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Old November 8, 2014, 04:50 PM   #1
s1mp13m4n
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Help understanding gun sights (newbie question)

Hello everyone. I own one gun. It is a Ruger SR9c, and i love it. The stock sights are fine but I would like more contrast and brighter sights. The stock white dot on the front sight burnt off while shooting 100 rounds through the gun at the range. Paint also burns off. I would like to upgrade, but not sure what is right for me. Can you folks explain the pros and cons of fiber optic and tritium? Can you help me understand if my handgun is a DIY sight replacement job or will I need a gunsmith? The purpose for this gun is a jack of all trades. It is my concealed EDC gun, home defense, and range gun. Thank you for the help.
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Old November 8, 2014, 06:49 PM   #2
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You'll get a better, more permanent and better-looking job if you have it done at a gunsmith, but, as long as you have some of the proper tools for staking and moving the sights, there's no reason you couldn't do it yourself. A fibre-optic sight takes the light that's already out there and makes it look like the dots are "glowing" (usually a fluorescent colour), but tritium sights actually produce their own light, so they don't need any external light to shine.
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Old November 8, 2014, 07:12 PM   #3
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Ruger SR9c sights

Which is brighter in a lit situation? How long before the tritium sights stop glowing? Do the sights grow dim over time?
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Old November 8, 2014, 08:00 PM   #4
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The stock white dot on the front sight burnt off while shooting 100 rounds through the gun at the range.
That's really strange. I've shot more than 1000 rounds in a single day through pistols with white front sights and the white dot on the front sight was just fine. I rarely shoot fewer than 100 rounds through a gun in a range trip and I've never had a white dot burn off.

Is your gun ported? If not, it's far more likely that it has accumulated smoke/carbon from the discharge smoke. Try wiping it down with solvent and a paper towel or rag.

Tritium sights will fade over time. Generally you can expect them to last 10 to 15 years. They will probably still glow somewhat after that timeframe but they are going to be much dimmer.

Fiber sights are usually much brighter than tritium but that's only true if there's ambient light for them to collect and channel. If it's really dark, fiber sights don't glow at all. Tritium sights aren't bright enough to be seen in normal light but glow nicely even in total darkness.
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Old November 8, 2014, 08:35 PM   #5
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s1mp13m4n
Ruger SR9c sights
Which is brighter in a lit situation? How long before the tritium sights stop glowing? Do the sights grow dim over time?
In a lighted area, fiber optic sights are much brighter than night sights.
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Old November 8, 2014, 08:59 PM   #6
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Thank you

Thank you for the help. I am trying to learn as this is my first and only gun. I am trying to decide between new sights or Crison Trace laser for my Ruger. I too thought the front sight may have been dirty. However, hoppe's Elite did not get it of if they were dirty. I was using American Eagle fmj ammo in the gun. I am looking at the total cost of sights and gunsmith instal cost vs. the laser.
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Old November 8, 2014, 10:23 PM   #7
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I just don't get it. I've shot an SR9c, my nephew owns one. Over the course of a couple of days, we put a couple hundred rounds through it without having any negative effect on the sights.

Is it possible you're using some kind of harsh solvent or cleaning method that's washing the paint off the sights? I don't mean the Hoppes Elite, I'm talking about maybe some kind of a parts cleaner dunk, ultrasonic cleaner, metal brush, or maybe a strong solvent spray.

I can tell you with a very high level of confidence, that the white dots on front sights do not burn off after shooting only a couple of boxes of ammo. They don't even burn off after shooting several thousand rounds. Even with a ported gun, it's very unusual to see the front sight have anything happen to it other than to see it accumulate some carbon buildup.

Something strange is going on. It's possible that the white dot is coming off the front sight, but I'm confident that it's not burning off as the result of 100 rounds of use.
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Old November 9, 2014, 09:45 AM   #8
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Comparing fiber optics to tritium the fiber optic are brighter in daylight, even if under a roofed over firing point. They also "automatically" adjust for changing lighting outdoors as they use whats ambient to produce the "glow".

In the really dark, like twilight/dusk or night the tritium glow is easier to see. In daylight its way dimmer than fiber optics. Its brightness is fixed by the illumination level of the tritium & phosphors used.

Fiber optics last forever (or until one of the rods gets lost ) Tritium slowly dims to about 1/2 the original brightness level in 12~15 years & continues to dim very slowly after that.

Not the same gun but this is my fiber optic setup on a revolver to give you an idea.

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Old November 9, 2014, 12:40 PM   #9
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Thank you for the help. That fiber optic sight picture is nice. That helps answer my question. You are probably right about my front sight. All I know is that the white dot is not there anymore. Hoppe's Elite, and soft bristle tooth brush, and a microfiber cloth is used on the slide. Are the dots a stick on? I really do like this gun a lot.
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Old November 9, 2014, 01:47 PM   #10
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Many are drilled out a little to create a dimple, then filled with a paint. The dimple protects the paint from abrasion. (or is supposed to)

Forgot this earlier some makers of tritium sights do a replacement vial program when it dims.
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Old November 9, 2014, 07:47 PM   #11
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Forgot this earlier some makers of tritium sights do a free replacement vial program when it dims.
Trijicon is the only one I know of who offers a vial replacement service, but it's only for their sights, and it's not free unless it fails under warranty
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Old November 10, 2014, 09:17 AM   #12
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Correct, sorry, didn't mean to mislead.
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Old November 10, 2014, 06:28 PM   #13
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Here's an interesting thought... Are there sights that have BOTH Tritium and Fiber?
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Old November 10, 2014, 06:48 PM   #14
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Old November 11, 2014, 10:43 AM   #15
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Are there sights that have BOTH Tritium and Fiber?
Yes, but they are more for rifles needing to mount to a rail. They look more like a red dot tube scope than handgun sights. They are also very expensive.
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Old November 11, 2014, 10:54 AM   #16
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TFO = tritium fibre optic
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Old November 11, 2014, 04:59 PM   #17
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Here's an interesting thought... Are there sights that have BOTH Tritium and Fiber?
Yes, Truglo TFO. I don't have any personal experience with them but most people who have them seem to really like them. One negative is that they are really long compared to other sights, but that may or may not be an issue for you. They probably are not quite as durable as a steel tritium sights either. They also come in a yellow/green configuration.

http://www.truglo.com/firearms-handg...30C1841BDD3D5E

Sights are just as much a personal preference as the gun itself, so if you can try to see a few in person before buying. Lastly, you "can" install sights yourself but it can be difficult and you risk damaging them without the proper tools. Gun stores that sell sights will often put them on for free if you purchase from them, otherwise a gunsmith should be able to do for $10-$20.
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Old November 12, 2014, 12:23 PM   #18
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Painted dots fall out all the time. Here's the cure:

Go to an Art Store or Industrial Supply, and buy a "Metal marking Pen" - its like a Sharpie that dispenses paint. Look for a white pen.


Once you get home, clean your front sight with some solvent. Shake up your metal marking pen- they have a ball bearing inside them like an aerosol can does. Using a business card stab the metal marking pen against the business card- this causes the pen to dispense paint. You'll want to do this a few times until the thicker paint comes out. using a toothpick pick up a blob of pain and drop it in the recess of your front sight. Keep the gun oriented about 45 degrees-muzzle-down for 24 hours while the paint cures.

As you progress in this sport you might want to try blacking out all of the dots on your sights with some Birchwood Casey Sight Black- it's like soot in a can. You can use it, then wipe your gun down with an oily rag and the sight black comes right off. I find the all-black sight picture easier to use than dots, bars etc.

Last edited by Slopemeno; November 12, 2014 at 01:41 PM.
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Old November 12, 2014, 04:32 PM   #19
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Even better is the "solid Paint" type sticks, just schmear in wipe off surface & wait to dry. They used to come in many colors, White, yellow, orange, red blue green & black.

IIRC Brownells has black & white ones.
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