by B.B. Pelletier
AirForce is very close to shipping their new match sights set, which consists of an aperture rear sight and a highly adaptable front globe sight. These items will also be available separately.
The sight dilemma
The airgunning community has long awaited a true precision target sight at an affordable price, and this one will be made right here in the U.S. The dilemma in target shooting is that you either have a plastic aperture sight that requires a special technique to use, or you have a sight that costs $350 or more. There hasn’t been any middle ground for a long time.
Sporter-class sights have gear slack
Ten-meter target shooters who compete in the Sporter class are most affected by this lack of precision sights. Coaches around the country have learned how to deal with the Daisy/Crosman/Gamo/Air Arms/Chinese plastic aperture target sights, to coax as much precision from them as possible. But in the heat of a match, things can break down and shooters can forget that they have to move the sight three clicks in the opposite direction they want to adjust to take the slack out of the plastic gears–most of the time. Sometimes, the slack is out and they over-adjust. Their coaches have to watch them closely, or they’ll lose a match because of an improperly adjusted rear sight.
The solution to this problem has varied over the years. Many years ago, the sights that came on the BS-4 rifle were available separately at a good price. They were rough but accurate copies of an older FWB sight, and they were more precise than Daisy’s plastic aperture sights. Even when priced low, that sight didn’t sell well enough for them to continue, so they stopped selling them altogether.
Gamo used to offer a pretty nice aperture sight that was made in Spain for the single-stroke target rifle they sold. It was plenty good and the price was remarkably low at the time. Since Gamo also made that single-stroke rifle for Daisy, its rear sight became fairly well-known among the junior 10-meter shooters. Throughout the 1990s, it was the best cheap aperture sight around.
The original Daisy 853 rifle was pretty good for the price. But then Daisy started having it made in China, and the quality slipped. Then for a short time, Crosman had a reputation for having a better Daisy copy than Daisy had, because they were still getting the Spanish-made units. Then Gamo came on line with their own Daisy copy, however I don’t see that one on the website. Maybe the Air Arms aperture sight has taken its place. They’re pretty much the same sight regardless of the name.
Today, coaches know that to make adjustments, they first have to know how to take out the gear train slack of each individual aperture sight. If they follow the correct procedure, these sights can work very well, but there’s a whole hodgepodge of different aperture sights out there, which makes it imperative for a shooter and coach to know each sight very well. Enter AirForce.
We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the new Edge target rifle that will dominate the NRA and CMP Sporter class when it becomes available. But a few years ago I learned that AirForce also planned to make their own aperture sights for the Edge–which is just as big a story as the rifle in my opinion. There’s never been an American-made precision 10-meter aperture sight until now. Redfield made the famous Olympic aperture sight, but it was built for centerfire and rimfire competition and wasn’t really a 10-meter design.
The AirForce sight set is entirely new. It consists of a globe front sight with multiple mounting heights and configurations. It comes with a clear plastic aperture insert and additional inserts of varying sizes will be available soon. The new front sight can adapt to rear sight heights that vary over a broad range. I’ll do a specific report on this sight and show several of the mounting possibilities.
The new rear sight will be of particular interest to target shooters because it will sell for about $140–or less than half the cost of a similar European precision aperture. Where other Sporter-class aperture sights have click adjustments of 1/4 minute, this AirForce unit has 1/8 minute. Of course at 10 meters, the adjustments are only slightly more than a tenth as far as they are at 100 yards, but the AirForce sight really allows for adjustments of half the distance of the sights with which it competes.
Like the front sight, the rear has a large vertical range that can be adapted to most situations. When it’s locked down, the adjustment knobs take over.
This new sight is for those who own a fine 10-meter rifle but have no aperture sight. Thousands were sold without sights to buyers who intended to scope them, but with this new sight they can now be reconfigured as real 10-meter target guns. Then there are other guns whose sights have been lost or separated by previous owners. You no longer need to spend another $400 to mount target sights on a rifle you buy.
But the biggest customer will undoubtedly be those tens of thousands of Daisy 853 and 753 owners who want to upgrade their apertures and still be legal. They couldn’t use the European sights on their guns, but the AirForce sight will be a sanctioned item of equipment for the Sporter class. I see the initial sales going mostly to these shooters.
I plan to test the rear aperture for this blog. The sights are expected to start shipping by the end of November or soon thereafter, and by then you should have a full report to help make your decision. No doubt you’ll have many questions. Start asking them now, and I’ll incorporate the answers into future reports.