Open Sights vs Optics

Fastrig

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Have been reading threads on optics choices and it got me to thinking, does anyone use open sights any longer when hunting? My dad insisted I learn to hunt with open sights so to me that feels natural. Used a Marlin 30-30 and Browning 30-06 lever actions for years, open sights, never had a scope. Got my first scope when I bought my first bolt action rifle 15 years ago. Still practice open sight shots out to 50, 100 and 200 yards when I go to the range, my scope mounts are all quick disconnects. Only rifle I own without fixed sights is a new Delta 5 in 308 win. For DG where shots are normally close, I’d think open sights would be more the norm or maybe they are and I’m just missing that.
 

Accidental Villain

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Wether you should use open sights or some optical thing on top of your rifle is highly a personal matter. There are many things to consider. Eyesight, what you will be hunting, and in what kind of terrain, and also just as important ; what you are used to, your training. What are you shooting with the greatest confidence.
Also highly important is your tools. Most rifles bought over the counter today is mainly made for optics and eventual open sights on them are secondary sights.
Using optics can give you a number of advantages in many situations vs. open sights. Long range, difficult light conditions. Even in really dense bush you can cranck your optical wonder up to lets say 6x or 7x and squeeze a bullet between branches and that can be the difference between having a trophy of a lifetime or no trophy at all. If going the open sights way (to me it has some and important advantages) you should aquire rifles that are from ground up open-sights designed shooters. Meaning, a stock with measurements like your favourite shotgun and just as important ; put the money you normally would use on optics in the open sights by having a great gunsmith installing a wonderful quarter rib.
After some close calls with moose and a deadly wounded bear almost on top of my feet I took the desicion to go open sights and sold all my rifles except one. But I`m like you used to shoot with open sights. My army training, shooting IPSC and skeet gives me the necessary confidence to use open sights effectively.
The advantages of open sights is field of view and better control over situations and whereabouts of trackers and/or hunting dogs. A scope can easily be knocked out of position by accident. Its easy to accidentally get dirt, leaves, fog, water, grass seeds or whatever on the lenses (Been there).. You definitely don`t want that when lets say a seriously angry buff comes at you like a freight train.
With open sight you can easily lock eyes on target, bring your rifle up to your eye and take the shot. All in one motion. You don`t have to look thru something and then at your target. Its just plain and simple.
All the rifles I use today are from the ground up designed as open sights shooters meaning a little bit of "cast off", a little more drop at heel but most importantly with a well designed quarter rib. Two of them have scope in QD mounts, but they are secondary sights. On my last hunt I had an Ele bull at about 10 ft...need a scope..?;)
 
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Fastrig

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It also depends on wether your eyes are able to focus rear and front sight. Mine just can´t do it anymore.

At 55 my eyes still aren’t too bad, light glasses, but can see where a scope would be helpful if your eyesight wasn’t what it used to be
 

Von Gruff

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I have gone to the aperture sight for my open sight hunting with a .15 or 4mm aperture with a .1 to .125 or 2-3mm square toped blade for the front sight. My 67 year old eye find that very easy to pick up (even with my tri-focal glasses) and by bringing up the rifle to where I am looking at the aim point I find it very quick and accurate. I do more scope sighted hunting now although this is not because the scope is "better" as I find the bridge mounted aperture a perfectly good hunting sight out to 200yds EXCEPT when dull lighting conditions make it more difficult to pick out animals or aim points and this is where the scope will be more effective.
 

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I really like using open sight, always have. I am 45 and starting to notice the rear sight is not quite as clear or sharp as it was in my youth. It is not effecting my shooting as yet but when the time comes I will put the peep/aperture sight to good use. As Von Gruff has. I believe the accuracy of express sights is under rated by many who don't use them. They are quick and effective. More so with a stock made to fit you, there is nothing like picking up a rifle that lines up your vision perfectly with the sights and the target as soon as it hits the shoulder. However I do think the best option for a stalking / plains game rifle is a good set of irons and a quick release scope mount. It can be a hard decision for me to hit the quick release mounts and leave that nice swarovski or leopold behind or stashing it in your pack when setting out for a walk. As much as I like using open sights I am always using a scope when waiting on water at dusk and that's where I find a good scope comes into its own for a lot of the hunting I do here in Australia.
 

bruce moulds

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a simple fact with the human eye.
it can focus at one distance only.
in the case of shooting, the critical distance of focus is where the foresight is.
thus the rear sight and the target will be out of focus.
using express sights, it is beneficial to have the rear sight further from the eye than closer, as that puts it closer to the foresight and so less out of focus.
this is more important than extending the sight radius for the job of fast close range shooting.
a aperture rear sight offers greater sight radius, and hence probable better accuracy.
but the eye must still focus on the foresight.
target apertures have smaller holes while larger holes suit hunting, for speed and light transmission while still being pretty accurate.
the human mind can still find the centre of a blurry circle as well as a sharp one.
some eyed cannot focus at foresight distance, and this can be helped with a lense.
I have astigmatism, and see two foresights, but a lense brings the two images together and also into sharp focus.
this works well on the range when not raining, but is too cumbersome in the field.
the only disadvantage of the aperture in the field is in the rain when water can get in the hole.
a big hole can be very fast to use.
open and aperture sighted rifles are convenient to carry and are not top heavy as some of the massive tactical scopes so popular today make a rifle.
bruce.
 

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Lot of long winded posts here ...so thought it would be rude not to join in... :D....basically if as I believe most in usa learnt to shoot with scopes then stay with them....if you need to follow up on DG then crank it down to 1 or 2 ...and the talk on here about charges being fairly normal is exaggerated..... If you grew up using iron sights on your air rifle... 22 and onwards then yeah give the irons a go....but as has been said many times you will hamper yourself in some situations where a scope would allow you to make the shot but no chance with iron sights... I used iron sights from bout 8 years or so when I was given an air rifle and still like using iron sights... so have irons and QD detachable scope mounts so you can use either if capable of using irons.... And get closer and enjoy the irons :D Beers:
 

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Fastrig, take a look at the front and rear irons offered by NECG. I have them on two of my large bore rifles along with Warne QD rings on a good low power scope. Then depending what and where you are hunting, you have the option of choosing which sighting system to use.
 

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@spike.t pretty much stole my thunder with one of his usual succinct if pithy posts:whistle: Most shooters today are pretty inexperienced using open sights. True proficiency with them takes years of shooting. A dear friend and PH in Moz says the most challenging client in the world is the one stepping off the plane with his brand new double with open sights.

From our perspective, most of us are pretty good with a scoped deer rifle, and have lots of experience using one on actual game. That makes the transition to a scoped dangerous game rifle pretty simple - particularly a .375, but also any of the forties. It is why the vast majority of client hunters are successful with their first buffalo.

We clients also don’t have a lot of time on a modern hunt for dangerous game. 10-7- even 5-day buffalo hunts are the norm. A client may only get one or two opportunities at what may be his one and only buffalo in a lifetime. Further limiting those opportunities with open sights is probably not wise, and certainly on a first bull. As noted above, a lot of shots have to be taken in thick brush, poor light, often among a group of other equally large and black animals. A scope makes that infinitely easier, and perhaps just as importantly, actually quicker.

I strongly second the notion of using a dismountable scope. Following my first African hunt and a follow-up on a thankfully expired leopard, all my African rifles have such mounts and quality open sights. But that is for follow-up at hand shaking range.

So, if you are really competent with irons, sure go with them. Just remember, even a true expert will be limiting his opportunities.
 

Fastrig

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Fastrig, take a look at the front and rear irons offered by NECG. I have them on two of my large bore rifles along with Warne QD rings on a good low power scope. Then depending what and where you are hunting, you have the option of choosing which sighting system to use.

Thanks, I'll go check those out...
 

Fastrig

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@spike.t pretty much stole my thunder with one of his usual succinct if pithy posts:whistle: Most shooters today are pretty inexperienced using open sights. True proficiency with them takes years of shooting. A dear friend and PH in Moz says the most challenging client in the world is the one stepping off the plane with his brand new double with open sights.

From our perspective, most of us are pretty good with a scoped deer rifle, and have lots of experience using one on actual game. That makes the transition to a scoped dangerous game rifle pretty simple - particularly a .375, but also any of the forties. It is why the vast majority of client hunters are successful with their first buffalo.

We clients also don’t have a lot of time on a modern hunt for dangerous game. 10-7- even 5-day buffalo hunts are the norm. A client may only get one or two opportunities at what may be his one and only buffalo in a lifetime. Further limiting those opportunities with open sights is probably not wise, and certainly on a first bull. As noted above, a lot of shots have to be taken in thick brush, poor light, often among a group of other equally large and black animals. A scope makes that infinitely easier, and perhaps just as importantly, actually quicker.

I strongly second the notion of using a dismountable scope. Following my first African hunt and a follow-up on a thankfully expired leopard, all my African rifles have such mounts and quality open sights. But that is for follow-up at hand shaking range.

So, if you are really competent with irons, sure go with them. Just remember, even a true expert will be limiting his opportunities.

Can see your points for those that aren't used to open sights. I find a scope takes longer for me than open sights inside 100 yards or so, but like you said, I've had LOTS of practice with open sights to the point it's second nature. Guess it's kind of like learning to fly/land a tricycle gear aircraft and then having to learn to fly a tail-dragger, night and day different experience.
 

Fastrig

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Fastrig, take a look at the front and rear irons offered by NECG. I have them on two of my large bore rifles along with Warne QD rings on a good low power scope. Then depending what and where you are hunting, you have the option of choosing which sighting system to use.

Which of NECG's irons are you using...they have quite a selection.
 

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My rear sights are a receiver or "peep" style that fit on a base that mounts where a rear scope mount would. I think if you just tell them what make and model rifle you have and what you're looking for, they'll tell you which one to get. I bought both of my rifles from other AH members that had the NECG sights either on or for the respective rifles when I bought them. One was a CZ 550 the other a Ruger No. 1. Both of which require a "unique" base. BTW there are several diameters of ghost ring sights available.
 
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Fastrig

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My rear sights are a receiver or "peep" style that fit on a base that mounts where a rear scope mount would. I think if you just tell them what make and model rifle you have and what you're looking for, they'll tell you which one to get. I bought both of my rifles from other AH members that had the NECG sights either on or for the respective rifles when I bought them. One was a CZ 550 the other a Ruger No. 1. Both of which require a "unique" base. BTW there are several diameters of ghost ring sights available.

Thanks!!
 

Dwight Beagle

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I grew up using iron sights, got my first scope in my 20’s. Now that I’m 60 iron sights flat out don’t work with my eyes.

Finn Aagaard was a proponent of scopes even on DG rifles.
 

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the right powered scope, properly mounted, should be faster than irons, because everything is in the same plane and does not have to be lined up.
 

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Can see your points for those that aren't used to open sights. I find a scope takes longer for me than open sights inside 100 yards or so, but like you said, I've had LOTS of practice with open sights to the point it's second nature. Guess it's kind of like learning to fly/land a tricycle gear aircraft and then having to learn to fly a tail-dragger, night and day different experience.
I use to believe that as well, but even in the military we have discovered that single plane sighting (red-dot in the Army's case) is significantly faster than traditional ghost rings in close combat. They are also more accurate at extended ranges. And of course they are significantly quicker yet than traditional three point alignment systems. And as you might imagine, Fort Benning accumulated years of testing and combat data before reaching that conclusion.
 

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