“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed.”
by Noah Webster




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caracal quick sights – a retrospective

Judging from the search traffic and keywords that are directed at my sites, people are once again interested in that still-somewhat-hard-to-get/find pistol, the UAE’s Caracal. Undoubtedly, this interest is spurred by the Caracal’s rather good (from what I hear) showing at SHOT Show, but the vast majority of that traffic seems to center around the pistol’s arguably “revolutionary” “Quick Sight Acquisition System”.

And, what do you know, I have some experience with that.

To begin with, I will repost what I wrote almost a year ago: 

Before we get into the performance of the firearm, I have to touch on the quick-sights… in this comprehensive review, Walt Rauch took a really good picture of the overall concept, but the basic concept is that the “rear” sights are actually forward of the ejection port on the slide. This obviously reduces your sight radius, which will reduce your overall accuracy at longer ranges, but from testing out the arrangement at their demonstration bay, it does seem like sight and target acquisition is significantly faster… it probably has something to do with indexing off the back part of the slide, much like skeet shooters index off their shotgun’s dorsal rail.


caracalquicksightAnd here is my own personal take on the quick-sight system… not the best shot, I will grant, but all of these pictures here are taken with my phone, so I absolve myself of any responsibility. As you can see, they use a fiber optic front post (which really helps in acquisition), and then the strange, in-front-of-the-ejection-port “rear” sights. The word is that these sights will be available on all of the sizes, but time will tell whether or not that holds true.

And then let me hit you with the marketing hype from the guys at Caracal (I would link to it directly, but their site uses some crazy frame/Flash tomfoolery): 

The unique Caracal Quick Sight system (QS) allows for extremely quick target acquisition under pressure. Unlike conventional pistol sights BOTH the front and rear sights are seen in the same focal plane. This offers previously unseen speed in target acquisition.

And now for the promised retrospective…  For those of the TL;DR community amongst my readership, the short version is “they are right”. 

Alright, I know what you are thinking – firearm accuracy is affected directly by the sight radius, i.e. the distance between the front sight and the back sight.  This only makes sense if you stop to think about your high school geometry and how lines behave.  Think of your back sight as one defining point of a line, and the front sight as the other.  Now think about how that distance compares to the distance between the front sight and the target.  A slight deviation of either the front sight or the back one from the “ideal” will be multiplied many times as the bullet travels between the barrel and the target; however, most of the time, you can notice those slight deviations (even if some of us cannot do anything about them).  Now, shorten the distance between the two points – and the same deviation off “ideal” will be significantly larger at the target, just by the math involved.  Kind of like this: 


The distances are obviously not to scale, but the premise is that the two solid black dots indicate your sights as they should ideally be lined up.  The back-most grey dot indicates some deflection off this, and the front-most grey dot indicates the same deflection but with a shorter sight radius.  As you can see, the round goes much farther off track in that case. 

In other words, longer sight radiuses are generally thought to be “more accurate” (with the same shooter doing the shooting, of course), which is why you see ungainly contraptions like this with the back sight pushed as far back as the rules let them get away with. 

That is all good and well when you are trying to drill out a bullseye or engage targets at a thousand yards or whatnot, but at “conversational” distances (the <25 yards most people practice handguns for, and most DGUs take place at), quicker is sometimes better… And that is where crazy ideas like the “Quick Sight” system comes into effect. 

I am not a professional shooter, or even a competitive one, so everything I say should probably be taken with a relatively substantial grain of salt, however, I will say this much: I ended my day at the Caracal shoot marveling at how stupid-easy the Quick Sights made plinking 6” diameter steel plates at 10 yards; I almost had to try to miss.  And this was after spending somewhere around six hours in the sun and heat, shooting who-knows-how-many rounds downrange, running around, engaging targets, standing around, and generally being tired and wore out.  My hands were probably shaking, and my concentration had taken leave of me after I shot the very last match of the day clean, but the quick sights… well, worked. 

This may be a combination of how the Caracal’s grip angle fit my hands pretty much perfectly, the large back sight notch, and the fiber optic front sight, but I brought the firearm up, it dropped pretty much on target when I felt like my hands were “pointing” at it, and that was that.  As I wrote above, with my extremely limited experience shooting skeet, it feels kind of like lining up that gold dot with the rib of the shotgun. 

Would I want to use something like that for long-distance target shooting?  No, not at all – that large notch in the back and somewhat standard-sized front sight let a lot of light through the sights (which could be why they were so easy to drop on-target), which makes it hard to determine that your front post is actually centered in that notch (especially with no dots or other indicators on the back sight).  But for “minute of bad guy” purposes at distances I am likely to be shooting at them?  It did the job just fine, despite my best efforts to screw it up. 

For lack of a better description, it really does boil down to pointing the firearm, rather than worrying about lining up front and back sights / dots / fiddly bits. 

A lot of this is dependent on personal taste, and I would imagine that if the grip angle does not suit you (which it may not, given how people fight about 1911 vs. Glock grip angles) it probably will not work nearly as well, but I could still see myself owning a Caracal with this particular sight set up at some point in the future… if they ever reach the mass market here in the States. 

Speaking of, and given my recent success in this field, if Caracal would like an objective, comprehensive, and picture-filled review of one of their handguns (preferably with the Quick Sight system), I would be more than willing to oblige.  I missed my window last time around (apparently the American distributors – Waffen Werks – went out of business?), but might as well try again, right? 

(Note: appearances aside, the “Quick Sight” system is not a resurrection of the Guttersnipe Sight, and more the shame for it.  You still have front sights and rear sights, rather than the three triangles.) 

7 comments to caracal quick sights – a retrospective

  • That is the rig I was looking for… Thanks!

  • Been hearing a lot about these, too, especially on the gun podcasts, and remembered that you had done a shoot a while back with them.

    Caracal, if you are listening, I will be very eeenterested when/if they make it here–so make sure they do!

  • I do not think I am grossly overstating the situation that Caracal could pose a somewhat significant threat to the other plastic-fantastic gun manufacturers retailing in America.

    Honestly, the only two things I see hanging them up are their unknown name and their national affiliation (given how some people are about such things).

  • DaveR

    Looks like a significant amount of steel goes into making up that rear sight. That added weight toward the muzzle may make the QS versions point better and hence, FEEL faster.

    I’m looking around but can’t find any specs that differentiate between the QS and non-QS pistols.

    Pure speculation on my part so I’d appreciate your thoughts…

  • DaveR

    people (Americans) forget that the Middle East provides most of western Europe’s petrolium, and probably every Glock is made from plastic that was refined from crude oil that came from you-know-where.
    @ Linoge:

  • Hm. Honestly, I have no idea on that one. The Quick Sight system is milled straight into the slide, so whatever material the slide is made of is also what the sight is made of. I am not convinced that the sub-ounce of material forward of the ejection port will make that big of a difference on perceived recoil, though… Bear in mind that the “back” blades are milled out to be as light as possible, rather than solid slabs or anything, which keeps all that weight to a minimum. I guess it is a change, though, and that does change everything :).

    And I have no beef with where the firearm is coming from – as you say, given how much money we funnel into the Middle East already, a few firearms are not going to make that big of a difference – but a rather surprising number of folks do.