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8 Simple Steps To Improve Visibility of Sights on Springfield XD

Posted by davidhayden on June 24, 2009


I was a late comer to the sport of shooting. But with the help of some friends and a lot of help from the guys at A&S Indoor Pistol Range, I finally settled on the Springfield XD9. To this day, it is my gun of choice. Although, I do have to admit a particular fondness for my Stainless Ruger 22/45.

I did have one complaint with the XD. Between the glare from my glasses, the lights behind me at the range and a bit of a low light situation, I had some difficulty seeing the sights, especially after trying a friends Glock with tritium sights.

But, I could not afford tritium sights and after learning about the gradual decay rate, I lost interest because I did not want to have to replace them frequently as they became dim.

Failed Attempts at Improvement

Then one day it occurred to me. I decided to take some white enamel and put a spot in the dots on the site. Well that made a little difference, but I was not thrilled with the results.

Next, knowing that the stripes in the road seem bright because they mix tiny beads of glass in the paint, I thought ah ha, that is what I need to do. No luck there, this feeble attempt actually made things worse.

Ok, I really put on my thinking cap. Was there a way I could make a sight that was visible in low light or the dark. So I bought an old alarm clock off of ebay that had a radium dial. I carefully stripped the paint of the hands of the clock, mixed it with a little clear nail polish and painted the sights. Don’t bother trying this, it just makes a mess and does little or nothing to improve sight visibility.

Ok, what about glow in the dark paint. This seemed like a possible solution, except my one concern was that these paints diminish in visibility fairly quickly. My hunch was right, after a couple of hours the glow in the dark effect was all but gone. And on top of that, the glow in the dark paint did nothing to improve daytime or low light visibility.

So what is a cheap bastard to do?

The Simple Solution

I was driving out to our country home one night and noticed the reflective stripes a neighbor had put on their mail box. Wow. Even from a 1/4 mile away, those stripes popped out. But how could I apply this to a gun sight?

Here is what I did and you can easily do yourself.

  • I made a quick run to the hardware store and bought the smallest roll of 3M white reflective tape I could find
  • I went to a local fabric store and bought a hole punch used for punching holes in leather belts
  • Using the punch that pulled a plug closest in size to the depression in the XDs’ iron sights, I punched half a dozen holes in the reflective tape
  • With a small needle, I pushed the reflective tape chad out of the punch and onto a black piece of cloth where they were easy to see
  • Using a pin, I carefully peeled the back off of the little chad exposing the adhesive back
  • Very carefully, using small tweezers, I placed the small reflective dots into the depressions in the XD’s iron sights
  • Because I was afraid the dots would jar out when firing the pistol, I placed a very thin coating of clear fingernail polish over the reflective dot. (I can’t remember, but I may have put a little clear fingernail polish in the sight depressions before applying the reflective dot)
  • Using nail polish remover and a Q-tip, I carefully cleaned off all the residual clear fingernail polish

The rest, as they say is history. Those little dots have been in my XD for 5 or more years. I am so used to them, I almost forgot that they were not original equipment.

If you have a little trouble seeing your sights, you may want to give this a try. I am sure it will work for other guns as well, but I have only tried it on my XD.

I don’t have a “before” shot, but the image is how the sights look today.

David Hayden is an author, self-publisher and webmaster for Laser Sight Warehouse.


2 Responses to “8 Simple Steps To Improve Visibility of Sights on Springfield XD”

  1. thomas said

    Hi I was looking for reflective tape word and I came across this site. We are reflective tape Manufacturing company in Korea. Thanks for the info

  2. Garth Timmins said

    Thanks for the great tip! I love low-tech solutions to problems. Sounds like it might work.

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