Tritium vs. Fiber Optic Sights


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newglockguy
July 25, 2012, 02:22 AM
I'm not a fan of my standard sights on my Glock and I don't know if I should go with Tritium or Fiber Optic Sights. What's the difference between the two and does one have an advantage over the other?

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Inebriated
July 25, 2012, 02:32 AM
Tritium is a radioactive gas (to my knowledge, anyway...). It glows in the dark, giving you visibility in low-to-no light situations.

Fiber optic is just a translucent colored tube that collects light from the top, front, or sides, and appears brighter. The key there is that they need light to work.

For me, fiber optic is great for day-time use. But for anything in the dark, Tritium is the way to go.

Steve C
July 25, 2012, 03:13 AM
The Tritium won't do a thing for you during the day time but will be a great help for low light conditions so they work well for a defense pistol that may be used at dusk or night.

The fiber optics work well with a reasonable amount of light but when it gets dark they don't help. For a range gun or if you don't plan on using the gun as a home defense or personal carrying pistol they can help improve scores in target games.

THEN there are the combination sights that are both fiber optic with tritium illumination made by several companies so you can have the best of both. Do a Google search for "fiber optic sights with tritium". The only draw back to the combo sights are they may be a bit less durable under hard use.

postalnut25
July 25, 2012, 12:52 PM
Just remember that Fiber Optic sights are somewhat fragile. If you are going to carry it everyday that could be a factor.

X-Rap
July 25, 2012, 12:54 PM
Get the best of both worlds and get the TruGlo TFO. Very bright day and night.
They have very good coverage over the fiber optics.

Skribs
July 25, 2012, 01:03 PM
General rule of thumb, IMO, is that for competition shooting you'd want FO, for defense shooting you want tritium. The tritium sights may not do much during the day, but you can still see them during the day.

I am looking at TFO for my next handgun.

jmr40
July 25, 2012, 01:20 PM
Tritium.

Fiber optics are fragile and only make a small difference in low light. They are useless in bright light and very dark conditions. The real night sights aren't cheap, $60-$70, but if you factor in a 10-12 year lifespan it comes to just $5-$6/ year. Cheap insurance to me. No gun meant for personal protection should be without them.

WinThePennant
July 25, 2012, 02:47 PM
Just how fragile are fiber optic sights?

I'm thinking about getting some TruGlo TFO sights for my G26 carry gun. But, the chance of the fiber optics breaking concerns me a bit.

KenW.
July 25, 2012, 02:59 PM
I have TruGlow TFOs on two of my pistols; I'm excited to add them to some more. I really like how bright they are in the daylight. And how bright they are in the dark as well.

I bought on pistol secondhand which already had the TFO on it. I have no idea how old they were. I've shot the thing for several years and then the front sight's fiber optic tube came loose. I sent it to TruGlow and for 27.50 they replaced it even though I wasn't the original owner like the warranty said I needed to be. That's good customer service.

I understand mine original was an old version, that had since been replaced with a more durable model. I will not hesitate to put them on more of my collection.

brickeyee
July 25, 2012, 06:35 PM
Tritium is a radioactive gas (to my knowledge, anyway...). It glows in the dark,

Not exactly.

Tritium decays releasing beta particles (energetic electrons) that strike a phosphor coating on the seal end of the vial and make it glow.

The electrons average about 5.7 kEV (5,700 electron volts, less than a TV tube uses).

They cannot penetrate the vial walls or the seal end (or your skin for that matter).

The only real hazard to Tritium is if you inhale it.
The electrons can then hit the cells in your lungs.

nearlynormalmike
July 25, 2012, 07:59 PM
Have had 2 sets of TruGlo tritium/fiber optic and loved them MUCH better than 3 dot.
Am now a fan of the XS Big dot. I really love them. Tritium is bright and front sight very easy and quick to pick up day or night. Probably not the best for precision but check them out!

Inebriated
July 26, 2012, 12:54 PM
Not exactly.

Tritium decays releasing beta particles (energetic electrons) that strike a phosphor coating on the seal end of the vial and make it glow.

The electrons average about 5.7 kEV (5,700 electron volts, less than a TV tube uses).

They cannot penetrate the vial walls or the seal end (or your skin for that matter).

The only real hazard to Tritium is if you inhale it.
The electrons can then hit the cells in your lungs.
I knew I was probably wrong lol.

brickeyee
July 26, 2012, 03:26 PM
The problem with the fiber sights is that they can only gather light, not make it in absolute dark.

There must be light present to gather.

B!ngo
July 27, 2012, 12:43 AM
Tritium is a radioactive gas (to my knowledge, anyway...). It glows in the dark, giving you visibility in low-to-no light situations.

Fiber optic is just a translucent colored tube that collects light from the top, front, or sides, and appears brighter. The key there is that they need light to work.

For me, fiber optic is great for day-time use. But for anything in the dark, Tritium is the way to go.
Yes, it's a modestly radioactive gas that has a 1/2 (or useful life - didn't google before I started writing) of 12 years. I believe that the amount of time you can expect out of a set before they get too dark.
As others have said, it depends on your use. For open daytime practice shooting, the fiber pipes work really well. For practical use of a gun in which you cannot predict the time/lighting of your deployment, radioactive stuff is the best.
I've been putting them on all of my guns except the one collector.
B

Skylerbone
July 27, 2012, 01:08 AM
Still a judgement call. I've had FO sights on firearms for a decade of field use that have never broken. They illuminate well with light and make for quick alignment. I have tritium as well and it certainly illuminates in total darkness however, I've yet to encounter a situation that would call for a shot to be made in total darkness. Seeing the sights clearly is a real plus but without a confirmed target does you no good.

The question is then whether you believe tritium will be more visible when combined with a light source (whether hand-held or weapon mounted) or a FO that will use that illumination for quick sighting. The advantage of both in a TFO is as stated, unless you feel the FO is too susceptible to breakage. If yes, Trijicon makes a tritium sight with phosphorescent outline- both orange and yellow- that allows one to illuminate the other at night while keeping a nice visually bright front sight for day usage and eliminating breakage concerns.

basicblur
July 27, 2012, 01:21 AM
...12 years. I believe that the amount of time you can expect out of a set before they get too dark.
I have a set of Trijicons on my old bed gun (Sigma), and while they are definitely nowhere near as bright as new ones, I think they are still plenty usable.
Don't know that I'd pay to replace 'em just yet.

Orion8472
July 27, 2012, 08:58 AM
How many years old, basicblur?

X-Rap
July 27, 2012, 10:23 AM
I just compared 3 different sets that I have here, 2 Trijicon and 1 TruGlo and while the brightness of the 3 is pretty much equal in total darkness the Tru GloGlo's are larger and in dim or open daylight there is no comparison. The TFO in light show up far better and are equal if not larger in the dark plus I can't perceive any transition in color in different light. (probably because the tritium illuminates the FO)
The FO are well shrouded so I would say you would almost have to stick something in the slot to break the FO tube.

basicblur
July 27, 2012, 12:53 PM
How many years old, basicblur?
On my next birthday I'll be... :D

They're probably at the 12-yr mark - I've had the gun around 10 years, and the gun had been sitting at the dealer's for a while.
It's an old Sigma - pre-VE (Value Enhanced) model - all black, and came with factory night sights. I assume this is identical to what was being issued to LE way back when some of them had Sigmas.

I resisted night sights for a while, as I wasn't willing to give up the the clarity of conventional sights for the night sights. Whenever I picked up a gun at the shop and checked out the night sights, I didn't care for how they looked during the day.
Somewhere along the line I'm assuming they changed / improved? Maybe it was the white circle they now have around 'em, or that the front sight is bigger and brighter than the rears, but with the newer models I don't feel I'm giving up anything during the day.

I now have a number of guns with 'em - when I replaced my P229R's sights with Trijicons the darn things almost blinded me since I was used to the older / faded Sigma sights!

If they're around 12 years old, and I think tritium has a half life of 12 years, I'm just guessing I can get around 16 to 18 years out of 'em before I'd probably have to replace 'em?

BTW - I'm not one to jump on every new 'next best thing' that comes along, but I ran across Speed Sights (http://www.speedsights.com/) the other day. I've heard a number of folks that jumped on stuff like Big Dots later regretted the loss of accuracy for distance / precision shots with them. It looks like Speed Sights may be the best of both worlds AFA large, quickly acquired sights, but you can still use the tip of the diamond for precision shots - they also come with Trijicon inserts.

If I was in the market for night sights, I might be willing to give them a try?

Skylerbone
July 27, 2012, 01:28 PM
http://www.trijicon.com/na_en/products/product1.php?id=HDNS

OrangePwrx9
July 27, 2012, 05:46 PM
Recently had an XS-Big Dot sight put on my SP101. OEM front sight on that gun has always been hard to see; but when I could see it, it shot very accurately.

Still playing with the Big Dot. Sight picture is non-traditional, but front sight is very quick to acquire. Precision at 25 yards may very well be out of the question with this sight; but precision isn't typically what you seek from a snubby. For self-defense at self-defense ranges, I think it'll work very well; certainly better than the OEM sight.

Only question I have is whether the XS-Standard Dot might've been better. I'd imagine better for the range, not as good for SD. Recently acquired another snubby (Security Six 2-3/4"). May try the Standard Dot on it.

There is a tritium element in the center of the Big Dot. It seems very dim but is quite visible in darkness.

browningguy
July 27, 2012, 10:30 PM
I use Fiber Optic in my competition pistols and TFO sights in my carry pistol. The TFO sights are npot as bright under any circumstances but they are much better in the dark. I have a set of green front and yellow rear TFO's on my XDM and it seems a perfect setup for night shooting, the green is about twice as bright as the yellow so your eye is drawn to the front sight, as it should be.

KenW.
July 27, 2012, 11:28 PM
Being colorblind, I just went with the brightest; which is green front and green rear.

brickeyee
July 28, 2012, 03:28 PM
Yes, it's a modestly radioactive gas that has a 1/2 (or useful life - didn't google before I started writing) of 12 years. I believe that the amount of time you can expect out of a set before they get too dark.

It depends on how much gas they put in the cylinders.

I have seen some well over 12 years old that compare well with brad new ones from the same manufacturer.

At least one company used to offer free replacements to the original purchaser

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