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Honest Review: XS Sights R3D 2.0 Gun Sights



Empowering the GOOD GUY to be more prepared, confident, and self-reliant with functional weapon upgrades.

Since XS Sights was founded in 1996, it has built a reputation of quality American-made products that showcase innovative solutions. They originally turned heads with their Express (dot-the-i) system of sights. Revolutionary at the time, when aimed, the large front dot would rest in the narrow V-shaped notch at the rear. Instead of rear dots, XS used a vertical line at the base of the V notch. The front sight would rest above the line, essentially looking like the lower case letter “I.” From humble beginnings, XS Sights has become one of the premier night-sight manufacturers in the world!

The XS team says they are “gun nuts who love American manufacturing, things that glow, and new technology.” Part of that XS culture is realizing that not every customer’s needs or preferences are the same. The Express style of sights are immeasurably fantastic, but some XS Sights customers requested a more traditional style. What followed was the R3D series of sights, which featured three dots with a traditional square notched rear sight picture.

What makes an R3D sight?

The R3D series of sights features three Tritium dots, one in the front with two at the rear. The front has a green or orange high-visibility ring around the front tritium vial. That high-contrast front sight basically acts like a magnet that draws your eyes in to quickly pick up while shooting. One cool trick about the high visibility rigs is that they are photoluminescent. This means that they absorb ambient light and will also glow!

The front tritium vial of the R3D is slightly bigger than the rear dots, the theory being that XS wants the shooter to pick up the front sight as quickly as possible. The R3D sights are machined from steel that makes them practically indestructible. This comes in handy since the rear sights are designed with a flat faced front that can be used as a lever to manipulate the slide by hooking it on stuff.

People loved the original R3D, but instead of giving customers what they wanted in the R3D sights and calling it a day, XS continued to develop a better product for those customers who needed just a little bit more.

Enter the R3D 2.0

With the R3D 2.0, XS kept everything that makes the original R3D sights great but just further refined the design. Originally XS used a black oxide finish for the sights that offered a great black non-reflective coating. Black oxide is durable and corrosion resistant, but also needs to be maintained by oiling to prevent rust. The R3D 2.0 sights are nearly rust-proof, thanks to a nitriding coating. Nitriding—sometimes called Tenifer, meloniting, Nitro carbonizing, etc.—is a chemical hardening of the steel. Most famously used on Glock slides, nitride parts are damn near rust proof as long as you use reason.

Moving on to the rear sight, we see two weeks in the design as far as sight picture. Users had requested that the rear sight tritium vials be larger. With the 2.0 R3D, the rear sight dots are now the same size as the front. The next improvement comes in the form of serrations to the rear face of the rear sight. These serrations help cut glare while shooting in direct sunlight. While the originals were not bad, since they had an angled cut to reduce glare, the 2.0’s just refine the overall design, giving you that little bit of extra crispness.

Nerding Out

As a gunsmith, this is where I am going to nerd out about the choices XS implemented on the 2.0 to make installs easier. The 2.0 was meant to be user installable—yes, I know that’s fewer paying customers for me, but in all honesty it ends up being a better experience for the end user. Something as simple as a larger lead in makes all the difference in the world. A “lead in” is an angled cut on the sight that is slightly undersized compared to the dovetail. This “lead in” allows the sight to push into the dovetail enough that it gives the sight a good start into the dovetail.

The next improvement comes in the form of a crush zone cut for the rear sight. Usually most sights are friction-fit into a dovetail, and some sight companies account for tolerances by making all of their sights oversized for the dovetails. Sometimes they fit nicely and other times they need to be fit for the specific dovetail. With the 2.0’s crush zone, the sight can be sized appropriately to compensate for manufacturing tolerance. If you install a 2.0 sight on a tight dovetail, the sight will squeeze together slightly to still fit without gunsmith fitting.

All XS sights include a tube of red thread locker that I always recommend using. Essentially, the thread locker acts as a lube trying to push the sight in the tight dovetail. Second, it helps hold the sight in the dovetail when it dries, making sure your sights will not move even under harsh usage. Not using red thread locker does not mean the installation is permanent. The sights will still be removable if you want. My warning is to not use it directly on small set screws though, it will make it hard to remove those.

Right now, XS Sights is running a huge sale with up to 35% off on some of their sights. Some of these prices are so low that it is a no brainer. If you have not upgraded your pistol to high-visibility night sights what are you waiting for? Good sights from a quality company like XS sights mean you are buying a 12-year investment in your personal protection, giving you an edge! For this mega sale XS Sights has some of the Gen 1 R3D sights for $68.24! Click here to take advantage … I sure did.

—James the “XDMAN” Nicholas, Mr. UnPewFessional Himself!

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