How to choose a combat handgun sight

How to choose a combat handgun sight


One of the most important things for new shooters to understand is the basics of handgun sights and what they are designed for. Choosing a set of sights for a defensive handgun is an important decision to make. It’s good to know what you are diving into when choosing a sighting system.

Three Dot Sights

Three dot sights are the most common sight you’ll come across in the firearm world. These sights feature a single dot on the front sight post and dots on both sides of the rear sight. They come in both traditional and night sights. They are common, affordable, and easy to use. They are better for target practice than combat. It is easy to confuse which dot is which under stress. Thinking your left rear sight is your front sight will certainly throw your shot.


  • Intuitive, simply place the front dot between the two rear dots.
  • Catches the eye quickly


  • Lack contrast makes it easy to confuse the dots

Heinie Straight 8 Sights

Heinie sights are built to be used for combat and concealed carry. The Straight 8 Design places a tritium lamp in the center of the front sight and center of the rear sight. During the day these lamps can be ignored and the user aligns the black sights over the target and shoots. You know the sights are aligned when you see a wall of black. At night you align the tritium lamp in the rear sight with the tritium lamp in the front sight. If you confuse which lamp is which it doesn’t really matter, as long as one lamp is on top of the other you are good to go.


  • Very robust and durable sights
  • Serrated to reduce glare
  • Plenty of contrast when shooting


  • Takes some training to master

Novak Fiber Optic Sights

Fiber optic sights are bright pieces of polymer that are easy to see in both day and low light situations. Novak allows you to purchase separate front and rear sights. This allows you to mix colors to achieve contrast. Novak cut sights are well known for being rounded and robust. These sights are snag free and perfect for concealed carry.


  • Simple and easy to use at any time
  • Easy to draw with


  • Only made for a limited number of firearms

Big Dot XS sights

Big dot XS sights utilize a larger than average front sight and subdued pair of rear sights. These sights are designed for close quarters combat and stress front sight focus. The idea is to get the front sight on target and fire as fast as possible. With the night sight variants, you have a circular tritium lamp in the front sight, and a vertical cylinder lamp in the center of the rear sight. You dot the ‘i’ and pull the trigger.


  • Big front sight makes you fast on target
  • Available for a wide variety of guns
  • Easy to use


  • Poor for shooting beyond 25 yards.

Sighting In

For concealed carry you must determine which sights will work for you and your requirements. Sights designed for combat should be fixed, robust, and designed for combat and concealed carry. Once you choose your sights, the next step is to get out there and start shooting with them.

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