I first encountered Trijicon sights in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). I received the Trijicon ACOG sight for my M4 rifle and never looked back (so to speak). Since then, Trijicon has been one of my favorite optics/sights manufacturers. I use the Trijicon HDs on my everyday carry GLOCK 19. Naturally, I jumped on the chance to review the new Trijicon HD XRs.

The original HDs were designed to be the optimal defensive night sights. They feature a bright orange or yellow front sight with tritium (.144”) and and a wide back “U” notch rear with tritium.

Their only shortcoming: trying to shoot at long distances. The front sight covers the target completely. Trijicon tried to alleviate the distance problem with the HD XRs, maintaining the defensive purpose of the sight with a slightly slimmer front sight post (.122”) and smaller dot.

Trijicon offers two options for the front sight, yellow or orange. The XRs are noticeably thinner than their older HD sisters, with the orange dot and a tritium lamp positioned in the center. The dot itself sits towards the top of the post. The rear sight’s the same .169” “U” shape notch as the older HDs with tritium lamps. The rear sight was designed with defensive shooting in mind, the angled construction allows for one-handed manipulation (i.e. racking off of a belt or shoe).

To test the sight I installed it on a stock GLOCK 19 gen 4 pistol and used it on one of my two-day pistol courses. When I demonstrated my first live fire drill — a simple five-round warm-up at three yards — I was surprised and disappointed by the sight. There’s a mismatch between the front and rear sight, both vertically and horizontally.

Trijicon kept the same exact rear sight while changing the front sight, making it harder to center the dot in the rear sight. This is especially true vertically, where the rear sight is significantly harder to position in a correct sight picture. This mismatch between rear and front sight creates a lot of issues when trying to find the right sight picture – “equal height and equal light.”

At close range, I found it somewhat difficult to achieve the correct sight placement. As mentioned above, the dead space made it difficult to properly align the sights for a proper sight picture and continuous follow-up shots. That said, after some trial and error, I could group shots nicely at three, five and seven yards.

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At mid-distances, from about eight to 25 yards, I didn’t notice any difference in the Trijicon HD sights versus the Trijicon HD XR sights; at this point I was already accustomed to the sight picture required to place shots on target.

The XRs really shined once I started shooting steel past 25 yards. The thinner front post made for significantly easier aiming at long distance and it didn’t cover the target completely. In fact, I was easily able to hit the steel consistently from a standing non-supported position at almost 100 yards.

For night shooting the tritium lamps shine well and slightly illuminate the dot. The sights would have been much better with a completely blacked out rear sight; in complete darkness it is almost impossible to tell which dot is front or rear. Still, the Trijicon HD XR sights are great defensive night sights.

Trijicon should have made the rear sight and the height of the front post proportional to the size of the front sight’s dot. The proportionality between the sights would make it a lot easier to maintain a sight picture. If you’re looking for a great defensive night sights for your EDC, stick to the original HDs, unless you are planning on doing long distance pistol shooting.

HD                                                                           HD XR

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Specifications – Trijicon HD XR Sights

Tritium front and rear vials
Orange or yellow dot available for the front sight
Available for many popular models
12-year warranty
MSRP: $175

Ratings (out of five stars):

Build Quality * * * * *
Durably built steel construction, made in the USA.

Function * * *
As a defensive sight, they don’t serve their function. Trijicon missed the mark. However, the front sight does allow for very fast target acquisition and sight picture.

Reliability * * * * *
No issues.

Overall Rating * * *
A more proportional sizing between rear and front sight would have made it an exceptional sight. In the end you’ll get used to the proportional issues.

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25 Responses to Gear Review: Trijicon HD XR Sights

  1. The first picture leads me to believe that I’ll be shooting low if I line up the sights via the tritium inserts.

    • Looks to me that you are correct. I call it a major design flaw as the dots are used in both daylight and nighttime, more often than the post top.

    • This is the main problem I have with 3 dot pistol sites: If you line up the tops of the front/rear sights, you will have a different POI than if you line up the 3 dots, and at night, if you have always lined up the tops, you will not be on target when you go to use the visible dots.
      Ameriglo makes different height night sights, and I have been considering getting the right size so that I am on target with the dots aligned and just forget the tops of the sights so I’m hitting POI regardless of night or day.
      Or it would be nice for a manufacturer to make some half dots that are as close to the top of the sights as possible.

    • ” equal height — equal light “.

      Lining up the three dots is a good way to get “minute of man” accuracy. To get bulls-eye hits you will need to use proper fundamentals. I’m ordering a set of these sights because anything inside of 7 yards is hard to miss if you practice point shooting but accurate distance shooting with the original HD’s becomes nearly impossible with the extra wide front sight. This is a great solution for those of us who like the idea of an eye catching colorful front sight but don’t like the fragility of fiberoptic sights

  2. Very nice review! I agree with previous posters – it looks to me like these combine the worst features of an old-fashioned buckhorn with a receiver mounted rifle peep, on a pistol!

    The eye tends to center objects within containing rings, which is why a peep works so intuitively. With these sights, the eye will want to center the front dot within the “half-peep” of the radiused rear notch, but if you do so, the vertical alignment will be way off. If you line up the dots, that’s wrong too. It’s kind of hard to figure out what they were trying to accomplish with these.

  3. Maybe I am weird but I have these on a Glock 19 and don’t have any issues, I am about as fast as with regular HD’s and the advantage at longer ranges is noticeable.

  4. Great review. Very thoughtful and detailed. Photos and graphics are very well done.

    Like the other posters, I’d be centering the dot in the radius or lining up the dots. In low light when it’s hard to make out the top of the post or rear sight against the background, those dots would just be screaming to be lined up. Maybe this sight would work better if you painted over the tritium lights. – Doh!

    You gave it more stars for “Function” than I would have. Failing to perform a primary function just begs for no stars for me. Kinda like giving 3 stars to the proverbial screen-door on a submarine because it keeps out mosquitoes just fine.

  5. I believe that your “HD” and “HD XR” graphic headers are reversed, as the HD is 0.144″ wide per the following: “The original HDs were designed … with tritium (.144”)….”

  6. “Their only shortcoming: trying to shoot at long distances. The front sight covers the target completely.”

    Yeah, I could see that happening.

    Dumb question, are there any Tritium-powered sights that have the vial buried lower in the front sight, feeding a bit of fiber-optic so the shooter has a (sharper-better) defined point of aim?

  7. Thank you for the review. I almost ordered these yesterday, then noticed from the specs that the front and rear sight height were the same. This is unlike any other set of Glock sights I’ve seen (including theirs), and it kept me from pulling the trigger. I’m glad I held off.

  8. I got a pair of Trijicon HDs (*not* XR) on my XDm a few months ago. Now every pistol I own that they make them for has a set. I suggest not buying *any* of these unless you are prepared to put them on everything you own.

    I can’t speak for the XR variety, but the originals are the standard I measure other three-dot pistol sights by.

  9. Informed and factual review. Thank you! I saw the 12 year warranty, so any idea what the usable life of tritium sights is? I am let to believe that these will dim over time, is this correct?

  10. According to the diagram the front sights are different heights, never mind where the orange outline or tritium vial is. That would equate to a not insignificant shift between the two width options. While I’m not a good enough shooter to realize the difference, many people are. I’ll stick with 10-8 for my sights, thank you. Great review.

  11. Why would anyone buy “night sights”, i.e. sights with tritium only, when you can buy TFO’s (Tritium Fiber Optic) and have illumination in both day any night? I don’t understand why one would make that decision.

    Not only are these Trijicon sights nothing special in daylight, they are actually worse than many others with their ORANGE color.

    Maybe it’s just me, but there isn’t a worse color for quick sight acquisition, beside perhaps black.

    • They’re not tritium only. The big dot on the front has orange or yellow photoluminescent paint around it. These were supposedly specifically designed for cops and military, for scenarios when they would have their guns already drawn in daylight (with the front sight paint soaking up sunlight) and then entering a darkened area (unlit building) to pursue or search for a perp. The idea is that these aid in the transition period when your eyes need to adjust from bright sunlight to dark. In that interim time, there is not enough light to utilize the regular iron sights, but your eyes haven’t adjusted enough to see the tritium either. The big front sight paint (orange or yellow) will glow with stored-up luminescence to enhance the visibility of the front sight during that time.

      I own a set of these (HD but not XR) in yellow for my SR9c. The front sight is so noticeable in decent lighting that you can have both eyes on the target with the gun held at chest level and still see it prominently enough in your lower peripheral vision to use it as an aid to point shooting. I have had several kinds of fiber optic sights on other guns and none even come close to the HDs for visibility in all conditions, especially light-to-dark transition. They are much bigger than the standard sights on the SR9c and long-distance slow shooting is more difficult. But they are much faster at self defense distances, especially if your eyesight is not great.

  12. Robert says, do you have a brand you’d recommend for these TFO’s?? If I search online I want to get some quality ones right away, so looking for a specific brand?? Thanks!!

  13. I have the original HDs on my P2000sk. The front sight is great! The only thing better would be no dots on the rear sight. I’ve never liked 3-dots, I thought the dot-line was a much better idea, or the Heinie straight-8.

  14. If it is so dark you can’t tell which dot is front and rear, a blacked out rear is pretty much entirely useless as a slighting aid. All you see is a dot. No visible indication to telll you whether the rear is 3 inches below and you’re shooting birds, or 3 inches left and you’re shooting your right hand man.

    3dots make it pretty clear which dot is what. Differentially colored ones even more so. I normally shoot Heinie straight 8s, and those can be a bit vertigo inducing in complete darkness. But as long as you present high, they’re perfectly a-ok with some practice.

    Not that blasting away when it’s so dark you can’t see even the outline of your sights, seems like the brightest idea for a civilian in the first place.

    • “Not that blasting away when it’s so dark you can’t see even the outline of your sights, seems like the brightest idea for a civilian in the first place.”

      Nor anyone else for that matter. As to dot alignment, muscle memory should get you close in low light. The other tool needed for these conditions has to do with target ID. I’ve got a wife and 4 kids, so a light is vital.

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