First Gear fodder for our present installment brings to mind—perhaps inexplicably, we concede—a line from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” Such are the present apples of our eye—small, but excellent.
If the Trijicon name strikes no chord, we don’t know what to say. A quick search reveals 22 A1F references under our byline alone (here), so we’ve had both opportunity and success with the products of the sons and daughters of Wixom, Mich.
Founder Glyn Bindon may be best known for the Bindon Aiming Concept and as a major player in red dot technology, but the company he founded has never stood still. If better sighting technology takes the form of a question, you can be sure there’s an answer in a Trijicon product.
Even with that said, it’s still a little hard to believe we’re 30-plus years down the road from Trijicon’s introduction of tritium-based, battery-free, low-light handgun sights (a tech primer here, if needed). The company’s latest evolution is the “HD”: It’s a metal-bodied marvel in our view, and erases a host of compromises with previous versions from many sources.
We think it’s easy to get the idea that “sights are sights” when it comes to the non-optical types, with a minor trifurcation occurring among the various adherents to regular notch-and-post, fiber optic, or low-light types. Nor do we have a complaint: Shoot what you like—or better, shoot what you shoot best.
But the idea that there are no differences that transcend taste is a trifle unthoughtful in our view, and nowhere was this clearer than with the original HDs. First to strike us was the unmissable orange (or yellow-green at your option) but ominously large front dot. Clear coated to near indestructibility and radiused to match the “U”-notch rear, a few plate rack runs at 25 yards convinced us the dot wasn’t too big after all.
All but invisible in daylight—and hence no distraction—is an ultra-precise tritium lamp nestled in that front dot. When light is poor and aiming cues difficult at best, this settles between two carefully “subdued” rear dots. These give very nearly daylight precision in low light (though remember: Target ID is the crucial predecessor to sight alignment in low-light shooting situations).
If there is, or was, a knock on the HDs, it took only one form in our opinion: Being a tactically oriented sight, edge-of-the-envelope ruggedness took a backseat to nothing, and this manifested as a thick front blade (.150”). Older peepers—and long-standing preference—called for more light on either side of the front blade.
We were not, apparently, the only folks with this observation. Now answered in the “XR” version, the new Trijicons bring all the excellence of the original to a .125” width front blade. We popped these on our “B” competition gun, and now have enough rounds downrange to offer three insights.
First, we think more of the wider blade originals than ever. By our count, we’ve got about 65,000 rounds downrange under these (so we ought to be used to them, we think it’s safe to assert) so perhaps there’s no surprise in the small improvement we’ve noticed with the XR variant. But there is a difference, and in favor of the XRs as shots grow in length. Either way, don’t let preconceptions get in your head too much: Proper sight alignment is the crucial element, and the superb visibility of the dot on either example has so many more upsides than down that differences in our shooting were relegated to the margins. The bigger dot tracks slightly better at speed, whereas the wider apparent notch—actually more light on either side of the narrow blade—tunes shots beyond 20 yards with more delicacy.
The third advantage is mainly for those who shoot indoors with any regularity. We’ve found that light pipes/fibers are of limited help indoors. Even in well-lit bays, they don’t get that “HERE I AM” infusion that even modest sunlight seems to provide. The HDs don’t do materially better in the relative gloom; it’s just the nature of the (indoor) beast. The XRs, however, are noticeably better in this environment. The notch/width ratio has the effect of giving more contrast to the front blade against the background, and this adds both speed and precision in these often-mediocre conditions.
And is also why the Trijicon HD XRs are coming off that “B” gun … and right onto our “A.”
Visit Trijicon at trijicon.com; HD XR (.125” blade) and HD (.150 blade) are available for dozens of different handguns in either orange or yellow/green at Brownells. XR-width front blades are available separately to fit with existing/installed HD rears.
B&T Industries shouldn’t actually be a stranger to A1F Daily readers either, but we’ll forgive a quizzical twitch if they don’t come as directly to mind as Trijicon. This Wichita, Kan., clan faces an old conundrum in business: Do helpful product names constrain future enterprises, or do organizationally accurate names disconnect you from the reputations of (presumably good) products? A poser, it is.
So instead of oblique “B&T,” think Atlas Bipod. Better? It puts a smile on our faces just as it may yours: An über-tough artifact that we put to frequent use, and that also divides the rifle world into two classes—those who own an Atlas and those who wish they did.
As it happens, another nifty B&T device has shoved its way into our range bag in the form and function of the Accu-Shot monopod. The company’s description is as apt as any we could devise: The sandbag of the 21st century. With nearly all the versatility, but little of the weight and none of the (eventual) mess of the original, the monopod supports the stock end of the rifle for rock steady aiming.
The device itself is of typical, Atlas-like robustness (robusticity? robustitude?), but simple conception: Attached to the bottom of a rifle stock (by an ingenious variety of methods), the ‘pod adjusts on a thread to give a desired elevation (lockable), and lets you concentrate on the sight picture, breathing and trigger press at the heart of every good rifle shot. When you’re done, one button press folds the monopod neatly close to the stock.
That’s sublime, if we may say. The only real barrier to overwhelming commercial success is that there isn’t that much wrong with the good old sand bag. Made and used correctly, they’re only three to 20 times the weight. And volume. When they leak, well, that’s what vacuums are for. When they come altogether apart, you can always roll up your jacket. And of course they can go in your pack to brace up that once-in-a-lifetime actual shot in the field.
Hmmmmm. Maybe that overwhelming commercial success is right around the corner …
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.