Pistol Iron Sights: Ultimate Guide to Accurate Shooting
Bryan Hill / March 10 2021
If you want to shoot a pistol accurately, you need to use the sights.
We'll cover how pistol iron sights work, how sight radius works, which types of pistol iron sights are best,
other common questions about pistol iron sights, and what to do if you just can't use pistol iron sights.
On This Page:
- Why do Good Sights Matter on a Pistol?
- Which Pistol Sights are Best?
- What are Night Sights?
- Sight Radius
- Are Pistol Sights Adjustable?
- Which Loctite for Pistol Sights?
- Where to Have Pistol Sights Installed?
- I Can't See Pistol Sights. What do?
Sights sit on top of the slide
They are critical to accurate shooting.
Sights are made of two parts:
A front sight. By itself, it just gives a ballpark of where the gun is pointed.
The rear sight has a window to view the front sight.
Using both sights together allows for precise shooting.
Why do Good Sights Matter on a Pistol?
They give more accurate aim, faster. A case study by a USPSA Grandmaster Karl Rehn found that upgrading stock Glock sights improved shooting accuracy/speed 7%.
Which Pistol Sights are Best?
Front sight is bright, so you can see it, aim, and shoot faster.
Rear sight is dark, so you don't confuse it with the front sight.
Near shooting (10 yds. or less): Front sight is wide, so you can see it faster.
Far shooting (over 10 yds.): Front sight is narrow, better see far targets.
Rear sight window is wide, for more precision and to see the front sight faster.
With that in mind, the best iron sights are
a fiber optic front sight with a plain black rear sight
. Those give you a bright front sight with a strong contrasting rear sight.
The rest depends on how much you want to specalize your pistol for near or far shooting.
A wide front sight with a wide rear window sight is a great balance.
What are Night Sights?
Night sights have glow-in-the-dark inserts so you can see them better in low light.
They sound great, right? Problem is, they're only useful for about 20 minutes after sunset or before sunrise
Why? In all other conditions:
Save the $100+ you'd spend on night sights
It's so bright that you don't need night sights.
It's so dark that you can't ID your target.
and put it towards a flashlight
and weapon light
Unlike night sights, they can ID (or even blind) targets, and are useful no matter how dark it is.
Sight radius is the distance between the front and rear sights.
It only matters for far shooting (over 10 yds.).
A short sight radius makes longer shots tougher, but it's not everything. Take this guy shooting a 12" plate at 177 meters:
The sight radius on that pistol is as small as it gets, but it didn't stop him.
A larger sight radius helps, but your skill in trigger control and sight alignment is what matters most.
Are Pistol Sights Adjustable?
If you see big screws on a rear sight, they can be adjusted left/right and sometimes up/down:
Otherwise, some front and rear sights can be adjusted left or right, but not all. It depends on the pistol.
Which Loctite for Pistol Sights?
Dovetail Front Sights:
Why? It's resistant to gun cleaners, and it's temperature-resistant. The front sight heats up as you shoot a pistol.
Rear Sights and Screw-On Front Sights:
Loctite 262 Threadlocker
Why? It's strong, but has enough give for adjusting a rear sight left/right if needed. Use a tiny bit on set screws so they can be loosened if needed.
Where to Have Pistol Sights Installed?
Check with your local gunsmith:
I Can't See Pistol Sights. What do?
Need pistol sights for old eyes, astigmatism, etc.? The right choice depends on your pistol:
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