Anyone who has a pistol for self defense or is just a gear-head has heard about (or at least should have!) night sights for your pistol. Night sights are up there on my list of top upgrades to be done as soon as I get a new pistol, before I even carry it! It is naive to assume any confrontation you will have will be lit enough for you to use the standard sights to easily aim and hit your target, lets face it, it’s dark about half of the time! So it should go without saying that you should equip your pistol with some way to use the sights in the event of low or poor light conditions. There are a number of ways to do this – a flashlight, laser sight, etc…. but when it comes down to reliability nothing really beats good old tritium night sights. The basic premise of tritium night sights is a small tube is lined with phosphorescent material then filled with gaseous tritium. The beta decay of the tritium causes the phosphorescent material to glow. Because of the slow decay of tritium, this process will effectively work for about 10-20 years with only minor dimming of the light output. Tritium night sights require no external charging or power to work, and most are guaranteed for up to 10 years! It is this simple and reliable reason that tritium night sights are the preferred option for night sights on your pistol.
So now that we have established why tritium night sights are the way to go, there are several manufacturers that make these sights, how do you choose? I have noticed that most of the tritium vials are made by Trijicon and then used in other manufacturers sights. Really the best way to go is to find the set that fits your pistol the best and offers the features/look that you want. What features you ask could be present in a standard tritium night sight? Well, one important one we’ll discuss here is color. Some manufacturers offer the option to get different color front and back sights. The reasoning behind this is if you are in a stressful situation with low light, there is a chance you might accidentally line up your front sight on the outside of your rear sight and not know it. Here are a few examples of a set of green/green tritium sights, and a set of yellow/green tritium sights.
You can see how there is much more contrast between front and back with the yellow/green sights. I’m not going to say that you wouldn’t be able to figure it out with the green/green, but in a gunfight, you don’t want to play fair, you want every possible advantage, and if the contrast can possibly help you, why wouldn’t you want it?!?! Now you might wonder why I specifically chose the yellow/green sights. There are a number of different colors and combinations of tritium night sights out there, so here are a few things to consider:
- Green is the brightest tritium color and will last 10-20 years
- Yellow is also a very bright tritium color (not quite as bright as green) and will last the same as green, 10-20 years
- Orange is not as bright, and will only last 5-10 years
So with these considerations, I recommend having a green front sight since it is further from your eye, and a yellow rear sight since it will last longer than orange. Trijicon makes the yellow/green tritium night sight set for most pistols, it might take some digging to find it, but I believe it is worth every penny. I have a set of green/green on a S&W M&P, and this new set of yellow/green is installed on my Glock 19. I can honestly say that while either is better than nothing, the yellow/green set really stands out and I’m able to line up the sights faster given the contrast of the different colors.
Trijicon makes night sights for almost all major brands such as Glock, S&W, Remington, Sig Sauer, Taurus, most 1911 pistols, Beretta, Browning, Colt, CZ, Desert Eagle, Kimber, H&K, Ruger, Springfield Armory, Walther & more. If you do get a set of Trijicon tritium night sights for your pistol, pay a gunsmith the $30 or so it will cost to have them installed. There are a lot of ways to scratch a pistol slide up, and if you do it to your own gun, all you’ll ever see is the scratch you left when you look at the sights! Hopefully this has helped clear up the mud a bit on pistol night sights, when you are ready, come visit us at ManVentureOutpost for Trijicon tritium night sights.