XS Big Dots – a differing opinion

Dr. House writes about his experience with XS Big Dot sights.

He writes a lot on the topic, so you’ll just have to click through to read it.

Note: I respect the good doctor a great deal. I just don’t totally agree with him in this case. But that’s how life can be sometimes — and we’ll still be friends tomorrow. 🙂

I tried the XS Big Dots some time ago. They’re fast, they’re for fighting! I wanted to look into them because I wear corrective lenses and figured if I didn’t have my lenses on for some reason, could I still find a front sight and do my business? Well, the Big Dots didn’t help any in that regard. But I also found in my use of them a lot of difficulty in making accurate hits. Oh sure, I could get in the ballpark, but as distances increased and/or targets got smaller, it gets really difficult with those sights. What exactly do you line up?

They are big.

They are coarse.

I recall sitting in a restaurant one day with Daughter, we were far away from the line and cashiers, and I thought to myself: if I had to make a shot from here could I do it? The answer was “no”, because these sights just would not allow it. Oh sure, I’ve seen videos of people making “hits” at 100 yards, but just how accurate are those hits? A steel popper still rings if you hit it in the “toe”.

Even Dr. House alludes to this:

It also depends on the shooter, and which, “part,” of the dot you are using (meaning, “dot,” centered in the notch, the center of the, “dot,” or tritium vial bottomed out in the notch, etc).

That seems… complicated. When fur is flying, can I spend so much time trying to sift through such minutia?

Sure they can be “good enough for fighting” if you look at how most gunfights are within a car length (0-5 yards). But the reality is at those distances, you really don’t even need sights! Indexing off the frame/slide can be generally effective enough. Where sights start to become more important is at 7+ yards, and that’s where the Big Dots start to be more hindrance than help.

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

First, shoot some solid drills like the updated FBI Qualification, the Rangemaster Level 5 Qual, or other such tests. Something that requires fast, accurate hits, at distances from 3 to 25 yards, to relatively small targets. Shoot these with whatever sights you have now.

Then install some Big Dots, spend a little time getting used to them, then shoot the tests again. Compare your performance.

Then maybe even try getting other types of sights. My personal preference is a 0.100″ wide front sight with a red fiber optic insert, and a plain black (or maybe serrated black) rear sight with a 0.125″ wide notch. I get mine from Dawson Precision. Try shooting the drills. See how things do.

Try others, like from Warren Tactical, Heine, 10-8 Performance.

Spend time with whatever sights you choose. Make an honest assessment. You want things that will improve your performance, and that won’t fail under pressure.

Here’s where Dr. House and I mostly agree:

So pick what works for you. Get sights that you can see, and shoot to the point of aim and point of impact of your chosen practice and carry loading. Then worry about something else! It’s really easy to get wrapped up and concerned about the gear, but the gear is actually the LAST thing you need to worry about. In 99% of cases, most gear will do, if YOU will do.

I say “mostly” because I think it’s worthwhile to spend the time to research and try things out. Equipment DOES matter and it can help OR hinder your performance. So it is worthwhile to find gear that is solid, proven, reliable, and can enhance your performance.

But then yeah, once you get it figured out? Stop dwelling upon it. Move on to more important topics because gear is the least important thing.

8 thoughts on “XS Big Dots – a differing opinion

  1. I think we agree more than we disagree on this!

    Don’t forget the part when I wrote: “Sights are like shoes, underwear and yes, even politicians…what I like and prefer, might not be your cup of tea at all. In the gun industry, there is a big push to say, “THIS,” is what you need. Whether it’s sights, a holster, belts, shooting glasses, ear protection, or any myriad of other equipment pieces. But everyone is a different size and shape, and has different abilities. So no, “one thing,” is going to work for everyone, all the time.”

    • Actually you’re right, but agreement doesn’t generate click-through traffic. 😉

      You are right on that last part. Still, I’ve just not found XS sights really working well for folks. Didn’t work well for me, and people we’ve seen in class with them end up hating them by the end of whatever class they take because they finally have to run under pressure, under time, needing higher degrees of accuracy, at distances, and it just doesn’t work out. But who knows… someone may yet still prove me wrong.

      As well, while there is certainly merit to “what works for you”, there’s still some sembalance of “absolutes” out there. I mean, The Food Babe might “work” for someone, but that doesn’t mean she’s not full of shit. 🙂 I’ve found that a good way to start down the road to success is to look at what other successful people have done, used, etc.. Granted that may not work for you, but we aren’t all precious snowflakes — we’re generally the same sort of thing. Thus if you see 90%+ of successful people are shooting X gun with Y type of sights, well… chances are pretty good if you pick X gun with Y sights, you’ve got a pretty good chance of picking a winning combination. Yes again it may not be for you, but as far as playing the odds, it’s a pretty good chance.

  2. as usual, going off-topic to some degree or other. [g]

    i came across some intriguing sights yesterday and wanted yours and others’ opinions if they have any experience with them, but i think they’re brand new. here’s the link:


    the main reason(s) i’m considering them is that the only ‘iron’ sights i’ve very been able to use were the peep/post sights on the original m16. i still make sure i have the equivalent buis units on any of my ar’s to this day.

    these are the first ‘peep’ sights i’ve seen for pistol and the tritium and day-glo just seem like bonus bennies. i’ve read some reviews and watched some videos and the opinions are mixed–i suspect it depends on how bad you think regular sights are or how bad your eyes are. also, even after all that i’m having a tough time imagining how wide the peep is and how easy it is to pick up the post. also, there’s the issue of holstering if the post is too high. i do strongly suspect it’s not going to meet many folks’ criteria for accuracy and i want them for visibility and quick pick-up and not for accuracy over combat distances.


    • I don’t like.

      I will say, it does play on the whole peep sight notion and there’s something to that, sure.

      I don’t like the “outside” dots on the rear sight — why? I don’t see anything gained, but I do see it making the sight picture really busy. If I cover them up (in the picture), it’s not too bad a sight picture.

      It also plays to the notion of superimposing the front sight dot over the target, which isn’t necessarily bad, but eventually you’re going to lose something as distances increase. These may not play well for longer distances then, but if that’s the case, why bother?

      Best I can say is “try them”. I don’t think they really offer a whole lot — if it was such a good idea, why isn’t it more popular? It’s not like peep sights are anything new. But again, if it does end up working out for your eyes and you can see a measurable improvement in your performance, then ok.

      • i was at ye olde gunner shoppe today and asked their opinion on the dead ringer sites i asked about. they said they’d sold over a dozen sets and not one buyer was entirely happy with them.

        but the pistol i was going to mount them on happened to come with much better sights than i was expecting. they were just bog standard 2-dot rear, 1-dot front and only for daytime use, but i’ve seen much worse. after buying night sights for some of my pistols, i’ve nearly come to the conclusion that a flashlight is a much better way to go. one of my hk’s has luminescent sights and although i scoffed at the idea (i’m a tritium snob, i guess [g] ) at first, i’m warming up to them and with the flashlight method you’re always going to be able to charge them. /guy

        • I can’t say I’m surprised to hear that.

          And yeah, night sights really don’t gain you much. If you have enough light to identify your target, you have enough light to see your sights. If you don’t have enough light to identify the target, you don’t have enough light to see your sights — and you shouldn’t be shooting. If you don’t have enough light, a flashlight does you far more utility.

  3. oh, got distracted and forgot to mention i demo’d a pair of the big dots at the local gun emporium and wasn’t impressed. i didn’t actually fire using them though–i could just tell they weren’t that much better than what i was using. /guy

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