This skeletonized plastic rear sight allows faster and more precise target acquisition than Bo-Mar or JP DoublRing sights.
When it comes to choosing open sights for a semi-automatic handgun destined for USPSA/IPSC competition, the overwhelming choice is the rugged, dependable notch-and-post sight by Bo-Mar. Adjustable for both windage and elevation, it presents a sight picture shooters have been trained to look for. Still, if everything is so right with the Bo-Mar, why are we seeing a veritable avalanche of radical new designs atop the slides of 1911s?
We recently have tested electronic sights from small-tube red dots to more complex units such as the C-More and Holo-Sight to see if those units gave an edge to competitors in the Practical Shooting game. Unquestionably, these electronic scopes are superior to iron sights, so much so that match results for Open and Limited classes are now published separately. In response, Limited shooters (and to a lesser degree, Modified Class competitors) are searching for an iron sight that lends this kind of advantage to their guns.
We recently tested three systems in a head-to-head matchup to see for ourselves if new sight designs offer performance upgrades that shooters need to know about. We pitted the reigning champ, Bo-Mar, against the DoublRing Sight by JP Enterprises and the Waki Kombat Sight. To ensure that our results didn’t vary because of the platform, we asked Barr Performance Products in Houston, Texas, to fit all three sights on a Briley Versatility .45 ACP. To compare them, we shot the guns extensively off sandbags, in run-and-gun practice sessions, and in actual competition.
Based on our subjective experience with the sights, we believe the Waki Kombat Sight advances the ball past the standards established by the venerable Bo-Mar unit. We were less impressed with the JP DoublRing, which in our view offers a confusing view of the target/sight picture.
Fuller descriptions of the sights, their positive aspects, and their negative traits follow below:
What They Look Like
The JP DoublRing asks the shooter to align a circle inside of a circle. The rear aperture measures 0.257 inches and is fully adjustable, thanks to it riding on the standard Bo-Mar rear blade. It is a clip-on affair, but we chose to pin it in place to add strength. The front ring measures 0.184 inches inside diameter and is sliced at an angle, the lower portion being nearly twice as long as the top. The front ring came with an oversized dovetail and fit tightly into the standard front sight groove. You have the option of cutting the slide or reducing the stanchion of the ring. We chose the latter because we wanted to retain the original slot for the standard post. JP Enterprises sends along a bottle of highly visible orange paint with which to highlight the front ring.
The Waki Kombat Sight replaces the rear sight only, dovetailing easily into the slide. It’s a simple press-fit held in place by a screw tapped into what had previously been the elevation adjustment on the Bo-Mar. Elevation is handled by an Allen screw available from the top, just ahead of the rear sighting device.
Directions call for the shooter to make windage adjustment first. In our case this involved gently tapping the sight assembly to the left with a light hammer and brass punch. To keep track of how much punch to use, we applied a piece of tape flush to the left side of the rear sight. Each time it buckled, we knew it had moved slightly. After a couple of tries it was dead on. No elevation adjustment was necessary once the mounting screw was tightened down.
As we noted in the November 1996 issue, the Bo-Mar BMCS provides a crisp, rectangular profile under varied lighting conditions and delivers easily visualized light bars on each side of the rear notch. Also, when mated to a Patridge front sight that measures between 0.110 and 0.125 inch, the Bo-Mar gives a precise sight picture that is nonetheless easy and fast to acquire. It also withstands heavy recoil in .45 ACPs, can be mounted low into the slide, and holds adjustment.
At The Range: JP DoublRing
The use of any sight requires that you know what to look for to produce the desired point of impact, and it was in this basic area that we began to dislike the JP DoublRing.
Because the DoublRing forces the shooter to align two apertures, we felt the unit had our eyes running in circles. We kept trying to measure the space between the diameters of the rear sight and the smaller front sight. Then we decided to let the post beneath the front sight into the picture to quell a desire for a vertical point of reference. If you were trained with a notch and post, you can make a lot of mistakes trying to get the JP DoublRings to work for you.
The inside of the front ring measures 0.184 inch. The bottom of the ring is sliced longer, 0.528 inch, than the top, which mikes out at a 0.257 inch length. The inside diameter of the rear ring is 0.257 inch.
The JP DoublRing is as simple as it looks. Up to 15 yards it showed acceptable accuracy, relative to the ability of the gun and the trigger coordination of the shooter. Whether a fast competitive shooter needs a sight at all out to 7 yards is debatable. The mere profile of the gun may be enough. From 7 to 15 yards sight picture and the rapid acquisition thereof become more important. While this intermediate zone is easily handled by the JP, we lost confidence in the sight when attempting shots beyond 15 yards.
As simple as the JP DoublRing is, the sight falls down when fine shooting is required because of the large minute-of-angle sight picture. Typically, red dot sights intended for IPSC are shipped with an 8- to 10-MOA dot so shots can be broken more quickly using a “flash” sight picture. In Action Pistol, or in Bullseye competition , accuracy is more important than speed. During tense moments of sight alignment the front sight can wobble. This “wobble zone” is the amount of space on the target the dot takes up as it shakes in the shooter’s hand during the aiming process. A smaller dot, 3 to 5 MOA, is preferred so the wobble zone is narrowed. The sight picture presented by the JP Ghost Ring is more on the order of 12 to 14 MOA. Inherently, this creates a sizable margin of error when lining up a difficult shot.
For faster sight acquisition in low light, the supplied orange paint adds visibility. But in sunlight the glowing effect detracts from clear definition of the front ring, thereby enlarging the wobble zone. Taking the paint off leaves the “baloney slice” front ring exposed to the sunlight and begging for sightblack. We would much prefer the slice be undercut top to bottom to retain its definition in bright sunlight.
One final criticism would be the profile of the rings themselves. Mounted high on the gun they would likely snag clothing. Also, they are vulnerable to being damaged or deflected on impact. Drawn repeatedly from a Ernie Hill Fas-Trac holster, one of the few that leaves room for the high-ride front ring, the front ring was deflected to the left from its original position because of wear and tear.
At The Range: Waki Kombat Sight
The Waki sight is another attempt at increasing speed without sacrificing accuracy, and in our view, it succeeds.
Made of rugged plastic, its mounting procedure shares some of the advantages of fixed sights. Fewer moving parts add strength and the ability to hold adjustment. Compared to the Bo-Mar, it is snag free, void of any sharp, tall edges with a ramped profile something akin to the popular carry-gun sight from Novak.
The skeletonized rear sight, whose rear notch measures 0.0955 inch, works with a stock front blade of 0.13 inch. It has much of the Bo-Mar’s profile, but less of its internal mass. The Waki design removes a good portion of the rear face of the Bo-Mar and allows the shooter to see through the sight to the target. Also, with this negative space available to the shooter, the front blade can be left at its full width.
On the Waki sight, a white centerline directs your eye to the rear notch to begin visual alignment. Once the gun is up and aligned, if the shooter sees anything more than the slimmest of light bars to the left or right of the front blade, he knows he has an off-center hold. The actual sight picture reminds us of two index fingers pointing at one another with the front sight in between.
Performance Shooter Recommends
In trying to close the gap between iron sights and optical sights, it must be remembered that the great advantage the electronic sights have over a notch and post is the immediate definition of the point of impact.
In our opinion, the $50 Waki Kombat Sight points readily to the smallest defined space without demanding the shooter relearn the basic techniques of shooting. Alignment was quicker with the Waki than with either the Bo-Mar or with the JP DoublRing, in our estimation (see accompanying table), and the margin of elapsed time between the three sights from draw increased as the targets were placed further away. If you’re looking to shoot faster and better, we recommend the Waki Kombat Sight.
We were disappointed with the JP DoublRing system. It was hard to accurately align the two rings with the speed and precision we needed. Also, because it requires installation as both the front and rear sights, it is more expensive than the Waki. The rings themselves cost $89.95, and proper installation will probably run another $45. Based on our testing, we don’t see the value of the JP DoublRing system.
The ubiquitous Bo-Mar BMCS, $68.95 plus installation, is still an excellent sight. With minor modifications, such as thinning the front sight and taping the corners, it may even work better for you.