What Do You Know About Sights?

In trending towards simplicity, I briefly discussed my change in sight preferences over time and I thought that concept deserved a little more discussion.

Typically, I would make it a multi-part series starting with how to use sights, then discuss the different styles of sights, and things to consider when selecting sights… yada, yada, yada.  But while I still reserve the right to circle back and discuss that topics (and I probably will), I decided to jump forward and talk about the “decorations” that are on the sights first.

Post and Notch

As we progress forward, you will notice that every sight that I discuss is based on the standard “post and notch” sight and this silhouette should be what you are concerned with before breaking the shot.  Because of this, none of these sights would be any more or less accurate than any of the others.

Post and Notch

Post and Notch

These all black, iron sights have the least amount of clutter and are favored by many professional shooters and nearly all shooters that are concerned with accuracy 1st, like bullseye shooters.

“3 Dot”

Likely the most common sights found on most handgun is the “3 Dot” sight.  Proponents of this sight say that it is easy to line up the three dots quickly.  Critics, argue that not only is it difficult to line up 3 dots, it is hard to ensure that they are horizontal, it is hard to ensure that they are equidistant apart and it can be difficult to identify which one is the front sight quickly.

“3 Dot” - 1
“3 Dot” - 2

I have a little more faith in a shooters ability to index on a target and memory of what I sight picture is than to think they they will somehow line up the 3 dots Rear-Rear-Front and shoot significantly to the right of the target, but I still don’t care for them.

A shooters focus when using the sights should be on the front sight and anything that draws your attention to the rear sight is bad in my opinion.

For me, things get worse with most night sights that put a white circle around the Tritium tube because there is even more going on visually in the sight picture.

A standard black “post and notch” sight gives you positive references for both windage and elevation in the crisp, straight lines of the sights profile.  Shooters using 3 dot sights can have a tendency to look only at the dots and the curved shape makes it difficult to identify the extreme edges of the dots.

Glock “Cup and Ball”

The Glock “Cup and Ball” sight might be my least favorite sight of all (but a lot of people make it work).  With this system the idea is that for fast shots, you put the ball in the cup and press the trigger.

Glock “Cup and Ball”

Glock “Cup and Ball”

Since the ball does not extend all the way to the top of the post, I typically shoot high, because I use the top of the ball as a surrogate for the top of the sights and line it up with the top of the cup.  Additionally there tends to be more space between the edge of the ball and the cup on the sides, than there is with the bottom, so unlike a peep sight where you just have to center it, with the Glock “Cup and Ball” you need to center it right to left and “float” it in the cup. I can’t do that.

Making matters worse, there is far more color on the rear sight than on the front, drawing your eye to the wrong sight.  Doh!

“Stacked Sights”

A slight improvement, are the variations of “Stacked” markings, like the “i”, the “bar dot” and the “Heine Straight 8.”

Each of these designs, make the front sight, at least as prominent as the rear sight, helping you keep your focus on the right place (Front Sight) and reduce the number of points you need to line up by 33%.

“Stacked Sights” - 1
“Stacked Sights” -2
“Stacked Sights” - 3

My challenge with these styles is the floating dot.  I tend to try to figure out how much space should be left between the markings and I feel like I have very little precision with elevation.

I end up aligning the markings and then transitioning the the silhouette to clean-up the sight picture.

This is slow for me and doesn’t provide any advantages to by preferred sight style.

“Single Dot”

My favorite sights, include a single white dot, brass bead or fiber optic on the front sight combined with a plain black rear.

Because there is only 1 point, this system completely ignores any reference to windage or elevation… there is nothing to align if you are looking at the sight decorations.  For close shots you just place the ball on the target and shoot.  For more precise shots the ball gives you a fairly good reference and makes the transition to the sights silhouette that much quicker.

Improving on this concept even further are the Sevigny sights from Warren Tactical.  They place the fiber optic higher in the post so that there doesn’t appear to be any black above the fiber.  Since many sights are design to have the point of impact even with the top of the post, this minimizes the vertical offset between the dot being used to aim and the point of impact.

For me… Having something on the front sight to draw my attention gives me a fast reference point for close shots and helps me get on my sights sooner for accurate shots, but doesn’t cause so much distraction that it takes a significant of my focus or slows me down.

If you have tried multiple sights, what have you found in your experimentation?  Does it parallel my findings or did you have a different take-away?

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