Feb 14

DIY: Night Sight Installation

Allow me to provide some background before getting into the meat of this post.  I don’t go to the movies that often because I generally despise large crowds and paying ridiculous amounts of money for butter laden popcorn (although it is delicious).  I do make an effort to go when a decent movie comes out, as nothing at home can replicate the experience a theater provides.  Last week’s  movie happened to be Lone Survivor, I took the entire family and highly recommend it.  I was a bit skeptical going in as I had read the book (it was awesome) but I have to tell you  the movie did not disappoint.  It’s a great tribute to the bravery of all who fought and died that day and on a broader scale a tribute to the amazing dedication, courage and toughness it takes to serve our nation while truly being at the tip of the spear.

The Problem

My primary carry weapon is a Glock 19 but there is one glaring deficiency that my gun had:  it did not come equipped with night sights.  It’s just one of those things I had not got around to changing and as such any time I would be out and about with the sun down I’d be taking a huge risk.  I did make an effort to switch guns when attending movies as I have a few others already equipped with night sights, but they aren’t the platform I’m the most comfortable with.

Think about having to make a well placed shot at 20 yards in a dark theater during the scene of a movie where it’s also dark.  It would be tough enough to line up the sights with screaming people diving for cover and a crazed lunatic (e.g. Aurora, CO) firing off a shotgun.  Without night sights that shot would be almost impossible, you’d barely make out the silhouette of the shooter and most definitely would not be able to see the sights on the gun itself.  That shot might be possible at 5 feet but anything beyond that distance would be guess work and put innocent lives at risk.


I decided to make the switch to night sights on my G19 but still faced a few obstacles.  All of the local gun shops did not carry what I wanted for my pistol which meant waiting for them to order (usually at a premium) and most required that I leave my pistol behind so the work could be done.  Yes that’s exactly what I would like to do, leave my EDC gun in your shop for a few days so that when your part time “gunsmith” comes in he can spend less than 5 minutes swapping my sights out and charge $25 to do it.  No thanks.

The Solution

I have more than 1 Glock pistol and like doing work myself when it’s feasible, so given the situation with the local gun shops I decided to purchase the tools necessary to swap out sights myself.   Sure I would be laying out more cash initially but I would always have the capability to swap sights which meant that I would not have to rely on outside providers and if a friend needed assistance I’d be able to help out.

I decided to go with a sight pusher made by MGW, a fine piece of craftsmanship which makes removing and installation of the rear sight a snap.

If you do a search on YouTube for DIY sight removal you’ll see a few interesting techniques, one of which involves beating off the sight with a wood punch and hammer…no thanks.

The front sight is held on by a tiny nut and requires a tool for removal, so I went OEM and purchased the Glock front sight tool.  This device makes swapping out the front sights easy, just don’t forget a little bit of loctite for the threads.  I should note there are cheaper tools out there but some reviews suggest that the quality can be hit or miss.

As for the sights themselves the choice was easy, I went with the Trijicon Tritium Steel 3 dot variety.  I’m sure there are other models out there which perform well but I have Trijicon’s on several other guns and as such wanted to keep things consistent.


I’m not joking when I say that it took me just as long to set up my work station, open all the boxes and read the instructions as it did to actually perform the installation.  The MGW sight pusher is very well built and locks the slide into place firmly.  A few twists of the handle and the old sight is off, reverse the procedure and the new sight is on.  The front sight was even easier, if you know how to turn a screwdriver you’ll be in business.  As I previously mentioned don’t forget a drop of loctite on the threads to keep things in place once the rounds start going downrange!

MGW Sight Pusher Glock MGW Sight Tool

Once everything was installed the last step was to make sure the sights were aligned properly.  I’m pretty sure that step requires no explanation.

Bottom Line

You can’t shoot (accurately) what you can’t see, especially at distances of over 5 yards in low light conditions.  If you don’t have night sights on your primary carry gun make sure to get some on there.  If you can afford to buy the tools I listed above that’s a bonus, or if you do have a local gun shop which will do the work for you that’s also an option.  The main thing is this: if you have to draw and present your gun to a threat when it’s dark, you still need to be able to put that front sight post on the target and take the shot with confidence.


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    • Jeff on February 14, 2014 at 8:05 AM
    • Reply

    I have practiced low light shooting (with my G19), and it seems that in a situation of someone actively shooting at me in a low-light place, I’m not going to be concerned about proper sight alignment, but will be relying on muscle memory at that point. And if there are people running around and it’s too dark to see an attacker, then shooting blindly with good sight alignment does not seem like a good idea. I don’t think cops can place well aimed shots in the middle of a fire fight since the adrenaline has already kicked in. Also, depending on how bright the night sights are, that may give the shooter a glowing green face or arm that attracts his attention.

    I’m not highly trained, and have not been in any kind of actual threat situation. As an average shooter, I shot as well or better than a more experienced (still not a highly trained person) shooter in a low to almost no light class. She had night sights, and this was the first time she had actually tried them out. She found out that it is like any other equipment and that she’s going to have to train with them if she’s going to rely on them.

    There is a lot of debate on this topic like anything else, so I thought I’d throw out the opposing idea. Thanks for all the interesting posts.

      • PJ on February 14, 2014 at 10:22 PM
      • Reply


      I’m nowhere near as qualified to comment as The Maj is, but I’ll add my thoughts.

      1- Good on you for continuing to practice. So many gun owners buy a gun, shoot 50 rounds through it once a year and stick it in a drawer.

      2- Sight alignment is key is almost every situation, as a matter of fact it’s part of the shooting fundamentals! If the sights aren’t right why even take a shot (contact shots notwithstanding)? Point shooting or “muscle memory” might be convenient when plinking at static cardboard but real world will be different when threats are obscured by light or objects and on the move.

      3- Doubtful night sights emit enough glow to compromise a shooter.

      4- Totally agree no matter what you use, you need to train in order to be proficient.

    • The Maj on February 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM
    • Reply

    I am middle of the road on the issue of night sights and laser sights. In the end, it all boils down to what and how you train with a firearm, including the options that you choose to install. The options many people install are given an afterthought, but they should be considered carefully, just like the day(s) spent studying which firearm is right for the individual. Then, they should be trained with installed on the selected firearm in as realistic or simulated environment as possible (I.E. training with night sights on a fully lit range cannot and will not give someone the feel of the sights in a low light environment). So, the bottom line for me and when I am asked about something like night sights or lasers, I generally respond with something along the lines of “you need to select whatever makes you comfortable for your own abilities and could possibly give you an advantage defending yourself. THEN train with what you have selected.” The response varies depending on the person and whether I have actually observed them on a range or not as to how deep I will go.

    Jeff, you brought up some valid and reasonable points. However, in the scenario that PJ presented (active shooter in a crowded theater), I hope you or anyone else that would make the decision to make a shot in that environment would be concerned with proper sight alignment. Very few people have done enough training to develop the muscle memory required to make that shot in that situation in a point and shoot or hipshot manner and even fewer have the time and budget to allow them to maintain that particular skill set. Shooting is a perishable skill (no different than skill sets for many sports and martial arts disciplines), so even once you develop that muscle memory after 750 to 1,000 correct movements (plenty of debate on this subject) you will still have to continue training in order to maintain it over time. Also, even when that memory is developed, when employed with a sidearm, it is still a close-in skill set and the farther away your target is or variances in the distance you trained will have a significant impact on bullet strike points – throw innocent bystanders in there and sight alignment / target identification becomes extremely critical. That said, if you can develop the muscle memory and confidence to point shoot it will give you an edge that most will never have.

    One the same note, I hope that LE officers can and do place well aimed shots in the middle of a fire fight. There again, unfortunately the level of training and experience comes into play so I do not doubt your assertion that “most cannot”.

    As for night sights bright enough to emit a “green glow”, I would contend they are too bright in the first place and I would definitely not want them installed on a firearm that I own. The entire purpose of the night sight is to allow you to align your sights in a low light environment. It definitely should not look like you have a chem light attached to the rail and if they are bright enough to emit a glow giving your position away, then they are also bright enough to degrade your night vision. Giving your position away is one of the biggest drawbacks that I have with laser sights as well, so I always tell someone that I see using a laser to make that first shot count – of course, there are variations (trigger activated lasers) that allow you to paint the target fire and disengage the laser when you remove your finger from the trigger.

    Making shots in limited visibility is no easy task. I have trained for it and employed it in the real world, when it counted. I also trained enough that I could make point shots as well and still attempt to maintain that skill to a degree. However, when my training time decreased, there was a noticeable decrease in both skill sets over time. Personally, my CCW has “night sights” primarily because it gives me the advantage of being able to acquire my sights in a low light environment and that advantage may make a big difference when/if I ever need it.

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