View Full Version : Sights: Bead vs. Ghost Ring

July 28, 2002, 06:30 PM
Having only owned shotguns with the traditional bead front sights, what are the advantages of a ghost ring over the bead? For your average home defense sitiation, would one be significantly superior to the other?

July 28, 2002, 07:36 PM
Ghost rings allow smaller shooting. Aim small, miss small and all. This is critical in HD situations. Despite GSC "boulder of death" or "you can't miss" fantasies, inside your domicile the shotgun is a rifle.

Ghostrings also help with slugs. But I've been to schools where guys bring bead shotguns and once they find the hold, they hit torsos at 75 yards.

If you practice with what you have, you will get used to it no matter what you have. An advantage for me, it that ghostrings force me to keep a weld and look at the sights more. Sometimes, when it get exciting and you have to move and groove, I have a bad habit of looking over the gun. Unfun.

Dave McC
July 28, 2002, 07:43 PM
Ghost rings are the most overmythologized accessory in Shotgunnia. They are great for deer hunting, great for jungle fighting, and great for upping the income of manufacturers and installers.

On a pure HD shotgun they're not essential, and often not an advantage.

My two "Serious" shotguns have peep sights, but that's mainly because they double as deer tools with slugs. One has a Williams and the other an old Lyman target peep. Both have the apertures removed for that GR effect. At up to 50 yards or so, very fast and reasonably accurate.

BTW, a trained and practiced hand can do well at 50 yards with a bead and slugs.

As to the newer "Designer" sights, they tend to be more expensive, more model dedicated, and oft more durable, tho not always.

No sight system beats a bead for speed, tho the peep comes close.

Otyhers may differ, but I think the preponderance of input you'll get is that a bead's fine for that mission.


July 28, 2002, 08:29 PM
I like the rifle sites for the same reason that KSFreeman mentioned. That rear site really forces me to keep a good weld.
I run an Ashlley Big Dot setup on mine and it sights a lot like a bead but that shallow V in the back really helps me get in a good shot.
Fot me, the ghost ring/peep is too slow to pick up. IMHO the Ashley is the best solution, at least for me.

July 28, 2002, 09:31 PM
hi-viz green fiber optic. very fast and much easier to see than a bead in the moderate light of a lane at the local indoor range. never tried ghost rings, but i don't see any need to pay for them now with the green glow thing.

July 28, 2002, 10:01 PM
what are the advantages of a ghost ring over the bead?
In my experience, none at all. I had MMC Ghost Ring sights put on a shotgun, and found them to be slower and more difficult for me to use than the original bead.

Ashley Outdoors Express Sights and double bead are equally good for me, and both are better than MMC Ghost Ring.

Others have different experience and opinions. User's choice.

July 30, 2002, 09:46 PM
I'm happy with a plain single bead on my 12 ga Mossberg 500 for the short ranges that I could experience in my condo Home Defense situation... 40 feet max. I've never heard convincing evidence that in my city-lit dark of night, at 3am, that the ghost rings would offer any advantage whatsoever over my bead with a gun-mounted flashlight to ID and aim at the bad guy.

To hedge my bet and deal with the vision problems of old age, I've also got a quickly mountable red-dot sight in case I need to go outside and shoot at longer ranges. ( i. e., to single-handedly save the city of Chicago from the invading hordes).

Gary H
October 15, 2002, 12:27 AM
My father was asking about ghost rings for HD. I told him that I had them, but didn't understand why. Unless I was going to need to go with slugs at a longer distance, I thought that they were of little use. Now, do you think they would be of use at fifteen feet with the B.G. behind a hostage? I'm not so sure that I would take that shot with any sights. Pistol, well that is different.

October 15, 2002, 11:15 AM
As an update to my July post above, here's some "range report" kind of results of my shooting last Sat and Sun at a tactical shotgun course...

Got to shoot with three different sight systems in one day...

I used my Mossberg 500 18.5" bbl with plain bead sight. The five other guys in my group had ghost ring sights on their 870's and Benelli's. In all of the COF's I was able to keep up with them with my bead until we started shooting slugs at 50 and 100 yards... then my number of COM hits dropped below theirs (however, my hits were still within the upper body area of the target, so not too embarassing). So, for the 1.75 days so far, I was feeling OK with my bead sight.

For the second to last drill of the 2nd day, I quickly removed my sidesaddle, mounted my Weaver Convert a Mount, attached my Red-Dot scope, took two shots to sorta zero it at 50 yds, and joined the team shooting competition at 50 and 100 yds... not an ideal way to get ready, but I didn't want to leave without at least trying my Red Dot at long range.

I shot a little bit better than with the bead at these ranges and felt like I had a better sight picture because my bead would obscure most of the target but I could select a red dot size appropriate for the distance and brightness. I am not convinced that the slight improvement in my accuracy is worth the cost of the Red Dot, but it was cheaper than a ghost ring add-on kit.

Because of my hasty (sloppy) mount of the Weaver side mount, I neglected to fully tighten a screw and wound up with a jammed bolt that would require some quality time to fix... so my SG was out of commission for the last drill of the day...

So, for the Jungle Walk I borrowed an instructor's Vang Comp'd 870 with ghost ring sights. I'd never used an 870 nor ghost ring before, but I got a chance to ask about the correct sight picture and figure out the safety and action release during the two minute walk to the starting point.

The 870 is similar enough to my Mossberg that I was able to run it pretty effectively... only had one fumble while doing a fast slug select shot that required finding the action release which is in a way different spot.

Most of the 14 targets in this COF are basically snap shots from the Hunt mount and I was totally amazed that I got good first shot hits on all of those... the ghost ring seemed like a very natural, intuitive sight system to me.

For the couple of longer, slightly slower shots, I felt very confident while lining up the shots with the ghost ring, thinking that, "... damn, this thing shoots where I point it!". (maybe $500 worth of Hans Vang work, or whatever the cost is, made a difference as well?)

The last target of the Jungle Walk was two bad guys behind one hostage with only the heads of the BG's on either side of the hostage's head. Armed only with a shotgun, my first instinct said this is a no-shoot, no-win situation.

Urged on by the instructor, I set up at about 7 yds behind a tree to shoot 00 Buck which I was advised to center the sight on the BG's outside ear. I managed to pull this off, but I don't think I would ever try it for real with a shotgun and buckshot. However, the main point is, even with an unfamiliar shotgun in hand, the ghost ring sights worked extremely well for me.

After trying these three sights, I am confident in my single bead sight for short range HD usage. I'm pretty confident that I could do OK with the bead if I had to go outside and shoot for real at longer ranges, but I sure wouldn't turn down a ghost-ring equipped gun either. With respect to the Red Dot, it is OK, but I'm glad I got it pretty cheap on sale, so no big investment in something of only marginal value.


Dave McC
October 15, 2002, 02:01 PM
An informative post, Bruce. It's nice to get the view of someone newer to the scene than I am on this.


October 15, 2002, 03:00 PM
But could someone explain or post a pic of what Ghost ring and Peep sights are? Im unfamilar with them..



Oleg Volk
October 15, 2002, 03:09 PM
I've used plain bead, fiberoptic bead, rifle sights and ghost rings. Fiberoptic bead is by far the fastest to point. Ghost ring sights (peep sights) are slowest but most precise.

Up to 20m, fiber optic bead has an edge, in my opinion. At longer ranges, ghost ring works better. Rifle (open) sights are a compromise. They worked well for trap but were slower and less precise than peep sights for longer range shooting.

October 15, 2002, 04:27 PM
Bruce - Your experience parallels what one can observe in a shotgun class. Even a relative novice with a shotgun plus ghost rings will be faster and more accurate than most with a handgun. And the shotgun is more effective. If you haven't done it, consider a SG course with a quality instructor. Randy Cain and Lou Awerbuck are considered two of the best. You will learn a lot.

Denny Hansen
October 15, 2002, 04:56 PM
I personally find a ghost ring (as opposed to a peep sight) very fast on shotguns. What's more important than what type of sight is used, however, is to know your shotgun and know where the projectile(s) will impact at what distance. Running the gun, any gun, is the easy part. Really knowing your weapon will only come with time and a lot of practice.


October 15, 2002, 06:08 PM
ljlcdl :
If you haven't done it, consider a SG course with a quality instructor.

I wouldn't expect you to check my earlier posts, but this report is based on my Second SG course with extraordinarily well qualified instructors. I have learned a lot and would recommend that anyone taking up shotgun get some professional instruction... just to minimize pain if nothing else!

My main point in my long report was that as a plain-bead shotgun kind of guy, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and intuitive ghost rings were, even while borrowing somebody else's gun.

.What's more important than what type of sight is used, however, is to know your shotgun and know where the projectile(s) will impact at what distance
That's what amazed me... here I'm shooting this totally unknown (to me) borrowed 870 and it simply does what I think it should do. I'm very comfortable with my Mossy500 and with several thousand rounds thru it I think that if I don't know it, I'm at least acquainted with it, but shooting WELL with an completely strange borrowed 870 is, in my view, a tribute to the predictability or naturalness of the well set-up, ghost-ring equipped 870, probably due to the Vang Comp treatment it got.

October 15, 2002, 06:24 PM
I like the Tru-Glo fiber optic sight on one of my Defenders. I have another Defender with a brass bead and it's getting a red Tru-Glo. I do like the ghots ring setup on the Mossberg. But I am confident with the Tru-Glo sight and so if it ain't broke...

October 15, 2002, 10:09 PM

Here's a link to Wilson Combat and one of their tricked out 870's with Ghost ring sights. Hope this will make it clear what GR sights are.



October 15, 2002, 11:42 PM
Could there be a chance that the instructor's shotgun fit you better than your own ?


October 16, 2002, 09:34 AM
Could be... I didn't have time to do the close eyes, mount gun, see where it is pointing trick, but it did seem very "natural".

October 18, 2002, 09:31 PM
Having used beads, peeps, and ghost ring sights, my opinion is that for low light, the peep and ghost ring are a hinderance. For shot opportunities past 40 yards, they are advantage in daylight.

October 19, 2002, 12:40 PM
I too prefer rifle sights. I can use them quickly and still hit my target at longer ranges.

Who makes a good tritium setup for rifle sighted shotguns?


October 19, 2002, 12:57 PM
Does anyone know where I can get a set of ghost rings for my 20.ga. defender???

December 12, 2002, 09:00 PM
Question... how does a ghost ring work? I'm nearsighted in my right eye, so I need optics of some kind. Any magnification with a ghost ring?

December 12, 2002, 11:22 PM
No optics.
Ghost ring is a peep sight.
Large hole for faster rough sighting in low light than with small hole.


December 13, 2002, 01:35 AM
TCW - Express Sight Systems make a Tritium setup for shotgun rifle sights (to replace the Remington sights on their slug barrels, for example). For those liking bead sights, but wanting something for low- or no-light use, they also offer three styles of tritium beads that can be epoxied over the existing bead, giving night aiming capability. See http://www.expresssights.com/.

December 14, 2002, 12:23 AM
For HD a bead will do fine, but a GR on your shotgun will expand its capability. Slugs and GR sights make a great team when it comes to hitting a target out to 100 yrds. Which you may very well need to do someday. Get the GR sights. Dont limit yourself. ;)

Andrew Wyatt
December 14, 2002, 01:37 PM
With a properly fitted gun, GR sights are just as fast as a bead.