Sights

What Are Night Sights On A Handgun?

Night sights are a valuable addition to a handgun that has become very popular in recent years. These sights significantly improve a shooters accuracy in low light or dim lighting conditions. For this reason, they have become widely used on concealed carry, self-defense, and other types of weapons. In this post we’ll help answer the burning question: what are night sights?

Pistol Night Sights


Night Sights 101 – What Are They?

Night sights are replacement sights glow in low light & operate best in dimly lit environments. If you’re looking for an upgrade from your standard factory handgun sights, night sights like the TruGlo TFX vs TFX Pro are a great option.

There are two main types of night sights: those that use Tritium, and those that use fiber optic technology.

  • Tritium sights are filled with a radioactive gas that emits a faint green glow.
  • Fiber optic sights rely on ambient light to create a bright dot that’s easy to see in any lighting conditions.

Fiber optic & tritium night sights, like the best night sights for Walther PPQ are most commonly used in the following colors: green, orange, and yellow.


Pistol Night Sights Pros

Benefit Description
More Accurate In Poor Lighting Pistol night sights, equipped with tritium or luminescent materials, enhance aiming accuracy in low-light conditions, such as at night or in dark environments.
Higher Quality Than Factory Sights Night sights, crafted with superior materials, offer enhanced durability and longevity compared to standard factory sights, ensuring reliable performance over time.
Versatility & Adjustability Pistol night sights provide customization options like windage and elevation adjustments, allowing users to tailor sight alignment to individual preferences and shooting styles for improved accuracy.
Visible Over The Muzzle Flash Pistol night sights remain visible over the muzzle flash during firing, providing continuous target visibility in low-light situations, allowing for quick and accurate follow-up shots.

1) Poor Lighting Accuracy

In a self-defense situation, every second counts. That’s why it’s important to have a gun with sights that will allow you to shoot accurately, even in low-light conditions.

Most of the best pistol night sights, like M&P 9mm night sights, are designed to help you create a clear sight picture in poor lighting. They use tritium to produce a bright, green glow that makes it easy to see your target in the dark.

Many of the best pistol red dots are also great low-light sights. But they are generally more expensive than traditional night sights so they’re not in everyone’s budget. However, I would recommend that you keep fixed iron sights with red dot set up.


2) Higher Quality Than Factory Sights

Generally speaking, pistol night sights are constructed with better quality than standard factory sights.

Stock sights are usually mass-produced from lower-quality materials and with less attention to detail, which can make a big difference in terms of durability and performance.

Brands like the Trijicon night sights, which make the Trijicon HD vs HD XR, make some of the highest quality sights that will last for decades. Plus, they’re made in America!


3) Versatility & Adjustability

picture of glock night sight

Night sights are simply more versatile than standard factory pistol sights. For one, you have the ability to adjust your rear sights to get it dialed into your liking. Getting your rear sight set perfectly can really improve your accuracy and target acquisition speed. Just make sure you know which way to move your rear sights to get to most out of your gun!

Plus you can normally choose between a variety of different color options for your rear sight and front sight.

  • Green
  • Orange
  • Yellow

Pick the colors of your tritium dots that best meet your needs and preferences. I find that green works best in dim light & it has a 12-year half-life.


4) Visible Over The Muzzle Flash

When you fire rounds in low-light situations, the muzzle flash is bright and distracting. When you use a tritium sight in a dark room, they are so bright that you can still see your sights over the muzzle flash. The brightest sights are great in these situations so you can stay focused on your target.


Pistol Night Sights Cons

Downside Description
Fiber Optic Sights Can Have Quality Issues Some pistol night sights with fiber optic components may experience quality issues, impacting their reliability and performance over time.
Can Be Distracting The illuminated nature of pistol night sights, especially in bright conditions, can be distracting to some shooters and potentially affect their focus on the target.

1) Fiber Optic Sights Can Have Quality Issues

When it comes to gun accessories, you often get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong, you can find some great scopes for under $300, but often times these will be lower-quality optics.

Fiber optic sights are often cheaper and lower quality sights. This is why I recommend most people buy tritium sights for their firearms. Tritium’s half-life is upwards of 12 years and is the superior option in most situations. It might be tempting to go for a cheap fiber optic front sight, but I wouldn’t recommend it.


2) Distractions

We have just covered many of the benefits of bright night sight. But everyone has their own personal preferences. Some shooters find the bright sight to be distracting. In low light conditions, some shooters say they can only focus on their sight and can’t get a clear sight picture. For these people, many of the best browning buckmark red dots are far better options than regular night optics.


Are Night Sights Safe?

Many people get scared when they hear a sight containing a radioactive isotope.

However, there is no danger from the sights themselves. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, but it emits very weak beta radiation that poses no threat to human health. In fact, you’re exposed to much higher levels of radiation just by being outdoors or flying in an airplane.


What If I Use A Flashlight?

People fall in love with their gun accessories. But there are certain combinations of accessories that just make no sense.

If you are using a flashlight while shooting, there is no need to use pistol night sights. The light from the flashlight will allow you to see your target just as well. In fact, you might even have an advantage over someone who is using night sights because the light will be shining right in their eyes!


Tritium Sights vs Red Dot Sights

When it comes to comparing tritium sights vs red dot sights, there are a few things to consider.

One major difference is price. You will pay slightly more for the best 300 blackout sights than you would for a night sight. Your use case is another factor to consider. Ak red dots will be accurate from a much longer range than a standard iron sight or night sight.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are night sights really necessary?

I will not say that any optic is 100% necessary. However, I would definitely recommend using a night sight for your Glock or another handgun.

What are night sights called?

Night sights are also called Tritium sights because they contain tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium is used to create an invisible light source that allows you to see your sights in the dark.

How long will night sights glow?

The half-life of tritium is 12.5 years. So your sights should last over a decade!

Do night sights work in daylight?

Yes, they work in daylight conditions. In broad daylight, the brighter green will stand out against the bright background and be easier to see than standard sights. However, keep in mind that they may not be as visible in very bright sunlight as regular sights.

The Bottom Line

By now you know that night sights are a great replacement for your handguns factory sights. There are many benefits to using these type of rear sights such as improved accuracy and faster target acquisition. In fact, there are even several different types of night sights such as fiber optic sights & tritium sights. Do some research & see which type of night sight works best for your specific use case & budget!

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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