Letter Re: Laser Pointer Pistol Sights Versus Tritium Sights

Shalom Jim:
Recently I’ve been doing some research on laser sighting systems (primarily for pistols). Two of the companies I have looked at are Crimson Trace and LaserMax.
1.) Do you like or recommend laser sights for pistols? If so, which is your favorite company or system?

2.) How do laser sights compare to tritium sights? Are there any significant advantages to either?

BTW I am planning on attending an Appleseed shoot sponsored by the RWVA in March of ’07. Have you ever attended one of these shoots? What is your opinion?
Thanx for your most excellent input. – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I do not recommend laser pointer “sights”–aside for a few very specialized applications, such as nighttime pest shooting and nighttime building entry/clearing. (The latter is not usually a concern for preppers like us.) Most laser pointer sights are essentially useless in daylight, since they are often too dim to be seen in full daylight unless the target is in a shadow. Under typical circumstances, waiting to acquire the dot on a target in daylight at average combat distances is slower than lining up iron sights. I have observed from combat training that laser pointer sights subconsciously prevent the shooter from pulling the trigger until after the dot is acquired, even if the shooter has proper iron sight alignment. Frantically searching for the red dot, some shooters will ignore their iron sights under combat stress. Odds are that Mr. Badguy will pull his trigger first. Your mileage may vary, but IMHO, in most cases laser pointer sights are a bad idea. You should train the way you plan to fight, and that training should not involve a battery operated gadget. Under stress, you wil revert to your training. If that means looking for a red dot before you pull the trigger, that could be a very bad thing. Especially if the lighting is wrong (i.e. glaring daylight), or your laser is broken, or you don’t have any charged batteries.
I much prefer tritium sights. No muss, no fuss, no batteries, and they are good for 25+ years. (The half life of tritium is about 11 years.) I have Trijicon brand tritium sight sets on four of my Model 1911 .45 ACPs that were installed in 1994. These sights have only just now mellowed to about the right level of brightness. (They were much too bright when they were first installed.)

I haven’t personally attended an Appleseed shoot, but everyone that I’ve talked to that has positively raves about them. They are are a fantastic training opportunity at very low cost.