View Full Version : I feel real stupid!!!

December 13, 2012, 05:48 PM
I just found out that the tritium night sights are a chemical reaction. I have been trying to "recharge" the glowing each night under my desk lamp. Anyone else guilty of this mistake?


December 13, 2012, 06:23 PM
I could be wrong (and if I am I am sure that someone with science credentials will correct me), but I do not think that it is a "chemical" reaction inasmuch as the emitted light is due to nuclear decay, i.e., radiation.

December 13, 2012, 08:25 PM
Yeah, I've been told they are radioactive. :eek:

Don H
December 13, 2012, 08:42 PM
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Tritium gas is inserted in a glass tube or vessel, the inside of which is coated with a phosporescent material, and then sealed. The electrons released by the beta decay of the tritium excites the phosphorescent material and causes it to glow. As the tritium decays, it releases decreasing amounts of electrons and the sights gradually dims. I believe most tritium sight makers guarantee their sights as being usable for a period of about 12 years. The Meprolight sights I have are sufficiently bright that I can read a book or a newspaper a few words at a time if I move the sights along the line of type once my eyes become sufficiently accustomed to the dark.

December 13, 2012, 08:54 PM
Now I'm scared!

Don H
December 13, 2012, 10:17 PM
Safer than radium.

December 14, 2012, 12:53 AM
Tritium is, in fact, completely safe unless you release the tiny amount of tritium from the carefully sealed and sturdy vial and then inhale it, eat it, or get it in a cut or other part of you not properly protected by intact skin.

It is true that it is much safer than radium, the two are not even in the same category. The most common isotope of radium is an alpha emitter and puts out gamma radiation.


"Tritium is a very low energy beta emitter and even large amounts of this isotope pose no external dose hazard to persons exposed. The beta radiation cannot penetrate the outer protective dead layer of the skin of the body. The major concern for individuals working with this isotope is the possibility of an internal exposure. Such an exposure may occur if an individual contaminates bare skin, accidentally ingests the material, or breathes it in the form of a gas or vapor."

December 27, 2012, 12:16 PM
Standing in the hot sun for about ten minutes will possibly give you more radiation damage then those sights ever could in a lifetime (if it never left your side). People forget how dangerous the sun is :)

December 27, 2012, 10:20 PM
The only time its dangerous is if its got you lined up as a target.

Think my trijicon says itll be half as bright in 12-15 years.