Sunday, February 19, 2012

XS Shotgun BIG DOT

Last summer, I threw down some money and bought some cheap insurance.  No, I didn't switch to Geico; I purchased the venerable Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun.  This is a weapon I highly recommend to new shooters and those interested in a no-nonsense, easy to operate, simple to maintain, and intimidating as hell weapon.  As far as value for your dollar goes, a simple shotgun like this will stretch your tactical dollars a long way, and you can have a very effective weapon system for very little initial investment.  When it comes to home defense, I have my pistol in my bedside safe, but if I have time, I will go for my shotgun in the cabinet across the bedroom.  Loaded with nothing more than bird shot, this shotgun is powerful enough to get the job done at in-home distances, but won't over penetrate if I miss; this is especially handy because I don't want to kill my kids sleeping in the room next to mine.

I've already added some functionality to the weapon in the form of the Mesa Tactical 8-shot receiver-mounted shell carrier.  I'm actually surprised I haven't written a review on it.  Guess I will soon enough.  I also have plans on replacing the stock, which I think sucks.  Indeed, plans are in the works to make this weapon more ergonomic to fit my shooting tastes.

Another important issue that I intend to address is the bead sight up front.  No, I don't plan on installing a ghost ring on the rear, or any big sighting system with protective ears.  That's not how I shoot.  I'm effective out to good ranges with nothing more than a bead sight.  So why change?  Well, the bead sight is small, and it is impossible to see at night.  Now, even though the shotgun is very forgiving, you still need to aim and fire this weapon, like any other.  A shotgun is not a point and shoot gun.  People may think it is, but to them I say watch fewer movies and shoot more clay pigeons at 25 yards.

After some research, I found an economical solution, which requires no modification to the weapon itself.  I'm not a huge fan of modifying weapons to work.  If something can be bolted on, stuck on, epoxied in some way, then I'm going to go for it.  I can always go back later if I don't like it.  The sights on the right are made my XS Sight Systems.  They are the Big Dot shotgun sights.  These are front sights that simply adhere over the bead sight.  They come in three varieties, shown left to right: pedestal bead sight, vent rib, and plain barrel.  In particular, the one that I'd go for is the pedestal mounted sight.  As you can see in the first picture above, my shotgun has a pedestal mount for the bead.  These sights feature a big white ring that surrounds a tritium insert.  This makes the sight highly visible in the daytime for faster target acquisition than the bead, and it's bigger.  The bigger, better contrasting sight will make it easier to get on target and make the shot.  The tritium insert is a glass vial that makes the sight glow in the dark.  Tritium gas glows naturally and does not need to be charged up by holding it to light, like some stick on sights do.  Thus, you can store the gun in a dark safe, and when you take it out at night, it's ready to go.

This picture shows the sights mounted on different barrel profiles.  You can use any type of epoxy to mount it.  Brownells advertises that these can be installed with their Acraglas, but there are folks on shotgunworld.com that have used J-B Weld epoxy with satisfactory results.  So, if you don't want to spend $200 on epoxy to mount a $60 sight, then you might consider spending $6 and get a small tube of J-B Weld.  It will do the job you want for a lot less money.  You could also have the sight soldered on by a gunsmith, but again, you'll be spending more money, and it may or may not hold as well as epoxy.  Modern epoxies are very durable.  I've used J-B Weld on many applications.  From fixing slats on a futon bed, sealing a ruptured fuel tank, mending delicate porcelain, to joining two pieces of metal in order to stop squeaks and rattles, J-B Weld has never let me down.  I highly recommend this cost-effective solution.

Credit: M24shooter on SGW.com
Here is an example of the sight mounted on a plain barrel with J-B Weld.  The user mixed up a small batch of epoxy and adhered the sight to the shotgun barrel over the bead.  He then used a clamp to hold it all down until the epoxy cured.  Before hardening, he wiped the excess epoxy that squeezed out from under the sight.  Another shooter did the same thing to his gun and the sight has stayed put after hundreds of rounds fired.  That's an important note because 12 gauge shotguns are punishing weapons.  If the epoxy can hold up to hundreds of rounds of shot, then it's a strong bond that you can count on to stay put and not shoot off or break.

So, you may ask, "Why not a rear sight?"  Well, I just don't need one for my shooting.  Depending on how high the sight will sit on my shotgun, I may invest in a picatinny rail with an integrated ghost ring, but that would only be to bring my point of impact (POI) in relation to my point of aim up (POA).  As it is right now, I haven't noticed my POI being lower than my POA.  If the gun does start shooting really low at 25 yards, then the addition of a rear sight will help that because it will allow me to increase the rear sight elevation and bring up that POI.  For my shooting needs, 25 yards is a good distance.  That's 75 feet away.  The longest distance in my house (from the front of the living room to the back of the dining room) is only 45 feet, or 15 yards.  That's still well within my comfortable pistol distances, so a shotgun at that range is a slam dunk.

Another reason I don't feel I need a rear sight (opinion subject to change) is that a bead sight is fast by itself. You can easily acquire a target with a bead sight (or in this case, a big dot sight) without the need for a rear sight.  The receiver on my shotgun has grooves machined into it, which help me align the sight if I need to.  If I wanted to start driving slugs into an 8" steel plate at 100 yards, I imagine a rear sight would help out a lot, but in 31 years, I've never had to shoot a slug at that distance.  Again, my opinions can, and do change with experience.  As my shooting evolves, I remain open-minded to things that I experience today that I wouldn't have considered yesterday.  But for now, for what I do and how I shoot, adding a big dot in lieu of the bead offers advantages I currently don't enjoy with my shotgun: higher contrast, bigger sight, and night sight capability.  For $60, it's hard to pass this up.

-James

1 comment:

  1. James commenting here on my wife's account... I have the same idea you have but aim (pun intended) to take it a step further and put a tritium rear sight base on my Rem 870. Cutting a dovetail is no big deal.

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