Are fiber optics too fragile for CCW use?

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.

bowen-sight - caleb

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.


  1. a properly installed and protected FO rod is going to be plenty durable for CCW use, and even probably for LE use.

    Which could be said of any sight really. Improperly installed sights are rubbish, period. FO sights are less durable than plain old iron sights, that is a given, it’s how much durability, or lack thereof, is one comfortable with.

    One thing I found out about a FO sight that I didn’t account for is that with my astigmatism, the front sight blooms and becomes fuzzy in very bright light. So I don’t really like them myself, but understand why others do.

  2. Thing I’ve found about decent FO sights is that, even when they break, they rarely break and fall right out of the blade immediately.

    Inspect the darned things whenever you unholster the gun, and replace as needed — it isn’t that hard with most FO sights to replace it, without special tools.

  3. I use a set of TFO sights on my carry weapon. I got them three years ago and have been carrying with them for over a year now. The real advantage of the dots or fibers in the sights is to make quick sighting easier, if the sights had absolutely no dots aiming and shooting would be the same as you should be aligning the sights with the space seen between the front and rear sight being even on the sides and level across. So basically even if the fiber or tritium or white dot falls out of the sight it should not affect your ability to aim and fire.

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