually give me the best and quickest target acquisition.

    Attached Files:

  8. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Interesting,

    My 2c. I would have to say black on black, no dots, no out line, no coloured inserts. Also a front sight that's big enough to pick out quickly but with enough air either side for easy alignment.

    Fixed for anything except target or hunting.
  9. Generally, I'm with SS on this one, though I do like the dot-on-dot system that Delta mentioned. Taurus is putting that setup on many of their auto pistols now and I find it both accurate and fast to use.
  10. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    I give that dot-dot sight credit for my accuracy with my PPK/s:)
  11. UncleFudd

    UncleFudd Member

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    Great topic and it always brings out some good ideas especially when SD tactics and equipment are changing so often.
    With the common front and rear sights I am with Tranter with one exception. I think the front sight above all else should have a night sight or tritium insert to make it easily found and seen in any condition. A good, wide and deep "U" or "V" notch rear sight specifically for alignment. But I believe the real, critical item is the well defined front sight.

    I have had the opportunity to use a tremendous number of sight combinations over the years I have sold, trained with and used handguns. I have been fortunate as so many of you to see some great improvements that have been combat proven if you will. As a result we can all pick and choose from the best of the current offerings and most can be made to fit any or most specific defense weapons.

    In all of my years and after using so many I have settled on the "ghost ring" rear with a 5/16" opening and the Trijicon front sight. It is the quickest to aquire a target and the most accurate defense sight I have ever used on any gun. These sights are not bullseye competition , but I have found that no matter the situation once you have the front sight in any configuration or amount in the rear ring, you will cut meat at any distance out to 30 feet. You will not miss.
    I had occasion to use this combination twice at the H.I.T pistol courses at Thunder Ranch in Tx and even in the tower at night while assaulting either up or down, and in spite of my age I had the quickest times and the most accurate results of all 20 students.
    I have used this combo successfully on all of my 1911s since 1988 or 89 and I have made some and installed them for friends on some Glocks and Sigs and even one of the XD models by Springfield. I have not seen this application on revolvers but I believe it can be done.

    Many years ago I attended the IALEFI conference when the Mesa Az police hosted it. They put on a demo using the CT laser sights with three different firearms including Glock, Sig and Ruger. The outcome was so dismal I have never since been tempted to have one on a SD gun or any other gun except for a fun but expensive toy to play with.
    But, as with everything else having to do with our personal choices involving our guns and equipment, that is only my own experience and "personal" opinion. I know a couple of people who have them and believe they are wonderful. To each, his own. For me, they are too slow to acquire target and too inaccurate and difficult to keep sighted. Also once sighted for a particular distance they are completely out of alignment at other distances and i mean by significant amounts making it doubtful that a target could be hit even if brought to bear.
    This is the 1911 I built from scratch in 9MM to replace my Colt lightweight commander in 45 ACP. This gun has only the front sight with the tritium insert and as I said it is extremely accurate and very quick to aquire under any circumstance.
    [​IMG]This gun was one of the first that I sent to Trijicon back in 89. I sent three slides and sets of sights for them to mill a trough in the rear ghost ring as you can see and then pour in the tritium. After they had done this two things became apparent, I did not need the rear slots with tritium or any other tritium insert in the rear and the other was from Trijicon when they said they could no longer do this as the amount of tritium exceeded some kind of limit set by the nuclear regulatory commission so they are the only guns that will ever have it.
    As I pointed out the rear sight does not need to glow, only the front. If you bring the gun up and find the front sight in total dark and have someone turn on the lights the front sight is automatically aligned inside the rear.
    http://i283.photobucket.com/albums/kk288/UncleFudd/smallerpistolpics00
    6.jpg
    I hope this works as it will not let me preview the reply before I submit.

    UncleFudd
  12. UncleFudd

    UncleFudd Member

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    Great topic and it always brings out some good ideas especially when SD tactics and equipment are changing so often.
    With the common front and rear sights I am with Tranter with one exception. I think the front sight above all else should have a night sight or tritium insert to make it easily found and seen in any condition. A good, wide and deep "U" or "V" notch rear sight specifically for alignment. But I believe the real, critical item is the well defined front sight.

    I have had the opportunity to use a tremendous number of sight combinations over the years I have sold, trained with and used handguns. I have been fortunate as so many of you to see some great improvements that have been combat proven if you will. As a result we can all pick and choose from the best of the current offerings and most can be made to fit any or most specific defense weapons.

    In all of my years and after using so many I have settled on the "ghost ring" rear with a 5/16" opening and the Trijicon front sight. It is the quickest to acquire a target and the most accurate defense sight I have ever used on any gun. These sights are not bullseye competition , but I have found that no matter the situation once you have the front sight in any configuration or amount in the rear ring, you will cut meat at any distance out to 30 feet. You will not miss.
    I had occasion to use this combination twice at the H.I.T pistol courses at Thunder Ranch in Tx and even in the tower at night while assaulting either up or down, and in spite of my age I had the quickest times and the most accurate results of all 20 students.
    I have used this combo successfully on all of my 1911s since 1988 or 89 and I have made some and installed them for friends on some Glocks and Sigs and even one of the XD models by Springfield. I have not seen this application on revolvers but I believe it can be done.

    Many years ago I attended the IALEFI conference when the Mesa Az police hosted it. They put on a demo using the CT laser sights with three different firearms including Glock, Sig and Ruger. The outcome was so dismal I have never since been tempted to have one on a SD gun or any other gun except for a fun but expensive toy to play with.
    But, as with everything else having to do with our personal choices involving our guns and equipment, that is only my own experience and "personal" opinion. I know a couple of people who have them and believe they are wonderful. To each, his own. For me, they are too slow to acquire target and too inaccurate and difficult to keep sighted. Also once sighted for a particular distance they are completely out of alignment at other distances and i mean by significant amounts making it doubtful that a target could be hit even if brought to bear.

    This is the 1911 I built from scratch in 9MM to replace my Colt lightweight commander in 45 ACP. This gun has only the front sight with the tritium insert and as I said it is extremely accurate and very quick to acquire under any circumstance.
    [​IMG]This

    This gun was one of the first that I sent to Trijicon back in 89. I sent three slides and sets of sights for them to mill a trough in the rear ghost ring as you can see and then pour in the tritium. After they had done this two things became apparent, I did not need the rear slots with tritium or any other tritium insert in the rear and the other was from Trijicon when they said they could no longer do this as the amount of tritium exceeded some kind of limit set by the nuclear regulatory commission so they are the only guns that will ever have it.
    As I pointed out the rear sight does not need to glow, only the front. If you bring the gun up and find the front sight in total dark and have someone turn on the lights the front sight is automatically aligned inside the rear.
    [​IMG]
    I hope this works as it will not let me preview the reply before I submit.

    UncleFudd
  13. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    UncleFudd, that's a nice sight setup...very cool. I believe I will eventually try something like that out on my next personal service size pistol...it looks effective.

    I've been around ghost ring sights, electrical and mechanical, from Eotech to track lock, fragile and sturdy, on shotguns, carbines, and SMG's, and for most people they work to fullest potential.

    On aperture sights, in general, I've taught a whole bunch of people to fire the M16/M4. I always explain that your eyeball is round, your pupil is round, the aperture is round...hell the planet is round...so the shape of the aperture is no coincidence....if you just look through the hole your eyeball will naturally get it perfect...only if you try to outsmart the circle will you manage to mess up this utter simple system. Just always use the small hole for precise fire. :D:D


    On CT style lasers....those are what in my job is called a technology answer to a tactical question...and tactical questions usually defeat technology in very embarrassing ways. Laser sights just make a complicated weapon even more difficult to master. Gadgets cannot replace fundamentals and discipline.
  14. UncleFudd

    UncleFudd Member

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    Delta13;

    You have experience with this type of sight on other guns. I have heard for years that the ghost ring arpeture also enhances low light. Do you know if this is actually true and if so perhaps some literature on same?

    I made these sights because the only factory ghost rings are only 1/4" arpeture and I found this is too constricting. If you decide to do this keep that in mind and try some especially for pistols. I tried both for a long time before settling on the larger hole and it has made a lot of difference including matching up with the standard Trijicon front sight with no filing or other adjustments necessary. It was like it is made for the two. FYI

    UF
  15. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    It is a fact that ghost-ring, or large apertures, let you do better in low light and even limited visibility in general.

    A good example is archery sights. I've used a string sight a long time. Most anyone who hunts the dawn/dusk time will agree a 1/4" string sight is way easier to use than a little peep hole.

    On an M16/M4, when using iron sights, as sunlight turns to dusk and then twilight you'll find yourself flipping the small aperture down to use the big aperture...because it's a 100% improvement.

    I would not say a ghost ring "enhances" available light, it just lets more light get to your eye, letting you superimpose your sight picture during limited visibility. So you opening the aperture from 1/4" to 5/16" effectively gives you better use of light already coming at you.

    On that same note, the big advantages to ghost ring sights, reflex and hologram sights too, is you can keep both eyes open while still having a measure of precision, even to the point of shooting strong or weak hand without changing anything for your dominant eye. Try that with notch-sights then with ghost ring sights and there is no comparison. Moving while shooting/moving targets etc...

    I wish I knew some literature related to handgun shooting on low light etc...seems to me that in CQB literature the techniques are for darkness. I believe you'll find more info related to shooting in low light by reading about hunting around dawn/dusk. I do remember reading something from J. Cooper about youth should be taught to use an aperture before learning optics.
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