A DIY Shotgun Bead That Will Actually Stay On Your Gun

XS Sights Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib
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The XS Sights Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib provides shotgunners with the benefits of a big dot sight
in an easy-to-install package for many brands of shotguns.

I have a love/hate affair with high-visibility sights, especially those on the front of a shotgun. Speaking as somebody who has the proven ability to destroy an anvil using only cotton swabs, an itty-bitty piece of plastic on the end of a gun barrel is child’s play.

For those who might not be familiar with the concept, a high visibility fiber optic sight is essentially a small solid plastic tube which gathers up light along the length of the sight, then transports a basket full of photons to the end of the tube where the light leaps off into space. This makes the end of the tube glow with the collected light energy, resulting in a sight much brighter than a standard sight reflecting whatever light is currently available.

In daylight, fiber optic sights are a bit brighter than other high-viz sights. However, as the sun is setting and the shadows grow long, the sights are so bright it almost seems there is a battery hidden someplace.

For hunters who typically ply their trade at dawn, dusk and in vile weather, having such a nice shining blob at the end of your gun greatly increases the odds of success on everything from deer to dove and gobblers to gadwalls. Likewise, when you’re set to break the club record with the last set of crossing clays, it’s very reassuring to have a high-visibility dot on the end of your gun to help expedite the split-second coordination of eye, gun, target and trigger.

One problem

I’ve tried many varieties of high visibility and fiber optic front sights over the years, both OEM and after-market and they’re great — except for one little problem: most of them break. Easily. Even those which encase the fiber optic tube in a metal guard eventually end up suffering from what might be a good title for a whodunit: “The Mystery of the Missing Insert.”

Of course, the problem won’t be noticed until the only flight of mallards you’ve seen all day has just set wings, and you mount your shotgun. The ducks flare, but you don’t fire a shot because you only see the end of your barrel rather than a sight.

Somewhere in the bottom of the blind, smushed into the mud, lies the tiny fiber optic plastic insert lying where it fell after you put your gun in the rack and tapped the muzzle on the wooden blind frame just right. As soft plastic and metal aren’t the best of friends when it comes to mutual bonding, the plastic fiber often decides to head out for greener pastures.

Some heartier aftermarket fiber optic sights stand up to abuse better, but many require the services of a gunsmith to install. Since cutting a dovetail in a vent rib requires something more than the old hand drill in your garage, you have to find a competent gunsmith, take the gun out of service for the duration of the installation and pay for the services when finished.

Adding a dovetail slot also adds another failure point, as it’s not unheard of to suddenly find an empty slot at the end of your barrel — in this case, the fiber optic didn’t fail, and the whole darn sight caught a fast train to wherever lost sights go. I suppose it’s in hiding with all the lost pens and car keys.

It’s hard to miss the big orange or green dot out there on the barrel! The highly visible Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib
helps shooters coordinate the eye, sight and target to make for faster shots.

Problem solved

You now see my strained relationship with high-visibility front sights. When they work, they’re pretty good, but they also have a bad habit of letting you down — usually at the worst possible moment. When you add in the additional bugaboo of professional-only installation, I often stick with original equipment, flawed as it might be.

Fortunately, XS Sights has solved these problems with its Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib. It’s a mouthful, but whatever you decide to call it, this replacement front sight checks all the boxes for shotgunners.

First, in terms of visibility, the sight dispenses with the problematic fiber optic component and uses photoluminescent technology instead. The aiming dot itself is far larger than most fiber optic sights, keeping with XS Sights’ reputation for big dot sights, and the orange or green color choices almost commit a visual assault in sunny conditions. The visually spectacular Ember Glow dots are claimed to be brighter in daylight than fiber optic sights, and I’d certainly agree.

Besides hunters, clay target shooters can benefit from the easy-to-see front sight. The self-luminescent technology makes the sight
literally glow in lower light conditions.

Even better, once the sun has decided to retire, the dots glow using stored energy. Forget the old glow-in-the-dark sights which stayed visible for upwards of two minutes, those are literally a pale shadow of the modern photoluminescent chemistry used in the XS Universal Standard Shotgun Vent Rib.

Best of all, in keeping with their ‘Universal’ moniker, these sights are designed to be a do-it-yourself project with no special tools required. The rounded monolithic sight body slips over a special brass post — available to replace OEM front sights on Benelli, Beretta, Browning, CZ, Mossberg, Remington and Stoeger vent ribs — and is then gently pounded onto the post using a soft mallet. Once fitted, there is no slip or movement, and it seems likely a natural disaster would be needed to separate the pair. Though XS Sights doesn’t raise the possibility in their literature, I think if the sight ever did somehow detach from the post, you’d still have a brass bead sitting on the barrel, which would be usable as an emergency sight.

The Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib comes in high visibility orange or green. In Brent’s experience, green tends to be more visible
in bright sunlight while orange tends to be better in lower light or overcast days. However, both choices are very versatile!

Big time

I’ve waxed poetic elsewhere about the many advantages of big dot sights. A giant “beach ball” front sight might seem ungainly to the uninitiated, at least until you try it. The eye is naturally drawn to the big orb sitting at the end of the barrel, and it’s both fast and easy to get the sight on your target. Pistol and rifle shooters, especially in the tactical world, have been doing it for years, and the Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib offers scatter gunners the same advantages.

Whether you’re sitting in a duck blind on one of those dark December days, where the sleet is flying sideways, or you’re trying to make out a gobbler’s noggin as he begins to strut at legal shooting time, having one of these big ol’ orange or green dots on the end of your gun might make all the difference between success and failure. They’re also great for clay target shooting — the very situation where an easy-to-see and quick-to-acquire sight is needed — and the huge dots make it easier to train new shotgunners in the art of snap-shooting at fast movers.

The Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib kit comes with everything you need to fit most shotgun vent ribs.
The unique tapered post makes fitting the sight an easy DIY task.

Fast, highly visible, easy to install yourself, and as unbreakable as a politician’s ego, the XS Sights Universal Standard Dot Shotgun Vent Rib can help make you a better shooter, regardless of your situation. If you haven’t joined the big dot revolution yet, it’s time you discover why savvy shooters “Go big or go home!”

For more info: www.xssights.com