XS Sights Takes Us On A Factory Tour

We have covered XS Sights‘ products here on TFB several times, never failing to be impressed with the level of attention, quality, and thought that goes into each sight. Not long ago I reviewed the Big Dot sights on the Sig P320 as well as on the Glock 43; you can read my review of XS Sights Big Dot here. When their marketing manager Zack reached out and offered us a tour of their facility, after I got the go ahead from Papa Phil, quickly set up a time to make it happen since they are only down the road from me.

We started our tour in the break room, the owners at XS have been feeding their employees snacks and providing drinks since day one of the company pre-dating any of the tech companies that now follow the same model. While the XS spread isn’t as impressive as what you might find on the Google campus, keep in mind they only have about 20 employees to keep happy and full. The break room while not as impressive as the rest of the facility is a clear indication as to how highly they value their employees. IMG_4089

We then moved onto the room where each set of sights gets a final check and is packaged by hand to ensure every order is accurate. With several million dollars of inventory on hand, XS can process orders rather quickly. IMG_4090

The bin of Glock 42/43 Express rear sights was something to behold. Zack made a quick guess at the value of the bin and placed it north of $100,000. Woah!IMG_4092

Quite quickly I learned that many of the staff members at XS are pretty serious about their bourbon. So serious that they had a batch of their very own birthday bourbon made for the 20th anniversary. These bottles were marked for the party later that night, nothing like good food, good company, and good booze to make a good night great!IMG_4094

I had to pause and marvel at the sheer number of small, well machined Glock front sights being prepared to have the dot inserted by hand. I had to grab a handful to see how a couple of grand feel slipping through my fingers because why the hell not? For those of you wondering, it felt pretty awesome. IMG_4098 IMG_4101

XS also has a pro shooter on staff that has a full reloading cave setup complete with TWO Dillion 1050 presses. I have to admit; I was pretty damned jealous of the setup. I can’t even seem to get my lonely 550 setup at home. Maybe one day. IMG_4100

They also had a whole rack of packages ready to go to firearms manufacturers that use their parts as OEM offerings. On that rack we found a box of 400 rear sights with a value of $42,000, I expect they will be using some shipping insurance on that package. IMG_4108 IMG_4109

It being a family business, you might imagine that the owners have their toys tucked all over the place. We walked out of the shipping room to find a random motorcycle parked in one of the warehouses. IMG_4110

To keep things fun and light, the XS crew had some airsoft shotguns out in the warehouse that is used for demonstrating product and I am sure the impromptu war now and again. Zack said that they milled the plastic to fit Big Dot sights to the plastic guns because train like you fight I guess. I still find it hilarious that there is a sight mounted on an airsoft gun that costs about as much as the gun itself. IMG_4112

Another cool fact about the company is that when they develop a sight for a new firearm they go out and buy one to make sure that the gun they fit the sights for is no different than what the consumer has. This has the added benefit of allowing their R&D guy to reference other guns at a moment’s notice. XS has really streamlined the process of developing new sights, some of the timelines that were shared with me in regards to total development time were astounding.

The smaller safe belongs to their competition shooter; the other three safes were jam packed with every modern firearm that you could imagine. IMG_4111IMG_4113

I even ran across a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 that they had fitted no less than three sets of sights to it. You can see that they have a set of Big Dot offset sights, a set of standard dot offsets, and flip up iron sightsIMG_4118

The R&D room was a bit messy, but if it works who am I to judge? As I mentioned earlier, the speed that they are able to churn out a design that is perfect is mind-numbingly fast. When Zack flipped the lights on he said: “It’s a bit messy, but we don’t ask a lot of questions.” Every time they give their engineer a task he hits it out of the park, no reason to mess with a winning model. IMG_4120

Poking around the R&D room, I found piled of gun parts, guns that were in various states of disassembly and more measuring tools than I knew existed. It was clear that I was in the lair of a mad scientist and should just drink in the organized chaos. IMG_4122

Walking back into the office section to meet the rest of the crew I spied an Instagram photo that Zack was setting up before I showed up at the XS campus. He said he had his marketing intern looking for a .50 BMG to finish the cartridge display off. IMG_4124

In yet another effort to keep everything in-house, they even have their own laser engraver on-site that does all the markings. So far the commitment to bring as many processes under their control while removing outside dependence was pretty impressive.  IMG_4128

We walked over to the manufacturing side of things and found an employee sand blasting each part to remove machine and buffing marks. Each one of these pieces after blasted will be anodized or blued depending on the material.IMG_4130 IMG_4131

Next stop on the tour was one of two buildings dedicated to machining the parts. Below is a bowl of standard dots that are individually milled from PVC plastic stock. Our tour guide said that these machines run 24 hours a day producing parts as fast as possible. The measuring equipment they had on hand was nothing short of impressive. Not for a second did I think that there was that much involved in making a set of sights, but I guess if you are committed to building the best sights you can, precision is the only way. IMG_4135 IMG_4136

In the QC room, I ran across the coolest paperweight that an employee could have on their desk if precision is literally their job function. IMG_4139

When we got into the room with the big machines, I was stunned. With 17 high-end milling machines running almost non-stop XS is turning out product as fast as they are shipping it out. I was tickled to see that the milling machines were made by Brother, the printer company. IMG_4147

I don’t recall what sight they were making at the time, but this is right from the milling machine before any finish work. I was impressed at how great it looked and made a remark that it looked good enough to blue and slap on a pistol. I was quickly told that there were still several steps to make sure that it is good enough to be put on a pistol or even have a finish applied. They are not joking about quality. IMG_4141

The commitment to quality became even more apparent when I came across a bin of the high-end armorer’s blocks that had a red marking compound applied to out of spec areas. I asked what was going to come of the rejected parts and was told that they were going to be recycled. I don’t know about you, but I would be quick to snatch one up for a killer paperweight! IMG_4145

Ever wonder how those add on rails that screw into the top of your receiver is made? XS sources extruded metal stock that is already in the shape of the rail so that they can cut down on machine time. All they need to do is remove a bit of material to ensure the proper dimensions and cut the slots. I walked away from the metal pile thinking about all of the things I could put a rail on. The possibilities.

XS said they get metal shipments at least bi-weekly but depending on what they are making at the time it can be as often as weekly. They also said that no matter what type of metal stock they needed, it is never more than a week out thanks to the solid supply chain they have built over 20 years of operation. IMG_4152

As I was concluding my tour, I walked across 350 finished armorers blocks ready for finishing. IMG_4153

After spending some time at the XS campus, it is easy to see why they have become a fixture in the shooting community. The company was built by the current owners’ late father Ed Pastusek, after his passing, his children stepped up and continued growing the XS brand. Kellie Brunn and Jon Pastusek, co-owners of XS Sights, spent some time talking with me about the future of the company as well as talking about non-work related things like family and such. I have to say; it isn’t often that you come across a family of that caliber.

Team XS is a clear indication of the values that Ed built into the company, and his children are carrying on. Cheers to XS for 20 years in the business, I imagine with the momentum they have spun up over the last year we will will see some pretty large moves from XS in the coming year.

You can learn more about XS Sight Systems and their product line over at their website HERE.


  • PeterK

    Very cool, thanks. Love seeing these tours.

  • tony

    Insane margin on these little tabs

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Those machines and the skill to run them aren’t cheap.

  • ruinator

    Great write up. After reading it I think my Glock needs upgrading

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Really cool setup. Do they install the tritium in house or have to send the sights to trijicon for that step?

    It’s amazing how much dollar value can sit in a small bin!

    Is there a way to buy some of their bourbon?

    • In house

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      The tritium vials are installed off site by a contractor due to federal law as I understand it. I am not sure who does it though, the sights I own have Trijicon printed on them, maybe you are correct in that assumption.

      As far as their bourbon, I don’t think so. I am sure they will be presented to employees and friends of the company and the remainder will end up in the stomachs of the XS Team, they do like their booze.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        I ventured into the Tritium world a couple years ago and Trijicon/Tool Tech and Meprolight were the only one licensed to do the install. It seems that hasn’t changed. The vials are made of radio active material.

  • MrApple

    One of my very first sets of XS Big Dots (for a Glock 26) had the rear tritium sight die on me in the first month. And NO I didn’t abuse it or bang it up. I contacted XS Sight Systems via email and they had a replacement sent to me super fast. That being said I am happy with the sight, I have bought more since then, and plan on buying more in the future.

  • Paul White

    are they hiring?!

  • Christian Green

    and they train.
    I met Jon this year while he was taking force on force.
    great folks… excellent product

  • Tom1003

    Nice operation, if they are machining plastic sight inserts they should check into injection molding them. Much more efficient. Lego blocks are not machined, they are molded, as should plastic site inserts be. Each mold, if properly made of heat treated tool steel could produce 1 million plastic sight inserts. Even cheaper aluminum molds could be good for 10k mold cycles. If it was a 10 cavity mold it could make 100k sight inserts. Small injection mold machines are not that expensive. I love the techy stuff, if this operation was in my town, I’d probably be working there.

  • CavScout

    So when you buy sights from them, you’re paying for them to drink fatty sodie pops? ‘Care’ about their employees my ass. Looks like they’re trying to give them diabetes.

    • CavScout

      And bourbon…