The Pro series tritium handgun sights from TRUGLO leads the night sight pack in terms of features and performance, but how do you choose the right one for you?
by Rob Reaser
Many handgun and personal defense trainers are quick to point out that illuminated open sights, such as those containing tritium vials, are rarely used in extremely short distances encounters because the defender often uses “instinctive pointing” of the gun instead of sight alignment. While that may be true, it does not negate the need for obtaining a proper sight picture — especially at longer distances.
Also, if a shooter is training the right way, achieving sight alignment is something that should come automatically whenever the gun is deployed. In low light conditions, front and rear sight visibility with the assistance of glow-in-the-dark or light-gathering sights can be a huge benefit in delivering that decisive shot. This is why tritium sights are one of the first upgrades serious defensive pistol and EDC practitioners make to their handguns, and why an increasing number of firearm manufacturers are including a night sight option on some of their defensive handgun models.
We’ve used several different night sights over the years and have zeroed in on TRUGLO‘s TFX Pro and Tritium Pro models as our go-tos for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is that these sights seem to be the brightest of the lot. Second, the tritium vials are contained in housings that are not only robust but also serve to cycle the slide one-handed should the need arise. The question many folks have is which sight set to choose — the TFX Pro or the Tritium Pro?
Since we have installed each model on a couple of our mainstay defenders, we thought it a good idea to run through both models and let you decide which one is right for you.
TRUGLO TFX Pro Tritium/Fiber-Optic Night Sights
This GLOCK G17 is our “front door” gun, which means it’s in-hand whenever there is a knock at night. It sports a TFX Pro sight set for a couple of reasons.
First off, the TFX Pro sight housings are larger than those of the Tritium Pro. That’s because the TFX Pro utilizes both tritium vials and fiber-optic elements.
As you can see here, there is a cutout in the housing above the fiber-optic elements in the rear sight. These openings allow the fiber optics to gather ambient light, if there is any. This is ideal for those transitional lighting levels, where it is too bright for tritium illumination to be visible yet too dark to see standard, non-illuminated iron sights.
In front of the fiber optic elements are the tritium vials, which are protected inside the sight housing. When there is no ambient light, the fiber optics gather the light from the tritium. This combination of tritium vials and fiber optics means that the shooter is always presented with two clear, bright alignment dots on the rear sight regardless of the lighting levels, or lack thereof.
The TFX Pro features a U-notch rear sight profile versus the more common square notch. Although U-notch versus square notch really comes down to shooter preference, this setup is reasonable for a sight set that is intended to align large, highly visible dot sight references. In low light conditions, it’s nearly impossible to see the left/right gaps between the front sight post and notch sides in the rear sight (which is what square notch sights rely on for windage alignment). The U-notch design, on the other hand, allows the front sight dot to “nestle” in the valley of the notch for alignment. In close-quarter engagements, many shooters feel this design delivers faster sight alignment.
The front sight of the TFX Pro is built in the same configuration as the rear sight in that a tritium vial is positioned in the housing in front of the fiber optic element. A bright orange front sight ring around the fiber optic is intended to increase contrast and assist in sight alignment in elevated ambient light conditions.
The rear sight housing of the TFX Pro features a pronounced angle up front. This profile allows the shooter to use the sight to manipulate the slide in the event only one hand is operational. The sight can be hooked against a desk, corner of a wall, boot heel, or even a belt, allowing the operator to push the frame forward and move the slide backward.
TRUGLO Tritium Pro
This Taurus G2 is our EDC gun since its compact profile makes it light to carry and easy to conceal. Because of its compact size, the TRUGLO Tritium Pro sights are the ideal match. Also, since this handgun would most likely be used in higher-level light conditions, we don’t necessarily need the bonus light-gathering capabilities found in the TFX Pro sights. This means there are no fiber-optic elements in the Tritium Pro and so the shorter front and rear sight housings are more compatible with this compact pistol.
Unlike the TFX Pro sights, the Tritium Pro model utilizes only tritium vials for low-light illumination. This reduces weight and bulk, which is exactly what we want in a handgun with a CCW mission.
In moderate or high ambient light conditions, the rear sight tritium “dots” practically disappear from the sight picture, allowing the shooter to easily align the front sight in the rear sight channel. As with the TFX Pro, the Tritium Pro is designed with a U-notch rear. Since a compact gun like this is intended for short-range engagement, the U-notch presents no issues with proper sight alignment or accuracy at typical defensive handgun distances.
The Tritium Pro front sight does come with a sight alignment ring similar to that of the TFX Pro. This ring is a definite plus when ambient light levels are at the midway point, where it’s too light for the tritium dots to be highly visible and too dark for left/right front post alignment in the U-notch. The Tritium Pro can be purchased with either a white or an orange front sight ring.
To manipulate the slide one-handed, the Tritium Pro, like the TFX Pro, features a distinct angle at the front of the rear sight housing, allowing the slide to be operated by pushing against a rigid object.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve pretty much settled on TRUGLO‘s Pro series night sights for our home defense and EDC pistols because they check off all the right boxes in performance and features. What we like even more is the fact that the TFX Pro and the Tritium Pro sights can be matched to specific firearm platforms and situational needs. That’s something you want to carefully consider when it’s time to upgrade your defensive pistol to night sights.