3 Of The Best Handgun Sight Options For Older People Who Have Trouble Seeing Their Sights

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Let’s face it, getting older is both good and bad …

God Bless the wisdom you gain, but your body sure does takes a beating in the meantime!

Over the past few months or so, I’ve been working with my father and helping him with his shooting. One of his biggest challenges is his failing eyesight.

I know that this is a big problem for many people, so today let’s talk about three of the best handgun sight options for “old eyes” or people with bad eyesight.

High Visibility Iron Sights

First off, we have traditional Iron Sights …

One of the first things you can do, if the factory iron sights on your gun are “decent” is to enhance them by customizing them.

You can actually paint the front sight with colored paint or nail polish in a bright color. The late Jeff Cooper made the statement, “If you are going to use a contrasting front sight, use a color not normally found in nature,” and you would do well to heed that advice. That means bright orange, bright red, super bright yellow or lime green should all work (red/orange being my preferred choice).

painting-front-sight

 

I happen to be a big believer in aftermarket handgun sights. That’s probably because I carry and shoot a Glock regularly and their cheap, plastic factory sights are horrible in my opinion.

My personal favorite are the Trijicon HD Night Sights. The only compromise I make with them is that at greater distances (around 20-25yds+) the large front sight obscures a lot of the target.

You can also check out XS big dot sights. And you may even look into fiber optic front sights. The point is that there are a LOT of different night sight/high visibility sight combos on the market and you can find the ones that work best for you:

iron-sight-choices

 

Lastly, if you choose a night sight configuration where the rear dots/sights also have tritium — if in low light you have trouble distinguishing the front sight from the rear sights — you can use a red sharpie to “fill in” the rear sights, dulling their brightness to help the front sight stand out.

Laser Sights

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

My father just picked up some Crimson Trace laser sights for his Glock handgun and we went out to the range yesterday to sight them in.

For many years these were a gimmick, but the innovations in the market — driven mainly by Crimson Trace as I understand it — have really made them a viable option.

They definitely help with “target focused” shooting because you can focus on the target instead of your sights. I will say that the red lasers tend to fade away in bright sunlight, so my suggestion at this point is to try the green lasers if possible.

Because of my experience shooting with iron sights, I found it would take some training to get me to focus on the target more — looking for the laser dot — instead of my eyes going to my front sight.

The benefit of course, if you have bad eyes, is that you just look for the bright laser dot instead of having to focus on the front sight. So far my dad seems pretty happy with them, we’ll see how it goes …

Red Dot Sights

The final category of sights for older eyes is the red dot sighting systems …

I confess that I have not had any experience shooting and using this system, so I can’t offer first hand experience there.

What I can say is that the benefit of red dots on carbines has been proven time and time again to be faster and more accurate than iron sights, so the same should be true of red dots on pistols (especially in our context of people with failing eyesight).

To mount these correctly on a handgun, you often have to have the slide milled to get the proper height. That’s something to keep in mind.

The leaders in this category are the Trijicon RMR, Leopold Deltapoint, Eotech MRDS, Docter RMR — and a lot more rarely seen — the Aimpoint T1.

 

red-dot-optic-choices

It’s common practice to not only mill the slide and put the red dot on there but to also use “Suppressor Height” iron sights as backup in case the red dot fails (because regular height iron sights generally aren’t high enough for you to co-witness over the handgun optic if it fails).

In Conclusion …

These three options are viable choices if you have trouble seeing your sights.

As a bonus, I realize I’ve roughly presented them in the order of price as well. You could start with higher visibility iron sights, using the do-it-yourself method of painting your factory sights, then if that doesn’t fix the problem start moving down the list to see how much help you can get out of each option and how it works for you.

Keep in mind that no matter what you choose, you still have to practice with the new “sighting system” so that you can use it effectively.

 

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Caleb
Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of PreparedGunOwners.com. He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the UndergroundAssaultRifle.com course.

14 COMMENTS

  1. An aim-point on a slightly elevated see through sight and a laser together would be perfect !

  2. An aim point on a slightly elevated see through mount and a laser would be perfect !
    On a three shot burst version Beretta model 92 with a 36 round clip loaded alternating Teflon metal piercing, Black cat talon hollow point tracer bullets with a silencer and a nice deep checkered wooden grip and maybe a casing catcher if size is no object.

  3. XS 24/7 BIG DOT Tritium Express sights – Daytime night time any time any light – there may not be enough light to see a target – BUT YOU WILL KNOW WHERE YOUR SIGHTS ARE AT ALL TIMES! Yea the stock old Colt small black sights weren’t cutting it any more now that reading glasses are a reality in life – but these BIG DOT sights are a great system for being able to get on target quick – no glasses required! Every gun I rely on for personal defense has them now.

  4. Caleb, another great article. I would think if using the Red Dot system would make holster fit a real pain. I have never seen a factory holster to fit Red Dot systems, however I really haven’t looked for one. I have an AimPoint Pro on one of my carbines and absolutely love it. Never turn it off and the battery lasts several years. As far as lasers go, I was part of a group from my department who were allowed to by the Crimson Trace at cost before they were produced for the public. We were only asked to make comments about the grips to Crimson Trace. One of my problems with mine was the pressure switch was on the left side grip, perfect for the right hand grip fingers which actuated the switch every time. However, I always wore a shoulder holster which usually activated the switch during routine wear. I understand that was one of the things they changed. I love that set up, still have the weapon, a Sig 226. My department never authorized the laser sights while I still worked there, but being a pro active detective and a firearms instructor, what they didn’t know, didn’t hurt them. That sight kept me from having to shoot a parolee at large who was hiding in a pond, under a large tree with water past his waist. His hands were under water and when I ordered hip to raise his hands, he refused. I told him to look at his chest, The dot was where the bullet would go. He looked, raised his hands and actually tried to brush the dot off LOL. He kept his hands up and exited the water. Marty.

  5. I wear glasses. Been using orange nail polish for a year now. To really get the most out of the color you choose, apply white polish first. I coat my front sight only and scratch off the polish that covers the tritium vial to retain its purpose. Without glasses I just place the bright orange blob on my target.

    Tried the RDS. Had Robar cut my slide and install buis the cowitness in the lower 1/3. A good index was key to picking up the dot. I don’t think most people would train enough to aquire a reliable index. Most holsters that don’t cover north of the breach will work if the sight channel is deep enough.

    Lazer is easier if you don’t have time to get your glasses on.

    Typically I shoot with reading glasses that allow me to see the sights reasonably well. I superimpose my alignment onto the slightly fuzzy target. Been able to consistently hit heads at 25 and A zones at 50 yards this way using iron sights.

    • So wait, you shoot more accurately than me at a fuzzy target … and… you wear reading glasses to do it? lol embarrassing for me!

      Great points on all counts though … thanks for chiming in!

  6. You can also paint your glock sights or most sights with light green glow ln the dark paint from a hobby shop for an inexpensive night site. Saw it on a YouTube gun video.

    • The key word is inexpensive night sight. The phosphorescent paint at a hobby store needs to be “activated” by a bright light source before they become visible. For personal defense/home protection the time it takes to “activate” with your flash light before use may be critical. There is no inexpensive way to achieve optimal results. In a life or death situation OPTIMAL is the only acceptable result. What is your life worth? Leave the hobby store paint for it’s intended purpose –

  7. Don’t have one (yet) but will get a Crimson Trace, later on when finances allow. One of the best laser sights on the market. NO extra parts needed and NO special holster needed. Just replace the grip (s) and make a couple “adjustments”. With slight practice, it will be like pointing your finger at the target. A couple friends have “sighted-in” at the same position the laser is from the bore. ( like train tracks ) Learn the elevation at different distances, and remember the slight distance to the left of the dot is “CENTER TARGET”. < basicly about 3/8" at 5 o'clock )

  8. Caleb,I was just wondering if leaving my pistol cocked an loaded if it would weaken the spring over time,thankyou for all the great advice.I would appreciate your input on this.

  9. In my opinion the question of springs going flat(losing their tension) is moot. There have been several studies done including my own and every spring I tested, even the Wolf or Wolfe springs went flat after a surprisingly short period when used in a 1911 pistol that is carried daily in a shoulder holster. My test criteria focused only on 1911 pistols and whether the springs failed or not
    when used in my carry pistol, which is a Kimber undercover by the way, and not the underlying cause of the failure. Any advice for someone who has been shot once, and didn’t find it to be a whole lot of fun, and would rather not go through that experience again?

    Ken

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