When you serve as a grunt in the military, you learn that Close Quarters Battle is the most demanding in terms of skill, speed, and intellect. Despite what the popular view is of grunts, if you don’t have the ability to think on your feet and outsmart your enemy, you’re dead. In CQB, you are in the enemy’s personal space, which is where you, as a grunt, like to be. Being in a close fight is what grunts prepare for since the start of their training from combatives to weapons manipulations and team communication. Being able to communicate, scan, and be on high alert while planning out how to keep momentum in clearing a house and maintain coordination with everyone all at the same time is not as easy as it sounds. There is no room for error is you want to get out alive, which is why you have to be smart and get it right the first time, every time.
As a Marine grunt I learned that one of the most valuable thing to have in CQB is an optic or sight that allows you to make fast and accurate hits. I have worked with many different sighting systems from EoTech holographic sights to the Trijicon ACOG where it is best to just look over your sights in order to make hits. With iron sights on a rifle, your well set to make more accurate hits by using the front sight in your peripherals like a red dot by putting the whole assembly on your target. But in time, I found that the best sight for close range would be a “grunt” sight. In layman’s terms, a grunt sight is basically just a hi-vis front sight on your rifle or pistols that will help with accurate shooting at close range. The front sight is usually not replaced, but is instead expediently covered with bright colored paint or tape. With red dots being so easy to use and almost completely replacing iron sights on rifles, I will stick to discussing pistol sights.
WHY THE GRUNT SIGHT?
Some of you may be asking why I wouldn’t just replace the sights entirely with a set of high visibility sights that companies like Trijicon and XS sell.
Well the main reason is that it is rarely necessary to replace sights unless you reeeeeally need to have night sights. Or, you may want to upgrade to real metal sights, like on a Glock. I personally like the sighting arrangement on Glocks, but wish they were not made of polymer. The grunt sight is effective and you don’t have to worry too much about spending too much. It may cost $5 if you don’t have a wife or a girlfriend to mooch off of. Plus, who doesn’t like having color options? So, just to recap, the grunt sight is inexpensive, simple, effective, and offers options. So my question to you is, why not?
HOW IT WORKS
If you look at the picture below, you notice that the front sight is focused and the target and rear sight are both hazy. Now let us change it by looking at the target and focusing on the target, since that is what you really end up watching. Under pressure you end up focusing on the threat, or the threatening area, by instinct. This is simple human nature because it is our way of trying to detect the threat before it strikes so we can parry, dodge, or whatever it takes to survive that encounter.
Now that the threat is in focus, you can see that the sights are aligned in your peripherals. Now it may not be easy to use the three dot system since you can easily mistake one of the rear sights for the front sight. Now if you block off the two rear dots and try the peripheral aiming method again, you will see a distinct difference. If you isolate the front sight as the only colored sight(whatever color it is), you will have an easier time finding the front sight in your peripherals. Your eye will pick up that big, bright front sight, even if you are concentrating your focus on your threat.
If you want to use the grunt sight method, you have numerous options that are not always limited to the front sight. This is basically just a way of painting your sights yourself to get the color/color combination that you need in order to shoot effectively at close range. There are a few sights that work well right out of the box that I feel work just as well, in place of the grunt sight. One of the sighting systems I like is the classic “dot, dash” sight that you see on the M9 and the Kahr pistols. This method allows you to get a quick, rough sight picture that does not confuse you as easily as a three dot sighting arrangement will. This seems like it was one of the first attempts to answer the need for a sight that was quick to acquire under pressure, but it isn’t perfect.
MAKING THE CHANGE
If you do not care for either of the previous sighting systems, but you still like your pistol, you can change things yourself. With a little nail polish or model paint, preferably bright, you can make a new and brighter sighting system exactly in the way you would want it to be. For me, my Walther CCP needed better sights, so I used my wife’s leftover nail polish.
You can use a sharpie marker to black out the rear sight dot(s) and paint the front sight completely with the paint of your choice. Or you can use whatever you want like tape or markers. Just change the color or make the front sight more visible and easier to pick up in your peripherals. For the Walther CCP, the rear sights are darn near blacked out anyways so I was all good there.
The least you could do is try this out before you write it off and buy a sight that may or may not work for you. It could save you considerable amounts of time and money, while also helping to improve your skill as a shooter.