Night sights are almost exclusively associated with handguns. Sure, you’ll likely have a pistol within grasp before you have an opportunity to get to your “truck gun,” but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the shotgun or rifle that you keep in case things get serious. When engaging a target with a long gun it typically happens at extended distances, so point shooting is out. What I’m getting at is that you need to be able to build some sort of sight picture, and to do that, you’re gonna need to be able to see those sights to put lead on target.
Our review of XS sights for handguns got plenty of attention and honestly, I really dug what they did for my favorite defensive pistols. With that, I decided to reach out to them yet again and dress up the guns that I keep around for louder bumps in the night, and maybe even to address those four-legged targets that are coincidently extremely delicious.
I started by turning my attention to my shotguns. XS makes the same Big Dot front sight that they make for many different handguns for this platform as well. These can be mounted onto a plain barrel—or one that’s ribbed for your shooting pleasure. I ordered one of each and started my review by installing the Big Dot on my plain barreled shotgun, which was stupid easy. The tritium sight that comes with the kit follows the 12-gauge contour, allowing it to self-center and automatically align during installation. To install it all you have to do is epoxy it over the factory bead, and if you lost that or it is too small, the kit includes a replacement that just screws into the factory location. XS has seemed to have thought of everything—until you reach for the epoxy and realize that it isn’t included. As a gun writer and a general handy dude, I have plenty of this stuff lying around. However, they lost a few points by not including it, which was surprising because they nearly always include Loctite or Vibra-tite if they think you even have a remote possibility of needing it.
Generally, I don’t like anything gun-related that relies on epoxy but the sight held on during out entire 200-round torture test and didn’t fall off when it cooled, which is usually when these things let go. It also pays to mention that I clamped them lightly for 24 hours before hitting the range, which goes a long way whenever you are working with any adhesive. Having a brass bead screwed in under them also reduced my pucker factor a bit, as you’d still have something in place should you inadvertently knock off your night sight.
While most of us will never use our night sights in a defensive situation (God willing), it’s almost a guarantee that we will in the woods. If your hunting rig isn’t set up for low light then you aren’t prepared for the most critter-rich times of the day. For that reason, I was interested in putting one of these on my Mossberg 500 multi-purpose shotgun, which incidentally sports a ribbed barrel. The installation process was identical except that the sight has a flat base. This time I used the included XS brass bead because mine had a plastic fixture on it that was just too big to fit inside of the Tritium replacement. A pair of pliers made short work of it, and in minutes I was using the same batch of epoxy I mixed to set the new sight in place. I used the rib lines to ensure that I had it on straight, set the clamp, and left it alone so it would set properly. A few mornings later I found myself smashing clays about 45 minutes before sunrise, making me plenty confident that I would be able to put that same bead on a larger “target” if I ever needed to.
Of course, not all installs include epoxy. If you have a Picatinny rail at your disposal, the flip-up sights are the way to go. For my testing, I also requested a set of XS’ CSAT/Tritium sights for my 7.62 x 39 AR-15. I was very impressed by not only their quality but their overall functionality on this style of rifle. Installation was as simple as screwing on the front and the rear and flipping them both up.
I liked how they co-witnessed with my Bushnell Advance Reflex optic right out of the box, and gave me a few different aiming methods. The first method is to use the top portion of the rear sight which houses a notch to impact at defensive distances. Once that was set, I was just about centered at 100 yards, leaving me two different zeros for two very different tasks.
While the 7-yard zero provided me a nearly instantaneous sight picture for defensive purposes, the 100-yard zero is the classic setup for whitetail deer. Going with the 7.62×39 caliber left me with a rifle that I could defend my home with, and put meat on the table without having to re-zero in-between seasons.
At the end of my evaluation, I was thoroughly impressed with XS’ line of long gun sights. With them, I was able to take old favorites and give them a much-needed facelift by extending the usable hours in which I can field them. If you haven’t tried a set of XS sights you don’t know what you’re missing (literally). Getting on target in any light condition is critical, and you can almost bank on it being anything less than optimal. Putting a pair on your long gun builds a bit of familiarity with the platform and more importantly the sight picture and anytime you can consolidate your gear list you increase your muscle memory. For more info visit XSsights.com