Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Optics, sights, and all sighting specific issues.
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Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby hkguy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:40 pm

I figured this would be a better place to discuss this. This is my personal evolution in the practicality of using night sights as essential kit.

Nathan wrote:
hkguy wrote:this does not count night sights but might soon as i'm moving to the camp of were they serve no tangible defensive purpose.

I'm not following you, here. You don't believe that night sights serve any tangible purpose? I think night sights should be standard on any defensive weapon. The next time you wake up in the middle of the night to go piss, acquire a sight picture in a pre-determined safe direction while your eyes are still fully dilated. Were you to be awakened in the middle of the night by the Proverbial burglar in your bedroom, night sights are gold. I know many who train at night, Hell I train at night, but that doesn't fully dilate your eyes like when you've been asleep and night training won't prepare you for taking that shot with fully dilated eyes. For a nightstand gun, I must have night sights or a laser.


perhaps providing "no tangible benefit" was not the right term, surly one could find a benefit, i do not view them as essential on a defensive gun. I am well aware of the precieved benefit they offer in low light situations but hear me out.

i recently completed some defensive pistol training and i was talking to the instructor about the use of night sights and training without the use of corrective lenses. in the event that something goes bump and i could find myself in a situation where i dont have my glasses. I cannot get a clear front sight picture (yay being nearsighted) if my glasses are not on, even with Trijicon HD's. Taking a precise shot is probably out of the question for me IF i do not have on my corrective lenses. The instructor asked if i could see well enough to distinguish between family and foe without my glasses something go bump in the night, which i am confident i can.

So, this got me critically thinking about how a defensive situation might unfold if i were to not have my glasses/contact in. I know this is a low probability situation but a very real situation i could face nonetheless. So, got me things about what good are night sights if you cannot positively identify your target? Since i'm nearsighted and cannot really get a good sight picture unless wearing glasses/contacts,a good flashlight or weapon mounted light is a better option. Sure the dull green glow helps with my glasses on in low/no light situations but my informal testing in my home shows me night sights are not critical kit like a flashlight. my flashlight/weapon mounted light throws enough ambient light. I'm pretty sure i can get hits on center mass

admittedly i need to go out and do some shooting with without the aid of corrective lenses to confirm my thoughts above.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:06 pm

Identifying the target is another, separate issue entirely. Obviously you must clearly identify a threat before shooting at it. I would rather the bad guy plunge his knife into me than risk shooting one of my own family members. For identifying the target, I'd start with looking for the strange guy you don't know holding a knife or gun who just kicked in your bedroom door.
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When my eyes are fully dilated, turning on my flashlight is as blinding to me as it would be the threat I was pointing it at. Assuming you've identified your target, point shooting is an option too but point shooting is always a last resort option reserved for when you simply don't have time to align your sights properly. Each situation is unique and some afford more time than others, but if I'm forced to shoot another human being then I want every possible advantage because if I'm shooting another human being it's because he is trying to kill me or my family. For this reason alone, I cannot grasp why anyone wouldn't want every possible advantage to ensure proper sight alignment before discharging a firearm in your home.

Are they absolutely necessary? No. Do they speed up acquisition of sight picture and sight alignment? Yes. I also believe that they are safer than a flashlight or laser. A flashlight and laser both show the bad guy the direction in which to point his gun and shoot whereas the night sights do not. There is no one size fits all answer, but I believe in having every possible advantage. I keep a gun with night sights under my pillow and I keep a flashlight on my night stand. My room isn't totally dark anyway meaning I wouldn't need a flashlight at all unless I was clearing the house or yard. I prefer night sights with contrasting colors or with a bigger dot on the front sight as these provide the fastest acquisition for me.

For the purposes of this test, put your loaded gun on your wife's side of the bed and keep two properly cleared, unloaded guns on your night stand, one with night sights and one without. When you awaken in the middle of the night while your eyes are still fully dilated, acquire a sight picture on a pre-determined threat in a safe direction. I'm confident that you'll find faster acquisition with night sights, and certainly better shot placement than point shooting while half-asleep.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby hkguy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:01 pm

i hear what your saying about the nightlights in the middle of the night. I understand their benefit but my focus is the synergy of the whole system. target identification and threat engagement are linked. you have to know your target before you can engage it.

in the few informal tests ive done so far using my USPc with meprolights and a Inforce APL, the dull green glow is washed out when the light comes on and i can silhouette the sights when i have my corrective lenses on. still, further evaluation is needed as i explore this.

most threat engagement distances are under 10 yards, i have not issues point shooting that and keeping my hits to a 8.5x11 sheet of paper.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:57 pm

I look forward to your updates as you continue to test it. If you'll do as I suggest and test it literally in the middle of the night after you just wake up, I'm confident that you'll see the benefit.

Do you sleep in a totally dark room? I usually turn the volume down but leave the TV on all night.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby hkguy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:56 pm

Nathan wrote:I look forward to your updates as you continue to test it. If you'll do as I suggest and test it literally in the middle of the night after you just wake up, I'm confident that you'll see the benefit.

Do you sleep in a totally dark room? I usually turn the volume down but leave the TV on all night.


one, maybe two nights a week. i'm a third shifter so i sleep at all times of the day. the glow of the baby monitor and our phones are really the only light in the bedroom currently. there is a night light in the bathroom/hall way so we can operate the kid gates at night.

I have done the exercise you describe before and yes, the dull green glow is spectacular when i have my "eyes" on. im afraid in the middle of the night all i'm going to see is a green blob where the sights should be.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Hand and Steel » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:26 pm

Nathan wrote:When my eyes are fully dilated, turning on my flashlight is as blinding to me as it would be the threat I was pointing it at.

Consider an incandescent D-cell Maglite - they have an easy to use power button, can be set for flood or focus, they don't kick out enough light to blind the person using them, and they make an excellent impact tool if needed. No matter what high tech lights continue to come out I can still find no better option for a night stand light than a 4D-cell Maglite. Also works great as a car light.

Nathan wrote:Assuming you've identified your target, point shooting is an option too but point shooting is always a last resort option reserved for when you simply don't have time to align your sights properly.

That could conceivably be most times you'd have to shoot.

Nathan wrote:I'm confident that you'll find faster acquisition with night sights, and certainly better shot placement than point shooting while half-asleep.

I've done a lot of stress tests of point shooting vs sighted fire including shooting when sleep deprived, shooting after having had nothing to eat or drink all day except coffee (to make me even more jittery and shaky than usual), after working long hours of physical labor, etc. The conclusions that I have reached are that-

1) One handed point shooting is more than accurate enough at typical defensive distances. On a good day I can put 5 shots in the X-ring at 5 yards in under 3 seconds, using one hand and firing from shoulder level, using the "unergonomic" :roll: Beretta 92. On a really bad day I can still put the rounds in the 8-ring. Two handed point shooting works well out to significantly greater distances.
2) Add stress and sights become harder to see (for me at least). More carefully aimed point shooting using two hands can make a lot of sense in some circumstances since it uses natural pointing ability and when the gun is held close to eye level there is the added advantage of peripheral visual alignment to the target for a more careful aim. On a good day, two handed sighted fire from standing is still more accurate than two handed point shooting at longer ranges for me. On a bad day, there is virtually no difference unless I am using carefully sighted fire from prone - this may in part be due to increased perceived recoil and poorer eye sight when exhausted, weakened or jittery, which is not as noticeable when using the more natural method of (point) shooting. For the context of shooting in a night time home defense encounter while half asleep, I consider this a relevant observation regarding the usefulness of point shooting.
3) For true close quarters shooting (under 4 yards) I have found that one handed shooting from chest level is often more accurate than shooting with the arm fully extended and the gun at shoulder to eye height. This becomes especially true when I am shooting with additional physical stress (such as from sleep deprivation, exhaustion, etc.) as I am shooting with less than my usual physical strength, and the slight bend in the arm allows stronger and faster flexing of the arm muscles which stabilizes the shooting hand during firing. As a result, even under significant physical stress I am often able to rapid fire 2 or 3 shot bursts into the X ring at 3 or 4 yards from chest level using a slightly bent arm. Since most of us are unlikely to have to shoot beyond just a few yards in most defensive scenarios, I personally consider this to be a very important skill.

Another reason to consider point shooting from below eye level for use in close range, low light scenarios is that muzzle flash becomes less of an issue.

I do not see one technique as the answer to all needs. I see defensive pistol skills as a continuum which should at least include shooting at contact distance, point shooting at distances beyond contact distance, and sighted fire for the less usual situations which require precise fire at distances beyond 7 yards.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:52 am

One situation will afford more time than another. Typically if awakened by the Proverbial "bump in the night", you'll be walking around in a dark house looking for the source of the bump. If placed in this position I want every possible advantage that can be had within reasonable cost. Night sights are never going to make you slower, but they can help you acquire a little faster. Point shooting is reserved for last resort emergency and if discharging a firearm in my home where my family is located, I want a proper sight picture and proper sight alignment (unless the threat is on top of you) and night sights can only help to accomplish that.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby hkguy » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:27 pm

Nathan wrote:One situation will afford more time than another. Typically if awakened by the Proverbial "bump in the night", you'll be walking around in a dark house looking for the source of the bump. If placed in this position I want every possible advantage that can be had within reasonable cost. Night sights are never going to make you slower, but they can help you acquire a little faster. Point shooting is reserved for last resort emergency and if discharging a firearm in my home where my family is located, I want a proper sight picture and proper sight alignment (unless the threat is on top of you) and night sights can only help to accomplish that.


do you use a weapon mounted light? i dont recall you ever talking about using them.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:07 pm

hkguy wrote:do you use a weapon mounted light?

I don't; I keep a light on my night stand, but I wouldn't utilize it except in a rare circumstance. When you wake up with fully dilated eyes, I see a flashlight as more of a liability than an asset because your eyes are fully dilated but the intruder's are not. A light in your hand tells the intruder in which direction to point and shoot if he sees your light before you see him.
Now in all reality, my home is never completely dark. In addition to my alarm system, I also have three German Shepherds and four yappy dogs keeping an eye on things; nobody is going to have the advantage of surprise over me.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby hkguy » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:44 pm

Nathan wrote:
hkguy wrote:do you use a weapon mounted light?

I don't; I keep a light on my night stand, but I wouldn't utilize it except in a rare circumstance. When you wake up with fully dilated eyes, I see a flashlight as more of a liability than an asset because your eyes are fully dilated but the intruder's are not. A light in your hand tells the intruder in which direction to point and shoot if he sees your light before you see him.
Now in all reality, my home is never completely dark. In addition to my alarm system, I also have three German Shepherds and four yappy dogs keeping an eye on things; nobody is going to have the advantage of surprise over me.



i hear you there. ive got two dogs too, my big lab is 95 lbs and a 65lbs golden who things he is 120lbs :lol:

realistically, your movements will at some point reveal your location. foot steps, opening of doors, creaking of the floor, dog commotion, light, etc.

it seems you assume that the light will be "on" constantly while moving through the house.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:07 am

hkguy wrote:realistically, your movements will at some point reveal your location. foot steps, opening of doors, creaking of the floor, dog commotion, light, etc.

Maybe, maybe not. You know where the noises live in your own house, an intruder does not.

it seems you assume that the light will be "on" constantly while moving through the house.

Not necessarily; it only needs to be on for a split second to reveal your location at which point an intruder knows exactly where you are but you don't know where he is unless you happened to hit him with the light.

Schools of thought have changed and evolved. They used to teach you to hold a hand held flashlight away from your body as far as you could so as not to expose your exact location. This all went away with weapons mounted lights. I just see them as a liability more than anything because when my eyes are fully dilated, any light leaves me staggered briefly. Either way, I still see purpose in night sights. There's just no way they can slow you down, but they have the potential to speed up acquisition greatly. I know that my trap shooting scores are certainly better when I have the fiber optic sight on the front of my shotgun than without.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Rodeo Mike » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:29 am

So I'd like to share my personal experience on this. I do have 20/20 vision so you do have a unique situation that I couldn't possibly comment on.

Upon arriving home one night we saw a predator along my front fence line. Of course I charged out pistol drawn well within 25 yards of the target and to my suprise I could not see my sights at all! Not even enough to siloette them even though I could see my target perfectly in the dim moonlight. So with a clear field of fire I dumped a whole mag full of .40s&w at a moving target without making a sold hit. Something I'm confident I could have done in the daylight easily.

I found it to be starting when I presented that I couldn't see the sights and paused for what seemed like several seconds at the time trying to aquire some sort of a sight picture. That needless to say was the last time I carried a pistol without night sights. But this is all just my .02
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby yankeejib » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:43 pm

Rodeo Mike wrote:So I'd like to share my personal experience on this. I do have 20/20 vision so you do have a unique situation that I couldn't possibly comment on.

Upon arriving home one night we saw a predator along my front fence line. Of course I charged out pistol drawn well within 25 yards of the target and to my suprise I could not see my sights at all! Not even enough to siloette them even though I could see my target perfectly in the dim moonlight. So with a clear field of fire I dumped a whole mag full of .40s&w at a moving target without making a sold hit. Something I'm confident I could have done in the daylight easily.

I found it to be starting when I presented that I couldn't see the sights and paused for what seemed like several seconds at the time trying to aquire some sort of a sight picture. That needless to say was the last time I carried a pistol without night sights. But this is all just my .02


This was a two legged varmint? Or a beast?

I've read through this thread. I could never imagine night shooting without 1) Identifying the target. Here in Tampa, there's been two drunken people in my neighborhood killed in 15 years trying to break into their own (incorrect) house. I've drawn/shined on a wasted trespasser before that had no idea what universe he was in. The shotgun stuck in his face registered no effect at all. I'd feel bad killing someone so out of it that really had no evil intention other than trying to locate his bed. I'm going to give you one chance to live unless I detect an immediate threat. 2) Night sights. If you haven't practiced with and without them, try it. It's a hell of lot easier acquiring a dim sight picture and aligning three faint green glowing dots than point shooting blind. I have them on every gun. Besides, night shooting practice is a blast. .357 snubbies spewing rolling flames is so cool.
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Rodeo Mike » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:52 pm

4 legged varmit
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Re: Thread Split - Usefulness of Night Sights

Postby Nathan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:35 pm

Rodeo Mike wrote:I found it to be starting when I presented that I couldn't see the sights and paused for what seemed like several seconds at the time trying to aquire some sort of a sight picture. That needless to say was the last time I carried a pistol without night sights.

I think that leaves very little left to say and drives home the necessity of night sights perfectly.
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