Are Pistol Sights Actually Useful For Self Defense?

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Whether or not you should rely on pistol sights when aiming at your target is a question every gun owner asks. Well, it all depends on the self-defense situation you find yourself in.

RELATED: Laser Sights: What You Need To Know

Do You Need Sights on Your Handgun? Everything You Need to Know About Pistol Sights

What Is the Justified Distance for Self-Defense Shooting?

Shooting range shooting with a gun Pistol sights SS

Typically, the most common distance for defensive shooting is usually anywhere between three to seven yards. This is, however, not to say that there haven’t been encounters that have taken place closer than three yards or as far as 20 and 25 yards.

In such a case, you may question how justified 20 or 25-yard defensive shots are, but there are scenarios such as when someone is shooting at or threatening you with a firearm from several feet away, and there is nowhere to take cover. Or when you need to shoot at long-range to protect the life of another victim who may be a friend or family member who is closer to the attacker.

When Can Optical Sights Come in Handy?

Rear view of man aiming target with gun Pistol sights SS

If you find yourself in a self-defense situation where you need to shoot at long-range to protect yourself or a loved one, aiming your handgun ideally is critical hence the need for a good pair of pistol sights.


Another instance of why pistol sights can come in handy is because most gun owners have limited training resources and time and thereby need to prepare for every self-defense scenario possible as most take place in the range of 10 to 20 feet.

RELATED: 5 Top AR Red Dot Sights For AR-15 Builds

What Is Point Shooting versus Sighted Fire?

The man at the shooting range Pistol sights SS

Most people cannot agree about it, but point shooting more or less refers to shooting without referencing any optics, iron sights, or laser sights in this article. On the other hand, sighted fire is the exact opposite, where you shoot with sights on your pistol.

What Is the False Dichotomy about Using Pistol Sights?

Police officer holding a law enforcement pistol Pistol sights SS

When it comes to shooting your handgun by referencing iron sights, optics, or a laser sight, most people believe that it’s either you always use sights. That’s the only way you can get clean shots to neutralize the threat or always result in point shooting because nobody uses their sights in real-life situations.

However, these two extremes do not reflect what happens in reality. Some gunfight survivors barely recall using their sights yet managed to get effective shots that neutralize the attacker. On the other hand, others remember using their sights and getting great hits.

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Therefore, using sights on your pistol is not an all-or-nothing situation. An extremely close target may not need you to use your firearm, leave alone pistol sights. A long-range threat might, however, need the perfect sight picture to bring down. There is a grey area between these two scenarios where you can get a flash sight picture to use as a rough reference to hit your target.

There are, therefore, no rules as to what extent or whether or not you should rely on pistol optics. This is because various factors dictate the difficulty of a given shot. For instance, besides distance, other factors such as lighting conditions, obstacles, a moving target, or bystanders are viable factors to keep in mind.

What to Expect When Shooting with Sights?

Man with a gun driving a car, male hand with a gun | Are Pistol Sights Actually Useful For Self Defense?

If you are shooting from a contact distance, using your sights is the least of your concerns. That is if drawing your gun at a target is even safe at such close range. Keep in mind that your attacker can easily reach out and grab you or your weapon, especially if they are bigger than you.

Similarly, you can efficiently fire shots at chest level between two and three yards and still hit all the right organs without depending on your pistol sights. However, past three-yard, you will notice that your ability to make clean shots without relying on your sight largely declines. Though you will not miss your target, your shots will mostly be peripheral hits.

This will, however, vary from shooter to shooter. All you have to do is to note where your point-shooting abilities end. This way, you know when to start using your sights.

Watch this video by Warrior Poet Society on best pistol sights for everyday carry:

There you go, gun owners. There is no right or wrong answer to whether pistol sights are helpful for self-defense shooting. Like earlier mentioned, it depends on various factors in the self-defense scenario you find yourself in. However, it doesn’t hurt to have excellent optics on your concealed carry firearm. You never know when you might need them.


Would you use your pistol sight if your target is 10 yards away?

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What do you think about using pistol sights? Let us know in the comment section below!

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7 Responses to :
Are Pistol Sights Actually Useful For Self Defense?

  1. Anonymous says:

    If they were running away i MIGHT NEED TO AIM!

    1. Joseph Sadler says:

      Away … don’t shoot

  2. Charlie Hamilton says:

    Accuracy and speed are debatable but I stay in practice even at my age ! You don’t really know untill you are in the position ? I rely on point shooting at close distance . I’m effective with that and you know when to use your sights if your experienced !

  3. John Heple says:

    I’m afraid that I’m a bad example. I learned handgun shooting decades ago from an old Marine Master Sargent while I worked in Armored Car service. He taught us a, sort of, flash sight picture using your entire arm, as well as the handgun. It works for me, any way? Then again, I also use the wrong grip, according to the newest tactical gurus?

  4. Jon Russell says:

    Some running away you don’t shoot.they are not a threat to you life.

  5. Mike from Maine says:

    Like John I was a sailor trained by a young Marine Sargent. He taught me to get my weapon up a round down range fast. I qualified expert with the M1911. He was one squared away Marine and I am grateful for his coaching.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m a vet and learned to shoot first and ask questions later if my life is in danger. If you are not comfortable with point and shoot at 20 to 40 yard then spend some time at the range and get yourself prepared to defend yourself
    Jim

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