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Old August 12, 2011, 10:26 PM   #1
dyl
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Night shooting aids contradictory?

So I went and got my first EDC light, a Jetbeam BA-10. I know I know - made in China! Someday I will buy our expensive flashlights

There are some issues that I've heard floating around that seem contradictory as I was trying out the light in the house at night.

Many people feel tritium sights are a must to shoot straight at night.
Many people feel a flashlight is a must to identify the target at night.
It is probably better to have both (the more tools the better ).

It seems like you could do with just a flashlight for this reason: in the bright beam of a flashlight, pistol sights can be used as traditional iron sights as they are backlit. The non-tritium 3 dot format probably won't be so helpful at that time unless you backlight yourself (bad). And considering how bright flashlights can be - is it possible to notice the subtle glow of tritium sights when a flashlight is on?

That last sentence is a genuine question because I don't have tritium sights and am curious.

I've seen advocates of shooting techniques where the defender will momentarily flash the light, shoot, and then move. Or flash the light, move, and then shoot. I don't quite remember which it was but another question about that involves tritium sights - for those with tritium sights - do you find that your eyes can transition from the bright light of a lit target to the soft glow of 3 dots of tritium?

And the last issue I'd like to bring up for discussion throws another variable in the mix. Muzzle flash. Some folks are pretty concerned about muzzle flash and it influences their loads, caliber or even revolver vs. pistol. We're concerned about it blinding us. If such a short flash can blind us, it would seem that once someone turns on their flashlight they are deliberately sacrificing their "night vision" for the remainder of the encounter and are dependent on the flashlight. - oh but wait - it's crucial to be able to identify a target clearly. So it seems that if you are equipped with a flashlight and intend to use it at all, muzzle flash is no longer an issue - as the flash is probably not brighter than a clearly lit target.

To sum it up we've got some issues here that may or may not play well together. Flashlight vs. night sights vs. muzzle flash vs. the need to ID the target. I didn't mention lasers because I do believe I could see the red laser even in the hotspot of my light as they're a bit brighter than tritium - plays well with flashlight.

I can imagine 1 situation where I may feel like I do not need to ID a target well enough to make out facial features - if I hear someone shouldering the door down at night - or more likely breaking through the glass in the door to reach the lock. If they do not respond verbally, my wife is asleep next to me (or awake), and I can make out their silhouette, this may be incorrect but I feel like I would not necessarily need to know more to consider a shot. (Does anyone want to propose a hearing impaired drunkard who got an address mixed up and intends to sleep in my bed but is coordinated enough to Break in + Enter? )

So - any thoughts? Any particular situations where you find some of your night-shooting aids more or less helpful?
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Old August 12, 2011, 10:44 PM   #2
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Local SHeriff department changed over to...

new pistols. THe Dept. Trainer and I were members of local gun club after a .22 league shoot, he stayed over and doused the interior lights of range and kept a single lamp lit in the kitchen and closed door till hel;d open by a door stop.

He & I talked abit to get use to the lo-light situation. He fired a mag from his new sidearm and let me try a half mag.

Basic instructions were to keep the target is view and keep the sights aligned and in the bottom of the sight picture.

He was impressed that my group was low but centered on the paper.

Since then I have keep neon nite lights on in corners of rooms at the house.

Remember they are an AID not a complete solutions.

I've always had good night vision even at age 58.
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Old August 13, 2011, 01:30 AM   #3
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I've done quite a bit of night paintball, and night shoots- our indoor league did quite a few night shoots.

The worst offender I found for flash was standard .38 Special fired from a 4" revolver. .38 Super fired from a comp gun had way, way less flash, as did .45 from a comp gun. Standard .45 ACP in a 5" gun was no big deal at all. 12 gauge varied- with some heavy game loads having a large dull orange football sized flash.

I use a bright flashlight sparingly- on, ID, fire, off, move. I've considered putting a tritium bead on my defensive shotgun, but you need to identify the target and what's behind it.
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Old August 13, 2011, 04:43 AM   #4
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When I took my last low light class, several of us did not have night sights. If there was enough light to identify the target as a 'shoot', there was enough to see the sights. And us guys without night sights were shooting comparable groups the the ones we shot earlier in the daylight.

Remember it is seldom 'pitch black' anywhere. There is usually some ambient light. Some of my older pistols still have night sights on them, but I haven't put any on my newer guns. I doubt I'll be replacing the older ones when they give out.
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Old August 13, 2011, 09:38 AM   #5
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You did not mention the circumstances under which you might need to act in low light. Are you L.E. or merely concerned about defending your home?

First, all homeowners should leave a light on somewhere so that the home isn't pitch black. There is always sufficient ambient light in my home that I can tell a family member from an intruder. If you really believe an intruder has entered your home, the tactic that gives you the greatest chance of winning is to remain absolutely motionless behind cover and to let the intruder find you. If you're sure an intruder is present, call the police. They have the manpower and experience to conduct an effective sweep. Once you attempt a sweep with your expensive handgun and gun-mounted light, you hand the tactical advantage over to your adversary. If I'm the intruder, I'll go motionless and wait for you to walk into my sights.

Low light training is an essential part of any training program. One technique we used was to use the momentary muzzle flash to see our sight picture and make corrections. Low light shooting competence, combined with proper tactics, will help you win. But, allowing low light situations to lure you into a tactical error means you'll be the one leaving under a sheet.
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Old August 13, 2011, 10:20 AM   #6
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Night sights can give a slight edge, crimson trace grips are excellent and a flashlight is excellent if used properly. About using your muzzle flash, not I. Agree that night shooting/training is a must with everyone or it should be
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Old August 13, 2011, 12:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
dyl

Night shooting aids contradictory?
So I went and got my first EDC light, a Jetbeam BA-10. I know I know - made in China! Someday I will buy our expensive flashlights

There are some issues that I've heard floating around that seem contradictory as I was trying out the light in the house at night.

Many people feel tritium sights are a must to shoot straight at night.
Many people feel a flashlight is a must to identify the target at night.
It is probably better to have both (the more tools the better ).
I think that Tritium sights' main utility is in "low light" situations when you can identify the threat from a non-threat with only the ambient light. The Tritium sight make front sight acquisition and sight alignment a bit faster in that situation (without a flashlight).

In "no light", very low light, back lit target situations (all you can detect is a silhouette) or other situations where it is impossible to identify friend from foe without some extra illumination; a flashlight is a must. In these situations the flashlight over-rides the utility of the Tritium's glow because the flashlight is likely to be so much brighter than the Tritium so that it is not bright enough to be seen (as you stated in your OP).

Neither Tritium sights nor laser sights help you identify friend from foe if there is not enough light to do so. With both types of sights you still need a flashlight in situations where you need extra illumination to identify your target.

I would not call having both Tritium/laser sights and a tactical flashlight contradictory. I would call it having a choice of tools to meet a variety of situations.

Edited for clarity
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Old August 13, 2011, 12:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
It is probably better to have both (the more tools the better ).
Being trained to use the tools is the most important thing. There are situations where a flashlight will help. There are situations where night sights will help. Training in low light will teach you when to use what.
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Old August 13, 2011, 01:31 PM   #9
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I believe lasers are a great aid. I'n darkness and daylight. Here's another stupid person now gonna say flashlights are good and tritium night sights but not lasers because they don't show you friend or foe. How much light does night sight throw out there? Like someone said, the more people you talk to the more I like my dog!!!!
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Old August 13, 2011, 01:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
So - any thoughts?
You haven't actually tried shooting in low light/no light yet, have you?

Here is a thread where JohnKSa did some fun testing at my place.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ht=night+sight

I can say from personal experience that seeing one's sights in silhouette by backlighting with a flashlight (hence illuminating the target) can be an extremely slow acquisition process to get right, especially if there are dark objects in the field of view and if your target is dark, such as wearing a dark shirt.

Quote:
I've considered putting a tritium bead on my defensive shotgun, but you need to identify the target and what's behind it.
Yep, and you need to actually know that your gun is properly aimed at your target. People spend too much time trying to find the front post inside of the gutter of the rear pistol sights, line up with the front side to the outside of the rear sight gutter, or aligning on a front sight guard (AR15) instead of the front sight post. If you have a lot of time (time being potentially very critical in a SD situation), then you can do the searching for the sights and their alignment without consequence.
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Old August 13, 2011, 04:11 PM   #11
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Two of my favorite carry guns have night sights but I'm not sure my next new one will. An old duty gun is on it's second set, first faded out after several years but second set seems to be doing better. Early models were only expected to last about five years, they're doing better now. Another set is on my "road trip" gun and they're getting a bit old as well. Other than the low-light situation I've found they have one other advantage; it's very comforting to wake up in a strange motel room or hunting bunkhouse and have those three little "eyes" looking back at you from the nightstand.
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Old August 14, 2011, 06:17 PM   #12
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ah-ha. Good discussion.

I've picked up a couple of things from you all
1) a distinction between low-light (where you hopefully can ID) vs. No-light.
2) the advantage of staying put in the event of a home invasion. - I have heard of this a lot and it makes sense to me. I just hadn't heard the concept applied to lights and night sights together. If someone really doesn't have to secure anyone else in the house and does stay put, that kind of cuts down on the necessity of a light in my mind. - by just a bit though. I suppose it is still the responsibility of the defender to ID an unknown target before things are taken to the next level - even if you stay put/wait to do it.

jroth - That's a good idea to create your own "low light" condition in your house - much more preferable than no-light. I've got a little bit of that going on in the kitchen but in no other rooms and not in the hallway - yet.

slope - I usually carry a snubby for EDC and it does make some fireballs. It's not my HD gun though. I don't seem to be concerned about muzzle flash as some others - maybe I'm underestimating muzzle flash. I'm not convinced right now that muzzle flash could really blind me. Well, not in daylight, nor low-light but MAYBE in no-light. I guess as you mentioned it really would be best to have a light in no-light anyhow.

smince - I suppose that's the general opinion I had at the start of the discussion. I read DoubleNaught's link and I hadn't considered speed as a factor. (since I didn't think I'd be able to see tritium and a lit target at the same time... still not sure if it was answered but I'm leaning towards "yes")

federali - nope, I'm not LE so thankfully I won't really ever be "forced" to clear an area unless my wife/children-to-be are unaccounted for. I guess I'd better have some ambient light and a way to ID in that case! I agree about remaining motionless. Makes sense.

farmer- yeah I'm also not too keen about using muzzle flash as a light source but my guess is this: maybe federali was talking about a situation where the shooting had already started and you just had to make do. Hopefully it won't come down to that!

okay this is taking too long!

DoubleNaught - "You haven't actually tried shooting in low light/no light yet, have you?" the lowest-light shooting I've done has been at a pretty shabby indoor range. Illumination was something like a 60W bulb at the 7 yard and 25 yard line. None behind the shooter! The tinted window behind the shooter provided the light. Pretty dim. No ventilation. So I don't know if that counts. What I didn't have for sure was any tritium sights, an EDC light, or a healthy fear of muzzle flash. But if I had tried even lower-light shooting I might still have the same questions I had to create this post since I still don't have tritium sights. I read the link - good stuff! Thanks for the info! Speed and misses - a great idea to quantify these things.

And as a side-note: in about a week I'll be getting a snubby with a tritium dot on the front sight (but not the back?!). I guess I'll get to see the utility of it.

Anyone have any accounts of really being affected by muzzle flash? Is it really a concern compared to low-light or flashlight conditions?
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Old August 14, 2011, 06:35 PM   #13
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I prefer Laser and separate flashlight Minimum streamlight.



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Old August 14, 2011, 08:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
DoubleNaught - "You haven't actually tried shooting in low light/no light yet, have you?" the lowest-light shooting I've done has been at a pretty shabby indoor range. Illumination was something like a 60W bulb at the 7 yard and 25 yard line. None behind the shooter! The tinted window behind the shooter provided the light. Pretty dim. No ventilation. So I don't know if that counts. What I didn't have for sure was any tritium sights, an EDC light, or a healthy fear of muzzle flash. But if I had tried even lower-light shooting I might still have the same questions I had to create this post since I still don't have tritium sights. I read the link - good stuff! Thanks for the info! Speed and misses - a great idea to quantify these things.
Thank JohnKSa for that...but me for the link.

The thing about low light situations is that they are rarely, if ever, as uniform as shooting at a range. Your target will likely be moving amongst a gradient of lighting changes if not actual binary changes (low light to shadow in the dark). The target will have colors that may or may not blend as camoflage or serve to distract the eye. You may be moving as well across lighting changes. So do keep all that in mind.

Also, if you are shooting at an indoor range with no ventilation, you are poisoning yourself. That is a very bad thing to do.
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Old August 15, 2011, 03:09 AM   #15
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I've said this on other threads, but here goes:

Get a couple of gas blow-back Airsoft guns as close to your CCW as possible and a like-minded training partner. The best way to find out what works and doesn't is to test it force-on-force against an actual living person instead of cardboard.
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Old August 15, 2011, 08:29 AM   #16
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That will help for many of the issues, but will not simulate the smoke produced from firing that can be a greater hinderance than most people realize. As JohnKSa noted in his testing, smoke that is all but invisible in daylight will reflect back a lot of light in low light shooting when using flashlights.
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Old August 15, 2011, 12:51 PM   #17
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Your night vision decreases quite a bit after the muzzle flash from your gun shrinks your pupils.

Turning on the lights, if you're at home, might be a good idea. Being able to turn on your house lights from your bedroom is a good thing as well. We leave a light on in the kitchen to prevent toe stubbing when we go for a midnight snack, It doubles as a back light for anyone in the main part of the house.
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Old August 15, 2011, 12:56 PM   #18
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Light gradient is interesting. One of the things we used to do when we played a lot of night paintball was to park our cars with the engines running/lights on along the long axis of the field- about the size of a football field, with the lights shining in across the field. The light-shadow-light made it difficult to pick up people, and you had to be cautious about where you looked to preserve your night vision. It was a ton of fun as well.
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Old August 25, 2011, 09:09 PM   #19
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GUESS WHAT

Hey all, I haven't been keeping up with the discussion because....(drum roll)

My M&P 340 came in!!! So now I do have tritium in the house. There's an XS dot sight with tritium inside on the front instead of a ramp.

I'll tell you what, it's brighter than I thought it would be.
Before I had thought it would only be good in pitch black - that might be because no matter how many pictures I've looked at on the internet, maybe cameras don't capture them quite right.

Smince: sounds like nothing beats trying it out for yourself (safely of course). I guess I'll be looking at airsoft snubbies then - that sounds fun and sobering.

Double Naught, Slopemeno - light gradient: man, why do you have to complicate (make realistic) everything? Good point, I can see why simply going for COM is such a popular school of thought - and colors/lighting can even confuse someone's assessment of COM. I think it would for me anyhow.

I stopped going to that range without lighting/ventilation. It was $10/hour which was cheap - and it was never crowded (bet I know why). But then I found a much nicer range that was $15 for unlimited time - usually it's my ammo supply that limits my session though. That range was pretty busy.
And then I moved. And look what I find here: a $10/hour indoor range with excellent lighting and ventilation, and an electric target moving system. Only 5 lanes though. I need to go to an outdoor range someday

After some experimenting with my tritium front sight I find:
1) it does not need to be pitch black for the tritium dot to be visible
2) My eyes don't have to be adjusted to "night vision" in order to see the tritium
3) because of #2: I find that after short bursts of my flashlight I can immediately focus on the front sight again.

Some "less than perfect" news: only the front sight has a dot tritium insert. With this particular sight I can see the green glow from just about any angle up to about 10-20 degrees short of perpendicular. That combined with a lack of reference to the rear notch it's harder to tell if I'm aiming well in very low light and probably would need my flashlight on. Guess I won't be cutting any cards in two with this thing

I know, I'm morally obligated to post pictures. We'll see if I feel up to figuring out that can o worms.

Peace.
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Old August 27, 2011, 05:15 PM   #20
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Training, Training, Training

The use of night shooting aids such as lasers, gun-mounted lights, tritium sights, etc. are all valid provided you first master low light shooting without artificial aids. At the public range where I often shoot, I see guys run out a silhouette target and attempt to fire, except the laser dot isn't out there---they didn't activate the laser, the battery is dead, installed upside down, missing, set too low etc. What follows is an attempt by the shooter to find the dot rather than try to simulate a failure drill and immediately go to conventional or traditional low light shooting techniques by looking over the sights.

As a retired professional firearms instructor, my advice is to use whatever aid you feel will help you win, then train with it and also engage in failure training. Condition yourself to engage the target rather than look for the little dot. Same with gun lights. Do you have a plan B should the light not go on? No plan B? No win.
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Old August 29, 2011, 10:16 AM   #21
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Well said federalali! Right on
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