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After witnessing a well-known YouTuber complain about the competition-style sights on a competition-built handgun it came to my attention that not everyone understands handgun sights.  I’m not talking about how to aim, or even the difference between fiber-optic and tritium.  The topic of this article is how to understand sight design and hopefully pick what’s right for your needs.

This was the misunderstood sight picture of Warren sights found on the latest Canik pistols.  The wide U-shaped notch does indeed seem to make the front sight wander, but is intended to provide a wide field of view.  Such sights are excellent for quick, point shooting at general areas but can make more precise shooting difficult.  The fiber-optic front sight will grab your eye in daylight more than other methods of illumination.  A drawback to fiber-optic sights can sometimes be that the dot is too bright to focus on, but once again these sights are meant to be acquired quickly for a single shot.




In contrast these night sights found on the IWI Jericho may offer an easy orientation in the dark, but a much narrower field of view which makes for easier bullseye shooting, but also obstructs view of surrounding areas.  White dots surrounding the tritium inserts aid in sight acquisition, but can also be distracting from the true sight alignment.


These traditional 1911 sights on an ATI FX-45 are small and tight.  Aiming precisely with them is time consuming, but can make for tight groups if you have the eyes and patience to match.  Their low profile helps reduce the chance of snagging on the draw but also makes them difficult to see.




A lazy V with a single line and dot have become popular lately like these XS Sights seen on a DoublStar PHD 1911.  The line and dot align naturally and wide-V rear sight keeps your field of view open.  This sight style is very quick, but adds a learning curve to making repeated tight shots.




What’s old is new.  Sight profiles follow trends.  The sloped rear sight seen on the Ruger American was once considered superior for its reduced chance of snagging during a draw.  Recent tacti-cool teachings suggest the older-style wall-like sights on the Zastava EZ-9 in the background are more useful as they can be used to rack the handgun on a table or belt in a one-handed emergency.

Hopefully this primer on handgun sights helps you understand why there are so many options out there.  Just like handgun options, there is a right fit for everyone so don’t immediately accept the argument that one is better than another.  What’s “better” really depends on how you intend to use it.


About Graham Baates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on 
Youtube .


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