As we get older, we lose visual acuity. Some of the sights we used when young no longer serve as well.
There are options that allow the shooter to actually see the sights and make accurate hits with the handgun, which is what it is all about.
Let’s consider the different types and which type may be best for your needs.
Choosing the Right Sights
There are several roles a pistol may play. Target shooting is one, personal defense another.
You may wish to use one type or the other for different roles, but there is also the go-anywhere, do-anything handgun that demands a set of high-visibility sights well suited to several roles.
Sight visibility is most important. A set that is designed to be picked up quickly and easily is important.
From the simple orange or red front-sight insert of the Smith and Wesson revolver to the highly-developed TRUGLO night sight with fiber-optic insert, we need a quality sight we can see and see well enough to fire accurately.
If we are enthusiastic concerning testing different loads and need to have the handgun sighted-in precisely, we need adjustability.
If the pistol is for personal defense in the home, we may use fixed sights, but they must be highly visible. Some of the choices must be made before the handgun is purchased.
As an example, if you are purchasing a .357 Magnum revolver, both fixed-sight and adjustable-sight models are available. A shooter with different needs should choose the adjustable-sight model.
Most self-loading pistols allow the shooter to change the sighting setup. The sights should have contrast for the best visibility. Red, orange or green sight inserts are a big help in aiding eyesight.
The sight should also be durable. Handguns have recoil and momentum. Also, consider installation. Just about every shop these days has a sight pusher to install GLOCK sights.
Some of the others are more difficult.
1. Smith & Wesson Adjustable Revolver Sights
Known as the “Micro Click,” these have been regarded as among the finest revolver sights for decades. These offer good adjustment for various loads.
As an example, the .38 Special and .357 Magnum may be loaded with bullets from 90 to 200 grains. These bullets strike to a different point of aim.
Even in factory loads, different bullet velocities and weights strike to a different point of impact. Another advantage is that these sights offer a clear high-visibility sight picture.
When coupled with an orange or red insert in the front sight, these are excellent revolver sights.
2. Ruger Adjustable Sights
Ruger offers a fiber-optic front sight option on many of their revolvers. The front ramp is easily changed on some of these revolvers.
The result is an excellent all-around revolver sight.
3. Taurus Defender Sights
Taurus offers adjustable-sight revolvers. However, they also offer a unique fixed-sight option in the Defender revolver.
If you are looking for a defensive revolver for carry or for home defense, the Taurus 856 Defender should be on the shortlist.
One reason is because it has the only tritium sight I am aware of on an inexpensive revolver. The Taurus features an orange-dot front sight with a tritium center.
4. Wilson Combat Battle Sights
When Wilson Combat does something, they do it right. Recently I added a set of Battle Sights to my GLOCK 19 to match the sight picture with the Wilson Combat CQB pistol and Beretta Centurion Wilson Combat pistol.
These sights are serrated on the back of the rear sight at 40-lines per inch — custom grade — for glare reduction. The rear notch is .145-inches wide with a deep U-shaped cut.
This allows for excellent speed of acquisition. The front sight is .125-inches wide. While tritium is a good choice, a fiber-optic sight is actually better for daylight and range use.
Windage adjustment isn’t difficult. I like this sight a great deal. While it is unlikely I will have a need to rack the sight on the belt or boot heel to manipulate the slide, well, it happens.
The Battle Sight is ready for business.
5. XS F8 Sight
For daylight shooting the rear notch is .190-inches wide and is easily picked up.
This contrast prevents misalignment of the sights in the dark — don’t forget to test night sights in a dark environment with dry fire —and makes for a very rapid sight picture with excellent accuracy potential.
6. XS RAM Sight
The RAM (radioactive material) night sight features a three-dot outline with a contrasting front sight. The result is a fast and accurate sighting system for use in dim light.
It doesn’t suffer when used in bright light conditions. Accuracy potential is excellent. The RAM differs from the original XS in using a traditional notch-and-post type sight picture.
The sights are designed to offer maximum contrast for fast shooting. The front sight uses an XS-designed Ember Glow Dot sight. The front dot may be ordered in bright orange or green.
When you run drills with these sights, you will notice the front sight offers greater focus as it is brighter. I ran dry-fire drills with the sights using a triple-checked unloaded handgun.
There is usually some light in the home and the RAM system allows for a good sight picture for use in dim light. A problem with some designs is light reflection off of the rear sight.
Bright light, dim light, and any number of conditions are encountered. The rear sight features a slight overhang designed to reduce glare and increase sight definition.
I like the RAM because I have used three-dot sights for many years. The F8, however, with its high-profile, bright and easy alignment is my choice for smaller handguns.
7. HiViz Sights
Fiber-optic sights have a transparent fiber that transmits light along its length. It is made from glass and plastic. It doesn’t bend light or refract light. It is highly rated for reflection.
The entire length, not just a point, reflects light. HiViz says “see what you have been missing,” and there is a much truth in this.
HiViz offers superbly bright and effective fiber-optic combinations for rifles, shotguns and pistols. The pistol illustrated features sights added by an old friend well into his seventies.
He added the sights and found that the improvement was excellent.
8. TRUGLO Night Sights
TRUGLO took the step of adding fiber optics to tritium night sights and came up with among the finest combinations to grace a firearm.
TRUGLO offers all types of optics, rifle scopes and red dots. Their night sights are well thought out and effective. The steel sights and fiber-optic tubes are a great combination.
There are several types of TRUGLO sights. I have used most of the types and have more TRUGLO than any other by last count. This is something you can count on.
9. Red Dot Optics
Fixed iron sights have worked well for a long time. A red dot uses a small bright dot reflected on a glass to give shooters and aiming point.
There is a learning curve to adapt, but those who have practiced, find the sight fast and effective. The red dot just may make a difference in your ability to connect quickly at personal-defense ranges.
You have to make the decision to use a red dot before purchase, however. GLOCK, SIG Sauer, and a number of other makers offer optics-ready handguns.
10. 1911 Adjustable
Some years ago, we had two options for the 1911, small GI sights that were difficult to see well or flimsy adjustable sights. BoMar, now sadly gone, offered the first truly rugged and adjustable sight.
They were not cheap, but they worked. Today Les Baer, Springfield and Colt offer fully-adjustable models that are both rugged and affordable.
They are an option on the Springfield TRP and several other handguns. These offer far greater utility than fixed-sight versions.
What are your favorite firearm sights? Have they changed as you’ve aged? Let us know in the comments below!