Tritium and luminous paint

The shooting world for one loves Tritium.
That sexy little glow at night on your sights allowing you to take a bead onto that dim shape in front of you. Of course you still can’t make out the target but that’s a minor issue I suppose.


It’s usual form is as a little glass bead filled with a mildly radioactive unstable beta radiation emitting gas which, as it decays and comes into contact with a phosphor layer, causes it to fluoresce. Pretty uh?

tritium beadsOnly here’s the crunch.
For all the high tech nonsense (and clever marketing) it doesn’t last and has a half life of 12 and a bit years. Thus Tritium can lose up to  half its brightness by the end of that period.

Plus it involves fitting adapted sights to hold the precious liquor loaded glass (and a good credit card).

assorted tritiumBeing old school, I used to use luminous paint aka phosphorescent paint aka “glow-in-the-dark” paint.

Oh look, no special engineering needed, only a fine paint brush!
A steady hand and above all PATIENCE.

It came as a powder which you mixed with a gooey resin not unlike nail varnish. Once exposed to light (charged), it glowed for hours.

Only there was a time element involved when “installing it”.

  1. Degrease the sights (Cotton bud and acetone)
  2. Apply a good thick base MATT white coat in the pattern you wanted to see.
  3. Mix and apply the ‘glow paint’ on top of the white.
    I always put two coats on.
  4. Add a quick coat of clear varnish to keep it nice.

On reflection, it was a bit “messy” and time consuming.

But look mum!
No batteries, no credit card, and one bottle of power lasted me for YEARS!

Ah, accuracy? Got to finish there haven’t I.
Center mass at 20-25 meters. Best I could do with a rifle in low light (I can make out a shape) levels.
With a pistol, same scenario, center mass, 15 feet tops.
The glow helped in both cases but mainly I was working off point and shoot.

Now I can just feel the gun slingers out in blog land laughing at that.
Only can you dim your well lit comfy air conditioned ranges down to where you can just see a form at 25 yards? Thought not.

Point and shoot is one skill everyone should master on both pistol and rifle, even if it is VERY OLD SCHOOL!

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7 Responses to Tritium and luminous paint

  1. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius and commented:
    Partridge sights on service revolver, aimed instictively in night conditions of actual fire-fight. Did have weapons with both Trijicon, and MeproLight, radio-isotope sight and was not really impressed. Would wave the gun to aquire front sight while testing at night. What I like best, is White-Out typewritter correction fluid. Simply paint the front ramp and allow it to dry. That’s it. Touch-up as required in due time.

    • aka Tippex.
      Used to do that on my sidearm and “in urban” it was usually enough. Problem was when there was little ambient light / light spill from towns i.e. when out in the forests (especially those of North East Europe). Then the weapon of the day was always modified for night use “paintbrush style”.

      Ta for the reblog ‘B’.

      • Brittius says:

        In America, the stuff is not water soluable and needs alcohol base solvent to remove. I have had my service revolvers, all of them, at some time, unholstered in pouring rain with little damage. Cleaning the service weapon, solvent and oil, did more to remove the typewritter correction fluid solution. Had no difficulty with ambient illumination. If you see more front sight, lower your aiming point. For instance, if aiming at chest, lower the sight to the solar plexus, if too much ramp is seen.
        The radio-isotope that was fair, had two green rear sight dots, one red dot on front sight. Less disorientation in near total darkness, such as waterfront areas.

  2. King of Improvisation on a budget. Always impressive!

  3. shtfprepper says:

    The tritium sights I’d like to get have the white outlines around the tritium vials, so when the brightness decreases over time, I still have my white sights. $94

    • Ouch, to me that is expensive when you can slap on a small QR sight for the same price onto almost anything nowadays needing only a couple of inches of rail on whatever you own.
      Or as suggested, make with the correction fluid or my “old man’s way” of using luminous paint.

      • shtfprepper says:

        tis why they’re still on my wishlist. $94 is 2 tanks of gas for me, so the sights will hopefully magically appear on a birthday or Christmas.

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