Firearm Accessories 3: Getting on Target

Ok, you have a firearm with a carrying case, ammunition, magazines, cleaning kit, and maintenance tools. You have everything you really need but there are some more things that can help you put shots on target.

Continue reading for a summary of Lasers, Lights, and other Sights.

Lights & Lasers
Honestly, these are two very different things, but they tend to get lumped together. They both use battery power to throw light at a target and sometimes a single device provides both a light & a laser. However, they serve very different purposes. A light illuminates a target for aiming & target identification/verification. A laser is an extra sighting device (but not a substitute for traditional sights). For lights, look at Streamlight and Inforce, but avoid Insight (they’re woefully obsolete). For lasers, investigate Crimson Trace, LaserLyte, LaserMax, Viridian, and Streamlight.

light 1

Streamlight TLR-1S as viewed from the side.

light 2

Streamlight TLR-1S as viewed from the rear, through the sights.

Red laser viewed from the side. Note that the laser beam is not visible, only the dot.

Red laser viewed from the side. Note that the beam is not visible, only the dot.

Red laser viewed from the rear, throught the sights. Note that the laser dot is aligned with the sights. However, the sights are above the barrel and the laser is below the barrel, so there will always be a certain amount of vertical misalignment.

Red laser viewed from the rear, throught the sights. Note that the sights align with the laser. However, the sights are above the barrel and the laser is below the barrel, so there will always be some vertical misalignment.

Night Sights
Since a red-dot sight is generally impractical on a handgun, handguns benefit greatly from night sights. There are a lot of options for night-sights. The simplest sight upgrades are the various fiber-optic sights. They gather ambient light & focus it. The appear to glow, but only when used in a well-lit area. For true low-light shooting, you need sights that provide their own light, such as tritium sights from Meprolight, XS Sight systems, Trijicon, Truglo, or AmeriGlo. Technically, tritium is radioactive but it’s safe as long as you don’t actually break the sights open and inhale the radioactive gas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium_sights

Optics
A rifle or shotgun can benefit greatly from modern optical sights. In the past, your only options were iron sights or a scope, but today we have red-dot sights. Red dot style sights have several advantages. First, traditional sights require the shooter to line up the rear sight, front sight, and target. A red-dot sight only requires the shooter to line up the dot on the target. By aligning only 2 points instead of 3, red dot sights are faster. Red-dot sights are also easier to use in low-light situations. My rifle has black sights, and I have a lot of trouble seeing them in the dark. The dark sights blend in with the dark target. A big, glowing red dot is much easier to see in a dark room.

Most red-dot sights have very short battery lives if you leave them on, but Aimpoint makes several models that will literally run for years without being turned off. EOTech is a popular company, especially because they have a very different sight design. Instead of a small dot, EOTech uses a large circle around a small dot, which is more eye-catching. However, you can expect to pay at LEAST $450 for an Aimpoint or EOTech. If you’re not marching around in a third-world country, then you probably don’t need a super-tough military sight. You can get a good quality sight with mounting bracket for less than half the price of an Aimpoint. Check out the Vortex Sparc and Strikefire. Also look at the many sights fro Primary Arms. My personal choices would a Aimpoint PRO ($440), a Vortex Strikefire ($170), or Primary Arms AA Battery Red Dot Gen II ($120).

Tasco ProPoint red dot as viewed from the side. Note that it does NOT project any kind of light or beam forward.

Tasco ProPoint red dot as viewed from the side. Note that it does NOT project any kind of light or beam forward.

Tasco ProPoint red dot as viewed from the rear, through the sight. Note that this kind of sight is not magnified, it is like looking through a glass pipe.

Tasco ProPoint red dot as viewed from the rear, through the sight. Note that this kind of sight is not magnified, it is like looking through a pipe.

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About jurmond

'Jurmond' was the name of my first character in a homebrew D&D campaign. He was a gunslinger and tinker, creating and carrying strange weapons that belched fire and smoke. That was well over a decade ago but I still think of him whenever fiction and firearms collide, so it seems the perfect pen name for this project.
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