Some say that open sights are a thing of the past. Some say you cannot shoot accurately with open sights, arguing that a scope is required to shoot little groups or kill animals as big as a trash can. And, well, some folks just don’t know. If open sighs were not worth a hoot how would we have ever won the West or our independence?
I speculate many hunters born after maybe 1975 may have never shot a rifle without a scope. Before my range at home was built, I was shooting at the local club with an iron sighted Savage 99 one evening. I was approached by a young shooter and he asked something like, “How do you hit anything without a scope?” After looking at the rifle, pointing it downrange, shaking his head and handing it back to me, he just walked away.
When I was growing up and learning to hunt and shoot, I wouldn’t say my family was poor, but we didn’t have extra money to spend on frilly things like rifle scopes. My dad, now 76, only switched to a scope a few years back because his eyesight made open sights difficult to see. Dad taught me to shoot with open sights and still do, often, just because I enjoy it.
Open sights have several advantages—you almost never have to worry about them loosing zero, they never fog-up, snow or rain never obscures the glass and they cost way less than a dependable riflescope. One of the best sources for open sights for hunting rifles and even tactical rifles and shotguns is XS Sights.
For the hunter, the XS Sights’ aperture sight is a rugged, all steel sight that consists of a blade front and fully adjustable, aperture rear. XS offers a wide variety of sights for most long guns and they even make a rear aperture sight called the Weaver Back-up that can be installed and removed on a Weaver style scope base without loosing zero. This is a great accessory for when you are miles from camp or the closest gun store and your riflescope breaks. I know because this happened to me on the first day of buck season one year.
Aperture sights are very fast to get on target because your eye automatically centers the front post in the rear aperture. A correctly sized rear aperture will look almost fuzzy as you focus on the front sight. Properly designed aperture sights like those from XS Sights allow you to select an aperture sized to suite your eye.
Of course the front sight is important too and that’s why XS Sights makes their flat top, white striped, post front sight. The flat top provides a good aiming point and the white stripe shows up better than you would expect in low light conditions. To simplify the process of selecting a front sight of the proper height, XS provides plastic test posts that can be shortened incrementally until the correct height is found. Then, you order a front sight of the corresponding height
I won’t say XS Sights, or any open sight is a better option than a scope but sometimes, especially in really harsh conditions, they can be. They eliminate the worry of breakage and loss of zero associated with a riflescope, and, with practice, they are lightening fast to get on target and a lot of fun to shoot. For most of the hunting I do I never feel handicapped if my rifle is wearing XS Sights. Just last year I traveled to Africa for the third time. My only rifle wore a set of XS sights and I didn’t miss a shot.
XS Sights makes a scout scope mount and even a replacement, rail type forearm for Marlin lever action rifles that permits the mounting of lights, lasers or other accessories. They also make a superb, tritium, defensive handgun sight too. It’s called the 24/7 and is designed to emulate the express sights often used on dangerous game rifles. In my experience they offer extremely fast acquisition because they are two things any sight on a defensive handgun should be—big and easy to see. XS Sights are available direct from XS Sights (www.xssights.com) or Brownells (www.brownells.com).