Competitive Shooting

Throwback Thursday: Fiber-Optic Sights — What They Are and How They Work

P320 Front Fiber-Optic Sight

Recently, two of the high-end pistols I tested sported fiber-optic front sights. So have a number of relatively inexpensive handguns and a lever-action .22 caliber rifle. In fact, fiber-optics are so prevalent, they demand a hard look at their capability.

At one time, fiber-optics were add-on features, and they are still available as aftermarket accessories. Some folks prefer night sights. Target shooters seem to prefer all-black sights. But experienced shooters that understand that sights must be flexible in many lighting conditions, at different ranges and against different targets, often prefer fiber-optic sights.

I have fired many firearms equipped with fiber-optics and find them excellent choices. The fiber-optic is more properly termed an optical fiber.

SIG P320 With Fiber Optic Sights
This TruGlo sight offers an excellent picture.

Benefits of Fiber-Optics

The fiber-optic is a flexible, colored fiber that transmits light through its total length. The fiber-optic is a mix of plastic and glass. The fiber isn’t very thick at all, but features a sheath surrounding the fiber itself. It is sometimes called a fiber cable.

These fiber-optics do not reflect or bend light, they absorb light, and this results in high visibility. The outer sheath is, however, reflective. So, the fiber-optic results in a core material surrounded by reflective material. Light isn’t transmitted, but rather trapped in the tube and is visible from the shooter’s end.

Fiber-optics are available in a wide range of color. Red and orange are common. Some seem to find green the best choice for their eyes. Fiber-optics are bright and the eye easily picks them up. Accuracy is enhanced, especially when speed is involved. The brighter fiber-optic is much easier to quickly get on target.

While fast shooting is one advantage, fiber-optics are also well-suited to accurate fire at longer ranges. In dim light, they do not glow as tritium does, but in all but total darkness, fiber-optic sights offer a superior aiming point for iron sights, and in bright light are generally superior to night sights.

green fiber optic front sight
A fiber-optic front sight is a good touch on the M&P .22 Magnum.

Price isn’t everything, but fiber-optics are less expensive than night sights. HiViz Shooting Systems fiber-optic sights are a staple among handgunners. A CZ I own has a special attachment. “Wayne’s old gun” features HiViz sights. I have a spare rod kit just in case, but the protected nature of the design makes this unlikely.

What About Durability?

Some will ask if fiber-optics are fragile. On their own, they well may be. This is why Les Baer, among others, supplies spare fiber-optic tubes with their pistols. TruGlo sights are a good design, in that the front post and rear sight protect the fiber-optic from damage, making for a remarkably rugged unit. The sights combine tritium and fiber-optics for superb 24-hour capability.

I have tested these sights in several configurations on all types of handguns with excellent results. They are versatile, affordable, and offer good accuracy potential. It is difficult to choose, all variations seem viable, but I think the TruGlo TFX is well-suited to personal defense. The fiber-optic unit is well-protected.

TruGlo offers a wide variety of excellent gear options.

My variants feature a white circle around the front dot. I like the contrast offered by these sights. The TFO offers the option of using the rear sight to rack or release the slide from slide lock.

It’s All About Accuracy

When it comes to accuracy potential, fiber-optic sights really shine — pun intended. The sights are highly visible in any type of light, making for a good sight picture. Use the standard sight alignment, control the trigger, and you get a hit.

When you choose a front sight, there is some concern a wide front sight will subtend the target — cover so much of the target at long range that accuracy is difficult — but I have done good shooting with fiber-optics.

Les Baer 1911
Don’t forget the 1911 – it may be upgraded as well.

The Les Baer 572 Hemi comes with a three-inch group guarantee at 50 yards.  It also features a fiber-optic front sight. That tells us something about how far fiber-optics have come.

Final Thoughts

If you need something to help with visual acuity or to be all you can be, consider fiber-optic sights, they may be the right choice for your shooting style.

Have you ever tried fiber-optic sights? What type of sights do you prefer on your pistols? Let us know in the Comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (7)

  1. I replaced the gold bead/black sights on my Henry rifles with fiber optic sights from HiViz Shooting Systems and what a great difference! The factory sights were too tough to see with my geezer eyes and shooting a black target had become luck. Target acquisition is much faster and my accuracy improved with the fiber optic sights. I intend to install them on other firearms.

  2. Do fiber optic sights work well when firing from the shoulder?? I want to convert my 16″ Rough Rider pistol with fiber optic sights to the carbine version with a stock. But I don’t know if fiber optic sights were intended to be used with just handguns.



    1. Shotguns and rifles both use fiber optic sights as well. You should be just fine. ~Dave

  3. Most of our handguns are Glock 17 and Glock 42. I have replaced all of our previous sights with TruGlo sights and are now replacing the 3 new Glock purchases with TruGlo sights. Purchased the latest sights from Amazon. Be aware that if you change Glock sights yourself, you need nylon punches to slide out the rear sights and a small nutdriver/Glock tool to remove/replace the front sights. We have used these TruGlo sights for years and absolutely love them. Acquisition during day or night is quick and easy.

  4. red anything :dot,laser etc don’t work with my glaucoma/myopia;ditto all black-difficult to see excepting in bright light

  5. I don’t know if other shooters have this problem of “Accommodation Reflex”, when your eye’s tend to automatically gravitate to nearby objects. When I use Fiber Optic Sights, my eyes focus on them instead of what I’m shooting at…

  6. I have TruGlo TFO sights on most of my pistols (they don’t make ones for the Desert Eagle…yet). I agree with Wilburn, they make sight acquisition much easier and faster. These are on both my target and self defense pistols. The first thing I do on all my Glocks is replace the sights with the TruGlo’s. Really like these sights.

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