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Factory Rifles: $600+ beauties with $.50 sights...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Matt G, May 22, 2003.

  1. Matt G

    Matt G Moderator Emeritus

    I noticed in the Sorry State Of The American Rifleman thread, that Nightcrawler, et al complained about the seeming American aversion to iron sights.

    Now, I don't know first-hand how well factory American rifles stack up against factory rifles from other lands, but I will say that the average sights that I've been seeing on new rifles are, on average, deplorable.

    Which begs the question: WHY? Expense can't be a very good answer-- the best factory sights I've seen on any rifle made in the last decade were the extremely economical receiver peep and bead-on-post Williams sights that came on my father's Savage Scout. I can buy that aluminum rear sight set-up for $35, retail.

    But buy a quality centerfire Remington, Ruger, Winchester, Browning, most Savages, etc, etc, and if you actually manage to get iron sights, they're amazingly crude. I can understand (I suppose) the sights on my NEF Handi-Rifle being only a little less coarse than the pistol sights I have on the Kimber on my belt; I bought that economical little single-shot rifle for cheap. But what of the awful buckhorn sights on the 1895GS Marlin that I bought as a gift for my father? That's a quality rifle, and yet it comes with surprisingly delicate, coarse, low and hard-to-use, super-short-radiused sights. Heck, the receiver wasn't even drilled and tapped for a Lyman receiver peep, or the like, as the '94 is! It was, however, drilled and tapped for a scope (height of folly for such a gun in .45-70, IMHO), which meant that we were able to mount the excellent Ashley Outdoors peepsight on the rear scope mounting point. But it never even crossed mine or my father's minds, when I presented the rifle to him, to ever waste a round through it with the factory original sights.

    With every rifle company searching desperately for the right combination of bolt lug surface area and stock composition and bedding techniques, I would submit that a far simpler answer to making their rifles easier to shoot with more obtainable practical accuracy (as opposed to Inherent Accuracy) would be to put quality sights on all of their rifles.

    Then, they can address that trigger issue. :)

    So do tell-- who do y'all know that puts a decent set of iron sights on their sporter rifles? In stock configuration or as an option. (please specify which)
  2. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    The only decent set of iron sights I've seen on a current rifle are on the CZ bolt guns. The Safari Magnums come with a superior set of express sights exactly like you get on a best quality British rifle from a renowned maker like Holland and Holland. Otherwise, you are absolutely on target.

    Oh yes, the Colt AR15 has a good set of sights, too.

    I think the obsession with scopes really takes a lot of the marksmanship out of shooting nowadays, too. :eek:
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    This is one of my main pet peeves with American-made rifles. American rifle shooters are known to dislike iron sights. CZ actually has an "American" line of 550's with their excellent iron sights removed for no good reason. I'm sure CZ is happy, since they spend less and charge more for them.

    In the old days, iron sights weren't just slapped on. Tangent sights, which are all but impossible to find on modern rifles, were graduated according to the elevation drop of the cartridge the rifle fired. The only such sights I know of being made today are on the excellent CZ 452. A few American rifles, like Marlin and Winchester, have very crappy graduated sights with a thin strip of sheet metal held up by a loose metal step. I had one on a Marlin .22 levergun that kept falling out when I was hunting. It made me pretty made, esp. considering how nice the rifle was in other respects.
  4. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I guess it's a bit difficult to get an accurate survey of scopes vs. irons vs. really-good-irons, insofar as what people end up with after the "package" is complete. My guess is that scopes rule.

    For the majority of all American hunting, the scope allows a higher probability of a clean kill. A scope increases the safety for other hunters. And a scope totally wipes out any point to having iron sights if you hunt first light or last light--which is when most really big whitetail bucks are taken.

    Where I would agree with the word "obsession" is in the realm of lens size and magnification. This would apply more to hunters than to paper punchers or competition shooters.

    I think it's reasonable to assume that factories believe the average user will go to a scope instead of irons, so they just don't bother with "real" iron sights...

  5. foghornl

    foghornl Well-Known Member

    Same reason that a $25,000 car comes with a $1.49 jack....Manufacturers don't figure you will use it, so why put any money into it ? ?
    They think that if you have a flat tire, you will be calling (Insert car club name here).
  6. scotjute

    scotjute Well-Known Member

    NRA's magazine just had an article on the greatly increased use by the US military in both Afghanistan and Iraq of optics on rifles and the increased effectiveness of the soldiers in target acquistion and hitting due to the optics. Almost sounds like the next big technological leap in rifles won't be in the guns themselves, but in their optically enhanced sighting systems. Something hunters have been using for some time.
  7. Ullr

    Ullr Active Member

    Well my 10/22 is wearing a Williams peep sight -- a scoped .22 at 50 meters didn't seem like much of a challenge on the range, and is a hindrance when hunting for wascally wabbits.

    For my bolt gun, I'd like to have the option of a peep sight for the brush, and a nice, bright scope for the open country. That's a little harder to arrange, so I'll probably end up with a scope only configuration.
  8. natedog

    natedog Well-Known Member

    The mini-14 has excellent garand-type sights. even the ranch model with the folding rear peap sight is good. unfortunately, it is not accurate enough to realy take advantage of them.
  9. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Well-Known Member

    all of my guns have been retrofitted with excellent iron sights, however, when i get a left hand savage in .308, it'll have a scope on it, for all of the reasons art mentioned.
  10. Matt G

    Matt G Moderator Emeritus

    Good point on the original Mini-14's sights and the AR-15's sights. Why are they good? Because they're military-inspired sights, and are actually intended for use.

    Art, you of course know that I myself do hunt with a scope quite a bit (you've seen me hunt with a scoped .257 and a scoped Savage Scout! :) ); I just think that standard sporters should come with decent sights. foghornl is spot-on with his car/jack comparison. It's such a small investment to really set up a nice rifle with a proper set of sights, or at least make it easier to mount them.
  11. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    When you consider the number of posts at TFL and here concerning the costs of rifles, and how a few dollars' difference will affect somebody's decision, I can see how the cost-competitiveness between manufacturers of comparable rifles will affect how they're equipped. We're talking marketing and costs across a wide spectrum, here, not what a relatively few people think is a Good Thing.

    It's not particularly different with cars, where $100 one way or another will affect a $15,000 decision--which is part of why you don't have vent windows any more.

    The present system of putting on your own preference in the way of sights probably makes as much sense as we can have, I guess.

  12. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Art, you really put your finger on one of the key considerations. I wish I had a nickel (OK, a buck :) ) for every thread that says, "What is the best ___. By the way, I want to spend less than $300." With the penny wise pound foolish attitude so prevalent I can understand why mfrs dispense with iron sights.

    The point about cheap scopes is also right on target. How many guys have a decent brand name firearm topped with a discount store scope? It boggles my mind every time I see one of those.
  13. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    But, BigG, here I go again with the old Devil's Advocate bit: I have $400. I want a new, civilian-style bolt-action rifle and scope. I can maybe scrounge up another $50 or so. And my scope is?

    We all know what WallyWorld gets for ADLs and suchlike...

    For the average guy with an average rifle, a "good" scope is one whose internals don't fall apart within a few boxes of shells--and those few boxes may take ten years to use up.

    :), Art
  14. nextjoe

    nextjoe Well-Known Member

    Cosmoline sez:

    Actually, they remove the iron sights for the excellent reason that it would be extremely hard to use them if they were there. The comb is too high, at least on the CZ 550 American I have sitting a few feet away from me. With a slightly lower comb, iron sights would be nice, but this stock was made to be used with a scope. That's part of the "American classic" style of stock design.

    Actually, I think CZ might have a real winner on their hands if they'd duplicate the original low-comb Winchester Model 70 stock on their iron-sight gun, instead of the Bavarian style job they offer now. For me, and virtually every shooter I've talked to, that Bavarian style stock is a major turn-off.

    I agree with the other posters on the topic of iron sights, though. Most of 'em are trash these days. CZ still knows how to do them right, at least on their big-bores:



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