How To Add Night Sights To The M1A or M14 Rifle, And Other Rifleman Jazz

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (TCCS)

Recently I had a Springfield Armory M1A in for evaluation. Somehow, this military classic (civilian semi-automatic version of the M14) just insists that you use iron sights.

Why?

Got me. But I’ve waffled more on the scope / iron sights decision more than Eric Holder in his Fast and Furious testimony. Some weeks the scope mount goes on and others its back to iron sights. Right now, it’s iron sights, and I think I’m going to stick with those – at least until Honey Boo Boo gains another 5 pounds.

Actually I’ve got even more incentive to stick with irons for a while. Recently I picked up a Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat front sight for the M1A / M14.

Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight for M1A and M14 Rifles

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (left) shown next to the standard Springfield Armory M1A front sight.

As you can see, the front sight post is noticeably wider and not tapered like the standard M1A front sight post. This sight is intended for low visibility, close quarters use. Don’t take it to the National Matches! Here’s why…

Let’s consider the sight picture at 100 yards. My particular Springfield Armory M1A sight is just about .055 inches wide on the shooter side. It’s tapered and therefore narrower than that in the front. This helps create a really crisp and precise sight picture. Many other M1A’s use a National Match sight blade, which is .062 inches wide, so your particular mileage may vary a bit. Keep in mind that numbers will float around depending on exactly how far from the front sight post you place your shootin’ and aimin’ eye. In my case, it’s about 34 inches.

On the other hand, the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight has a post that measures just about .093 inches wide.

What does this mean if your shooting at a target 100 yards away? Let’s do some fancy math and find out…

Gun math

So, solving that equation, dividing by the number of times John Boehner visits a tanning booth and carrying the one gives us the following sight pictures:

My Standard M1A Front Sight post covers a 5.82 inch wide target at 100 yards. With this fancy new match, that means a standard military 20 inch wide target would exactly match the width of my front sight blade at 343 yards.

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight post covers a 9.84 inch wide target at 100 yards. Not trusting my math, I eyeballed this at the range. Close enough. To make a similar military target ranging comparison, the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight would match the 20 inch target width at about 203 yards. That’s kinda handy for ranging a man-sized target at distances us older folks you can actually see with the naked eye.

So, for long targets, you’re going to lose some precision with the Smith Enterprise Tritium Combat Sight. But that’s by design. This sight is supposed to be easy to see in low light conditions. With it’s built-in Trijicon tritium vertical bar, you can’t miss it.

This front sight upgrade also makes a great backup scenario if your M1A or M14 is scoped. Many (maybe most?) M1A / M14 receiver mounts have a half-tunnel cutout that allows you to see the front and rear iron sights under the scope. Smith Enterprise makes an M1A / M14 mount configured this way.

Front Sight Installation

If you have a standard M1A with the factory muzzle break installed, installation is simple.

M1A front sight removal

The standard front sight is a reverse dovetail setup where the sight itself has the female dovetail cut. It’s held in place by a hex bolt. Just loosen and remove that.

M1A front sight dovetail

The front sight will slide right off. Perhaps a gentle nudge will be required to get it moving.
 M1A front sight  1 Save that hex bolt. You’ll need it for the replacement front sight!

Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight installation

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight installs exactly the same as the standard sight. Don’t apply any Loctite – yet. First, you’ll want to bring your hex driver to the range with you for zeroing. If you zero for windage by drifting the front sight, then you can have your rear sight mechanically zeroed too. Just place the rear sight at it’s zero windage point, shoot, and adjust the front sight side to side as necessary. Once you’re happy, go ahead the tighten everything up.

Initially, I tried out the Tritium post version of the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight, but they also make one with a round tritium dot, also provided by Trijicon. I’ll be trying that one in a few weeks to see how it compares.

I really like shooting with this configuration. Given my aging eyes combined with iron sights, it’s not hurting my practical accuracy either.

 

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You can find the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sights at Brownells

Smith Enterprise M14 Tritium Close Combat Sight
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Laser Review: Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock LG-452

The Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock Handguns

Green with envy. The brand new Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glocks

Green with envy. The brand new Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glocks

My Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips is now green with envy. Because of my Glock 17 Gen 4 that is now sporting the hot off the line Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452.

Following up on the sneak previews at this years NRA Annual Meeting, Crimson Trace is just about to release a whole slew of green laser models. In September, we’ll see Laserguard models for Kimber and Smith & Wesson 1911’s, GLOCK Full-Size & Compact, and Springfield XD & XD(M) pistols. Based on our earlier experience with the Lightguard for 1911’s, we’ll bet it will fit the Springfield 1911 models as well. Also on the soon to hit the shelves list is the Rail Master unit with a green laser. We just finished reviewing a Rail Master with a light and found it to be versatile enough to fit every gun in our safe that is equipped with a rail. AR rifles included.

Crimson Trace Green Laserguard Specs

As stated, the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard will run for about 2 hours of continuous use. Considering that the unit is equipped with a positive on/off switch that disables the instinctive activation button, this is plenty. Going to an outdoor range to plink or practice? No problem, you decide if you want to chase the dot. If you would rather work with iron sights and save your battery, just flip the switch off and shoot normally.

Green laser vs red laser in daylight

Note how bright the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is compared to a red laser in broad daylight

The Laserguard also features windage and elevation adjustments so you can set your laser zero to preference. When I mounted it on the Glock 17 Gen 4, the green dot was just above the front sight, so it had a usable zero right out of the box. The included tool is dual purpose. It fits the mounting screws that fasten the two halves of the Laserguard together and is used for windage and elevation adjustments.

The Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452 uses a single CR2 Lithium battery. The first one is included with the unit. For future replacements, CR2 batteries are available at most any grocery or drug store,

The Living Daylights

The whole point of green lasers is visibility. The human eye picks up green easily – more so than other colors. In the same manner that human eyes are immediately drawn to members of the opposite sex, so it is with green lasers. It’s simple biology.

Installation of the Crimson Trace Green Lightguard LG-452 is easy

Installation of the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is easy

The big benefit to the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard is high visibility – in all conditions. While operating indoors, the green laser really shines – noticeably more than a traditional red laser.

The biggest difference, however, is visibility in daylight conditions. I generally don’t bother trying to practice with a red laser at outdoor ranges unless it’s getting to be end of day and the light is fading significantly. You just can’t see that red laser dot more than a few feet away in direct sunlight. The green laser is an entirely different story. I had no problem clearly seeing the green dot, in broad daylight, on targets 100 feet or more away. It’s an amazing difference that you have to see to believe.

Our Review Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Green lasers suck power like Rosie O’Donnell sucks at talk shows. But somehow, Crimson Trace has figured out how to pack 2 hours of super bright runtime into this small package. That’s plenty and batteries are cheap. We can’t wait to see what’s next…

 

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Red Dot Sight Review: Aimpoint PRO Optic

Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Sight Optic

The Aimpoint PRO is beautifully designed. Note the transparent rear lens cap.

Sweden has invented some pretty useful things over the years. Ingrid Bergman. Greta Garbo. Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and that goofy prize for well-connected politicians. And of course, Sweden is responsible for bringing us the swingin’ pop sensation ABBA. Oh, Fernando, you dancing queen…

As if these contributions were not enough, Sweden also produced Aimpoint. As we discovered with our review of the Aimpoint Micro H1 red dot sight, the new Aimpoint PRO over-delivers. But is it the best red dot sight?

The Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Sight goes from tactical to civilian

The Aimpoint PRO is actually a new packaging release. The Law Enforcement only product, the Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) was released in 2011. It was the latest iteration of sights based on the popular Comp M3 design. The Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic had a few key differences to the Comp M3 line:

  • 3 year battery life
  • Included flip up lens covers
  • QRP2 mount
  • Nifty lens cap (interior) sticker for battery replacement and in-service date reminders

In 2012, the Aimpoint PRO was made available to the civilian market. Got it?

High points – Is the Aimpoint PRO the best red dot sight?

Like the Aimpoint Micro H1 red dot, the Aimpoint PRO red dot sight runs 75% of forever. The single 3 volt lithium 2L76 battery runs for 30,000 continuous hours. That’s longer than the movie The English Patient. Although The English Patient seems longer once you’re trapped in the theater and doomed to hours of $14 cokes. In case you haven’t seen The English Patient, 3,000 hours equates to about 3 years of continuous use. We’re pretty comfortable with a design that runs for 3 years without switches or maintenance. Even if you’re really paranoid, just replace that single battery every New Years Eve before the festivities start and you become forgetful. Of course there is a real benefit to this longevity other than an exceptionally low battery replacement budget. Just leave this red dot sight powered on. Always. Then it’s ready to go without switches or any other manipulation. As we’ll see later, you don’t even have to open the lens covers.

The Aimpoint PRO red dot sight features a 2 MOA (minute of angle) red dot. Intensity is adjusted by a knob at the 2 o’clock position from the rear lens. The knob is designed with deep grooves for easy grasp, even with gloves, and allows 10 levels of dot intensity adjustment. We found that you can adjust it easily with your weak hand without obstructing the lens.

Aimpoint PRO Red Dot QRP2 Mount

The QRP2 mount does not require tools – and is self torque limiting

The mount has also been updated from the Comp M3 offering for effective use on AR / M4 type platforms. The QRP2 system accomplishes two objectives. First, it places the optic at such a height where the iron sights on an AR platform line up in the bottom third of the optic window. This allows easy use of the red dot without iron sights getting in the way – even if your rifle has a fixed front sight. Second, the mount features a large snap knob for mounting the optic on the rail. Simply place the optic on the rail and tighten the knurled knob until it clicks 3 times. This applies exactly the right amount of torque so your rail will not be damaged. And you can easily mount and unmount the optic without tools. Please sir, step away from the vise grips!It’s a really handy mount that proved to be solid over time and use. The height spacer of the QRP2 mount is removable if you want to mount the Aimpoint PRO on shotguns or sub-machine guns.

Both front and rear lenses are inset into the optic body for extra protection. The front tube is threaded inside in case you want to mount an optional anti-reflective device. By the way, the Aimpoint PRO red dot sight is compatible with all current generations of night vision devices. It also can be used with Aimpoint’s 3x magnifier if you need to reach out and touch someone at greater distance.

Like other Aimpoint products, the Aimpoint PRO is built with attention to detail. For example, windage and elevation caps, and the battery compartment cap, are all connected with a rubber strap so won’t lose any pieces. Aimpoint even includes a sticker to record battery changes and service dates. This round sticker fits on the inside of the front lens cap so you won’t lose track of it. And you’ll see it every time you open the lens cap.

Optical illusions

One of the first things we noticed about the Aimpoint PRO is the design of the included (and pre-installed) flip up lens covers. The front lens is made from black rubber and has two tabs that allow for easy opening. The front lens cover is spring loaded, so a light tap on either tab opens the cover all the way, and spring tension keeps it well out of the way once opened. The rear lens cover is particularly interesting. The cover itself is clear, so you don’t necessarily have to open it for use. As the Aimpoint PRO is designed for ‘both eyes open’ shooting, you can literally pick up the rifle and aim it accurately with both lens covers closed. The rear cover is clear, so you will see the red dot. Your offside eye will see the target. Your brain will put the two together and you’ll see a red dot on target. Of course, the sight picture is not as clear as with the lens covers open, but we found this scenario to be perfectly usable. This seemingly minor feature could make all the difference in a scenario where one has to react immediately. Obviously it could make a big difference in combat or defensive applications. Or it can help you avoid embarrassment in that upcoming 3 gun match.

You too can re-enact scenes from Act of Valor

We hear much internet wisdom about how quality optics are expensive. And how you can get the “same exact thing” from some other company. Some folks insist that the actual optic is made in the same factory as a knock off and different brand names are applied as the units are shipped out the door.

Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic Red dot sight cowitness iron sights

The mount co-witnesses perfectly with iron sights.

Not so with the Aimpoint product line. They are made in Sweden by Aimpoint, for Aimpoint. Period. And the attention to quality engineering is apparent.

The Aimpoint PRO is constructed from a solid anodized aluminum housing. Watertight screw caps for the battery housing and windage and elevation adjustments ensure that you can completely submerge this unit up to a depth of 150 feet. If you’re engaged in activities that cover your optic with sand and salt spray, no problem, just dunk it in clean water and you’re good to go. Do make sure the caps are on though.

The Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Sight at the range

Of course the real test was at the range. We mounted the evaluation unit on a DPMS Panther A3 Lite 16 AR15 rifle. This model features a front sight post and rail on the back. We have it equipped with a Magpul flip-up rear sight. Even with the rear sight flipped up, the Aimpoint PRO’s red dot was easy to see. The front and rear sights lined up just about 1/3 of the way up the glass. Perfectly positioned in our opinion.

As the Aimpoint PRO is parallax free there was no sensitivity at all to position of your head and eyes. As long as you can see through the tube, you’ll see the dot on target. We found this sight very fast to acquire.

Just for kicks, we did try shooting some 25, 50 and 100 yard targets with the both lens covers closed. Remember, the Aimpoint PRO has a semi-transparent rear lens cap, so you can see the red dot without flipping the rear cap out of the way. With the front cap closed, your brain relies on your other eye to acquire the target. The eye looking through the optic will see the dot and your brain does a reasonable job of putting the two together. We found 25 and 50 yard targets easy to hit with the front cap closed. The 100 yard targets were a little harder to acquire accurately in this manner. The bottom line is that this feature works as intended. If you need to fire a quick shot, you can do it accurately without even opening the lens caps.

All in all, this is another excellent optic and mount from Aimpoint. We’re going to have to buy one.

Our rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Built like a tank. Clear and easy to acquire. Those little details that Aimpoint considers make all the difference. We highly recommend this one.
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Shop for the Aimpoint Pro at Brownells.com

Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (Pro)
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Review: TruGlo TFO Tritium Fiber Optic Sights

We’ve owned a set of TruGlo TFO Tritium Fiber Optic sights for a Glock 32 for years. As we wrote in our Buyers Guide, these have become our favorite handgun sights. Bar none.

A Clever Acronym: TFO

The idea behind the TFO sights is to combine fiber optic tubes with tritium power sources. This accomplishes two things:

  1. Provide outstanding visibility in daylight conditions. The brighter it is outside, the more your sights jump out at you. Using the high-tech ruler etched into our Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool, we estimated each of the fiber optic tubes to be just about 1/2 inch long. The tube collects available light from the top and concentrates it at the base of the tube, thereby creating a really, really bright dot sight.
  2. Provide outstanding visibility in low or no light conditions. This is where the tritium comes into play. At the muzzle end of each fiber optic tube is a tritium lamp which emits light through the tube. This creates a glowing dot powered by tritium instead of light collected by the fiber optic tube.

So now you know where the TFO (Tritium Fiber Optic) name comes from.

Yellow For No, Green For Go

TruGlo TFO sights are now available in either all green (front and back sights) or a combination of yellow and green. The combination unit we tested on a Glock 26 Gen 4 features a green fiber optic tube on the front sight and yellow tubes on the rear sight. The yellow sights on the rear are deliberately less bright than the green. This helps the front sight to visibly stand out from the rear sights – which is especially important in low light conditions. With a bright green dot flanked on either side by yellow dots, there is simply no way to confuse sight alignment. After using the all green version of TFO sights for years, we noticed that the front sight is noticeably faster to pick up when the rear sights are yellow.

Built To Last

We’ve only been using the new Yellow / Green TFO’s for about 2 months on the Glock 26, and not surprisingly, have not had any durability issues. However, we’ve been using an older, identically constructed, set of TFO sights on a Glock 32 for several years. The Glock 32 is a daily carry gun and has many thousands of rounds of fairly snappy recoil .357 Sig ammunition through it and we’ve had no issues with the TFO sights. They are as solid as they were day we installed them.

The Fiber Optic tubes are enclosed on three sides by CNC machined steel frames so there is minimal risk of damage to the tubes. We should also note that the sights are closed at the muzzle end, thereby preventing anyone from seeing the glow – day or night.

Installation

If you’re installing these on a Glock, this screwdriver tool set from Brownells greatly simplifies the process. You’ll need the proper Glock front site tool to remove the factory site and install a new one anyway, so it’s a good time to invest in the complete Glock toolkit.

To install the rear sights on the Glock 26, we used a Glock compatible sight pusher tool from MGW. If you’re doing the installation yourself, we highly recommend using a proper sight pusher tool. If you don’t have one, or can’t borrow one, any gunsmith can install the sights quickly and easily. This is not an appropriate time to break out the hammer!

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! The green front sight, yellow rear sight option is fantastic. Day or night, it’s very easy to pick up the front sight rapidly.
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

The Truglo TFO Sights are available at Brownells

Truglo Semi-Auto Tritium/Fiber Optic Brite-Site
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Buyers Guide: TruGlo TFO Fiber Optic / Tritium Handgun Sights

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

TG131GT1This is hands down the best set of handgun sights that we’ve ever tried.

The TruGlo TFO sights are intended to work equally well in light and dark conditions. Fiber optic channels on both front and rear sights allow lots of light in from the top that make these sights literally glow in daylight conditions.

Tritium lamps are placed at the ends of the fiber optic tubes and provide light through the tubes when ambient light is not available.

Available in all green or green front / yellow rear combinations, these sights literally jump into your field of view – either day or night.

We highly recommend them.

Available Here TruGlo TFO Brite-Site Handgun Series Sight – GLOCK

Interesting XS Big Dot Sights Review…

I’ve been contemplating getting a set of XS Big Dot Sights for a Beretta PX4 Storm for quite some time. Caleb has an interesting take on them here.

Review: TruGlo TFO Handgun Sights

The Good
Way, way, way brighter than Snooki
The Bad
Crud can collect in the fiber optic channels
The Ugly
Slight risk that the 13,000 lumens of apparent light can burn your eyeballs to a crisp
Our Rating
4 Nuns Four Nuns
TruGlo TFO Tritium / Fiber Optic Handgun Sights

TruGlo TFO Tritium / Fiber Optic Handgun Sights

TruGlo TFO Tritium / Fiber Optic Handgun Sights

Suggested Retail Price: $153.99

www.truglo.com

TruGlo’s TFO line offers a great combination of fiber optic and tritium sights in one package. The basic idea is that tritium lamps are placed behind the fiber optic tubes. In dark conditions, the tritium light source shows through the fiber optic tube. In daylight conditions, the fiber optic tube provides sight brightness while the tritium lamps provide low doses of radiation sickness. A little radiation nausea can go a long way towards improving your sight picture according to some experts.

TFO’s are available in two varieties right now – green front and green rear or green front with yellow rear sights. I’ve got the green on green version and I absolutely love them. Dudes at the range almost always ask about them, which makes me feel much better about my sense of worth. Even though both front and back dots are green, I find the the front sight literally jumps out in your field of vision. I’ve used them quite a bit on a Glock 32 in speed competitions like IDPA and Steel Challenge and they are quite fast to acquire.

Street prices run about $100 and you can install them yourself without too much trouble. Warning: If you are a Glock user, that proprietary little tool for removing the factory front sight is a must!

In summary, there are a lot of tritium sights on the market. What makes the TFO’s really stand out is the daylight visibility. The fiber optic tubes really shine outdoors. No batteries required.

He said She said
These are on my daily carry gun. Quick to acquire in all light conditions and low profile so they don’t interfere with any holsters that I have tried. Other dudes Jones for them, which makes me especially popular at the range. Cool. Even with my failing eyesight I can line them up. Can I get back to Fashion Police now?

BUY NOW: TruGlo TFO Brite-Site Handgun Series Sight – GLOCK Low

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