Night Sights


March 22, 2013, 11:37 PM
I am a Phosphorescent Engineer and a firearms enthusiast. Here is an article that I wrote on the benefits, limitations, and proper application of Night Sights for our company. I thought some of you may enjoy it.

Night Sights (

Danny Clark

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March 23, 2013, 01:45 AM
Well thats interesting. Its pretty straightforward and reasonably simple. How does it compare to mepro's or similar retail night sights?

March 23, 2013, 06:23 AM
Its a little late in the game to be using glow in the dark powder for night sights. Tritium is far superior and with most tritium night sights from reputable brands coming in at or under $100, im guessing there isnt much of a market for night sights that need to be charged with a light source. This article states If it is too dark to see your target, you probably should not be pulling the trigger. and that may be true but there are plenty of situations where it is easy for you to see your target but too dark to find your sights as fast as you could in daylight. Night sights help with that issue. Also, most tritium night sights have white rings around the tritium inserts that make it easy to find your sights in every lighting condition. It does not have to be "near pitch black" to use most night sights.

That being said, I can imagine that this would be very useful on weapons that dont have aftermarket night sights available.

March 25, 2013, 01:54 AM
I am a Phosphorescent Engineer.....

So.... you glow in the dark? :D

Sorry, couldn't resist....

As for the use of phosphorescents for gunsights I'd suggest that you're well behind the curve given the ready availability of tritium sights. As you say the phosphorescents need to be "charged" before they are useable. So unless the holster that holds the gun has LED lights in it running full time to keep the sights charged then they will not be useable at the time of need. I simply do not see a night guard remembering to "charge" his sights every two hours during his rounds.

Simply put the tritium sights are the new "better mousetrap" that has made the use of phosphorescents outmoded.

March 25, 2013, 09:41 AM

Thanks for sharing that. It was informative, but I do have a few issues.

They are the only night sight option for servicemen, who are legally not allowed to take tritium outside of the US, even for official deployments.

Which federal agency is going to be waiting to throw me in the klink when I get home from deployment? ;) My lensatic compass and ACOG both contain tritium.

For a recreational firearm, I have no problems with glow-in-the-dark, painted-on night sights. For a concealed carry or duty weapon? Not a chance. Tritium vials are epoxied into steel sight bodies so they can never come out. Tritium never needs to be charged, and if the 13 year half life bothers you, buy a new set of night sights every 10 or 15 years. Paint needs to be charged, paint goes dim quickly, and paint can be rubbed or chipped off.

March 25, 2013, 08:27 PM
I first saw tritium sights back in the late 80s or early 90s. I thought they were pretty cool but also thought if it was dark enough to use them you were better off not shooting (what you really couldn't see).

Once I had a pistol equipped with a set I saw that I really hadn't "seen the whole picture". Even on a moderately lit street those sights just really jump out there. I pray that I never need to use a handgun in a lethal confrontation but you can bet your boots that every one of my defensive handguns will be so equipped.

Thanks, A

March 28, 2013, 07:49 PM
I'm looking at these right now, and I like the idea. They are also a bit high, like $150+ a set.
The only thing is, what colors to choose. They have white, green, yellow, orange and in any combination.
How would one decide?

March 28, 2013, 08:08 PM
Trijicon & Meprolite warranty:
The tritium lamp is warranted to glow for five (5) years for orange night sights, twelve (12) years in green and yellow night sights from date of original manufacture.

Some other companies only guarantee the Tritium, regardless of color, for 5 years. (Tru-Glow)

Chose your color carefully!


March 28, 2013, 08:38 PM
I have meantioned befor that we did things with "Ranger Eyes" tape on M-60 GPMGs and on M-16A1s.

We found this helpful especially at or just after twilght when the Mark I Eyeball wsa not finished transitioning to "night vision" mode.

I used Beta Lights (European Tritium Lights) on a 9x19 Star Starlight in 1974 or 75. The had the two dot system with one dot on the rear sight below the notch and one near the top of the front sight so the sight picture was : and it work very well all the way out to the 25 meters I got to use them at.

Stateside in the late 1970's I used a glow in the dark paint on some pistol sights, trying front sight only, area between frontsight and ejection port for about an inch, rear sight only, trying three dot ( two rear one front) and inverted T where the horizontal bar was just below the rear and vetical on the front sight and the two dot system.

All suffered from the need to be charged. About the only system I saw that sort of worked was a friend kept a little Beretta .22Short semi auto in a car's ashtray that had a light in it that was on anytime the dash board lights were on. When he got to where he was going he dropped the Minx in his pocket and had a couple of hours.

We actually tried equiping a holster with an old wheat lamp bulb ( before LED became widely valable) to charge just a front sight but we kept breaking the bulb and worried about it being hot and about it lighting us up when we pulled the gun, a system to allow the bulb to be shut off proved to cumbersome for the tech of the time.

My first state side use of tritium was an old Single Point scope. I had some experience with the non powered models and we came up with a system that used GI flash light bulbs hundred mile and hour tape and BA 30 taped to the scope that sort of worked and this we later improved on with a wheat bulb powered system using a short section of PVC pipe and cap and glueing a battery holder and switch to the PVC. We even placed Ranger Eyes tape in the PVC cap so we could have light for the dot with out running the wheat light bulb continuously. Hot stuff in the '70's, but the tritium scope in 79 was "more better" by leaps and bounds.......just as tritium would be over glow in the dark paint.

Paint kits to make glow in the dark dots that need charging have been around since the 1980's atleast and I see kits at gunshows having multiple colors still.


March 29, 2013, 12:12 AM
kBob and others,

Glow in the dark paints have come a long way in brightness over the past few decades. High end paints are literally 20+ times brighter now. In addition, the application method in the article doubles the brightness over standard paint.

I think people are quick to dismiss the glow in the dark night sights, but I think you are comparing it to older technologies and techniques.

March 29, 2013, 12:05 PM
I think people are quick to dismiss the glow in the dark night sights, but I think you are comparing it to older technologies and techniques.
I think for me, it really comes down to how long they stay "charged"? Any glow-in-the-dark paint I've seen is brightest immediatly after exposure to bright light, and gradually fades in the dark. Are the sights on a gun that's been in a concealed holster under a cover shirt or jacket all day, going to be bright enough to do any good if I have to draw the gun at night?

March 30, 2013, 12:21 PM


March 30, 2013, 01:05 PM
Lol, rc!! Love it.

I can certainly see using them to supplement regular sights, though; can't hurt anything, and might help under the right conditions.

April 1, 2013, 05:17 PM
Where do you get a degree in Phosphorescent Engineering?

April 1, 2013, 06:40 PM

April 3, 2013, 10:30 PM
Thanks for posting the article and I've bookmarked the site.

I prefer tritium for defensive use, but I can think of some uses for the glow in the dark paint in the competitive arena.


If you enjoyed reading about "Night Sights" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!