XS Sights, yes or no?

A while back I talked about XS Sights, and how I don’t particularly see the point in them as a sighting system for pistols.  Here’s the problem though – quite a few people I respect are of a divided opinion on XS Sights.  For example, Todd Green says “no”, Richard Mann and Michael Bane like them, and from the world of fiction, Owen Pitt from the Monster Hunter novels used them on his Kimber before it was destroyed by vampires in Monster Hunter International.

So, what are your thoughts?  I’m going to take the opportunity to eat crow on the XS Sight issue, as the 686SSR I own has an interchangeable front sight blade.   I’d love to hear your feedback on the sights, and because I feel bad for badmouthing them without giving  them a fair shake, I’ve ordered a set for my 686SSR that I’m going to shoot in ICORE and IDPA.  If I like them and find them fast and accurate, I’ll happily retract any naughty things I’ve said about them.  And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually paying for the sights – no freebies on this one.


  1. I have XS sights on my Glock 23 and Trijicon on my 1911. Leaving aside my own limitations as a shooter, I do shoot the Glock more accurately on a more consistent basis.

    Is it the sights or my comfort with the Glock over the 1911? Could be. Then again, it could also have (in some measure) something to do with the sights.

    My conclusion as to why is that this all depends on what you respond to visually. What I mean is that if you’re much more attuned visually to simple shapes, XS sights are great. Hi vis, Meprolight, and Trijicon offer both color and more complex shapes to focus on.

    Just my two cents…

  2. I have an XS front sight on my S&W 327 night gaurd and I love it. (I also love the C&S rear sight.) I also have XS sights on a Remington 1100 and I think they’re great for that application (like having an express rifle for goblins.) I have never used one of their rear sights on a pistol though.

  3. I just like a high visibility front sight. I don’t know if it makes me a faster shooter or a more accurate shooter, but it sure makes shooting easier when the thing is doing the visual equivalent of jumping up and down shouting, “Here I am! Over here! Look at me!”

  4. I also like extremely visible front sights for action type shooting – my 625 wears a Hi-Viz fiber optic sight which is about as big as the XS sight.

  5. I like hi-vis fronts, but I don’t like v-notch rears. I find that they don’t work well for me for precision shots. On fast open targets, I don’t really use the rear sight anyway, so the tradeoff isn’t worth it. I use the fiber dot on easy shots, but on tight ones, I use the edge of the blade. XS sights don’t really improve the speed on the easy stuff, but they definitely cost me precision on the hard stuff.

  6. 1 to Jeff. They are fast but the shallow V rear actually slows me down too much and is less accurate for precise long range shooting since I could never find a consistent sight picture. I had them on my EDC Glock 26 and my SHTF AK, they are now gone.

  7. For the record, my favorite sight system is a Bo-Mar style rear paired with a fiber optic front. That’s pretty much “the berries” as far as I’m concenred for competition.

  8. For long guns, XS makes some outstanding options. I have them on carbines, rifles and shotguns.

    For pistols, for me, not right (not yet at least). Oversized for work outside 15 yards or so.

    I have had older fellow students at gun skul tell me that at a certain age, the XS rocks.

  9. “For the record, my favorite sight system is a Bo-Mar style rear paired with a fiber optic front. That’s pretty much “the berries” as far as I’m concenred for competition.”

    Yup; I’m quite happy with the stock sights on my M&P 9Pro. Plain black rear + fiber front.

  10. For my money NOTHING beats a good gold (not brass or bronze) bead with a hemispherical head, even in low light conditions, no less. Yeah, X-S works, but I still prefer Gold as do most OLDER shooters.

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  11. Caleb – I’m reading about all these sights in the comments. Think you could maybe take some pics so noobs like me can see what everyone is talking about???

  12. I don’t see the point of the XS sights, but then, I used to not see the point of frickin’ lasers on a pistol either. I’m coming around to that notion (though I’ve still not bought any), so XS may well one day claim me as well. But for now, they are an unnecessary gizmo.

    I do have a lo-tech version of the XS system on my leverguns which have a shotgun bead soldered to the front blade and a semi-buckhorn rear. They are quick to acquire on CAS stages and when I slow down for longer shots, they’re pretty accurate.

  13. Let me preface this by saying, not everyone will like the same gun, sights, beer or stripper.

    The XS concept is fashioned after the sights used on dangerous game rifles where you need to shoot FAST under extreme STRESS at relative close range.

    Hmm, sound like something that might occur during a defensive encounter?

    As I said previously, my experience during force on force training convinced me to install them on my defensive handguns.

    Would I put one on a handgun used exclusively in combat pistol matches? Probably not. I would go with a square notch rear and a square blade front.

    The premise behind the XS 24/7 is the ability to see your front sight as soon as possible in any lighting condition that you happen to be in.

    Is it the best, Hell, I’m not sure anything – even Midleton whiskey – qualifies as best. I like XS 24/7s and both of my serious 1911s have them.

  14. I almost forgot, when training new shooters I’ve found they respond well to the big dot – shallow V. I think this is partially because a standard notch rear – post front sight begs to be perfectly aligned. For new shooters this seems to induce target panic and trigger jerk.

  15. Personally, I found that I was noticeably quicker with the XS big dot sights on my Glocks compared to the factory plastic sights. But then I have a tendency to try to perfectly align the notch and post. The XS setup helps me to remember to focus on the front sight and also allows enough accuracy for what I would consider “extended” self-defense range with a pistol.

    I also have trouble picking up a standard front sight (black or with white dot) after recoil. That problem is lessened with a big dot front. Now, I’ve admittedly never used a fiber optic front sight and that might be just as effective. I just don’t much care for the thought of having to rely on ambient light for shooting a defensive pistol quickly.

    I still use notch/post sights for for simple paper punching but I’ve got big dots on my defensive pistols and the above is my reasoning for it.

  16. When I got the BHP, It had the XS sights on it. I tried, I really tried. For => 10 yards it was fine.

    But 25 yards I could not make a headshot on a IDPA target. Well, reliably.

    I tried for about 5 months, and when I had to do some other gunsmithing work, the smith offered me free sights to replace them, so I got some castoffs.

    One day, I’ll put them on and try again – but so far, I’m not a big fan. Didn’t make sense for me, didn’t work well. See what you think.

  17. My biggest concern is about 20+ yard accuracy. While XS provides a diagram on their website on how to align the sights for distant shots, I’m sort of wondering if that sort of alignment will provide me the kind of accuracy I need to make -0 hits at 20 yards.

  18. I use them on my EMP and love them (they really helped with my accuracy due to my cross-eye dominance issues).

    As far as accuracy, with training I don’t think they are an issue. James Yeager has some Youtube videos of him up using them, including up to 100 yards away. Here is one of the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY5RURFEGd8

    That video amongst others are what got me to try them out. Now I haven’t used them in any classes or competitions, but with the range experience I’ve had with them, I’d probably look to try and get them installed on any pistol I was going to carry.

    Chad C.

  19. At the ranges, speeds, and targets where XS sights rock hardest, I just need something to tell me where the front of the gun is. A regular dot front sight, a fiber optic, a shotgun bead, or a blob of chewing gum affixed to the front of the slide would probably serve me just as well. At 10+ yds, where sight alignment actually comes into play, I just drop shots way too easy with that shallow V in the rear.

    Had ’em on my GSR, probably won’t buy another set until my eyes really start to crap out.

  20. I have mostly Novak’s (Night sights) on my 1911’s and found them to be excellent sights. Recenlty I “noticed” that in moderately low light, twilight and sometimes even overcast days I simply lost the front sight. Mostly due to to 60 yr old eyes.
    I put fiber optics on my USPSA guns and can pick up that bright green dot easily now. But on my carry gun I put the XS Big Dot. I can find that big dot in any light and any condition; do not need ambient light to fire it up; and know that if I ever had the need to pull it out finding the front sight will be the least of my problems.
    Big Dots, in my view, are not for every game. But it is hard to go wrong with them on a carry gun.

  21. My experience and preference exactly matches Barrett’s. Got em on my Glock 19 and for how I use the pistol, they’re the best choice I’ve found so far.

    I don’t practice head shots at 20 yards too much but I would bet the sights are capable of consistent accuracy at that range and beyond. The learning curve on applying the sights might be kinda steep though.

  22. I looked at XS sights when the front night sight on my Glock 19 stopped working, but ultimately decided against them. I simply have too much trigger time with post and notch sights to start ingraining the different sight alignment and sight picture that come with the XS sights. Close in, I don’t really need sights anyway. Further out, I want small sights so I can put them on the target well. The sights I ended up buying (TFO) allow me to make headshots on an IDPA target at 25 yards with 100% confidence.

    The sights currently on my shortlist are the Warren Tactical sights without the tritium inserts. The horizontal striations on the front sight give my eye something to focus on, and the slim front sight allows you to look “through” the sight. A local IPSC GM has a Warren Tactical rear sight with a 0.09″ front sight on one of this Glocks. It is sweet, and pretty much the polar opposite of the XS sight.

    I have never met anyone who could do well with XS sights. I have, however, met four people who could not.

  23. I had XS Sights on my carry gun for a while.

    For what they are, they aren’t terrible because if you consider the lineage of what they’re based upon well…. yeah they’re OK for that.

    But your concern is 20+ yard accuracy. That’s where things get rough. These aren’t precision sights, they’re meant to be fast to acquire and hit coarsely. I had the worst time trying to get accurate shots on small targets at longer distances. 0-7 yard blasting? great. Beyond that, it gets rough.

    I switched to Dawson Precision sights: solid black rear, 0.100″ front with a red fiber. Works great. It’s quite fast on the pickup, 0-7 yard blasting is quick and fast, and when I need to slow down to line up to take a 25 yard shot on a small target, it’s do-able. The point of the XS is to be fast. Well, my Dawson front picks up fast too, and I can be more accurate especially out at distance.

    Recently I’ve seen some people in classes with XS Sights and they were doing OK with them. So in the end I’m sure it comes down to personal preference. For me, XS didn’t work out.

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