The subject of pistol sights isn’t usually considered to be one of the sexier topics for shooting related discussion, but when you try to develop your ability to put a bullet on target on demand with precision, you start to realize the importance of having the right sights. The descriptor “right” in that sentence is kind of tricky as rarely will you find complete agreement between two people as to the “right” set of sights. Given that each of us is functioning with unique equipment and very different levels of skill and experience it’s really not surprising that tastes differ.
Personally I tend to favor sights that feature a pretty wide rear notch in combination with a relatively thin front. I find that I’m able to grab a very quick read on the orientation of the sights that way while sacrificing just a little bit of left/right precision due to slight misjudgments on how centered the front sight is. I like the rear sight to have a bit of a ledge so you can snag it on a belt should you need to perform a one-handed malfunction clear. The smoothly sloped Novak style sights look pretty but when you’re trying to rack the slide of a .45 with a 20 pound recoil spring with one hand using the belt or the holster they don’t help you at all. Fiber optic sights are very popular among competition shooters because they are highly visible especially at speed, but I find them too fragile to trust on a carry gun.
Trijicon’s HD sights try to address all of those preferences. The front sight is a bit wider than I prefer but the rear notch is still sufficiently wide to accomodate the amount of light I like to have around the front sight. The sights are made with a pronounced ledge to assist in one-handed malfunction clearance or reloads. Instead of a fiber optic rod in the front sight, Trijicon places a fairly large disc of photolumenescent paint on the area surrounding the tritium insert. The paint doesn’t quite glow in bright light like fiber optics but it does do a pretty good job of standing out. It works even better in those not-quite-dark lighting conditions where you have enough light to see what’s going on in the environment and to keep tritium vials from being very useful, but yet not enough light to clearly see plain sights or sights not equipped with a highly reflective paint.
When I purchased these sights I did so thinking that the tritium vials in them were arranged like the Warren sights that I’ve been a fan of ever since trying them out in low light. Unfortunately the “subdued” rear tritium vials refers to painting around the vials black so as not to offer visual distraction when using the sights in brighter light. The rear “dots” on the Trijicon HD’s are the same size as the front “dot” so you don’t get the idiot-proof low light sight picture of the Warren sights I was expecting. Still, the low light sight picture is good enough and a quick hit with a sharpie on the rears will make them glow more faintly so that the front sight appears bigger and brighter.
So far in my use of the sights I haven’t found any deficits over the Heinie “Qwik” sights I’ve been using on my P30 for years. I’ve been able to use the Trijicon HD sights with the same level of accuracy in slow fire and they’re easier to pick up at speed when working on most targets. I can use more of a target focus with the Trijicon HD equipped P30 since the big orange ball helps give enough visual feedback on the front sight’s orientation in the rear notch to make a relatively accurate shot even when I’m looking “through” the sights rather than being hard-focused on the front sight.
If you’re looking for something that tries to split the difference between the visibility of fiber optic sights and the durability of traditional steel sights, these may be your answer. They’re not perfect, certainly, at least not to my mind. I’d change the rear tritium vials to be smaller and if it were up to me I’d probably color the entire face of the front sight, or at least the top half of the front sight face, with the photolumenescent paint. That being said as they sit these sights do a pretty good job of doing the things that lots of folks would want their sights to do.
If you’re looking to improve the sights on your gun, they’re worth a try.