Precision CCW Night Sights? The New HD XR from Trijicon – Hands On Review.

The new HD XR sights from Trijicon take the strengths of the original HD night sights and add a more precise, narrow front sight post. Shown on customized Smith & Wesson M&P9.

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I know that in reality, most self-defense shootings in the civilian realm are at extreme close range. These are situations where a person usually has to access their gun quickly and use it at very short distances. In cases like this, you likely will not be using the sights, but rather simply sighting down the gun (at best). However, a lot of these incidents also happen in low light, and what if you are required to make a more precise shot?

Gun people are gear people, period. We love mechanical solutions to problems. So, while you may be able to make a good argument that one might not even use the sights on your pistol in a situation like this, why shortchange yourself? If you have the best gear possible (and train with it accordingly), you will only be better prepared. And, it gives you an excuse to buy more stuff, right?

The Next Step

I have had a set of Trijicon HD night sights on my personal carry gun (a customized Smith & Wesson M&P9 full size) for the past two years and really like them. For me, they offered the best of all worlds in that they have three tritium dots (two in the rear and one in the front) like conventional three-dot sights, but the front sight has either a large yellow or orange ring of photoluminescent paint around it. The rear dots have black painted rings to enhance focus on the front sight. The result is a sight set that can function as traditional three-dot night sight system in low light, but in regular light looks like a “big dot” high-visibility front sight system for very quick target acquisition.

Although the HD sights proved to be very popular, Trijicon apparently received many requests for a more “precise” HD sight system. In response, the company has released the new HD XR series. Similar to the original metal-bodied HD sights, the new HD XR incorporates a thinner front post to allow for daylight on either side when sighted through the U-notch rear unit. The XR front sight is described as being .122 inches thick (as compared to the .150 thickness of the original HD sight), and both covers less of the target as well as allowing for more precise sight alignment.

The new HD XR night sight (top) has a thinner front post than the original HD (bottom). Note the yellow and orange front ring color options.

The u-notch rear sight has dual tritium dots ringed in black, to mate up with the thin yet high-visibility front sight unit. Image courtesy of Trijicon.

Anyone familiar with the original HD sights will be right at home with the new HD XR. The sights are currently offered for a wide range of polymer-framed pistols (see accompanying chart for full listing) and built very tough. The rear sight features the now-trendy forward flat face for racking the slide one-handed against a hard surface, and the rear face of it is serrated to minimize the reflection of light. The tritium gas lamps are housed in aluminum cylinders to protect them from cleaning solvents and also have rubber cushioning to protect them against recoil.

Hands On

I picked up a new set of the HD XR sights (with the orange front ring, my preferred configuration) and installed them on my M&P9. I have shot the pistol with the HD sights a good amount, so I was curious about how I would like the new HD XR units. To verify the company’s claims, I measured the new front sight with calipers and came up with .127, but when we are talking about thousandths of an inch and the fact I could remeasure it and get a few slightly different readings, I would say these were on the money. I measured the original HD front sight and came up with .150 on the money.

The new HD XR front sight tested by the author measured in at .127 of an inch.

The author’s original standard HD front sight measured in right at .150 of an inch.

On paper, this change does not sound like much. We are talking about .025 of an inch here, right? However, the visual difference was immediately noticeable. My first concern was that it might affect the sight picture regarding the real reason I like high-quality sights on my CCW pistol—close-range shooting. The primary reason the original HD sights appealed to me was the fact that they would excel at fast, close-range shooting with that large orange ring on the front sight, and could also function as good night sights as a secondary function. I can honestly say that the minimal reduction in front sight width had no impact on this aspect of the sight. This system was just as good as the original HD sights for snap shots at a close-in target where you get a flash sight picture and shoot quickly.

It was when I slowed down and pushed the distance I was shooting at out some that the new HD XR really began to shine. Although I could shoot good groups with the original HD units, I found that the HD XR did allow me to tighten up my groups more and take more precise shots when I really took my time.

The new HD XR sight system is very similar to the original HD sights, with the primary change being the thinner front sight unit. The author selected the orange front ring color.

Is It Worth It?

The bottom line for me is that the HD XR sight appears to give you more while not really taking away anything. I think that these sights will serve me just as well as the originals in the primary role as a close-in, good self-defense sight. The fact it can deliver this while also giving me the ability to take more precise shots (and also get more rewarding groups at the range for bragging rights if and when that matters), it seems like a win-win situation to me.

Now, the only kicker is the price. At an MSRP of $175, they are not cheap, not by a long shot. In fact, this is getting close to the price that some people pay for a handgun, so this is not a bargain-basement offering here. This is a sight system for those who really want to get the most out of their pistol. To do it over, would I pay $175 to replace my $165 HD night sights? Probably not. These new sights are great, but the HDs were getting the job done for me just fine. However, if I had just bought a stock CCW pistol and was looking to upgrade the sights and was in this budget range, I would not hesitate to purchase the new HD XR sights. So, take a look for yourself and see if they are right for you. If you do get them, I have no doubt you will like them.

For more information, visit

To purchase Trijicon pistol sights on, click this link:

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  • meeester March 13, 2017, 3:50 am

    What’s with the diagram showing the difference between the HD and HD XR sights?
    The difference between a .122 and .150 sight shows the .150 as twice as wide – almost completely filling up the whole rear U-notch.
    What page of the review does reality appear?

  • Ethan C March 11, 2017, 2:40 pm

    Well shoot, I know there was some inflammatory post recently about price, but damn that’s expensive compared to other like kind products

    • Stan Robertson October 27, 2017, 12:29 am

      $175 for a set of these is not excessive. We pay 4 or 5 times that for a quality scope on a rifle. For something you carry every day to defend your life, I wouldn’t bat an eye.

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