Shout out to Eric…and why some things, like sights and your choice in undergarments are highly individual, and PERSONAL!

I know it’s been awhile since my last, “real,” essay, and I apologize.  This website is about 99th on my list of priorities, and my family and my work precede its importance by several orders of magnitude.  And since I don’t make a dime off of any of these works, they are printed at my leisure for your infotainment.  Sorry if you’re signed up and expecting to get a daily, “blog,” post with me passively aggressively groveling about some issue in the community, or about how my pistol most recently puked in a simulated something or other.  I only write when I have something important to say, OR, when one of my friends asks about something.  This topic keeps popping up like an loosely nailed shingle, and also my LEO Brother Eric asked about it, so I thought it was time to dust off the draft, and get it out into the world.  So thank (or blame) him!

XS sights seem to be akin to the perpetual arguments on the internet about, “9mm versus .45,” and the old one, “Revolvers versus Semi-Autos.”  Meaning that it always stirs up an emotional response from the peanut gallery, with folks on either side saying, “They are the best sights for gunfighting!”  While the people that are against them say, “Nobody issues them!  That’s a sign!”  And all other manner of argument.

Here’s how I look at it.  Nobody looks at body armor and says things like, “What is the most comfortable armor to wear?”  “What armor will allow me to have the most mobility and freedom to do my job (whatever that may be)?”  Conversely, nobody asks the same thing about their underwear!  Why?  Because what you choose to wear under your clothes, while it may definitely affect your ability to move, and your comfort, nobody wants to talk about it.  They should!  As a rugby player, and former firefighter, I can tell you that what you wear under your uniform has an ABSOLUTE limiting capability on what you do on the field or on the fireground.  But, that isn’t a, “tactical,” subject.  Nobody wants to talk about it, because it’s awkward.  But we are talking about lifesaving equipment, skills, and utilization.  Is there any more topic that is MORE awkward?

I think that handgun sights are much the same.  Are there sights that work better than others, for everyone?  Nope.  Are there eyeglasses that work well for everyone?  No there isn’t.  What about eyeglasses for people that have similar (or the same) prescription.  There MIGHT be.  My point is, it is difficult to deal in absolutes (you Sith, you) when we are talking about subjective experience.  People confuse their logic and do (inaccurately) state their subjective opinions as FACT on a regular basis, though (Logical Fallacy:  Argument from Authority).  For example, SUPER INSTRUCTOR ZEUS says, “These sights are the ABSOLUTE best for gunfighting!  I know…I’ve been in gunfights!”  Well that’s all well and good for HIM, taking a narrow, experientially formulated opinion and offering it as proof of his argument.  But it doesn’t work.  What if the prospective buyer (who needs pistol sights) is color blind?  What if they are near sighted?  Far Sighted?  ALL OF THESE variables alter that person’s experience, and make it incomparable to that of our hypothetical expert.

With that thinking in mind, I thought that I would tackle a drill that I haven’t done recently.  I saw the great Ernest Langdon publishing his results on shooting the, “Hackathorn Standards,” and I thought that I would give them a go.  The order of operations for the Hackathorn Standards are as follows:

STRING ONE

10 SHOTS IN 15 SECONDS, AT 15 YARDS

STRING TWO

10 SHOTS IN 10 SECONDS, AT 10 YARDS

STRING THREE

10 SHOTS IN 5 SECONDS AT 5 YARDS

300 POINTS POSSIBLE, SCORED ON A B8 Bullseye Target

Seems simple enough, right?  I did the drills from the low ready, since the range I was at gets nervy when there are other people on the line, and people are drawing from the holster.  Thus, this drill requires the shooter to practice a number of skills, not the least of which include:

  1. Presenting the pistol from the draw/ready position
  2. Accurately (the bull is 1″ in diameter) place shots on the target in a time quota
  3. Follow the front sight through the recoil cycle, and attempt to return to the reference point (bullseye… i.e. where you want to projectiles to burrow into)
  4. Follow through with the trigger press on every shot fired

Still think it’s simple?  The par times seemed quite reasonable…until you stick that gun out there into space and start pressing rounds, and then realize that Father Time is moving, even when you aren’t!

THE GEAR

IMG_4979

I included an STI Spartan in 9mm, just to see if anyone is paying attention.  Also, another 34 with the awesome (but now discontinued) brass bead front, 10-8 sights, that I really enjoy.  Brass bead front sights were the premium pistoleros sight choice, back in the days before tritium came along and changed the pistol sight world forever.

Hopefully, you didn’t just skip ahead to this section!  If you did, shame on you.  If you didn’t, thank you for reading the preceding screed.  I used three guns for this experiment. The experimental group consisted of:

  1.  Glock 34 with Warren Sights, with the front sight painted red, like I talked about here.
  2. Glock 34 with Big Dot Sights

I took the slide off of the frame it resides on  (the excellent LONE WOLF) frame and mated the slide to a Glock 34 frame, with completely stock internals, and used the same frame for both iterations of the experimental phase of the test.

IMG_5067

Basic Smith and Wesson M&P PRO in 9mm.  Trijicon HD sights.  Otherwise stock except for the Larry Vickers LAV/Tango Down Floorplates, which I find w0rk well for solving complex malfunctions like Type III’s (double feed) where the old magazine needs to be stripped out, with only one hand).  This particular pistol has a decent trigger pull (that’s why I picked THIS one, out of all of the others they had in the case) and it’s served me well.  Oh…about the Type 3 male’s:  I’ve never had any in this gun (in real life, the only time I’ve ever had a Type III that wasn’t induced was in the STI Spartan you see above, and that was because of a piece of lint that had worked it’s way from my pocket into the magazine.  So 1911’s won’t feed lint…BTW).

The Control Group consisted of my Smith & Wesson M&P PRO 9mm EDC, that I carry with me daily.  This is the pistol that I use the most, and thus have the most proficiency with.  It has Trijicon HD sights on it.

I used CCI BLAZER BRASS 115 grain FMJ in all three weapons for the tests, and OEM magazines of standard capacity (17 rounds).  There were no stoppages of any kind.  I used a PACT Club timer, set for the PAR times.

THE RESULTS

IMG_4983

The results.  THIS drill is FAR more difficult that first glance would make you think.  The top target(s) are the FIRST STRING at 15 yards, and the middle is for the SECOND STRING at 10 yards, and the bottom is for the THIRD STRING at 5 yards.  Dimensionally, the entire bullseye target is 5 inches in diameter.  The psychologically deceptive component of this drill involves the par time.  When you get a, “good,” flash sight picture, and pull the trigger, you tend to want to speed up, Jerry Miculek style, and end at a faster tempo than you started!  And of course, as the distance to the target decreases, the par time decreases as well, which further adds to the psychological urgency!  It’s a challenging drill and Ernest Langdon himself said that he’s only shot it clean a few times!  I will be adding this to my regular practice drill armamentarium.

CONCLUSION

Sights are a personal choice (unless you are talking about plastic OEM Glock sights…nobody takes those seriously, so if you are one of those folks that absolutely HAS to use them because [INSERT REASON] at least find a metal replacement set.  You can probably find ones that have the same, “interesting,” sight picture but are just made of metal.  You don’t want to have the unfortunate experience of shoving your gun out in front of you on the worst day of your life only to discover that your sights have left the building without your permission.  So fix that.) and what works for your neighbor or your tactical guru might not work for you.  Don’t rationalize your choice with the subjective opinions of people on some web forum…gather hard data to see where you hit with them, and what YOU need to work effectively.  Can you improve with practice?  Of course you can.  But everyone has a natural baseline that appeals to their unique optical handicap constellation, and their own physiology.  What works for me, may not work for you.  But instead of reading through review after review after review, test it out, see what works, and then run that.  I have good results with XS Big Dots, and contrary to internet rumors you may have heard about them, I can shoot groups with them.  That has more to do with trigger control than sights, but that is another essay (another S.O. to Steve, “Yeti,” Fisher).  If you can, “see what you need to see,” with any sighting system, that will suffice for defensive purposes.  I have experienced the front dots of Big Dot sights spontaneously leave the gun, leaving behind the black, pedestal front, “blade,” that, if needs be, can still be used to great effect.  I’ve also lost the tritium vial out of Warren sights, and also out of the Trijicon HD, and I’ve seen the entire, “Orange Circle,” eject out of the Ameriglo product.  So no brand is immune from issues, and if you use your equipment regularly, it will wear and eventually fail.  So take that out of your selection criteria, and find something that works with YOUR eyes, and for your self-defensive application, and then, WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. House

12 thoughts on “Shout out to Eric…and why some things, like sights and your choice in undergarments are highly individual, and PERSONAL!

  1. Outstanding article doc. Great work with the pistols also. I find myself becoming much more open minded about sights as my vision begins to reach middle age.

    Where did you get that target?

    1. Thank you Gregg. I bought a stack of them at my range, and keep them in the back of my truck. You can use an NRA B8 repair center, too. I used this because it was easier to compare the strings at the 3 varied ranges.

  2. Excellent advice Dr. House! I’ve been on somewhat of an odyssey with sights lately, trying to find what works for my 40 y/o eyes. Sights are indeed a very personal choice. I will add this drill to my weekly range workout. Fortunately, I have a pile of B8 repair centers!

  3. Outstanding article. It mirrors my own conclusion – everyone has different vision and a different idea about the best sights. I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation recently, similar to your own test. I used to do good work with a narrow front post combined with a wide U notch rear. However after cataract surgery, my ability to get a hard front sight focus is now non-existent. In fact I can barely see a narrow front post anymore. Thus I have recently been trying the XS Big Dots and found them to at least be visible. And I can even get groups with them, if i concentrate. I’m still looking for a better option, but the XS Big Dots are about the best thing Ive found for my present visual circumstances. Thanks for the good articles.

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