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).
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:
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.
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.
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.