Recreation and Sports

Difference between Various Sights for a Rifle

In guns, precision and accuracy are important. Unless the point where you are looking doesn’t coincide with the trajectory of the bullet from the gun, it will surely miss. Sometimes, the rifle is capable of hitting targets from distances greater than 500 meters but the eyes of the shooter become a handicap. Hence, most people tend to invest in a decent scope that helps with magnification, clarity, or simply an indication in their field of view when aiming. Scopes or rifle peep sights are important in hunting for taking clear shots. Any deviation or discrepancy can lead to unwanted chase or unnecessary suffering by the animal. Yet, you may be wondering out of the multiple options available, which sight/ scope to go for and this article is going to answer all your questions.

Different Rifle Sight Types 

Open Sights / Iron Sights

Open Sights Iron Sights

(Image Source: Peatix)

The most rudimentary sights that come factory fitted with the rifle at the time of purchase, the iron sights are, as the name suggests, sights made from iron. These have been the classic setup since the invention of rifles. It is generally a two-piece sight, with a notch/pin at the front end of the barrel and a window near the other end of the barrel. The rear sight is mostly a rectangle with a notch in the middle. When aiming, the shooter needs to look through the rear sights and match the front pin. It offers no magnification or low light capabilities but is highly durable and low maintenance.

Peep Sights

marlin and henry peep sight

Also called the aperture sights, a peep sight is a slight modification of the open sights. Instead of a rectangular slit, the peep sight has a circular window of a very small aperture. The shooter is supposed to ‘peep’ through the window and match the notch in the front. The idea behind a Marlin 1895 peep sight is that the smaller aperture allows the shooter to aim with both eyes open but the smaller aperture forces them to ignore the surroundings and only focus at the center. Moreover, the smaller aperture also causes limited light to enter the field of vision of the shooter and this allows them to see things in the middle with greater detail. Those accustomed to aiming with an eye closed might find using peep sight a bit difficult. Once accustomed, peep sight can be a trusty option without hunting in broad daylight.

Fiber Optic Sights

Fiber Optic Sights

Fiber Optic Sight is a slight modification of the iron sights to be effective in low light conditions. Instead of a metallic peg, a small strand of fiber optic is placed in the center of the front sight and two are placed in the rear slits. In low light conditions, the fiber lights up and you see a bright dot. They are comparatively inexpensive, don’t rely on the external power source for operations, and can be replaced easily. Hence, most people tend to install fiber optics in their Henry peep sights for better illumination. Available in green and orange, they are visible and make it easy to aim and align during a nighttime hunting session. When used in the daytime, the fibers are non-intrusive and won’t affect your aim. 

Reflex Sights

Reflex Sights

(Image Source: Amazon)

Instead of having a two-piece arrangement, the reflex sight eliminates the need for a front pin/ notch for aiming. The rear window has partially reflective glass that projects an aiming point in the dead center. The shooter needs to superimpose the crosshair over the background and align it to the target. This allows the shooter to aim really fast and hence is also called reflex sights. Red dot sight has a single red dot at the center of the glass and is one of the most popular reflex sight types.

Holographic sight is another type of reflex sight where a holographic reticle is illuminated into the window using a laser diode. This kind of sight requires power to operate and hence it is advised to keep an extra power source handy when outside.

Laser Sights

Laser Sights

(Image Source: Tactical Life)

Instead of having a holographic image superimposed, this type of rifle sight type uses high-intensity but low-power lasers to ‘tag’ the target. Generally paired with a telescopic rifle scope, it allows you to aim at targets at very large distances. However, it is impractical for hunting and competition-level shooting as it is not visible in strong lighting.

Telescopic Scopes

Telescopic Scopes

The real MVP of rifle scopes is the telescopic scopes. These need to be attached separately to your rifle and this may require you to invest in a correct M-LOK rifle handguard for the correct mounting options. It uses lenses to magnify the view of the shooter. It allows a sharper view and increased details on the target. Structurally, it looks like a long tube with lenses on each end but they can provide magnification from 1.5 to 80 times.

You may be tempted to opt for a higher magnification but the higher the magnification the more difficult it becomes to track your target at a glimpse. Most people use telescopic scopes when they are aware of the general location of the target and need to zoom into a particular section of the landscape. A scope that is designated 5-12×42 will magnify the image seen through it from 5-times to 12-times the normal size.

You may be wondering what the 42 signifies here. It is the diameter of the front lens, called the objective lens. The larger the diameter, the more light enters the scope, allowing finer details of the view. However, large-diameter lenses are costly to manufacture and hence are generally pricey. When considering a scope vs sight, scopes are costly but are worth their money in terms of utility.

Wrapping Up

A sight or scope for a rifle is like the tires of an automobile. Each has an avenue where it outshines others and others where others are a better choice. However, choosing the best rifle scope is like comparing apples to oranges. When considering buying a sight for your rifle, choose based on your budget, requirements, and compatibility with your rifle. When opting for a sight that requires an external power source, also factor in the cost of replacement batteries when placing the order.

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