Iron sights for pistols are probably one of the most prevalent frequent upgrades seen within the firearms market. Stock sights are often just fine for range work and even precise shooting in some cases, but aftermarket options like the ones from XS Sights can often offer the end-user more flexibility when it comes to effectiveness during all hours of the day. This is why night sights are often selected by concealed carriers as their standard iron sights. Night sights most commonly use tritium vials embedded within the front and rear sights (sometimes just the front) in order to give the shooter a standard notch and post sight picture during the day, and a three-dot sight picture in low light shooting conditions. XS Sights R3D (Radio Active Material 3-Dot) night sights have recently been introduced to two new platforms – the H&K VP9 OR CZ P-10. Today we’ll be taking a look at both offerings to see what they can offer shooters who own either platform.
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TFB Review: XS Sights R3D Night Sights – Does the Glow Dot Work?
- Tritium powered front sight
- Choice of tritium or non-tritium rear
- High-contrast colored front sight
- Glow dot absorbs ambient light and glows in low light
- Rear sight overhang reduces glare
- Anti-reflective rear tritium lens
- Rear sight ledge for one-handed slide manipulations
- Durable CNC machined steel
- 10 Year Warranty
- 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
- Price for R3D Suppressor Height Sights for the H&K VP9 OR – $143.00
- Price for R3D Standard Height Sights for the CZ P-10 OR – $116.00
R3D Suppressor Height/RMR Compatible Sights
Since sights that are used on guns for concealed carry need to be pretty universal in their usefulness, having a good daytime-oriented design should be the primary concern when looking at night sights. The H&K VP9 OR pistol that I received was the model that normally doesn’t come with H&K’s own selection of night sights. The pistol came equipped with XS Sight’s R3D Suppressor/RMR height sights so I decided to mount two different optics on the pistol and test them that way.
I topped off the H&P VP9 OR with a dual illumination RMR with an amber dot and an Ameriglo Haven. Just as advertised, the XS sights were able to fully clear the height of the RMR and provide a full co-witness after the RMR had been properly adjusted. RMRs are notorious for having a pretty aggressive blue tint to them which reduces overall light transmission but during daytime hours, the orange glow dot is able to punch through the tinted lens and give you a solid sight picture. I also tried this same configuration with an Ameriglo Haven I had sitting around and found that while the body of the haven was a bit too tall to give a full co-witness, they still worked decently as backup sights even though you weren’t able to see the full shape of the Glow Dot.
I did a side-by-side shoot-off with the Haven Red Dot and the R3D sights and I found them to be equal in the accuracy department. The Haven’s 3.5 MOA dot provides just a bit more accuracy at greater distances but at a 15-yards distance, I found that the difference was almost negligible. Once again, I think if you’re combining both a red dot sight and irons, they still work perfectly as a backup sight method in case your optic is rendered inoperable. However, long-distance shots with the large front Glow Dot will probably suffer the same disadvantages a larger red dot would.
R3D CZ P-10 Optics Ready Sights
Meanwhile, the CZ P-10 featured standard height R3D sights, this time with a green glow dot and this configuration ended up being my favorite. Unlike the sights provided for the H&K VP9 OR, the standard height sights offer no co-witness and are instead more of a direct replacement for your factory sights. The green dot to me is the superior choice if you’re going to be running iron sights as your main sights. I say this because during daylight hours, even on an overcast day, the green dot is very bright and sort of resembles a green dot that would be emitted from a green dot reflex sight.
This bright front dot makes it very easy to pick up the front dot right away and I found myself shooting the pistol more like it was mounted with a red dot at shorter distances (about 10-yards). I think there is a distinct advantage to being able to shoot with both eyes open in a defensive situation and the large bright green front Glow Dot provided my eyes with better point shooting capability. However, just like the orange Glow Dot, the green one also suffers from a bit of a sight picture issue at greater ranges.
Suffice it to say both of the R3D options are clearly intended to be used primarily as defensive sights rather than precise target sights. For those, I’d probably still stick to regular “open sights” that have windage and elevation adjustments built into the rear sights and feature a finer front sight post allowing for more precise shots at long range.
Low Light Visibility
What good are tritium equipped night sights if they can’t be used well in low-light conditions? I don’t think it’s realistic that you’ll find yourself in a defensive situation in a completely pitch-black room and if you do, if you can’t see your target, I don’t think it’s very smart to shoot it if you can’t properly identify it. That being said, many tritium-equipped night sights somehow seem to suffer from low visibility in what I’ll call “twilight” conditions. Think of the lighting situation in the context of a poorly lit alley or sidewalk, there is still enough light to see things but this is where standard iron sights would probably get you into trouble.
Both the orange and green Glow Dots were easy to pick up in these low light conditions but once again I found the green dot to be far superior in terms of visibility. Through the lens of my RMR, the orange Glow Dot wasn’t nearly as distinguishable as during the day but the tritium still shined through the lens just fine, enough to give you a clear sight picture without obscuring the tritium powered amber dot.
The green dot front sight on the CZ P-10 was extremely bright and even easier to pick out in the lower light conditions. If you ever found yourself in a defensive shooting situation in low-light, I don’t think you’d have much trouble picking up the front dot, even with poor eyesight. If you struggle with picking up your sights in low light situations, the green R3D sights might be a good alternative option for your concealed carry gun as I’ve found that they instantly draw your eyes to the front sight as soon as they come into view.
In my opinion, night sights aren’t nearly as important as having a good light source that you can identify your target with. However, not all types of pistols allow for a weapon-mounted light, and using a handheld flashlight in tandem with a pistol doesn’t seem to be a very widely practiced or popular technique anymore. On top of that, the type and style of sights that work best for you are probably going to vary from the next gun owner you meet, sights are just a very personal choice that we form through trial and error.
I like the R3D night sights with the green Glow Dot the most. I think that particular style offered me a good combination of an easy-to-pick-up front sight post with good rears as well as a clear three-dot night sight picture either standalone or as backups through a red dot like the RMR. The Suppressor/RMR height sights do suffer from a lack of compatibility with other red dot sights that have taller bases, that and the price seem to be about the only downsides to these sights from XS if your aim is using them for concealed carry purposes.
I’d like to hear if you guys like to use night sights on your concealed carry guns or if you stick to plain blacked-out rears with a single white dot front, or if you opt to use some other sort of iron sights. Furthermore, I’d also like to hear if you think it’s necessary to have backup irons when you’re carrying a pistol with a red dot. Thoughts and comments are welcome as always down below.
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