Self Defense Training Articles
Self Defense Training Articles
With the plethora of sights available on the market today it becomes difficult to determine which ones are best suited for defensive use. Tritium, fiber optic, red dots, lasers, blacked out rear, blacked out front, brass bead, aluminum bead, U notch, V notch, the list goes on. You can find sights for just about any weird fetish the shooter desires but the reality is there are only a couple truly worth considering.
Before beginning lets remove some sights off the list. First are the wildcat sight designs. These pop up periodically and are specific to a particular sight or gun manufacturer like the Steyr M9 V Notch sights. These lack the accepted use by professionals in the industry to be considered. Put simply if I cant buy it for a Glock or a 1911 which are the two most popular designs in firearms history it’s not something Im going to spend my limited time on within this article. If you’d like to argue the merits of wildcat sights go for it but each sight would need its own separate article then you need only to find wide spread industry adoption so it can become viable option.
Simultaneously we will exclude any sights that would not traditionally be deemed acceptable for defensive use. This generally means sights with an adjustable elevation and terrain adjustment screw typical of bullseye shooters. Adjustable sights are a poor choice for a defensive weapon since they lack the robustness of solid sights, the dialed in accuracy is not needed, and they are slower to engage with because of the tighter field of view around the front sight when aligned with the rear.
Lastly, Ill exclude red dots and electronic sights since discussing them would require its own lengthy article for each reflex sights and lasers. So what is left? You might ask. Plenty and truthfully up until recently all the most common. It is true that reflex sights have taken the market by storm to the point we are seeing them utilized by police departments, competitive shooters, concealed carry shooters and anyone not on that list. But iron sights will always be the fundamental basic for reliability, ease of use, and affordability.
There are three main types of sights utilized in defensive shooting. Tritium, Fiber optic, and what would be referred to as solid post. A solid post sight may be brass bead, aluminum bead, blacked out, or a non tritium dot. This list refers specifically to the front sight while the rear sight has a few other variants.
Options for the rear are typically blacked out, two dot, or a reference indicator specific to the manufacturer. Like Glocks U, XS big dot utilizes a line, etc. The rear sight is really a simple discussion for defensive shooting get a blacked out rear sight. There isn’t much debate about the validity of the others with some proponents advocating the XS line.
The simple reality is that the rear sight is never a point of focus. Weather you focus on the front sight or the target is debatable but no one advocates focusing on the rear sights so why place the distraction? Three dots on the rear is an old standard that is not only not used anymore but is pretty well pushed out by everyone that can call themselves a shooter. When adrenaline is rushing trying to line up three little dots, or put the dot in the U is a slow process requiring changing points of focus while it is being done. it is ultimately too slow (which is why competition shooters remove it), and distracting for defensive use. All in all it is completely unnecessary.
Keep in mind if you can see the front sight from a full extension with a solid grip on the firearm it is almost certainly between the rails of the rear sight regardless, so aligning the sights with little dots on the rear is not necessary, not helpful and potentially harmful.
Regarding the front sights each have their respective advantages. To begin fiber optic is the gold standard for competition shooting. It tends to be the brightest and most visible in daylight. The fibers are cheap and easily replaced as they will dull a little with time. Generally the recommendation is once a year for a gun that is used a lot.
There are a few downsides to fiber optic. Though it is arguably the most visible during the day it is truly not that much more visible than a tritium sight. Fiber optic requires occasional replacement, and they are typical a fairly weak attachment by comparison. The sight itself might stay fixed just fine but the fibers will occasionally work their way out of guns that are used a lot. This is fairly common at competitions where inevitably you will see a few people have a fiber optic failure at every match. They tend to be a bit more “snaggy” with clothing but the biggest downside is they don’t glow in the dark.
Ultimately this isn’t the tactical mistake everyone seems to proclaim because the reality is you shouldn’t be shooting if you cant see what you are shooting at. In which case every shooting engagement is a low light situation with the exception of military operations which can be a true no light engagement using night vision.
However, glow in the dark sights allow your eyes to easily pickup the sight in low light or twilight settings where the fiber optic will just look like a blacked out front post. Can it still be shot? yes but it is slower and harder to shoot.
Competitive shooters needed a solution for the fragile nature of the fiber optic sights so they went old school to the brass bead and aluminum bead sights. This is just a solid black post with a small brass bead installed in it. The bead is very secure from a reliability standpoint and gives a small picture for more accurate shots at distance but ultimately it is too slow to acquire for a defensive gun and really should be limited to the bullseye shooting crowd.
The best option for a defensive gun is the tritium glow in the dark front post. These sights are robust, easily picked up in day or night shooting. Certain models have the brass bead in the center and give you the best of both worlds. From a defensive perspective there isn’t much of a better option, though there are some die hard fiber optic folks out there there’s very little benefit over a quality tritium sight with a lot of negatives for a carry gun.
This is obviously an opinion post and others may disagree but I and my wife as well as the majority of our students after class agree a tritium front sight post and blacked out rear is the best defensive combination. We train how we fight which means for competition we use a similar setup. I don’t agree with having “competition” guns that do not have a real world application but that is a topic for another discussion.
is an entrepreneur and content creator. He lives on a small homestead in central Alabama where his wife and three children raise livestock and enjoy the quit life on their farm. He served as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army from Alaska to Afghanistan and currently owns, along side his wife, Timberline Security Solutions LLC based in Birmingham Alabama.
Amandalyn has spent her professional career doing a little bit of everything from being a licensed real estate agent, to a Private Investigator. Currently she operates, along with her husband, Timberline Security Solutions LLC to train civilians, military and police officers for the battle they may one day face. Together with Mackay they work as Private Investigators and conduct executive level protection details.