Monday, September 08, 2008

Fiber Optic sights

Being able to see your sights, for some reason, seems to help a lot in actually hitting the target. Where you want to. So there’s been a bunch of ways developed to help out with that, especially in dim light.

The most basic is paint. Some bright-colored paint on the front sight doesn’t help the rear sight stand out, but at the usual self-defense ranges it helps. Then add paint, usually either dots or a bar(dots on either side of the notch, or a dot or bar at the center bottom) of the rear sight. Then came glow-in-the-dark paint, then tritium. Since tritium glows due to the isotope decaying, producing light as it does, it glows even if it’s not been exposed to light; a very nice thing. Then along came fiber-optics, and so you have front and rear with little light pipes set into a cage; they don’t glow in the dark, but they do gather light and direct it toward you, making them stand out somewhat even in dim light. And they cost a lot less than tritium night sights.

All this leads up to the set on my 1911. Yeah, right up above the Crimson Trace grips. You see, I’d been looking at putting fiber-optic sights on my project pistol; I was going to put on a front FO only and mess around with different ideas on the rear*. Then I ran across a set on sale at Midway for compact 1911s, with the Kimber base, on sale. This was a couple of days before the show where I saw the laser grips and decided to buy, so I ordered a set. Which came in the other day. Only took a few minutes to take off the originals(the front sporting a stylish international orange paint job on the face) and install the new. Shortly after I got this pistol I’d talked to a gunsmith about drifting the rear over, as it hit a touch to the left for me, and I figured might be better to use a sight pusher. He disabused me of that idea, telling me that every Kimber he’d done sight work on he’d had to use a brass punch and hammer on the rear, as the pusher just didn’t cut it; as he put it, “I think they must heat the slide and freeze the sight before they install them.” So a suitably padded vise, brass punch and light hammer it was. Also, the day before I put some Kroil on both sight bases and let it sit overnight, which helped; that is the creepiest oil I’ve ever seen. Cleaned off all traces before driving the new sights into place. Then to the range today to make sure they were zeroed. I'd used the laser to help set them in place, but nothing takes the place of actually firing. Happily, they were almost dead on; just a tap with hammer and punch took care of the adjustment.

In daylight these things are like having little lamps in the sights, brilliant red dot in front, two green in back. As the light gets dimmer so do they, but until you get to the point that there’s little to see the sights at all, they still pick up enough to help your eyes align them. I like them. The range seemed a bit dim today, but the FO still picked up enought light to stand out, and I'll take all the help I can get. I'd say definitely worth the money. They won't glow in very dim light like tritium sights, but tritium doesn't give those bright 'draw the eye' dots in daylight.

Now, one of these days, have to take the project gun to the smith to get that dovetail cut.

· I’ve heard/read various statements wishing that you could just buy a front sight with a big, bright tritium bead, the idea being “Put the bright dot between the bad guys shirt pockets and press trigger; repeat until he goes down or away.” At in the house, across the room ranges sounds good to me, but I couldn’t find a front-sight only in tritium.


Anonymous said...

TruGlo makes fiber optic sights with tritium inserts. Glow brightly during the day, still able to find them at night. I've got them on my carry USP and they work well.

Fire said...

You know, I agree with that whole "keep pulling the trigger until they go down" thing. Words to live by.