Need for Tritium night sights?

Being an old revolver guy, and especially snub noses, my idea of high visibility sights usually involves nail polish on the front blade. However, the current revolver renaissance has produced several revolvers with fiber optic and tritium sights. The fiber optic sights I understand, but what is the real purpose of night sights? When it is dark enough for the tritium to be functional, isn’t it too dark to safely identify your target? I’m leaning towards the idea that a tactical flashlight is much more beneficial, but I thought I’d get the opinion of some of you plastic gun guys and gals, since you have had night sights for a while now.


but but but they are cool!! :smiley:

Perspective from a 1911, not plastic LOL I have done a bit of night and low light shooting, from a citizen perspective, not LEO. Your thoughts on how dark to identify your target are spot on, in my opinion. I do not know if you have the capability to do so; go run some tests yourself and see!!

I jumped on the bandwagon about 20 years ago with night sights. They do help you to pick up the sights a bit faster, than say regular black sights do (for me). A lot depends on where your are using the light from… if you get it behind the sights, they will splash and of dubious value.

In recent years I have strayed more towards using the fiber optics. My eyes are aging, and I pick them up far better during the day. At night, with a light (I am a citizen, not LEO), they work just fine. I am using a blacked out rear with a fiber front (red or green, I do not care).

One particular set of night sights I have had, you can see the outline of the vial (silver ring). Just barely, but it is there. Gosh, they are darn near 20 years old now… Anyway, at a few ranges, especially early or late in the day when the sun is just right, that ring flares (both front and rear), and makes them very hard to use. I notice a lot of the newer ones don’t have that, or are white.


Thanks for the feedback. I’ve always believed a separate tactical light, held extended to the side in my weak side hand, was the way to go. Then I can see the target and provide the bad guy a false target as well. Chances are, he will target the light and miss my torso.


I am not sure I have seen any statistics on what people will or won’t do regarding a light in that situation. Lights are another whole subject unto themselves. I practice with different ways, not just the ones I like. Practice, as in actually shooting/moving with them in that position. One thing I have seen, and done myself, is get flustered and shooting where the light is pointing… or rather thinking that you are looking at the sights and have them lined up, when you really are not and are looking over/around the gun at the light spot. Amazing how far you can miss… LOL


… I’ve always appreciated the tritium capsule S&W put on my 340PD. And I still put a red laser on it. The only thing I"d add, what if you didn’t have your flashlight, couldn’t get to it, didn’t have working batteries for some reason? And you did an audible target check in the dark of that silhouette human outline? He/she’s a bad guy? Not family/friend? Oh, Dear Gawd.

Oh, and I also understand too much. I have a SIG that came with three tritium capsules, shortly after getting it home - has a red laser that fires on a firm grip. Then it sprouted an Olight tactical flashlight / green laser, and if I put on a different slide could have a mini red dot optic too. What’s enough? It may be a terrible day. Each one of those sighting tools may come in as the best way to target as a gunfight runs through its course.


One of the reasons I went with tritium on my EDC is there were valid scenarios pointed out where you may be in darkness but your target may not and using a flashlight may give up your position.

One of them being taking cover behind your vehicle while your assailant is in the wash of the headlight.

Or if your assailant is in a room of your house with the light on but you are down a dark hallway.

Either of these scenarios you’d be able to identify your target pretty easily but the sights on your gun might be another issue. And lighting up your flashlight or laser might give them a point of reference to shoot at you.


I ordered my EDC with Tritium and I love them especially for dusk. I use lights on my home defense weapons, but on my EDC I don’t. Tritium really helps my older eyes alot, and I mean a bunch over the generic Glock stuff.


I’ve started using Tritium front sights recently. I haven’t changed rear (they are black, and I paint white dots to black or dark red).
My front tritium sight have bright dot very visible during the day and small green dot inside the white dot (visible in low light conditions).
This setup is the best for my eyes in any conditions, gives very fast sight picture / alignment.
Definitely better than fluorescent 3DOT and a little bit better than fiber (in my case).

However, even I can see the sight, I’m still using tactical flashlight when I have to identify the threat.


I have put tritium sights on every handgun I have ever owned. I swear by them. Just because it is dark does not mean there is not enough light to identify a target. And if the tritium sights I have help me get a better sight picture on the target, which I know it does, I will continue to put tritium sights on my weapons.


I agree with MikeBKY, it’s all about sight picture for me. White contrast sights or even straight up night sights without the paint do not work for me though. I prefer to have either orange or green. At night or in low light they are all going to glow green, but in daylight I pick them up much faster.


RocketPak, you’re spot on.

I have a fiber optic as my front sight and the Tritium on the rear.
Everyone is different, is trained differently, and works best with different configurations.

I use/was trained, with the Harries stance for night and low light presentation. I practice it weekly as I am on a ranch, and just not let’s say taking a walk in a neighborhood. I use the Harries to shoot armadillos and other varmints.

Something not mentioned, I keep my EDC firearm grip canted and in an easy acquisition position in the open drawer of my nightstand at night. Above it is my Streamlight flashlight. I don’t have to turn the light on at night in the event I need to acquire the firearm quickly. I can SEE the rear sights as plane as day. I’m ready to grab this and my flashlight and protect and defend if necessary. This may or may not be for everyone, particularly if you have kids. That’s up to you and the level of respect for firearms the youth in your household may have. Rural kids, at least mine did, and all our rural family friends, had loaded firearms at every door, (snakes, raccoons, skunks, coyote, bobcat, hogs, and rumored mountain lion, some times chupacabra.

Note, at my age the bathroom at night is no stranger, the rear sights are a great way to find my way back to bed! :slight_smile:


Every semi-auto handgun I own (7) have tritium sights except my Walther CCP


I also am in the I want tritium on everything camp, emphatically . They aren’t just for night time and they do a real good job in low or no light as well.
It seem most of the discussions we have around target identification automatically assume the upper hand and that it will be up to us to identify and determine if engagement is necessary. That is only one of many possible scenarios, and quite frankly, to me it seems the lowest risk for personal injury (But after raising 6 kids I dont automatically assume that I’m going to have to come out shooting if I hear something go bump in the night either). Does nobody consider it a possibility that there could be a need to reacquire your sights as quick as possible after muzzle flash (yours or theirs), or a partial loss of night vision for any other reason, after a reload, or even in direct sunlight a dayglo ring around the bottle on the front post could be an advantage.
For now tritium seems, to me, to be as close to the best of both worlds that I’m going to be able to get.


Tritium sights make sense to me. If there’s not enough light to ID your target, then you probably shouldn’t be shooting, anyway. If you’ve identified an imminent threat, you need every advantage you can get to neutralize that threat.

Glowing sights wouldn’t help you if you can’t see the target, anyway. Reasonably speaking, most scenarios are “low light,” not “no light.” You might not be able to see a person’s face, but you should be able to see the profile and determine what actions the person is taking, which way the person is moving, or whether the person is armed. That’s “Positive ID.” It’s not that you can name the person, but are you sure the person (or animal) is a threat? If you need more identification, that’s when we start talking about lights and such.

Obviously we want to be as positive as we can be, but you can’t guarantee you’ll get that luxury. That’s where the night sights come in. Once you’ve identified that a threat exists, those glowing sights will help ensure you hit the threat and not something (or someone) else. So the question of Positive ID and night sights are related, but not necessarily the same topic.

For my part, I still pull out my (empty) pistol at night and marvel at the targets I can acquire with the night sights. Maybe I’m just easily impressed. I’d like to try the fiber optic sights, but I don’t want to spend the money on a set just to find out whether I like them better than tritium or not. Some enterprising salesperson could probably get me to part with my money if they could setup a demo for me.

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The only thing that is a downside to tritium is that when I have my pistol :rofl: on the night stand the light keeps me up all night, (rim shot)


I really love being able to SEE my firearm and be able to grab it in the pitch black of night without having to turn a light on or a flashlight. You know, as I think about it, this was probably the best ever accessory I have ever purchased for a handgun.


Those little snake eyes can freak you out a little in the middle of the night :joy::rofl:


While I like @MikeBKY have Tritium on all my carry sticks I will admit that I don’t use them very much and the ones that I have had the longest are flashlight rechargeable and last just about as long as the illumination on my 1984 Seiko given the same recharge so they are glorified (radioactive) 3 dot sights.

For the most part unless I am doing accuracy shooting on a EDC platform for some development test or another I honestly cannot remember the last time I actually used the sights. Shooting a 3.5" 1911 at 100 yards to impress/dazzle the newbies doesn’t count, even if the gun was upside down, yes I can do that and so can you if you try. 5" 1911’s come back to zero at about 87 yards so you may need to hold over a bit with them.

Tritium sights are good poop but they are radioactive which means they decay. At best, the most you can hope for is a 15 year life span, bet on 10 before you need to replace them. Spendy to get but priceless if you need them, figure $15 per year investment for 10 years give or take your platform.

The thing to remember with “glow in the dark sights” is to verify that what you see with the dots is what you see with the sights. 1/1000’th of an inch is a big deal at 25 yards and if you lining up 3 glowing dots does not equate to even on both sides and flat across the top regular sights you will have issues.

Me personally I am not afraid to take a file or saw to a gun to make it work right. Others don’t have that confidence. That said if you do run Tritium or Fiber ensure that your “lit” sights are equal to your “black” sights. You may need to shorten/lift one or both to make your TWO SIGHT SYSTEM work in a co-witness fashion. Much easier to spend some $$$ to get them matched than try to remember which is which with your a$$h0le wrapped around your neck.




I believe tritium will help you get off a first shot accurately at night. My biggest love of them is I set my firearm on a nightstand beside me when I go to bed. I place it where I can see those headlights staring at me if I open my eyes… they can be very bright! Makes it easy to confidently and accurately grasp the gun to begin with.

Along those same lines, if you should be woke up at night by an intruder, be wary of those sights. The bad guy can see them just as easily as you. Good way to give up your place of cover.

Learn their advantages and disadvantages.


I think if you may engage at night they are important but not absolutely necessary. I have had to clear a building at night with a handgun and they are definitely helpful. My weapon mounted light is more important.

Everyone be safe.