Since I am more or less dedicating my Sig P220 .45 ACP to suppressor testing, the need for better sights than the excellent Sig factory night sights soon became apparent. The normal answer to this problem is “suppressor height” front and rear sights – and these can be had as night sights, with Tritium inserts. I really don’t care for such tall sights on my handgun slides. The extra tall front sight is guaranteed to “hang” or snag in the holster or on clothing. I choose to use a reflex type red dot optic. The “open” sighting frame of the reflex style makes for very fast and sure sight acquisition, and only having to focus on the red dot is a very fast and sure way to get on target. Even with a low mount on the slide, the reflex sight “views” high enough to aim over the suppressor barrel, and of course is just as effective without the suppressor. A reflex sight in the stock rear sight slot will usually not interfere with holstering, and there is no front sight needed.
I was very interested in the new Sig Romeo reflex sight, which has an internal motion activation switch that turns the sight on when the pistol is drawn from the holster or picked up from a bedside table and off after 2 hours of no movement – an asset for hunting or home defense – but was told the demand for these was so high that it would be several months before they were available. While waiting for my Romeo, I decided to mount a Burris Fast Fire III. I had this sight on my 10mm Glock G20, and it was one of the better features of that pistol, and not bothered by the 10mm recoil. Another large advantage of the Fast Fire series is their price is very reasonable, and they are so common that used models are often available in good condition for an even more reasonable amount. I was discouraged from mounting one on the sdie of my .460 Rowland 1911 because of recoil, but it should do well with .45 ACP – especially the sub sonic ammo.
Reflex or red dot sights are “sighted in” pretty much just as are scopes, using adjustments to move the dot on the screen for windage (side-toside) and elevation (up and down). This takes a little getting used to even for those familiar wth sighting in scopes, but once it is done, the shooter only has to put the red on the screen over the spot he wants to hit, and hold steady. Even simpler than the cross hairs on a scope – because the dot can be anywhere on the screen as long as it is over the intended point of impact of the shot. If the gun DOES have suppressor height open sights, it is usually possible to “co-witness”, or view them through the reflex sight window. This could make a shooter feel more confident his dot is where it should be, and would be a help should the battery go dead.
Mounting the Fast Fire is easy. Drive or push out the rear sight, replace it with the mount piece that fits in the same slot, then screw the mount plate to the piece in the slot, fit the rubber seal over the plate, then the sight itself, and screw it down. I have a universal sight pusher tool I use on all my 1911’s, and Sig sells a special Sig sight tool, but for this job I just drove the rear sight out and replaced it with the proper proper mount piece using a punch and hammer. The 1911 mount kit from Burris for Novack dove tail cuts might have worked, but Burris has a special kit for Sigs – #410327 – that fits their cuts much better. It was easiest for me to order this mount kit from Optics Planet – www.OpticsPlanet.com. I was involved in an internet discussion board difference of opinion recently with someone who recommended having the slide “milled” specially for reflex sight mounting, but the Burris system has worked well for me, and I don’t see how milling could make a much better connection. With the Burris mounts, the slide does not need to be removed from the gun.
One note of interest regarding slide mounted sights on semi-auto pistols: it is not a really good practice to use the sight as an aid to racking the slide to cock or clear the gun. This can cause some creative gripping of the slide when it needs to be racked. On hammerless pistols, there is often a “handle” available that attaches to the slide to help move it, as the serations on the muzzle end of the slide – should it have them – may not do the job alone. Without a suppressor attached, the Handi-Racker (www.Handi-Racker.com) is very useful. With the Sig P220, I can grasp the slide near the muzzle and manage to pull it back far enough, although cocking the hammer first makes it easier.
There are special holsters for pistols with optics, also “tactical” holsters that accomodate optics, suppressors, and rail mount lights or lasers. For my intended use as a trail gun, I chose to try the Alien Gear and Galco Combat master holsters I already had. Both worked well with the Fast Fire, but I did trim the Kydex of the Alien Gear just a bit to make the fit more to my liking. While the pistol with sight did not fit as deep in either holster, thye easily went in far enough to secure the trigger and hold the pistol tightly.