Are You a Fan of Fiber Optic Sights?

fiber optic sights
A green fiber optic front sight, like the one the comes on the Prodigy from the factory, might be my first choice in a fiber optic tube color. Photo Yamil Sued

That is the question. And the answer is, most definitely, yes.

I became a fan of fiber optic front sights as they made their way onto sporting clays shotguns, and later when I learned about the world of practical shooting. They seemed like the front sight option that all the cool kids went with, and that’s partly true.

But, it is also true that they work. And work well.

I have four pistols with fiber optic front sights. Not all have the same color tube, and very recently the effectiveness of a fiber optic front sight was made very clear to me.

The Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy comes equipped with a green fiber optic sight. This didn’t concern me much at first as I had a red dot mounted to my pistol – a Bushnell RXM-300 – and the front sight was no longer my primary focus.

Then, some idiot managed to leave the RXM-300 in an on position and the limits of the battery life were severely tested. I won’t disclose the idiot’s name as I am a firm believer in constitutional rights, particularly the right against self-incrimination.

It was, of course, during the next trip to the range when I discovered my battery had died. Not only had I failed to check the battery before heading to the range, but I also left without a spare battery.

XS Fiber Optic sights
XS Fiber Optic sights

This left me shooting the Prodigy with a dead optic and just the front and rear sight combo to get me through a series of timed drills. I figured this was going to be a bad day at the range with some very ugly shooting.

Shockingly, that was not the case. Why? Well, because the green from sight rocked in the bright Arizona sunlight. And despite having a non-active red dot to distract my sight picture, I actually managed to concentrate on the front sight.

This taught me several lessons. First, check your optics. Second, bring a spare battery. Third, the RXM-300 wasn’t a visual impediment when I had to use the ‘iron sights.’ And fourth, a bright fiber optic sight is great.

By great I mean that its bright appearance was easy to pick up, which is important because I wear prescription glasses and they aren’t set for the front sight of a pistol. Yet, even though the green glowing dot at the front of the slide wasn’t in focus, I managed to shoot the timed drills well. Much better than I ever expected.

More than just a feature gimmick, or a trendy competition fad, the fiber optic front sight on the Prodigy is an excellent addition to the pistol’s specs. This probably made me like the pistol even more. Plus, shooting it well helped, too.

Another pistol I put through its paces in a couple of more recent range visits – again with timed drills with several other shooters to ‘compete’ against – was a full size P320.

The P320 I have was bought back around 2014, so it wasn’t a special edition. Just the usual stalwart Nitron variant that Sig offers for all its pistols. And that meant it did not have a fiber optic front sight, only the standard three dot configuration.

Somewhere along the way, however, the front sight got replaced with a red fiber optic sight.

The P320 didn’t come with a fiber optic front sight but at some point one was added. The red tube worked better than I expected after having shot the green front sight on the Prodigy. Photo Yamil Sued
Now, I had only shot the P320 a very, very few times until just recently. Both trips to the range, again in that blazingly bright Arizona sunlight, proved the value of having a fiber optic front sight as it came through the drills like a champ.

Now, my P320 is not cut for an optic, so I was running just the ‘iron sights.’ Additionally, these were the first times I was drawing and shooting from a holster with this pistol. Add to that the fact that I was using, for the first time, a thigh rig holster, in particular an Alien Gear Dynamic Drop Leg holster equipped with their TAQ-STRAP Integrated Tourniquet, and you can see the potential for a tolerance stacking of failures.

At least I’d have more than enough excuses for my poor performance.

But, I shot well. Kinda really well, actually. I wasn’t going to win any trophy, and a handful of people in the class outshot me, but I was not at all disappointed with how I shot. And a lot of that had to do with the fiber optic front sight.

People love to bag on the P320 for a variety of reasons, but mostly it seems because it outperformed their favorite pistol in some big government test. Or something like that.

The fact is, it’s a damn good pistol. I know because having rarely shot mine, and relying on the standard rear sight with a red fiber optic front, which I couldn’t actually put into focus, I shot the hell outta that gun. And, it’s also a damn accurate gun when you manage to keep a tight grip and put the front sight where it’s supped to be when it goes bang.

The one thing I am sure I know is that if I had a standard front sight it’s very likely I would not have shot nearly as well. Once again the fiber optic front, though red and not green this time, was easy to find and put on target.

Fiber optic sights once seemed like the cool thing to have on your shotgun or pistol, but the truth is they are a very good sighting tool, especially in my case where I have all the sunlight in the world and eyesight not quite sharp enough to put that front sight into focus.

10 Responses

  1. For daylight, they kick fvcking ass, both ways to Sunday on long guns and handguns.

    Come nighttime, especially on handguns, not so much… 🙁

  2. Fiber optic sights are pretty useless in low light. However, I can see my XS Big Dot tritium night sights just fine… in full daylight and complete darkness (not that anyone in their right mind would fire a handgun or rifle in complete darkness).

    1. “(not that anyone in their right mind would fire a handgun or rifle in complete darkness).”

      If I’m attacked walking to my car in total darkness, it’s game fvcking on.

      You go right ahead and be a victim, jimmy… 😉

      1. I am always surprised no one typically considers dim light where you can identify the threat fine but seeing the sights is a problem. Yes yes reflex shooting, too close to miss yada yada I just like being able to line up effective center of mass to head shots as needed. Really haven’t seen anything so dark as to not be able to identify an intruder armed or not short of a full on blackout but that may be a more rural issue.

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