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Several years ago, Trijicon designed the best night sights on the market. Using radioactive substance tritium, it combined world-class durability with battery-free illumination and produced models intended for handguns in low light/no-light conditions and self-defense distances.
Whether the HD XR is a good buy depends on what you expect it to do. At medium distances, there’s not much difference between the XR and the original HD. Out past 25 yards is where the product’s upgrades show, and at those longer distances, it has no real competition. As a unit for self-defense distances, however, it doesn’t live up to the hype.
Scope Review and Breakdown
- Ease of Use and Reliability
- Battery Life
The XR is built with the same aircraft-grade aluminum you’ll find in all Trijicon products, making it highly durable in any environment. It has a thinner front post than the original HD as well—only .122 inches—offering a larger field of view and faster target identification and acquisition at long distances even in the dark.
Each model has a U-shape in the groove as well, allowing for better viewing of the target and hit placement during any engagement.
It is currently available for a number of firearms, including Beretta, FNH, Glock, H&K, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield Armory. Each model is specifically designed for that caliber, and you can choose a yellow or orange front outline; both color options have two tritium vials illuminating the rear sight.
The product does have a mismatch between the front and rear sight, both on the horizontal and vertical planes. It causes difficulty in achieving a reliable picture at 3-8 yards, but with time and practice, you could perform a decent grouping.
It is very easy to use—at longer distances. Up close and personal, it leaves much to be desired. The lack of proportionality between the front and rear units makes it difficult to acquire targets at self-defense distances.
For reliability, however, it gets the high marks of any Trijicon product. It’ll take a beating in the field, and the slightly rounded corners help keep it from snagging on clothing or other gear.
It’s made in the USA, and durability is the last thing you’ll need to worry about with these models.
The company does strongly recommend professional installation by a certified gunsmith; that being said, if you have the tools and have mounted units before, you can still do it at home fairly quickly.
The tritium vials that provide the illumination make batteries unnecessary; the company says it is guaranteed to work for 12 years.
It is more expensive than the original HD and is variable in price depending on the model. Even so, any of the models can be purchased for less than $200.
Who is this scope for?
Type of Shooter
The product was specifically designed for law enforcement, with a need for fast target acquisition in low light and no-light scenarios. It can, however, also be used for civilians who want to be able to make center mass shots with a handgun at 25 yards and over.
Type of Gun
It can be mounted on different semi-auto pistols and comes in models calibrated for each specific model of firearm.
The point of this model is to allow for the fastest target acquisition possible in low light and no-light conditions. Trijicon hails this unit as the “next level of advanced target identification and engagement at increased distances,” and that’s what it does.
The problem is that it isn’t nearly as effective in a defensive situation involving close distances. The mismatch between front and rear sights means that at close range it’s near impossible to see the aiming point at 3-7 yards.
Past 10 yards, it performs just as well as the well-regarded original HD units; above 25 yards, it blows the original out of the water.
If you’re looking for something that will provide you near-instant target acquisition within 7 yards in a self-defense situation with your everyday carry pistol, you may want to look elsewhere – such as the original Trijicon HD models.
At the very least, you’ll want to practice a great deal with this product to become familiar with how it looks in all lighting conditions, and how you can mitigate the mismatch.
If your purpose is for longer distance pistol shooting, however, the model is an improvement on the original and worth your attention.
Other Options Worth Looking At
The best alternative for close-up distances is the original Trijicon HD model. It’s long been considered the best of the best, and that hasn’t changed.
For those looking for a lower price point, the Truglo TFO product is a possible contender. It comes in the same variety of models but at a sub-$100 price. That lower cost means the durability is also lesser than the reviewed product; Truglo’s TFO is constructed of steel, with fiber-optic illumination.