The forgotten front sight


Glock Glockler
December 30, 2002, 08:47 PM
It seems to me that there is a very large emphasis placed on rear sights but very little on front sights.. There are plenty of manufacturers out there that make all kinds of neat rear combat sights, but many of these same companies have little if anything for the front.

Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me?

IMO, the front sight is the most important of the two, by far, so why aren't we demanding a better foundation for our house.

I think the front sight should be big, at least the same size as the rear when viewed from a shooting stance, and it should be bright. Hopefully, the sighting system will draw one's eye to the front naturally, and your view won't get lost trying to align the 3-dots together.

I do like the Steyr style sights and I think they fit this bill, what are your opinions on this? What would be the optimum sighting system for a combat gun?

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Shawn Dodson
December 31, 2002, 12:25 AM
I have Ashley Outdoor Big Dot Tritium Pro-Express sights on my G19. Positive comments by Andy Stanford ( about this sighting system compelled me to try it out. Andy remarked that the big dot was like looking at a golf ball, and was quick to visually acquire. He was right!

I really like the Ashley big dot sight. It took a few hundred rounds to get used to it, especially at longer distances, because the rear sight is not a traditional notch. At close ranges, out to about 15 yards, it is very fast and took little time to learn.

You can check them out at


December 31, 2002, 02:37 AM
the big dot variations are cool.

I've been reading Enos' book and lurking on his boards...there's alot of emphasis on ALWAYS seeing the sights so I got something I'd be able to see.

Like a low tech red-dot :D

December 31, 2002, 01:57 PM
Still searching for the perfect front sight (Millett orange-ramp pretty darn good).

Texas Bob
December 31, 2002, 06:40 PM
I've noticed years ago what you've observed. I am a big fan of mixing front and rear sites to draw more on the front. My kahr P9 wears traditional trijicon rear night sites while the front site is the "small dot tritium" from AO express. On my carry P7M8 I've installed a MMC custom rear with tritium bar under the rear site and AO small dot tritium front site. Many of my friends use AO small dot front sites because of the "larger" amount of "white" PVC around the tritium lamp. Give it a look.:)

January 1, 2003, 08:56 AM

A friend of mine has a set on his Beretta Elite II and we were having problems hitting 3" x 5" metal plates at 21 feet. Where do you put the dot in a case like that. I dont have a problem with the standard 3 dot night sights at that distance, so i figure it was us needing to get use to the sights.

How do you shoot in those circumstances?

Shawn Dodson
January 1, 2003, 07:51 PM
I suggest your friend shoot his Beretta, with the AO Big Dot sights, at 15 and 25 yards at paper targets, and experiment with the sight picture to find which sight picture works best for him. For example, try shooting as AO recommends, the front sight dot at the juncture of the rear sight "V". Then try aligning the top of the front sight with the top top points of the "V". The try putting the middle of the front sight dot at the juncture of the "V". Etcetera. It seems most problems encountered at greater distances are with elevation instead of windage.

Like I said, it took me a few hundred rounds to get the hang of these sights. Initially I wasn't sure they were right for me. Now I'm quite comfortable with them. I reckon your friend (and you) just need a little more trigger time to become proficient with them.

Ammunition can be a factor too. 9mm 124gr FMJ shoots a little high at 25 yards out of my G19, but my battle carry load, a handload using the 147gr Golden Saber bullet, hits dead on at 25 yards. I just put the dot on target, with the bottom edge of the front sight dot at the juncture of the "V", press the trigger, and the bullet hits where I intend it to go.

Good luck!

January 3, 2003, 01:28 PM
If you really want a great front site for a handgun, look at these fiber-optic sights being offered!
These things are really quite amazing, MUCH brighter than any of these tritium sights and only a fraction of the cost.

I posted a long note about this back on thefiringline and got very little response, but brother, I'm telling you this is the answer!

To make a long story short, I put a set on my Kimber Compact along with a Ghost Ring rear and doubled the speed of my shooting. In effect, it's like putting a Red-Dot site on the gun, but without the half pound of weight, wires and batteries.

The only drawback is getting the proper height. Companies are listing the sights by the height to the top of the blade instead of to the center of the dot which (of course) is your aiming point.

The other consideration is that this does not give you a very precise aiming point. If you want to put slugs in an area the size of your hand at 15 yards as fast as you can pull the trigger, this is the answer. If you want to shoot beer cans at 50 yards and don't care how fast you do it, stick with your old sights.


Glock Glockler
January 3, 2003, 01:38 PM
I was thinking about a few things: one of them actually being bead-type sights people use on shotguns. Since most gun fights happen within conversation distance, these would certainly be lightning fast, but I do think accuracy would suffer.

I was also thinking about a front sight, that when viewed from behind, would not be bordered on the side by the rear sight. You could have a front that would form the top of a dot and the rear sight that would be the bottom. Fast aquisition yet far less chance of the front being obstructed.

I'll definately try those fiber-optic sights if I run into anyone with them. Thanks

January 3, 2003, 01:47 PM
I think a bright front sight (orange/dayglo/tritium/ fiber optic) is FAR better than black "target" sights for quick aquisition.

Besides at close range, you aren't really using the rear sight anyway.

In high stress situations you'll often FORGET to press the front sight into the target.. a high vis sight can help correct that.

January 3, 2003, 02:00 PM

Do check out the Ghost Ring rear sights as well. The Ghost Rings for handguns are not the full circle as you'd find for a rifle. It's actually just the lower half of a circle, but it works in the same way - your eye will unconsciously center the bead within the circle with no effort on your part. It's just a tad faster than a traditional rear sight.

The one I have is made by Novak.


January 3, 2003, 02:07 PM
A picture is worth a thousand words!

Glock Glockler
January 3, 2003, 03:27 PM

Are you supposed to put the front sight in the middle of the half-circle rear, as you would with apperature sights or do you put on top of the rear sight dot?

Also, what irritates me about that is that it is again the rear sight which is the big deal. It is a step in the right direction to make rear sights which don't interfere with the front sight picture, but what about making better and more evident front sights?

January 3, 2003, 03:44 PM
For what its worth I had a Sig 239 with the Ashley bigdot tritium front sight. Really fast. Only problem is I kept stringing shots vertically. It was sorta strange as if I could have fingured out how to hold elevation on them the groups would have been really tight. More practice certanly would have helped but the dot just seemed to take up too much of the target.

January 3, 2003, 04:00 PM
>>>>Are you supposed to put the front sight in the middle of the half-circle rear, as you would with apperature sights or do you put on top of the rear sight dot? <<<<<

NO! You just completely ignore the rear sight and focus on the front dot. It's kind of a hard concept for people to grasp, but ghost ring sights work on the optical principle that your eye will automatically center a dot within a circle (or half-circle in this case) without any conscious reference by you.

You don't have to use a ghost ring rear with a fiber optic front. It just makes sight acquisition that much faster.

The picture from Novak is using a standard post front sight, (though with a tritium dot) - I guess you're supposed to center the top of the post rather than the dot. It's like the manufacturers haven't quite "got it" yet. I think, because rifle guys (who understand ghost rings) and handgun guys don't talk. These new fiber optic front sights are MUCH brighter than tritium and make a perfect aiming point instead of just a reference point for the top of the post. I hope you're following me?

What I did was take a Novak rear ghost ring WITHOUT the tritium dot, and used an EGW fiber optic front sight. AGAIN though, I had problems because the all of the people that make front sights sell them by the height of the post rather than the dot.

I would suggest you try a fiber optic front sight, and if you like it consider getting a ghost ring rear to compliment it.

Attached is a picture of the EGW sight I am using (from Brownells). There are actually a couple of other designs I like better, but EGW had one in the correct height for my gun and nobody else did.

Mr. Hankey
January 3, 2003, 04:50 PM
I also agree the 24/7 Big Dots are great.

How can you not pick up the front sight?.

Here's a set on my G26.

January 3, 2003, 06:26 PM
Thanks Shawn. I'll pass it on.

January 3, 2003, 10:40 PM
are 50-50 that you will fire at 3 ft or less. They are 2 to 1 that you will fire at 6 ft or less. They are 4 to 1 that you will fire at 10 ft or less, and 10 to 1 that you will fire at 20 ft or less. I dont need to see the sights to hit a man's chest at 6ft, do you?

IPSC match shooting has little or nothing to do with the reality of civilian defensive shooting. You will look long and hard to find a single case of a civilian justifiably shooting at more than 2 men, and having to actually hit more than 1 man is 3 to 1 odds or more. When you shoot the first one, few of his buddies want any more! That becomes much more true when you shoot two of them.

The reason that the above is true is that the odds are more than 2 to 1 against your attacker having a gun, and you'd better not fire at him beyond 10ft, if he does not. If you do, your chances of going to prison,or at the least, being financially-ruined, are pretty high indeed. The DOJ's Annual Crime Survey proves this to be true, about the odds of gun-attack. Also, the FBI'S UCR, every year, shows that half of the gun attacks on cops are at 10 ft or less, and nearly 90% of them are at 20 ft or less. Civilian stuff is even closer. Just read the Armed Citiizen column in the NRA mags every month. All of the 4x that I pointed a gun at a man have been at arm's length. Rape occurs at close ranges, as do beatings, muggings, knifings, strangulations, etc, guys.

I am very much in favor of Tritium sights, very visible sights, and lots of training at their high speed usage. Just don't be surprised if, when it really comes down to your having to fire, you have to shove the guy away in order to bring your gun into play, that's all.

Don Gwinn
January 4, 2003, 12:40 PM
Yeah, the odds are against it. Of course, our own member Carbon_15 found himself in a situation four days ago in which he almost got killed because he didn't have his SIG with him--because he was being fired at by three men, at a distance I presume was greater than 21 feet. They fired 47 rounds. Luckily none were effective.

Odds are nice and all, but they do not describe the world. It is smart to play the odds, but foolish to live by them.

I am not one of the top pistoleros in the world, but I like to be sure I'm hitting what I aim at. Therefore I practice with my sights.

Shawn Dodson
January 4, 2003, 01:16 PM
The problem with statistics is I can't predict which statistic will apply to any crime of violence I might encounter. Hence I believe it's better to be prepared to perform over a greater range of scenarios than what statistics say is my most likely scenario.

I dont need to see the sights to hit a man's chest at 6 ft, do you? Yes, I do. I want to increase the certainty of my success in getting good, solid hits, because I can't predict if I'll be knocked on my keister, on wet & soggy ground with poor footing, on a stairway or other incline, crouched behind the fender of my car, etc.

How you perform on a square & level range may have zero relevance to how you perform in a round & uneven world.


January 5, 2003, 02:06 AM
I hate to sound like the rube with the low-tech solution, but painting the front sight of my Taurus PT-140 with fire-engine red fingernail polish has noticeably sped up my initial sight acquisition and follow-up shots...


4v50 Gary
January 6, 2003, 10:40 PM
The front sight is the most important thing to look at when using aimed fire. Where the front sight goes, so follows the bullet.

BTW, I have AO sights on my Sig P220. Wanted something brighter and so I went with AO. Two problems. First, at 25 yards you've got to place it at the neck otherwise the bullets hit the hairline or higher. It's that big dot. Second, periodically check the rear sight for tightness. It's secured by two allen screws & I had mine work itself loose on the range. With deliberate aiming, I could still hit the IPSC target at 25 yards, but let's not talk about group. :o Rear sight was reattached and tightened down and shot for confirmation of windage.

Island Beretta
January 8, 2003, 09:27 PM
I don't think front sights are forgotten, that is too strong a statement.. The problem is that shooters need to focus more on the front sights esp. for fast shooting!!

Glock Glockler
January 8, 2003, 10:56 PM
There are plenty of companies that make all sorts of aftermarket sights for pistols but they have the overwhelming emphasis on the rear sights. Very seldom do you see companies developing brighter and more distinct front sights. Ashley has some big front sights but I just don't like the looks of them, and it doesn't seem like it lends itself to accuracy at more than a few yards.

I do like the Steyr sights, and I'd like them even more if they came out with Tritium versions of them as well, but I don't know what's going on with them right now. Is it possible to put Steyr sights on a Glock?

Like I said, sights should be system, and they're just not developed that way.

January 9, 2003, 06:45 AM
I'm low tech too. ;)

Painted over the front sight dot of my USP with bright orange paint , just to easily distinguish it from the rear dots...

Works just fine for me! :D

January 9, 2003, 07:44 AM
The comments by Dr. Rob ring true to me.

I use fiber optics on front sights on all of my 1911 pistols. They allow me to more quickly regain POA on target after recoil than with conventional blade sights.

I also find fiber optics brighter than self illuminating sights in bright to modest light. The downside is that FO's are refelctive and not self illuminating. In dim light they do not stand out as do tritiums. In very dim light FO's act the same as conventional blade sights.

Fiber optic material comes in many colors. Red is the color I pick up the quickest. I have attached a photo of a Les Baer Premier II upon which I have replaced a conventional sight with a red fiber optic sight.

Chris Rhines
January 9, 2003, 12:02 PM
I filled in the front sight on my CZ with orange enamel, as a preliminary measure to scraping up the cash for a pair of XS 24/7s. It really does help.

Further, I like a big wide front sight and a big, REALLY wide rear sight (notch.) The XS seems to offer the biggest rear notch available. ;)

I can hit a small target at arms length without using the sights. Maybe even at twice arms length. Brian Enos calls this a "Type 1" focus. Beyond six feet or so, use the sights if you want good hits.

- Chris

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