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Our maximum leader and chief content creator often says that criminals are nocturnal animals. As such, any gun designed for usage in defense of self or home needs the ability to be aimed in the dark. During the daylight hours, said sights need to be crisp and easy to acquire as well. Triiicon HD Night Sights have long been the gold standard for no, low, and bright light sights for self defense handguns. Eager to see what all the fuss was about, I secured a set for my EDC M&P 9 . . .

Trijicon offers two types of irons for your handgun of choice. The first, Bright and Tough, features the tritium illumination that Trijicon is known for. They sport a slicked back shape for the rear sight, and offer no color options for the front sight. They also feature a squared off rear sight picture and a tighter alignment between the front blade and the rear notch. They’re great all around sights, and having used them on the FNS 9, I can attest to their effectiveness.

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The HD Night Sights are an overall coarser set of sights focused on defensive handgunning first with absolute precision as a secondary consideration. Where the Night Sights closely match the stock sights in dimension, featuring a .131-inch wide front sight mated to a .141 inch wide rear notch, the HDs sport a .144 inch wide front and .169 inch wide rear notch.

The rear sight in the HDs is U-shaped as well versus a quared off notch. What this creates is a very fast acquisition of the sight picture that’s never really “perfect” in terms of precision. If you’re looking to score hits at 50 yards with a set of irons, these sights are going to hold you back. But if you’re looking to quickly acquire the front sight in a rapid presentation from a holster at self defense distances, this setup is preferred.

Installation

If you own a good sight pusher, installation of these sights is a five-minute job that results in little to no damage to your sights or your gun. I used a MGW tool and had everything swapped back and forth with ease. [ED: Trijicon recommends that you take your gun to a gunsmith for proper installation.]

Specific to the M&P, the rear sight backs the striker block, so you’ll need to find a way to depress that while getting the sight reinstalled. There’s a $4 special tool made by Talon Tactical that helps with that process. I only know about that tools because it is included with the kit from Apex, so if you’re considering upgrading the guts of your trigger mechanism, this is an excellent time to kill two birds with one stone.

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Reliability 

“Wait, irons never fail!” you must be muttering. True. Unless they break off the gun, irons sights are pretty dependable. In my case though, the tritium in the front sight kicked the bucket approximately two weeks after I got the sights installed. Trijicon thinks that the vial may have broken during the installation process, and I wouldn’t have been surprised except that I was very gentle with my installation opting to use a sight pusher instead of a hammer and a brass punch.

I contacted Trijicon and they issued an RMA for the sight within one business day. What was frustrating about the process was that I had to pay for shipping to get it back and I was without a front sight for a few weeks. I may have my outrage and sensitivity dialed up a bit too high these days, but given that this effectively neutered my carry pistol for several weeks — and cost me money — I had a bad taste in my mouth.

This might very well just be the way they deal with clownshoe bloggers from Texas, and paying customers get different treatment. It’s safe to say that the first few months of ownership were less than rainbows and gumdrops.

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In the Field

I have always had a problem tracking the front sight during presentation and through recoil for follow up shots. I don’t know if its a visual acuity issue or a concentration issue or some combination of both, but since the day I first picked up a pistol, I’ve always been slow at picking up the front sight. A lot of that changed when I switched out to the HD Night Sights. By virtue of the screaming yellow color, the front sight demands your attention during presentation. I can now more easily track it the whole way as I press the gun out with the rear sight coming into alignment somewhere along the way.

During recoil, the bright yellow color seems to be in the same league as my slide mounted red dot. You simply cannot lose the front sight during strings of rapid fire. To throw some objective data behind those subjective statements, I took these sights out shortly after I got them, and ran them through the first implementation of the Rehn Test. What I found was that I scored a bit better at the five yard line that I did with the stock sights, and ever so slightly worse at the ten yard line.

My interpretation of those results is that the coarse nature of these sights when compared with the stock sights ensures that speed trumps precision. Like I mentioned above, you’re never going to win any marksmanship bets with your buddies using these sights. Where they do shine is at self defense distances and less than stellar lighting conditions.

Some online reviews I’ve found indicate that the rear sight is sharp and pointy leading to carry discomfort. With the better part of six months of everyday carry under my belt, I can say with a great deal of confidence that I didn’t experience any of those problems. There’s definitely a “point” to the rear sight, but I never experienced any discomfort because of it. I found the edges to have been nicely rounded, smoothed, and free of any snaggy bits.

What I do love about the rear sight is the aggressive “shelf” that allows for boot, table, and belt racking of the slide. Though I don’t regularly find myself forced into one handed manipulations of the slide, I like options, and I’ve found that a rear sight like this gives me those options.

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Specifications: Trijicon HD Night Sights

  • Type: Front and Rear Sight Replacement
  • Illuminated: Yes – Tritium Lamp
  • Colors: Black Rear and Orange or Yellow Front
  • Warranty: 12 years from date of manufacture on tritium lamps
  • MSRP $185
  • Real World: $140 on Amazon

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
For the money, I expect perfection out of a set of irons, and the workmanship on these is excellent. There are no visible burrs, scuffs, or machining marks. The paint is applied evenly and cleanly to the front sight and the lamps are firmly nestled inside rubber lined housings.

Function * * * * *
As long as you’re being realistic about your objectives, these are great sights for the use case at hand. They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, precision iron sights. However, they’re very fast to acquire and my data seems to indicate are objectively better than the stock sights at self defense distances. The bright yellow front sight really stands out against any target and has helped me with my acquisition and tracking woes. At night, the three dots are very bright and with some practice, they become intuitive to work.

Reliability * *
The tritium ampule in the front sight failed almost immediately. Six months later, and they’ve run without a hiccup so I’m inclined to believe that I just got a lemon. That said, the warranty process was a little clunky and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall * * * 
These are fantastic sights for the task at hand, and given my success in using them, they’ve become my default answer for anyone looking to upgrade the sights on their defensive pistol of choice. I was disappointed that the tritium vial in the front sight crapped out almost immediately, but after six months of usage without any further issues, I’m inclined to believe that all is well. Because of that hiccup, these aren’t perfect, and the fact that the warranty process left me without a working EDC pistol for several weeks means I’m dropping two stars.

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26 Responses to Gear Review: Trijicon HD Night Sights

  1. That yellow dot would be useful for dim light conditions where the tritium glow alone isn’t bright enough.

  2. I’ve got HDs in orange on my carry gun. Great sights, highly visible under any circumstances.

    I may have missed it if you mentioned it, but the big dot on the front sight is glow in the dark. So if you go from a bright environment to a dim one then it would continue to luminesce. Or you could hit it for a couple seconds with the beam of a high powered LED flashlight. That really makes the front sight pop.

  3. Question from someone who has never changed sights on a pistol:
    In lieu of a sight pusher tool, would an appropriately-shaped tool chucked in a drill press work to push the rear sight off a slide clamped to the drill press table?

    • Likely not. Not enough leverage. Next best bet is a vise and a brass punch. Or a suitable set of wood blocks, clamps, etc. and a brass punch. But I never regretted buying that MGW sight pusher, and I end up using it more than I thought I would (subtle windage tweaking). It’s paid for itself in beers/favors from friends when they needed to swap sights.

  4. I have these installed on 3 pistols and love em. The Tritium is bright enough to give real confidence at being able to put my hand safely on the nightstand gun without turning on a light if I’m awoken unexpectedly.

    However the sharp edges are no joke – it’s almost enough to cut flesh. It was in fact enough to put a nice gash into the upholstery on one of my parents’ new chairs when I sat down wrong. I call that gun “Glock the Ripper” now. A Dremel tool made short work of the sharp edges.

    • Hey, I hope you get this. I am having the same problem. I love everything about these except that sharp rear sight, which has left abrasions on my stomach from appendix carry. A guy I know makes holsters and that’s his business. He says he can make one just like the one for his Glock 43 which will keep my flesh away from those edges. It’s $65 more dollars, though it’s “only” $30 if I return the Galco stow N go I recently purchased. What did you use to re-paint the surface area you removed, and did it change the shape of the sight? (I like the profile they have from the side as well.) A dremel siusounds like a better, well cheaper idea than a custom kydex holster. I like leather and it’s clip will NOT pull off even with track/gym pants on. Thanks in advance.

  5. sorry but i’m putting a green dot on my nocturnal predator if it’s that dark.. time is a factor…No?

    • Couldn’t agree more on the tru glo TFO sights…far superior to the stock sights on my xdm…much easier for my 50+ eyes to see under all conditions…half the price of these and they really pop in the daylight as well

  6. Also for more precision, i tend to focus on the actual tritium dot and not the whole front sight. For the loads I carry, the center of the front sight is the point of impact for my guns. this lets me superimpose essentially a “black dot” (like a red dot sight) on my target. For me these sights have all I’m looking for in sights. They are on all of my carry/defense guns. that way, no matter what I shoot, the sight picture is always the same.

  7. I have them and think they are great. Not worrying about charging them up or batteries is a bigger convenience than I imagined.

    Recently, someone posted in another article something along the lines of, if it’s dark enough to need night sights, you need to positively identify your target with a light. I agree with this statement.

    What say you?

    • Why not have both? The advantage of night sights like the HDs is they’re always deployed, with the steady glow from tritium decaying into helium-3. So if you forget your light, the batteries die thirty seconds in, you drop it, whatever the case may be, your sights are still visible, at least.

      • I agree, completely. Especially with the price of weapon mounted lights being more economical as of late, and more options than ever. When it was just a $400 surefire available, I could see not wanting to pay that much. An Inforce APL for example, is around $120 and worth every penny. The combination of the two is excellent. All “self defense” guns for the home get a WML and night sights, or a red dot (eotech/aimpoint) and a light on my rifles.

  8. Did you throw away the stock sights? I understand the warranty process could have been faster and they should have covered shipping, but why not just re-install the stock sights until you got the replacement?

  9. You guys should check out speedsights.com I use their tritium sights with an orange front sight. The diamond shape is much faster than circles IMO

  10. I’ve got the green HDs on my P2000sk. Very pleased. The rear corners are sharp, but that can be fixed. The tennis ball green shows up wonderfully in dim light, in full daylight the silhouette / shape is what you use. At night they’re just like any other 3-dot setup. I would prefer a straight-8 arrangement though, but I think the sight heights between trijicon and Heine are incompatible.

    Last weekend I was OCing around the house and as I stepped from the garage up into the kitchen, I hooked the rear sight notch on the doubled strike plate of my garage door jamb. The sight has a tiny blemish and is otherwise fine, but the strike plates were bent nearly 90 degrees.

    • Trijicon HDs are only available with an orange or yellow front sight. If you have a green front sight you don’t have a genuine Trijicon HD setup.

      • They are yellow/green and orange/red… depending on who you talk to.

        The yellow does have a greenish tinge to it, just like a tennis ball.

      • Of course they’re gen-yoo-whine trijicon HDs. You think perhaps I don’t know what I installed on my ccw?

        “Yellow” vs “green” Falls short of the mark when trying to describe that fluorescent color. It’s dayglow slimelime.

  11. I enjoyed the quick review – please keep them coming. I am sorry to hear about your issue with the tritium vial. Fortunately the sights continue to operate exceptionally well (even in the dark) with a broken front vial since the phosphorescent paint surrounding the vial glows brightly for several minutes after it is exposed to light for even a short period of time.

    I appreciate you sharing your issues with Trijicon’s service. It is truly a shame when a company treats it’s customers like you were treated. Your reliability knock on these sights seems warranted. I own quite a few goodies from Trijicon, and although I’ve never had to send anything in for repair, it is valuable to know that I should prepare myself for mediocrity in the event that I ever do have to get something fixed.

    I did some fairly exhaustive research before settling on my “standard carry pistol sights.” All four of my Glocks wear orange Trijicon HDs. I haven’t had any issues with reliability, or with sharpness on any of the edges of the rear sights. My oldest pair is over three years old, and they receive frequent, but regular abuse. I installed all of them myself, and I’m not particularly mechanically inclined. A good sight pusher tool is a wise investment. It makes installing and removing sights so easy, plus if you’re particularly anal you can tweak your windage to your heart’s content whenever the urge comes on. You know who you are…

    I was recently embarrassed by one of my local sheriffs at a defensive pistol class that I was attending. The sheriff asked to borrow my gun, and proceeded to walk it up and down the firing line during the middle of the class to show it off to everyone on the range. He hadn’t seen the HDs before, and he was so enamored with them that he took the time to explain to my classmates all of the benefits of this type of sighting system. Later he told me that he was going to be ordering himself a set the next day. I think I sold a few sights for Trijicon that day. Four students came to me during different breaks to ask if they could check them out.

    They are a bit pricey, but they are worth it if you’re looking for the best alternative for your carry pistol(s). If you are sitting on the fence, just pull the trigger and get a set. You won’t be disappointed.

  12. I’ve had these on my EDC Glock 43 for ~ 8 months now. Really like how they work. No problems.

    I did have the sharp edge issue, but after a few minutes CAREFULLY smoothing that out with a Dremel on low speed and all was good.

    I don’t know if I would actually get them for another gun – I picked up a set of the Big Dot sights for my wife’s Glock 42 a few months back as well and I think I like how that works at SD distances even better….

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