March 07, 2012
By James Tarr
For the current issue of Handguns Magazine, on sale now, I wrote up the new(ish) Trijicon HD Night Sights. I wanted to cover them in this blog because, well, they deserve it.
The more I shoot, the pickier I get about trigger pulls and sights on pistols. I shoot a lot of competition, specifically in UPSPA's Production Division, which requires the use of everyday carry-type pistols. I carry what I shoot in competition, and the other way around. That means that most of the time my carry gun is a lightly customized (trigger job, lighter recoil spring, and sights, not much more is allowed in Production) Glock 34. When I'm not carry/shooting the G34, I'm using a SIG P226. A few years ago I got in the two versions of the (now discontinued) USPSA-Edition SIG P226, and I liked them so much I bought them. Other than USPSA markings and different sights, they are identical to standard SIG Elite models. One has a stainless steel frame, the other aluminum.
When I switched to the shooting the SIG with its Dawson front sight with a red fiber optic insert I realized what I was missing. I was losing the plain black front sight of my Glock during the recoil cycle and didn't realize it. Fiber optic inserts collect light and even on overcast days look like they are battery powered.
The problem is, that even though current fiber optic pistol sights are a lot more durable than the first generation models, they are not as durable as solid metal sights. I see FO inserts fly out of sights during competition at least once a year (never had it happen to meâ€¦.yet). Something that disassembles itself during recoil is not exactly what I want on a carry gun, and since I carry what I shoot in competitionâ€¦.
(RELATED: 5 Guns That Could Replace The Beretta M9)
Most big name pistol-sight manufacturers haven't learned the lessons competition shooters have about sights. Most professional pistol shooters (and those of us who aspire to be) have found that sight sets which provide a lot of daylight around the front sight are not only faster but allow more precision at speed.
Trijicon's designers were apparently paying attention, because they have designed what I consider to be the next evolution of combat sights with their HD Night Sights. Slightly taller than standard sights, the rear notch is both wider and U-shaped to provide an increased amount of daylight around the front sight. The rear sight is also designed so that it can be hooked on something to rack the slide with one hand if necessary. The side toward the shooter is serrated to reduce glare.
The rear sight is the window frame for the front sight, and so it should be looked through, not at. While the HD rear sight has tritium inserts on either side of the notch, there are no color outlines around them to draw your eye away from the front sight.
The front sight is not a narrow competition sight but standard duty width, with a tritium insert in the center. Trying to balance the visibility of a fiber-optic insert with the needs of serious end-users, Trijicon surrounds the front sight with a round, very large circle of paint, either bright orange or yellow. The front dot, as wide as the whole sight blade, is nearly fluorescent to begin with, but in addition to that it is made with photo-luminescent paint, which glows for a brief time when exposed to light. This can be very useful if you're a police officer having to search a dark room.
While this big dot front sight may sound similar to the XS sight system, the front sight of the XS is much bigger, rounded, and sets on top of a shallow notch. While this is great for "Oh S$%^!" point blank range shooting, it doesn't provide any precision. The top of the Trijicon HD front sight is flat and allows precise shooting at distance, while still having a big bright circle on the front sight for rapid sight acquisition and target engagement.
I've been carrying the aluminum-framed USPSA SIG P226 again and have replaced the competition sights with Trijicon HD sights. As someone who not only is an avid competitive shooter but carries a gun every day I love everything about these sights, and suggest you check them out. Trijicon makes them for most models of pistols.