Back in July Graham Combat released a video introducing the Graham Combat FAST sight system. Developed by Matthew Graham, a firearms trainer and former law enforcement officer, based in Washington state.
The Fast Acquisition Sight (FAST) claims to use ‘focal banding’ which Graham Combat claim to have discovered during their research & development programme. Graham Combat explain their ‘discovery’ on their website:
Current sighting systems work within focal planes: a front sight plane and a rear sight plane. The distance between the two has varied based upon the manufacturer and the length of the slide… The discovery of the focal band allowed us to move the rear sight forward along the length of the slide to a point where, physiologically, we perceive it to be in focus.
The concept is explained in more detail in a promo video released to introduce the new system:
The video shows Graham asking the opinion of some of the guys, including law enforcement officers, taking part in one of his firearms training courses. They all agree that the new sight is an improvement over traditional sights, allowing them to acquire the target quicker.
But is the FAST sight something new? It’s certainly no new concept that a shorter sight radius makes for easier sight alignment and faster target acquisition. So-called ‘gutter’ sights are not a new idea, nor are forward mounted short radius sights. Let’s take a look at some of the systems that have gone before.
Gutter sights have been around since the late 19th century, one of the most popular early pistols to use them was the Browning-designed FN Model 1910, a pocket pistol which maintained a snag-free profile by having a milled channel the length of the slide containing the front and rear sight. Anyone that has handled a Model 1910 knows that while the sights take a little getting used to the eye soon becomes accustomed to them as the pistol naturally points very well.
More recently the gutter sight idea has been attempted numerous times during the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1960s Paris Theodore developed a sight system which he called the ‘Guttersnipe’ system. Theodore’s system placed a short, narrowing channel with a brightly painted fluorescent interior are the rear of the slide, these were used on custom built ASP pistols based on S&W Model 39s.
Other systems since Theodore’s Guttersnipe sight have included the Fire Fly EM-110-AL combat sight and Colt later included a gutter sight in its Colt New Agent 1911. Perhaps one of the better known recent systems is the ‘Quick-Sight’ used in the Caracal Enhanced F pistol. Caracal explained that “The Quick Sight System places both the front and rear sights on a single focal plane allowing the shooter to acquire a flash sight picture on a target extremely fast.”
Just like Matt Graham’s FAST sight, none of these systems were developed for accurate target pistol shooting, they were designed for close range, fast snap shooting. So while Graham Combat’s FAST sight is nothing new it comes from a long tradition of alternative pistol sight systems dating back over a century.