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Old June 1, 2009, 05:56 PM   #1
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Iron sights versus scope

I will always be a scope person but there is a theory on scopes

Theory states that because iron sights do not bounce around in a spring cradled tube that from a physics point of view they are more reliably precise than a scope. Especially in rapid fire where a scope tube is bouncing all over the place.

I have even heard that group fliers can sometimes be attributed to a scope tube not settling back into the right spot from time to time. Also that this has even occurred in expensive scopes.

I also wonder about aimpoint sights. When they are adjusted is only the laser moved or is the aimpoint sight like a rifle scope where it has a spring cradled tube?

Note that spring cradled tube is my own word invention to describe what holds the internal tube of a scope in place. If there is a better word I would like to know what it is.
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Old June 1, 2009, 06:24 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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I believe the magnification and clarity of a scope will outweigh the moving parts in most applications, IF the scope is of good quality. There are a lot of cheap ones out there.

But there is something to your theory. Jeff Cooper said there was at least one scope breakdown in nearly every class at Gunsite out of a group of 6 -10 shooters firing 350 rounds. He favored external adjustment scopes, of which there are few if any made now. There are high level target shooters who have epoxied the internal adjustments in their scopes in place and use adjustable mounts. An old outside adjustment Unertl target scope will sell for as much as all but the very best new internal adjustment scopes. I have one on loan that is worth about $1100.

Burris makes a line of scopes with a set screw to lock down the erector tube (the industry name for your "spring cradled tube") after adjustments are made.
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Old June 1, 2009, 06:36 PM   #3
B.L.E.
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I have always preferred iron sights on .22 rimfire rifles because when you are trying to make a head shot on a squirrel that's only 20 ft away, you don't have a bore that's 1.5 inches below the sighting device.

Also, I find iron sights more aesthetically pleasing.
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Old June 1, 2009, 06:58 PM   #4
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I shoot a lot of black powder cartridge rifles using paper patch bullets and cast lead grease groove bullets out to 1000yds using iron sights.There are period correct scopes for these rifles as well. On any given day in a match there is but a few shots that separate the iron sight guys and the scope guys.It is a flip of the coin that determines who wins at any given match on any given day.Those who know how to use iron sights can shoot as well as the scope guys.
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Old June 1, 2009, 07:57 PM   #5
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Better.

I shoot BPCR, too; and the scopes seldom keep up with the Soules.
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Old June 2, 2009, 03:27 AM   #6
shooter007
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Scope, Scope, Scope, far more accurate. Unless your in a fire fight and have to worry about quick follow up shots get a red dot then. I guess if you have a brush gun like a 30-30 iron sights are ok.
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Old June 2, 2009, 06:49 AM   #7
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the question is really a non issue, based on limited knowledge of how things work.
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Old June 2, 2009, 08:15 AM   #8
Skans
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I've shot iron sights and scoped rifles. No doubt about it, scopes are more accurate. However, I've always felt that it's like cheating shooting with scoped rifles. Unless you are shooting really long distances, real men use iron sights.
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Old June 2, 2009, 08:32 AM   #9
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I would like to agree with all you iron sight folks but my eyes are getting old and worse all the time and I finally reached the point where I need a scope to see for any sort of distance shooting.
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Old June 2, 2009, 09:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
I would like to agree with all you iron sight folks but my eyes are getting old and worse all the time and I finally reached the point where I need a scope to see for any sort of distance shooting.
For the price of a good rifle, a great scope and some ammo, you could get your eyes corrected with laser surgery. That would probably help your accuracy more than the equipment.

FWIW, my eyes aren't there yet, but when I start to lose my long range vison (close up vision is already weakening), I'm getting them laser-zapped. My wife, who was so nearsignted that she was nearly blind had her eyes done. Now it ticks me off that she can read road signs before I can. And, I can still read the very bottom line on the driving license test.
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Old June 2, 2009, 09:19 AM   #11
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As with every single discussion, there is something called "totality of circumstance" when asking this question.

Are you shooting one round at a time, needing to get a first round hit on a coyote @ 500 yards? You're probably better off with a scope.

Are you shooting in CQB, in streets and buildings with distances varying between 5 and 300 yards? While the Acog is a huge plus over other magnified optics in this aspect, I think iron sights are as effective as a SHOOTING tool. The acog has advantages as an acquisition, scouting, and other purpose tool.

It depends on the rifle, the use, the user, and the application. Scopes CAN fail, so at any point I would ALWAYS recommend having iron sights to co-witness or as a backup. I also think that everyone should learn to shoot with iron sights before advancing to other optics. I may get flamed with that statement, but I'm sorry that's just the way I feel. Everyone should know how to use iron sights.

As for this...
Quote:
Theory states that because iron sights do not bounce around in a spring cradled tube that from a physics point of view they are more reliably precise than a scope. Especially in rapid fire where a scope tube is bouncing all over the place.
While this is true to a degree, you also dramatize it as well. I've been a member of a company of Marines, in Iraq, where every man had an Acog. I can't remember 1 failure of the acog during ANY deployment. I do remember 2 that were defective when we first got them. They obviously came from trijicon defective. The others have stood up well under some God-awful conditions.
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Old June 2, 2009, 09:28 AM   #12
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Depends what you are using it for. These days if you are big game hunting without a scope you are at a disadvantage IMO. Just the extra brightness and clarity especially at dawn, dusk, or in bad weather is worth it. Yes there disadvantages such as fogging in cold weather, losing zero on dropping and they can take a bit longer to acquire a target if you are not used to using it or use too much magnification. Most of these thing have been addressed by hydrophobic optical coatings, shockproofing and better low magnification wide field of view scope.
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Old June 2, 2009, 10:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
For the price of a good rifle, a great scope and some ammo, you could get your eyes corrected with laser surgery. That would probably help your accuracy more than the equipment.
Last time I checked, they weren't doing this surgery for presbyopia (age-related vision loss) -- or at least it wasn't recommended (I'm sure there are "surgeons" who'll do it regardless, if it makes them a buck or 2 ). Has this changed? I was under the impression that the reason it's not recommended is that your eyes just go right on deteriorating after the surgery -- it doesn't stop the basic process.

I wish it could be done... I can't focus on the front sight any more without low-mag glasses, and I hate that.
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Old June 2, 2009, 12:47 PM   #14
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The old-age thing is the loss of ability in focussing at various lengths/distances. You can correct for focus at one distance range, but not for all. If the target is sharp, the rear sight is probably blurred. If you can focus on both the front and rear sight, your target will be blurred.

There's reason for my tri-focals.

For eyes like mine, then, scopes are a necessity. For hunting when the light is dim, as at dawn and just before dark, a scope helps make sure that it's Bambi and not another hunter. Keeps you from shooting stump deer and prickly-pear deer, as well.
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Old June 2, 2009, 12:53 PM   #15
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Technically, a scope should not effect ACCURACY at all. A scope effects PRECISION.
As such any given rifle with a competently mounted, quality optic should ALWAYS be more precise than the exact same gun with open sights, simply because the crosshair makes it possible to "aim small".
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Old June 2, 2009, 01:13 PM   #16
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Do Aimpoint sights use a spring supported erector tube?

Or is the adjustment made by moving the aim of the laser?

Aimpoint combat sights, even magnified ones may bypass the problem of regular rifle scopes if this is the case.
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Old June 2, 2009, 01:22 PM   #17
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Both, on different guns, for different reasons.

But the basic theory is this...

A scope makes any gun easier to shoot well. Iron sights will make anyone a better shot, because they magnify errors in form.

So my basic rule is this:

Beginners should start with a scoped rifle. Getting the bullet where you want it to go is the hardest thing for the newbie, and discouragement at this point can cause said newbie to give up on shooting.

Intermediate shooters should spend some time with an iron-sighted rifle. A 22 or a .357 levergun is ideal here. The iron-sighted rifle's tendency to magnify your mistakes actually works to your advantage here, because you will know (which you wouldn't have as a newbie) what the mistakes are, and at least basically how to correct them. The enforced correctness of form will pay dividends later, when you become...

An experienced shooter. At this level, you should be able to shoot any rifle well, regardless of it's sighting system. You will begin to form preferences... it seems that, at this level, the most common choice is peep sights for shorter-range rifles, and scopes for longer-range guns, or for smaller targets... but there are fewer rules at this level, because everybody is qualified to make their own decisions based on experience.

Both systems have their place. and anyone who aspires to call himself a rifleman must understand both, and know how to use them in the situations they're best suited for.

Add in "scout" setups and red-dots, and you can find a niche for any sighting system out there, and shoot it well. This should be our goal.

--Shannon
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Old June 2, 2009, 01:23 PM   #18
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I believe whole-heartedly that everyone should learn on iron sights, and that any rifle intended for survival or serious woods work ahould have iron sights installed in case the fancy-schmancy optics get damaged or knocked out of alignment. I do love to have a scope for spotting, and would certainly have one on a rifle intended primarily for hunting... but iron sights are a must for me. Unfortunately, this makes shopping for a new rifle somewhat challenging proposition as most come from the factory clean these days.
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Old June 2, 2009, 02:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Eatman
For eyes like mine, then, scopes are a necessity.
Yup, for mine, too... I just feel like a bit of a ditz when I'm out plinking with a scoped rifle -- but then, it's more fun if I hit what I'm aiming at.

And for hunting -- I'd never, without a scope, these days.
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Old June 3, 2009, 07:27 PM   #20
James R. Burke
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I use a scope for big game hunting, and iron for the 22 rimfire's. All my scope rifles I make sure the irons are on before I mount the scope, just in case it needs to come off fast, but it never happened. I use Leupold scopes medium price and very accurate. Never ever had a problem.
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