Sunday, April 17, 2016

Glock Sights: Less is more.

There is a LARGE number of after market sights available to fit the Glock family of pistols, including the MRDS. This is good as the plastic factory sights suck. A few years back, a friend and I performed an impromptu range experiment by seeing how many one hand, off the belt manipulations the plastic rear would stand up to. We were able to do eight before it came loose. The red dot is controversial as some say it hinders quick on target performance while others say it helps. To me, its like holsters, tactical pants or a gun belt...use what you like. While I have used the MRDS, I prefer to stick with fixed sights at this time of my life but I kind of "split the difference" with the red dot as I like to use a bright colored front with a flat black rear for fast acquisition.

The idea of a colored front sight is hardly new. Bat Masterson talked about having large and wide front sights on his nickel-plated Peacemakers, as they were easier to see. Jeff Cooper was an advocate of colored fronts later in life (funny how aging eyes will change a person's opinion) but recommended they be of a color "not normally found in nature” so they would not blend with the target. Smith & Wesson and Ruger revolvers came with red plastic inserts from the factory on many models and it was quite common for gunsmiths to install a variety of plastic colors on a revolver front sight after market. The brass front bead was the "night site" of the 1911 prior to tritium and it worked quite well to catch any available light and reflect it back to the eyes of the shooter. Nope, a colored front sight is hardly a new idea.

These days, front sight color seems to have standardized on fluorescent orange and "safety chartreuse", a bright yellow/lime green color now being used on fire trucks, road signs, safety vests and other items needed to catch the eye of passers by. This color was the result of a study undertaken for the safety services as a concern arose that fluorescent orange was becoming too common and citizens were beginning to ignore it. While this may be true for traffic cones, I think the color is still very viable for a front handgun sight.

Of course, many claim a colored front sight is irrelevant as you won't be able to use it in a gunfight anyway!! I have read any number of "scientific" studies on this topic over the years, explaining what the eyes do in a crisis event as the chemical cocktail of Cortisol, Epinephrine and Nor-Epinephrine enter the system and this is fine and useful information even if it is easily forgotten due to its complexity. What may be an easier and more understandable explanation is THE EYES CAN'T BE PULLED AWAY FROM THAT WHICH IS TRYING TO KILL YOU!! Been there, done that! If you have been in this circumstance you, too, will "get it".

Time and distance are the factors in whether a person can use their sights and at close range they are probably not needed anyway! Out to 15 feet or so, it’s more of a matter of proper trigger depression than sight alignment as 1/8th of an inch of muzzle movement at five yards is INCHES on target! That said, I still want to a set of sights I can "reference" quickly and a brightly colored front sight does this for me.

The Ameriglo CAP and Spaulding sights are designed for just this acquisition without the "optical confusion" found when trying to line up three dots quickly. They are a "square in a square" which is easy on the eyes to process. The original CAP has a small line on the back to help align the front while the Spaulding is flat black and serrated…hardly a new idea but still quite effective! The front sight is a tritium bead surrounded by either an orange or lime green paint. The tritium vial is used by popular demand, though it also helps hold the paint in place. I’m not a hard core “you must have tritium or you will die” kind of guy as I realize the light spectrum in which tritium is useful is limited. That said, the buying public is convinced you must have it, so what the hell?!

The CAP sights are as close to the bore line and low profile as possible. In a time of "platform-style" sights that sit tall on the slide, this format seems to buck the trend, but I want my sights to do nothing more than help line up the muzzle with the target, style or what is “in” is not important here. I don't care if they look "cool" on my gun. I want them to be functional, concealable, no snag and easy on the hands during vigorous manipulation while still having enough of a rear sight “ledge” to manipulate with one hand. I don’t want concealing garments hanging up on them.

The CAP rear has a slight bevel on the forward edge of the rear sight to make use of a locked wrist while pushing which will also keep the muzzle pointed away from the body and the top of the slide (read this ejection port) keeping open so crap can be ejected from the gun’s action. I see students frequently try to rack their slide by running the gun straight down their body, blocking the ejection port and creating a worse problem than they had before! While it might “look cool”, it is a recipe for failure.

Pistol sights should not be a fashion statement; they should be a functional addition to your combat pistol. The next time I have a student tell me they like "how cool these sights look on my gun" with no reference to how visible they are, I might just have to throw up. When this is your train of thought, you have missed the point of the exercise, Skippy!  Hopefully critical thought is not dead…

Thanks for checking in.


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  2. Excellent, article. I just bought a Gen4 Glock 19 and I will be switching the sights soon. I'll look into these specific sights more. Thanks Dave!

  3. I have the CAP sights on my g26. I've shot a lot of three dot sights and was a little unsure about these at first but the "square in a square" really is very in intuitive. Great sights. I'll probably put the Spaulding sights on my g17, because I don't think the line on the rear sight is needed. Thanks for the great product!

  4. Thanks for the information and people who wants to have guns of their choice may take help from the firearms safety training classes to get proper training and also to get MA Gun License and get the legal permission to have them within the boundaries.