Night sites vs. regular sites-question?

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by pickenup, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. pickenup

    pickenup Active Member

    I have night sights as well as regular sites on different handguns, and I have used both when I have shot in matches using a flashlight, and under low light conditions. I have found that where there is “ANY” light, the night sites do not help. They are new sites and VERY bright in total darkness, But they only work well, in the really dark situations, where I am not able to positively “identify” the target.

    I know that most people do not get a chance to “practice” using night sites, but of those of you who do. Has anyone found any "real" advantage to having them? Besides just being a “cool” accessory.

    The only scenario where I think they would come in handy is, if you were in your house at night, no lights on, and there is a person in your house. For this reason alone I will keep them. But this can go back to “positively” being able to identifying your target. (or not)
  2. Remington597

    Remington597 Former Guest

    Feb 24, 2004
    Your thread reinforces the need for thourough practice will all types of firearms, including those without sites and those with high tech tritiums. I enjoy three dot sites as well as two dot sites on my smaller size Kel Tecs as well as shooting with no sites at all.
    After many thousands of hours, it becomes natural, even in the dark while seeing a small outline of your target. It must also be stressed that target acquistion and knowing what your shooting at is also critical.
    Practicing with different types of firearms is the key.

  3. offeror

    offeror New Member

    May 17, 2004
    NE Indiana
    Actually, you bring up a valid point. The white dots used in good, plain fixed three dot systems are often much more useful in most light conditions than many of the rather skimpy night sights, which may actually appear dimmer and smaller than their plain-painted brothers whether the lights are on or off.

    While the Trijicons come closest to being useful (the brightest and longest lasting night sights I've used -- on a Glock), I have found my (new) factory S&W night sights can be more useful for finding the gun in the dark than for aiming at anything. In pitch dark of course, you can eventually line up even the dimmest night sights -- but in pitch dark you may see nothing much beyond them. Even moonlight, as you point out, can reduce the usefulness of most if not all night sights to about zero. I believe night sights are most useful in a narrow range of conditions where you are in darkness but your target is silhouetted, maybe by moonlight or a distant ambient source behind him. If you plan for that, then you won't waste time looking for them when they'll be hard to acquire.

    Obviously, I think point shooting, or clicking on a well-focused Xenon flashlight, can be faster and more accurate regardless of the shooter's experience a lot of the time. Once the flashlight comes on, I find my eye and the muzzle aligning to the target without straining, while luminous dots immediately become surprisingly harder to use.

    I would simply suggest that people contemplating night sights assure that the sights you buy are large and well painted for daylight use as well. Then if you get some use from the luminosity it will be a nice bonus. Those who get along without night sights on some of their guns know they are not missing much.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2004
  4. mballai

    mballai New Member

    May 23, 2004
    I think that night sights are more of a cash cow for the sight manufacturers than a valuable tool for most shooters.

    For concealed carry or LE use where the gun is pulled in response to a known perp at reasonably close range, the sights enable a better sight view in the dark. If you carry at night, it's worth having. But so is a Surefire.

    For most folks, a light to verify one's target is really the better deal. Easier to change a battery or bulb, than to have the sights redone when they go.
  5. 45Smashemflat

    45Smashemflat Active Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    You mean night sights don't let you see at night?!?!?

    But seriously, the post above that referenced "finding the gun" is a great point. I travel a good bit, and placing my handgun on the strange night stand oriented so the sights face the pillow is a good tactical move. I know where to look for that and I usually index it so I can also find the door quickly.
  6. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2001
    Here at TFF
    Nite sights are a waste of $$ IMHO.

    You will be able to see the sights, but not after the first shot.

    I prefer a flashlight to nite sights but do I want to give my position away in a gunfight? I think not.
  7. antediluvianist

    antediluvianist New Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    This will not work for everybody, but my solution is to paint fairly large circles - with bright flourescent paint - on the sights. If there is any light at all, I can see them. And you can make them much bigger than those relatively small tritium-vial lights.

    If there is no light at all, better use a flashlight and make sure you are not shooting your neighbor or family member .
  8. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    Luminous sights can reflect off glasses and give away your position. Lighting up a light attached to your gun or hand held will give away your position.
    Throwing a cyalume light tube at the source of danger will illuminate the scene, divert attention from your position and allow you to take control of the scene immediately.
    Just my thoughts as a 40+ year LE firearms instructor.
  9. bambihunter

    bambihunter New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I've got them on my defensive weapons (and nothing else). I do not think they hinder me in any way. As to whether they help, that will depend largely on the situation in which they'll be used.
    I too use them to orient me towards the grip on the firearm. Also, we don't have an "open house" policy so if someone is in our house it'll be me or my wife or an unwelcome guest who most likely just set off the alarm and will be staring down a pair of 10mm's. Best of luck to 'em (whether we have nite sites or not).
  10. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    What good will night sights do in that scenario?
    Before you do ANYTHING ELSE, you MUST identify the target. That means to see it and evalauate what you see. Your night sights will not be any help here. You need a light of some kind.
    The true value of luminous sights would be to align your pistol(s) in the direction of muzzle flashes. In that case, you would not have to see and evaluate, since hostile intentions are obvious.
    My burglar trap has a trip switch with a powerful strobe light at the end of the circuit. Talk about disorienting an intruder! A cyalume stick thrown into a corner does almost as well.
    Just a word to the wise.
  11. bambihunter

    bambihunter New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Simple, if the alarm goes off I can easily reach across the bed to tell if my wife is in bed beside me. If she is, then ANY person entering our home after hours will be considered hostile. Then, any movement towards our "defensive corner" will be met with resistance.

    Our friends and family do NOT have a key, do NOT know our alarm codes, do NOT know the code to open our garage, but they do know how to call us on the phone and say they are right outside or they can ring the door bell.

    Of course when we have guests staying over then this scenario doesn't apply. We have no children or anyone who would have a reason to be inside or even keys to our house.

    I will say that if we had kids or if we had an "open door" policy like we have had at a couple places in the past it is definately NOT the case here...

    This is covered under Oklahoma law (see post and like to OSBI on another post below)
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2004
  12. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    I hate to be the first to tell you this, but some of the delf defense rumors spread (even by the NRA) could get you put in prison for your efforts and then for the rest of your life you could not own any kind of firearm.
    You can NEVER, EVER use deadly force against a property crime. Criminal trespass is often a misdemeanor. Your life must be in imminent danger before you can use deadly force.
    Usually, the prosecutor or jury will side with you, but it could easily turn against you. Our state law says that you must positively identify your "threat" before you use deadly force.
    I know of one case (before the 911 system) where a fireman was shot because he was mistaken for a burglar; he was trying to get to a fire in the kitchen that had been reported by a neighbor, who thought the occupants of the house were away on vacation. (Actually, they had returned unexpectedly after dark.)
    I'm saying this only because I have a friend who met a "burglar" at his front door, did exactly what he was taught to do in the army, killed the intruder and was prosecuted for murder and sent to prison. An intruder is a trespasser; he does not become a burglar until he has removed your belongings crom your premesis. In this state, that is a difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. And, you may never use deadly force against an intruder unless your life or the life of another is in imminent danger. And, your split-second decision to shoot will be interpreted by a prosecutor, a judge and a jury. If they come to a different conclusion after hours of discussion and debate than you did in a split second, you will be the loser.
    The best option is always to flood the area with light, identify the threat and this will usually result in the intruder exiting, stage right. And, this will shake you up a bit but it will save you hours of interrogation, weeks of worry, the cost of a lawyer and possibly adverse reactions from your family, friends and neighbors.
    Shooting is a last resort, and it often means you have done something wrong.
    One last thought: This is a public forum. If you are ever involved in the scenario you described, your own words can be used in court to "prove" that you had prior intent to commit a homicide.
    As they tell you in the second degree: "Be circumspect!".
    That's as loud as I can shout a whispered word to the wise.
  13. 45Smashemflat

    45Smashemflat Active Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    Well said - the point is the the luminous sites have little tactical value except to find the gun - as I had posted before and had numerous others. The concept of ID'ing your target using any means possible - such as flashlights, cyalumes (good one, by the way, hadn't thought of that!!) - is important in any shooting discipline from self defense to target shooting - "be sure of your back stop" is somewhere in the Top Ten. (Whether that back stop is a person intent to do you harm, or a solid berm, is equally important.) Home/self defense is in layers. Fence, floodlights, deadbolts, intruder detection - alarm backed up by dog - interior motion lights - flashlights, land line backed up by cell phone, etc etc etc.... A gun in the night stand does not a self defense plan make.
  14. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Pistolsmith, well said. However, here in Tejas, if I catch you in my house, you become a statistic fast. If I catch you on my property at night, you become a statistic. We're a little more against the criminal element here in Texas.
  15. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

    The same is true in Alabama, IPT.

    In fact, the maximum penalty for breaking and entering a resident domicile at night is a capital crime. Domicile, incidentally, includes all the adjacent land owned, etc.
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