Some years ago, a company came out with a line of firearms sights based on the old English Express sights. These sights are not intended for target-grade accuracy, but to allow the shooters to quickly get on target and get a hit. Designed to give professional hunters a fighting chance against a dangerous charging animal, this sight translated well to personal defense.
By adapting modern tritium technology to the classic Express sight, XS sights has been able to offer a truly unique system for making fast hits on a dangerous threat. The primary design feature of the XS sight is a shallow V rear sight. The front sight is an extra size, large dot, front sight. In some sights, the front only is tritium. In others, both the front and rear sights are fitted with tritium inserts.
The self-luminous sights feature radioactive tritium gas in a vial. The luminosity of the radioactive material is focused by a synthetic sapphire. In true darkness, the tritium dot is highly visible. In any type of light, the white outline dot will reflect ambient light. This is a very fast and visible system.
The way to use the XS sight is to place the big dot on the target at close range and press the trigger. You will get a hit quickly. At longer range, and this varies depending on the firearm and shooter’s skill, you will place the big dot under the target. This isn’t a set up for target shooting or long range. This is a set of sights that will give you every advantage, night or day, in a dangerous situation.
I have tested XS sights extensively on handguns. However, I was aware of the shotgun sights as well. I have used the XS aperture sight set up on a Remington 870 tactical with excellent results. While I test a lot of firearms, I take only the most stringent care with my personal defensive firearms. My life and the lives of my family may rely on my skill with these firearms.
I have kept a Remington 870 Magnum 12 gauge pump-action shotgun on the front line for nearly 20 years. This shotgun was manufactured with rifle-type sights. It has proven accurate with slugs, fast into action, and completely reliable. The shotgun now features a high tech forend and AR-15-type stock. The original four-shell magazine is still used. This design is reliable and trouble free. I elected to fit a set of DXT sights to this shotgun to improve its low light capability.
The front sight isn’t difficult to change with a brass punch and rubber hammer. A gunsmith will have a sight pusher. The rear sight is a simple proposition that is secured by screws. The sights were affixed to the shotgun in less than 10 minutes.
Next, I triple checked the Remington to be certain it was unloaded and began a number of dry fire drills. The sights seemed highly visible in dim light. I took the Remington to the range to test the sights. I wanted to be certain the sights held up to 12-gauge recoil. I also wanted to retrain with the new sights.
I put together a bag of likely shotgun shells. First up was a 25-round box of Fiocchi’s #8 birdshot. This is a clean burning load that works great for training. I fired the shotgun at man-sized targets at 7, 10, and 15 yards. I fired two shells, quickly reloaded, and then fired again and practiced this drill for 20 rounds.
Next, I ran a string of five shells and destroyed the target. The XS DXT sight is fast, very fast. I switched to buckshot, firing 10 shells each of full power and reduced recoil loads from Fiocchi. I recommend the reduced recoil load for home defense. Full power 00 buckshot is intended for use against deer-sized game at ranges of 25 to 35 yards in properly choked shotguns.
A reduced recoil load with less velocity is more controllable and the Fiocchi load offers a dense pattern at home defense range. Roughly, I could fire five reduced-recoil buckshot loads in the time it took to fire four full power loads, with excellent control. The front sight just hung on the target. I center punched the target with these powerful loads.
I have the greatest respect for shotgun slugs and prefer them to buckshot for most uses. Slugs penetrate deeply and in most cases fragment to an extent. The hard hitting Fiocchi Aero slug is offered in three power levels. I recommend the 1,150 fps one-ounce slug for defense use.
For outdoors or police service, the 1,300 fps option remains controllable but exhibits more penetration. The 1,560 fps load generates stout recoil but excellent accuracy to 100 yards. This is the load for hunters or for defense against the largest animals. Reduced recoil slugs have greater drop at long range. If you are hunting, the heavier loads are desirable. Likewise, heavier loads are optimal when you foresee using slugs at ranges past 50 yards.
I loaded the magazine with reduced velocity Aero slugs and worked over man-sized targets at 15 yards by simply putting the dot on the target. The results were excellent, with three slugs touching on the paper. At no time did the XS sights become loose in the fitting. (Lax installation would be my fault, the tritium dot did not move in the white base.)
Next, I took aim at the steel gong at 50 yards. I used full power slugs and aimed just below the steel plate. The first shot hit low on the gong and I accounted for this. The DTX sight is accurate enough to keep four slugs in four inches at 50 yards, above average for a rifle-sighted, smoothbore shotgun. For pure accuracy, I would prefer the XS aperture-type sight. For all around, go anywhere, handle any threat utility, the DXT gets the nod.
After years of hard use, the Remington 870 has been refreshed with modern sights and is ready for many years more of steadfast duty. The Adaptive Tactical stock set and XS sights are keeping an old firearm on the cutting edge.
Do you have night sights on your home defense shotgun? Share your answer in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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