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Thread: Scopes & iron Sights!

  1. #1
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Default Scopes & iron Sights!

    On most of my hunts away from home I have managed to drag along some kind of back-up rifle in case my main gun had scope failure. But, I always question going with only a scoped gun when only one gun is to be available. I have never had a problem but it seems to be a huge risk if your paying for a dream trip to risk not having a usable firearm because a scope got damaged.
    I was looking at guns with sights and the selection is pretty limited for sure. Can always add them though I reckon.
    So, how many others have either added iron sites as a backup or had a failure and wished they had the option of removing the scope and going open?
    In Canada where I get in most of my trips it is ILLEGAL to use someone else's gun - when you cross the border you must declare the guns you intend to carry - you can put the same gun on multiple forms - but if you get caught with a gun not on your list it can be confiscated and a hefty fine.
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Good scopes securely mounted are reliable, I wouldnt be concerned with a back up rifle. I have removed as much as possible of the iron sights, front blade and a portion of the express sight off my Sako.

    The possibility always exists that you could damage the scope/rifle beyond use.......horse roll over, rifle slide down the mountainside, roll a 4 wheeler with the rifle strapped to a rack....probably a bunch of ways something could happen and ruin a hunt...............just has not happened to me.

    There are other things that could go sideways, you could fall and break a bone, get deathly ill, hypothermic.......geeeez.....any number of things can and do sometimes go wrong.............I guess thats just hunting....hard to have a contingency plan for everything.....IMO
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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    I must side with Akgramps on this one. IMO irons are preferable to scopes only in the rain, otherwise I prefer to use and trust optical sights. At first glance scopes appear delicate, but experience has displayed that good quality scopes are more rugged than any factory iron sight. If a rifle has both sighting systems and it takes significant abuse, the scope is more likely to maintain zero than the iron sights are IME. There are exceptions. If the front & rear sight are integral with the barrel (either machined or soldered in place) and the front and rear blades are made of solid steel then they can be quite durable. On the new Alaskan/African model rifles Ruger uses a barrel band front (soldered) and a island rear (screwed) that works well. However the plastic tipped front bead w/o a sight hood is fairly delicate and the rear blade is aluminum. It's a good, but not great, sighting system.
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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    i am on the same page having bent front sights on several rifles...does not take much of a bump to knock them 20 inch off at 100 yards and hardley be noticable.. my savage 338, has had 2 sights put on it in 7 years.. and, <sigh> is in need of another... as i use it as a camper gun...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I have had one scope break (crosshair fell) and no sight breaks but have shot out a few shotgun beads whick is realy no problem.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  6. #6

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    What ever you do don't fall for those "hi viz" plastic fiber deally bobs. My brother bought the top of the line inline muzzleloader and equiped it with the best fiber optic sights money can buy( he says). We weren't a hundred yards into the timber when I asked him how good his Kentucky windage was cuz he'd done up and lost his high dollar glow in the dark sight already. He walked under a tee branch as big around as a pencil and the sight was done for.

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    I'm with ya AKGramps and 1Cor, scopes have always been reliable for me. I guess it was just interesting when I started looking at all the gun mfg's and noticed how few today offer open sites. Couple weeks ago I was in Ontario moose hunting and carried a Marlin 4570 XLR the majority of the time, it has both scope and irons and it felt good knowing I could pop off the Leupold QR rings and go to a backup plan. Granted the solid welded sites would be a plus but the old Marlin sites sure beat bubble gum and a stick!
    I think it would be a heart breaker to get that one great remote trip and on day one do something to disable a scope and not have a usable gun.
    I have an Encore that I kept the front site on and removed the rear so I could scope it - then stored the rear site inside the buttstock. I could see that working on other brands as well - even putting both front and rear into the butt for emg use. Beats pointing ones finger and yelling "Bang"
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Slim, yes. Zero, no.

    Smokey,
    As to your question: "...how many others have either added iron sites as a backup or had a failure and wished they had the option of removing the scope and going open?" I'll say that I had iron sights added to my rifle soon after buying it. Just for some perspective first though, I'll say that I am new to hunting (since 2008), new to bolt action rifles and aside from basic (only) .38cal/9mm/5.56mm military experience, I am still learning shooting. Probably, I'll never accumulate the kind of field or range experience that many shooters on these forums have, including the four Jedi members who've already responded.

    I will comment on my thought process that led to installing iron sights on the Kimber I purchased from another Forums member. The pros and cons of doing so are worthwhile discussion, including your comments about the "... huge risk if your paying for a dream trip to risk not having a usable firearm because a scope got damaged". Like you, I try to bring a spare rifle usually, but that isn't a great solution when weight is an issue on a flyout hunt, or if you're some distance from camp when the need arises. In fact, scopes being as reliable as they are, it's easier to leave the spare behind.

    At the time, I thought more of being afield in situations that might call for snap shooting in close brush. I had a discussion with Andy Hawk, an Anchorage gunsmith. Measurements were taken and he gave me an idea what the sights would look like before we committed. He suggested Talley Quick Detach rings with QD levers and the package has worked well for me. One drawback: the Leupold Alumina flip-up scope cover won't function behind the rear open sight. I'll attach a snapshot to give an idea.

    Whether one needs iron sights though seems one of those tough discussions in which the chances (of scope failure) are few, but not zero. To me, they add to my rifle's utility in the field adding an option for the infrequent close quarters situation or the much less likely scope failure. Last year, I read a piece by Craig Boddington, "When Scopes Go Bad" (http://www.rifleshootermag.com/shoot...902/index.html) that described his experiences with scopes (and iron sights too) failing over the years: "... while the odds of it happening at a given moment are low, and are mitigated by sticking with quality brands, it can happen to any scope at any time, and over the years I have seen examples of virtually all makes of scopes fail dismally".

    Good luck either way.
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    Looks like I'm the oddball again.
    I like irons. I've got'em on most of my guns. Just bought a used 30/06 with irons, paid way too much, but it had iron sights on it.
    Got scopes on most of them too.
    Last couple of years I've left my scopes at home. Guess I just like the sneakin up part.
    "The older I get, the better I was."

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    On bigger rifles I like a peep site mounted on the rear scope ring along with a hooded/pinned front sight, usually fiber optic. this setup has worked very well for me in the past. XS sights makes a remington 700 base with built in peep as well as brockmans rifles for the winchester 70, both of these systems work very well.

  11. #11

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    I just seem to always grab my Iron sighted with the front hood and Scope Mounted rifles. I have others but those are my go to guns. Have not had scopes fail me since the early to Mid 80's and those were Weaver, Simmons, Bushnell. Go with what makes you feel good. How many of us only take one knife on a hunt? never had one of them fail either.

  12. #12
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    All my rifles have peeps.When the scope broke in the early 70's it was mot replaced
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Interesting, different strokes for different folks. My go to moose rifle that I used on my last two moose does not even carry a scope (Chapuis double in 9,3x74R) and the last moose was shot at a lazered 286 yards.
    Iron sights are much more accurate than people give them credit for. Don't get me wrong, there are many situations a scope is desired but irons work extremely well for moose and the big bears.

    However, I have lots of rifles with scopes and the only failure experienced in the last 45 years of hunting was a cheap Bushnell that broke a cross hair on a .22

    The comfort factor of having back up sights it simply not needed. Survey was conducted on the AR forum concerning who removes a scope if it was installed with QD mounts and the answer was hardly anyone.

    If your worried about back ups, just take along an extra rifle or a handgun. Most of the time we hunt with a partner so we can even switch off rifles if one breaks. But it has never happened.
    Tennessee

  14. #14
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Tough about having only one rifle you can use when you are hunting in Canada. May our gun laws never become like theirs (may Schumer never become head of the Senate!).

    I had a scope fail once when my .30.06 was dropped on the ice at an airport (partner's kid confessed later). Luckily, after I figured out that I was missing caribou in a big way, I was able to borrow a .270 and still get my five caribou. Thank goodness for friends!

    Anyway, most scopes "see" over front sights, so it seems a really good policy to make sure that the rifle is sighted in with the iron sights (if so equipped) BEFORE you zero in the scope. Great to have thumb screw mounts too, so you can take off the scope quickly.

    I am lucky enough to be able to see the rear and front sights under the scope mounts on my old .303. But if that were not the case, I would want to be able to undo my scope and still shoot using iron sights which (hopefully) were still reasonably on.

    I never go on a moose hunt w/o both an optical and laser bore sighter to check for zero the night before opening day.

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    If you are worried about weight, the Burris fast fire is a stout little piece that weighs mere ounces, and attaches to any weaver of picatinny scope base. It's not much bigger than a scope ring. The size of the dot is fairly large but with mine, Ive been able to manage great offhand groups and from a rest at both 100 meters. and 200 meters at the Ft. Rich range. Take note of the beefy steel battle shroud around this sight. If you had a scope failure, and your rifle had no open sights, this device would save a hunt if you had to. I think mine weighs 4 oz. I left it on the bumper of my truck one time too, I was sweating golf balls that I broke it when my friend noticed it bouncing off the Seward Highway when he was following me back from the Rabbit Creek range........ but it still works fine. But this sight wouldn't be much good for you Burris-Haters out there.

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Hmmmm Mainer in Ak, that fueled some thought - I have a friend that's a machinist and perhaps an experiment with a weaver base, a set of weaver rings, and an adjustable peep site marriage may be in order!
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

  17. #17

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    1Cor15:19 said, "I must side with Akgramps on this one. IMO irons are preferable to scopes only in the rain, otherwise I prefer to use and trust optical sights"

    Yes, I agree and I use a 4200 with rain guard on my 300Win mag and my back up rifle I bring when I travel to hunt out of my state is my 358Win with VX-III 1.5x20mm

    300Win mag




    358Win


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    Member jdb3's Avatar
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    I hunt with both. My go to gun is a 1874 Shiloh Sharps so it is iron sighted, kills everything I want. 338 is scoped but I do have iron sights for it (clamp-on NEI) and the above mentioned Burris sight for my Marlin. All work well for different reasons. Jim

  19. #19
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Beartooth, why such a high scope mount on the 358?

    I suppose a feller could site in a second scope and pack it along as backup anyways, a compact unit would not weigh much and with QD rings it would be pretty simple to swap out if need be. Seems I always have a scope floating around somewhere in the house...
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

  20. #20
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    ill through my 2 cents in i have had some scopes break or drift but they were always the cheep ones that i would get when i was in my teens and couldn't afford to get a good one. However in the last 25 year of hunting i have never had a problem with a good quality scope like Leopold, Zeiss, Nightforce and in more recent years mid range Nikons. I have however had many open sight move a break and would not trust them to be still zeroed if the time ever came that i would need them. I have had horses roll over on them and run them into trees, dropped them on pavement (me, not the horses), and shot them with very high recoil calibers and they have always been outstanding.

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