Is it worth getting night sights if I have a flashlight?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Accessories, Holsters, and Optics' started by bos19, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    DFW Area
    My take:

    Shining a decent light directly on a target in the dark will provide enough illumination to silhouette the sights for accurate shooting. If you use this approach, you don't really need night sights if you know you will ALWAYS have a working light and either a free hand to use it or a light system that is mounted to the gun.

    That said, after you shoot once, then there's discharge smoke in the air and the light shining through it is distracting--like highbeams in fog. It was kind of surprising the first time I really had a chance to play around with low-light shooting. I had never noticed the discharge smoke in normal light, but with a bright light shining through it in an otherwise dark environment it was an issue--at least for me.

    Some experimentation showed that aiming the beam downward so that it strikes the ground front of the target provides enough reflected light to identify and track the target. BUT, then there's no longer a guarantee that you will get enough light on the target to silhouette the sights sufficiently for accurate shooting with standard sights.

    Bottom line, I found that having both night sights and a light was beneficial, and that having a separate light was better than a weapon-mounted light because it allowed the gun and the light to be operated independently. Not only so that you're not pointing your gun at everything you want to look at, but because you can alter the light point of aim to eliminate issues like the smoke distraction.

    If you can find a place to do some of your own experimentation/shooting in low light, that would probably be invaluable.
    Tom-R2 and Armored farmer like this.
  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    After 28 years (and counting) of carrying duty sidearms with night sights, I can honestly say that I have been glad they were mounted on my sidearm several times. I can never recall wishing that there weren't night sights on my sidearm.

    Mounted lights/lasers are now so compact that they make any great sidearm even more versatile, and night sights and lights (or lasers) aren't mutually exclusive. I would have both a light and night sights in place.


    Stay safe.
    bullseye308 and psyopspec like this.
  3. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    May 1, 2013
    Never had that issue. I have noticed it but not to the point of influencing my shooting. When the military practices low light shooting, most of it is with night vision. The weapon lights are to be used when stealth is no longer an issue, but violence of action is. Or in a bad situation when night vision isn't an option. Once the bright white lights are off, night vision back on.

    Out of uniform I have been to a few ranges that let me turn off the lights if I am the only one there. Helps me get some trigger time shooting with my weapon light/EDC light.
  4. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

    Aug 9, 2016
    NE Georgia
    I use what LE calls fatal funnels.
    Simple night lights that anyone approaching us is silhouetted by the light behind them.
  5. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

    Nov 24, 2007
    Smyrna Tennessee
    I have truglo tfo’s on my glock17 with a tlr-1hl as my edc. Flash the light to see the target, and use the tritium to aim with. As others have said, I’ve never wished I had less, and you don’t have to use the ligh, it is there if you need it.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can see the tritium with the light on, I use it for skunks, possums, and trash pandas at night getting in the trash. It works just as well in the house too for me.
  6. Tom-R2

    Tom-R2 Member

    Apr 30, 2019
    Central Ohio
    I would recommend not using a weapon mounted light for searching a dark area unless you are absolutely sure there is a hostile target there. The light and the muzzle point the same direction, so if you are pointing the light at what you are looking at, you are also pointing the muzzle at that same thing. If it's a friendly, you have muzzled up someone or something you probably don't want to, especially if it's a tense situation. If you use a modern weapon light, it should be bright enough to keep it and the muzzle pointed down at an angle towards the floor or other safe direction and illuminate the area well enough to see and identify objects around you. These bright lights can help interfering with a hostile person's sight, but it also, if left on illuminates your position. There is some advantage of also having a hand-held light as well that you can point at things you may not want to muzzle up. I'm most likely to try to turn on a room light as I'm entering a room, but again, that's depending on a lot of factors that I'm trying to perceive as I'm searching. I've done a lot of building searches and open area searches during my career, each one needs to be done in a way best thought out for that specific area and situation. You will need to practice around your house or other property to get some idea of the benefits or shortcomings of using it and decide what works best for you. I regularly get up out of bed before sunrise, and it's very easy to pick up my pistol and phone from the nightstand without turning on any lights and waking my wife up because I can see the rear night sights glowing softly.
  7. labnoti

    labnoti Member

    Apr 2, 2018
    I have handguns without night sites and two handguns with Trijicon Tritium night sites. They came that way from the manufacturer as one of several upgrades on premium model guns. I cannot speak with any authority as to their usefulness in combat. I do use those guns for training and practice on a regular or daily basis. Just from a consumer's perspective, the tritium sights are a neat feature. But I am pretty sure I would not spend on them if they didn't come with the gun's other features. I do train in all lighting conditions, and I just don't find them to add certain value.

    I agree that fiber optic sights are much more visible when there is any ambient light or a flashlight. Tritium really only shows up when everything else is pretty dark. Fiber optic really stands out if there is at least some light. But I don't own any fiber optic sights. I'm a little concerned about their durability, but mostly I'm content with what I have.

    If I was shopping for sights, I would give consideration to a red dot and prefer it over night sights. I have and have had red dots and evaluated at the range every major brand (of mini carry rds) currently produced (DPP, RMR, SRO, Acro, FF3, Razor, Holosun, etc.) They have their strengths and trade-offs and work with some guns better than others.

    So my conclusion is night sites are good if you have them, otherwise consider red dot. If not red dot, then regular sites are fine -- indian not the arrow and all that.
  8. golden

    golden Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    In my opinion, flashlights and night sites go together like burgers and fries. You should have both.
    When I was first issued a gun with night sites, I was not impressed until I took it home and put in on the nightstand next to my bed. With the lights out, the sights glowed and told me exactly where the gun was. So what you ask, well, I move around when I sleep, so having a glow in the dark reference to where my gun is when you hear that bump in the dark is a great idea.
    Also, if you have to shoot in low light or even in the dark, you know at least where your gun is pointing. I know the argument that proper training with the firing grips makes this moot, but it does not for most people I have spoken with or for me.

    A problem with night sites is that they still do not TELL YOU WHAT YOU ARE POINTING A GUN AT! That is where the flashlight comes in handy. I carry a flashlight with my duty gun and usually a small, but bright pocket light as well.
    One of our agency trainers pointed out, that using a light attached to a gun means that you are pointing a loaded gun at someone to identify them, which can result in possible legal problems if you are not a sworn officer.
    What happens if you get spooked, will you panic and fire when you illuminate someone.
    Also, if you are in a dark place, you can illuminate the place with your flashlight WITHOUT HAVING TO DRAW YOUR GUN. If you are out in a public place, that can keep you out of legal trouble.

    Another nice thing about a separate flashlight is that you can illuminate a ceiling so that you can see who someone is without pointing a gun at the ceiling or blinding them, this works best with a bright flashlight.
    I like lights mounted on a gun and keep one on each of my 2 BERETTA'S that I use as house guns, but I also keep a BRIGHT flashlight handy and if my lights go out and my flashlight is dead, I still have my night sights.

  9. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    The Land that Time Forgot
    I feel that a light for home defense is typically a better option. I prefer night sights for a carry gun.

    Both would be best.
  10. George P

    George P Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    A lot depends on your house layout, ambient lighting, how many folks live there. It is just my wife and I now; where we live we have a city street light front and rear so both the front and backyards are lit up and that light is enough to see inside at night. Add in a motion sensor night light or two in key areas like kitchen or hallway and I don't need an added device on my handgun
    Tom-R2 likes this.
  11. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

    Dec 24, 2018
    Northern illinois
    Not redundant to have night sights with a light at all. The light is to see whats out there , the sights to target it. As others said the light may give away your position and that can be bad. Another benefit of the light is to blind or disorient your attacker.
    I only use a light on my HD shotgun, too bulky on a pistol that will be carried.
  12. TopJeff

    TopJeff Member

    Oct 13, 2019

    Using a handheld, or weapon mounted light is in itself dangerous at times.
  13. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Denham Springs LA
    Calling them Night Sights is one of the best marketing strategies. Why? Because calling them Low Light Sights just doesn't sound all that good.
    Night Sights are not for shooting in the dark. They are for shooting in low light conditions.
    Flashlight was another great marketing term. It sounds better then light stick or hand held light beam. Just think, a flash is quick and then gone. :confused:
    Flashlights and weapon mounted lights are for shooing in the dark, or should I say for allowing you to shoot when it's dark.
    Like Riomouse911 , I have used night sights on my duty weapons and can tell you that they have come in very handy at times.
    TopJeff likes this.
  14. JTQ

    JTQ Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    NW Florida
    A couple of data points from Tom Givens who has studied and taught concealed carry extensively from the private citizen perspective,

    American Handgunner, "When Citizens Fight Back"


    ... and from Civilian Defender

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