A Sight to Behold

Big-Dot tritium sight by XS Sight Systems.

Disclosure– this is a product review. The product was provided to me free of charge, though not by the manufacturer. To the best of my knowledge the manufacturer was unaware of this review at the time of publication.

Some time back my friend Mike pointed these sights out to me. It looked interesting and like it would be fast to acquire a sight picture. To aim you center the ball over the line.

The sight picture. From XS sights promotional material.

I looked over their website and they offer a variety of options for many popular pistols. They have a selection of rifle and shotgun sights as well, but I was mostly intrigued by the pistol sights. They aren’t cheap, but by no means out-of-line. The price of the set-up I was interested in ran $119 dollars. Not bad, but more than I wished to spend on something I wasn’t sure of.

I told this to Mike, who is perhaps a bigger gun-geek than I am, and he happened to have a rear sight for the Government model 1911a1 and a Standard front sight cut for a Novak Dovetail that were surplus-to-need and very graciously sent them to me.

They arrived last week and I wasted no time getting into the shop. I removed the custom front sight, and clamping the slide between pieces of leather in the vice I got out the files and set to work. I carefully filed the top of the slide for the dovetail, checking the fit carefully as I went.

Not the most elegant dovetail I’ve done, and I probably should have at least blown the dust off before I took the picture…

A quick note on this kind of work- a file only cuts in one direction, pushing away from you. If you want to keep your cuts flat and true don’t saw at the work-piece; it’s too easy to angle the file slightly on the back-stroke. It also dulls the file; remember, you are cutting steel here. Sharp things cut better, easier and more precisely than dull things.

I’ve never worked with a tritium sight before, and that tiny glass vial made me nervous. I filed the dovetail to a snug fit. I don’t have a sight-pusher, and the idea of hammering with anything but a dead-blow hammer and a brass drift set my teeth on edge. Pretty sure I was erring on the side of caution, but so be it. The sights arrived with a small tube of red adhesive, and I used that to add to the sight’s security.

The rear dovetail was a tiny bit small for the sight, which is fine. Easier to remove material than to add it, and after a few strokes of the file I was able to drive it into place. No tritium in this one, so it was a less nervous proposition and is a very tight fit.

The sights mounted on the ‘Street Racer.’ Yes, I made another set of new grips.

Looking good, but there seemed to be an issue… The rear sight looked like it would make the gun shoot very high. I resolved to bear that in mind when test-firing. It’s an easy fix, but it was even easier to simply use a 6-o’clock hold.

It is a very fast sight. The front sight is very easy to pick up as the gun is brought on target and lining up is quick and easy. I’ve heard that these sights lack accuracy, and i could see it would be easy to be slightly misaligned. A self-defense gun is for close-up work though, so I wasn’t sure this would be a real problem.

As an aside the tritium insert in the front sight is good, and while it’s no powered red-dot it’s visible enough to be useful even in twilight conditions.

I gave the adhesive twenty-four hours to cure just to be on the safe side, then it was off to the range.

Cut To The Chase, Tinker. Do They Work?

I got to Champion Arms, got some targets and a lane and commenced to testing. Yep, they work.

First shots on the left, Middle is second verse, same as the first. third target is repeated mag-dumps.

I started at seven yards with the gun at low rest, brought it up quickly and fired as the sights came on target. The POI is a bit high; I was using a 6-o’clock hold and most shots were an inch or two high. Not bad at all. I taped the hole and repeated the exercise with similar results. The last pic is the result of several mag-dumps. Hitting a bit to the right; either I had the sights set slightly wrong or likely enough it was just me. Times being what they are my ammo supply was limited so I called it good after forty rounds or so.

This accuracy was at least as good as I would manage with normal sights, and according to the shot timer the rounds were going on target a bit faster on average, 1-2 tenths of a second or so. As a sight for self defense shooting they work just fine. If I can produce groups like this the first time I used them I’m a happy camper, and it can only get better with practice.

Next time I’ll shoot at fifteen and twenty-five yards and see how they work at longer range. If they do as well as I expect these will become a permanent addition to the gun.

Final Thoughts

I think these sights work as advertised, and I like them quite well. As a low-profile alternative to an optic on a defensive pistol I think they are a good choice. Should you try them? If you are a skilled shooter I would say yes, definitely. In the follow-up I’ll be having Linda and perhaps a few other folks try them and see how it works for them.

Stay safe, and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 18 June 2021

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