Night Fighting with a Gun

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Amongst the various statistics that the FBI puts out, are a whole host of statistics about gun-related crimes. Studying those numbers can be useful, from the point of understanding when you are most likely to be put in a situation where you are forced to defend yourself. One of the many things that stands out in this is that gun-related crimes, specifically gun violence and armed robbery are more likely to happen at night or at dusk, than in broad daylight.

This is important to us, as we need to realize that if we are ever forced to defend ourselves with our guns, it will most likely not be during ideal lighting conditions. That very well may affect how we go about defending ourselves and how well we are able to defend ourselves.

Do yourself a favor sometime; take your gun outside at twilight and try aiming it at different colored surfaces. Then try doing it after the sun goes down. Finally, wait until it is fully dark and do it again. Unless you have night optics on your gun, I think you’ll be surprised how hard it is to see your sights, especially against a dark background.

If you have white dots painted on your iron sights, like many guns sold today, you’ll quickly find that they don’t do you much good. While you might still be able to see them at twilight, as it gets darker, they will disappear. It will be as if you are shooting blind.

This is critical!

One of my big concerns about carrying a firearm has always been to make sure I hit the target I want to and not some innocent bystander. That’s why I practice so much. When the time comes to do it for real and my shooting ability is degraded by the adrenalin in my system, I still want to hit the bad guy, not some innocent who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That’s why I think it’s so important to have night sights on my guns. In fact, I think it’s important enough, that I’ve replaced the sights on all my pistols, except those which don’t allow for it.

There are three different types of night sights you can put on a pistol:

  • Fiber-optic sights – These are made of short pieces of fluorescent colored fiber-optic material, with their ends becoming the dots on the sights. In low light situations, the light entering them reflects until it shows up at the ends, making the sights look illuminated. They are excellent in low-light, at dusk, but not at night.
  • Tritium sights – Tritium sights contain small glass vials, which contain the radioactive element tritium, which has been used for over a century to make watch faces that glow in the dark. Because it has its own energy source, it works in total darkness. The half-life of tritium is about 12.5 years, at which time they would probably have to be replaced.
  • Laser sights – While not technically considered a night sight, laser sights are highly visible at night, making them very effective. However, working with them is different and if the batteries die, you’re without sights.

The other thing to consider is how well you can see the potential target. You never want to shoot at a target, before identifying it, even if they have taken a shot at you. While them taking a shot at you justifies you returning the shot, the person who shot at you might not be a criminal, but rather be a scared housewife who thought you were a burglar. In that case, you would have to live with the knowledge that you shot her unjustly, even if the courts let you off as self-defense.

Therefore, night sights aren’t the entire answer to the problem. In addition, you’re going to need a tactical light; either slung under the barrel or handheld. The advantage of one that is slung under the barrel, is that you still have both hands to use on the gun. But if you go with that option, make sure it is something you can illuminate quickly, without having to change your grip.

I have written about tactical lights and shooting before, so I won’t go into it further here. Just remember that tactical lights and laser sights can give away your location at a much longer range than they help you to shoot. So, it’s up to you, but I’d recommend changing the sights on your carry gun and practicing working with a tactical light. That’s, of course, in addition to keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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