The 5 Best 1911 Sights for Target Shooting & More

1911 sights

Image by Jeff Eaton

Getting the most out of a 1911 means getting the correct sight on the gun. The correct sight for the job makes all the difference and for the majority of shooters sights are a big decision. The sights are the only part of the gun you’re going to interface with and they’re the only way to predict where the bullet is going to go. That’s why you need the best 1911 sights you can get your hands on.

Sights for 1911's are generally interchangeable unless you have a gun that uses a custom slide cut. This means that if you find the best sights for a Kimber 1911 they may not fit onto your favorite sights for a colt 1911. Don’t fret though, there’s a bewildering amount of options available on the market.

The 5 Best 1911 Sights​

Types of Sights

The different types of sights are designed for different purposes. Just like guns you can have a wide variety of sights that can be used for just about anything but there’s a few best suited for the job at hand.

Most self-defense style sights are going to be low profile, fixed, and easy to pick up no matter what kind of light you’re in. The best thing about these sights is how easy and maintenance free they are. The bad thing is that they aren’t the most accurate for competition or bulls-eye shooting.

Competition sights must be adjustable, easy to use but they can be much more refined. Because you typically have time to make your shot in a bulls-eye shooting competition, these sights are much more angular with smaller rear blades and finer tolerances.

Most competitions can be shot and won with self-defense style sights, but beware using competition grade sights for self-defense guns. Not only are they slower to use, they’re much less durable. The forces and expectations of "race guns" only shot at the range are nowhere near the expectations of a duty or carry gun.

Best 1911 Sights for Old Eyes

XS Big Dots

best 1911 sights for old eyes

If you’re older, or more experienced, then you may have trouble focusing on your front sight. The answer is to switch to a larger sight. Especially for plinking, or CCW use, these sights are loved for serious or game time use. They take some getting used to so if you decided to pull the trigger on these sights, make sure you give it time to get comfortable with them as they are pretty unconventional sights for handguns.

The XS big dots take cues from African dangerous game rifles using a huge front sight and shallow V shaped rear. They work well, but until you get familiar with them they lack precision. They feature tritium vials surrounded by white outlines and are extremely rugged.

Best 1911 Night Sights

Trijicon HD

best 1911 night sights

These are some of the most dependable sights on the market. Trijicon is one of the largest optics suppliers in the world and arguably the largest supplier for the military. They make rugged optics and sights made for soldiers and hunters who want to only buy their gear once.

The thing that sets these sights apart is both their quality and dependability. The worst thing about these sights is the cost, but as in all areas of life, you get what you pay for. These sights shine in the darkness and low light because they use tritium to light up colored reference points for quick shooting.

If you can swallow the price of these sights, they’ll serve you well for years and you won’t have anything to worry about for your competition, or your CCW.

Best 1911 Sights for IDPA

Meprolight Tru-Dot Night Sight

best 1911 sights for idpa

IDPA is designed as a way to train and compete in life like scenarios that a person would find themselves in with their pistol. The hallmark of IDPA is realism. You can over-outfit your guns and have specialized race weapons only used for the competition.

These sights are about as good as it gets because they’re night sights, IDPA ready but are extremely precise and easy to use. These are the Novak style sights that recess the rear sights to protect them. The outline also makes it easier to quickly line up the rear and front sights.

If you’re a regular on IDPA or need a decent set of super bright night sights this is a good bet for your life.

Best 1911 Sights for USPSA

Meprolight Fiber-Tritium Bullseye Sight

best 1911 sights for uspsa

This sight is brand new this year for 2017 but is already getting awesome reviews. This sight is trying to bridge the gap between metallic sights and a mini red dot. Essentially there’s no front sight and the rear sight is a special housing where you line up a bulls-eye point it at your target and press the trigger.

The great thing about this set up it how fast you can get at it and how accurate they are at distance. You don’t get a true red dot sight picture because you still have to line up the sight but you do get a dead simple setup. You also don’t have to worry about focusing on one sight or the other because, there’s only one.

These sights are still new and very expensive but if you’re inclined for a new concept you should go for these sights. They have a very promising future in competitions and maybe even CCW.

Best 1911 Sights for Target Shooting

Kensight DAS 1911

best 1911 sights for target shooting

Adjustable pistol sights are a critical piece of gear for a bulls-eye shooter and is in many ways a specialized piece of equipment. The best thing you can do for yourself is keep these sights relegated to specialized duty.

This sight from Kensight, is a Novak style sight with a serrated face and no rear dots. This is ideal for bulls-eye shooting because any dots or reference points other than the front blade and rear notch can hurt precision. This sight is also designed to be a combat style sight and could, in theory, be used for CCW or duty use but the size and complexity is going to be an issue.

Durability and quality won’t be a problem because this is a solid steel sight wire EDM machined to precise tolerances.

Do I Need Adjustable Sights?

Any bulls-eye shooter knows they need adjustable sights for their pistols because the point of aim change from load to load and even lot to lot when you shoot a ton of ammunition. If you have a dedicated pistol for bulls-eye shooting, adjustable sights are a necessity.

For other tournament guns, you might want to shy away from them. The reason being, they’re bulky. For IDPA an adjustable sight is going to be overkill and the truth of the matter is that most shooters under stress cannot shoot well enough to notice a difference. Also, the ranges used in competition makes adjustment superfluous.

Night Sights vs Fiber Optics

Night sights and fiber optic sights are often confused because they’re lumped together for shooting in "low light". The general difference between the two types of sights is that fiber optic sights cannot be seen in total darkness.

Fiber optics work by gathering light along the length of the fibers and concentrating it on the ends. This makes them fantastic for low light because they gather the ambient light and amplify it. However, only tritium night sights can be counted on to glow no matter what and perform in no light.

Some sights use both to get the best of both worlds and this is a great system. If you prefer the fiber optics don’t worry, it’s statistically impossible for you to need a CCW gun in total darkness. Civilian shootings just don’t happen in complete darkness.

Upgrading 1911 Sights

If you’re going to upgrade the sights on your 1911 you’re going to need to make a couple decisions. First, if you upgrade to a larger sight then you’re going to need new holsters. This is because the sight channel in the holster is going to be too small.

Also, if you’re going to replace the sights yourself, you’re going to need a sight pusher. Yes, the sights can be drifted out by hand but try and get the best 1911 sight pusher you can get your hands on and do the job right. If you’re not a gunsmith, then you’re going to have problems doing it with a punch and a mallet.

If you’re thinking of upgrading the sights on your pistol from a factory sight, then you’re going to find plenty of options for you to consider. The hardest part is going to be finding the best 1911 sight set for best suited for the task at hand.

Be wary of gimmicky sights, or cheap sights designed for light duty use that won’t stand up well against the elements. Above all else make sure you give the sights an earnest chance and shoot at least a dozen boxes of ammo through the gun with your new sights to make sure they’re going to work and there’re set up properly. After all, the point of new sights is to shoot, right?

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