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JohnKSa
May 5, 2008, 02:02 PM
I recently found a very good deal on night sights. At $52 for a set and free shipping, I jumped on it. Over the weekend I installed them and did some informal testing.

If the area was dark enough that I needed the night sights to align my sights then I couldn't see the target.

If the area was light enough for me to see a target then I didn't need the night sights, the sights would silhouette against the target and I could line them up. Furthermore, in that situation, the "glow" feature of the sights wasn't visible, they could have been plain black sights (not even white dot or white outline) and worked just as well.

Exceptions: If a dark target was silhouetted against a light-colored or dimly lit background, I could see the target but I couldn't see my sights against the dark target--the night sights helped in that case. Also, there was a narrow range of light levels where it was just possible to make out the target when white dot/outline sights were no longer useful but the night sights were easily visible. It should be noted that in the latter situation there would be no way to identify the target as the light was insufficient. In the former (light background/dark target) you could probably make a rough ID based on the target shape/silhouette.

I tried using a flashlight to see if artificial illumination made a difference but the results were similar. Illuminate the target and the sights were easily seen as dark silhouettes against the target. No illumination and the target wasn't visible so it made little difference that I could align the sights precisely.

Basically, it seems that they are useful in a narrow range of lighting levels where a target can just be made out but it's too dark to align the sights, and also when you have a dark target against a light/lit background. Adding them to the pistol does provide improved capabilities in those situations, but really doesn't do anything for you if you have a flashlight or weapon light or if it's really dark.

I think that most folks would probably be better off buying a good quality flashlight and learning to use it properly. It's usually less expensive and offers more capability and versatility.

xm21
May 5, 2008, 03:46 PM
JohnKSa,after having Meprolight tru dots put on my Glock 19 and shooting it at dusk and dark thats sorta how I felt about it.But the tru dots are metal and much more durable than the plastic OEM sights that came on the pistol,the tru dots hit to the same poa as the oem's,so I am okay with them.But when I put new sights on my Colt Combat Commander they will not be night sights.

2cooltoolz
May 5, 2008, 04:04 PM
I've never owned or used any night sights. I just figured I didn't really need them. Still, it kept nagging at me that maybe I should at least equip my main carry with a set. Thanks for saving me some money :)

Recon7
May 5, 2008, 04:22 PM
Come on somebody here has to come along and justify all the dough we are paying for night sights.

I'll do my best in the mean time
#1 you can find your gun in the dark.
#2 they are tacticool

ragwd
May 7, 2008, 11:22 AM
I put Metros on my pistols that have all black sites. (Kimber, Sig) At most indoor ranges I visit are poorly lit. It helps my old eyes alot. I guess I could have just painted them but I couldn't do it. I agree the prices are unjustified but just plain black sights in low light wasn't working for me.

oldcspsarge
May 7, 2008, 09:12 PM
Night sights are best suited to center up on a suspects muzzle flash who is shooting at you and return the favor.

Turning on your flashlight in a gunfight is like announcing Hey..the rest of us cops are over here...would you please shoot at us some ?

chris in va
May 7, 2008, 10:04 PM
I think that most folks would probably be better off buying a good quality flashlight and learning to use it properly

I found that to be the case as well from doing some informal testing around the house. In no way would I want to shoot my gun without identifying the threat first in some fashion.

Frankly I think a laser/flashlight combo would work really well. Separately of course, not on the same gun.

JohnKSa
May 7, 2008, 11:02 PM
Night sights are best suited to center up on a suspects muzzle flash who is shooting at you and return the favor.That makes sense as long as you know that you're the only armed "good guy" in the area. And I can see that night sights would help with this.Turning on your flashlight in a gunfight is like announcing Hey..the rest of us cops are over here...would you please shoot at us some ?Once shots are being fired, turning on a flashlight might be inadvisable. But unless you know for certain that only "bad guys" are in the area, it's usually recommended that one identify the target before beginning the gunfight.

Doggieman
May 8, 2008, 02:12 AM
I live alone, and all my friends and family know to call before they come over. And I lock my doors and windows securely.

Therefore, if there's a creature larger than a cat moving around in my house at night, it gets shot. Whether I can identify it or not.

JohnKSa
May 8, 2008, 02:35 AM
Based on my assessment, nightsights are perfect for you and anyone else in a situation that warrants firing accurately at unidentified targets.

Charles S
May 8, 2008, 09:31 AM
I think that most folks would probably be better off buying a good quality flashlight and learning to use it properly. It's usually less expensive and offers more capability and versatility.

I think that is an excellent bottom line.

Having taken a low light course there are advantages to night sights in dynamic situations that are not apparent during static shooting at the shooting line.

We all were required to shoot the night course with two guns, one with and one without night sights. Each and every shooter scored more and better hits with night sights than they did without through various lighting situations.

We started in the early evening just before dusk and shot to about 2 am on a moonless night. This allowed a lot of variation in light. We also shot in a lot of lighting situations from in a darkened kill house to a semi lighted kill house. We shot in and around cars with car lights and with the turning emergency lights of a police car.

A good class like the one offered by Surefire is well worth the money if you carry a gun defensively and will really open your eyes to the use of light tactically.

Do I have to have night sights...no. Do I prefer night sights...well all but two of my carry guns have night sights.

John is right. A flashlight is an absolute must (if I really was in a high risk situation I would carry two - tough flashlights). Night sights are really just a bonus.

JohnKSa
May 8, 2008, 10:49 PM
We all were required to shoot the night course with two guns, one with and one without night sights. Each and every shooter scored more and better hits with night sights than they did without through various lighting situations.

We started in the early evening just before dusk and shot to about 2 am on a moonless night. This allowed a lot of variation in light. We also shot in a lot of lighting situations from in a darkened kill house to a semi lighted kill house. We shot in and around cars with car lights and with the turning emergency lights of a police car. Very good information. I was hoping that someone would respond, one way or the other, with some information based on experience.

I can tell that there are some benefits to having the sights, but I have no easy way to quantify the difference other than to say that it was less than I expected. Do you think it would be possible to post the results of your shooting showing the difference between night sights/regular sights? I'd be very interested in anything that could begin to quantify the difference in capability.

Wildalaska
May 8, 2008, 11:14 PM
I like nightsights because I see them better in the daytime than just black ones or white dots.

WildyoufigureoutwhyAlaska TM

JohnKSa
May 9, 2008, 01:05 AM
The only thing I can figure is that the phosphorescent material is excited by the sunlight and glows enough that it helps you pick them up.

You could test the theory by seeing if a phosphorescent paint (like superluminova) gives you the same results. If it does you could get the same effect for less $$.

Also, you should get the same effect from sights that have expired. Got any old, expired, nightsights lying around you could try out?

ActivShootr
May 9, 2008, 01:22 AM
In the limited experience that I have had with tritium sights, I have found that they work best in conjunction with a flashlight. If you keep the beam of the light away from the sights you can see their glow and also have enough light on a target to clearly identify it.

Wildalaska
May 9, 2008, 01:52 AM
The only thing I can figure is that the phosphorescent material is excited by the sunlight and glows enough that it helps you pick them up.
.

Its actually that saphire/white ring around the glass (I always use Trijis) that seems to get piucked up by my aging eyes...

I am really into the new Fiber optic tritium combos and am urging trijicon to do it...I am really a nudge too;)

You could test the theory by seeing if a phosphorescent paint (like superluminova) gives you the same results. If it does you could get the same effect for less $$

Money means nothing to WA :)

Besides I get em at cost ;)

Wildimsnaggingasig210johncoolhuhAlaska TM

JohnKSa
May 10, 2008, 12:41 AM
imsnaggingasig210johncoolhuhThey had some real beauties at the DACA gun show in Dallas. I must admit that's one gun I yearn for tragically...

DCJS Instructor
May 10, 2008, 09:25 AM
Low & Reduced Light Training

By: Tom Perroni

When people here the term “Low Light shooting” What they most often think of is shooting in the dark. While this is a bit misleading. At Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy “Low Light shooting” is using a flashlight in conjunction with a handgun to fight when the area you are in the light is low or reduced or non existent.

In the FBI’s (UCR) uniform Crime Report it tells us that 80% of all Law Enforcement shooting happen in low or reduced light. So as a Concealed Carry permit holder, do you carry a flashlight? Even if it is not dark outside could you be in an area of low or reduced light? EXAMPLES: Parking Garage, Stairwell, Hallway, Alleyway, closets, tunnels, etc. This report transfers to “citizen” CHP shootings as well. Perpetrators of street crimes are more active after sundown. So if you do carry a flashlight do you know how to use it?

“The fear of the dark works both ways; you will be better prepared if you train in low and reduced light.”

The first step is having the tools. You need a flashlight, but which one? Surefire, Mag Light, Min Mag, Asp Tactical Led, etc. Before you decide you need to know this:

What is the purpose of the Tactical Flashlight?

1. As an aid in low light navigation and movement.
2. Locate and identify and assess threats and innocents.
3. As a non lethal tool for controlling suspects and subjects.

The biggest question I get asked about flashlights is:
What is the difference between candlepower and lumens?
Lumens is what is used to specify the total amount of light coming from any light producing device, and candlepower refers to the highest value of the light intensity to be found anywhere in the lights "beam".
Lumens tell you how "powerful" the light-producing device is, be it a light bulb of any type, a flashlight, or a car headlight. Candlepower tells you how tightly focused the beam is, assuming the light source has a lens or reflector to focus the light into a beam.
Lumens can be measured quite accurately, using an instrument called an integrating sphere, and identical lights would all have similar lumen values. It is an important quantity to know when comparing different lighting products, as it tells you how much light each one produces.
Candlepower can also be measured accurately, using a light intensity meter to measure luminous intensity, and then by applying the appropriate formula, which takes into account how far, the meter is from the light source. The problem is that he value measured depends on where in the beam you take the measurement (the highest value found is what is normally used), and on how well the beam is focused. It is not unusual for candlepower values to vary greatly from unit to unit on otherwise identical lights due to small differences in focusing or reflector tolerances.
Ken Good from Strategos, Intl. www.strategosinternational.com put it this way:

Lumens verse Candlepower

“Lumen - Measurement of a quantity of light as perceived by the human eye. As a light source's color temperature increases, less light is required to achieve comparable brightness and visual acuity. The international unit to describe the quantity of light (also called luminous flux). – That’s why SureFire uses this as a standard benchmark for all of our illumination tools.

Candle Power (Candelas) Used by lighting designers to calculate the foot-candles illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in feet squared) or Lux illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in meters squared) Foot-candles -Measurement of light output in candela per square foot. It derives from the early English unit of foot-candle defined as the illuminance on a surface placed one foot from the standard candle. 100 foot-candles is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks. Lux - Measurement of light output in candelas per square meter. One lumen per square. 10 lux is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks.

These terms are useful to assist in determining the "signature" of the illumination tool you are speaking about. No one term will fully describe the overall usefulness or quality of the emission. For instance, you can have a light with a tremendous candlepower rating at one point in the pattern, but the rest of the pattern in not useful. I.E. dark spots, splotchy, and/or weak.”

The standard in the industry and the light used at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy is the Surefire G2. For about $30.00 you have a solid flashlight with about 65 lumens.

The next question I get asked is what about night sights? Or what kind do you use. In my opinion night sight are good in reduced light situations because they give you a visual reference of the front and rear sight and this can be helpful I teach my students not to shoot until they have identified the target. For this in a reduced light situation you need a flashlight, otherwise you are just shooting off into the dark. My (2) key night sigh points:


1. Excellent tool to locate the main aiming point of your handgun.
2. The sight is not the total answer to the problem; you must see and identify the threat first.

Remember: Night Sights assist you in aiming! However they do not assist you in:

 Identifying targets
 Navigating
 Searching


The flashlight is also useful for searching for subjects, as well as blinding them with light to shut down the OODA loop. As well as we said earlier target identification.

However there are (3) things one must learn before the refinement of techniques and tactics they are;

1. Reduce Telegraphing.
2. Be acutely aware of being in or creating a Backlit condition for you or your team.
3. Avoid blinding yourself or others.

Also realize that if you are in a gunfight in low or reduced light and you are using a flashlight that if the Bad Guy is armed and committed, they will fire directly into the source of light.

At that point you must distort your opponents perception of what is actually happening and where you are actual located. This is done by using the following:

1. Displacement
2. Angel of the Beam
3. Rhythm and duration

The reason this is so important is that you need to conceal your movement from your attacker. You need to train so that you can deploy both your flashlight and your handgun simultaneously and accurately. The shooter must be proficient with moving and shooting before they move on to moving and shooting in low light. Also remember running with a handgun or handgun and flashlight is bad.

I also stress one handed shooting and training with one hand and yes also working with the weak hand (Support Hand) as well. Because after all when you are shooting with a flashlight in your hand you are shooting one handed.

So with all that information let’s talk about Hand Gun Shooting Techniques in Low or Reduced Light. What follows are some examples of shooting Techniques that can be employed with a flashlight. However remember the Tactical Golden Rule what I am sharing with you is a way to do the technique not the way to do the technique. Review what follows with an open mind try each technique on the range but keep the one or ones that work best for you.
Rogers Technique: Light is held between the fingers and activated by pressing against palm of hand see picture below.



Harries Technique: Similar to Weaver stance, except the back of the support hand is pressed firmly against the back of the shooting hand. This enables the support hand to operate the flashlight while providing isometric stability to the shooting hand. See picture below.




Ayoob Technique: Simply thrust both the light and the gun out to approximate an isosceles position, with both thumbs touching. Ayoob teaches that if you place both thumbs together in horizontal alignment out to about seven yards the light will shine in the assailant's eyes while the handgun is indexed on his chest. See picture below.


FBI Technique: In the FBI technique, the flashlight is held away but much higher than the modified technique from the body with the non-weapon hand. The technique is simple but takes support away from the firing hand. See picture below.



Weapon Mounted Lights: I am not a huge fan of weapon mounted lights the advantages are Support hand can be free. It’s always there on the gun.

TheDisadvantage in my opinion are Searches, If you have a suspect at gunpoint how can you search for more suspects without taking the gun off the suspect?

In summary I would like to reiterate a few key points: (They are as follows)
Many flashlight techniques have been developed throughout the years. The ability to accurately engage targets in low-light conditions will always depend on the individual’s skill to shoot their weapon with one hand. An operator should learn a variety of flashlight techniques, and train on these techniques regularly. However, the foundation of low-light training will always be learning the skill required to shoot their weapon with one hand.

I have attempted to provide you nothing more than a skeleton of knowledge of how Flashlights & Night Sights work and a few Handgun Shooting Techniques. I urge you to do a few things:

1. Practice Shooting with one hand (both strong &support hand)
2. Practice shooting with your flashlight.
3. Draw, Move, Shoot, Communicate!
4. Shoot to stop the threat…or don’t stop shooting until there is no threat.
5. Get a quality flashlight carry it at all times.

We have a saying at my training school: "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option.
Always stay in condition yellow and when all else fails align the front sight and press the trigger and the button on your flashlight!”

Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!

Tom Perroni

Wildalaska
May 10, 2008, 09:43 AM
I must admit that's one gun I yearn for tragically...

Working the gun business has its advantages. ken gets first pick. :)


WildnowalligotstodoispayforitAlaska TM

JohnKSa
May 10, 2008, 11:56 AM
In my opinion night sight are good in reduced light situations because they give you a visual reference of the front and rear sight and this can be helpful.Do you have (or do you know of) any quantitative data showing the difference in performance with & without night sights in various lighting situations? I'd love to see something like that and I'm afraid I'm going to have to generate my own which will be a lot of work... :o

golf97
May 17, 2008, 11:08 AM
I'm a fan of being able to hit a man sized target without sights at all at the ranges one would engage targets with a handgun at.

If you can only use the night sights when its difficult to see your target, I would be more worried about positive id and other factors.

For these reasons I don't have night sights. I need to get me a good light.

They can also give away your position, if you're worried about things like that. I'm not.

Boris Bush
May 17, 2008, 12:55 PM
Based on my assessment, nightsights are perfect for you and anyone else in a situation that warrants firing accurately at unidentified targets.

JohnKSa

Even when I was in Iraq I NEVER fired at unidentified targets and our night time equipment is much better than tritium sights.....

Here in the USA I have no need for them. If time comes I need to ID a target I will use very bright white light that blinds and alows me to ID. If it is not a BG I do not fire, if it is then they just saw the light.

When we did hard knocks we used white light and the first reaction was to cover thier face, close eyes, and look away. If they needed shooting then they got what was coming to them, if not they were questioned and handled as needed from there.

Besides, we all should practice so much that when we point a pistol it should be like pointing your finger. If you need a visual aid to align your sights and practice alot, then your pistol does not fit you properly. At that point your problem is much bigger than a sight problem. Take it for what its worth, but thats my experiences with a dash of opinion.........

fastbolt
May 17, 2008, 03:18 PM
Some interesting thoughts, opinions and experiences posted in this thread.

Not everybody is likely ever going to agree on the usefulness of 'enhancements' when it comes to the aiming devices we use on handguns. Not unexpected.

During the first 15+ years of my LE career I wasn't exactly a proponent of tritium night sights. This including working days, afternoons, evenings, indoors, outdoors, bright sunshine, bad weather, using flashlights, patrol car lights, ambient lighting, etc. etc..

Sometime between approx years 15-20 I developed a respect for the occasional benefits to be experienced when using night sights in some situations.

That's also about the same time I realized that these benefits were seemingly present, or lacking, to various degrees among the different manufacturer's night sight offerings. Why should that be surprising? Just like anything else, right? ;)

I look at night sights as offering a balanced compromise.

They're useful in certain situations and circumstances.

Like all compromises, however, their 'benefits' may be negated in other situations, or even become 'disadvantages' in some situations.

For example, there are some production periods/designs where I do not find them as easily used as plain black or 3-dot (white) sights in conditions of outdoor/bright sunlight. This can vary with the user's vision a great deal, too. Two folks standing side-by-side may have exactly opposite opinions when trying the same weapon/night sight combination. They're each right ... for themselves.

Bottom line?

I don't think they were ever intended to be a 'replacement' for independent/supplemental light sources (like flashlights) and being able to clearly see your intended target. :)

In the third decade of my LE career I found many situations in which the night sights on my guns served a useful and immediately practical purpose ... for me.

In the 'right' circumstances, being immediately useful only ONCE might be well worth the investment.

When it came time to replace our aging inventory of issued weapons I suggested we consider the minimal added expense of ordering the weapons with night sights (new ones with nicely visible white rings surrounding the tritium capsule lenses :) ).

There weren't that many of our folks who even knew what night sights were when they learned their new weapons were equipped with them ... (come on, we're talking about cops, after all :p ) ...

But it also wasn't long before I started hearing feedback from some of our folks who discovered an immediate benefit to having them on their new guns, having had the opportunity to use them when weapons were drawn and presented during the course of their duties. Lots of pleased folks. Fine. That's why we decided to order them, after all. Seems to have worked out okay.

Nowadays a goodly number of my personally-owned handguns have been equipped with them, or ordered with them in the first place. Not all of them, by any means, but a goodly number of them.

I've come to prefer (not demand) to have the weapon chosen for potential night time HD to have at least a front post night sight, although I also keep at least one flashlight next to my sleeping mat. Night sights are nothing more than one type of enhanced sighting device.

It's still critical, however, to be able to SEE and IDENTIFY not only your intended target, but to understand what's 'downrange'. I prefer to emphasize using light sources for seeing what's out there beyond my weapon's muzzle ... and for employing that defensive/distracting (if only momentary) 'wall of light'.

Sarge
May 17, 2008, 04:10 PM
http://i186.photobucket.com/albums/x187/SargeMO/SPwMeps1.jpg

Meprolite dot on a Ruger SP101 (http://sargesrollcall.blogspot.com/2008/01/meprolites-front-sight-on-ruger-sp101.html)...made the gun a whole bunch easier to hit with in daytime shooting, too,

bikerbill
May 19, 2008, 01:50 PM
I've tried it both ways ... and I prefer night sights. My home is in a very dark area, no outside light coming in except perhaps moonlight ... we keep a small nightlight on near the kitchen but otherwise the house is dark ... I've tried moving through the house with a black-sighted revolver and it was very difficult to align the sights on a target. When I got my 1911, I ordered it with night sights; the same exercise is far easier ... knowing where your front sight is is, in my opinion, worth the cost. I train with a Surefire light and it's a huge advantage, but I'm not shining the light on a target steadily ... find the BG, blind him, light off, use the night sight to find the front sight and fire ... that's certainly not scientific research, but it works for me and makes me feel more confident in a shooting situation, if I'm ever unlucky enough to be involved in one.

Wuchak
May 19, 2008, 02:08 PM
I have them on my SP101 and while they aren't essential they can provide an extra edge in some SD situations. Since they are relatively inexpensive, last 10 years, and I have to carry a front sight anyways it might as well be one that could provide that extra advantage.

Targets can also be verified verbally in addition to visually. Only my wife and I live in my house. Our family is all 1300 miles away. Nobody but us have keys to the doors and the doors and windows are all locked at night. If there is someone in the house and my wife is next to me in bed then I have just identified the target.

Aqeous
May 19, 2008, 02:33 PM
Off topic but . . .

How about a laser sight instead if you are going to spend the money? Red dot falls on target in anything below normal daylight levels no questions asked. The down side of laser sights are that others can see it to, but in the scenarios mentioned, no ones going to notice a red dot in a fire fight.

P220C
May 21, 2008, 04:23 PM
I have tried meps and tijicons, and both work very very well. I would never carry a defensive weapon without them.

The advantages are many. Obviously, they aren't going to illuinate in all sitations, but I find that if I have the target illuminated with a surefire, and I am in the dark, the sights are glowing.

They can be used to quickly locate the gun in the dark whether on the dresser or closet or safe.

I can't imagine one good reason not to have them. It's kinda like a laser. You know there are limitations.

Use it when you need it, don't when you can't. There is no loss in utility to the weapon.

wayneinFL
May 22, 2008, 09:26 PM
I've noticed that although iron sights and targets are visible in daylight, practical shooters like the fiber optic sights because the bright red or green dots are easier to acquire than a dull iron sight.

Then why wouldn't it be desirable in low light situations to have bright green dots on your gun? Wouldn't it make it easier and faster to acquire a sight picture under stress?

As a matter of fact I got to experience this, and saw empirical evidence. We started shooting some of our IPSC matches at night in an indoor range in which the lights were set at the firing line and at 25 and 50 feet. We were shooting from in front of the firing line where it was relatively dark. I was shooting my Glock 30 with night sights and other shooters had their guns with fiber optic sights and plain old iron sights.

I placed significantly better in those darker matches with my sights glowing. My performance was better in relation to the other shooters because I could see my sights better.

wayneinFL
May 22, 2008, 09:33 PM
Looking back at my post I hope my point is not missed. Night sights are not necessary, but they are advantageous. Some may think their utility is not justified by the expense. For those I say great. Whatever floats your boat.

You can shoot anything you want with a $300 used glock or a revolver. Surely a glock or even a revolver is all that is necessary. Bullets come out and hit the target. But some people will spend the extra money for a good 1911, sig or h&k. Some wish to shoot better, by a certain margin for an added expense.

And lights are necessary, with or without night sights, IMO, any time it is too dark to see your target.

Sigma 40 Blaster
May 26, 2008, 11:43 PM
After a training class (I've started quite a few posts like that in the few days since I took it) I have a new way at looking at night sights and low light shooting. We had a three hour low light/dark shooting session to wrap up day one of training. We all had mini-lights and a few guys had night sights.

Before using the lights we did an interesting drill, our instructor told us to draw to ready, close our eyes, then present from ready and shoot (eyes still closed). Not one student in the class shot outside of the middle circle on the training target (about 6-8 inch circle in the upper chest area, not like most CHL targets). We repeated the drill four times from ready. We had a few people shoot some fliers but for the most part all shots were within that circle. We then repeated the drill from the holster a few times. Same results. Eyes closed every time.

We pasted targets and were taught how to use our flashlights. Results were not much different, in some cases worse because it took a little more thinking to get used to using the light in the manner we were told to (light in non-dominant hand, under non-dominant ear low enough not to get in peripheral vision) and shooting strong hand only.

To wrap up the night he had two guys with night sights and two guys without night sights go for head shots on the targets. There was absolutely no advantage to having the night sights, very little gained from having the flashlight.

In either case muzzle blast did not stop or slow down my shooting a bit, in fact it allowed me to adjust my shot a little bit (it was pitch black and I was shooting a .45 loaded with 225 grain bullets and 5.4 grains of 231).

In cases such as clearing the house and needing to identify targets a good light is invaluable but if you already know a target is a BG and you know the approximate location of the BG I don't think nightsights give you any advantage, in fact if a BG is behind you they know where you are and you likely don't know where they are.

pax
May 27, 2008, 12:02 PM
A large number of shooters never get a chance to shoot in low light at all, and so we can discount their posts on this thread. If you haven't, you haven't -- and that's no slight, simply an acknowledgement of the world for what it actually is.

Among those who have shot in low light, most have done it only once or twice, in extremely controlled and limited circumstances, with all the time in the world to shoot an unmoving cardboard target. This is light-years better than never having done anything in low light at all, but is still a long step from reality.

Some few folks have had a chance to work with moving targets in low light; others might have had a chance to engage multiple targets; others might have had a chance to move while shooting in low light. Each of these is a little closer to reality than shooting at a cardboard target while standing still, and each still leaves crucial elements out.

Rarest of all is the fortunate person who has a regular opportunity to practice in low and uneven lighting, with moving targets, while they themselves are also moving. There are two variants of this basic deal. You can use a true firearm to practice against a moving but unrealistic target such as a slider or swinger. Or you can practice against a living, breathing opponent using an unrealistic firearm such as Simunitions or Airsoft. Whichever variant you use, there's still an element of unreality.

The awful truth is that only reality is reality. Practice is not reality, and never will be. But we all try to get as close as we can.

What I know and have observed on the range:

1) Most folks who have solid basics do just fine in low light, when they are working with a static cardboard target on a static range at a distance of 4 or 5 yards.

2) Bad trigger pulls suck, whether in low light or full daylight.

3) A surprising number of people have no idea how to use a flashlight. I don't mean, how to use a flashlight plus a firearm; I mean, they don't know how to use a flashlight, and don't direct the beam at the target but instead splash the floor, walls, ceiling -- everywhere but the target. Probably early training from parents: "Cut it out! Never shine that thing in someone's eyes!!" I dunno. All I know is that it's amazing, the number of people who apparently have a mental block against directing the beam of light at the target.

4) In full daylight, everyone's trigger pulls go south the first time they try to shoot a moving target. In low light, that problem is even more pronounced. Most people suck at moving targets in low light. I mean, really and truly suck.

5) Almost nobody practices in uneven lighting, which is really what you can expect to deal with in real life. This one is worth thinking about.

6) It's all great to get a smooth silhouette of the gun on a smooth cardboard target, but in real life, the bg could be wearing anything from solid black to who-knows-what, zebra stripes maybe, or anything in between, and might be hiding behind a flowered couch or a textured grey curtain. Even if the lighting is even, and the bg in the open, there's still little chance that the visual cues you have on the range will be there when you're dealing with a moving target wearing normal human clothing. Again, this one is worth thinking about.

Me, I'll take every advantage I can get: I practice whenever I can, including getting together with range buddies to do FOF stuff in realistic surroundings. My gun is equipped with a laser and I know how to point shoot too. Night sights are "just another tool" -- but I hate that word just, because it implies that having another tool is not a valuable thing. This particular tool has no downsides and several potential upsides. So what's the deal?

Even though training is not real life, most people haven't even begun to push the limits of what can be practiced realistically. If you've practiced shooting in low light even once in your life, you've done scads better than folks who've never shot in dim lighting at all. But your experience is still a long way from reality, and that's an important thing to remember.

pax

Chui
May 27, 2008, 02:27 PM
I found only the front sight needs to be tritium and the rears need no white dots. But that's just me.

Sarge
May 27, 2008, 02:31 PM
I found only the front sight needs to be tritium and the rears need no white dots. But that's just me.


Same here, Chui. I don't even want them on the rear.

Sigma 40 Blaster
May 27, 2008, 07:33 PM
PAX,

I definitely see where you're coming from, and I am sure that my little weekend of playing commando has not prepared me to take on an army of BG's at night lol. In fact all it did was really open my eyes up to how much work I need to do to survive a "normal" defensive scenario.

I am going to try to get my club to invest in some kind of moving target (laterally at least) to give us all practice shooting at moving targets at all times of the day.

I'm not knocking night sights at all but I'd rather have a good bright flashlight any day of the week. Held in my non-dominant hand in brief flashes around shoulder/eye level to maybe give you an advantage. I think the brief flash part is important because you don't want to telegraph your position, and moving after shining it is a good idea to get out of dodge too.

I did have the pleasure of shooting a gun equipped with a laser during this night session and can honestly say I don't want to do it again. I'm sure I just need more practice and training with it but the natural tremor of your hands (I think everyone shakes just a little bit) and the way the light jumps around during recoil (again, this was probably my weakness, not the technique) actually slowed me down quite a bit. Not to mention I found myself focusing on the dot and the target vs. the handgun and the threat.

I guess my only point is that instead of investing in a set of Trijicons I think money would be better spent buying a good flashlight and ammo (if there's any change left that is) and heading out after dark. For me that is. Also working on your draw and presentation so that your sights are consistently aligned (left/right up/down) will eliminate a lot of uncertainty shooting at night so you know when you draw and present ABOUT where you're pointing (assuming you have identified the target and know the backdrop...if you can do that without light). At least within a 6 to 8 inch circle at up to 5-7 yards.

I also make a point to practice with silhouettes that are not white/black. I prefer the ones with scoring rings that fade into the background when you're not focused on them (rings are around the upper chest and window of the head around the eyes and nose only).

I will say that I think the disadvantages of night sights are:
1. They are bright. You align them on a target, your eyes are drawn to them. In pitch black it's worse, then comes the muzzle flash, then you're looking for that glow again instead of trying to align your sights by the muzzle flash.

2. They are bright. People behind you and beside you can see them just as well as you can. Hopefully you've made sure you are not in that position but hey, it is dark and you're not walking around with a flashlight beaming all over the place.

3. You get dependent on them. Until they are a factory accessory standard on everything but Sigmas and High Points you will have to make sure that you equip every weapon you might use in self defense with them.

But if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in the eyes of the individual then great. I know a lot of older guys who have to use them because their eyes just don't focus right on black/white standard sights. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I see their value but I'm afraid that a lot of people who have them believe that they are the end all be all solution for low light shooting. And as you said they are a tool, probably not the most important tool (my opinion only), but if they give you an advantage you'd be crazy not to use it.

WHEW. For anyone who bothered to read all that, Pax I'm interested to hear more about uneven lighting. Are you talking identifying targets in shadows (or you are in a shadow shooting into a light area)? That's an interesting twist that I never considered. Thank you for your in-depth response, you gave me a lot to think about. I'm still not ready to buy some night sights but I am looking at them from a different perspective. Not to mention I got some good ideas for some drills I'd like to work on.

threegun
May 28, 2008, 01:56 PM
As stated before they have no down sides and several up sides. I want every advantage I can afford from night sites to tactical training. For me the ability to engage a silhouette in total darkness without giving away my position is worth the 60 bucks. There are times when one knows that the dark mass is bad and in need of being stopped without using lights. You can have a positive id situation despite having to fire in total darkness.

MauiDoc
June 10, 2008, 12:31 AM
Filled the little divots on my .45 sights with Liquid Paper. Let it dry, scraped off the excess with my fingernail--warla! (as they say in France) Doesn't help in the absolute dark of night, but if there's any trace of light behind me, they do show up better than without. And it's cheap!!

Maybe I'll try glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty next!

Doggieman
June 10, 2008, 01:24 AM
I did that exact same thing with my Colt .45 when the little dots flew out of the sights after the very first shot. Seems to work, and you're right it reflects light surprisingly well.

IGO1320
June 10, 2008, 01:53 PM
I have night sights and find that I can aquire the sights much quicker in low light not just in the dark......off course my eyes are approaching 50 years of age....your experiance may differ. The missus and I shoot at an informal competition once a week and sometimes they turn the lights down low, so we do have some "practical" experiance using them.

SAWBONES
June 10, 2008, 06:06 PM
Basically, it seems that they are useful in a narrow range of lighting levels where a target can just be made out but it's too dark to align the sights, and also when you have a dark target against a light/lit background. Adding them to the pistol does provide improved capabilities in those situations, but really doesn't do anything for you if you have a flashlight or weapon light or if it's really dark.

I think that most folks would probably be better off buying a good quality flashlight and learning to use it properly. It's usually less expensive and offers more capability and versatility.


I agree.
Tritium night sights have a narrow ambient lighting range of usefulness.
They're certainly not the be-all and end-all of in-the-dark sighting that some have heralded them to be, but they're not useless either.
I can certainly live without 'em, and may well not replace them as they lose illumination on those guns I own which do have them (tritiated front sight only).

hkg3
June 12, 2008, 06:43 PM
I recently found a very good deal on night sights. At $52 for a set and free shipping, I jumped on it.

the "glow" feature of the sights wasn't visible,



:confused:



Well there’s yer problem. My tritium Novak (http://www.novaksights.com/genuine%20novak%20sights/colt_commander_&_government.htm) sites on my 1911 are CLEARLY visible in zero light. As are the tritium MMC (http://store.ptnightsights.com/index.php?p=product&id=71&parent=30) sites on my Vang Comp 870 (https://www.vangcomp.com/).

I understand the point of not being able to see the target, what difference does it make if you can see the sites. I also know if the BG gets behind you he can use your sites to identify YOU as a target. That said I’d take my night sights ANY time over non-tritium.

All I know is when I was on the night shoot at Gunsite (http://www.gunsite.com/) for my AZ CCW, I was the only one in the class with tritium sites, and I was the ONLY one in the class who got ALL his shots on target.

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a146/g3ka4/1911-a.jpg
http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a146/g3ka4/870.jpg

JohnKSa
June 13, 2008, 01:45 AM
The sights glow plainly in zero light--even in dim light. What I was saying was that when the target was clearly illuminated with a bright flashlight, the glow feature of the sights was swamped by the brightness of the light reflecting off the target--the sights looked like they were plain black.

hkg3
June 13, 2008, 08:10 PM
My bad. I thought you we’re saying your night sights didn’t glow very well, which of course I attributed to the $52 price. That’s what I get for skimming instead of reading. :rolleyes:

During the night shoot I could BARRRELY see the target edges, but the tritium sights made all the difference in the world for me. When we shot with flashlights, they were never used to illuminate the sights. They we’re used to identify and “blind” the target.

One tactic they taught I found interesting was to fire one shot at the target and use the muzzle flash to get a quick silhouette of your sights and then use that silhouette to adjust your fire.

Of course I didn’t find that lesson very useful. :D

willson73
June 28, 2008, 11:36 AM
I live alone, and all my friends and family know to call before they come over. And I lock my doors and windows securely.

Therefore, if there's a creature larger than a cat moving around in my house at night, it gets shot. Whether I can identify it or not.

Does: Be sure of your target and what's beyond it mean anything to you?

As a firefighter/EMT, this scares the hell out of me. If you're in a deep sleep, and we can't wake you by pounding on your door, your neighbor's house is on fire, and we know you're home (Someone tells us, we see your car, etc.) we might be the ones coming through your door to save your tail!

There are only four rules to safe handgun handling, if you can't follow all four, I believe you shouldn't be handling handguns!:mad:

Jermtheory
June 29, 2008, 10:00 PM
Wouldn't it make it easier and faster to acquire a sight picture under stress?

exactly...

it seems alot of folks hear "night sights" and think "being able to see your sights in the dark".for me much of it isnt if i can see my sights,but how fast.i find i can acquire my sights much faster in low-light with the tritium...before im even in position to fire.


Me, I'll take every advantage I can get: I practice whenever I can, including getting together with range buddies to do FOF stuff in realistic surroundings. My gun is equipped with a laser and I know how to point shoot too. Night sights are "just another tool" -- but I hate that word just, because it implies that having another tool is not a valuable thing. This particular tool has no downsides and several potential upsides. So what's the deal?


sums things up nicely.

mes228
June 30, 2008, 07:00 PM
I've had many pistols with night sights. I have not liked any. All have been inferior to just a simple white or gold bead. I consider them a total waste of money that would be better spent on ammo, holsters, targets etc. I have spent more removing night sights and replacing them than I care to think about. To me night sights are proof of the herd instinct in humans. I can't believe the market exist. It may just be me, as I feel the same about rails on pistols. Seems counter to common sense to have a finely balanced, quick, defensive pistol. Then think of hanging heavy weight off the business end. Not to mention the target aspect of a light on the firearm. I'm old enough to remember schools teaching a light held in the off hand at arms length. Still makes sense to me. Just the thoughts of an old curmudgeon.