Concealed Carry

The 10 Best Sights for Older Shooters

As we get older, we lose visual acuity. Some of the sights we used when young no longer serve as well.

There are options that allow the shooter to actually see the sights and make accurate hits with the handgun, which is what it is all about.

Let’s consider the different types and which type may be best for your needs.

Choosing the Right Sights

There are several roles a pistol may play. Target shooting is one, personal defense another.

You may wish to use one type or the other for different roles, but there is also the go-anywhere, do-anything handgun that demands a set of high-visibility sights well suited to several roles.

Sight visibility is most important. A set that is designed to be picked up quickly and easily is important.

From the simple orange or red front-sight insert of the Smith and Wesson revolver to the highly-developed TRUGLO night sight with fiber-optic insert, we need a quality sight we can see and see well enough to fire accurately.

If we are enthusiastic concerning testing different loads and need to have the handgun sighted-in precisely, we need adjustability.

If the pistol is for personal defense in the home, we may use fixed sights, but they must be highly visible. Some of the choices must be made before the handgun is purchased.

As an example, if you are purchasing a .357 Magnum revolver, both fixed-sight and adjustable-sight models are available. A shooter with different needs should choose the adjustable-sight model.

Most self-loading pistols allow the shooter to change the sighting setup. The sights should have contrast for the best visibility. Red, orange or green sight inserts are a big help in aiding eyesight.

The sight should also be durable. Handguns have recoil and momentum.  Also, consider installation. Just about every shop these days has a sight pusher to install GLOCK sights.

Some of the others are more difficult.

two smith & wesson revolvers
There is quite a contrast between a fixed-sight revolver and an adjustable-sight revolver.

1. Smith & Wesson Adjustable Revolver Sights

Known as the “Micro Click,” these have been regarded as among the finest revolver sights for decades. These offer good adjustment for various loads.

As an example, the .38 Special and .357 Magnum may be loaded with bullets from 90 to 200 grains. These bullets strike to a different point of aim.

Even in factory loads, different bullet velocities and weights strike to a different point of impact. Another advantage is that these sights offer a clear high-visibility sight picture.

When coupled with an orange or red insert in the front sight, these are excellent revolver sights.

Smith & Wesson Revolver with Fiber-Optic Front Sight
Smith and Wesson’s latest model offers a HiViz front sight.

2. Ruger Adjustable Sights

The Ruger is comparable to the Smith & Wesson sight and is perhaps even a bit more rugged.

Ruger offers a fiber-optic front sight option on many of their revolvers. The front ramp is easily changed on some of these revolvers.

The result is an excellent all-around revolver sight.

Ruger GP100 with Adjustable Sights
The Ruger GP100 offers an excellent sight picture.

3. Taurus Defender Sights

Taurus offers adjustable-sight revolvers. However, they also offer a unique fixed-sight option in the Defender revolver.

If you are looking for a defensive revolver for carry or for home defense, the Taurus 856 Defender should be on the shortlist.

One reason is because it has the only tritium sight I am aware of on an inexpensive revolver. The Taurus features an orange-dot front sight with a tritium center.

Taurus 856D Tritium Front Sight
Taurus offers the 856D with a standard tritium front sight.

4. Wilson Combat Battle Sights

When Wilson Combat does something, they do it right. Recently I added a set of Battle Sights to my GLOCK 19 to match the sight picture with the Wilson Combat CQB pistol and Beretta Centurion Wilson Combat pistol.

These sights are serrated on the back of the rear sight at 40-lines per inch — custom grade — for glare reduction. The rear notch is .145-inches wide with a deep U-shaped cut.

This allows for excellent speed of acquisition. The front sight is .125-inches wide. While tritium is a good choice, a fiber-optic sight is actually better for daylight and range use.

Windage adjustment isn’t difficult. I like this sight a great deal. While it is unlikely I will have a need to rack the sight on the belt or boot heel to manipulate the slide, well, it happens.

The Battle Sight is ready for business.

Wilson Combat Beretta Sights
Wilson Combat features the Battle Sights on most of their models.

5. XS F8 Sight

I have included two types of XS sights among the ten top sights for older shooters. The XS F8 features a larger front dot over a smaller rear dot.

For daylight shooting the rear notch is .190-inches wide and is easily picked up.

This contrast prevents misalignment of the sights in the dark — don’t forget to test night sights in a dark environment with dry fire —and makes for a very rapid sight picture with excellent accuracy potential.

XS F8 Night Sights
The XS F8 is a modern night sight with much to recommend.

6. XS RAM Sight

The RAM (radioactive material) night sight features a three-dot outline with a contrasting front sight. The result is a fast and accurate sighting system for use in dim light.

It doesn’t suffer when used in bright light conditions. Accuracy potential is excellent. The RAM differs from the original XS in using a traditional notch-and-post type sight picture.

The sights are designed to offer maximum contrast for fast shooting. The front sight uses an XS-designed Ember Glow Dot sight. The front dot may be ordered in bright orange or green.

When you run drills with these sights, you will notice the front sight offers greater focus as it is brighter. I ran dry-fire drills with the sights using a triple-checked unloaded handgun.

There is usually some light in the home and the RAM system allows for a good sight picture for use in dim light. A problem with some designs is light reflection off of the rear sight.

Bright light, dim light, and any number of conditions are encountered. The rear sight features a slight overhang designed to reduce glare and increase sight definition.

I like the RAM because I have used three-dot sights for many years. The F8, however, with its high-profile, bright and easy alignment is my choice for smaller handguns.

XS RAM Sight
This is the XS Ram sight installed.

7. HiViz Sights

Fiber-optic sights have a transparent fiber that transmits light along its length. It is made from glass and plastic. It doesn’t bend light or refract light. It is highly rated for reflection.

The entire length, not just a point, reflects light. HiViz says “see what you have been missing,” and there is a much truth in this.

HiViz offers superbly bright and effective fiber-optic combinations for rifles, shotguns and pistols. The pistol illustrated features sights added by an old friend well into his seventies.

He added the sights and found that the improvement was excellent.

HiViz Fiber-Optic Front Sight
HiViz offers a brilliantly visible sight option.

8. TRUGLO Night Sights

TRUGLO took the step of adding fiber optics to tritium night sights and came up with among the finest combinations to grace a firearm.

TRUGLO offers all types of optics, rifle scopes and red dots. Their night sights are well thought out and effective. The steel sights and fiber-optic tubes are a great combination.

There are several types of TRUGLO sights. I have used most of the types and have more TRUGLO than any other by last count. This is something you can count on.

TRUGLO Sights on Smith & Wesson M&P EZ
TRUGLO has sighting options available for a wide range of handguns.

9. Red Dot Optics

Fixed iron sights have worked well for a long time. A red dot uses a small bright dot reflected on a glass to give shooters and aiming point.

There is a learning curve to adapt, but those who have practiced, find the sight fast and effective. The red dot just may make a difference in your ability to connect quickly at personal-defense ranges.

You have to make the decision to use a red dot before purchase, however. GLOCK, SIG Sauer, and a number of other makers offer optics-ready handguns.

SIG P229 with Red Dot Optic
A red-dot sight is offered from the factory in this SIG P229 RX.

10. 1911 Adjustable

Some years ago, we had two options for the 1911, small GI sights that were difficult to see well or flimsy adjustable sights. BoMar, now sadly gone, offered the first truly rugged and adjustable sight.

They were not cheap, but they worked. Today Les Baer, Springfield and Colt offer fully-adjustable models that are both rugged and affordable.

They are an option on the Springfield TRP and several other handguns. These offer far greater utility than fixed-sight versions.

1911 Adjustable Sights
The Les Baer fully-adjustable sight is service-grade and is an excellent option.

What are your favorite firearm sights? Have they changed as you’ve aged? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. With my astigmatism , dots that are paint , tritium or red dots on glass , tend to have a spray of light around the actual dot. I find the triangle of the SeeAll open sight much better for overcoming astigmatism . I hear they are coming out in handgun sizes with tritium… I’ll have to see if they can replace the rear sight on my SIG p229 !

  2. 1906 Springfield .30-06 with a Ditchburn barrel and Lyman Peep Sight. It was a tack driver when my Dad gave it to me 45 years ago and still is today… of course I am wearing trifocals now!

  3. I can’t get the scope from my AR-15 to work well with my Walther PK-380.
    I guess I will just have to get Sneaky Pete to make an AR-15 sized holster!

  4. As an old guy, I might suggest also looking at Night Fision sights. A variety of color choices for front sight has been good for me. Mounted on a Sig P229.

  5. I’m 75 and wear trifocals, so sights are one of, if the THE most important component of the shooting equation. I’d have to say my favorite sights are the ones that came standard on my Rock Island Tactical mid-size 1911 — red fiber optic front and Novak adjustable rear, although in dim light I love the Trijicon tritium night sights on my Glock 22. For long guns, my two favorite sights are the ghost ring on my Mossberg 930 and the EOTech 517/A65 on one of my AR’s.

  6. As an “age challenged” person, have added CT Lasers to several handguns. Biggest issue is that the Laser and point of impact have to be adjusted to match. The “305” larger size S&W “J” frame Laser Grip also makes it easier to handle the recoil from these smaller handguns.

    As a “Home Defense” handgun, a Light/Laser combo. once it has be properly set up, would be my ideal. A steel frame 3″ .38, with a Laser Grip, (S&W model 60), would be my choice for EDC. Lightweight .38s, (S&W 638) are nice on paper, but the recoil for those of us with older hands is harder to control.

  7. I recently picked up a Glock 20. 10mm Auto produces much more knock down power up here in bear country. While I love my Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum, I also love having 15+1 chances to hit a charging bear.
    I never liked the Glock factory sights due to poor low light visibility. I know red dots are all the rage right now but, I don’t like to be dependent on a battery since Murphy’s Law states “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible moment.”
    For this reason, I went with TruGlo TFX PRO Day/Night sights.
    These, along with the Streamlight TLR-1 HL, provide the highest level of sight visibility and optimal target illumination I could find.
    Akar makes a very solid leather holster for my configuration and I am very happy with it.

  8. My ability to quickly and accurately gain a good sight picture has changed over the years and I have naturally moved toward looking for solutions enhancing my ability to get the front sight acquired and on target. In my pistols, I have True Glo, Hi Vis, 1911 adjustable, Wilson Combat Battle sights. The common element for me is to have that front sight in a visible, distinguishable color that is consistent in all my weapons. I’ve found that a red front sight, regardless of manufacturer is the most critical element for me. I haven’t opted for a ‘red dot’ simply because it changes the profile of the weapon and I would have to change my aiming process slightly. Irrespective of all the different weapons I have (and I love to shoot them all at different times), I want a commonality in some respect which translates into better shooting and better shooting is more enjoyment.
    Good article. Thanks

  9. I’m surprised that the advantage tactical sight does not show up on your list. I have been using them on my Springfield XDM and Glock for sometime now. I suffer from old eyes and needing readers and this solution has been an excellent one for me. Lasers and red dots work well too but for more tradition open sights these are the best I have found.

  10. A rear aperture sight is excellent on a handgun, just like a rifle, especially for ‘old eyes’. I have one (Ruger Mk2) with a rear aperture (Williams) ‘ghost-ringed’ (by removing the screw-in aperture) with the front sight also as an ‘aperture’ (made with a roll-pin on top of the Patridge blade, drilled out so the opening is larger). Fast and easy to pick up in dim light, by using the front as a post, and if you take another second under normal lighting conditions, you can actually make the apertures concentric, and do real precision shooting.

    There is a replacement-blade for Ruger adjustable sight blades that is an aperture, and for many handguns like the Ruger series, there are Williams WGRS or other options that use apertures.

  11. With glaucoma,my red and brown spectrums have been degraded.I fond red dot systems difficult to use.I much prefer green or yellow…tough to find

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