On the Range: Trijicon HD XR Night Sights

posted on June 2, 2017

Trijicon’s new HD XR sights couldn’t have been introduced at a better time. My workhorse Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC 9 mm had long since lost the night-sight capability in the front sight, which was unfortunate, but the rear sight had started to work its way loose. I noticed this at the range (with my boss, of course) when my group started slowly drifting to the right. I was puzzled, at first, because I normally pull shots low and left with a flinch. Then I looked at the rear sight, and noticed it was flush with the right side of the slide.

Of course, I could have simply pushed the rear sight back into alignment, but what fun would that be? Having the new HD XRs in-house gave me the incentive I needed to swap the sights out and give these new sights a thorough look. A quick word on sights that contain tritium vials: Do not grab a brass punch and mallet and just start whacking away—the vials are, well, sensitive and could break. While tritium is an alpha-emitter and won’t pose much of a radiation hazard, it’s still not good. Plus, you’re out the cost of sights. We happen to have an MGW M&P Sight Pusher here at HQ, so swapping the sights was ridiculously easy (even I could do it, and I habitually refer to myself as mechanically declined…)

Note: In this particular case, it will most likely be more cost-effective to visit your local gunshop to have the sights swapped out. The MGW tool is a dedicated piece of equipment, and for the price, you could have sights replaced four or five times at a local shop. If this is something you don’t see needing more than a time or two, it might save some money to frequent your local shop. Then again, if you’re like me, you start looking at the consignment rack and then…

Naturally, I wanted to check my handiwork as well as point-of-aim on the range. After any change to your pistol’s sighting device you should always verify your zero (plus, I’ll admit, it gave me an excuse to hit the range. My arm didn’t need that much twisting…) Two separate range sessions confirmed both that the sights were on target and not moving around under recoil—in excess of 250 rounds were fired in an attempt to shake them off, and literally the last five rounds were so spot-on I was able to shoot the staples off my target (honest! I called it before I did it!)

On the range, the red ring around the front sight aids in rapid target acquisition, that’s a hallmark of the HD series. Running a number of 5x5x5 drills saw times routinely around 3.5 seconds, with all shots falling well within the 5-inch circle (actually a 4-inch circle, as that’s the size of the paster we were using). Pulling back to 10 yards, the slimmer profile of the HD XR made precise shots easier, resulting in tighter groups at range as well as hitting smaller targets—I like to recycle, and taking a 20-round defensive ammunition box and stapling it to the range backer gives a small target that needs precision aiming to hit. This task was significantly simplified with the narrow front sight of the XRs, no question. Any misses are strictly the fault of the shooter.

The suggested retail price for a set of Trijicon HD XR night sights is $175. while the front sight only sells for $99.


man with firearm sitting in a chair
man with firearm sitting in a chair

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