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XS BIG DOT Tritium Night Sights Review

Discussion in 'Sights, Optics and Lasers' started by zmarshall, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. zmarshall

    zmarshall Lost Hero

    Mar 11, 2010
    This is a personal review of the XS BIG DOT Tritium Night Sights which I have had installed on my Springfield Armory XD 40cal 4 inch.

    Lets first take a look at these defensive sights.

    Here you can see why they call them "BIG DOT" sights. (Front sight)

    The rear sight seen here features a "V" shape with a single vertical line in the center.

    This is what the sight picture looks like, as the manufacturer describes, you just "dot the i."

    And finally here are the sights in total darkness, they are this bright in a camera, which means much brighter and easier to acquire for the human eye.

    Now that you have seen them, let me speak about the features.

    1st: The tritium in these sights is SUPER bright, and the white color of them for use in higher light is very easy to acquire as well.

    2nd: The "DOT" and the " I "
    The idea behind these defense sights is just that, use in personal defense. Situations where accuracy is thrown to the wolves and sheer instinctual shooting is the most reliable thing in the world. Forget red dot sights, 3 dot setups, and all the training and learning required to use them well, if the poop hits the fan and your mind can't handle the complexity of your aiming system, well then everything slows down while it tries to process, and thats when you are most vulnerable. These sights are so easy to pick up and put on target you could probably put them on a chainsaw and still be able to quickly sight it in. ;)

    The idea behind this sight picture is you just simply put the dot on top of the line(dot the " i "), which also places the dot in the center of the "V" shape of the rear sight, giving you several different cues that you are on target.

    An important part of the overall design is the "V" shape of the rear sight. This "V" shape really reduces the possibility of covering the front sight completely with the rear thus "losing it." If you have ever picked up a strange firearm or ordered new sights and had to move the gun around in your grip until you finally saw both sights, that is what can get you killed in a life threatening situation. This "V" shape really reduces the occurrence of searching for your front sight, not to mention, the "BIG DOT" is freaking huge, so you would have to have the gun really off target to actually lose it.

    3rd: The "BIG DOT"
    It is just as advertised, a big dot. The idea here is to have a very large front sight in order to decrease acquisition time and allow for simpler targeting. Another benefit to having a very large front sight is for people with failing vision, such as our older shooters, or, worst case scenario, a person whose vision is being impaired due to an injury sustained during the fight. Think about this for a moment, if you cant see your sights clearly you can't, safely, take the shot.

    4th: Accuracy?
    So many people have written and theorized and argued that these sights are less accurate than more traditional sighting systems like the 3 dot sights. This may be true for some, but it is definitely not true for many. I was blown away with how accurate I could be with these sights. Even if this happens to be true for you, remember, these are defensive sights, not bullseye sights. If you can hit a torso sized target at up to 25 yards, they are doing exactly what they are meant to do. Besides, good luck convincing the judge you "had" to shoot a guy who was further than 25 yards away from you, yes there are potential scenarios when it might be required, but most of the time you can either run away, or close to a more accurate firing distance. Even if you happen to fall into this one in a bazillion situation, then do exactly what you would with a 3 dot, focus on horizontal alignment and instead of aiming with the center of the dot, use the top as described by the manufacturer for shooting at targets greater than 25 yards. Oh and guess what, horizontal alignment is a cinch with these, how many times have you ever 2nd guessed your 3 post sights because you couldn't tell whether the gap was equal on both sides of the front sight....?

    In my opinion, these sights are just as accurate as the factory 3 dots they replaced and much easier to aim instictively, so that means "more" accurate when it counts. If you want to shoot diamonds out of aces at 25+ yards, then you shouldn't be using defensive sights period.

    Overall opinion of the XS BIG DOT NIGHT SIGHTS: A+, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and hopefully I will never have to write a story about how they saved my life, but if the time comes, I'm confident they will.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  2. kyglockman


    Jul 27, 2010
    i love them sights! i have them on every glock i own!!

  3. samuse


    Jul 30, 2008
    South TX
    I tried the Big Dots. Not for me. IMO, if you really need sights to hit COM at 10 yards, you need more trigger time.

    The front sight is all the rage these days, but Big Dots are a little excessive.

    "Dotting the I" to aim the gun is (for me) very slow and inaccurate compared to a notch and post sight with a black, wide notch rear and a white/tritium or gold bead front.

    When I had Big Dots on my Glock, I shot poorly compared to notch and post sights. I would either pull the trigger on a bad sight picture because "I was seeing the front sight" or I wouldn't bother with trying to align that little bitty white spec on the rear sight, with the huge front sight because it took too long and I had places to go(cover).

    I tried the Big Dots on a Glock 19, 17 & 26 for about a year and came to the conclusion that they offer nothing for me.
  4. Maxwell


    Jul 13, 2000
    Princeton, NJ

    First, thank you for the review. As one of those older shooters (61 soon to be 62) I appreciate the Big Dot and have been putting off getting a set for my G17. If they work out for the G17 then I'd be adding them to my night stand 45ACP.

  5. sharkbait


    Mar 9, 2001
    Thanks for your time -- Excellent review
  6. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

    Mar 6, 2003
    Lynnwood, WA
    Great review, though I need not be convinced. XS Big Dots have been on every EDC concealed, SHTF firearm I have owne dthe past several years.... a G23, 2 X G27's and my current G30SF.
  7. zmarshall

    zmarshall Lost Hero

    Mar 11, 2010

    I have to admit, as a young shooter to whom shooting and aiming have both come very naturally, I was guilty of ignoring the importance of being able to easily see my sights should my vision start to get worse or become impaired.

    The idea just wasn't something I thought much about until this past summer when my father an I shot together for the first time in a couple years.

    My father joined the navy when he was 18 and just nearly avoided being sent into the tail end of the Vietnam war, lucky for him, we "won" just in time. Despite not actually going into battle, his unit went through all the training anyway and one thing that was commonplace was for soldiers to test their various skills in combat which included marksmanship tests. My father was rated as marksman with every firearm he shot, most of which he had never even fired before. Needless to say I have his genes to thank for my natural abilities.

    I remember the first time him and I ever shot together, I was blown away as I watched him bullseye targets with every shot, then came my turn, the first time I had ever fired a gun and, much to my surprise, I was able to fire almost as accurately as him. From this point forward the competition was underway and I strove to be as good as he was. This past summer my father came to visit and, as per tradition, we went to the shooting range to put our talents to the test. This time, however, the results were much more one sided, and after a few turns at the line my dad actually turned to me and said, "I just cant see the sights right."

    He then described how he wasn't able to focus on the 3 different planes and couldn't see the sights when focused on the target. He further explained how he couldn't see the gap between the 3 posts against the dark background of the black target and was therefore having a hard time with his horizontal alignment. That was the first moment I thought about the ease of use of a weapon's sighting system and started researching replacements for my 3 post sights right away.

    The XS BIG DOTS were the only sights that seemed to address all of the issues my father had mentioned, and then some. After placing my order I had them thrown onto my XD as it's stock sights were much crappier than my Glock's and impossible to remove myself. I fell in love the very first time I sighted them in and was convinced the first trip to the range that these sights were, in fact, no gimmick.

    If you have hesitations about getting them I ask only this, what do you have to lose, $100? Of course, the cost is always a potential lose when trying new products, however you stand to gain something you may have lost or may be losing, and that is your confidence in yourself to be able to put your gun on target and take the shot when it counts without hesitation or doubt.

    That, to me, is worth the risk, good luck and I hope you like them.
  8. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Great review, ZM!

    We tried these on Judy's G19, and between the three of us (wife-Judy, oldest son, and myself) I was the only one that started getting the hang of them.

    I got so I could center-core a target at 30-feet with them, but I found it awkward going between the XSBD sights and the more traditional sight pictures.

    Certainly, they do the job in a fast-fire scenario, where inside 30-feet you ignore the rear sight entirely and punch a fast three or four holes into the center-mass of a silhouette target. But this too, takes practice.

    Guest shooters invariably did better with the Trijicons, and really liked the Dawson Precision Fiber Optic sights on my G17...

    I ended up giving our XSBDs to an old friend who is heavily versed in firearms (he trained me), and he mounted them on his 1st Gen G17. His review of the sights was so, so; but he's also had decades of experience with more conventional sight configurations.

    In short, we all found the XS Big Dot sights wanting for target shooting. But I have no difficulty believing others will master them. Besides, target shooting is not the XS' claim to fame, is it?

    Here's what I had to say about XS Big Dot sights in my night sight review summary...

    XS Big Dot sights are high quality combat sights, designed for SHTF situations. Place that big white dot on center mass, and if your trigger control is good, you will hit your target, out to 30-feet or better. The night sight picture is pleasing and easily picked up. These are a specialty sight, and many will find them wanting for range use; conversely, others will master them for target use too. More than any sight I know of, people like them or they don't.


    Again, great review! :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  9. sharkbait


    Mar 9, 2001
    How much difference is their from the XS Big Dot and the Standard Dot?

    Is it harder to pick up in Day Light or Darkness ? It just seams everyone uses the Big Dot over the Standard.
  10. Mjames


    Mar 4, 2007
    Just installed them on my Glock 29. Have not tried them yet. Good review.
  11. Maxwell


    Jul 13, 2000
    Princeton, NJ

    First, I am jealous that you have your father still with you. Mine was born in 1894 and served in WW1, mounted artillery. I took care of him the last ten years. He was here with me till he was 98.

    Second, natural talent that both you and your father have is rare, must be nice! For me I have to try to 'get with the program' and as they say, how do you get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.

    As for the XD Big Sights, I'll give them a try.

    RayB, if I'm center mass at 30 feet I'll be happy.

  12. ctyshtr


    Jun 2, 2009
    Great review. I agree with all points made. I do not have very good eyes so the big dot is great for me. I shoot my Kahr PM9 in IDPA sometimes and it has the XS big Dots on it. I can hold my own in every way at those self defense distances even with such a small gun. Yes, the dot does cover the target but once you get used to them they are plenty accurate for the intended use. I have just ordered the XS sights for my AK and and 10-8, xs combo on my TRP. When i do jump on my first Glock ( yea... i know) i will be adorning her with the XS big dot system or the XS 10-8 combo.
  13. Olde School

    Olde School Olde School

    Jul 30, 2010
    Florida Treasure Coast
    Thank you for your review. I have just purchased the XSBD for my G-23. Being in my early 60's and losing some vision over the years I am looking forward to being able to pick up the front sight faster. If they perform as advertised I will try and get my department to allow me to replace the standard Glock night sights on my issued G-21SF with them. FDLE has our maximum qualification distance set at 25 yards and from what I have read and others have related these sights should allow accurate shooting out to this distance.
  14. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Couple of thoughts on the Big Dot sights. First, I'm a dyed in the wool, Jeff Cooper/Gunsite trained believer in the concept of the front sight. Only thing going through your mind in a defensive scenario should be front sight, front sight, front sight....

    Second...the thing I try to impress on people is that when you get in a high intensity situation like a life or death battle at arms length--your sense of hearing and sight changes! You begin to loose depth and color perception AND you get tunnel vision! Your hearing changes. These are all documented physiological changes that your body imparts to your organs when adrenalin is released among other things. I can tell you from having been in a few situations like this that this is correct.

    Like all combat training the only thing you have to fall back on at times like this is your training and muscle memory. If you have drawn and fired your gun with a flash sight picture a few thousand times you can be assured you will fall back to that when the SHTF.

    If you have to think about are lost. If you have to have time to adjust your sight picture you are likewise lost.

    To people who say you can't shoot tiny groups with these sights I say poppycock. I shoot highpower rifle at 600 yards and I can get my bullets to fly in a 10" circle at 600 yards with a post front sight on an M1A and the black target center is smaller (narrower) than the front sight on the rifle at that distance! In slow fire its simply a matter of concentrating on the front sight. ALL open sight shooting requires your CONCENTRATION on the front sight. Again, front sight, front sight front sight....

    I have the big dots on my G30 and I am very happy with them. I shot a 20 shot group with that gun last weekend at the farm at 15 yards that you could cover with a baseball... Not great shooting but certainly respectable for some offhand plinking.

    True, you might find other sights are better suited for target shooting. But for combat sights...I really appreciate that very BIG front sight....front sight...front sight....
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  15. zmarshall

    zmarshall Lost Hero

    Mar 11, 2010
    Big Bird:
    While I am lucky to not have any actual experience testing my own ability to perform in these situations I do follow what you are saying.

    When I first shot an XD, having owned a glock for a long time prior, it blew me away how easily I could draw the XD and have it come up right in line. When it came time to add night sights, the XS were my 1st choice. When I finally had them mounted I, again, was blown away by how fast I could align and fire accurately on target.

    Having 1000+ rounds on the XS big dots, I admit, I need to keep practicing to really lock in that muscle memory, but so far I love them.

    Target shooting.... lets use this example, at one of the ranges here, the general range is 100 yards to the bottom level bullet stop(the side of a mountain), the 2nd level is even further and above that is another that, they say, is about 200 yards. You setup your own paper on the bottom level, and on each higher level their are permanent metal targets. Every time we go, my step dad and I take a few minutes to see who can hit the top level metal target with our pistols 1st. I admit, it is a little easier with my G24, but that is a 5 inch gun that is also only 9mm, and I am still able to hit that target with my XD 40 4 inch using the big dots. It does take me several shots, watching for impact craters to compensate, but still, that in itself should demonstrate the usefulness of these sights for target shooting situations. And lets be serious, a pistol to 200 yards, come on, WAY outside its intended range.....

    On a side note, if you have a chance to try a similar experiment at your local range, be warned, the local guys shooting their long guns poorly will be upset that their misses are not the only craters anymore. they may even confront you saying you are messing them up.... I suggest the following, challenge them to a duel, your pistol vs their long gun at the farthest target... they hate that!!!! Muahahaha!

    Seriously a long gun shooting at 200 yards in a semi rested position... you shouldn't be missing that much, and if you are, I am certainly not the problem.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  16. Glockbuster


    Jun 30, 2005
    Middle America
    GREAT review zmarshall, thanks for the time taken.

    I had a set of Big Dots in a Glock 22 I used to own. Foolishly when time came to sell it I offered the buyer a choice between a dawson red front optic bomar style rear and these sights. The no-fool buyer elected the big dots and I was out of them with the gun. I upgraded to an STI for IPSC.

    But my point is, while shooting IPSC I look for the red fiber optic in close targets, and only use the rear sight for farther out targets. These Big Dots come so close to the same concept.

    You see, I just plain hate three dots, no matter what color combo you put them on. Besides they´ll confuse you in a stressful situation and wont have time to line them up. Big dots are the way to go.

    Oh and BTW, I soon ordered another set of big dots when I was able to replace my sold 22 with a 31 for carry. I also have a 32 and it too has the big dots.