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Irons...who uses 'em?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by armoredman, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. armoredman

    armoredman Elder

    Nov 19, 2003
    proud to be in AZ
    I'll admit, I use optics on my HD rifle, nothing special, (budget wouldn't allow it), but the Bushnell TSR-25 red dot seems to work just fine on my reliable and dependable SA vz-58.

    [img width=798 height=412]http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b13/armoredman/vz-58%20targets%20and%20pics/vz58sightininTRS25.jpg[/img]

    But when it comes to sights for walking bad country, I seem to be stuck in the iron age. CZ 527 CSR.

    [img width=800 height=668]http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b13/armoredman/527/527CSRontheline_zps2e2a4c33.jpg[/img]

    I took this rifle to the range today, and realized I had left my shooting stool and rest at home. Dagnabbit. So I figured to practice my off hand shooting, and set up Thugly the steel target at 100 yards. From a standing position I hit it about 90-95% of the time. I heard some muttering nearby, and some of the crowd there, shooting benched rifles, (one with a Lead Sled), with scopes that could double as observatories were also shooting at 100 yards...and for some reason what I was doing seemed to offend them. Thugly isn't a tiny little target - he's 8.9 inches by 14.5 inches, a 1/2 scale IDPA, so it wasn't like I was showing up their tiny little groups, (my "groups" were about 7 inches at 100 yards!), but I heard a few of them say, "Iron sights, can you believe he's using iron sights like that!"
    Is that so weird? Heck, you want weird, here's the load I was using,

    [img width=497 height=800]http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b13/armoredman/casting%20stuff/NOE129bestload_zps8306c453.jpg[/img]

    I guess the combination of the odd looking rifleand the fact that I was using handloaded CAST bullet loads in such a "common" caliber as 7.62x39mm threw everyone off, but one guy rose to the challenge, such as it was, put away the heavy bench rest rifle, stood up and joined me with a NICE 22lr target rifle and the smallest steel chicken I have ever seen at 100 yards. He hit it, too. I couldn't. :)
    So, rifle shooters, do you practice with irons, or is it all optics nowadays, and Neanderthals like me should grunt our way back into the caves?

    BTW, completely off topic, the guy who built that stock seen on the 527CSR above got to try the brand new CZ P-09 today, and for a guy firmly wedded to steel and wood, he loved the big poly framed Czech pistol, said it would make a great carry gun.

    [img width=800 height=562]http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b13/armoredman/CZ%20P-09/LarrywithP-092_zps47fb2a2d.jpg[/img]

    BTW, I realize that there are MANY shooters here that could out shoot me on any Sunday. What the heck, it was a fun morning. :)
  2. YZ

    YZ member

    Nov 10, 2012
    By using the irons you eliminated the perceived muzzle trembling. You were able to better concentrate on the front sight, instead of trying to steady the rifle.

    When the shakes are amplified by the glass, it is intuitive to try to suppress them. That often results in distraction, fatigue, and a lower score.
  3. Yarddog

    Yarddog Active Member

    Jan 28, 2010
    FL.--There's a Gator in the bushes & She's callin
    I'm lucky to see a 100 yard with iron sights. I think that's good shooting, 7" groups offhand not bad to me ; ) PS When I was younger & eyes were better mabey
  4. TexasPatriot.308

    TexasPatriot.308 Senior Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Luling Texas
    both my M1As I use only irons and will always, also AR10s, the way the military taught me 41 years ago.
  5. newglockguy

    newglockguy New Member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Southern California
    I make it a point to practice with my irons every time I go out. It's a good skill to have. I know there are several reliable optics out there but it doesn't hurt to practice with them in case of some sort of malfunction. As to the guys muttering around you, who cares?
  6. browningguy

    browningguy Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I think I only have one rifle now (that I shoot regularly) with iron sights only and it's an 1891 Mauser. Everything else has optics, even my HK USC, I just seem to be more accurate and faster with optics than without.
  7. back40

    back40 Active Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    i like stories like this...

    i've been shooting primarily irons with my GSR and my 10/22TD lately. i've been running through unsupported field positions, using a sling, and focusing on fundamentals.

    i don't have any sort of rest, so even for load development and shooting for groups i always shoot from a bipod and a rear bag. lately i've found that both myself and my groups prefer shooting from prone versus shooting from a bench. it's just what works for me.

    i think people these days get too caught up with optics and forget to learn to run irons well. i like quality optics as much as the next guy, and have my fair share, but i'm a firm believer in being capable of shooting irons well. the only way to do that is to practice...often.
  8. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Senior Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Morgan County, Alabama
    I have optics on my Remington 700, AR, Sig 556 and 556R but they also have iron sights (except the Sig 556R darn it Sig!). I have a number of other rifles, lever action, and shotties that all have iron sights.
    Despite optics of whatever type, I have always felt that rifles without sights were incomplete. I know there's people who disagree with that --that's fine. "To each his own," as the saying goes.
  9. YZ

    YZ member

    Nov 10, 2012
    Fix a bayonet Tommy :D
  10. Zoogster

    Zoogster Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    I use irons often. I have some metal back up irons that hold a better zero than I can hit with them, so I will leave those flipped up and use them quite often.
    I started because there was few ranges around, and most with any decent rifle distances required a yearly membership I didn't want to pay at the time. Or travelling hours into remote areas that allow shooting.
    They closed down the free outdoor areas nearby. The indoor ranges had about 25 yard distances.
    25 yards with optics on a centerfire rifle paying between 50 cents and $1 per shot, is not my idea of enjoyable recreation.
    But I could use the irons and still have some fun.

    I like back up irons in case you lose your optic, and they become critical on rifles with higher magnification scopes, acting as a short range sighting option.
    I enjoy a rifle with only irons and actually find some just as good as an optic at close range. I have a pair of HK type sights that you line the circles up for close range or use the posts at longer range that I think works better than many cheap optics. The posts are accurate for quite a distance, well beyond what I can do with them. You can set the posts up for longer distances and rely on the circles for short and have long and short range in a small little package.
    Paint portions of them well with a couple bright contrasting fingernail polishes and they work great. They are sleak and small and because I am using them as 'backups' or as my short range option with large magnification scopes I actually can tell myself it is a valuable skill to maintain, not inferior technology. But I only tell myself they are backups, because lately they seem to be my primaries.

    I also use some airguns for plinking and pest control, and they are almost exclusively iron sighted.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  11. stan rose

    stan rose Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    New York
    I use peep sights almost exclusively.
  12. MaterDei

    MaterDei Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2003
    I shoot primarily with irons but admit that I shoot better with glass. :)
  13. hipoint

    hipoint Active Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    I just can't bring myself to put glass on my levergun, I keep wanting to but can't... haha, I even bought mounts one day for it!

    I had a mishap while going on an actual hunt one day (that's strange for me to do since I own a farm with deer permits). I fell going down a ramp I have coming off my porch, landed on the scope of my remington 700 .30-06. Of course that's the morning I saw a big buck, shot twice before he figured out what was happening. Was about 130 yards away, saw some gore, tracked the deer all day on thanksgiving coming in only after it got dark without finding my deer. There was still just enough light to test the rifle, shot at a target and was about 18 inches low and right at 50 yards... Best guess is I gutshot the deer and felt terrible about it.

    The point of that story is from now on, if I have a scoped rifle, I can never trust it after a drop or a fall (which is pretty easy to do in these mountains). If I have a smoothbore scope only gun, after a fall I will declare it "hunt over" and go back. But if I have irons, i can just remove the scope and keep on going. Now I mostly use my .30-30 for my "walk about gun" and have since sold the remmy, but my browning a-bolt is getting some irons on it before I take it out hunting again so I don't have to abandon a hunt. The browning mostly stays in it's case in the closet, but it's the rifle I take when I actually "go hunting" rather than patrolling the farm. IMO, iron sights are a must to have on any hunting rifle, just so you can remove your scope and keep on going. I like having 2 options!

    edit *** smooth barrel, NOT smoothbore haha**
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  14. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Mentor

    Jan 8, 2011
    I have rifles with both peeps and rear ghost rings. Generally, if it can be seen, it can be hit.

    Shooting target rifles at NRA targets is fun. You can shoot groups as tight as a guy using a scope.
  15. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    Since optics aren't permitted in Service Rifle matches, I use irons often.

    It does amaze me when people disbelieve what iron sights are capable of. There were competitors out just the other week at Camp Perry shooting the 1,000 yard matches with iron-sighted rifles.

    I'll admit there's a world of difference between a good set of true match sights, and the military post-and-aperture. But those who put in the effort, and have eyes young enough to do it, can hang right in there on the line shooting with the ones using a scope.

    In this famous picture Gunny (then just a lowly Corporal) Hathcock is seen receiving recognition for winning the Wimbledon Cup. Pictured next to him is SSgt Jim Laughland being recognized for the Farr Trophy.


    What's the Farr Trophy?

    Glad you asked. The Farr Trophy is a 1,000 yard match shot concurrently, meaning side by side on the line, but entered separately from the Wimbledon. The Wimbledon is an any rifle/ any sight contest, and those using a scoped rifle are only eligible for the Wimbledon. They cannot win the Farr Trophy.

    Only Service Rifle shooters are eligible for the Farr. And if one happens to place as the top shooter overall, including compared to those shooting in the any/any category, he wins both the Farr and the Wimbledon. There are shooters firing the 1,000 yard match with a service rifle who have beat scoped rifle shooters to win both.

    Jim Laughland was three points behind Gunny Hathcock that day.


    If you look at the history between the two matches, you'll see some years where service rifle shooters and any/any match rifle shooters were only separated by a few Xs (or Vs in the case of the old Long Range targets).

    Farr Trophy history -

    Wimbledon Cup history -

    The gap has widened between the two since the 70's, but I think that's more a function of better rifle and scope technology combined with not being tied to a standard service rifle caliber in the any/any match. Some of the cartridges designed specifically for LR competitions have taken what is a competitive LR score to an entirely new level.
  16. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    When elk hunting in heavily timbered areas, I opt for my aperture sighted lever action. It works beautifully. Aperture > Buckhorn IMHO.

    When still hunting in thick cover for deer, the same rifle works pretty well.
  17. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Participating Member

    Aug 15, 2006
    I have always been an iron sights person. Right now I only have one rifle with no irons - and one of my first orders of business is to trade it in on a very similar model that does.

    That being said, up until recently none of the calibers I have dabbled in have been what I call "scope justified". You can get by with .30-30, pistol calibers and .22lr (among others) just fine without scopes, especially if you're just plinking. One caveat; I do love peep sights.

    Now that I have picked up a .223 and .243, those are definitely what I consider "scope justified" at longer ranges. I don't realistically expect much luck with any centerfire caliber for my part past about 150 yards or so with irons, and I would consider myself an average shooter - nothing special, for sure. And these eyes aren't getting any younger.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  18. GBExpat

    GBExpat Senior Member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Rural, far beyond the beltway, Northern Virginia,
    I have always preferred to shoot over irons and only very rarely use alternatives.
  19. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Centennial, CO
    I like semi buckhorn sights ala Marlin. I still prefer them to peep sights/ghost rings for snap shooting. For distance and slow fire rifle matches I think those GI peep sights are great.

    I'd like to shoot another slow fire type high power match with my Colt 6920, scoped or not. First time I tried it was with a 1903A3 and some dodgy Russian ammo. I was having trouble even getting on PAPER much less make accurate 10 ring type shots.
  20. bozzman3

    bozzman3 New Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Its a sin to use anything but irons on a M1A!

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