You’ll see that repeated – “fiber optic sights aren’t appropriate for self-defense” for a number of reasons. Hilton at MSW writes about using FO rods in his guns, and how to protect them from breakage. My experience mirrors his – a properly installed and protected FO rod is going to be plenty durable for CCW use, and even probably for LE use.
But that doesn’t address the other criticism of the FO sights for CCW use, namely that they don’t self-illuminate like tritium night sights do. Like Hilton, I agree with that statement – purpose designed self-illuminating night sights are better for shooting in low-light conditions. That’s why all my small SD guns have night sights, and any gun I’m going to take to the S&W IDPA Indoor Matches will as well. However, there are conditions on that. Night sights work best where the ambient lighting is sufficient to identify your target, but maybe not to get the clearest sight picture possible. They’re basically pointless if there isn’t enough light to see your target, because being able to line up 3 glowing dots isn’t much help if you don’t know where to direct the bullets.
Enter the flashlight, and specifically the weapon mounted light. A good WML eliminates the need for night sights, and in my use actually enhances the value of a fiber optic front sight. The FO rod will catch light from the WML and illuminate quite nicely under even the darkest of conditions, suddenly making the act of aiming the gun a lot easier, even in low light and under stress. A traditional flashlight will also work just fine in this regard, but obviously the shooting techniques become more challenging when you have to manage holding a flashlight.
I like night sights for carry guns. They make me feel better. But I also understand that sights are for aiming the gun; and that identifying and seeing the threat itself is just as important. That’s why when the discussion of “which sight is best for low-light” comes up, my first question is always “well, what kind of light do you have?” More often than not, unless I’m talking to squared away dudes, it’s met with blank stares.