Trends in Iron Sights for Handguns

Todd Fletcher 

The traditional 3-dot green tritium night sight has come a long way since Trijicon® introduced their Bright and Tough® night sights back in 1985. Today, law enforcement has many manufacturers to choose from for their firearm night sight needs. And, they also have many choices as to color combinations, tritium configurations and heights. Leading manufacturers include Trijicon, TRUGLO®, Meprolight®, and AmeriGlo.

The newest trend in LE handguns is adding a reflex sight to pistols and pairing said reflex sight with backup iron sights. These backup sights are taller than stock sights in most cases and designed to co-witness with the reflex sight. The end user can utilize the iron sights in conjunction with the reflex sight to quickly find their red dot while the iron sights also provide a reliable aiming reference in case the reflex sight fails. The co-witness sights are available with or without tritium in a variety of heights. The most common type of backup iron sights being used for this purpose are solid black (no tritium, no painted dots). With many LE agencies requiring tritium on handguns, a tritium front sight, with a white or black outline, is often paired with a solid black rear sight. Many end users want to keep it as simple as possible for the iron sights as to not create eye-catching focal points which detract from the purpose of the reflex sight. Some officers still prefer a traditional 3-dot, white outline tritium set as backup sights as this style is what has served them well over the years, before the use of reflex sights on handguns.

“We started machining tall sights back in 2002 for use with suppressors and have been adding to that segment every year since then. We now have over 50 options of tall front and rear iron sights to work with nearly every pistol mounted reflex sight on the market,” commented Rick Callihan, AmeriGlo’s Director of Sales. “What works on your GLOCK® for an RMR won’t necessarily work with something from Vortex or Holosun,” Callihan added. Since reflex sights vary in height, your backup sight heights will vary as well. And, the depth of the slide’s mounting area will vary depending upon if it’s a factory cut slide or a slide milled by your local gunsmith. Choosing the correct height backup iron sights is as important as choosing the best reflex sight for your department’s needs.

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