Are luminescent sights a best kept secret...
Of course sights are a application dependent item. E.g. most competitors use FO sights; seems like most SD experts recommend either night sights or plain sights. I'm talkin' iron sights here, not electronic.
My first encounter with luminescent sights was on my Beretta PX4. I thought they were cheap excuses for night sights - kind of a no-man's land between night sights and FO sights. I had limited experience with my PX4 sights because the luminescent dot dropped out of the front sight and that was the end of that.
Then I traded for a new Hk P30L - guess what? It had luminescent sights! I thought why would anyone put lunimescent sights on a gun that costs over $900 :confused:
I took the gun to the indoor range and started shooting. I immediately notice how well I could see the sights. :smile: I had not 'charged' them in anyway, or so I thought, more on that in a minute. I figured I was seeing the sights because they were near white, and big, kinda like how Glock sights show up.
Slowly, I began to realize it was more than just a white dot. The sights had a yellow tint and were very distinct. I shot my standard eval drill as well as I ever have, and realized it was actually easier.
As I shot with the sights more and more, I realized something was going on that was special with these sights. They were picking up charge somehow, and I was lovin' it! :yup:
One night I gave the sights a really quick burst of light from my Fenix PD31 LED tactical light. I mean just a wink on front and rear. The sights looked like three, rich green lights. They were brighter by far than any night sight I have ever seen.
It would be good at this point to emphasize I'm just getting to know these sights, so I have a lot to learn yet.
Here are some pics I made this morning. First, uncharged sights outside in the shade. The sun is low in the sky and bright but I'm in deep shade. Here's what the sights look like by just walking outside - oh, it's harder to line up sights with one hand while lining up a camera with the other, so the sights aren't necessarily aligned, but the point is to show the illumination characteristics of the sights rather than demonstrate my impeccable manual dexterity. :tongue:
And we all do realize that pics rarely reproduce what and how the eye sees. While we're at it, I'm holding the gun away from the camera simply to avoid a sharp focus on the rear sights and a blur on the front - I hope that worked!
So just out of the house:
Ok, so what about bright sunlight? Well, bright sunlight charges the sights! Take a look. You can actually see the green glow of the front sight:
OK, now, back inside. Remember I have not done anything but have the sights in sunlight. Here's a pic in reasonable room lighting, i.e. details very clear to the eye, but not quite up to a 'fully' lit room:
Those green dots do show up don't they! :yup:
Here's a pic in more subdued light:
At the range, indoor range that is, I notice the sights pick up charge from the flourescent lighting. Not nearly as bright as in the pics, but enough to get a very distinct sight picture. I've always shot from a sight profile, if available, rather than 'dots', but I notice now, I'm putting that dot on the center of the target instead of profiling.
It's hard to find details about luminescent sight characteristics without out sifting through a bunch unnecessary, uninteresting technical literature. All I want to know is, how long do they stay charged, the discharge profile, and does charging them longer, make them brighter or make them last longer? Also, what is the lifetime in charge discharge cycles or shelf life for that matter?
Well research and engineering intuition answered the discharge profile thing – it’s exponential as I expected it to be. Don’t have specific times yet, but exponential means it discharges very quickly to a certain level and then discharges much slower at the lower levels. I think that’s a good thing. The sights are almost too bright at full charge. So they dim quickly to a more useable level and stay there for a long time. I’ve charged mine before going to bed and could still see them, in the dark, hours later.
They charge to a maximum level, again my engineering intuition, says that once they reach that level, further ‘charging’ will have no effect on brightness nor decay characteristics. How’s that, did that sound just a little engineery?
HK doesn’t know a whole lot about the sights yet, but have been told by Germany that the luminescent sights were as durable as Tritium sights. I have only an idea what they mean by that. Does it mean they have a ‘half-life’ the same as Tritium? Do they mean they are as rugged as Tritium? HK couldn’t address if more frequent charges and discharging affected overall lifetime.
Well, no sight is going to be everything to everyone for every situation. But my sincere impression right now is they come as close as anything. They show up when night sights don’t; they show up clearly and distinctly in higher light level giving a similar benefit as FO sights. They have large enough dots to be picked up quickly.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but night sights have a problem. The all green Tritium front and rear sights emit the same amount of light. Since the rear sight is significantly closer to the eyes than the front sight, they appear brighter to the eye. I notice that and find that makes it difficult to pick up the front sight sometimes. What about luminescent sights, don’t they do the same thing?
They can, but you have a choice. You can charge the front sight brighter than the rears! All you have to do is control the intensity you charge the sight with. E.g. with my Fenix PD31, and I have Surefire, Streamlight, and Insight handhelds, my choice by far is the Fenix PD31. Anyway I set my Fenix to a lower intensity level, hit the rear sight for a second, switch to maximum intensity with two taps of the rear switch and hit the front sight for a second – goal achieved just that easy. Of course it helps to have a multiple intensity flashlight like the Fenix PD31 – it’s all I carry now. I also have the Fenix PD32, but I do NOT like the intensity control on it. It’d be pretty difficult to use under pressure.
And one last word about charging to different intensities. This option will likely be more noticeable when the sights are first charged. As they decay in intensity, I think, again engineering intuition, they will even out some – not completely, but some.
Clearly I’ve got a lot of work to do regarding these sights – I’d better go shooting without delay. Today will bring my round count for the year to 11,750 – the things I do for this board. :tongue: