TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

Luke C.
by Luke C.
TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

The SA-35 handgun from Springfield Armory made waves late last year when it was officially unveiled to the public. Those who had been seeking a Hi-Power pistol were finally able to get their hands on something authentic to the original design, but with a few modernized changes. My initial experiences with the handgun did in fact give me that authentic Hi-Power feeling with its natural pointability, fit in the hand, and crisp, light single-action trigger pull. If you’re planning on carrying the SA-35 or find yourself struggling a bit to quickly pick up a sight picture, perhaps a small upgrade is in order. XS Sights recently released their XS R3D night sights for the SA-35 pistol, and today we’ll be taking a quick gander at them on the SA-35 to see what kind of benefits they offer over the standard sights Springfield currently offers.

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TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

Before we can talk about the XS R3D sights, let’s talk about the factory sights that come on the SA-35. The SA-35 ships with metal low-profile Novak-style sights that feature serrated blacked-out rears and a single white front dot with a similar snag-free design. These sights work very well and as a testament to that, TFBTV Executive Producer James Reeves has also noted that the sights were “easy to pick up but don’t look out of character.” If you’re happy with the sights on your brand new SA-35, stop reading here and get back out to the range and keep shooting, there isn’t anything wrong with them. If you’re interested in having a bit more adaptability between bright light, and low light, continue on.

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

The sights, while great from the factory, do leave a bit to be desired in the low-light compatibility department. During the day, the factory sights on the SA-35 provide you with a clear sight picture and as stated before, an easy pickup by virtue of its front sight. You do start to see diminishing returns in either the early morning or waning hours of the day when bright light isn’t providing you with enough contrast to line up the sights. This is where the XS R3D sights come in.

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

R3D SA-35 Sights

The XS R3D night sights for the SA-35 have a nearly identical shape and size as the factory sights and this means that you should have no issues with holster compatibility or snagging when drawing from concealment. I took a couple of range sessions to test this out and I found no issues with the R3D sights when drawing from an OWB holster mounted on my hip. I think it’s worth mentioning that you’re not really sacrificing anything by upgrading to the R3D sights as the function of the pistol and the visibility of the sights remain largely the same during the day. Like the factory sights, the XS R3D sights seem to be optimized for a 25-yard zero and a combat sight picture.

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

The rear tritium lamps do next to nothing during daylight hours or when bright light is around. Instead of the serrations featured on the factory SA-35’s rear sights, the XS sights feature a slight rearward cant that provides the same darkening effect that serrations normally would. Both methods help your eye to keep a heavy front-sight focus. Meanwhile, the real meat and potatoes of the R3D sight system is the front sight. The front sight is extremely bright and stands out through all sorts of shooting conditions.

In low light conditions, it becomes more difficult not only to pick up a good sight picture but also to keep that focus on your target with the factory sights. Blacked-out sights on a poorly lit or darkened target (think a black hoodie) make it difficult to keep a clean sight picture. On the converse side, I found the bright front dot to be easy to pick up across a wide array of lighting conditions and also found that when transitioning from a dark to a light area, I was able to keep a clear focus on the front sight throughout. This can be a boon to those who choose to carry the SA-35 for defensive purposes. For this review, I put about 500-rounds or so through the pistol, and during this time I didn’t notice any loosening or breakage of any of the tritium lamps installed on the sights.

The rear tritium lamps lack the outer dot which makes them noticeably smaller and less likely to draw you away from the much brighter front dot.

Final Thoughts

So while the SA-35’s factory sights are quite good, they can be improved if your goal is to use the pistol as a defensive carry option, or you just have degrading eyesight and need a little bit of help picking up a good sight picture and don’t want to opt into a red dot optic equipped pistol quite yet. I would say that if you’re planning on carrying the SA-35, and want a solid upgrade to the existing sights that won’t break up the sleek aesthetic lines of the pistol, the XS R3D sights are a solid choice.

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

XS Sights sells their R3D Sights for the SA-35 for a price of $116, and they come with a 10-year no questions asked warranty as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Let us know what your experiences have been so far with either the SA-35 factory sights or XS Sights R3D sights and let us know if you’d ever combine the two down in the comments below.

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TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

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Luke C.
Luke C.

Reloader SCSA Competitor Certified Pilot Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan. Instagram:

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10 of 20 comments
  • EndDClies EndDClies on Jul 16, 2022

    Spring Field Armory, bring the SA-35 out in a stainless steel version, then I will buy it.

    • See 1 previous
    • Eightysix Eightysix on Jul 16, 2022

      @endDClies I picked up a Tisas Br9 in stainless while they still made them, glad I did. The classics look great in stainless, hope SA does the same.

  • Ben Ben on Jul 16, 2022

    Hard to care about sights for a pistol you can’t actually buy.

    • See 5 previous
    • Beju Beju on Jul 17, 2022

      @derpmaster The guy I know with one has originals, but thought that the SA improvements would be nice, and could relegate his originals to collectibles. He's got no qualms about running up high round counts with the SA-35.