Factory versus Aftermarket Sights: Need or Want?

Posted by Jo Leen on 29th Apr 2018

How many times have you heard gun owners utter the sentiment:”The sights on my new gun are off! I need new sights”?  I think we all know someone, or maybe we said it ourselves at some point in time. 

The reality however is that the big names in the gun industry pride themselves on delivering quality products and they spend plenty a dollar on research, production and quality control. 

So why do some shooters have a hard time hitting the mark? Is it the sights or does the problem lay somewhere else completely?

Having a good gun will help with hitting that target, however the gun is only a tool in the hands of its operator. And a tool is only as good as its handler. Technique is often as important, if even not more so, than the gun. A proper grip, trigger control and breathing control will ensure you hit your mark with almost any gun. 

If you’re off your mark consistently in one quadrant of the target, try using a different gun and compare your results. If they are similar, the reason most likely is in your technique and not caused by a faulty sight on your gun. 

The following chart may help you understand why your aim is consistently off. This diagram works for right handed shooters and should be reversed if you’re left handed.

Too much or too little trigger finger will place your shots too far to the right or left. Anticipating recoil will make you dip or rise your muzzle right before the trigger breaks. Let each shot surprise you. Your stance will provide a balanced and steady platform combined with proper wrist, elbow and shoulder position. 

So why do retailers sell aftermarket sights? They do have their purpose. Fibre optic sights amplify light and help with fast target acquisition. Night sights glow in the dark and improve your aim under poor lighting conditions and against dark backgrounds. Some target shooters like to install a red dot sight on their handgun for bullseye competition shooting. There are different sights for different applications. However, these are more to improve the results of experienced shooters and will not correct poor technique. For novice shooters, they might even enable developing flawed techniques. 

So if you find yourself doubting your technique, don’t be afraid to ask more experienced shooters for advice. The shooting community is a close one and people will gladly share advice and will be more than willing to help you where they can. Ask them to observe and coach you at the range while you practice and try out the different pointers that they will provide. Results will take time and lots of rounds down range. And practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. 

So to conclude, replacing your factory sights can be justified if they serve a purpose. But they will not correct a lack of skill, practice or technique.