Optics Buying Guide: Iron Sights, Red Dots, and Scopes

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Today, shooters are blessed with a sometimes overwhelming number of gear possibilities to fir a broad range of field, plinking, defensive and competition scenarios. Even when you narrow the accessory universe down to sighting options, you’re still faced with iron sights, traditional red dot (reflex), and magnified scopes. Choosing the right type, or combination of types in some cases, can be a bit of a mystery. We’re going to take a look at some of the major types of optics here and detail scenarios where each makes sense.

This is the first installment in a 12-part series on optics and all things related. It’ll be kind of like going back to school, although way more fun. We’ll get into all sorts of geeky optical sighting topics like focal planes, reticles, exit pupil, minutes of angle, and even milliradians, but I promise up front, there will be no hard math. Unlike your algebra teacher, I can guarantee that all of the topics we’ll get into will be immediately useful in real life, or at least on the shooting range.

To kick things off, let’s we’re going to hit the basic definitions and pros and cons of iron sights, red dot sights, and scopes along with some discussion on when and why you might choose each.

Iron sights

Using iron sights is traditional, badass, and, therefore, cool, right? They never run out of batteries and if they’re made of something durable like steel, you can bash them about and they’ll never let you down. But have you ever thought about the science of what makes iron sights work, and, (gasp!) why they might be less than ideal?

A protected iron post front sight like this one on my Ruger 10/22 is plenty durable and reasonably fast.

A protected iron post front sight like this one on my Ruger 10/22 is plenty durable and reasonably fast.

The key to iron sights is the “s” as in the plural part. An iron sight won’t do you much good. Imagine a bead on the front of your rifle, with nothing but oxygen and your eyeball in the back. You can place the bead on target, but if your head moves so much as a millimeter up, down, or to one side or another, you’re no longer in alignment with the target. It works OK for shotguns, but not so much for precision rifle shooting. To get the barrel pointed exactly at your target, the gun needs two points of reference. Those two things, front sight and rear sight, need to align with each other. Then, both of those need to align with the desired target.

While reliable, iron sights are awfully demanding. They assume that you, the shooter, will be able to switch your eyeball focus rapidly between the front sight, the rear sight, and the target. Your eye can only focus on one thing at a time, because… biology. However, your brain fakes you out and makes you think that all three objects (front sight, rear sight, and target) are all in focus because it’s quickly switching back and forth between these three points. That gets tiring, even if you don’t realize that the eye / brain ADD festival is going on. Sure, with practice and training, you can force your brain to focus only on the front sight, while allowing it to let the rear sight and target be slightly out of focus. But that’s unnatural to our pre-existing eye-brain wiring.

Using an aperture for the rear sight makes things easier on your brain. It naturally centers the front sight post in the middle of the aperture ring.

Using an aperture for the rear sight makes things easier on your brain. It naturally centers the front sight post in the middle of the aperture ring.

I should mention a different type of iron sight setup that is easier on the eyes and brain – aperture sights. In this setup, the rear sight is a ring. Look through that to see the front sight and target. The beauty is that your brain naturally wants to center the front sight in the aperture, so you really have to worry about only the front sight and the target.

If you’re contemplating an iron sight setup, one important thing to consider is sight radius. This is simply the measurement between the front and rear sight. The longer it is, the easier it is to shoot accurately. Consider this. With a two-inch sight radius, a one-millimeter movement of the front sight off target will result in a miss by almost 18 inches. The same 1mm shift on a pistol with a six-inch sight radius will only result in a 5.9-inch miss. Now think about a rifle, with a 16 or 20-inch sight radius. It’s far easier to be accurate when the sights are farther apart.

When to choose iron sights:

Not so long ago, you could make a case for choosing iron sights simply based on durability. With just a few barely moving parts and no delicate electronics to worry about, iron sights were the “durable” choice. You never (well, very rarely) had to worry about iron sights failing you in time of need. Perhaps that’s once of the reasons that you still find iron sights on fancy double rifles designed for dangerous game safaris. There are still reasons iron sights are desirable, but durability is no longer at the very top of the list. Some of today’s red dot sights can handle incredible abuse and keep on ticking. With battery options that can last years, running out of juice is no longer the risk it once was.

A benefit of iron sights is that you have unlimited field of view at any range. This makes them excellent choices for finding and hitting moving targets. There’s no tube or optics body to block your view side to side. That’s why you’ll see iron sights on handy plinking rifles like the Ruger 10/22 shown here. On the downside, precision with iron sights is limited by the quality of the shooters eyesight. Trying to keep front sight, rear sight, and target perfectly aligned at distance remains a challenge. The bottom line is that if you have a need to hit close range and/or moving targets with a moderate degree of precision, then iron sights could be a good choice.

Red dot sights

Red dot sights are a nifty invention that completely do away with the multi-focal point challenges of iron sights. In this setup, a small red LED light in the base of the optic shines up at an angle directly at a very clever mirror. This mirror is coated so most light passes through, allowing you to see the target through it. However, red light is “bounced back” to your eyeball. The result is a red dot that hovers in space and appears to rest right on your target. That red dot sits at infinity so your eye only needs to focus on the target. Whatever the range of your target, the red dot is in focus right on it. The other neat thing about red dot sights is that they are parallax free for practical purposes. Don’t know what parallax is? Read on, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Using a zero magnification red dot sight like this Burris FastFire 3 supports your natural tendency to focus on the target and there are not three different focal points (front sight, rear sight, and target) to worry about.

Using a zero magnification red dot sight like this Burris FastFire 3 supports your natural tendency to focus on the target and there are not three different focal points (front sight, rear sight, and target) to worry about.

For many applications, red dot sights are easy and fast. There is no need to align sights. If you can see your target and the dot, things will work out, whether or not your eye is perfectly aligned with the optic.

When to choose a red dot sight:

The base technology used in a standard reflex-style red dot sight is similar to that used in heads-up display systems in things like fighter aircraft and some modern cars. The whole idea of those is to allow the pilot or driver to focus on what’s out there rather than on the screen.

Modern red dot sights like the Burris FastFire 3 have no tube to block peripheral vision. This means that they have the infinite field of view benefits of iron sights with the additional benefit of an easier and faster aiming sequence. They’re designed to be used with both eyes open, so finding, tracking, and targeting moving targets is fast. Additionally, the small one to four minute of angle typical dot size gives you excellent precision out well past 100 yards.

If you’ve got an AR type rifle, it’s hard to argue against putting a red dot sight on it unless the majority of your shooting will be farther than 200 yards. With a red dot like the FastFire, you’ll be able to shoot with both eyes open and target and hit from three yards to 200 with ease and speed. Red dot sights also make a great combination with scout rifle setups where the optics mount is in front of the receiver. Short range hunting scenarios, regardless of caliber are also great for red dot sights for the same reasons.


The neat thing about scopes is that the magical lenses inside give you what appears to be a single point of focus – your target. The crosshairs in the scope are superimposed on that target through one-third science and two-thirds VooDoo. Generally, if all is right in the world, your crosshairs will be in focus along with the target. There’s no “alignment issue” of the front sight, rear sight, and target. Just look at your target, and if the crosshairs are on it, you’re good to go. Of course, you do have to make sure that your head is aligned with the scope tube. Fortunately, if it’s not, you’ll know it because you’ll see shadow rings instead of a clear circular view of your target area.


The real fun begins when you add magnification to the optical device. Now, you can clearly see your target, with those crosshairs superimposed on it, from a much farther distance. That means precision because you can’t aim at a small point that you cannot see. Additionally, most crosshairs in a scope offer a much finer aiming point that iron sights, especially from a distance.

Scopes come with all sorts of magnification options. Some are fixed power which means that a set amount of magnification is always there. A good example is the Burris 2x20mm Handgun Scope. The fixed magnification is ideal for most handgun rounds that have a modest range. There are also hybrid styles like the AR-332 optic. Part red dot and part scope, this prismatic optic has a three-power constant magnification level. That’s low enough for fast short range use like a zero-magnification red dot but powerful enough to give you precise aiming out to several hundred yards on a good rifle. Certainly fixed-power scopes can go to higher magnification too – the military used fixed 10x scopes for decades.


This Burris Veracity high-magnification scope ranges from 4-20x magnification. We'll be using in this optics series to reach out to small targets at long range.

This Burris Veracity high-magnification scope ranges from 4-20x magnification. We’ll be using in this optics series to reach out to small targets at long range.

Other scopes feature variable magnification controlled by the user. For example, the most popular variable over the decades has been a 3-9x optic that, as the name implies, offers 3x magnification at the low end, but can be zoomed into 9x when desired.

Magnification sounds like a great thing, and it is, within reason. As you get into double digits of magnification, things like mirage (heat waves that blur your view) and field of view (how much you can see through the scope) can become issues. As long as you choose the right optic for your shooting scenario, high magnification can be a benefit. You just need to know the tradeoffs.

What the heck is parallax?

To understand parallax, you need to look no further than the speedometer on your car. When you’re driving, you can easily see that the needle is exactly pegged at 97 miles per hour. However, your passenger, looking at the needle from an angle way off your left, sees the needle pointing at a lower speed, maybe 93 miles per hour. That’s because the focal point is a single object – the speedometer needle. Depending on where you’re sitting, it’s relationship to the background behind it will appear different. It’s a similar concept with scopes.

While this explanation is not scientifically approved, I like to envision the parallax issue with optics like this. Imagine you’re shooting a rifle with iron sights. Now remove the rear sight and use only the front one to aim. You are perfectly lined up – the front sight and your eye are aligned and the target is superimposed on your sight picture. Now, without moving your rifle, move your head to the right a few inches. Your rifle is still aimed right at the target. However, your view shows your aim to be to the left of the target. That’s because you moved the “rear sight” which in this case was your eye.

A rifle scope has only one point of reference – the crosshairs. So, in theory, if you move your head sideways a bit, the crosshair can also appear to shift relative to the target.

Scopes appropriate for shooting past a couple hundred yards generally have an adjustment to minimize parallax. This 3-20x Burris Veracity has a parallax adjustment dial on the left side that is set for a distance of 400 yards.

Scopes appropriate for shooting past a couple hundred yards generally have an adjustment to minimize parallax. This 3-20x Burris Veracity has a parallax adjustment dial on the left side that is set for a distance of 400 yards.

Fortunately, at lower power, while parallax exists, it’s not really a huge problem. At low power levels and ranges less than a couple hundred yards, it would be challenging for a parallax induced miss to be more than an inch or so. At higher magnification levels and longer ranges, the issue is worthy of consideration. That’s why many higher magnification scopes have parallax adjustments to minimize the problem.

When to choose a magnified scope:

Certainly anytime you need to shoot at extended ranges of 200 yards or more, a magnified scope makes all the difference. While you can hit targets out to 500 (or more) yards with iron sights or a red dot sight, precision will suffer and it will be hard to realize the true capabilities of your rifle. For example, if you have a rifle capable of shooting one minute of angle groups, then that’s about 10 inches at a range of 1,000 yards. It’s virtually impossible for your eye to do that using iron sights.

Precision also comes into play. The crosshairs of a good scope will cover far less area on a target than either a red dot or irons, so if your shooting scenario calls for precise aim and placement, a magnified optic is the way to go.

Summing it up: irons or optics?

Many shooters make the mistake of over magnifying for the task at hand. Sure, it’s fun to aim at a Tootsie Pop at 200 yards, and if that’s your shooting game, but all means get a high power scope. Or perhaps you’re into long range varmint hunting. You’ll need pretty big magnification for that too. However, for most recreational and even competitive use like 3 Gun, you just might be better off with less magnification than you think you need.

Heck, the Appleseed Rifleman program will teach you to hit targets 400 yards away with iron sights. If you can do that, you can reach out even further using a basic optic with single-digit magnification. For this reason, I’m a big fan of using 1x (or zero magnification) red dot sights on AR-type rifles. Optically, you can easily hit targets in the “few inches” size range at 100 yards. As an example, consider the Burris FastFire 3 red dot sight. One model has a 3 MOA (Minute of Angle) dot. That means that the dot only covers three inches at 100 yards and six inches at 200 yards. That allows pretty good precision considering the speed and field of view benefits of zero magnification. As zero magnification red dot sights allow you to focus on your target, they couldn’t be simpler and there is no need for “front sight focus” discipline as with irons.

With new optics mounts and super small red dot sights, you can always choose magnification and red dot sights. This AR-332 is a fixed 3x optic that accepts a Burris FastFire 3 mount on the top. Just tilt you head up and down to quickly switch between sighting options.

With new optics mounts and super small red dot sights, you can always choose magnification and red dot sights. This AR-332 is a fixed 3x optic that accepts a Burris FastFire 3 mount on the top. Just tilt you head up and down to quickly switch between sighting options.

If you choose to go the magnified scope route, think about your most likely shooting scenarios. What size target do you need to hit and from what range? Do you need variable power for precise target identification and ability to “dial back” for increased field of view? Will you ever want to shoot at very short ranges, like 50 yards or less? Generally speaking, I might recommend looking at less magnification, rather than more, for your most common anticipated uses.

Next time we’ll get deep into all those mysterious technical terms and concepts, like focal planes, objective lenses, exit pupil, and all the other features that scope manufacturers talk about.

About the author: Tom McHale Literary assault dude writing guns & shooting books and articles. Personal accountability rocks!

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Jim McIntosh (74 yrs) October 25, 2016, 5:43 pm

    I recently build a Ruger 10/22 “target” gun out of after market parts. The comb on the stock is so high that if I look down the barrel I am obviously looking down on it and can only see approx’ the latter half of it. If I mount a scope and align it with my eye height, will that work?
    Thanks, Mac

  • Kevin September 8, 2016, 12:22 pm

    Thanks for your article Tom;
    I have an issue maybe someone can help me with: First of all, I’m not new to this subject. I had a FFL for 37 yrs and have mounted many scopes with good results and advised my customers with the same information listed in your article. But I have a problem that baffles me. I have had a squirrel problem and can’t seem to find the right tools to satisfy my needs. I have an old Remington pump .22 and on old Winchester 22 auto that I tried 2 different used scopes on each rifle and couldn’t get the pattern that I wanted with either. I bought a new Marlin 22 auto and a new Nikon rimfire scope and still couldn’t get the pattern I wanted. I bought a new 10/22 take-down target rifle, installed the Nikon and got a great pattern that lasted about 2 days before it went south. I re-tightened the forward assembly on the Ruger to the point that I can no longer take it apart and re-sighted with excellent results….at least for about 3 weeks. My sights are now off about 4 inches at 40 or so yds and the group, if you want to call it that, is about 2.5 inches big. Everything is tight and I’ve used 4 different brands of ammo trying to get and maintain a pattern. My next step is to go to my eye Dr. Other than that, do you have any suggestions?

  • Mo August 30, 2016, 10:15 pm

    One thing I did not see noted. Even if you hunt with an in-line muzzle loader which can accommodate a scope, in some states like Colorado, to hunt Elk in the muzzle loader season, you can only use iron/open sites with no glass. No scopes, so it is still a good idea to learn the skill of using iron sites.

    With that in mind I would like to see an article just on open sites. Types, mounting options etc.

    I do want to put a Red Dot Type of optic on my Ruger Super Red Hawk. It is in .454casull. Does anyone know or have suggestions due to it’s heavy recoil what would be a good option. I did have a handgun scope on it but it took forever to get on target due to blackout until perfect alignment.

  • Chris Baker May 20, 2016, 10:20 am

    I have been a devotee of the 4X32 scope for my 10/22 for at least 30 years. It’s super easy to put on target and I have used it to kill dogs and coyotes that were after my wife’s livestock. One of those shootings was a pair of dogs walking out of her chicken pen. I shot one and the other took off. I shot him too, side shot since he was running almost 90 degrees from my point of view. Missed the first but got him on the second. Didn’t lose any chickens except to our cooking pot after that. The coyote was after her goats. I shot him in a straight away from me, running pretty quickly but straight away is easy. CCI Stinger in his butt and he took about 10 steps and fell over and died coughing up blood. Crows were a problem too. One was in my wife’s chicken pen and we had been loosing chicks. I shot the crow with the 10/22 but he was facing me and the lead round nose bounced off his wing. Who knew crows wore body armor? He dropped his wing and started hopping away. I’m disabled and he was able to out run me and eventually shook off the wing trauma and flew away. That was why I switched to Stingers in the first place. But with the 10/22 and a 4X32 scope I managed to hit a crow about 75′ away. I like to think that was a pretty good shot.

    All this brings me to a question about sights… Why don’t shot guns use two sights? That batch of little round pellets doesn’t spread like they seem to think on TV.

  • SFC1SHOT May 17, 2016, 6:39 pm

    I haven’t heard anyone mention the ACOG, that’s what I have. It has served me well, no batteries to worry about, extremely tough, good at any range. If the worst ever happened and it did become damaged, I have iron sights which I’ve been using for 26yrs also. I can tell you from experience, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of within 300 meters, lol. Iron sights are fine with just a little practice. Scopes and red dots just make it easier at longer ranges, but get real most shots are not that far. Especially if you are prepping a rifle for a SHTF gun, most of your shots are going to be in self defense (20yds), if your on the offense maybe 100-200yds. Think more about combat and not about long range hunting or being a sniper; if your building a sniper rifle, then build a sniper rifle.

  • hoochbear May 16, 2016, 7:05 pm

    For just all-out fun , my Ruger 10/..22 with scope fits the bill. But is there a reasonably priced see-thru rail for 10/.22 that enables using standard sites as backup?

  • Powder Burns May 16, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Apparently none of these “SHTF Experts” have ever done any actual small game hunting with a Red Dot. (there’s a shocker) For small game like Rabbits, Squirrels and what-not, (which is what most you screwballs will be living on), they are essentially useless. The Dot obscures the target to the point that any sort of precision is out the window. In low light shooting (dusk, dawn & night), they are even worse. Ever tried to shoot a squirrel out of a brush tree with a .22? Or a rabbit in a bramble thicket? You’d be better off throwing rocks at them. Iron peep sites are better, but not by much. Low power scope 2x-7x or less with a see through base & iron sights for back up is the only way to go….You Experts need to step away from killing cardboard and go shoot some actual animals before you post this drivel..

    • Tom Horn May 19, 2016, 3:00 pm

      Well, Mr. Burns, I have been hunting squirrel with a red dot on my Savage model 42 for several years now, and I find the trade-off between the greater accuracy of a traditional scope, and the fast target acquisition of a red dot to be very acceptable. I am gathering more game than I ever did. The problem with a SHTF scenario, would be acquiring batteries. Always have a back-up plan.

    • Chris Baker May 20, 2016, 10:23 am

      I’ve tried them and like you I found them to be ineffective. I love the 4X32 scope on my 10/22.

  • Mike May 16, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Singularly the longest piece of advertising/marketing for Burris (Beretta) I’ve ever seen…

    • Administrator May 17, 2016, 7:39 am

      Beretta doesn’t not own Burris mr sharpie. You smaaat. Did you see anyone try to hide that this is sponsored content, with a lot of free useful information?

  • BRASS May 16, 2016, 12:12 pm

    Good piece except one part: While a red dot is a single focus point and sight alignment is not generally an issue, it is with most scopes. If the crosshairs/reticle focus point is not centered in the rear lens, it WILL affect accuracy.

    • Tom McHale June 11, 2016, 6:53 pm

      I figured I covered that with “Of course, you do have to make sure that your head is aligned with the scope tube.” and the whole section on parallax…

  • Rich May 16, 2016, 12:08 pm

    Quick Question on the red dot sight, will it be effected by an E.M.P.?

  • jlp May 16, 2016, 12:07 pm

    Red Dot sighting devices do have their advantages but also a lot of disadvantages and that is reliability. Batteries go dead, circuits short out or corrode, extremely cold weather etc. There is no such thing as a reliable electronic device, and when you need them the most that is when they usually fail you. There fine for playing around on the range or competition at close range but forget them when the situation is serious.

  • Alfonso Alfredo Rodriguez May 16, 2016, 11:58 am

    It all depends on the type of shooting you like. I use a modified AR15 “space gun” from White Oaks with a 26″ barrel at 7″ twist and aperture sights. The sights, all included, cost almost as much as the upper. I have no problems hitting targets at 600 yards and my eyes do not get tired but you get what you pay for and that rifle sights included is about $2K. How good are these type of sights, just ask a Palma shooter when hitting targets at 1000 yards.That said, aperture sights are very specialized expensive and not designed for hunting unless there is plenty of sun light and you are in a stable position and in no hurry to take a shot; open sights with a peep hole like the M16, or AR10’s are very good because they are designed for combat. Add a good scope to a good rifle and you can hunt or participate in several types of competition. I am not a fan of red dots for rifles although hybrids are definitely more advantageous. What kind of sights for your weapon? It all depends on what kind of shooting you are engaged in so please do not dismiss a type of sight over another in such general terms.

  • Jim Gram May 16, 2016, 11:55 am

    Old eyes sure can make use of red dots. When they were young I had no problem hitting fast moving small targets with M-14 and M1 carbines peep sights. I use to amaze friends hitting clay pigeons with the carbine and a Browning semi .22 on a trap range. And shooting down jumped ducks with a .22 rimfire. I am now old and could not think of doing the same with iron peep sights. I have not tried with a red dot on a rifle to shoot a flying duck or goose. (The DNR frowns on it) but I think I might still be able to do it. When I shoot deer and other large animals I use a scope because it is important to have one shot kills if possible. Funny how that matters so much more than when I was younger. I want to hit a very precise point on the deer that insures it will be dead before it knows what happened. Better tasting meat and I feel better about harvesting the animal. I am even thinking of putting a “Fastfire” on my 10 MM Glock, I might need it soon. Of course I am a firm believer that on combat pistols it is not M.O.A that matters but M.O.M. (Moment On Man); and there my favorite gun is a Glock 17 with dot and square white outline on the back. It simulates a peep sight and is FAR faster in acquisition than those silly (to me) three dot systems. I am back with the G-17 after seeing a performance demonstration on Underwood 9MM +P+ Perpetrators. I bought a box loaded a couple of mags and she became my favorite carry gun again. NOTHING is faster for double tapping multiple targets at different distances at handgun combat ranges (less than 25 yards)

    Thanks for the article

    • Jack Rogers July 10, 2017, 4:59 pm

      Hi Folks,
      I’m 64 and I wear trifocals. I fired expert in US Army ( which is not saying much….. ) with both M16 and 1911. I keep a Ruger Mini-14 Tactical by the bedside and I keep a Sig P2200 .40 with a thumbprint biolock on the headboard. Both weapons are for adversarial social situations. Can anyone recommend an in-expensive ($200.00) red dot for the rifle?
      Jack Rogers

      • michael January 28, 2019, 6:43 pm

        not that i would say it’s the best product in the world but it is a red dot and i was able to get mine relatively cheap under 200 but the Vortex Crossfire® Red Dot is nice and it works with a life time warranty its at least worth looking into.

  • Earl May 16, 2016, 10:49 am

    Been shooting iron sights and various types of rifle scopes for 30 years. No matter the sight , you cannot hit what you cannot see. On the range iron such sights work good on paper targets etc. I have also use them very successfully for hunting small and large game. Where the good lie it there is no problem getting good hits. That being said, better work can be done with a scope. This is true at any distance, with any caliber rifle, at any target. If like conditions are less than ideal, the scope is an even better choice. For action games etc. a red dot type saw it works well. Thankfully no days we are not limited to just iron sights or low magnification scopes. As well we can mount anything we walked on the top of just about any firearm we are using. Way cool!

  • flintman50 May 16, 2016, 8:37 am

    Best of both worlds….vintage Rem700 or Win70 – iron sights – bedded and trigger job. Put glass on it. If the glass craps out, take it off and you still have iron to make a 200+ yard shot. What happens when your glass craps out on a new “black” gun without iron sights?…your left with a shotgun with one pellet coming out the tube…..good luck.

    • hdfinder47 May 16, 2016, 10:04 am

      I know extremely few “black gun” shooters who use red dots (or scopes, for that matter) without flip up iron sights mounted on the top rail for back up. Mostly .223/5.56 but more and more AR-10’s in 308 that will shoot as well as my Rem 700 AAC-SD and have much greater fire power. I still like my 700 though.

  • Haydon Harrison May 16, 2016, 7:52 am

    Another very good reason for red dot sights is for older people. As you grow older, your eyes lose their accommodation, that is, the ability of your eye to focus on very near and very far objects because your eye’s lens won’t flex that much any more. If you focus on the front sight, the rear sight and especially the target will be just too fuzzy to see. Many people have special glasses that put the main focus on the front sight, but the target and rear sight are still fuzzy. Red dot sights remove the eye’s quandary as to what it needs to focus on.

    • Robin Miller May 16, 2016, 11:50 am

      Yes. As an older person myself, I prefer a red dot sight. It’s fine out to 100 yards or so, which is about as far as my .22 and aging eyes are good for anyway.

  • Frank May 16, 2016, 7:08 am

    I like my old Marlin .22s. Both have 4-9x scopes, but I also have the iron sights if I need them and use them on occasion. I’ve got the scope groove marked so I can put it back on in the same place, or should I say close enough to make little difference in .22 plinking/squirrel ranges.

    I think a good strategy is to have a set of iron sights that will mount on a scope rail. Then if the scope (or red dot) gets damaged (battery dies) you have an option. I say this because many rifles delete the iron sights when they have a scope base — the modern ARs for instance. I use a reflex red dot on my Mosin-Nagant and a 1916 Spanish Mauser shooter. Removed the original sight and use a rail that mounts in its place. I think I’m going to buy an aperature sight for the rail, with a matching front sight as well. As stated in the article, the short distance between the two will make accuracy suffer, but it will still be usable at 100-150 yards with decent accuracy. Don’t think I can get a rail mount rear sight that will align with the stock front sight… would be too high. I keep the original sights, and can put them back on, but the rail mount can be quickly changed and can still put the reflex sight back on, or a pistol scope. Options! Just need to practice iron sights on occasion to maintain the skill.

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