View Full Version : Bead vs Rifle Sights vs Ghost Rings?

General Tso
March 14, 2001, 11:42 AM
Any opinions folks?

I've always used bead sighted shotguns but am seriously thinking about getting some sort of sights on my next shotgun. Use's will be general purpose defense and camp defense up in the mountains (black bear country) so I'd like to have a little more precision with slugs than my bead sighted guns have now.

Not having worked with rifle sights much though I was curious to hear other's opinions, especially in regard to ghost rings versus standard rifle sights. I like the idea of ghost rings and to be honest am leaning that way but wanted to know what I may have overlooked when it comes to the pros and cons first.

Also, how do sights impact your sighting when using shot loads, if at all?

As usual, any help would be appreciated.

Dave McC
March 14, 2001, 12:00 PM
Glad to help, General. A couple observations....

I've done some excellent work at close range with bead sights,and for the purposes you mention, they would be a great choice. A little practice with slugs and a bead should have you getting effective hits out to 25 yards. Note that slugs and shot,even buck, impact to different points, but at very close range this is only a theoretical problem.

And, a bear 25 yards off is not much of a threat. One at 10 feet sure could be.

And if I were carrying for bear, I'd load up so that the 1st round in the chamber was a slug, followed by another, then some buck of choice, but not smaller than 1.

However,if you choose to go with sights...

Sight radius on a short bbled shotgun with the standard rear on bbl runs little more than a long bbled handgun. Going to a peep sight(A GR w/o a press agent) almost doubles the sight radius,and aids accuracy.Also, if your eyes are a little older, the peep is easier to acquire, IMO.For me, a peep's also faster.

I do recommend you try out a few shotguns set up both ways and see what FEELS right.People vary greatly in what works best for them, and this is where personal experience beats the heck outa theorizing.

General Tso
March 14, 2001, 01:19 PM
Thanks for the insights Dave.

I have worked with slugs and my bead sighted guns a fair bit and pretty much, like you mentioned, do pretty well with them close in. I used to shoot 12"x18" steel with my old Winchester riot gun and could always get good, consistant center hits on those @ 50 yards. Not that a 12" x 18" target is all that small, but I figured it was good enough for solid torso hits at that range anyway :).

I guess I'm really looking at this from two angles:

1) I haven't owned a rifle sighted (or ghost ringed) shotgun yet so this is at least partially an experiment to try one out see what I can do with it if nothing else.

2) I would like to enhance my ability to use slugs when the occasion arises.

I hadn't really considerd the sight radius issue, that'll be something to add into the mix.

As to trying them both, I'm a bit hampered in that area right now as most of the guys I know have bead sighted guns, same as me. One of my buddies has a Benelli M-1 equipped with thier fixed rifle sights which I've used a bit, and I've handled the various ghost ringed guns but haven't actually got to shoot them. Unfortunately all the local rental ranges are geared more towards skeet than "combat" shotguns :).

From a "feel" perspective I like how the ghost rings line up and it does seem easier to pick them up fast. Guess the only way to be sure on that would be to get out to the range and try some though.

What's your opinion on bulk? That's another thing I was wondering about. Some of the ghost ring set ups (including both Mossberg's and Benelli's with thier protective wings) seem rather large, much more so than a conventional sighting system. Just wondering if that percieved bulk is noticeable in handling or in catching on stuff.

Jeff, CA
March 14, 2001, 02:11 PM
General (love your chicken, by the way ;) ), you've hit on just about all the pros and cons. One you haven't mentioned yet: shotgun stocks tend to be designed for beads, meaning sights may be too high to get a good cheek weld. I've observed this on both Mossbergs with peeps and 870s with barrel-mounted rear.

General Tso
March 14, 2001, 03:25 PM
Hadn't thought of that one either Jeff!

Thanks guys, that's the sort of input I was looking for, all the stuff that I overlooked :D.

Dave McC
March 14, 2001, 04:13 PM
General, my peeps are Williams or Lyman "receiver" sights, and add little bulk.Where I hunt is thick stuff, greenbriars and honeysuckle, and I cannot recall any hangups involving the peep.

Educated guess, you'll do better as a bead sight shooter for the purpose in your first post.

As for trying out GR sights, be patient. It doesn't have to be done today, does it?

General Tso
March 14, 2001, 05:39 PM
Patient? But I've got $400 allocated as shotgun money that I have to spend before the wife gets a hold of it! :D.

March 14, 2001, 05:51 PM
hahaha General. but it seems to me that every "gunwriter" is raving that ghost ring sights are the "must have" on your shotgun. so i wonder if thier right or full off hotair

March 14, 2001, 06:47 PM

You indicate "general purpose defense and camp defense" among the prospective uses of your gun. 'Just to add to the list of options for your consideration, Ashley Outdoors makes wonderful sights which, for me, are better than GR sights (which I have on my 20 gauge 870), rifle sights (which I replaced with GR), or a bead sight (which I am having replaced with Ashley Outdoors on my 12 gauge 870). I had the AO sights put on a Ruger KGP-141, and practiced with them just one week from the time I got the gun back from the gunsmith until I took a 3 day CCW qualification course last week. When I got the Ruger back, I was still so inexperienced with guns that I almost gave up on trying to learn to shoot a double action revolver efficiently. I credit the AO sights, and a week of dry firing with them, with making it easy for me (still a rank novice with any kind of gun) to place tight groups around the X on the silhouettes at the CCW firing range tests. Fast, clear, and easy target acquisition...

I am referring to the Ashley Outdoors Big Dot combat sights. I notice on their web site that they also make GR sights, which are not what I'm referring to...

[Edited by tyro on 03-14-2001 at 07:31 PM]

General Tso
March 15, 2001, 10:10 AM
Hmm, I'm familiar with the AO stuff although I've never used it. I didn't think they made the Big Dot combat sights for shotguns though?

March 15, 2001, 10:39 AM

Check out their web site, and you will see that they have a rather extensive offering for both rifles and shotguns, as well as handguns. The web site is a bit complicated, but the personnel at Ashley Outdoors are great on the phone or by e-mail.

AO web site: http://www.ashleyoutdoors.com/ecom/index.html

Phone: 1-888-744-4880


Sales/Customer Service:
Stephen Barron
[email protected]

General and Technical Information:
Bob Radecki
[email protected]

General Tso
March 16, 2001, 02:24 PM
Thanks for the tip Tyro, that's something to think about.

I see the listing for the express sights now that I know to look for it (found it under the Remington drop down menu section when looking for my 870).

Only question is, am I reading that correctly that you need to have a rifle sighted gun to begin with? If that's tcase I'd need a a new barrel before I could just switch over on my existing gun.

I'll give them a call when I'm ready to make my move.

Edit: I just e-mailed them to see what they say. If I can add sights to my existing gun that might sate my curiosity for now.

Of course, then I don't have an excuse to by another gun... :)

March 16, 2001, 02:32 PM

My 870 Police Magnum had a front bead sight only (no rear sight). My gunsmith put a rifle sight on the rear to the barrel, as a base for the AO rear sight.

March 18, 2001, 09:07 AM
Let me throw somethimg else in to the mix. For about $375 you can get a Benelli Nova with a 18.5 inch barrel and factory Ghost Ring sights. This is what I have, and the sights work great! Right out of the box at 7 to 10 yards 00 Buck makes a palm sized hole. These sights are very easy to pick up, and they are adj. for windage and elevation. Just a little food for thought.

General Tso
March 18, 2001, 09:52 AM
Now don't go doing that Matt! You're gonna confuse the issue even more!! :D

The Nova was in fact on my short list of rifle/ghost ring sighted guns I was looking at. The core of the problem is I think, that I'm a shotgun junky :). I'm not going to be happy until I try them all!

My list of rifle sighted guns was as follows:

- Benelli Nova Special Purpose with either Ghost Rings or convential rifle sights
- Winchester Camp Defender with conventional rifle sights
- Mossberg 590 with Ghost Rings
- Possibly add sights to my existing Rem 870

Now, keep in mind I don't need another pump gun, I really just want one. I have the 870 HD with a 18" barrel and screw in full choke, I have a cylinder bore Mossy 500 with 20" and full mag tube, I have a Winchester 1897 with 28" tube and full choke, plus a 10 gauge double, and a couple other oddities. Realistically, the 870 or the Mossy will do whatever I need a pump to do but I am real interested in trying out rifle sights just for curiousities sake if nothing else.

Now, I have $400 right now for a shotgun purchase and am actually looking at moving the Mossberg 500 to get something more in lines with what I want (my dad gave it to me, set up how he liked it). Now, after fully admitting I'm a shotgun junkie, I have to say I doubt I'll be truely happy until I've tried everything I'm looking at. With that in mind here's what I'm starting to think about:

- Keep my 870, put my Side saddle back on it and possibly a tritium bead and keep it for my house gun.

- Pick up a 590A1 with my $400 but maybe with a stock bead like the issue guns. I've wanted a 590 for years now and have just kept putting it off as I've always had other pump guns. There may well be better guns out there but until I get a chance to really work one over I won't be happy. Plus, I collect US military rifles from WW I up to present so having an "as issue" 590A1 appeals to me from a collectors standpoint to, even if I don't use it for any "serious" purpose.

- When I roll the Mossberg 500, pick up a Winchester Camp Defender. With it's 22" barrel, rifle sights, full length mag and screw in choke it'd make a great general purpose camp gun for me. For the limited amount and type of hunting I do these days it'd probably do fine double duty for that too, with a plug in it. Although it'd be conventional sights it does have a bit longer sight radius at least due to the extra 4" of barrel over a riot gun.

- Hold off on a Nova for now. I really like the Nova a lot but haven't got to handle the riot version yet and since it's the newest thing on my list I can wait to try one a bit.

So basically, I'd keep the 870 as a house gun; the Winchester as a field/camp gun; and the 590 partially just for collectors sake and as a high cap SHTF kinda gun :). I'd still have an excuse to get the Nova down the road as I'd still need a gun to try out a Ghost ring set up too :D.

Dunno, just a plan at this point but I'm liking the sound of it. It really only involves adding one total gun to the collection (buy a 590 but swap out the Mossy for a Winchester) and lets me shoot the Mossy, Winchester and Remington to side by side for comparison purposes too. Eventually add a Nova to that lineup and I have a pretty formidable array of shotguns :).

The other bonus of this scheme is that it's so convoluted that my wife can't figure out what the heck I'm doing :D.

[Edited by General Tso on 03-18-2001 at 09:12 PM]

March 18, 2001, 08:12 PM
As a fello shotgun junkie I feel your pain! I am trying to talk my wife into letting me spend some of that tax return money. She has this crazy idea on spending it on our soon to be born babie. I can not let hae out of my sight with a credit card. Today she spent $1000. I am begining to realize my gun purchasing days are over for a while.

General Tso
March 18, 2001, 09:09 PM
Hahaha! I certainly feel your pain Matt! I'm soon to be in your boat and that's actually partially why I'm getting some purchases out of my system while I still can :). We're trying to get pregnant right now and once that hits my gun buying will likely be severly curtailed!

I picked a .45 cal Glock 36 with my first couple reserve checks of the year and have been shuffling the inventory around to get some of the other stuff I want before then. Another full length tube shotgun was the next item on my list though, just gotta figure out what I'm doing for sure.

March 18, 2001, 09:13 PM
You lucky man. I have been debating between the Glock 36 and 19. I have a 26,30, and 24c. I wish you all the blessings of a healthy pregnancy and birth.

March 20, 2001, 05:27 PM
If you remove the barrel, how can you be sure you will hit to the exact same point of aim when you reassemble the gun?

There was a similar problem with the M60 MG - it had the adjustable rear sight on the receiver and a fixed sight on the barrel - just the opposite of what you want with replaceable barrels.

Granted, this isn't an issue if you never remove the barrel.

If you don't mind the shorter sight radius of a barrel-mounted sight, Williams makes a peep sight that replaces the rifle sight on the Remington "RS" barrels.

Dave McC
March 21, 2001, 06:38 AM
Peep sights more than a couple of inches from the eye are a stone $%^&* to use quickly, Bruegger. Ask any old soldier about the ladder sight on the 03 Springfield.

As for losing zero when the bbl is dismounted, yup, that's what happens. So, don't dismount it, clean CAREFULLY from the muzzle end, or get a Boresnake.

March 21, 2001, 07:13 AM
"Peep sights more than a couple of inches from the eye are a stone $%^&* to use quickly, Bruegger. Ask any old soldier about the ladder sight on the 03 Springfield."

Is that good or bad, Dave? I couldn't find $%^&* in my dictionary, and I don't know any soldier old enough to tell me about the 03 Springfield :).

Dave McC
March 21, 2001, 08:31 AM
Bad, Tyro. The 10" or so eye relief makes fast acquisition well nigh impossible.

My first "Deer" rifle was a stock Springfield 03. IIRC, I had a choice of 4 or 5 different notches and peeps I could use. Ended up using the "Battle Sight", that was when the ladder was laid down and living with the fact that it was zeroed for about 400 yards. But, I digress...

The fact that the zero goes away when the bbl's dismounted
may not be all that bad on a HD weapon for use within 25 yards.Divergence will not be that much,probably on the order of a few inches. For a dual purpose gun, with the possibility of taking longer shots for hunting, then it gets crucial.

But for once,a quick fix. The Boresnake does the cleaning w/o disassembly.Or,one can just rezero afterwards.

March 21, 2001, 11:25 PM
I've tried them all. Ghost rings most recently on my pre-ban M3S90 (I love that damn thing, BTW). I don't think I'll ever use anything else now. I've put 7 slugs in one fist sized ragged hole from 75 yards with the ghost rings. They are fast & precise.

Some may laugh, but I recently handled a Norinco made 870 copy and was hugely impressed. It had that solid "wingmaster" style feel to the action, unlike the cheaper 870 Express models. Synthetic stocks, ghost rings, and large head safety all for around $200. At that price you could have twice the new toys.


March 27, 2001, 04:40 PM
... but unfortunately, they're deceased.

Both were WW I veterans, and I'm pretty sure the one who was a Marine used an '03. The other was in the Army and I imagine he probably had one of the Enfields, at least until battle losses resulted in his promotion to First Sergeant.

Plain old rifle sights are fine for me for slugs with a shotgun. I got myself a nice doe :) with a rifle-sighted Win 1300 (last time I hunted in a state requiring shotguns) at a range that I would NOT have been confortable using a bead sight.

Semper fi.

Bruegger out.