Don’t Be Afraid To Modify Your Gear, Part VI: Painting Your Front Sight

One of the biggest complaints about smaller handguns is that they often lack good, usable sights.  Often advertised as “pocket guns”, tall, high-visibility sights work against their concealability and hinder their draw from a pocket.  Accordingly, their sights tend to sit low on top of the handgun and be well-sloped to avoid snagging, often amounting to little more than small nubs or protrusions.  John outlined this issue in his review of the Remington RM380, and it is an issue I have experienced with both a Smith and Wesson J Frame as well as my Ruger LCP.

I guess Ruger received enough complaints about the sights on their little LCP that they released–a couple of years ago–a version called the LCP Custom (not to be confused with the more recent LCP II), easily distinguished from the standard LCP by its taller sights and red, skeletonized trigger. 

LCP custom
Ruger LCP Custom

The LCP Custom came out only about a month or so before I purchased my LCP.  I recall being a bit torn about which version to buy, but felt like tall sights did not really belong on a pistol I intended for deeper concealment options (pocket, smart, or ankle carry).  In the end, I bought the standard version but decided to increase its capability by buying the version that comes from the factory with the Crimson Trace laser installed.  I am not a huge fan of lasers, but did feel like the Crimson Trace laser grips on my J Frame helped out my accuracy at the range and in dry-fire at home.  Though it is also easy to find the LCP with other brands of laser (Lasermax comes to mind), the general consensus out there seemed to be that Crimson Trace is the best and has the best activation method (middle finger of firing hand on the grip). 

ruger LCP

I sometimes flippantly refer to the Ruger LCP as the Ruger LDP (for “Last Ditch Pistol”), as, at least in my hands, pistols like this are best utilized at bad breath distances.  As I related in this article, I don’t feel very confident when solely armed with this type of firearm, preferring larger pistols that are easier to shoot more accurately at speed, with better sights, more accommodating grips, and firing “better” rounds.  A pistol like the LCP is, to my mind, something to carry when no other option will work, where concealability is the most important factor. 

The Crimson Trace laser grips on my J Frame had a switch on the bottom of the grip that allowed the user to turn off the laser.  The laser on the LCP lacks this feature, and there were times at the range when I did not want to utilize the laser (yes, I realize I could have taped over the laser).  With the laser beginning to dim due to a weakening battery, I recently decided to remove the laser unit to see how I liked the LCP without it.

Not thrilled with the miniscule black-on-black sights, I decided to employ a trick I have used on a few pistols before:  painting the front sight.  I have not invented anything here.  Tom Givens paints the front sights on his pistols, as does Dr. Sherman A. House (see here) and many others.  When I used the plain black Ameriglo Defoor sights on my Glock 19, I typically painted the top few serrations of the front sight in order to help with acquiring the front sight.  I utilized those sights on my Glock 19 through several classes, and still consider returning to such a setup, as they were—in my own shooting history—the sights I was most accurate with.

The Painting

As noted above, many people paint their front sights.  I have read of people using nail polish, model paint, and some other options.  As a long-time modeler, I always have a lot of model paints on hand.  The paint that I have found works best for this task is Model Master Enamel paint.  Enamel paint is much more durable–especially on metal surface–than acrylic or other options.  One of the keys to doing this well is to first paint the area with flat white enamel paint.  The white acts as the perfect background for whatever bright color you want to use, and flat paint is better than gloss, as it dries with a subtle “rough” texture that gives the colored paint something to “bite”.  I let the white paint dry for at least one full day, and then add a layer of color.  As noted in prior articles, I like the orange version of the  Ameriglo I Dot Pro, so I chose Model Master Fluorescent Red (Gloss), which looks orange-ish.  One nice, full layer of this color was all that was needed.  This color does have the tendency to “pool” if applied too thickly, so another key is to position the sights (or slide of the LCP, in this case) in some sort of neutral position for drying. 


Once dry, this is the result:


As you can see, the front sight now really “pops”, drawing the eye to the front sight.  As can be seen below, the color choice is very close to the color of the Ameriglo I Dot Pros on this Glock 43:


This past week, I took my LCP for a relatively rare visit to the range.  I set out two 5×8 index cards at 5 yards.  On one card, I shot two-handed at about a 1 second per round cadence for two magazines, striving only to keep all rounds on the card.  On the second card, I shot 7 rounds strong-hand only and 7 rounds weak-hand only (“other strong-hand”).  I have never been a sniper with the LCP (or any pistol), but I can honestly say that I felt MUCH more comfortable shooting the LCP with the painted front sight.  In the near future I plan to shoot the LCP in the NRA Basics of Pistol Course to see how well it works in my hands with the painted front sight.


If my new-found confidence in the LCP is maintained moving forward, then I probably will not reinstall the laser and will instead convert it into more practice ammunition. 

If you are someone who utilizes plain black sights on your pistols, you may want to look at painting your front sight to help it draw your eye.

How many of you paint the front sight on your handguns?  We would love to hear your opinions/experiences.  Please comment or ask questions below or on our Facebook page, as we welcome civil discourse.  As always, thanks for reading.

12 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid To Modify Your Gear, Part VI: Painting Your Front Sight

  1. Did so several years ago on my 642 with model paint, different type than you used, and I didn’t paint white first. Makes a great difference finding the front sight when shooting, though. Highly recommended, especially when the weapons don’t some with removable front sights. I did it on my Beretta 92 as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I painted my Shield front sight 3 weeks ago with cheap fingernail polish as a “what if it works moment”.

    Huge improvement, almost like a neon sign to my minds eye! Even in lower light when I can’t really define the color the sight is still there.

    I’ll be trying different colors now to see what works best for me.


    1. Hi,

      I just used a paintbrush. A small one that I otherwise use for modeling purposes. But nothing overly expensive or anything. Wal Mart, Michael’s, places like that are fine to get brushes from for this purpose, and it might cost you $1.



  3. Just saw this, ordered the flat white and fluorescent red and some small detailing modeling paint brushed. Going to fix up my Ruger LCP which has impossible to see front sight and I may do the same on my Ruger American Compact 45.


    1. Fred,

      Glad you found it useful. There are many ways to skin this cat. Some use nail polish, others use those paint pens. Keep in mind you’ll have to touch up from time to time, but I’ve found it a very useful mod.

      Thanks for the comment!



  4. My Ruger LCP is a big part of my carry choice. I am, often, in situations were revealing that I carry could be very damaging to me, personally and professionally. In those cases, this terrific little pistol is my “better than nothing” choice. Combined with “non-Firearm” choices, it helps, especially when added to whatever my date has in her handbag 🙂

    As always, the most valuable “self defense weapon” is good old situational awareness. Avoiding a fight is always preferable to winning one.


    1. Dale,

      I agree on all counts. I’m not a fan of the LCP overall, but it serves its purpose. I may have to check out the new LCP Plus to see how that could possibly fit in or even replace my “standard” LCP.




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