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Education / Training How to use a peep sight

How to use a peep sight

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?

49 thoughts on “How to use a peep sight”

  1. It was near the end of my hunting days that i discovered peep sights. I often wish i had tried them much earlier. Never liked scopes. Too much bulk and fuss. Peeps are fast to use and compact. The perfect sight, in my opinion.
    My last bit of hunting involved shooting chipmunks in lonely country cemeteries. I shot from my car and my favorite gun was a Crosman pump pistol in .22 cal.
    I rested the pistol in the crook of my left arm which rested on the window edge, and aimed through the peep hole. Deadly.

  2. If you fold your arms with the pistol in your right hand, if your right handed, your eye will be close to the rear sight, like with a rifle. If you are standing, you have to stand with your side facing your target.
    Some Crosman pistols came with a reversible rear sight blade. Notch on one side, peep on the other. I found it to be a very steady hold but not right for every situation.

  3. Wow!

    This is the number one post in terms of immediate comments. Apparently there is a lot of interest in peep sights.

    I’d like to hear from others who have perhaps not yet commented on this blog. If you are interested in peep sights, please drop me a line here.


  4. Will the Beeman Peep Site you mention in your article fit a 3/8 ” dovetail as well as 11mm? It’s description on Pyramid makes the fit sound very versatile (adjustable?) but I’m not sure. If not, do you know of a peep site that fits 3/8?

  5. I have a Gamo MultiShot with the standard Fiber Optic sights. Do you know if it is possible for me to put a peep sight on. If so, does Pyramyd sell them or do I need to go to another retailer to buy one and install it? Thanks a lot!

  6. Multi-Shot,

    Your rifle has scope mounting dovetails, so a peep sight Can be attached, but I am concerned that the height above the bore will be too much. The Crosman Precision Diopter looks too high for this job. I doubt it will adjust low enough to work with your rifle.

    The Beeman (Williams) sport apertire rear sight is low, but will it center on your mainspring tube? I don’t know. Pyramyd does mention mounting this sight on the Webley Exocet and Stingray, which are rifles comparable in size to yours, so it might work.

    Your question is one that never comes up because shooters don’t use a peep rear with a fiberoptic front, but don’t let that stop you. I would ask Pyramyd to have a look at the possibility for you before you buy.


  7. I have used a fiberoptic front sight with a peep rear and found it to be very effective, as the bright fiberoptic point floats perfectly center within the rear site circle, much like a red dot sight. I came accross this while using a Crosman 2250 which comes with a fiberoptic site and the optional peep sight blade that Denny mentioned earlier.


  8. Question for B.B. The Beeman webpage for its Sport Aperture Sight says “Note: When using an aperture sight barrel, angle must be adjusted to droop downward.” (www.beeman.com/apertures.htm) What does this mean?

    I bought a Beeman R7 from Pyramyd a couple of years ago. It still has the original open sights. Will the Sport Aperture Sight work out-of-the-box on the R7 or will I have to adjust the barrel angle?

    G Cheng.

  9. G Cheng,

    I read the notice on their site. While it doesn’t make any sense as the sentence is constructed, I assume the writer was trying to say, “Note: When using an aperture sight, barrel angle must be adjusted to droop downward.” This is why companies need to get professional help with their websites!

    If that isn’t the silliest thing I ever read! What they are saying is that by moving the sight from the rear of the barrel where the open rear sight is located, to the rear of the spring tube, the barrel will be pointing too high. But that is the opposite of what all my experience has shown. Breakbarrels are usually pointing DOWN, not UP. They typically shoot too LOW and a scope has to compensate for it by being angled down in front..

    This sounds like a way to charge for something that might not be a problem.

    I would tell Pyramyd my concern when getting the sight and return it if it didn’t work.


  10. I have a FWB 150 w/ a diopter that has an eye cup. The sights appear to be original to the rifle. As you’re aware, the 150 utilizes a recoil compensating sledge system. The sight moves rearward when firing.

    Is it intended that the shooter actually make contact with the eye cup, or does the cup serve primarily to prevent ambient light from reflecting off of the iris?

  11. I have a Benjamin Sheridan Legacy 1000 with the original fiber-optic sights still installed. I understand that the Crosman 64 peep will fit, but am I better off with the old sights? Will the original front post work with the 64? I am pretty ignorant as far as these things go, but what advantage to peeps offer insofar as target acquisition? I am shooting squirrel at less than 30 yards in windy conditions and am frustrated by the easily disturbed and imprecise open sights. Any advice would be appreciated.

  12. I have a BAM XS 30-1. The open sights are totally useless. Not enough adjustment. I had read up quite a bit on peep sights and decided to try the Mendoza. Pretty nice unit for the money. Once again i have maxed out the windage to the left and am just centered. For the elevation, i also am maxed out. I compensated for this by using the top inside of the front hood(about 3/8″ above firesight)as my sighting device. This brought the POI to my line of sight. I guess what i really need is a ramp riser or a taller sight that will fit the front ramp dovetail. Aside from all that, i really like the peep sights and find them quite easy to use.

  13. Yes, the sight can be added without removing the existing sight, because it goes in a different place. Didn’t you meas to ask whether it can be used with the existing rear sight still installed?

    The answer is no.


  14. Yes, I mounted much heralded Williams 64 on my 392. Even at LOWEST setting, the sight perched quite a distance above rifle barrell, even though it appeared to be machined to fit flush. Also appeared slightly crooked, could never sight in fo 40 to 50 foot distance. Always shot way too high. Is it possible that my 392 wasn’t drilled and tapped properly? Very disappointed with Williams product, but maybe it was Crosman quality control… any suggestions?

  15. I doubt the Benjamin is drilled in thew wrong place. These rifles are made in such a way that mis-drilling is a ting of the past.

    40 feet is pretty close for a zero point. Most airguns would zero at 60 feet, except for 10-meter guns. However you want to be able to shoot closer. Your problem is very similar to a military rifle that won’t zero any closer than 200 yards. I have several like that in my collection.

    If you want to continue to use this peep sight you can either find a way to extend the front sight higher or shoot with fewer pumps when shooting close.


  16. I just bought a Gamo Whisper. It has an 11mm rail so a peep sight should be able to be used, but I read that the front sight might be too low for this. Has anyone tried a peep sight on this airgun?


  17. Just received my Crosman 64 for my Benjamin 397. Question: how do you remove the factory installed rear sight? The instructions don’t explain, and it’s not obvious looking at the gun.


  18. When I shoulder and sight my Hanel 311. the rear apertures of the peep sight appear to have a dark hazy spot dead center in each circle. It is as though there is a tiny wad of lint in the center of each of the apertures. This darkens my sight picture. If I unscrew the rear aperture ring holder and hold it to my eye, the tiny lint-like apparitions are still visible.
    However, if I put a loupe up to the apertures, there is no haze and upon inspection, the openings are all, clean, crisp and clear.
    Is this perceived haze an optical thing that happens to everyone when looking through a tiny flat black circular opening, or is it just me and my particular vision? I wear progressive eyeglasses.
    Any suggestions or work-arounds to help me get a brighter and crisper sight picture?

  19. Walter,

    You have a lighting problem. What you describe is typical of too little light on the target. Use an aluminum reflector to shine a 75-watt floodlight on the target from three feet away and see if that doesn’t cure it. Don’t forget to turn off the lights at your end of the range.


  20. hey, i hav a daisy 953s daisy, with the fiber optics sight, but i want to change to the peep sight from the 853c. Is it possible to change both my front and rear sight,s to a peep sight, or can i leave my front firberoptic sight and attach the peep sight reciever?
    also where could i get these parts from, any websites for cheap? or any stores in Vancouver, BC?

  21. Sorry if this has been asked before, but is there an affordable option, or even an option at all, for putting a rear peep sight on a Daisy 880, or any other rifle with a similar Dovetail mount?

  22. B.B-
    on October 24, 2008 11:43 AM, Anonymous said…
    Just received my Crosman 64 for my Benjamin 397…

    And you asked him what he meant by Crosman 64. Well, I will have the same configuration in a few days, and I think he meant the the Crosman 64 peep sight by Williams – and I have the same question – How is the stock rear sight removed, it is not obvious (to me anyhow!)

  23. k1foo,

    The 397's rear sight is held on by legs that are clamped around the barrel. They have to be pried away from the barrel to remove the sight.

    The danger is that you will crack the solder seal between the barrel and the pump tube by doing this prying. If you do, the gun is ruined. The solder joint cannot be repaired.

    By working carefully you will not risk cracking the solder joint. Just don't put a lot of pressure on it and it won't crack.


  24. Thanks B.B.

    OOOF! Sounds like I will be EXTRA careful with that job.

    Followup Question: Does doing this render the rear sight useless by deforming the "legs" – in future if I wanted to put it back on is that not likely to work?

  25. Anonymous Peeper

    I think the peep sight you want is the Crosman 64 Peep Sight, available at Pyramyd Air


    It is a Williams sight and is listed as made for Benjamin/Sheridan multi-pump rifles manufactured in the last 5 years. It comes with 2 screws
    for mounting to the receiver.

    For future reference, I would post questions like this on the current blog which is always at this URL


    This article is nearly 5 years old. Very few people read the older blogs on a regular basis,
    as such, very few people will ever read questions posted here. Post questions on the daily blog, and hundreds–possibly thousands will see your question and answer it for you.
    You will get your answers faster, and from a greater variety of folks. It also helps to give yourself a name or handle so respondents can address you specifically.

    Enjoy your Benji, and keep on shooting.

  26. Anonymous Peeper,

    I am shooting a Benjamin 292 with the Williams Peep Sight that Slinging Lead told you about. Yes you can use it at 60 feet without a problem. Works well and looks good on the 392,

    Please let us know what you decide and how it's working for you.

    Post your answer us on the current blog. /blog//

    Mr B.

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