I wish he had read some posts from me before he bought them. 🙂 I tried them. I replaced them. Todd Louis Green agrees. Here’s a report of a real-life situation where XS Sights could present a problem. It’s a problem because of long distance, and John Farnam talks long distance shooting.
I bought them because I was hoping the big dot front sight would be usable should I lose my glasses. Didn’t work for my eyesight. While the big dot certainly draws the eye, the resulting sight picture is very coarse. Sure if your need to shoot fast (self-defense in this case, we’re not dangerous game hunting in Africa, which is where this sort of sight came from) these sights can help, especially if you fall within that typical range for self-defense shooting, under 5 yards. But since we understand that if you are in a self-defense situation, you are in a situation not of your choosing, which means you didn’t get to choose the distance you’d need to shoot at. Can you make that 25 yard shot? Your skill level is one thing, and you can improve on that with practice. But your choice of equipment is another, and if your equipment makes it difficult for you to get a precise, longer-distance shot, well… you can improve upon that too by buying different equipment.
I remember having the XS Sights on my carry gun, sitting in a Jason’s Deli having lunch with Daughter. We sat about as far as you could get from the cash register, and I remember thinking to myself if I had to take a shot from here, there’s no way I could make it, not with these XS Sights. You just can’t get a precise enough sight picture.
It’s not even distance, it’s also precision. I found it extremely difficult even at short distances to shoot tight groups exactly where I wanted on the target. There’s just not enough crisp feedback from the sight picture to do so. Why might you need to shoot a precision shot? Let’s take everyone’s favorite example: the hostage shot, where some dude is holding your loved one hostage and you need to place one right between the scumbag’s eyes. Can you do that with these sights?
I’ve seen some people in our classes with the XS Sights and they always have a difficult time with them. Try them on a different gun with better sights, and immediately their performance improves. I’ve only seen one guy in classes that has done reasonably well with the XS Sights, but you can tell it’s still not as good as it could be with better sights.
Here’s something to think about. If these sights are so awesome, why isn’t everyone using them? Top action pistol competitors are people who need to shoot very fast and very accurately. Why aren’t these sights being used by the top IPSC/USPSA competitors?
Let’s look at it from another angle. The people shooting the fastest and most accurate are the top IPSC/USPSA folk, so what are they using to allow them to be so fast and so accurate? They’re using setups like from Dawson Precision, with a 0.100″ front with a fiber insert or black, and a plain black rear with a 0.125″ notch. The red fiber is enough to draw your eye (useful in low-light too), the plain black keeps the sight picture uncluttered, the narrow front sight is enough to see and minimizes target coverage, the wider rear notch allows for more light-space around the front post so your eyes receive better visual feedback about having the post centered in the notch.
So if you really want to shoot fast and accurate, at targets of any size or distance, look at what the people who are shooting that way are using — use what they use, and it’s not XS Sights.
If XS Sights work best for your eyes and situation, then by all means use them. I would ask you to consider your point of reference. If you are going from factory sights to XS Sights, no question things will be better because it’s rare to get good sights from the factory. However before you settle on XS Sights, keep surveying what’s out there. Try a setup like I mention above. I’ve yet to see that setup, or minor variants of it, be anything less than top performing. And I’ve yet to hear of someone going from a setup like that back to XS Sights, saying the XS were somehow superior.