XS Sights R3D 2.0 Tritium Night Sights Review

By Justin Opinion
Posted in #Gear
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XS Sights R3D 2.0 Tritium Night Sights Review

January 3rd, 2024

7:06 runtime

There are a lot of reasons why you may decide to change the sights on your handgun. I am deliberately avoiding the use of the word “upgrade”, because changing sights can be done for a variety of reasons — and not necessarily because the stock ones are bad.

In this review, the author installs a set of R3D 2.0 sights from XS Sights on his Springfield XD-M 10mm pistol. Shown is the front sight that combines a tritium vial with a photoluminescent ring. The R3D sights are great in day or night conditions for concealed carry on any firearm.
In this review, the author installs a set of R3D 2.0 sights from XS Sights on his Springfield XD-M Elite 10mm pistol. Shown is the front sight that combines a tritium vial with a photoluminescent ring.

For me, it is usually a customization decision that helps equip my handgun for its primary intended use. When that need arises, the XS Sights website is usually my first stop. XS has a wide selection of sights that help adapt your handgun to your specific sight needs, and their compatibility across makes and models is second to none.

My Case for Tritium Night Sights

The Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 4.5” chambered in 10mm is one of my favorite handguns. But it is unlikely that I will shoot the 10mm cartridge much in competition, or ever use it for hunting. This is a personal defense pistol — with a focus on home defense. And for that use case, XS Sights has a new offering that I find ideal. The R3D 2.0, available in green or orange front dot.

This is the two piece XS Sights night sight set. The iron sights use a photoluminescent glow dot in the front sight with tritium vials in both the front and rear sight. These were reviewed on a Springfield firearm but they are also made for Glock and other handguns. 
Shown is the complete XS Sights R3D tritium night sight set that the author installed on his pistol. The combination of tritium with the photoluminescent ring offers good low-light performance for CCW.

Why change from stock sights? The XD-M Elite comes with a fantastic set of stock sights from Springfield Armory. The U-Notch rear sight is one of my favorites, and the front sight with the bright red fiber optic filament is very effective … outdoors.

The thing with fiber optic sights is that they use ambient light — usually sunlight to illuminate and be highly visible. There usually isn’t much ambient light to be expected in a home defense situation, so I wanted sights with self-contained illumination — in other words, tritium.

The front sight is very visible in all lighting conditions making it good for pistols used for self-defense. The brightness makes it easy for target acquisition and sight alignment. For anyone that does not want to use a red dot reflex sight, these sights provide faster target acquisition than other iron sights on the market.
The front sight is easy to see in all lighting conditions. The photoluminescent ring absorbs ambient light and radiates it in low-light conditions. It is also bright in daylight making it easy to pick up under stress.

The R3D 2.0 sights from XS have a front sight with a large fluorescent ring surrounding a tritium dot, all housed in a high-quality dovetail mounted blade. The rear sight is low profile with a serrated back surface that encloses two tritium dots on either side of the square notch. Together, they provide a sight picture that is both quick to acquire and easy to align on target.

The R3D 2.0 is equally effective in total darkness and broad daylight, which makes the set ideal for a defensive handgun. I find this combination of front and rear to be ideal for personal defense, particularly for home defense. Here’s why: In total darkness or near total darkness, you cannot rely on any ambient illumination to allow you to see your sights, which is where the self-illumination comes in. I prefer to rely on a good set of night sights than electronic optics in most cases, or at least as a co-witnessing partner. Tritium dots are not bright enough to diminish one’s night vision, nor do they add any weight or bulk to your gun — and perhaps most importantly, no batteries or other technology to fail at the worst time.

The Removal…

Okay, so night sights are an awesome tool for the defensive pistol, but first, they must be installed on the gun! Here’s an overview of that process, with a few DIY tips for those who like to do the work themselves. First piece of advice is to use a good quality sight tool. Like any job, using a quality tool makes the job much easier and reduces the risk of damage. Back to that topic in a bit.

The author shows how to install the new sights. The R3D night sights are standard height and not suppressor height. The blacked-out rear sight reduce glare in bright light.
From this angle, you can see how the sights fit into the slide using a dovetail cut. A front sight tool can push out the factory sights and help you install the replacements.

Obviously, the first step is to remove the existing sights. Keep in mind that factory-installed sights are going to be very tight and likely have adhesive under them. I use the MGW Sight Pro tool and put it in a vise on a sturdy bench. Even then, I usually have to wear gloves to be able to apply the force needed to break the sights loose. Using a leverage extender, like a pipe or wrench handle is verboten as it will void the warranty of the tool.

My next tip is to drift the sights out and in from the same side of the slide. This is a best practice and will help keep one side of your dovetail looking pristine. Because there are so many different tools and methods, I won’t go into further detail, but keeping everything steady and tight lets the energy be focused on pushing the sight. Be sure things are level and straight before you apply any force.

…and Installation

After I’ve removed the front sight, I like to inspect and clean the dovetail in the slide to be sure I’m not pushing through grit or a small burr, etc. Installing the new sight is essentially a reverse of the removal process, but taking care getting the sight started is crucial, and watching for it to reach center so you can measure is important. You can be as picky as you like and use a micrometer or caliper to measure, or a good workbench ruler.

The rear sight has a pair of tritium vials that glow in the dark. The black, serrated face reduces glare in bright light. The sight also is standard height and not suppressor-height sights. For most shooters, this is perfect as few people attach a silencer to their concealed carry gun. 
The rear sight has a pair of tritium vials that glow in the dark. The black, serrated face reduces glare in bright light.

The rear sight process is virtually identical with just a few differences. Centering the rear sight can be more difficult due to the width of the sight and the angles of the slide and sight shapes. The XS rear sight is designed to be installed from right to left, as viewed from the rear of the slide. My cheat is to use the edges of the rear striker cover plate to align my rule and center the sight notch based on that. The final test of course, is firing live rounds at a target!

While the XS Big Dot sights are tried and true, the new R3D 2.0 sights are excellent night sights for the Springfield pistols. They are far better than anything offered by Glock and SIG Sauer, but not quite as good as the superior U-Dot sights found on the Hellcat and Echelon handguns. They are ready for heavy duty use.
For many shooters, this sight picture is preferred to a red dot sight. The front is brighter than the rear sight, naturally drawing your eye to the front dot. 

I promised I’d get back to the quality of tool to use. The MGW Sight-Pro is several hundred dollars to purchase, and requires precision “shoes” for each brand or model of pistol you wish to work on. It can quickly become a $400-500 investment. Unless you plan to do a lot of sight installations, it might be hard to justify that cost. There is no shame in finding a local gunsmith or full-service gun shop that will install them for a reasonable fee. It’s also a great way to build a relationship with that store or gunsmith and support the local business. I’d recommend that over trying to use an inexpensive tool that you find online. And unless you’re very skilled and experienced, I also do not recommend the hammer and punch method.

XS Sights R3D Have It Where It Counts

When I took the XD-M Elite 10mm to the range with its brand-new sights, it was a joy to shoot. In daylight, the front sight glows like a neon light while the rear dots remain pale and don’t draw your eye to them — perfect! I was pleased that they seemed nicely adjusted and just shooting off-hand I was making nice groups.

The new XS R3D 2.0 night sights are available for a large variety of brand and models, and the ones for Springfield fit the XD, XD-M, XD-S, XD-E and Hellcat — priced from $131.99. They are available with the green front dot or orange, and also in suppressor height. They are an excellent and affordable way to re-fit your pistol to suit your personal use.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Justin Opinion

Justin Opinion

“Justin Opinion” is a lifelong firearms enthusiast and shooter. The son of a master gunsmith, he makes no claims to such skills but has a deep appreciation for the skillful work of the men and women who design and build great guns. A certified instructor and range safety officer who enjoys the shooting sports, he uses his experiences and those of his friends to apply a real-world perspective to reviews. The Justin Opinion Channel can be found on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and his reviews can also be found at GunsAmerica and American Handgunner.

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