One Man’s Tacticool Turns Another Man Tacticold

I’m an “old guy.”  A bit of a fuddy-duddy. Fancy, expensive do-dads don’t turn me on. I see some of the stuff people put on their guns these days, and all I can do is shake my head and wonder. I mean, what’s up with this fancy “tacticool” junk? You know what I mean?

Of course you do. That’s why I’m sure you agree that anyone with these new-fangled things called “sights” is nothing but a poseur. I mean, a real arquebusier doesn’t need some silly post of brass sticking up from the end of the barrel in order to fire upon the enemy! I swear, kids these days…

OK. I am an old guy, at least by some measures. And I have been known from time to time to be a bit, um, skeptical about the value of this or that innovation, particularly when applied to firearms.

But because I am an old guy, there are some tacticool gadgets out there, which make things easier for me and my old eyes, and present minimal problems.  For this I am thankful.

Like what, you ask? Well, night sights. There are a number of companies (Trijicon, Meprolight, Heinie, others) out there which make sights that are functionally the same as whatever your gun came with, just better. There’s no additional bulk to speak of, no batteries to wear out, just a nice little glowing dot, which will give anyone using the gun a better sight picture in low-light conditions. And when your eyes start getting a little old like mine, you consider low-light conditions to be a lot more common than they were just a few years ago.

One step up from night sights in terms of complexity would be lasers. Crimson Trace and others produce these, which can be almost as simple to use as your basic night sights, with minimal additional “stuff” attached to your gun. Less expensive versions are more bulky and difficult to use, with awkward mounts and switches. All laser sights have to be properly sighted in, so that they point where your bullet will actually hit at the range you expect to use it. Batteries can wear out, and switches can gum up, but generally good quality laser sights are very dependable. They also make a great training tool for dry-firing your gun, and will show you just how steady your aim is under a variety of conditions.

Hmm, what’s next? Well, a lot of people really like reflex and holographic sights from companies such as Aimpoint and EOTech. They’re proven technology, good for quick target acquisition and work under a wide variety of light conditions. But for me they’re a bridge too far: too bulky, most particularly for a self-defense gun. And I don’t like to rely on batteries if I can avoid it.


Then there are gun-mounted flashlights. Cool, powerful, flashlights. In white or red or other colors, for different applications. Can be used to check dark places while still holding a gun in one hand and using the other hand to open doors and whatnot. If it comes to it, you can light up your target with both hands on your gun for security and accuracy.

The most powerful flashlights function as a weapon in their own right, blinding a potential enemy. But they’re also not for me – again, too bulky for a self-defense gun, as far as I am concerned. Plus, consider this: while the beam of light from your gun will illuminate whatever it is pointed at, it’s also visible from a lot more angles and distances than that, which can translate into being a homing beacon for incoming bullets should you find yourself in a really bad situation.

Yeah, you can keep moving along the “silly tacticool” spectrum, quickly getting into absurd territory where you double the weight of your firearm because of all the junk hanging off of it. And that’s fun to make fun of. But keep in mind that what may seem ridiculous today could well be standard equipment in the future, in an evolved and streamlined version. That’s progress, and it only happens because people are willing to come up with new ideas and try them out. It’s how we went from arquebuses to AKs, and handgonnes to handguns.

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