Lately, I have
been carrying the new Smith &
Wesson 342PD .38 Special
as an everyday pocket gun, when not packing something larger. It
has become my "always with me" gun. It is light,
reasonably powerful, and instantly ready, should it be needed. I
keep it stoked with five Plus P Glaser Safety Slugs for
optimum performance against two-legged predators. There was only
one thing really lacking on the little Smith, and that was the
factory sights. While the rear notch sight is adequate as
supplied from the factory, the front sight disappeared in
low-light conditions. For a personal defense weapon, I think
that night sights are a must. If a person is to need a handgun
in a defensive situation, the gun must be readily accessible and
easy to use accurately.
Accuracy in a
personal defense weapon (PDW) is different from accuracy in a
target pistol. A PDW must place its shots on target, up close
and fast, usually at a range of less than ten yards. The
front sight needs to be clearly visible in any light condition.
A person is much more likely to need a handgun for self defense
at night. Predators greatly prefer to operate under the cloak of
darkness, so a PDW that is suited only for use in the daytime is
only ready when one is least likely to need it. So, to make the
little lightweight Smith & Wesson a truly perfect pocket gun
required a better front sight.
About two days
after placing a call to XS Sight Systems, a package
arrived containing one of their unique Big Dot Tritium night
sights. XS Sight Systems (formerly AO Sight Systems) has
always been at the forefront of highly useful and unique sight
systems for rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Having used their
products before, I knew that they would have a solution for the
little J-frame thirty-eight.
I donít know
how much time and money was spent on thinking up the name for
the Big Dot, but it describes the new sight perfectly. The
sight consists of a large white dot of about 5/32 of an
inch in diameter set into the rear face of a blued steel front
sight. In the center of the white dot is a small tritium insert.
The tritium insert glows in the dark to give a visible reference
point, and is very effective even in the lowest light
conditions. If you can make out the silhouette of your target,
you can easily index the firearm in the right direction. In good
light conditions, the large white dot is easily visible against
I tested the
Big Dot Tritium sight in several light conditions, and the
effectiveness of this sight in almost total darkness has to be
experienced to fully understand the usefulness of the product. A
shooter can leave both eyes open, place the front sight quickly
on target, and fire the revolver. If you have a handgun that you
carry for personal defense, take it outside or in a dark closet
and try to find the front sight. Even in a parking garage in the
daytime, it is hard to see the sights of a handgun against a
The XS Big Dot
is easy to install on the J-frame Smith. The front sight pin is
drifted out, the factory sight removed, and the new sight
installed in its place. Mine required a bit of file work, but
after a few strokes and five minutes, the new sight was in
place. A new hole must be drilled to accept the factory roll
pin, and requires a very small drill bit, which is not included
with the Big Dot sight, but should be readily available at your
local hardware store.
Check out the
XS Big Dot Tritium, and other innovative products online at:
The set number
for the sights tested is RV-0001N-3.
If you carry a small frame revolver for personal defense, I
strongly suggest that you install, or have your local gunsmith
do so, an XS Big Dot with the Tritium insert on your gun. In
this case, it is an item that can literally be a lifesaver.
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