Rainy Day Range Session: Pocket Pistol Comparisons + XS Sight Systems Review

This week, I went to the range at pretty much the only time I had available. Unfortunately, it was raining and 49°. Undeterred by the weather, I went for the specific purpose of trying out a new front sight that I recently installed on my Ruger LCR. The stock front sight was a serrated ramp front that offered minimal contrast with the guttersnipe rear, and I wanted a more prominent front sight. A few weeks ago, I finally ordered a new tritium front sight from XS Sight Systems, specifically, their Standard Dot Tritium.

The front sight came with a punch and new roll pin to facilitate installation. I was able to remove the old sight and install the new in just a few minutes at my workbench. Previously, I had visited the XS Sight Systems website to review the available installation video.

In order to quickly evaluate the new sight, I decided to shoot the Tactical Professor’s Baseline Evaluation Drill. While I do follow Claude Werner’s blog, I actually first learned of the drill from Greg Ellifritz’s Active Response Training blog, where he suggests using the drill as an evaluation tool not only to provide a measure of skill, but also as a method to determine which gun you shoot best with. Accordingly, I used the opportunity to shoot the drill with both the LCR and my new RM380 (stay tuned for an in depth review of the latter coming soon).

Basically, I had two objectives. First, I wanted to see how the new LCR sight performed. Second, I was curious which of my two pocket pistol candidates I would shoot better with. For the evaluation, I used standard IDPA targets. The eight inch center is perhaps a generous target, but it sufficed for my purposes.

I shot the LCR first. XS Sight Systems advises placing the dot directly over the target within 15 yards, and to use a 6 o’clock hold at longer ranges, specifically at 25 yards and beyond. As the drill only goes back to 15 yards, I didn’t try shooting at any longer range. That will have to wait for another range visit… I was relatively pleased with my accuracy with the revolver, dropping only four rounds outside of the center aiming circle. I found that placing the dot where I wanted to hit worked well. I was able to easily see the front sight and align it in the rear notch in the frame. This front sight is certainly not the “Big Dot” sight that the company is famous (and infamous) for, and I am quite pleased with it.

Next up was the RM380. Surprisingly to me, I didn’t fare as well with the little gun. I counted 12 rounds outside the center circle, all predominantly high, with a few even up in the head box! Obviously, I need to work on my grip and trigger control with the gun, but it also highlights the difficulty in achieving accuracy with the small nondescript sights milled into the top of the slide of the gun.

I concluded a few things from this little exercise. First, no surprise here, but shooting in a cold rain sucks! As luck would have it, most of my range days actually have been cold and rainy so far this season. There’s no rule that says it will be warm and sunny when I need my gun, so I go anyway. Second, the LCR front sight upgrade was a good purchase. I highly recommend it if you have a Ruger LCR. Third, I have a bit of a quandary in choosing which gun to carry as a backup or NPE option.

The RM380 fits in my pocket much better and is far easier to reload, but I’m demonstrably more accurate with the revolver with the new front sight. I wouldn’t attempt a shot past 15 yards with either gun, but I’m okay with that reality. Ultimately, I wouldn’t feel outgunned with either. But, I still shot better with the revolver. As much as I like the RM380, for now, I would probably be better served by carrying the LCR as my backup gun. I will obviously continue to practice with the RM380, and will have to repeat this evaluation in the future. Going by Claude Werner’s original intent for the drill, right now I can only guarantee 100% accuracy within 7 yards with either gun. Point in fact, I had misses outside the center circle at 10 and 15 yards with both guns!

Finally, it is worth noting that many factors come into play when you are carrying a gun for self-defense. Some of the obvious ones that come to mind after my last range session conducted in crappy weather after I got off of work are fatigue, environmental conditions, ambient lighting, and compromised weapon access while wearing extra layers to ward off rain and cold. The last point serves as all the more reason to consider carrying a pocket pistol as a first line defense.

If you’re interested in the XS Sight Systems Standard Dot Tritium front sight for the LCR, it is available from Amazon through our affiliate link. As always, we appreciate our readers. Thanks for visiting the blog, and we welcome comments and questions.

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