For updates on this article and similar articles, visit our other blog at http://www.the22man.com/2016/05/xs-sight-systems-visit-part-2-handgun-sights/
Previously I wrote about my visit to XS Sights manufacturing facility in Fort Worth Texas. That article was focused on their business. This one is focused on what has made them famous, their handgun sights.
I want to start this article with a statement; anyone who has taken handgun training should have heard “find the front sight!” or something close to that. While this article is not about how to shoot, you must have your sights on target before you squeeze a round off, and finding the sights quickly under the stress of a real world firefight or a competition is a lot harder than you think.
I have spent years practicing shooting at ranges, I take my time, line up the sights, do a controlled trigger squeeze and most of the time the bullet goes right where I want it to. In 2000 I started shooting competition and in 2001 taking actual training. When time counts either to save your life or win the tournament, finding that darn small front sight is not easy. The XS Big Dot makes the process a whole lot faster.
The sight portion of the business was founded in 1996 as Ashley Research and Development, they have gone through several name changes. In 1999 Ed became sole owner of the sight part of the business and in late 2002 they settled on XS Sight Systems as their final name.
Over the years, since I first heard of them, the XS Sight (and its various names) has been trash talked over and over, yet I never knew why. As a matter of fact it almost seemed to be the same wording over and over, “Alignment is too hard”, “the front sight covers the target” and other such nonsense. These issues reached a peak between 2005 and 2010 for me. I finally started asking “why” and then when I came across someone using them I asked to take a look. I never saw any reason to dislike the sights. My only concern what how to alight for shots over 50 yards where handgun rounds are not always “straight on” and covering a target with the sight meant losing sight of the target, a major no-no when it comes to shooting (always know your target and what is beyond).
I brought these direct criticisms and statements up to Stephanie. Unlike many writers who suck up to the manufactures they write about (so they don’t lose advertising dollars), I can and do go for the hard questions, after all, I don’t have advertisers (though, I am willing to accept them for products I believe in and use). According to Stephanie, the “issues” brought up over the last 18 years are all a result of a lack of education and training. They have been working overtime the last 8 years on overcoming the negative attitude towards their products by attending trade shows, being at various shooting events and taking the time to explain and let industry leaders actually get their hands on the products and use them.
“So, Stephanie, how do I properly use the sights?” I asked, “Just make a lollipop”, she replied. “No more lining up 3 dots horizontally” she continued. “You know I never thought of that” I replied, just last month (February 2014), I was shooting a 3 Gun event and misaligned the 3 dots. I put my front sight to the right of my two rear sights. Sometimes shooting fast and under stress causes things like this to happen. It cost me time in the shoot but in real life it would have meant missing my attackers and sending bullets somewhere I never intended. When I told about this happening, she replied that to overcome this some manufacturers have used different color dots, Green, Yellow, Red and Orange. I asked why they did not do this. “Simple” she answered, “Green is right in the middle of the color spectrum and easiest and quickest for your eyes to pick up, by using the lollipop method, you don’t need different colors.”
Image from XSSight.com
These days XS Sights are not only used by but endorse by shooter, writers, instructors and leaders such as Richard Mann, Josh Lentz (he has won world championships using XS Sights), my friend Paul Markel (yes, I am name dropping, get over it), Nikki Turpeaux, Tom Gresham, Ed Head, Bill Murphy (Owner of SureFire Institute, not the other guy) and dozens if not hundreds more.
Next I asked how they made their sights “bigger” than their competition, she revealed their secret, white PVC. Yes, they have the tritium installed inside small but larger than their competitions pieces of white PVC. Before you start bitching about the fragility of PVS, remember, it is inside an iron sight for protection from the weather.
The manufacturing process, the metals they use (1144 stress proof steel) and the coating aka “paint” are all of the highest quality AMERICAN products.
This brought me to my next series of questions about installation. XS recommend keeping your money local and using a qualified and experienced gunsmith, apparently 50% of the individuals who attempt to install their own sights break the tritium insert making the sight useless.
Several manufacturers offer XS Sights preinstalled or aftermarket installation. Kahr and North American Arms are two that I know of.
Finally, you can send your slide into the factory and they will install them for you. For the sake of love, don’t just mail them a slide and note, yes that has happened, heck Stephanie said that at least once a month they receive just a slide, no note, no payment. Really people?
She asks that you call or better yet email them, get pricing, find out how long of a wait they have and then mail in the slide. Notice I said slide, don’t mail in the entire gun.
You should visit their informational web site at www.XS-Info.com to learn more.
Until we meet again, have a great sight picture and a virus free week!