Pistol Sights of SHOT Show 2018

Rear SightsFace it, pistol sights are kind of a boring topic. There is not a lot of real estate for mounting fancy optics, pistols are not typically used for long distance shots that necessitate heavy duty upgrades, and, often, it can be a difficult or impossible task depending on the pistol. Many concealed carry guns have integrated sights machined into the slide, proprietary dovetail mounts that make it hard to find sights for, or simply require a pricey tool to do (unless you’re not afraid of whacking on them with a punch and hammer or if you use this one weird old trick).

And pistol sight upgrades are usually just not sexy unless you have a tricked out race gun topped off with the latest, greatest, highest speed, lowest drag optic, which seems to be the latest trend for “carry” guns. You will certainly find more “2-pound trigger of the week,” “custom Louis Vitton laser stipling,” “unicorn horn speckled platinum infused Cerakote,” and “slide cut” talk at the gun counter and on Instagram than you will “I put new sights on my self defense handgun” talk.

But, alas – we did manage to find some interesting new products on the show floor that fall into this obscure category. Despite all of the above, upgrading the sights on your defensive handgun is often one of the most practical and affordable ways to make it better and more useful.

Below are the top three most interesting new (new to us, at least) pistol sight upgrades we found on the SHOT Show 18 show floor, and an honorable mention that will help you with the others.  

Night Fision Tritium Night Sights

Neither of our GunLink team members who got drawn into the Night Fision (sic) booth had heard of the company, despite them being around for a little while. The name is a play on Night Vision + Fisson. Like nuclear fission. Because tritium is radioactive. Get it?

That doesn’t mean that they don’t know a thing or two about tritium, however. Night Fision is a sister company to Cammenga – the supplier of tritium-illuminated lensatic compasses to the US military and others around the world.

Night Fision bills their sights as “the brightest pistol sight both day and night” – something they achieve through sheer volume of tritium material and fluorescent colorants molded directly into the thermoplastic housing for the tritium vial. While the fluorescent surround’s brightness is tough to quantify, the glow-in-the-dark capacity is not. Night Fision says that they put 30% more tritium in their sights than their competitors.

That extra-full tritium vial is packed in a “UV-stabilized and heat-resistant” thermoplastic housing, available in your choice of colors, that is housed in the 4140 steel body, which has a black nitride metal treatment for wear and corrosion resistance. Although the tritium is Swiss-sourced, the product is made entirely in the United States and backed up with what they claim is the “longest illumination guarantee in the industry” – 16 years for their green and yellow vials (where most others are backed for 12 years) and a lifetime warranty against any other defects.

While we didn’t get to compare them side-by-side with the competition, the “day” side of the sights did appear quite bright under the bright show floor lights and the tritium glowed strongly when covered by my hand. With sights currently available for Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, and Canik, with a promise of “more brands coming soon,” and a retail price tag right around $100, we may have to pick up a set of these to try for ourselves.

MEPRO FT Bullseye Sight

We happened upon the Meprolight FT Bullseye sight while ogling all of the other nifty gadgets on display in the Mako Group booth in the LE hall of SHOT Show 2018. And Nifty it is.

Rather than being a set of both front and rear sights, the FT Bullseye is a rear sight only unit. No front sight is included or required with the FT Bullseye system, which occupies the rear sight dovetail (and a significant amount of slide real estate surrounding it). Presumably, your existing front sight can remain in place or be removed, since it would be entirely occluded by the Bullseye.

The concept is probably closer to a red dot sight (RDS) than traditional pistol sights – which can be a blessing or a curse depending on your shooting habits and skills. As we found when testing the Glock MOS pistols, there is a learning curve to overcome if you are accustomed to shooting with traditional sights.

In our experience, without the front sight drawing your eye starting in your peripheral vision as you present the pistol, it takes some getting used to in order to properly present the pistol and quickly acquire a sight picture with the RDS. The same was true with the FT Bullseye, although with a few practice rounds we were getting it pretty quickly, although how it would perform under stress, on the move, or on moving targets might vary.

Performance under various lighting conditions may vary as well. The sight picture, (again, contained entirely in the rear sight unit), consists of an illuminated center dot surrounded by an illuminated circle. When the dot is centered in the circle, the sight is correctly aligned. Based on a fiber TAS design and hopped up with tritium, as Mepro is wont to do, the FT Bullseye was plenty bright.

At the Mako booth, with the tritium and show floor lights both working on it, the dot and circle were both plainly visible. In low light, the tritium should do a fine job of illuminating the sight picture components, and outdoors in daylight the wide fiber optic windows should collect plenty of ambient light. However, using the sight outdoors worries me a little. In the photo of the sight picture, you can see the reflection of three of the show floor lights – not especially bright and probably about 40-50 feet away in the exposed rear lens. I would be concerned that a clear, bright sky when shooting outdoors would reflect on the lens and wash out the sight picture.

Nonetheless, the FT Bullseye is a neat concept for a (with practice) fast acquisition illuminated sight that doesn’t require batteries, slide modification, or batteries. MSRP is around $199.

Simple Sights Pistol Sights

Equal Height, Equal Light,” right? That old mantra about how to align your pistol sights goes out the window with these interesting new pistol sights that think outside of the box. Designer Michael Mansfield’s patented new sight system is the result of his efforts to create a sight that is faster to get on target, more accurate, and easier to use, especially for those with low vision.

Rather than a traditional three-dot or “ball in a bucket” sight picture, Simple Sights create a new kind of sight picture, more similar to Heine Straight-8 sights, but perhaps easier and faster to bring to bear.

The Simple Sights sight picture consists of two side-by-side circles that are split into four semi-circles. Both the left and right circle are split between the front and rear sights with the left side of the left circle and right side of the right circle on the rear sight while the right side of the left circle and the left side of the right circle are on the front sight post. Did you get all that? A picture is worth a thousand words, so check out the photo above from Mansfield’s patent application.

Figuring out how to align the sights is pretty intuitive – just complete the circles. No making sure that your three dots are perfectly aligned, your ball is in the bucket, your dot is in your notch, or that you have the all-important equal height, equal light. You know what a circle is supposed to look like? Check. Do your circles look wonky? Your sights are not aligned. Do you have to nice, round circles? Your sights are aligned. Grade school stuff – the product name is apropos.

The Simple Sights are an interesting study in how to rapidly get the human brain to find and align pistol sights. Their booth was in the SHOT Show NEXT pavilion, which is in a hallway just outside of the press room, and which also stays packed elbow-to-elbow with visitors wanting to check out the latest innovations from new exhibitors who are on-deck to display their wares in the main “big boy” exhibit halls.

In this crowded environment, the concept of how Simple Sights work and how to use them is easy to grasp. However, given how crowded and poorly lit the area is, we did not get much of a chance to see how practical the system is by aiming the demo sights in a normal shooting position. While the concept seems sound, one concern that I have off the bat is where the eye will focus. Where should the eye focus? Front sight, front sight, front sight – with the target and rear sight being slightly out of focus. My concern is that, at arms length and your eye focused such that the front sight is clear, will the rear sight be too out of focus to complete the circles reliably to get the sights properly aligned?

Either way, if nothing else, it is an interesting idea and may be worth checking out if you have trouble getting your eyes to properly align your more traditional pistol sights.

Trinity Force Sight Tool

While this is not a pistol sight, it’s in the ballpark and we wanted to include it here as an honorable mention for people interested in changing and/or adjusting their pistol sights.

The Trinity Force tool caught our attention in the SHOT Show 2018 New Product Center – and, in a world where sight tools range from $120-$700 at Brownells, why wouldn’t a sturdy-looking sight tool for under $40 catch our attention?

So, off to the Trinity Force booth we went – where we were thoroughly impressed by the wide array of things (from scopes and rings to RDS to AR parts and rails) from a company of which we had never heard. But, I digress… we were there to check out the sight tool.

The unit appears to be solidly built and pretty feature rich as far as sight tools go. It has adjustments for slide height, left-right position within the tool, a keeper to stop the slide from tilting up, and pads on each of the above to protect the slide finish. It can also be used by hand or mounted to a bench.

While we did not get to do any testing with the too beyond spinning a few of the knobs (i.e. we didn’t get to use it to push around any sights), it functioned as expected, moved smoothly, and seems like it would do a fine job of drifting pistol sights for adjustment or installation/removal. When the tools to do such jobs cost a couple hundred dollars, having a gunsmith install your sights for $25-50 does not seem that steep. But when you can install them yourself, and have the ability to adjust them and perform the task again and again for less than $40, a DIY tool like this makes a lot of sense.

This is a part of our ongoing coverage of what’s new from SHOT Show 2018 in Las Vegas, made possible in part by our coverage partners, including Shot-Force Pro AR500 targets, Sticky Holsters, RepackBox ammo storage boxes, and Gunz Incorporated. Be sure to check them out. to find out more more about our coverage partners, click here. To see more from SHOT Show 2018, keep watching right here and on the GunLink Forums.

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