Sights: See What You Need to See
One of the easiest and most affordable upgrades you can have done to a stock pistol is to upgrade the sights.
Why is that important? To shoot well, you need to see what you need to see and the sights are what make that happen for you. This is especially important when you are considering a pistol for self-defense. You can make a decent hit with any sights, given enough time and some familiarity with them. In a self-defense scenario, though, it is rare to have plenty of time.
So, what should you look for? What makes for a good set of sights? Let’s dig in!
First, let’s get this out of the way: the choice of sights is one of the most personal ones you may make when it comes to firearms. While there is some solid science (and plenty of shared experience) behind the best sights, but everyone’s eyes are somewhat unique … and what works well for others may not work well for you.
Age is also a factor - 25 year-old eyes work differently than 50 year-old eyes and that is something that may need be taken into account. My choice of sights has changed as I’ve aged because my needs (and, yes, preferences) have changed.
So, all of that is to say that this is not meant to be a hard recommendation for (or discouragement against) anything particular type or brand of sights. This should be taken as, hopefully, a balanced discussion of sight options for use on a defensive pistol.
Sights, above all else, need to be visible. I know… that kind of goes without saying but it really does bear mentioning. Sights you have trouble seeing properly won’t be doing their job when it comes time to make precise shots.
Speed of sight alignment and sight picture acquisition is also a prime concern on a defensive pistol. You may have only the briefest moment to draw and shoot - having a highly visible front sight with a sight design that promotes quick alignment could make the difference between a hit or a miss when it counts most.
Reliability matters, as well. Why do I mention that? There is a lot of momentum these days behind the trend of mounting miniature, ruggedized electronic red dots on pistols. We will cover the pros and cons of such a choice in a dedicated article soon but, for now, just understand that carry equipment needs to be as close to 100% reliable as possible. Anything else is setting yourself up for failure… and the stakes are too high for that!
There are other, smaller considerations tied to certain choices but we will dig into those as we discuss different options. In the next article we will discuss typical stock sights and why they are often suboptimal for serious use and, in some case, represent a serious liability.