I’ve been using MRDS on pistols for about two years now. Definitely see the value of these optics and my gut tells me we will see these getting more and more popular. However, iron sights are still going to be mandatory just like on rifles.
Recently I worked with my iron sighted equipped pistols when I was working with an agency. I figured it was an opportunity to get some time back on the iron sights and truthfully I was curious about my performance. I was pretty impressed with my performance, accuracy was much better than I was expecting. I thought the skills would have deteriorated, but actually my skills on iron sights got better. I’m going to be spending some time trying to figure out if that was an anomaly or something we could expect when using MRDS’s. One thing I have done is updated my serrated/tritium front sight post with the newer high definition front sights. My eyesight isn’t what it use to be so I’ve looked around for front sights that give me a higher hit ratio under pressure.
There is a lot of stuff out there, some better than others, we all know that. In classes I have had the opportunity to observe a lot of different sights and how they perform in shooting drills where we can compare them through various metrics. I laid out some selection criterion for duty sights in an effort to create a good decision making matrix. Things like accuracy standards, visual acuity and sight acquisition. The fiber optic sights do a good job on sight acquisition. They can be accurate, but the shooter has to learn the point of aim and point of impact are different. The fiber optic tube can be so bright the shooter cannot see the actual tip of the front sight. The brain is so overstimulated by the brilliance of the tube some cannot pick it up quickly. How much is it off; sometimes as much as 4-6 inches at 25 yards. That’s a pretty big difference and again we are evaluating their accuracy so they performed suboptimal. If you can’t learn the correct application of sight alignment with these sights they are not going to be accurate. Visual acuity is great during day time conditions, but during hours of diminished light or artificial light like on an indoor range they become difficult to use well. Typically they are very thin and do not have a self illuminating source. The indoor lighting creates some unique conditions where shadows wreck havoc or at least create some unique problems.
I started playing with the HD type sights which have photoluminescent paint as a daytime illuminating source. They have done a great job with visual acuity and sight acquisition. The accuracy standard isn’t as good as other sights, but it’s good enough. On my Glock 17 the HD sights cover approximately 6.2″ at 25 yards. I’m willing to trade some accuracy standards for the others benefits.
If MRDS pistols are not in your future for whatever reason, updating to some of the newer HD sights increases your opportunity for success. Success isn’t accidentally, for some it is planned.