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Old March 9, 2021, 10:29 PM   #1
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What distance for deer with iron sights?

If you hunt, what is the max distance at which YOU be comfortable shooting a deer with iron sights?
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Old March 9, 2021, 10:37 PM   #2
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Use Ithaca M37 and T/ C New Englander with "peep sights, at 100 yds.
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Old March 10, 2021, 12:35 AM   #3
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Depends on where I am and where the deer is and what it’s doing. If I’m in a stand with a rest and the deer is stationary, I can easily hit a deer at 200 yards with no problem. If I’m shooting off hand I’m very comfortable at 150 yards as long as the deer isn’t moving. It just depends on how good a shot you are, not how far away it is. Most hunters don’t shoot all that much and everyone should be aware of their abilities before taking ANY shot. I’ve spent a lifetime shooting competition and I do a lot of shooting year round. I’m a competition shooter who likes to hunt. Some countries make hunters take a shooting exam at running targets. If they did that here in this country we wouldn’t have nearly as many hunters. You’re not all that limited just because you’re hunting with iron sights.
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Old March 10, 2021, 01:36 AM   #4
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There are limits to iron/peep sights.

Firstly, one must have good enough vision, or corrected vision, to shoot well with same. If one is past a certain age, irons of any kind can be a real challenge,... ask me how I know. The age old rear leaf and bead/blade sight are the worst. Peeps are better, especially on longer barrels.

Secondly, light, or more correctly, lack of same, will make use of irons difficult in dawn and dusk conditions. I would say that one gives up 20-30 minutes of hunting time daily, if using irons (10-15 minutes every AM/PM). Of course, that is often when game, especially wary bucks, are moving. The problem is amplified in thick cover and shaded/deep terrain, again, where deer may well be found.

I wonder if the "running game" shooting tests are more common in countries where shooting at driven game (boar hunts for example) is the traditional hunting style? TV allows us to see some very fine shooting by those folks. I read that U.S. hunters do not do well on driven game hunts overseas. I'm not surprised, thinking its as much a cultural thing as it is lack of skill and practice. I suspect a high percentage of the whitetails in this country are now killed from elevated blind/shoot houses at stationary animals on food plots and feeders. Shooting is typically done off a rail or other type of support. I don't see where a rifle running game test would have any correlation to the type of hunting we do here. I might agree to a stationary, kill zone size target from some type of field rest though, at say 100 yds. We are already conducting hunter ed classes in most states that includes a written test.....a shooting test could be part of that, but would add time and cost. We could have a whole separate post on that.

Lately I've hunted our early muzzleloader season with traditional, sidelock .50 cal percussion rifles. The carbine has a peep, the full size rifle, leaf and blade. Shots have all been under 50 yds, well up in the morning, seated off a knee. I could see shooting to 75 with confidence given the right conditions. Everything perfect , 100 would be feasible, but I rarely can see that far due to cover and terrain where I hunt.
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Old March 10, 2021, 03:02 AM   #5
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For most people, 100 yds will be the limit. Not because of lack of skill on the part of the shooter, but limitations imposed by the equipment. At 100 yds, a .060" front sight bead covers an area about 10" in diameter, very easily obscuring the vitals area of a deer. Sure, smaller beads, different sighting techniques, etc, would reduce the effect of the size of the sight, but it is what it is. There are people who can shoot irons exceptionally well, but most people just flat can't. Then we get into the sights themselves, and iron sight marksmanship is difficult for most people.
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Old March 10, 2021, 06:12 AM   #6
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100 yards with M1 Garand sights . V notch and bead/post I am comfortable at 50-75 yards . My tired eyes can't pick up the iron sights like in the good old days .
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Old March 10, 2021, 07:20 AM   #7
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When comparing irons vs optics range is less of a limiter than light. Optics greatest advantage is allowing you to see both the target and sights in poor light.

During the 1st, and last 30 minutes or so of legal hunting time iron sights are useless whereas an optic will allow you to take the shot. At mid day on a clear day I can shoot GOOD irons well enough to make hits to at least 200 yards. Probably farther, I've just not practiced farther. But part of the issue is that many of the iron sights on rifles are junk.
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Old March 10, 2021, 02:57 PM   #8
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For aperture sights, like an M1 rifle...?

200 yards.

...maybe 250.

Same for the 6.5x55mm.

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Old March 10, 2021, 03:26 PM   #9
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The range and position that you can keep all the rounds in about a 4" circle on target.

At one time with the right rifle/ammo and prone that was about 300 yards for me. Now, maybe 60.
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Old March 10, 2021, 03:55 PM   #10
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200yd is probably my limit even under ideal conditions.


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Old March 10, 2021, 04:04 PM   #11
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When I was 20, 300yds was not impossible. Now that I'm over 60, ..not so much...
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old March 10, 2021, 07:16 PM   #12
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depends on how good you and your eyes are.
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Old March 10, 2021, 08:01 PM   #13
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100ish yards for me.

Not only the range, but time of day/lighting limit my iron sight shooting.

My eyesight isn’t good enough, even with corrective lenses, for me to be shooting at game with open sights past that.
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Old March 10, 2021, 09:00 PM   #14
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75-150 yards, depending upon cartridge and sights.

Some have sights good enough for a bit more than that. But if I can't see it well enough for a clear identification without binoculars, then I probably shouldn't shoot it.
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Old March 10, 2021, 09:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
When I was 20, 300yds was not impossible. Now that I'm over 60, ..not so much...
Likewise. I grew up hunting across soybean fields. If you couldn't make a 300 yard shot you might as well stay home. Nowadays I limit myself to 100 yards max.
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Old March 11, 2021, 09:39 AM   #16
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If you hunt, what is the max distance at which YOU be comfortable shooting a deer with iron sights?
Depends on the cartridge as well as your specific hunting area and terrain.

Inside 75-yds, say, in dark timber or the bramble bush, a dead-on 100-yd zero should be more than enough, as the round won't be dropping that much to make a difference.

You're shooting for "Minute of [Critter]." (Insert [here] the specific Critter you'll be hunting. Hint: the larger the Critter, the larger the acceptable "MOC".]

If your shots on deer-size game are in open areas/fields, but inside 200-225yds, a zero of 2"-high @ 100yds is a good rule of thumb.

As always, you'll still need to be up to the task marksmanship-wise ... If you're the star trigger-masher at Deer Camp every fall, you're probably better off buying venison at the store.
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Old March 11, 2021, 11:16 AM   #17
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Younger me 20 years ago open sights on my Ruger 44 Carbine, West Virginia I was comfortable out to 100 yards. My longest whitetail kill was maybe 130 if that. Anyway, after 100 yards the 240 grain 44 Magnum drops like a rock.

Overall for any of my open sight guns (sans 22 LR) about 100 yards. Today at 71 while I am blessed with good vision it's not that good.

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Old March 12, 2021, 01:53 PM   #18
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Lotta variables involved. Primarily the light conditions, but if you're in the bush vs open country matters too. So does your vision. And the sights.
Shot regularly with peeps while in The Queen's Service. Mostly at 100, but placed at 300. The CF's FN C1A1 nor the ammo were exactly made for great accuracy. My eyes aren't what they used to be either.
"..."running game" shooting tests are..." Germany, I think. Hunter's safety courses there are a 2 year community college thing. I believe you're correct about the pigs.
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Old March 12, 2021, 02:12 PM   #19
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Something to play around with in a ballistic calculator.I looked at this for a cut down Krag I have with a bolt peep.

Holding the blade up into the body is harder to see,even at modest ranges.

I have not tried this yet,but consider at close range ,we can see pretty well.
So we can hold for what we need.

I'm making up the numbers for illustration purposes,But suppose we sight in my Krag for dead on at maybe 300..Round nose,or semi-spitzer 2200 fps or so
Guessing the numbers,that might be 8 inches high at 100,maybe 10 inches high at 150 to 175,and maybe 9 in high 175 to 200.
Those are not calculated,I just made rough estimates.
The idea is putting the midrange trajectory above the line of sight.
And my theory is a 6 clock hold on the brisket and foreleg(generally) should hit boiler room from 100 to 200 yds .Its a lot like applying "maximum point blank range" curve above a 6 clock hold on the brisket/sternum.

Applying the eye sight advantage of a 6 oclock hold vs a center bullseye hold.

Once again those are not real numbers.Generate your own..

I have not used this.Its just an idea from playing with the software.

Last edited by HiBC; March 12, 2021 at 09:22 PM.
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Old March 12, 2021, 04:31 PM   #20
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Curiously, the two longest deer kills I ever made with iron sights were with primitive open iron sights. Not only that but the two shots were made with a .50 flintlock longrifle. The distances were 100 yards for one and the other a bit over that. I'd likely pass on that nowadays since my eyes are not as good as they once were. Over the past nearly 20 years I've hunted exclusively with flintlocks.
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Old March 12, 2021, 07:40 PM   #21
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Nice Old School wall-hanger right there!
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Old March 12, 2021, 08:40 PM   #22
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It was about 400 in my 20s and 30s. Lots of practice and shooting High Power with irons helped. Today, I don't honestly know for sure. I have not shot any big game with Irons in the last several years and the last was just past 100 with a 10" pistol in .414 SuperMag. I can still shoot 10" steel at 100 yards with my shotgun and slugs in 3Gun practice and get 1st rounds hits with just a front fiber optic.

So good sights and prescription glasses, maybe 150. But I'd not do it unless I had some range time practice. With a Henry .41Mag incoming, I will get that soon.

My 17 and 19 year old can shoot our Iron sighted .223 into 10" groups at 600 yards, but I can't anymore.
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Old March 12, 2021, 08:47 PM   #23
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For me, it's what would generally be considered "bow range". Anything longer and I'm wanting a scope (61 year old eyes don't work like 21 year old eyes).
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Old March 13, 2021, 10:36 AM   #24
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I don't cut trees over 5 inches without a chain saw and don't shoot animals without a scope. I can kill a deer, moose, woodchuck, skunk, out to 300 yards with a centerfire rifle.

Open sights are about worthless on rifles, except for receiver sights on .22LRs. When I used them we shot rats in dumps as young teens. Fifty feet was a long shot. Receiver sights extended the range to about 50 yards.

American Rifleman tested various sighting equipment from open sights and receiver sights to powerful hunting scopes. All the sighting implements were fastened to a beam on a tripod, so sighting error could be compared.

They found that a 2.5X scope can sight just as accurately as a 25X scope. Open sights were about as accurate at distances under 100 yards. Receiver sights are accurate beyond that but I don't remember how far.

Other benefit of a scope is the light-gathering power that allows a hunter to see/sight better than a person without a scope.
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Old March 14, 2021, 08:05 PM   #25
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I have shot the biggest number of my deer with sights. About half of those were shot with 12g slugs with standard rifle sights. Average less than 100yds on the wing. My rifle kills I draw the line at 150yds and most of them with receiver sight. I stalk woods and thickets and don’t hunt from stands. My main deer rifles are 30/30, 35 and 30/06. If I was shooting rested at stationary deer, in the open I would go 200yds. There is no doubt in my mind I could hit deer a 300yds but wouldn’t be practical to guarantee a kill shot.
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