What good are sights in a real situation?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by HammerheadSSN663, Jun 13, 2009.

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  1. HammerheadSSN663

    HammerheadSSN663 Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Sights are great for the range but what good are they when the SHTF (reality)?

    I'm debating on removing my 1911 Colt Commander sights for ease of CC draw.
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Well you might try some point-shoulder practice... ;)

    But removing the sights won't make one wit of difference in the speed of your draw.
  3. christcorp

    christcorp Member

    May 18, 2007
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
    For actual Self Defense (As in carrying in public); where the threat is generally less than 20-30 feet; sites are pretty much useless. We should practice our shooting with point and click methodology. That is how I practice normally. 20 feet away; drawing the weapon; shooting a paper plate. Teach muscle memory. If done enough, the brain will automatically bring the hand/gun up to the point of aim; e.g. Center of Mass. Is this the only method of shooting; heck no. But it is what I practice and like. If a person likes using sites for their defensive practice, that's cool. But in a real life situation, your target will NOT be standing still and they aren't going to wait and stop so you can take better aim. If your target isn't moving, then either their back is to you or they don't know you're there. In either case, you'll have a difficult time convincing anyone that your life was threatened. Unless of course their concentration was on that of your family member or someone else you were trying to protect.
  4. Hungry Seagull

    Hungry Seagull member

    Feb 19, 2009
    I think you best leave the sights on the gun as they are.

    I tell you why.

    My blackhawk quickdraw rig that has a notch on top and back of the plastic holster that accomodates my white dot sights on my .45 ACP.

    My Uncle Mike's Hip Holster has been formed to specifically protect the trigger of the gun, retain the gun, and provide a notch for the dots so that they dont hang up on the draw.

    My Smart Carry's Holster is very tight for deep concealment and with the right size pants under a large summer shirt, there is not decrease in draw speed. The dots dont hang up anywhere.

    Finally think about this. You aim with the front sight all the time, what are you going to do beyond 12 feet when you dont have a definate sight to aim the weapon, much less level it at the standing target or provide a 1 to 2 MOA lead against a diagnonally approaching target or a crossing left (Or right) running target side to side?

    Your gain in speed is going to be very small. So small it cannot matter.

    You might think that I am not good at fast draw. I aint. So why am I telling you any gain in speed does not matter?

    I say this. I have had to make correct and precise inputs at speeds well above safe manuvering on a loaded 18 wheeler where life of someone is at stake with very precious last few seconds of grains running out of a gigantic hour glass of time before impact to that person.

    Time for me slows and I know it due to the stress imposed onto my body and mind. It makes feel like moving through deep water when actually I appear to others moving extremely fast.

    Leave those sights alone I say, find another carry system that wont hang you out to dry on that sights.

    Dont butcher that gun you dummy!

    One more thing, a gentle parting shot.

    If you are sooo worried about fast draw (The quick and the dead movie style with Gene Hackman) then you need to push your situational Awareness up to condition yellow from white and outwards at least 20 feet for the full 360 coverage of your environment at all times.
  5. ScareyH22A

    ScareyH22A Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Take turns with your buds with an airsoft gun. Drills with airsoft is where it's at. BTW, they sting a little so if you play the bad guy there's an incentive to not get hit.
  6. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Member

    Jun 7, 2004
  7. Japle

    Japle Member

    Feb 28, 2005
    Viera, FL
    If you're sure you won't use the sights in a fight, you should remove them.

    That way it won't hurt as much when the BG takes your empty gun away from you and shoves it up your butt.
  8. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    West Michigan
    heck, think of the time you will have in court if you accidently hit a bystander and have to explain removing the sights to a jury. good luck with that! leave the sights where they are. if you must do something with them, take a file to them and round off the edges, or build up "ramps" from clear epoxy to smooth them out. just leave them there. your freedom, or financial future may depend on it.
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    As Chick Gaylord said of such things, are you arming yourself for an affair of honor in a telephone booth? If you have an average of 20 feet, that means some have to be longer, some shorter. My unaimed effective range is about 10-12 feet. Beyond that, I make some use of the sights. Maybe not much, but they are there and in my line of sight and reflexes.
  10. VegasOPM

    VegasOPM Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Las Vegas
    Here is another wrinkle in favor of keeping your sights. Lets say that you are in an armed encounter and you do the smart thing and get behind cover. Most likely you have never practiced shooting from index while sprawled out prone, shooting around a planter. "Walking the fire to the target" works for Artillery- not handguns.
  11. ROBBY.1911

    ROBBY.1911 Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    keep your sights

    there has been a lot studied on the sight situation and if they are really needed even in competition such as ipsc or idpa. todd jarret, famous handgunner, "shoots out of the notch." this means that he follows the edict of "front sight--press." when his front sight lands on the target he pulls the trigger. another way that other well-known handgunners have experimented with is removing the sights or taping them over, making them useless. you can do this with no trouble, no muss--no fuss. here's how it works. you use, if you are right-handed, the upper left rear corner of your slide lined up with the upper left front corner, which draws an imaginary line for the brain to follow. get your pistol out and LOOK, not sight so much, down the slide to the target. it's a very natural thing to do and fun to try at the range where you have a target to record your efforts. i hope that this helps.:evil:
  12. -v-

    -v- Member

    Oct 22, 2007
    Keep 'em on. Practice drawing and point shooting out to 7 yards or so and learn the feel of your gun. Once you have that established, under 7 yards you won't have time to use the sights and will instead go on muscle memory, and if by some freak of nature accident you end up shooting beyond 7 yards, you'll be thankful you have them! Also, don't forget to practice shooting on the move, practice shooting in any position that you might end up in during a defensive shooting (prone, suppine, kneeling, head-stand, etc.). For me I always start off with a mag of mid-rate fire at 7 yards and then proceed to do fire-on-the move drills. Get used to getting hits on the target, while making yourself a hard target to engage.

    Also, as Hungry Seagull said, nearly all holsters are built with a groove for the sights. Removing them might alter the gun-to-holster fit and actually make the draw slower. +1 on the clear epoxy or acrylic ramps over the back of the sights if it really is that big a deal.
  13. Feanaro

    Feanaro Member

    Mar 29, 2003
    Leeds, AL.
    If you need to point shoot, the sights won't bother you. If you need an accurate shot using the sights, it won't be easy if they aren't there.

    Factoring everything around the "average gunfight" won't help if you have an unaverage gunfight.
  14. maskedman504

    maskedman504 Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    State Line Road KS/MO
    The airsoft idea of drawing andfiring on a advancing attacker is a very interesting idea. Where some eye protection though! (attacker)
  15. Tiomoid

    Tiomoid Member

    Apr 25, 2009
    Read Massad. Well covered by him.
  16. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Tejas Norte
    Sights turn a 3-25 foot weapon into a 1 to 50+ YARD weapon.

    That's part of why I kinda prefer the old style small/precise sights to modern "huge dot" sights. I can hit something big and close without any sights, I can't hit something far and small with some of the oversized "modern" sights.
  17. David E

    David E Member

    Aug 3, 2008
    If your sights are an undercut post that catches on clothing during the draw, change it to a ramped sight.

    Sights are good. Jim Cirillo used sights in his deadly confrontations.
  18. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Keep them.

    The day may come when you may have to put a bullet in something this big: O

    The day may come when you may have to put a bullet in something this big: .

    You never know.

    And SHOULD that day come, you sure don't want to be kicking yourself in the arse for removing your sights WHILE you are still in a fight...
  19. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Dec 24, 2002
    Forestburg, Texas
    So maybe the question should be as to what sort of problems are you having? How are the sights lessening the ease of your draw? Do the sights make your gun too heavy? If so, carry 1 less round or convert the rail (at great expense) to a gutter sight.

    Do the sights snag on something? Front or rear? As alluded to, both can be changed or modified to sights that won't snag.

    If the sights are catching on the holster, you have probably made a very poor holster decision.

    If the sights are snagging on your clothing, you might reconsider some of your wardrobe options.

    If the presence of sights is having a negative effect on your draw, then either 1) you are very unpracticed, or 2) you have made some sort of terribly poor holster decisions.

    If the sights are snagging in your pocket, you need to get a pocket holster.

    Of course if you shoot with your eyes closed, sights are pretty meaningless.
  20. Kwanger

    Kwanger Member

    Mar 30, 2009
    Same as everyone else says - keep the sights. If the threat is as close to you as you think it is likely to be, it won't matter. However, should the possibility arise that you find yoursle needing to engage at a distance beyond your nose (well, about 3-4 feet), sights do have a use. They have use for follow on fire; they also have use in a 'weapons drawn but not fired' situation - if I had a couple of seconds to spare, I'd want to be looking down them, rather than wishing I'd not butchere my gun.

    Sights give you options; remove at your peril. If you are having snagging probs - practice your draw more.
  21. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 29, 2006
    California - San Francisco Bay Area
    With the proper training and practice, it's amazing how fast one can acquire a flash sight picture and hit accurately. Learning those techniques and developing proficiency in the use of those techniques also gives you the flexibility to deal with targets at pretty much any distance. Yes, most gun fights are close range affairs. But what do you do if you've focused all your training on engaging targets 5 to 7 yard away; and the one time you really need to use your gun, it's the one in a hundred case in which you must engage an armed threat 10 to 12 yards away and partially behind cover?


The idea behind the flash sight picture is to focus on the front sight quickly and align the sights only as precisely as warranted under the circumstances. At distances on the order of 5 to 7 yards, when the target is the center of mass, a rough alignment will be sufficient to assure good hits (as long as you have good trigger control). As distances increase or the target shrinks, the alignment needs to be more precise. But with training and practice you can develop a good sense of how good is good enough and be able to make instantaneous judgments. 

    As Clint Smith wrote in the January/February 2008 American Handgunner:

    "It's alway argued that in a fight shooters will not look at their sights. I strongly agree -- if no one has ever taught them otherwise. To say that people don't, or won't, look at their sights is wrong. People have, they will in the future, and they'll hit the...target too. The correct alignment of the sights is a learnable skill. Is a textbook perfect sight picture available in every fight? Of course not....In fairness, the sights are only part of the issue -- the jerked on trigger doesn't improve anything."

    Even when one has been taught to look at the sights, how much has he actually practiced quickly seeing the adequate sight picture and acting reflexively, without conscious thought, on the rough sight picture? As another trainer, Bennie Cooley, once told me, "It's not that I shoot quicker than you do. It's that I see quicker."
  22. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I am not aware of any respected shooting instructor who advocates removing sights. It seems like a very, very foolish idea to me. The late Jff Cooper (whom I admire greatly) was a staunch defender of using the sights in a real gunfight.

    I have only been in one gunfight but I can tell you that I DISTINCTLY recall seeing the sights and lining them up on target during the shooting... and I still missed 3 times out of 4 rounds fired at 30 feet. You think a man is a big target until he starts moving and you get all excited.

    I suggest you leave the sights where they are and practice using them.
  23. ar10

    ar10 Member

    May 23, 2007
    Learn to point shoot at 25' and if you can practice night shooting. Most of the encounters, day or night, are up close and personal and you don't have the time to aim and fire. I lucked out a couple of years ago. A long time police instructor offered a 12 hr class on a Sunday that started at 5pm. By the time we got to the range is pitch black with no moon, we couldn't even see the targets at 25ft. You wouldn't believe how many misses there were. One person had laser grips on a .38 snubby who had the best shots, and that big ol flashlight you might grab will very likely be the biggest problem you'll have.
  24. CWL

    CWL Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    You may never need them, but its better to have them than wishing you did.

    I train for failure drills and precision shots just in case the BG is barricaded or holding a family member.
  25. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    What kind of sights do you have on your Colt to make this an option or even an issue? I've had Novaks on my CBOB and drawing is simple and instinctual.
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