Most people just live with the sights that come with their gun. They learn to shoot as best they can with the sights provided by the manufacturer. Only a small minority go to the trouble of swapping-out the stock units for night sights — critical for self-defense — or something that works better, faster and more intuitively. Besides, how much of a difference could a new set of sights really make? A lot . . .
RF and I fired-up his Merc and journeyed across central Texas to the impressive Tac Pro Shooting Center. We shot a literal range of guns equipped with XS Sights under the careful tutelage of former British SBS soldier Bill Davison — the only human ever to successfully combine a native Lincolnshire accent with a Texas drawl. We compared firearms fitted with Ft. Worth-based XS Sight Systems‘ sights with standard three-dots.
I shot back-to-back FNS-9 pistols. As you’ll see, lining up the ‘lollipop’ using the right sights and, yes, good technique made a significant difference surprisingly quickly.
“The biggest advantage I found was the speed of my follow-up shots,” TTAG jefe RF reports. “While it takes some practice to learn how to use XS sights for accuracy — perfectly doable — it took no time at all to realize that I can return to target far faster with XS’s Big Dot than I can with three-dots or Heine sights. I was ringing steel twice as quickly as I normally do. Which is still really slow, but a lot better.”
XS Sights freshly-minted marketing director Zack Kinsley acknowledges that he’s got a ways to go to convince people his product is just as accurate as any other sight (shooting a target at 100 yards with a pistol did a pretty good job of that). Meanwhile, Zack’s happy highlighting the fact that the Big Dot is ideal for self-defense for OFWG’s with failing eyesight, or adrenaline fueled anyone else.
“Put the dot on the bad guy and squeeze the trigger,” he advises. “Repeat until the threat stops.”
XS makes Big Dot tritium sights for virtually any handgun and provides custom work if your heater’s not on their list.
XS Sights also make a variety of options for smoothbores and rifles.
Their Xti angle mount sights were particularly impressive. You turn your gun sideways and use the same sighting system to hit your target.
RF was impressed enough that he’s now sporting XS Big Dots on his Wilson Combat EDC. In other words, he trusts his life to the sights. High praise indeed. We’ll see what The Sunshine of the Eternally Skeptical Mind (a.k.a., Jon Wayne Taylor) has to say about them and report back.
I love my XS Sights.
They are a Texas (Ft Worth) company and their Customer Service is top notch.
The vile on my front sight when bad and they replaced it under their ten yr warranty, with only the proof of purchase, so basically no questions asked.
Good to hear a company backs their product.
(If you clean the vile off that vial you might see it better… 🙂 )
You know something’s gone wrong when even the vile on your vial goes bad.
I say vile WAY more than vile… Vile. Vile. Vile!
Not vile, vile!
Oh, f*ck it…
Thank you for removing the vale from the veil covering this confusion! Oh weight!
I believe I will have to try them on for size myself as I get older my vision is not what it once was . I’ve only recently started having to use reading glasses and my shooting has been affected as well . I will try these out
Whoa, I haven’t even tried them out yet. It’s not that I’m skeptical that these sights work, I just like the sights I have. I will give them a shot, or 1,000, and if they outperform my Heine’s I’ll certainly swap them out.
Sights are like grips. One style does not fit all. I can shoot these “express” style sights well and quickly at 25 yards and under. They are not as precise but precise enough for me on man-size targets. Out past 25 yards it is more difficult for me to place shots and I prefer narrower sights.
On three dots sights, I prefer to lose the back dots as distance increases.
On my LCR the XS sight was great out to 15 yards. Beyond that the dot covered most of the target and my groups opened up too much for my tastes. The white insert on newer LCRs works better at varying distances of precision.
I want sights that work out to 50 yards.
At any serious distance the front sight post on any sight will cover the target. XS Big Dots are more than capable to make 50 and 100 yard shots at steel 18 inch silhouette plates. As the article states they were shooting at 100 yards. Many 3 gun competition shooters use these sights in matches.
The group will open up because Big Dots are Defensive Sights. They are ideal for situations around 25 yards and closer. XS makes a standard dot that is slightly bigger than a normal three dot, but smaller than the Big Dot that won’t cover as much of the target at 50 yards as the Big Dot.
The goal of the Big Dot is to get on target quickly and subdue a threat. Most defensive situations won’t even come close to 25 yards.
I don’t disagree. My point is that in my shooting I shoot better groups on target with different sights as the distance increases. Since I have never been in a gunfight, I want the tightest groups I can get when practicing because I know they will open-up under stress.
I live rural and often travel in rural areas so I’m not going with arms-length shooting.
I prefer the smaller dot XS which is what goes on the LCR. I also like the regular dot for a shotgun. It’s basically the same size as a normal bead but more visible.
I realize competitive shooters love these things but game gunning doesn’t always fit for day to day. Kind of like many folks are using red dot sights on their carry. Not for me thanks.
I’m a fan. Have them on a EDC Para PDF (they work very well on those shorty slides), as well as an FN-9 and a Springfield XD.
I’ve installed them on 3 pistols and 2 rifles, had no issues, and thoroughly enjoy them.
A lot of the buyer reviews for the AR angled version say they find them too short to use. You did not find that to be a problem?
If you want to meet the creator of the big dot/express sight system for handguns, and a man who has forgotten more about lever actions, handguns, and heavy bullets than the lot of us presently know, he lives there in Ft. Worth and isn’t terribly hard to track down.
Yes please! [email protected]
These are on my want-to-buy list for my Walther PPQ M1 9mm. Timely article. Thanks.
You hear good things about the Big Dot sights, but how do they compare to those bright high viz front sights? I have some near dead tritium sights on a G19 that need to be refreshed or replaced. Any opinions?
Actually, you can get Big Dot sights with a tritium insert. You have the big white dot for day use, and glow in the dark at night. That’s what I’ve installed on one of my carry pistols.
To be a Contrarian, for what purpose do I need night sights? Defensive shootings one hears about are usually up close and personal, ala Zimmerman and Gas Station OC guy. No night sights necessary. Any bump in the night stuff, I’m using a flashlight, so no night sights necessary. Of course, I can’t do all the fancy night training without night sights. Am I missing something?
Some schools like Surefire teach light on – ID – light off – shoot. Makes sense when it’s a gun vs gun gunfight.
Also, it’s useful at night when you can POSITIVELY ID the target without exposing your position
Not the first on my list to buy, but useful in specific ways
Don’t ever buy into the complacency of the idea that you wont’ have to aim.
Meh, who needs sights? If you practice enough, your handgun becomes an extension of your arm and you don’t need sights to know where your handgun is aiming … at least for engagements to 12 feet or so.
Beyond that, I would be curious to see if these sights improve accuracy and/or speed over simple blade and 3-dot sights.
If you see no difference at 12 feet in using sights. …. Then you’re not using sights.
Sights are always better if you use them.
My experience is that big dots are less precise as the distance increases out to 50 yards and beyond.
That said, I prefer the stavenhagen bar and dot over three dots. I find them more precise at short and long range
The size of the front dot can be a problem at distance as it obscures the target.
“….critical for self defense…..” I flinch when I read such near absolute statements having been involved in a defensive shooting with a stock S&W model 10 revolver.
“night sights — critical for self-defense”
Well, maybe. But these comes way after a weaponlight/handheld.
Poor man’s Big Dot? Just remove the rear sight…
Have you actually tried this method?
How did it work?
The Big Dot is a night sight but it also shows more white around the sight and the sight is convex vs most sights being concave. So the sights are easier to acquire during the day light too. The actual tritium vial is the same size as most other night sights.
XS uses pvc for their white dot vs competitors using white paint. The pvc won’t won’t fade and since the sight is convex no lint or dust can get caught in the sight.
“night sights — critical for self-defense.”
This kind of ill-informed wank is why I seldom come to this site any more. The Truth About Guns should be renamed “Fairly Ignorant Guys Who Like Guns Pontificate About Them.”
(Exceptions of course for those few here who actually know a thing or two, like JW Taylor)
I really do want these at some point. Pricy upgrade, though.
Though I have often thought of making my glock nicer instead of dropping my hard-saved cash on another gun. Perfect the one, then move on.
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