Saturday, April 29, 2006

Front Sights - Surprisingly Overlooked?

I touched on the rear sights, mostly, but the front sights are important as well. I suppose you could say I overlooked them. That certainly isn't what we do when shooting. In fact the front sight may well be the most important part of the sighting system.

In the military, with "iron" sights, the post is king. Post type front sights are on most military rifles and carbines and in the US have been the thing for many years. Military shooters are accustomed to the sight picture provided by the post and peep. I think the military knows what they're doing, at least here. This combo is the most precise combat usable sight available (remember that we aren't discussing any of the electronic or telescopic sights). Shown to the left is the Marbles Sourdough sight. This sight is nothing more than a post with a copper/brass insert to highlight the sight against certain dark backgrounds. This is so that the sight can be accurately located on the target, not to use in the manner of the bead front sight.

The bead front sight is shown here to illustrate the difference. With this sight the contrasting metal is intended to provide a round circle which at least partially subtends the target. Because the part of the sight used for aiming is round it is next to impossible to consistently locate it vertically on the target or to notice canting. An inability to do either of these things can contribute to a degree of inaccuracy not present with the post. However, the bead is fast to use as one simply looks through the aperture and lays the bead on the target (covers the target) and shoots. Some folks prefer it.

Of course, some prefer to have both sight types available. The Beech Combination was created for just such a need.With the hood up a bead type sight is available and with the hooded bead folded to the down position a post type sight is made visible. Another benefit of the sight is that the two sight types can be used for different ranges without adjusting the rear sight. The one shown here is from Buffalo Arms and also adjustable for windage.

Another means of having the availability of different front sights is the globe sight. The one shown to the right has a spirit level so the shooter knows if he is canting (tilting) the rifle. These sights come with or can utilize a number of inserts with different front sight forms as shown in the photo to the left. The rings are used by target shooters and are sized to correspond with regulation bullseye targets at various ranges. One looks through the peep, places the front sight on the target so that just a ring of white shows all around the bull between the bull and the sight ring. This allows for extreme precision and consistancy in the sight picture. The post forms are used in the same way as any other post. There are even cross-hair inserts for those desiring such.

Now this isn't all there is to say about front sights, but my favorites are the sourdough and post, bead is second. The globe is good for target shooting but obscures too much target for me when in the field. I don't like the new fiber optic sights as the sight picture for MY eyes is too blurry with the bright colors used.

Scope sights you say? Well that is a whole other topic for another time.

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