by B.B. Pelletier

A lot of air rifles come with peep sights. With fewer people going into the military these days, are shooters aware what a wonderful sight this is? Let’s take a moment today and consider the peep or aperture sight.

Peep sights are relatively new
I don’t know when the first aperture sight was used, but the 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifle was, I believe, the first military rifle to offer it as an option. In 1884, the Buffington sight was added to the Springfield. It was on a long leaf, combined with conventional open sights, so troopers could select the sight they needed. Buffalo hunters had already proved it’s worth for precision long-range shooting, as had Creedmore target shooters. All American military rifles since then have had some kind of peep sight, and most have had them exclusively – including today’s M4!

They’re easier to use
Once you learn how to use them, peep sights are easier and faster to use than open sights. What you do is position your eye so you look through the rear aperture or peephole. Your eye automatically centers the front sight element because the brightest light is at the center of the peephole. All you have to do is align the front sight element with the target and shoot! It’s that simple.

Peepholes come in different sizes
For military use, the rear aperture has to be large enough that a quick sight picture can be formed. That lowers the precision of the sight. While you can hit a man-sized target at 300 yards with a battle-ready M1 Garand, you’d be hard-pressed to shoot a 4″ group at the same distance. For target use, the peephole has to be smaller, to the point that some peepholes are so small that they can be used ONLY under the exacting light conditions found on a formal indoor target range. But, a target peep, which is available for the Garand, can give you that 4″ group at 300 yards.

In fact, the peephole size actually affects accuracy to a great degree. A rifle that usually has a large peephole can become more accurate simply by pasting a paper over the peephole and poking a smaller hole in the paper. I am not kidding about this, and it does work!

You can add a peep sight!
Many airguns can be upgraded with peep sights. Beeman sells a very nice one that’s been around for many decades. It fits a lot of fine air rifles that have 11mm dovetails. Daisy sells a peep sight for their line of target rifles, and it also works on their 499 BB gun. Not to be outdone, Crosman also has an optional peep sight for their Benjamin Sheridan line. And, on their Challenger 2000, a peep comes standard, as they do on all Daisy target rifles.

If you haven’t tried a peep sight, you might consider it. It will make all your non-optical sighting more precise. Isn’t hitting the target what it’s all about?