I decided I should replace the stock sights on my PPQ. The PPQ is a really great gun out of the box, but it comes with crappy plastic three dot sights. I don’t like the three dot sight picture, so let’s see what’s on the market.
I could have gone with a black rear and fiber optic front from Dawson, like I did on my VP9, but I wanted something different. Plus, Dawson’s manufacturing tolerances annoy me. The VP9 is made by just one company, HK. With just one set of specs and tolerances. This ain’t no 1911, where dovetail dimensions differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. I understand that adjustment is going to be needed on a 1911. But this is the age of computer aided design and CNC machines. I should not have to spend a large amount of time with files fitting sights to my modern pistol. To hell with that.
Instead, I went with the Trijicon HD Sights. These are an attempt to get sights that work in both high and low light conditions. They have a plain black rear with two tritium lamps, but no white rings around the tritium, so as not to provide distractions. The rear sight also has a wide, U-shaped notch. The front sight has a tritium lamp surrounded by a high-visibility thick plastic ring, in orange or yellow. That ring is made of traditional glow in the dark stuff that gets “charged” with light. As a result of the ring, this is a wide post for the front sight. That’s really been my only hesitation with these. I like narrower fiber optic posts. But, given that the rear sight is commensurately wider, I still get nice broad light bars on either side.
The tritium makes the Trijicon HDs expensive. But Trijicon is at least nice enough to make them for just about everything. In addition to the common guns, namely Glocks and M&Ps, Trijicon makes HDs for SiGs, the PPQ and other Walthers, the VP9 and other HKs, and even Fishbreath’s PX4. Dawson doesn’t even make sights for the PX4.
A quick aside. Mounting sights on the PPQ was super easy. The factory front sight is held on by a small screw that holds two plastic wings apart. To remove, just take out the screw and squeeze the wings with some needle-nose pliers. Done. The replacement front sight is affixed with a screw, like a Glock. I know this is supposed to be less sturdy than a dovetail, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to install.
The rear sight is kind of interesting. There’s a reverse-threaded screw with a square head on the right side of the sight. There’s a spring-loaded detent in the frame that has a slot cut in it to lock in with the screw, and it presses the sight into the square-cut slot. I’m not aware of anyone else who’s done this, and I have no idea how sturdy it is. But since I don’t use my rear sights as a hammer, I’m not too worried. Again, it was super easy to swap out the sights.
Then, I took it to the range to compare it with the aforementioned Dawson sights on the VP9. Both the VP9 and the PPQ have excellent ergonomics and triggers, so I figured this was as good a test as any.
The result was pretty much as I expected. For quick stuff in close-ish, the Trijicon HDs were competitive with the fiber optic for speedy sight acquisition. At range, it was a little harder to focus on the top edge of the sight on the HDs, since the bright dot is quite a bit bigger. Also, the wide front post covers more of a smaller target at range.
I’m a firm believer that for whatever sights you have on your gun, there exists some lighting condition and shooting problem to screw you over. In this case, you get pretty quick acquisition and good low-light capabilities, but make the long distance problems more difficult. It’s a pretty reasonable trade. I really like these as general purpose pistol sights.
Of course, if you aren’t sold on needing/wanting tritium, you can get nice, high visibility sights for a lot less money. This comes down to what are you comfortable with. Which optical conditions do you want to screw you over? Or, you could put a U-Boat1 on your carry gun, and always be ready to illuminate the living daylights out of an obscure target. But then there’s extra weight and bulk to play with.
Unfortunately, the best way to know if sights are right for you is to try them. Happily, some of the nicer gun stores have a set in a countertop display, which is pretty neat. If you want tritium, I don’t know of another commercially available solution to also get high visibility built in, short of having someone custom build them. They’re way better than any other tritium sight I’ve tried.
1.) Surefire X300U