While optical technology and rifle scopes have been around for over a hundred years they’ve been mostly regulated to some hunters, and specialized troops, and police officers. Within the last fifteen years, however, the optics industry has exploded.
These days nearly every soldier and police officer’s rifle is topped with some form of optic, be it a red dot, fixed, or variable optic. These days the men and women in the United States Military are being taught from day one in boot camp how to use a rifle combat optic like a Trijicon Acog ( click here for the review ).
With the rise of optics, many new shooters fail to realize how capable a shooter can be armed only with a pair of iron sights. The United States Marine Corps would regularly take people who had never fired a rifle in their lives and at the end of three weeks have them striking targets out to 500 yards with nothing more than an M16A2 and a pair of iron sights. The task of shooting medium and long ranges with iron sights is not as daunting as many imagine.
1First Thing Is To Zero the Sight!
The first step is properly zeroing a set of iron sights on the rifle. Like scopes, iron sights require their own specific distances and adjustments to properly zero. A shooter needs to understand what style sights they are using, and how to properly zero their sights. For example, the standard AR 15/Ma6 sights require a 25-meter range and 300 meters zero target. This target simulates a 300-meter target at 25 yards.
Weapons with different calibers, different barrel lengths, and different iron sights all zero differently. Regardless of the different factors to achieve the desired performance the shooter must follow the proper instructions for a correct zero if they plan to engage at long distances with only irons.
Proper adjustments may need to be made to the front and rear sights. These adjustments can be for both windage and elevation. The shooters must zero the weapon themselves for the best result and here is a great guide on how to do it on iron sights.
2Average Iron Sight May Not Cut It!
To maximize precision, especially at ranges beyond 500 meters you should look into specialized iron sights. For shooters looking for something simple and precise, they can replace their front sight with one that is thinner. This allows the shooter to more easily see the target at extended ranges. Sights by companies like KNS Precision are a simple drop in modifications that allow for more precise shooting.
For iron sight shooting out to a thousand yards, a shooter may require something much more complicated. Specialized diopter and aperture sights. Sights like the Phoenix Precision top mount rear sight are extremely precise and very detailed. The learning curve seems steep, but the payoff allows an iron sighted shooter to engage a six by six target at a thousand yards. These sights are not for your everyday rifle, but specifically for extremely precise rifles, with barrels typically around 30 inches for a long sight radius.
Like an optic, iron sights are is only as good as the base it’s mounted on. Ensure any base you decide to use is locked down tight on the rifle. For those 1,000 yard shots I advise you have both the sight base and sight installed by a competent gunsmith.
3Iron Sights VS Modern Optics
When compared to a red dot optic a good set of iron can be more precise. Due to a vast array of adjustments that can be made on iron sights you can engage at longer ranges with more precision. Red dot and holographic sights are faster to get on target, but technology has not yet evolved to allow them to make long-range precise shots.
Iron sights are surprisingly precise, and can be extremely accurate. The NRA high power competition is evidence of not only how precise iron sights are, but how enjoyable it is to shoot long range with iron sights. There is no better feeling than being competent enough to engage a target at 500 yards or further with a simple set or iron sights.