June 19, 2023
Gaston Glock’s polymer-frame striker-fired semiauto pistol forever changed firearms design, but while Glock’s “plastic” guns proved the critics wrong regarding reliability and performance, there was one area where these pistols could use a serious upgrade: their sights.
You don’t have to be a gunsmith to swap out Glock pistol sights, although the right tool makes sight installation a lot simpler. Like most shooters, I started out punching Glock sights out by hand, and the results were less than spectacular. Then, like so many others, I switched to a sight pusher tool—one of the big, heavy, bulky versions with lots of knobs and pads and other accessories.
So when I unboxed the new sight pusher from XS and started running through the accessories and features I nodded in approval. XS has created a pusher tool that is fast and efficient while maintaining a high level of precision.
The primary pusher tool consists of a base that’s machined from a block of aluminum, so it’s sturdy but not excessively heavy. The pusher body is anodized, and that not only offers a level of protection for the tool but also allows XS to add graphics to the exterior. These graphics include the XS logo, a QR code that leads the user to a set of directions, and reference marks that make it easy to make precision rear sight adjustments.
There are two separate XS Glock inline sight pusher kits. The simpler and more affordable of the two is the DIY kit ($150) and the upgraded Gunsmith kit ($200).
The more affordable DIY kit comes with a single brass bit and a 3/16 Allen key that turns the internal bolt that drives the bit through the sight channel and pushes the sight into place. The Gunsmith kit includes a removable magnetic T-handle and comes with two brass pusher bits.
The DIY kit features a basic front sight tool that allows you to remove the screw that holds the front sight in position. There’s no independent front sight tool in the Gunsmith kit because the T-handle serves as a front sight tool.
“We designed the DIY kit to serve for 50 to 100 sight changes,” says XS Sights’ marketing manager Addison Monroe. “We expect the Gunsmith kit, with its two brass bits, to last for about 200 sight changes.”
Unless you are a gunsmith, odds are you’ll never change the sights on 200 guns (or 100 or 50), but even if you swap out the sights on two or three pistols I believe you’ll find these sight tools to be worthwhile.
For testing, Monroe sent the DIY and Gunsmith kit versions that come with R3D night sights included. These sight-complete kits cost $255 for the DIY and $305 for the Gunsmith. By the time you purchase sights and pay a gunsmith to swap them for the factory sights you’ll likely have paid as much as you would to purchase the DIY kit.
Working on handguns can be daunting, but swapping Glock sights is very simple. Printed instructions or, as I mentioned, the QR code links, will walk you through the process.
Both sight kits work in much the same way. A non-marring polymer wedge is inserted into the channel of the tool to secure the slide in place so the rear sight can be removed. A foam pad is included for swapping out sights on smaller Slimline G42/G43/G43X pistols.
In most cases excessive force should not be required to remove the sights. I used the DIY tool to remove the wide express rear sight that comes with XS’s Big Dot front sight, and even though the rear sight was held in place with red Loc-Tite I had no trouble pressing the sight free. From there, I degreased the sight channel with alcohol and aligned the R3D rear sight in the channel.
The brass bit presses the rear sight into position with little force, and reference marks on the sight pusher tool help you center the sight in the slide by measuring from the left and right sides to verify position.
If the rear sight needs to be moved, position it so the sight pusher will shove the sight in the direction it needs to move. For reference—and these figures are listed in the directions—a distance of one hashmark is equal to 1.5 bolt rotations.
Front sight installation is much simpler. Using the provided tool, unscrew the base of the factory sight located inside the slide under the front sight post. Glock factory front sights have a thin base, so make absolutely certain that the sight removal tool is properly aligned and seated on the head of the screw before you remove it. This will prevent stripping.
Both of these kits work well, but in talking with Monroe we agreed that the Gunsmith kit was worth the extra money—and it’s not because either of us are gunsmiths or swap sights on Glock guns weekly. It comes down to hardware, specifically the magnetic T handle/front sight tool that comes with the upgraded kit.
When I tried to remove the Big Dot sight on my Glock 19, it wouldn’t budge with the standard sight removal tool. When I used the magnetic T handle from the Gunsmith kit, however, I managed to remove the front sight despite a thick layer of Loc-Tite. Plus, as Monroe pointed out, the magnetic T handle slides into position and is held in place, and it doesn’t fall out when the sight pusher is being used.
The DIY kit works fine, but the improved T-handle makes the Gunsmith kit worthwhile. Even if I weren’t going to purchase either kit I’d still go to the XS website and purchase the steel front sight tool with magnet—the same one that is included in the Gunsmith kit—for $20. That’s a component every Glock owner should have.
I wasn’t particularly impressed by the wedge when I opened the package—it seemed like a bit of a rudimentary component for a $150 tool—but the truth is that, simple as it is, the wedge is the right tool for the job.
The XS sight tool weighs just a hair over a pound, so it’s easy to carry to the range. That’s good because it allows you to make precise windage adjustments and ensure your sights are perfectly aligned.
All in all, the XS Glock sight pusher strikes a perfect balance—neither as crude as a hammer and punch nor as complex as the Rube Goldberg-inspired sight pushers on the market. This tool works well and works as advertised. Check them out at XSsights.com.