Carry Life | Simplify Your Sights

posted on May 8, 2015

Every now and again, Carry Life just flops out in front of us, and this is one of those occasions. 

Trijicon HD pistol sights are on our minds. 

A little background on the sight itself is useful. Trijicon has long manufactured tritium-illuminated sights for handguns and rifles under its own marque, as well as tritium/phosphor lamps used in many other brands. They are most famed, perhaps, for splendid toughness and longevity. 

The toughness comes from all-metal bodies and three types of protection for the light-emitting vials—silicone cushions, aluminum sleeves and sapphire windows. Front post vials add high-visibility “bezels” to enhance daylight performance very nearly to the level of a fiber optic.

Longevity is a simpler matter: A 12-year pledge of usable illumination before replacement is required. Just so we’re clear, no batteries are needed. If you’re unfamiliar with this technology, take a look here.

Now, we get back to Carry Life, albeit in several steps. If you want to shoot better, stop shooting so many different types of sights. This may seem like a major “well, duh!” moment, but think it through. When you head to the range, just how many sight pictures are you asking your visual cortex to accommodate, and do you honestly believe that isn’t a problem? When we teach, we see this all the time: Even if a satchel-full of similar guns appear, each still has at least a slightly different grip, trigger architecture/press weight and all-but-certainly, sight set.In good light or poor, each and every round we fire with either pistol has a skill-enhancing effect on the other platform. 

The first two characteristics may be irreconcilable, but the last may not. Trijicon has HDs for 1911, Beretta, Colt, FNH, Glock, H&K, Ruger, SIG Sauer, S&W, Springfield Armory and Walther handguns. With a list like this, we obviously don’t have to suggest you settle for a single pistol by type or even manufacturer. (We get that this is part of the fun of both shooting as a sport, and a necessity for the professional—different tools for different circumstances.) There’s a second point here, though it doesn’t relate to sights per se: We would always recommend picking a quality pistol and sticking with it as the quickest way to improve your skills. But a consistent sight picture will certainly help, even if you’re determined to routinely switch firearms.

Another Carry Life payoff comes in picking a sight set that gives a consistent sight picture in the most varied set of light conditions. A few years ago, we might have said the “same” sight picture in all lights, but we’ve come to realize this doesn’t work for everybody—including us. 

At night, the HD’s three tritium lamps provide the now-familiar “three-dot” tactical sight picture. Here, a clever bit of optics and engineering is evident: The left and right dots (on the rear) are what Trijicon calls “subdued,” and therefore less bright than the front lamp. This translates into an unmistakable alignment cue: If the brightest dot—and it is obviously brighter—isn’t centered, correction is about as quick and intuitive as it could possibly be. This is by no means uncommon on other low-light sights too, but over many years, we think dot differentiation holds up the best on our Trijicon examples.

Daylight, however, may be where the HD is at its best. With the bright bezel on the front blade, there’s no hunting around for this most crucial of aiming cues. Alignment is further enhanced by the “U”-bottomed notch, which encourages the brain’s concentricity bias. 

This is why we think the Trijicon HDs deserve a rare “Carry Life” nod: We have a set on an IDPA pistol that we carry and use in competition, but also on a carry pistol better suited to up-attired (and necessarily more discreet) carry. The benefit, then, is obvious: In good light or poor, each and every round we fire with either pistol has a skill-enhancing effect on the other platform. That’s a neat trick that fits the Carry Life well indeed. 

Now Carry on.


The Armed Citizen
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