Snub Training – XS Sights

June 22, 2009

I have had several occasions to see and handle XS Sights, in particular their “Big Dot” front sight and I will admit that at first I was a little underwhelmed.  The sight and sight picture were not in keeping with any sighting style I had shot with in the past. Even though the system offered some promise I couldn’t see how it anything substantial over a traditional sight picture.  Then I had a chance to work with several handguns fitted with them at Khyber Training’s annual 1-Inch to 100-Yard conference in Nevada.  On the live fire range there were multiple drills against variable sized targets at unknown distances and under lighting conditions that varied from dimming light to night.  In the low light the XS sights did everything I expected from night sights. The Big Dot front sight was easy to see, and easy to align on every target.  Hits were consistent at distances out to twenty feet.  The Big Dot made each shooting drill and test I could work up it a snap to perform.  But the biggest and most pleasant surprise came when a shooter offered to loan to me his J-frame sporting a Big Dot front sight and what XS Sights euphemistically refers to as an unauthorized modification.  In lieu of the their traditional V-style rear sight this J-frame sported a distinctive U-shaped rear channel cut into the rear of the top strap.  To align the snub the Big Dot is put on the target and the rear sight straddles under the Big Dot.  After five quick snap shots at various targets I had only a one word reaction. WOW! I found that the natural alignment of the Big Dot on the target and the U-channel was stunningly quick.  Were the shot-groups bulls-eye tight?  No, but I was not trying for bull’s eyes results.  Were the shot-groups gun-fight tight? Yes, in fact better than that. The shot-groups at the speed I was pushing the sight alignment were wonderfully smaller than I could have expected.  I did note that when shooting in the night and working with a preferred jaw-line style flashlight technique that I had to cant the snub slightly inboard to avoid casting a shadow into the U-cut channel, but the cant was so shallow it was almost instinctive.  By the time I had run out of ammunition they had to pry that snub out of my hand or more acutely pry that snub with those sights out.  I will definitely be applying the Big Dot XS sights and U-cut channel grove to several of my personal protection snubs and at least one of my teaching snubs.  For long range shooting the XS may have its limitations. The actual proof or disproof of that will have to wait for a detailed range test. But under stress-drills and force on force exercises, I think the XS Big Dot site advantages sell themselves and on a self-defense gun, this XS Sights can be a literal life saver.

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Snub Training – D & L Sights

June 18, 2009
D & L's J-frame sights

D & L's J-frame sights

D & L Sports, Inc offers a high profile front and rear sight replacement for J-frame snubs with pin-on-front sights such as Smith and Wesson Model 340 and 342. The D & L front sight is an oversized pin-on replacement item that mounts high above the usual height of J-frame front sights. Once pinned in place the sight can be custom machined to adjust for both windage and elevation in order to hit to point of aim. 

D & L J-frame sights - Close up

D & L J-frame sights - Close up

The rear sight is a one piece unit, and is machined from solid bar stock that also sits well above the usual rear sight grove height. Approximately ¼-inch of the snub’s original rear sight material is machined away to accept the D & L rear sight, which is then attached to the notched-out area at the rear of the snub, and solidly mounted in place via a set of three screws drilled and tapped into the snub’s top strap. Completed, the whole unit is solid, snag free, and offers a substantial advancement in sight picture. The sight is available for nearly all the Smith & Wesson J-frames with the notable exception of the various Model 38 style Bodyguards. 

D & L's J-frame night sights

D & L's J-frame night sights

For truly dedicated snub owners, the D & L sights can also be procured with set of tritium inserts in front, rear or both sights. The recommended procedure is to have D & L Sports fit your snub with a set of sights. Then confirm that the sights are shooting point of aim – point of impact with your preferred ammunition. Then after confirming that the gun and sights are shooting correctly to forward the gun to Trijicon who will install the night sight inserts.

It should be noted that the cost for machining a set of sights and the addition of night sight inserts is commensurate with the value of the lives you are expecting to protect, i.e. yours and you family. Is the cost high? No, not when you consider the cost of losing a fight against an armed attacker.  I have preached repeatedly that no one in the middle of a gunfight every praised himself for the savings he had achieved through the buying of a cheap gun, inexpensive ammo, a substandard holster and a complete lack of after market shooting aids.

Of special note is the news that D & L Sports have started to offer these exceptional sights for the Smith and Wesson K-, L-, N-, and X-frame revolvers though don’t expect to see that many X-frame snubs.  Unlike the J-frame sights that will be milled into the frame of the fixed sighted J-frames, these new  sights are designed to replace the adjustable sights on the Smith and Wesson K-,  L-, N-, and X-frame guns. The rear sight is a drop in piece and will replace the rear sight without any machining. As a result the factory front sight does not need to be removed or replaced.

I have been working on wearing down my local gunsmith as regards a trade on a used Smith and Wesson adjustable sighted Model 15. With the introduction of D & L Sports K-frame sight I may not have the will power to continue to haggle. I expect as soon as I put my hands on the Model 15 I will contact D & L Sports for a set of their rear sights followed by a trip to Trijicon. I can see it becoming my newest favorite self-defense revolvers.

For some time now I have been working on wearing down my local gunsmith as regards a trade on a used Smith and Wesson adjustable sighted Model 15. With the introduction of D & L Sports K-frame sight I may not have the will power to continue to haggle. I expect as soon as I put my hands on the Model 15 I will contact D & L Sports for a set of their rear sights followed by a trip to Trijicon. I can see it becoming one of my favorite range training and match revolvers.