I routinely get asked by students in defensive handgun classes what sights are recommended for their handguns. Of course, there is no one right answer but some reasonable arguments can be made in favor of some sights over others. The majority of instructors at Semper Fi Gun Training have either plain black sights or blacked out sights. Why black out an easy to see, possibly really expensive, sighting system?! I must be nuts. Maybe. Then again, maybe I just like things simple.
Not All Sights are Made Equal
There is about a 1mm reason why we do it. In the picture, you can see my work gun on the right and another one of my favorite guns on the left. There is actually a bit of space between what attracts your eye and the top of the post on the left front sight (red arrow). The bullet will actually go where the top of the sight post ends up as the shot breaks, not where your optic is located. Sometimes, that small difference on your front sight can make a big difference on your target.
You have probably noticed this before but may not have thought much about it. Or, maybe you have but decided it was not an issue for you. That’s fine. For me, I want to know that when I point in at a target, my front sight is going to be right where I expect it and bullet is going to go exactly where I last saw my front sight. I do not want even the smallest space between where my eye is focused and the top of the sight. This is the reason I use black sights.
Use What Works for You
There are all kinds of great sighting systems you can install on your handguns. Some are really bright and really help aging eyes find the sights. Others really make it obvious where your sights are in low-light or even pitch black night. Of course, that’s also when most bad things like gunfights are likely to happen as well. So, you may think, why risk not being able to see your front sight in low/no light situations.
Training Tips to Avoid Expensive Optics
Fair point. There are two things I do regularly to prepare for the time when I will need the front sight in a low/no light situation. A good flashlight with easy thumb switch is part of my everyday carry gear, right up there with car keys and wallet. If you’ve ever trained in low-light or no light with a flashlight, one thing becomes very clear. The front sight! It is highlighted better than any expensive optic in the peripheral light of a flashlight. So is the bad guy!
The second thing I do in case the front sight is not visible is practice my natural point of aim. It’s rare that you cannot see anything at night so you will likely make out an outline of your target. Now this isn’t the ideal situation but having to defend yourself doesn’t usually happen in ideal circumstances. If it comes to that though, I want to know that my sights are going to be on target whether I clearly see them or not. Your natural point of aim is where the gun wants to go when you present to target. You can find this by closing your eyes and presenting to the target. Everything in your presentation stays the same except your eyes are closed. This takes some practice but will add more depth to your defensive handgun toolkit if you prepare.
PS: Please remember to open your eyes again after practicing your natural point of aim! You may need to see what’s going on!