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Applicable if you're a soldier, but we (most of us) aren't. I like my optics and I shoot much better (faster and more accurately) with them than with open sights.
 

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Everyone who knows me here knows that I'm big on the fundamentals of marksmanship - so it should come as no surprise that think a shooter's fundamentals MUST be solid.

To an extent, it is my belief that the ironsights are a critical part of these fundamentals.

What do I mean by this?

I believe that a mastery of ironsights are a part of the fundamentals.

However, how a shooter is taught use of the ironsights is something that I think can deviate from canonical: i.e. I don't necessarily believe that one must learn irons, first, before using an optic. In certain instances, I think that starting with a simple optic such as an unmagnified RDS or etched-reticle optic (particularly for those who have astigmatism) can be tremendously helpful. In this manner, the unmagnified optic helps take a level of complexity out of the equation (i.e. that "sight package" fundamental is reduced only to sight picture), thus helping the student focus on the remaining factors.

However, that said, if this is how the fundamentals are attacked, I also just as strongly believe that we must backtrack to still master traditional front/rear ironsights, in order to truly fully establish -all- of the fundamentals of marksmanship.

In my view, the optic is an enhancement to the gun to make me more effective - and towards this end, I think the article cited by the OP is extremely well-written.
 

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Iron sights are okay. I used to shoot my rifles, the old ones with only iron sights, a lot - when my eyes could still see the front sight.

Now I only carry rifles with optics. They have BUIS, who knows, if things got really bad I might still have my glasses, or pick up some that worked, but maybe not.

Optics fail? Sure they do. In 40 plus years of shooting scoped bolt action .22 and center fire rifles along with semi auto .22 and center fire rifles I've had one two fail. An old Weaver steel tube 4X on my 10/22 (vertical cross hair broke) and a cheap firefield scope on an AR 15 decided to stop adjusting for elevation one day at the range.

None of the other have failed. Some might, one of these days.

And, good luck figuring out, with iron sights, if that little discolored spot out there is a rock, or a ground hog, or something else that you need to worry about. Good luck, before the sun comes up, or after it goes down, using the iron sights to identify and engage a target that desperately deserves it. A good scope. A good scope (yup, said it twice because it's important) will let you see things when there isn't enough light for your eyes to see them. Don't believe me? Take a good scope, go outside in the dark, look around with your bare eyes, then set the scope on it's lowest power setting and look through it. If you really got a good scope, you'll be amazed at how clearly you can see things 100 to 300 yds. away.

I can sit on my front porch, with my 18" AR15 with a nice Bushnell 3X12 (56mm objective lens with that funny European cross hair set up that has three thick cross hairs pointing at the center dot and only a thin cross hair on the top side) and look across the road and field to the tree line about 100 yds. away. Without the scope I can see the top of the trees where the dark shadow of the trees meets the sky line. I can see the road in front of the field, sort of.

With the scope on 3X I can see the wires of the electric fence and the fence posts that keep the horses in the field. The dang electric wires, man! I can see the horses standing out in the field. I can see the tree trunks of the trees on the other side of the field. One night I watched a momma fox stroll along the tree line on the other side of the field with a couple of it's little ones trailing along behind it as they looked for mice/birds to catch/eat. The barn? I can see the doors, the windows, tell whether either are open/closed, see a horse looking out of one of the stalls. See the deer feeding in the field once the sun goes down and they feel safe.

A good scope. Can't beat it for target ID and increasing the effectiveness of your rifle. I have similar (but much older) scopes on my M1A and a couple other AR15's.

Sort of like putting a red dot on a pistol. You can't understand the difference till you do it/use it.
 

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Certainly, an optic will enhance the end-user's capabilities - but it still depends on that end-user's capabilities: failure to properly execute the fundamentals will still result in a miss, and that is only compounded by mistakes in setup (i.e. anything from an inadequate zero to a failure to properly mount the optic). Similarly, shortcomings of knowledge will also cause problems (and this can range from simply not understanding one's zero to a lack of DOPE or, on the other side of the spectrum, to being "sucked through the optic" in close-quarters so much that it causes tunnel-vision in what is perhaps the worst possible tactical context).

I definitely also agree that a good optic will both help in terms of low-light as well as in combating the shooter's physical limitations. But the former assumes that the end-user will have the foresight and the willingness to invest in better glass - and the latter, while absolutely important, still should be considered with a full understanding of one's true physical limits. Taking myself as a concrete example, I know from having looked through various popular modern LPVOs that every penny spent becomes increasingly visible as the lights dim. Similarly, I also know that an etched reticle helps me overcome my astigmatism. And like you said, that's completely discounting the ability of a magnified optic to help what is perhaps one of the most important tactical considerations: PID.

Before Night 1.jpg

* Photo courtesy of Pactically Tactical, host of the Partners Shoothouse class held at the Alliance (OH) Police Training Facility this past spring.

^ My main class/range gun wears a first-generation Vortex PST 1-4x, full-time. I bought it last year as I closed out my first year of carbine training, when I started to better understand how the limitations of my vision defects played with my Aimpoint T1. This purchase was my "toe in the water" test to see if I could really successfully use it in a defensive role, including how well it would work not only at-distance under daylight, but also in low-light and close-in. I've used this setup this entire past year in multiple daytime and low-light carbine classes, and the LPVO has proven its value to me, that it is compatible with my goals, my wants and needs. I'm currently saving for what will be my "one and only" price-irrelevant purchase: something with exceptional glass, something light, something durable/reliable, something with daylight visible illumination - I've already gotten a recommendation from a few top-tier shooters (Steve Fisher, John "Chappy" Chapman, etc.), it's just a matter of me gathering my pennies. :)

And are modern optics durable? I can say without a doubt that they certainly are. I know I've knocked mine around - and I know that I've seen others knock theirs around, too - and worse. Yet, by and by, in the majority, the good optics (and mounts) stay not only fully functional, but also retained or returned-to-zero in a consistent and reliable manner. But just as undeniable is that they can and do fail. My T1 actually broke during zeroing on a training-day. Luckily, I'd gotten close enough right before its adjustments went and was able to stay within the BSA template for the rest of the weekend, but the unit was returned to Sweden by Aimpoint in VA, and what returned to me from Sweden was a new T1, and not what I'd sent. Even top-tier optics are not immune, here.

You're absolutely right - I'd much rather have an optic that's suitable for the mission at-hand than not. And furthermore, I completely agree that it's complete folly for anyone to insist that, somehow, a modern optic is a hindrance or liability. If anything, it's an enabler, it's a force-multiplier. And this risks my putting words down for the other participants of this thread, but I really don't think that anyone is arguing in this manner. :) However, at the same time, the fundamentals that ironsights insist upon should not be lost to this enhancement.
 

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At 17, when I joined the Army, the M16A1 only had iron sites on it. No Scopes, Red Dots, or any form of optics were allowed. 20 round magazines
upload_2017-11-27_23-43-59.png

I have no idea what they start basic training with now. I'll bet it's really something only.
 

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Hey @Cuda66, IF my optic goes down, I will transition to my backup rifle which has the exact same optic and trigger and continue on. Then I will get the optic repaired/replaced and bring my primary rifle back up to functionality. The likelihood of my optic going down is VERY unlikely as it's a scope with an etched reticle that can be lit. That's what I would do.

At any rate, my life doesn't depend on it, so it ends up being an inconvenience rather than life threatening. I'm not doing raids or battling hordes of drug dealers or breaking down doors. I'm doing shooting games and having fun at the range. That is exactly why I say this article is for soldiers, not regular guys.

I can shoot open sights, but my shooting is MUCH better with optics.
 

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At any rate, my life doesn't depend on it, so it ends up being an inconvenience rather than life threatening. I'm not doing raids or battling hordes of drug dealers or breaking down doors. I'm doing shooting games and having fun at the range. That is exactly why I say this article is for soldiers, not regular guys.
^ Ah, but what about the regular guys who use the gun for defensive purposes? ;) It's a thin line, right? :)

Would it also be reasonable to suggest that we common law-abiding citizens don't need "assault rifles?" Or how about magazines of a certain capacity? ;)

You're absolutely right in that the article maintained a military-oriented tone throughout, but the truth of the matter is that those same considerations are also directly applicable for civilian use - and not only is that in the context of a defensive weapon, but also as a gaming gun.

Working through the author's numerated topics:

Engagement distances will dictate one's zero as well as impact the selection of optic and other aiming/aiming-aid devices.

Weight matters just as much for a prepper who is looking at their bug-out/traveling load as a student taking a multi-day class. And the weight and weight-distribution of a weapon can significantly impact its handling characteristics, when tenths or even hundredths of a second are on the line.

The basics of marksmanship are just as important in any context.

[ The point about optics/irons is the topic of the current debate, so I'll skip that one. :) ]

Mechanical versus practical accuracy again wraps back to the fundamentals of marksmanship and the BSA template, and once again, matters just as much to the solider on the battlefield as a civilian defensive shooter as it also does a student in a training class or a shooter in competition.
 

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TSiWRX, I am perfectly comfortable using my personal rifle(s) for self-defense. Since they are set up as primarily gaming guns, they are fast, accurate, reliable and handy. They've been used extensively and hard and have been cared for and maintained meticulously. I KNOW they will work under a lot of conditions and positions. And please don't infer that I'm taking a position on the needs of others. That's not even close to true. I would not presume to tell someone else their needs.

It's been a week since I read the article and I don't remember much other than the impression that it was written from a military/soldier use perspective. Cuda seems to believe that all sighting systems go down on a regular basis and that certainly isn't my experience. Iron sights are mechanical devices too and are capable of being bent or damaged in some way just like scopes. I'm talking about the LIKELIHOOD of damage happening at a critical moment. It's just not likely to happen...either the critical moment OR, even less possible, when you need to use the rifle in a critical situation AND the sight goes down for some reason.

I believe the scopes I've selected are reliable and durable and I'm not worried about them failing at any time. If they do, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that it will happen at a critical moment. I'm confident in the odds. If someone wants to put backup sights on their rifle, great! If they want/need that warm fuzzy, that's fine for them. I don't feel the need to spend the $100 to buy durable, reliable BUIS and the countless rounds to sight them in and practice using the backup sights to become confident and competent. I have other things to do with my time. I don't get to the range enough as it is...I don't want to have to add another task to my practice while I am there.

My work rifle has BUIS and I've practiced with them. It's not my preference, but I see the need for them when the primary sight is an EOTech that can fail (and I've seen many of them fail). My scopes are not like EOTechs. If the electronics go out, I still have an etched reticle. I don't do any adjustment on the zero unless I change ammo...simple.

To summarize, I'm confident in my odds with the equipment I've chosen and don't like iron sights. Does it make me a poor shooter that I haven't mastered iron sights first? I still follow the fundamentals of shooting without iron sights. I think my bullseyes and hits on targets that range from 5-500 yards on the clock speak for themselves.
 

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^ I get what you are saying, LocoGringo, don't get me wrong - and I share with you a lot of your core beliefs regarding this topic: i.e. the durability of good modern optics, the ability to effectively engage targets effectively through a downed optic via kinesthetic alignment or by using the optic body as a rudimentary sighting system, etc. The following post, as you'll notice, was dated just about this time, last year: http://www.xdtalk.com/posts/5687377/ and I think our thoughts align pretty closely, if not exactly.
:)

And I also believe, just as you, that the article cited in the OP was written from the perspective of military/duty use - at least in how I read it, too (but here the caveat is that I am ESL! :p).

However, for me, I just can't make the leap that it should only be applicable in that context simply because we can make same analogies as civilian shooters.

And specifically in terms of the BUIS, I think that as with any other discussion, context is critical.

Are those BUISs - particularly fold-downs - necessary on a HD carbine when the shooter lives in an urban or an inner-ring suburban area, where it is very unlikely that they'd have to take shots at-distance? What happens when we take that gun out of that environment, and now paint the setting as a rural farm, where varmint/predator control may also be required (and while an etched reticle is its own backup, what happens when the clear objective is, for some reason, obstructed or otherwise destroyed in a way as to make "through the tube" sighting impossible? would simple removal of the optic and sighting down the spine of the rifle offer sufficient accuracy/precision at-distance?)?

Over the course of the 2016 training calendar, Joe Weyer of the Alliance PD Training Facility saw close to 50 instances of failures in students' unmagnified RDSs (that may seem like a very large number, but it's really not, considering how many students they teach each year) through their shoot-house facility. He noted that no-one, in the context of the house - where the longer shots can span upwards of 40 yards - elected to take the time to engage their flip-up BUISs when they experienced these failures, even though they had plenty of time and opportunities to do so. Joe noted that none of these students failed to maintain an acceptable marksmanship standard during those classes.

Contrast this with just my own meager experience taking carbine classes (which span the typical 0 to 200 yard distance) over the course of the last two years, where I've personally witnessed two shooters elect to pull off their malfunctioning optic and transition to their BUISs, simply because to not do so would not allow them the ability to shoot accurately enough, as we stretched back beyond the 50.
 

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TSiWRX, I have no problem with BUISs (sp?) or people who choose to equip their rifles with them. My issue is with the people who think that if you don't first master iron sights, you're not a "true/real" rifleman. Ultimately, in the end, it's all just opinion and I don't really care if someone thinks I'm a "lesser" shooter because I choose not to equip my rifles with BUISs. I'm pretty good with my rifles as well as the rifle at work. I don't like the sights chosen for our rifles at work, but I can use them effectively.

To me, it's the law of diminishing returns. I don't believe I'll ever need BUISs based on my selection of scope, so I can't justify the use of $100 or more to buy them.

With respect to your reference to people electing to not engage their BUIS, I've seen it here at my own training facility. People get so accustomed to using the RDS, they forget that they actually have the BUIS to use if their RDS goes down IF they don't actually train with them. I'm not a bit surprised to hear of that training facility's experience. When I went to SRT school last August, the trainers STRONGLY recommended us to have the rear sight flipped up to actually co-witness with the irons and not have to consciously think about having to flip them up. Then they ran us through a drill to prove their point in simulating having to turn and engage a target about 15 yards away with the EOTech turned off, then having to take the time to flip the sights up and re-engage the target. Of course, we already knew the sights were turned off, so it was easy to "game" it. After a while, the irons didn't bother me...I almost forgot they were there.

That is the issue I have with EOTechs and Aimpoints and any other red dot sight that doesn't have an etched reticle. If for ANY reason the electronics go out, you've got NOTHING. I absolutely believe that if someone chooses to equip their rifles with a RDS, they MUST have BUIS...because if the dot goes out, you've got NO sights, just a window. However, I use a Burris MTAC which has an etched reticle as well as the ability to be lit. It's sturdy and simple and I'm not worried about electronics going out. If they do, I still have a black etched reticle.

Now, am I a "lesser" shooter because I choose not to equip my rifle with BUIS or because I never MASTERED iron sights? I doubt anyone's opinion matters because I qualify at work at a minimum of 94% (that was a bad day) with a rifle equipped with an EOTech and a Glock with open sights wearing a gas mask through a lot of the course. It just irks me when someone else judges another person's ability to shoot because they haven't "mastered" iron sights first and that quote "if you can't do it with irons, don't bother with optics" is absolute, elitist nonsense in my mind.

Now I am going to make myself look a little hypocritical here. My son's first rifle and what he is learning on is a Savage Rascal .22. It is a rifle that is his size, bolt action, single shot with peep sights. I want him to practice the fundamentals and be conscious of what he is doing to begin correctly. Forcing someone to use open sights forces them to slow down and be conscious of what they are doing with breathing, sight picture, sight alignment and trigger control. I'm VERY proud to say he's hitting a full soda can at 40 yards consistently and doing quite well. The last time we went out to shoot, I gave him the option to shoot my Ruger 10/22 with a scope and a suppressor and he enjoyed it, but it was the second time he shot it and after a few rounds, he said he wanted to go back to the Rascal. Proud dad moment for me. He enjoys the challenge.
 

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^ I didn't know which rating to give that post, as I alternately found myself agreeing, liking, and laughing, so I just gave it the gold star. ;)

I'll start off by saying that I'm a hypocrite, too. :oops: After all this about the BUIS(s - indeed, is a ?), looking to shave weight on my daughter's first AR, off goes those pieces. :lol:

What was interesting for me, with her (she's now almost 12; she started shooting firearms at 8 and 1/2, at her request - I wanted the choice to be hers), I actually had to back-track her with the BUIS on her 15/22 to get her to understand how to use the dot. Much as with your little one, I started mine on irons as well, and it was really interesting to me to see her struggle to find the dot, when she'd been doing so well with what was supposedly a harder sighting system.

I am definitely not a trainer/instructor by any means of those words, but I have observed beginning students progress well from using the dot, first, and then "working backwards" to the irons on long-guns. Particularly for younger shooters or for those who otherwise have trouble grasping the concepts necessary to properly align ironsights, I've seen this "backwards" teaching work miracles.

And I guess this wraps us well back into the discussion we're having -

In reading through everything again, I think where we fell off the rails was indeed in the underlying tones conveyed. Similarly, I think that the subjective nature of what we would each think of "mastering" a technique undoubtedly also have brought an element of confusion to the thread, too. I hope you will understand that I never intended for what I'd written to come off in a denigrating or condescending manner, which, if it was read as such, you and everyone reading this thread has my sincere apologies - and that, similarly, I also apologize for the imprecise manner in which I'd used the words "mastery of the fundamentals."
 

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One thing wrong with the people today (younger people and some of the older ones, is they weren't taught to use/take care of firearms as kids. Everything is "distant" to them as they've not experienced hard times, or been raised by someone who has.

My family was taught to take care of their tools because those doing the teaching couldn't just go out and buy another one if they let the first one rust up on them, or they beat it against a tree and broke it.

Too many people today have the mindset that if it breaks they'll just run down to the store and buy another one. They've never had to really depend on a tool, let alone a gun (which is still a tool.)

I go to gunshows and I see these scratched/dinged up and rusted pieces of metal that used to be a fine firearm and I wonder what the hell is wrong with people. My dad carried his Ithaca M37 so much (got it in 1953 and carried it hunting for almost 60 years) that the receiver and a foot or so of the barrel looks like it was nickel plated. All the finish is gone and it's just as shiny as it was before Ithaca dropped it in the salt bluing tanks back in the late 40's.

As my grandma would say, "Say people could tear up a rock."

Even the most durable sights out there can meet a quick/sad end. I think back up iron sights are a very good idea if you've learned to use them. But they are not my primary sights on any AR15 I own.

 

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M1A4ME, again, your post is MILITARY/SOLDIER related. See the camo in the background? It's a bullet that destroyed his sight. Is your weapon going to war? What's the likelihood that you are going to face those conditions or situations? Why is it that bolt action rifles today are based on military rifles of yesterday, but are rarely equipped with open sights? I know there are several exceptions, but I would say the majority of bolt action rifles don't even come with open sights anymore. Why?

I do agree with you on the "disposable" society mindset these days. People don't take care of their things that much anymore...or they don't know how.
 

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I just meant that weird things can happen to any tool, accessory, piece of gear. Could be a car accident. Could be (like happened to me one day) someone sets their varmint rifle down by the car using the bipod to keep it off the dirt/grass and a buddy walks up and opens the door and knocks the rifle over in the dirt (no damage, good thing there was no rock there to wack the bell on the scope when that heavy M700 tipped over - and I fired a group to insure it was still zeroed.)

I was just agreeing that a set of back up sights might save your day (range trip, deer hunting, squiirel hunting, etc.

Nope. My M700 does not have back up sights. But I wouldn't attempt to shoot a groundhog in the head at 200+ yards with the iron sights on any rifle. I'd have to sneak up closer.

I even have back up sights on my pistols with RMR's on them. I know lots of people don't. However, if my RMRs were to fail someday, I still have sighted in iron sights to use if I need to use that pistol.

I hear over and over, "I don't need back up sights on my RMR'd pistol, it's for competition. If the dot fails I'll just fail to finish that match, or go to the car to get my back up pistol with iron sights." I don't have that mindset. There's a spare tire, jack, lug wrench, flashlight in every vehicle I own. I haven't had a flat since about 97 or 98, but I still keep spares, etc. in the cars.

As my little quote says on another forum. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
 

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OK, M1A4ME, we actually agree on a lot of things. I also subscribe to the quote "better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it" for the most part. However, the LIKELIHOOD of needing BUIS with my choice of scope is TINY...to me, not worth the money. As I said in a previous post, if you're using an ELECTRONIC DOT SIGHT that has no other kind of sight, BUIS is necessary in MY OPINION (and that's all it is...an OPINION).

Do you agree with the quote at the beginning of the thread "if you can't do it with irons, don't try it with optics"? I wouldn't try to shoot anything beyond 200 yards with iron sights, but I've been thrilled to shoot at 600 and 1000 yards with a scope and do quite well at 600.

Weird things CAN happen to ANY tool. There's a difference between being stranded in your car miles from your destination and your sights going down on your firearm. The only time your life is in danger with the latter is in a defensive situation and it's HIGHLY unlikely you'll be in that position in the first place and even MORE unlikely your sights will fail at the critical moment. However, again, if you want'em, use'em. It's no skin off my back and I don't think less of you for wanting to have them "just in case". I'd ask for the same respect from others when they look at my AR and notice that I don't have BUIS on my rifle. Don't make a value judgement about my ability to shoot just because I don't subscribe to your (in the general sense) idea of "readiness".
 

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OK, M1A4ME, we actually agree on a lot of things. I also subscribe to the quote "better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it" for the most part. However, the LIKELIHOOD of needing BUIS with my choice of scope is TINY...to me, not worth the money. As I said in a previous post, if you're using an ELECTRONIC DOT SIGHT that has no other kind of sight, BUIS is necessary in MY OPINION (and that's all it is...an OPINION).

Do you agree with the quote at the beginning of the thread "if you can't do it with irons, don't try it with optics"? I wouldn't try to shoot anything beyond 200 yards with iron sights, but I've been thrilled to shoot at 600 and 1000 yards with a scope and do quite well at 600.

Weird things CAN happen to ANY tool. There's a difference between being stranded in your car miles from your destination and your sights going down on your firearm. The only time your life is in danger with the latter is in a defensive situation and it's HIGHLY unlikely you'll be in that position in the first place and even MORE unlikely your sights will fail at the critical moment. However, again, if you want'em, use'em. It's no skin off my back and I don't think less of you for wanting to have them "just in case". I'd ask for the same respect from others when they look at my AR and notice that I don't have BUIS on my rifle. Don't make a value judgement about my ability to shoot just because I don't subscribe to your (in the general sense) idea of "readiness".
Actually, my first time shooting at 1000 was with open sights.

I was helping a club I was a member if at the time score a Palma match, and after the matches, I was offered a chance to try it out.

I got 2 out of 5 on paper...
 
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