Keep an Open Mind on Open Sights
Dr. John Woods 11.01.15
Fewer rifles these days come from the factory with open sights. There are exceptions though. The Winchester 94s, Marlin 336s, 1894s, and 1895s will have open sights. Some rimfire rifles, bolt guns, lever actions, and semi-autos still come equipped with open sights. Big bore African double rifles sport open sights.
A few big game hunting rifles by Browning, CZ, Remington ADLs and BDLs, 7400, 7600, Ruger, and Weatherby, plus a smattering of others, still offer open sights. ARs, AK, HKs, and other modern sporting rifles can be equipped with back up iron sights.
One would think that, with the seemingly diminished offerings of open sights, that shooters have altogether abandoned them totally in favor of optical scopes or the newfangled electronic red dots or lighted green crosshairs. I cannot honestly say when the last time it was I saw a hunting rifle in camp with open sights.
But, before you abandon them altogether, consider the utility of a good set of open sights on many types of rifles. These could be for informal tin can plinking, property protection and security, close quarters shooting, and even for hunting. My first deer rifle, a Winchester lever action Model 94 in 30-30, took many deer before I finally sold it for something more powerful, but still with open sights.
The prime advantage and use for open sights is for instinctive, quick shots on close targets. In some sectors of the country the art or science of still or stalk hunting is still preferred. This means creeping slowly through the woods or cover, hoping to jump a deer or pop a quick shot on a coyote or other target. Open sights are ideal for this type of “snap” shooting.
I envision the classic Wisco or Nor-Eastern hunter, dressed in their time honored red plaid wool coat and a knee high pair of rubber bottomed boots slipping along the edge of a “popple” Aspen grove wetland slough with that lever-action, open-sighted rifle at port arms. They could snap shoot a deer at ten to fifty yards with pure instinctive shooting.
If you are a prepper or survivalist, I highly recommend not to get too dependent on glass scopes or battery power driven sights. Give yourself the extra option of some good iron sights you can shoot quickly and accurately with a moment’s notice.