The 1911 is a special class of weapon. A century ago, the US military decided it needed a weapon designed specifically for them which included specifications that made it ideal for single-handed and Calvary use. You may recognize the name of the humble designer of this iconic model: John Browning.
It should be no surprise that a pistol designed over one hundred years ago is still relevant and desired today. The Browning 1911 design is classic and has developed almost a cult following. A 1911 now is no longer a single design but a base from which different gun manufacturers have made their own tweaks and modifications. In the same way that a motorcycle is identified as a motorcycle, yet personalized by each manufacturer, the 1911 is a 1911,but each brand has their own take on it.
While they can be very different on the surface, one thing that 1911 pistols have in common is that the stock sights that they come with tend to be minimalistic. The original and traditional models have basic iron sights on the front and back. The only major upgrade to these sights has been to make them a bit larger over the years for the layman to be able to use more easily.
In general, the sights on the 1911 model are low profile and minimalistic in order to be able to properly fit into the traditional scabbard or holster. To some degree, the manufacturer sights have been kept basic in order to appeal to the nostalgic and historic design that these pistols are based on. There are plenty of purists who would never think to install any sort of upgrade to the base sights.
However, there are plenty of owners who appreciate the functionality of the 1911 and also want to upgrade the sights for better use in certain situations. There is nothing wrong with modifying your piece, especially if the intent is to make it more useful and more likely to protect you! If you are looking to improve your ability to sight your gun in darkness, these are the five best options for sights to modify most 1911s.
Most 1911 pistols come with Novak style dovetail sights, so this is something that is most likely to work for the majority of 1911 owners. These sights use a three dot tritium night sight which outlines the front dot in yellow in order to offer proper contrast for quick aiming. The yellow outline is photo-luminescent,so it stands out even in transitional lighting settings. The U shape of the back sight helps the shooter to properly align the sights speedily.
TruGlo’s motto is “When Brightness Counts,” and that is exactly what one is looking for when trying to find a reliable set of night sights. Not only does this set of sights use tritium for bright glow-in-the-dark aiming, but it also incorporates fiber-optics so that the sights can be used just as effectively during daylight hours. You should be able to practice with a gun with these sights at any time during the day and then feel just as confident in your aim at night. There is no adjusting at one time or another for different light scenarios. You can also choose to have either all green or a contrasting green front and yellow back sight. Choosing the two different colors can help aid in quicker focus when suddenly drawing your weapon.
MAKO is a less well-known brand, but we like them because their design offers a feature that many other sights do not include. The curved design of the back sightsis specifically formedto reduce the possible snag or wear and tear on your holster. The Tru-Dot sights are also covered by a 12-year usable illumination warranty, which is longer than the average usable life of tritium sights. These sights are frequently foundon military and law enforcement firearms, which is a big indication of their reliability and quality.
There are a few pistol manufacturers whose 1911 sights are machined just different enough that it is recommended to find replacement sights that are specifically made for that brand. Smith & Wesson is one of those manufacturers and is also one of the most popular 1911 producers. Trijicon has one of the best night sights on the market, so we felt it worth highlighting their S&W specific set of sights. These have a three dot green front and rear coloring that glow intensely in the dark and will fit your S&W perfectly.
Tritium Handgun Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sights for Kimber Pistols, Kimber 1911 Models with Fixed Rear Sight
Kimber is another very popular maker of the 1911 style pistol that tends to have a different cut for their sights from most standard cuts. It is therefore recommended that if you are trying to re-sight a Kimber, you should go with something that is specifically machined for these pistols rather than trying to shoehorn in something more generic. In this case, it is difficult to beat the TruGlo tritium night sights.
While these sights glow green at night, in the daytime they are bright white dots which are very easy to line up and aim with. The TruGlo sights are also rounded to be resistant to snags when using a holster.
If you are buying new sights for your 1911, you need to pay close attention to the fit. Since 1911 is a style of pistol and not a specific design, manufacturers can have different cuts for their sights. In most cases, the sight manufacturer will highly recommend having a professional install the new set of sights, and if you are unsure as to which product to go with a professional is also a great source of advice.