Monday, March 7, 2011

XS Big Dots

When I first learned about XS Big Dot sights, what I liked the most about them was the fact that they’re nothing new and fancy. Express sights have been used in dangerous game rifles for over a century. A “V” rear notch and front round bead, usually gold, was the best sight for hunting fast moving dangerous game. Their intended purpose isn’t fine accuracy, but quick shots at close range against tigers, elephants or charging water buffalos. Since bad guys can be considered pretty dangerous and fast, and the encounters occur at close range, in theory this all makes a lot of sense. There was a little inconvenience though. The tried and true Patridge type sight, with its square rear notch and front post has been ruling the market for almost as long in the handgun world. The reason for this is simple, the Patridge type sight is just more accurate. Yes you can shoot a popper at 100 yards with your XS Big Dots, but at the end of the day you just can’t squeeze as much accuracy out of the system. Yet self defense shooting is often fast, and you need sights that are made for quick target acquisition with an emphasis on the front sight. 

If you’re already good with your standard sights, making the change will be difficult, honestly, it may not make sense at all for you. In spite of these doubts I went for it and installed XS Big Dots on my Glock 31. The installation is very simple and it makes it easier knowing you can uninstall them just as quick. Small piece of advice: Before installing, mark with a pencil the exact center of preexisting front and rear sights. Do the same with the new XS Big Dots you’re about to install. This makes precise installation much easier and all you have to do is make the marks match. Keep in mind that a +-mm will ruin your accuracy.
After installation, I went to the range with a few boxes of ammo. The first couple hundred rounds where disastrous. Of course I hit the center at 7 yards, but head shots at 20 yards were a different story. What the heck had I done to my gun? I can see how someone that aren’t very picky may not be that concerned, but I had been shooting more than often lately and was actually getting pretty good at it, keeping shots in the same ragged hole at 7 yards in the center of the target.
“These are sights for fighting, not target shooting” I was told. Yes dude, but I kind of like hitting what I’m aiming at, and while at contact or very close range you don’t aim much, it doesn’t make much difference what sights you have, now does it? Also, I kept thinking of the hostage shots we practice sometimes, where you have an couple inches worth of bad guy to shot.
Little by little I got better with them. I’m not as good as I am with the standard Glock sights but I’m getting better. Last Friday I used them for some Action Shooting stages where you have to draw, run, reload, shoot as quick as possible, and I did feel the front XS big dot sight was acquired faster than regular ones.
The advantages of the XS Big Dots are fast target acquisition. The tritium inserts are very visible in low light situations. Another advantage is that they are made of steel, very solid, and the rear sight is square enough to be used in single handed reloading, something the fancy aerodynamic sights seem to forget and are not capable of doing. I never understood why manufacturers ignore this issue.
The disadvantage? Not as accurate as Patridge style sights when you need more precise, fine shooting. Which one is better for defense? Id say that all things considered, in most cases you’ll need that fast shot on target rather than a fine, highly accurate shot. That’s the logic I used myself when I chose to buy and install them.
Still experimenting with the XS Big Dots. Some people like them, others don’t, but I think they’re worth trying out to see if they work for your. After a few more months I’ll write a bit more about them, once I have more experience.
Take care folks and good luck!



Anonymous said...

"Snap" shooting is a term used by an acquaintance who has a great deal of experience with the technique. He claims and is a lousy shot, yet in self defense situations he apparently has had enough success to survive several tours. He does not care about tight groups and is concerned with sights that are simply close enough. The weapon's reliability is his biggest concern, not it's accuracy.

In the Clint Eastwood movie, The Unforgiven, the reporter in the story asked Eastwood's character, how when faced with superior numbers in a gun fight did he know who to shoot first. Eastwood answer was that he had 'always been lucky that way". I suspect those that have been "lucky" in real life gunfights have more going for them than luck. That said, Good Luck! a

Don Williams said...

1) Ferfal, off topic but some info I thought you would find of interest:

US Great Plains agriculture --which feeds the USA and much of the world -- may be unsustainable in the coming decades due to rapidly falling aquifers and snow melt.

2) Most people don't realize that the Dust Bowl was overcome by improved pumps and by drilling wells deep into the Ogallala Aquifer.

This aquifer, which does not replenish itself because it is in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains, has been falling and farms in Texas --that lie on its more shallow southern end -- are dying. The US Dept of Agriculture
expert who monitors the aquifer gives it 60 years.


3) In the Southwestern part of the USA, Los Angeles and southern California depend upon snowmelt from the Sierra Mountains --which is projected to decline by 25 percent in the next 40 years due to global warming. The Colorado River is already overused and is projected to decline from the same effect.

One thing that may help is if California can construct large reservoirs to capture more frequent rain and release it slowly over the dry summer months -- the job that is presently done by the Sierra snowpack.


4) How much do survivalists really know about the natural resources and manmade systems that sustain us? Is our civilization a 15 year old car --leaking oil, spewing coolant and with tires likely to blow out at any time?

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks FerFal.

Deen-425 said...

One thing to add is that for slightly older shooters like me, the Big Dot is a whole lot easier to pick up than any other sight I have used. I have shot SIGs for years and prefer the bar-dot over other systems.

When my wife tried them on my pistol, her first reaction was, "I can see them!" All my "working guns" now have them.

Keep practicing. You'll figure them out soon.


David said...

The big dot X-S front sight is so visible that if you're focusing on your target (the person presumably trying to kill you) then your subconscious may let you line up your gun better than would otherwise be the case.

At night, the Meprolight sights are brighter and somewhat more visible even in low light where your target is clear but the gun is shrouded in shadow.

The shallow V of the X-S rear sight is, in my opinion, awful. Precise shooting with it was impossible for me. I swapped a regular notch sight back in and the combination is a compromise between the "express" sight and the more precise Partridge, and it's the best for me and my eyes if using the Big Dot.

In general, however, my favorite sights remain Meprolight tru-dot. I would never use anything else on a Glock (neither Novak nor Heine make the grade either). They're brightest, steel, and sized just right.

Pitt said...

I think I'm going with the Big Dots on my carry gun (Ruger SR9) and on all my fighting pistols, just because my eyes are getting old and I need all the help I can get.

If I'm taking a hostage shot, I hope its at less than 7yds.