XS Sights makes a variety of sights for popular (and some less popular) firearms. They are usually a huge improvement over the stock sights that ship on most pistols today. If you own a Glock or clone, chances are the factory sights could use an upgrade. A perfect example would be the sights that came with my Tactical Kinetics slide/barrel combo. They were serviceable, but could certainly be better. Since this is an ongoing project, I reached out to XS Sights, and they provided a set of their R3D Night Sights. This traditional three dot setup includes a huge front dot, and two smaller rear dots, all tritium powered for day or night use.
XS Sights R3D Night Sights
XS Sights CNC machines each set from steel. That’s a huge step up from the basic plastic sights, and better than aftermarket aluminum ones as well. Up front is a 0.145″ wide blade, that’s 0.215″ tall. Right in the middle is a green circle which absorbs ambient light and glows in low light. It’s also got a tritium-powered center. Best of both worlds right there. Out back is a 0.320″ tall sight with a 0.170″ notch flanked by smaller tritium vials. As expected for a carry/defensive pistol, the rear sight has a ledge for one-hand racking.
Thanks to the simple design of this Austrian handgun, there are sights available for just about every model. That includes taller sights for use with suppressors or optics. The ones I chose are low-profile, and work well in standard holsters. Like all XS Sights, they include a ten year warranty, and 30 day money back guarantee. One of my favorite features of this brand is that most of their sights can be installed with a hammer and punch. Rather than pay a gunsmith or buy expensive tools, save your money for more ammo. (Okay, so I recently bought an expensive tool. But I do this sort of stuff a lot)
Installation of the XS Sights R3D Night Sights
Swapping Glock sights is a pretty simple process. For the front sight, it requires a wrench that can found online for $10 or less. Unscrew the original sight, and clean the slide thoroughly. Remove any traces of gun oil, solvent, or residue. Test fit the new sight. Then install it with the included red thread-locker on the bottom of the sight, and the screw threads. Do not torque it too tight or the screw will break. Before the thread-lock has time to dry and set, make sure that the front sight is correctly aligned.
My rear sight pushed right out with a small hammer and brass punch. Fitting the new sight took a bit of filing. The goal is to get it to slide in about 1/3 of the way. Once you can get it that far, it’s ready to be tapped (or pushed) the rest of the way in. As with the front sight, apply the included thread-locker on all contact surfaces of the sight first. It’s critical to get it as centered as possible. Using a Q-tip, wipe off excess thread-locker, then let it sit for 24 hours before shooting. XS Sights does recommend zeroing the sights before applying thread-locker, which is an extra step, but probably worthwhile. One final note – be sure to give the sights regular wipe downs with oil, to prevent rust. Full instructions here.
A quick comment about the R3D Night Sights vs the DXT Big Dot Night Sights
I’ve got some DXT Big Dot Night Sights installed on my Ruger American Competition. Those sights have a bigger white front dot, but for me, acquisition speed is about equal. I was certain that I would have a clear preference for one over the other, but that’s not the case. The R3D Night Sights are just as easy to pick up in bright or low light.
As mentioned, it’s very easy to quickly acquire the sight picture with that bright green dot up front. Shooting in bright daylight, or even on an overcast day, these sights are very usable. Given that they’re Night Sights though, I shouldn’t spend too much time on their performance in bright light. But that is where most of our practicing is done. And admittedly, I would like to think that most people are out shooting for fun, even if they are also training for the worst. So to be clear, they are excellent for daytime use.
On the flip side, my low-light practice was not a live fire exercise. I went from room to room in my home at night, observing the sights as I went. I’m not going to describe in detail all the light and dark spots in my home. But there is light spill from my neighbors, so there’s very little in complete darkness. Any room or hall not requiring a flashlight provided enough light for me to see any perceived “target”, with that tritium sight standing out well. Although I never want to encounter an uninvited stranger in my home, I’d be comfortable addressing that situation with the R3D Night Sights on my pistol.
I think the rear dots could be slightly larger, but that’s just because I’m accustomed to larger rear dots. It’s not because I had any trouble using the sights. A mentioned in my side by side comparison of the R3D Night Sights to the DXT Big Dot, I didn’t have a clear preference. Both work great. From bright daylight to near darkness, I can maintain an acceptable sight picture. And that front dot is easy to pick up under low light, while the blade and notch work well when it’s all washed out under bright light.
Like my previous experience with XS Sights, these are very satisfying to use. Recent trends seem to lean towards reflex sights on pistols. I’ve got them on many of my rimfires, but still prefer iron sights for “working” guns. Fiber optics are great too, as long as you have plenty of light. So a good set of night sights is my go-to. As far as cost, most of these sights run a bit over $100 t0 about $130. Tritium will last about ten years before they become too dark to glow. That works out to around $1/month for their useful life. Definitely worth it.
If you’ve got a Glock, a clone, or any other pistol with disappointing sights, XS Sights has a solution for you. They offer big and bright sights that are visible in full daylight and darkness. And most are easily installed at home, without special tools. Additionally, you’ll find options for rifles and shotguns at XSSights.com.