You may consider getting yourself some night sights if you practice at night or would just like to be prepared for night hunting, for instance. They are reliable for their original purpose, but are they necessary? Should you get one? Take a quick second to find out what they are and which one might be the best for you!
What are night sights?
The first step is to understand what they are to find out if you need night sights. Basically, it is an accessory you attach to a firearm that helps with accuracy and visibility.
It depends on the type of night sight you have, but most of them have a material like Tritium or a photoluminescent that glows in the dark. However, fiber optic night sights have also been making the rounds as a great option.
They go on top of your firearm and present themselves as brightly lit-up dots.
Types of Night Sights
There are several types of night sights that you must know in case you are looking to get one for yourself and for information about each night sight.
Tritium Night sights
The most common night sight you might stumble upon are tritium night sights. The element tritium is self-illuminating, which means that it doesn’t need to be charged or have a power source connected for it to work.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope that emits light, and when mixed with phosphor, it emits light. It is placed in a vial that appears white in well-lit conditions, similar to a factory sight, but glows to bright green in low to no visibility conditions.
There is no need to be concerned about the radioactivity of tritium. The vials only contain small amounts, and the radiation it emits, even outside the vial, is too feeble.
Tritium night sights are the best when it comes to conditions that are blackout or have no visibility at all. The darker your surroundings are, the brighter the dots will appear.
They provide great aim and are easy to use. You also don’t need to worry about suddenly forgetting to charge or losing power when using them. You can just attach them to your firearm, and it’s good to go.
The first con it has is its price tag. Tritium is considered to be slightly rare and can cost a lot. It may be a bit over budget unless you see yourself mainly practicing at night.
In addition to the price tag, manufacturers recommend changing them every 5-10 years since they fade as the years go by. But other manufacturers also claim that the light has a lifespan of around 10-12 years.
Tritium night sights are best for those who might need to use firearms in pitch-black or no-light environments. This can include military personnel, people who live in areas with polar nights, or those who may use it for self-defense.
These lights are closer to the definition of a glow-in-the-dark sight. They emit light by absorbing the energy from another light source and releasing it for a period of time. They often use materials like phosphorescent pigments to achieve this effect.
Many people have issues working with Tritium since it is still considered radioactive. It contaminates the ground if a person is not disposing of it properly.
These phosphorescent pigments don’t have the same effect on people and the environment, which makes them excellent substitutes for tritium ones. They are better and safer for the environment.
Another advantage is their price range. This type will be perfect if you want to purchase night sights as a precaution and you don’t have a large budget for a night sight.
In a sense, photoluminescent lights need charging. The sights may not be a good option if you conceal carry or place the firearm in closed storage. Depending upon manufacturer instructions, they can glow for about 8 hours but require at least 30-60 minutes of exposure.
Just like tritium, the luminescent capabilities of the sight will eventually fade and need to be replaced. This depends on the quality of the pigment and the exposure to light, but the shelf life of a high-quality one should last for about ten years.
Photoluminescent night sights are best for those who don’t frequently use firearms at night but would like the option of having better accuracy when they need to. These could be for homeowners or beginner gun enthusiasts.
Fiber optic sights
Fiber optics are not being manufactured as night sights, but many gun enthusiasts use them in low-light conditions.
They function by reflecting the surrounding light around them and focusing it on the front sight, which makes it appear very clear.
Fiber optic sights are very durable, and you can probably find a good quality one for a good price.
They are fantastic in well-lit conditions and provide great accuracy. Most of the demographic includes veteran hunters and even beginners.
This may defeat the purpose of calling it a night sight, but Fiber optics could do better in low to no-light situations. However, unless your surroundings are pitch black, the fiber optics can still reflect a good amount of light.
This sight is also slightly more fragile and will require replacement if the fiber optic wires are contaminated.
Fiber optics sights are best for those who need accuracy, mostly in the morning or in well-lit environments. These are great for hunters who like to hunt around sunrise or sunset and need a sight that can support them in gradually increasing light visibility situations.
Tritium-Fiber Optic Hybrid
Consider this the best of both worlds. A common problem for users of the Tritium is how dull they look in well-lit areas. The common problem for Fiber optic users is how it can be slightly less helpful in no-visibility areas. This is where the hybrid sits.
Having a fiber optics ring surrounding the vial of tritium makes the sight worthwhile for both day and night. The fiber optics come in green and red colors, becoming visible during the day. The tritium comes in and even supports the fiber optics at night by becoming the light source, making it more accurate and less dependent on light.
The only con it could have is the price tag. Although hybrids don’t require the same amount of
Tritium needed for a Tritium-only sight, they still are more expensive because of the addition and technology required to make it.
They can be more expensive than regular Tritium ones but are a great investment for their versatility.
The hybrid sights are best for those who need accuracy in well-lit and pitch-black environments. They can be great for police personnel, individuals who conceal carry, and competitive hunters.
Just a quick note: they are not legal in some states to be carried around or used for competitions, so check the laws and rules in your areas before getting one.
Do I need night sights?
It now comes down to the question, are night sights actually necessary? Well, it comes down to the one who will be using it.
Do you find yourself in the situation of needing to use your firearm a lot at night? Or do you live in an area that gets less sunlight? Are you more at risk at night? What is your budget for firearm accessories?
These are all questions you must ask yourself before purchasing one and things to consider that will help determine which type might be the best for you. Let’s break it down a bit.
Time of the Day
If you like to practice shooting at night or maybe even hunting at night, a night sight might be very beneficial to you. Try to take note of which times of the day you use the firearm at most and if additional help in aim can help you.
The fact of the matter is that crimes are more common at night. Having a firearm with better aim during these situations can always help.
Also, if you are a police officer, soldier, or in any occupation that may need you to defend yourself and others at night, investing in a good night sight may help your odds.
Night sights are accessories or additional costs. There are many types that you can buy, but having a good budget for this can ensure that the product you are purchasing can last you a long time.
Unless these night sights are required, always consider accessories as investments that are split between good and bad. Some firearms come equipped with factory sights, and only after much deliberation should you consider getting one.
Night sights function as a guide for accuracy in low to no-light environments. They can have materials that glow in the dark or reflect it. Each type has a slightly different demographic which you may want to check above again.
Getting a night sight is optional, and while they are a great addition, it solely depends on what you need or are comfortable using. Always consider the context in which you will need the night sight and if it is essential.
Just remember that having a better aim does not equate to better accuracy. They can aid you, but practicing with your firearm is the best way to get the most out of your firearm when you actually need it.