So I'm going to be getting a new .308 rifle by the end of next month. I've been browsing various sites for spare parts and accessories. One thing I found that I've never seen before was some aftermarket tritium night sights for rifles. It was a ghost ring rear sight with two green dots on either side, and a typical front post sight with a tritium insert.
So the question is: Is there any real benefit to having a night sight on a rifle like there is on a handgun? Anything for either self-defense or a hunting situation.
FYI, I have no desire to spend $100 on a night sight for my rifle. Just curious as to what it's purpose is.
If you enjoyed reading about "Night sights on a rifle?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
July 16, 2009, 11:41 PM
i'm as curious as you... i would think any short barreled rifle that might be used in a defense scenario it might be beneficial to have them, just like several people do nowadays on shotguns.
thats the only reason i can think of... i'm sure an older wiser thr member will post soon though ;)
July 16, 2009, 11:49 PM
When I was issued an AR at work, a night-sight for the front (an XS dot) was modification #1 (well, okay, it was simultaneous with a white light--but tied for #1). So the answer, for me, is: it's certainly possible to envision scenarios where a tritium sight could be a very important addition. Our department has hunted people at all hours and in all lighting situations; a night-sight was, for me, a no-brainer.
From what I hear (and I can see it, the way the gun handles with just a front night sight), the rear dots are not nearly as important--or of negligible value. The rear aperture is going too act like a ghost-ring anyway--you look through it, not at it. If you shoulder the rifle close to properly, the front dot will be where it needs to be.
July 17, 2009, 12:31 AM
On the ARs I have tritium front sights but not the rear. The big aperture makes the rear tritium superfluous. The AK has tritium front and rear as that rifle's rear sight is so far away from the eye the tritium isn't blinding and it does help with alignment.
I figure that if I want to be able to aim pistols in any light situation, why wouldn't I want to be able to aim a rifle? BSW
July 17, 2009, 12:36 AM
I can't speak to iron sights on a rifle, but I've shot a number of rabbits at dusk, when the light is so dim you can just barely make them out in the scope. I've got an illuminated reticle and what I've found is that you want the reticle illuminated as little as possible, just enough to make out the crosshairs. If it's too bright all you can see is the reticle and not what's behind it.
I'd guess the same would also be true of iron sights. Personally however, I wouldn't want iron sights for a low light hunting rig. Scopes help you see much better in that situation and if I were thinking of a dedicated nighttime gun I'd be thinking of nightvision equipment or a red lensed spotlight.
For a combat rig I'd go with an EOTech.
July 17, 2009, 05:19 PM
An illuminated scope would be nice, and I'll probably get one sometime. As for the night sights, it seems to me, that if it's too dark to see your sights on a rifle (where you can sight up much more quickly than on a pistol) then you probably can't see the target either.
July 17, 2009, 05:31 PM
On a close range defense gun a red dot sight would be better. On a longer ranger rifle a illuminated scope would be better. But thats not to say that no one has ever made a rifle with them on it.
July 17, 2009, 06:07 PM
I have a couple of AK's with both an Aimpoint and a set of Meprolight three dots on them. I also have a third with just the Mepros.
Both the red dot and three dots work great. I'd give the red dot the nod over the night sights though, as its more versatile and gives you the same sight, with a more precise aiming point, any hour, day or night. The night sights really dont work the same in that respect.
The night sights alone do work well though. You'd be amazed at how much you learn to like them, even when its not "dark" out.
I would agree with not using a "lit" rear sight on anything that has a peep or the rear sight is close to your eye. Even with the AK's rear sight being more forward, meprolight would do better to use the smaller vials they have on their 1100/870 sights on the AK's,as they are just a tad to big. The 1100/870 would also benefit from having the larger AK front vials.
I think once you've had any of them with a set of night sights, your always going to want them on anything that you might need in the dark or lower light. Same or even more so with the red dots.
July 17, 2009, 07:55 PM
XS 24/7 front sight on my ar ($60)...standard rear sight. You can easily pick up front sight without the two dot rear.
July 17, 2009, 09:19 PM
I've never shot a rifle with night sights, so my thoughts may be worthless here, but I would imagine that with a rear aperture sight (like an M1, M14, M16, etc.), you would only want a tritium front. If the rear sight is illuminated, it seems like it could cause your eyes to be drawn out of focus towards the rear sight. Like I said though, I've never tried it.
July 17, 2009, 10:22 PM
I tried a set of tritium sights on an AR once. One thing I immediately noticed was the front sight was much fatter in order to fit the tritium vial inside. Worked great in low light conditions, but absolutely sucked for any kind of precision shooting past 50 yards during daylight hours. I put regular sights back on and added a light and red-dot optic instead.
July 17, 2009, 11:16 PM
That is one of the downsides to them, their size. Some are better than others though. With my AK's, it realistically reduces their effective range down from 300 to 200 yards or so. My 1100's sights really make no difference, compared to the regular sights. My M1A SOCOM's front sight reduced it to about a 100 yard gun at best.
Your just going to look at your circumstances and needs and weigh out whether or not the advantages outweigh the short comings.
July 18, 2009, 12:24 AM
the African Big game hunters have been using the "express" sights since who knows when. essentially they are like the big dot sights from xs sights. lots of folks think that the bd's are a new concept, but that could be further form the truth. of course the tritium has been added to the bd's, or you can get it without.
i have xs sights on my fighting handguns, i plan to put one on my 870 and a set on my ar and ak. are they that good? yes they are, also they makes all my guns consistant as possible when it comes to their sights, essentially you are getting the same sight picture with all of them.
i am not one that worships night sights, and honestly if i am fighting at night i am gonna have a light source, therefore when the light is on it is automatically gonna back lite the sites which is gonna give you a crisp sight picture. i would say go for the night sights on a fighting rifle if you want but i see no reason for them on a hunting rifle.
July 18, 2009, 12:31 AM
for those that have never seen the xs big dots, here they are on my handgun, this is how you line them up, just dot the "I". with a handgun you put the dot on top of what you want to hit, at 15yds and beyond you use the tip of the circle/ dot.
I sell refurbished night sights for the Galil and people love them. I don't see how you can use just the front sight alone, you use the rear when you shoot in the day to line up the sights so it seems to me you would need it at night too. The Galil uses flip up night sights which I think are the way to go if to avoid accuracy issues.
July 18, 2009, 12:06 PM
Its not so much the issue of not using the rear sight as much as its not lighting it.
With the peeps, when the rifle is properly shouldered and you have a proper cheek weld, your already normally looking through the peep, and can see the lit front sight.
With the traditional type AK or other hunting type sights, where the rear sight is forward, you need that rear sight lit so you can get a proper sight alignment with the front sight.
I think your probably right about the flip ups being the better way to go too, and for the reasons you gave.
July 18, 2009, 01:12 PM
" possum: Is that sight easy to line up? Seems like it may be tricky under a stressful situation."
yes they are quick and easy to line up and at realistic defensive distances i can get away with just puttting the dot on the target area, you can achieve great hits and fast.
they really come into thier own when you are shooting moving targets, or shooting on the move, and even better yet when you are moving shooting movers.
I have a setup similar to Possum's on my 1911, but use Heinie sights with a dot over a dash instead (the dot over the i probably is slightly superior). I find these much more intuitive and quicker to acquire that the conventional three dot system. There is no confusion at all about which is your front sights and your eye focuses right on it. If I had the choice, I'd have this type of sight on all my handguns.
July 18, 2009, 01:54 PM
A lot of the choice here is just personal preference and what your used to.
I've always found the three dots to be better for me, but I've been shooting that type sight since they arrived on the market and before they were ever lit, so its what I'm accustomed to. I actually see the dots first, even in daylight, and have to force a shift of focus to a normal sight picture for a more precise shot.
It still amazes me that people can get them screwed up when it comes to aligning them, and I'm still trying to figure out how they cant know. The sights are either properly aligned or they arent, and when they aren't, you have to be holding the gun wrong, or other than you normally do, to do it.
The advantage I find with the three dots over the others is, they allow instant verification of both horizontal and vertical alignment, without thought. With the "8's" and similar, I find myself worrying over the "gap" when I should be just shooting. Then again, I dont have to think with the three dots, probably like someone who has only shot the "8''s", knows where they should be and what to expect. I've shot them, just didnt find them to be better or enough of an improvement to make a change.
What you really need to do is, try as many as you can and see what works best for you, and go from there. We're all wired different, and what works well for one, may not for another.
July 18, 2009, 06:42 PM
I have tritium fixed sights on my AR15 (pictured). Absolutely love them. Would not be without them.
they have a dot at 3 and 9 o'clock on the rear ring with a post front sight.