pistol sights

Fiber Optic Sights And Why They're Great

In recent years, a number of handgun and also long gun companies have started installing fiber optic sights on their products. A number of companies have also started producing them as aftermarket upgrades for both categories of firearm.


Since sights are one of the better upgrades to a gun that one can invest in, a number of people wonder if they're worth getting or if a gun that has them will be that much more shootable over one with conventional night sights. Short answer is yes, in both cases.


What Are Fiber Optics For?


what is a fiber optic sight for

Fiber optic, or more accurately optical fiber, is a flexible and transparent fiber that - in the simplest terms - is able to transmit light along its length. They're made by drawing plastic or glass through an aperture, which can result in a fiber the same width as a human hair.


The properties of fiber optics are optimal for a number of applications. One of the most common of course is in communications, as fiber optic wires are able to transmit information (altered to transmit as light, just like with a television set) with less signal loss or degradation and at higher bandwidth than copper cables.


What makes them good is how they interact with light.


The typical fiber optic cable is made with an inner core and outer cladding, both of which have a low refractive index (meaning they don't bend light) but the outer cladding is highly reflective, meaning the light reflects along the whole length of the cable. In telecommunications, this is highly advantageous as you can transmit more signal than with copper cable and also more reliably.


In short, once light hits the cable it basically bounces from side to side all the way to the end, sort of like a bowling ball with those bumper guards they put up for kids.


These same properties have also made them a fantastic option as handgun sights.


Why Fiber Optic Sights Are Worth Having


fiber optic sights worth having

So, why this stuff matters is that those properties also happen to make fiber optic sights very good as handgun sights. In fact, some reckon they're better than almost any other type of sights, especially when deployed as a front sight, though this may come down to preference.


Fiber optics are almost perfectly reflective, which picks up ambient light and transmits it along the length of the cable. If you look at one, the effect is practically amplifying the appearance of the sight.


Why is this good? Well, the front sight sticks out like a sore thumb with a fiber optic sight, making it VERY easy to index the front sight. If you happen to practice front sight shooting, a fiber optic happens to make it a lot easier. Hence, there are a whole bunch of handguns out there that come stock with them or an aftermarket fiber optic front sight available for a whole lot of pistols.


This is advantageous for handguns, but where you also might notice a lot of fiber optic sights is on shotguns. Thing about scatterguns is darn few of them have a rear sight unlike iron sights for rifles or handgun sights. Granted, there are some out there - for the most part you'll find them on the slug guns them boys out in Iowa have to use - but not a whole lot.


As a result, the front sight is really all you have to use with most shotguns. In the olden days, all you got was a bead on the end of the barrel. However, a fiber optic sight lights up a lot better, making it easier to index onto the target. Doesn't mean your wingshooting is going to get any better (that's why you practice hitting clays!) but it does make target acquisition a whole lot easier.


Even a small fiber optic sight on a shotgun makes a big difference. That's why you find them on everything from a Mossberg 500 to a Benelli Super Black Eagle.


Upgrading To Fiber Optic Handgun Sights


fiber optic sight upgrade

Convinced to switch to fiber optic handgun sights? You're making good choices - keep it up! Here are a few things to look for.


First, make sure you pick a sight designed specifically for the handgun you own. This seems like something that goes without saying, but it's a good idea to make sure you do it...though you might be surprised. Just getting "Glock sights" isn't good enough; if you have a Glock 26, look for actual Glock 26 sights.


Next is color. Fiber optic sights generally come in red or green. Does one of those colors stand out more to you? Then that's what you should get. The typical green fiber optic is more of a neon green, which is very easily visible. Red or orange fiber optics can also be easily visible, though a brighter shade is preferable. Blaze orange would do very well. That said, so long as it's easily visible...you're good to go.


Another thing to look at is the circumference of the sight. Length doesn't matter so much; you're only going to see the rear of it. Instead, how big around the sight is matters most. For aging eyes, bigger is a bit better...but take care not to get too big of sights. Too large a front sight can occlude the target at longer ranges and impede accuracy.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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