Iron Sights, is there still a place for them on the modern weapon?

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Tully Mars, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    So what are your thoughts, and why?

    Being brought up "old school" I learned to shoot proficiently before I was allowed to use a scope. I started shooting when I was 4, and shooting at least weekly by 6. By 10 I was running trap lines after school and shot almost everyday. My Father had complete and total control over me by simply waving a box of .22LR cartridges in my direction. I never forgot that lesson-you don't need to take away the gun, just the ammo;)
    All that to say that by age 12 I had shot A LOT. I was 12 yrs old before I was allowed to "shoot with glass" After that first session of owning everything that fell into the cross hairs I thought, "How can anyone miss with one of these things??!" Since then I have found out that scopes are not the Holy Grail of the Rifleman, but they sure are handy..

    So in this day of computerized scopes, holographic sights and ballistic computers is there still a place for the iron sights of old?
    In a word-YES.
    Well then, what kind is best?
    Are they all the same?
    In his reply to the thread above @BTPost gave an excellent answer and gave us a good starting point.
    As far as rifles go, for distance or precision shooting I much prefer a fine front bead and an adjustable blade rear sight. It covers less of the target in closer to medium ranges and to a point even at long distance, but still allows the shooter rapid sight acquisition for a snap shot. I'm referring to hunting type or true target rifles here not military type weapons. Williams sights have long been a standard for hunting/target sights and are factory on many fine weapons. Many of their front sights come with a hood, which I like, but many don't and end up taking them off. The rear peep sight is used primarily for dedicated target rifles, but many old .22's came stock with them.
    Iron sights on most modern military type rifles are either a notch and post or a peep and post type.
    Both types work well, and each have their following. Some of the best military sights I've ever used are on the M1 Garand and the M14. They just work well for me. I like the sights on the older HK series of battle rifles, a Ghost Ring front sight with their own version of a peep rear. They did take some getting used to.

    Aim Small Miss Small.
    This was driven into me from the time I started shooting, and I think the Iron Sight teaches that better than any other sighting system. Well, iron sights and a single shot action, but that's a different thread..
    To my way of thinking there is less margin for error with iron sights so when a shooter graduates to a scope, he/she finds it much easier. One must learn to use a scope properly just like iron sights, but having a solid background with them makes that adjustment to glass easier.

    These are some of my opinions on the matter, what are yours?
    What works for you?

    Williams Gun Sight Company | Firesights and Gunsights
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  2. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    OK, MY simplistic thinking, sorta by category, since "it depends."
    Bullseye target - peep and globe, hooded, assists concentration on the point of aim.
    Other target - peep and post
    Hunting big stuff - post and notch, easy ability to see and retain the "big picture" around you. (I like square, YMMV.)
    Hunting smaller stuff (deer and smaller) - peep and post, sim to M1, or even AR15. (co-witnessed with a scope if there's one handy.)

    Gotta think that MY preferences will not match YOUR preferences, whoever YOU might be. I'll cheerfully add that I cannot make tapered posts work with any rear sight, most especially buckhorn. Might's well close my eyes as use that setup.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
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  3. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I trained in High School on one of these...

    I will always believe that learning proper sighting first, without enhanced optics; is the proper way to learn. When I entered the Navy and visited the "A" Range in boot camp, my shots with the M1 Garand hit paper. My Company Commander asked if I had a friend down range marking my shots.....

    If your optics are damaged and you have to revert to irons, you'd best be a good wing shooter or know how to adjust and use them effectively.
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  4. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    Just my 2 cents, so don't jump on me too hard. I have always liked a peep rear sight for accuracy, and when that was mated with a round hooded sight with post, or partial round hooded sight and post as in most H&K rifles I fell in love with the results. BTW I consider the H&K diopter sight (tilted can with various peeps of different size and at different heights as turned) to be the ultimate combo for getting the job done at ranges from right in front of you to 350 yards. You get a ghost ring impression with the 200M setting that allows you to hold on center of mass on 10" target and nail it all day long rapid fire like you were shooting with a scoped weapon, except faster. for out from 200m to 350m you just shift to top edge hold on target 10" to nail it. This was what i used on my H&K SL7 .308win hunting rifle for years.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
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  5. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    The last sentence in my post asked for YOUR opinions. I'll add what works for YOU?
    Can't rightly jump on a person for doing what I asked can I?;)
    Thanks for your reply!
  6. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Iron sights still work as good as they ever did and have both relevance and purpose. They are underestimated and overlooked, so unfortunately most hunting rifles don't have them and to me it's the first sign that an military style rifle is likely a toy when I don't see them.
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    My Savage 10 FCP came without iron sights. I guess if I lose the optics I'll just have to fire for effect....
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  8. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    i grew up on irons, but as i aged vision became an issue ,so temporarily glass seemed to be a necessity.
    Secondly i hunted the mountains in brush mostly, so a scope wasn't actually necessary under normal circumstances.
    i put scopes on most all my rifles but after a while the stigmatism messed that up too .
    4 years of working inside a building and my eyes straitened out ,not perfect , but no stigmatism and no glasses either.
    Turns out, the bright sunlight made me squint and the muscles in my eyelids deformed the lenses .
    I wear dark glasses most all the time when I'm out side. but I can use irons again .
    Thank God ,
    I've taken off the scopes on my short range guns ; 10/22 and .44 mag ruger carbine because their range is with in 100 yards any way.
    Hunting in brush country it is too important to have the best view possible , a scope chokes that.
    The .223 ranch rifle has a quick removable scope , and i wish i could do this with all my rifles .
    I have special scope ( my son gave me) for the .17 HMR , it is zeroed @200 yards.
    My air guns have their special scopes , but only necessary for fun now, seeing their range is not more than 100 yards.
  9. Tackleberry

    Tackleberry Krieg Hündchen

    Never seen the batteries in iron sights go dead. Yes, you need them.
  10. Bishop

    Bishop Monkey+++

    If you can learn to shoot iron sights you can shoot any sight if your in combat and you scope takes a hit like a veitnamess sniper took by Gunny Hathcoxs and you live to tell the tale that you could still fight using your iron sights.
  11. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Great Thread! Like most, I grew up with Irons, and learned to use them to stunning effect as I was growing up. My "first" rifle was a Winchester Mod 52 Olympic Match .22 and that sucker just doesn't ever miss!!! I sort of got spoiled with that rifle, BUT, it also set the stage for what would come as I got older and the rifles got bigger! ALL hunting rifles in my battery wear Irons firstly, and then some get a scope ( depending on the type of hunting, and the rifle) and I find I prefer a Match type target sight sets, Almost exclusively Red Field Target Peep and hooded front with interchangeable inserts. For Fighting Rifle's, My experience has taught my that visibility in low light is of paramount importance with a good set of hardened battle rifle sights. On my FAL and my AR, I have a Tritium Front post, and AR A-2 National Match Rears on both, Makes both Snap shooting and long range D.M.R. type shooting possible with out any change! For LONG range on a serious high power, I have installed a set of back up irons on the right side of the stock, indexed to the barrel and this makes up close shooting possible just by tilting the rifle 90 degrees to the left and acquiring the sights like a normal rifle with a sort of short sight radius!
  12. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    You know, As one gets older, It gets harder to focus on the rear,front and the target, Who has special shooter glasses and where can I get some? Thanks
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  13. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    Start with the idea that it is impossible to focus on everything, near to far, all at the same time. Nothing on earth will do that for you, you cannot have a flat depth of field like a painting. That said, a GOOD optometrist can set you up with lenses that will take you where you want to go, specifically getting the front sight in sharp focus. The rest will be, and is supposed to be, fuzzy.

    One trick that seems to help some trap shooters is a little donut looking thing that sticks on the dominant eye's lens and forces them to see the bird and front sight on the shottie. I think that will not work (in general) for rifle and pistol, possibly excepting some types of target work.

    (Yup, been wearing glasses for a LONG time.)
  14. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    That is exactly what one of my instructors said . Learn your sights, become very proficient with them then move on. Currently I am learning accurately use the iron sites that came on the rifle.

    I was at a class and the instructor said something about cutting down the carrying handle and using for sights. He did not go into detail but he really disliked carrying handles on AR's.
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  15. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    A lot of "Old Timers" hate the carry handle on the AR series, but if you ever had to trust your life to that little rifle, you would learn to LOVE that carry handle and those wonderful sights! A true rifleman ( or rifle woman) should have the rifle in the hands, not on a sling over the shoulder, That carry handle gives you the advantages of a convenient place to carry said rifle, AND a nice tough mount for a small optic with out changing your set up! Learn to master it Motomom34 and it will never fail you. Your kind of lucky if your AR came with a carry handle, Sadly,very few are offered like that any more!
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  16. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    I think that most of us that have carried them in harm's way...would agree whole heartedly!!
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  17. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    I almost Cried when they took away my C.A.R. 16 and gave me the new flat top M-4 with all the cool guy krap. We got stuck with all these add on's that were about useless, and it turned what was once a great little carbine into just another heavy, snaggy, unbalanced P.O.S. Most of us took all that stuff off of our rifles once we went down range and gave the finger to any one that pitched a bitch about it! Only good thing to come from all that was the A-COG optic which e mounted on removable carry handles!!! LOL
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  18. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Learned marksmanship as a 14 year old in my school's cadet corps. The rifle was a WWI era SMLE Number2 MkIV .303 rifle.

    Every weapon should have an iron battle sight. Optics are a welcome bonus, not a substitute for a properly zeroed iron sight. I have used different iron sighting systems...the best sight, is on the rifle that one has at the time that it is needed....learn to use competently, a variety of sighting systems.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
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  19. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    I grew up on .22 rifles in my early years (10-bolt action) and then an old 30-30 bolt action with iron sights.... later on dad let me use his .270 with a scope ( 14 years old or so). Killed a hell of a lot of game (deer, elk) , wolves and foxes with that firearm.
    At that point I could hit anything I pointed at, either by good marksmanship or via good optics to correct. When I joined the Army, I got my hands on the M-16 and excelled easily with the open site platform and qualified Expert without thinking about it much (we qualified on multi-targets out to 300 yards with nothing but irons). After I exited service I went to the range with a friend after some years,,,, I shot open sight on a few rifles, and then went to my hunting rifle and sighted her in again. He then declared I had to shoot his .338 lap and so I said alrighty.... At about 400 hundred yards I hit a quarter..... he nodded at me and said, you can shoot... never said another thing after that. He was a civilian gun bunny that thought he was all that. He thought I was full of shit when I said I could shoot well. Never press a man, nor judge him.... give him/her the opportunity.... plain and simple. Some folks may surprise you.. through either their life experiences or hard work.... ;)
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  20. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    I wish I could like this post more than once.

    Wish I could like this part 3 times:D
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