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Some thoughts about peep sights

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

This is a subject that is dear to a lot of experienced shooters and a turnoff to younger shooters. Peep sights are a blessing to those who have discovered how easy they are to use, but they are avoided by shooters who aren’t familiar with them. The common misconception is that a peep sight is somehow more complex than a traditional open notch rear sight, but the truth is that the peep sight is actually simpler and faster to use than the open notch.

With an open notch sight, you have to align the rear notch with the front post. There can be several different variations of how it works, such as post and bead or squared-off front post, but the process of using them is the same for all of them. The rear element and front element must be aligned, then held against the target in a certain location (i.e., 6 o’clock hold or center hold).

With a peep sight, you don’t do that. You just look through the rear hole and align the front sight element only against the target. Your eye uses the peephole to adjust your vision by forcing your pupil to adjust for the best depth of vision. It’s an unconscious and automatic response to looking through the small peephole; and, if you allow your eye to do its job instead of fighting it, your brain will help you obtain a more precise sight picture than with open sights.

There are shooters with remarkable vision who can sight with open notch sights extremely well. But if you don’t have great vision, and by that I mean if your vision is average or worse, the peep sight should work better for you. But that’s only for those who don’t fight the rear sight and just look through it.

Peephole sizes
Today, I want to address something that I’ve seen discussed a lot on the internet, and that’s the size of the peephole. I see that many people feel the hole must be large or they cannot use it. Indeed, I’ve seen several peeps that have been drilled out by their owners. The fact is that there are good reasons for both large and small peep holes.

Large peepholes
Large holes allow more light to pass through; and, when used, they acquire the target faster. They’re used on American military arms like the M16, the Krag, the 03-A3 Springfield, the M1 Carbine, the Garand and many others. They’re also found on slug guns used for deer in brushy forest hunting situations where speed is more important than precision.

The M1 Garand peep is about average size for a battle sight.

The 03-A3 sight adjusted for windage as well as elevation. Not all of them did. I can shoot MOA with this sight.

The M1 Carbine peep was a rough and ready sight. The rifle wasn’t that accurate, so the sight didn’t need to be precision.

No. 4
The battle sight in this No. 4 Enfield is huge. When the sight standard flips up there is a hole less than half this size. It adjusts only for elevation.

Can such large holes be precise? Yes, they can. I have shown you at least one one-inch five-shot group shot with my 03-A3 Springfield at 100 yards. But the norm would be a larger group. Even the Garand would shoot about a two-inch group at 100 yards on most days. Your goal with a large peep is minute-of-bad-guy.

One secret I’ve learned about using a large peep hole with greater precision is to hold the sight away from my eye. The farther back I place my sighting eye, the more precision I get from a large hole. I didn’t invent that idea; I learned it while shooting the Buffington peep sight on my Trapdoor Springfield that was made in 1875 (the rifle, only — the sight didn’t come about until 1884). The Buffington sight puts the rear peep hole about 14 inches from the sighting eye, and the hole is not that large. You would look at it and imagine that you could never use such a sight, but the truth is that when there’s enough daylight that peep gives precision that rivals the finest tang target sights found on target single-shot rifles. The reason is because of how far the hole is from your eye.

Col. Buffington designed this rear sight that combines a peep (several, actually) and a notch. It can be used for long-range precision fire. A great many buffalo fell to this sight on this rifle.

Small peepholes
A small peephole passes less light and forces you to hold your sighting eye closer to the hole to see the sight picture. Many sights with small holes also have some kind of flexible shade to shield the sighting eye from light that’s not coming through the peep hole, thus sharpening the sight picture noticeably.

FWB 300S
The precision FWB peep sight has a large rubber light shade to keep the sighting eye in the dark.

Crosman 160
Crosman mounted their version of a Mossberg S331 peep sight on the 160 target rifle. This sight, alone, is worth at least $75 today. Notice how small the hole is. That’s what’s needed for precision.

Small peepholes take longer to use but provide a more precise sight picture. Use them when fractions of an inch are important, such as when target shooting or when hunting game at longer ranges such as 400 to 600 yards.

This is Ballard’s mid-range peep sight mounted on the tang of my Ballard rifle. My eye is so close to the hole that I push the sight forward when the rifle recoils.

The secret to using a small peephole is to get as close to the hole as you can. Do this even with recoiling rifles. My Ballard, for example, is in caliber .38-55 and kicks about like a 30-30, yet I put my eye less than an inch from the peephole. I have to because it’s so small that I couldn’t use it if I was much farther back. When the rifle fires, my forehead always folds the sight forward as the recoil brings the gun back. That’s how I know I’m using the sight to its best ability. Of course, if the sight doesn’t move when you hit it, you don’t want to do this!

When my FWB 300S target air rifle comes back in recoil (the action moves in the stock to cancel the feeling of recoil) the rubber eyepiece always pushes against my eye. That’s how I know I’m sighting correctly . It works okay on that rifle, but my HW55CM comes back a little too aggressively, and I’m more cautious about holding that sight close to my eye.

Use BOTH eyes!
It is of paramount importance to keep BOTH eyes open when using a peep sight. If you close the non-sighting eye, the peephole will also close up. It’ll do so variably, depending on how much you’re squinting to close the other eye, and the result is you no longer have a round hole to look through. I told you about the man who was shooting the M1 Garand a couple weeks ago and was closing his off eye. He was getting 12-inch groups at 100 yards from a rifle that was probably capable of groups one-sixth that size.

If you want to see how this works, take a piece of card stock and poke a hole in it. Look through the hole with both eyes open (one eye looking through the hole and the other eye just open). Then, as you’re looking through the hole, close your non-sighting eye and watch what happens. The hole seems to close up! That’s what you are doing when you close your non-sighting eye while using a peep sight.

Peep sights are an advancement over open sights. They don’t work for everyone, because those with severe eye problems often have trouble using them. But the majority of people can use a peep sight and obtain better accuracy with less time spent if they don’t fight the sight. They’ve been used on all American military battle rifles since 1884; and though the move is now toward optical sights, a peep will probably remain as the backup sight for some time.

If you’ve never tried a peep sight, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Use this report as a primer for learning how to use the sight and see if it doesn’t give you greater accuracy with less work.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airgunsโ„ข for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

116 thoughts on “Some thoughts about peep sights”

  1. I absolutely love a peep sight. If more people tried them out, the optics industry would likely see a drop in sales. The reason manufacturers do not put them on more airguns and firearms is cost. It is hard to get cheaper than a couple of small pieces of stamped metal. Marketeers have convinced most of us that powerful optics or illuminated dot sights or a combination of both is what is needed, but as has been mentioned here and previously, a decent peep can give wonderful results at long range and usually not as subject to damage and is usually less expensive than good optics.

  2. This has really picked up my interest. If a large holed peep may need up to 14″ between it and the eye, would it not be perfect for a handgun? It sounds like it might well work with the Marauder air pistol. Has anyone tried it? Which one would be good for that use?
    Another question: in aligning the peep, is it the case that you don’t have to align with a front post? How does that work?

    • Michael,
      I know a few pistol silhouette shooters that use “peep” front and rear sights with great success.
      You may be confusing a front post with a front aperture which you simply put the target in the center of the opening.

    • Michael,

      Yes, peep sights have been used on handguns in the past. I guess they suffer from the same problems as on rifles, only on handguns the resistance is even greater. I have never tried tham on a handgun, so I have no experience to tell me how well they work.


    • I have difficulty visualizing the use of any “rear” peep that is more than a few inches from the eye.

      With a peep that is close to the eye (especially target types), my experience has been that if you can see through the peep, your eye is aligned. This gives, effectively, only three points of alignment: target, front sight, rear sight — one’s eye is taken out of the equation (to see through the close placed peep, the eye is already centered) — or two line segments: targetfront, frontrear, and since frontrear are fixed with the bore, the front sight to target is the only alignment factor that needs to concern one.

      Moving a peep further away produces four points of alignment, targetfrontreareye, or three line segments that need to be aligned — one has to wiggle one’s eye around to bring the front sight into view through the opening of the peep.. That doesn’t seem much different from the hassle of common post&notch sighting — except rather than having to align with various shaped notches with indeterminate “top lines” one has a circle to center within.

  3. Good article! I happen to love peeps, but I always take a ribbing over them at the range..usually, as you mentioned, by the younger guys. But my eyesight isn’t what it once was and they work great for me.
    Too bad we can’t get the manufacturers to get over their fiber fascination and go with peeps instead!

    • Everybody knows that scopes are superior to “irons”. Scopes fog up when you breathe on them, fog from temperature change, go out of zero from temperature change, light up when the sun hits the front lens, go out of zero from bumps, break from recoil, have parallax issues, can be impossible to use at very close range, and can cause you to go nuts because you don’t know if a problem is caused by the scope, rifle, or both.
      Seems like good enough reason to make fun of you for using peeps.


      • Well, these are the same guys that think my Swiss 96/11 is a black powder weapon and can’t understand why I’d want to shoot something that has to be loaded one-at-a-time, so I don’t take ’em too seriously.
        It’s a shame though, a whole generation of shooters thinking a red dot on an AR is the only way to go.

  4. Off topic….

    What’s up with the new H&N pellet for $5.25/500???

    H&N Excite Econ Pellets, .177 Cal, 7.48 Grains, Wadcutter, 500ct

    A new offering from PA. /product/h-n-excite-econ-pellets-177-cal-7-48-grains-wadcutter-500ct?p=1059

    An H&N pellet at this price range is unheard of. BB you’ve “got” to incorporate this ammo in one of your future accuracy tests.

  5. It is easier to produce exact notes from a piano, but a violin can produce a wider range of notes as well as infinite variations and gradations. It is easier to learn to ride a bike with training wheels, but no one rides bikes with training wheels in the Tour de France. Wheelchairs are an advancement in mobility to those who cannot walk. These are some of the ways I would view peep sights metaphorically when compared to open sights. When peeps are compared to open sights for shooters who are visually impaired in such a way that they cannot see open sights, peeps might be deemed appropriate. When one must teach shooting to a large number of people with no prior experience or any particular aptitude, peeps may be more effective. When one wants to shoot round targets at specific, known distances — or large targets within a certain range, peeps may be more precise or effective. When one wants to learn the fundamentals of shooting and attempt to master all aspects of the discipline, peeps are a poor second to open sights and a cheat. “Greater accuracy with less work” is all that needs to be said, but in my view it is only half the story.

    I do “like” them better than scopes :)!

    • BG Farmer,
      “cheat” really?
      It aways amazes me when someone is willing to spend top dollar for a scope but don’t see the value of a good set of aperture sights. I think good sights are just as importing as the barrel, action, or trigger.
      BTW, You don’t see people riding a big fat wheel single speed Schwinn in the Tour da France ether!

      • Caveman,
        A bit of my tongue was in my cheek with that post, but I really don’t see the need for anything more than fixed open sights in shooting competitions, except that people feel better about themselves (because they shoot better with less effort) with peeps. The shooters with the most discipline and practice, best physical conditioning, most fortunate biological disposition (including vision), and luck in combination with their experience should win every match (though it won’t always be the same shooter) regardless of the equipment allowed. Peeps are standard (when allowed by rules) because they are an advantage that everyone wants and do equalize vision capabilities between shooters. I think it cheapens the competition in that regard, though it does raise the scores. How’s that for an alternative viewpoint :)?

        • BG Farmer,
          I figured and am glad you have thick enough skin not to get bent out of shape, my reply was “A bit of my tongue was in my cheek ” as well. I’m a big fan of irons my self and have used them my whole life. Peeps are no longer an advantage to me because of scare damage on my cornea from eye surgery (5 of them). I still use irons but at some time in the near future I’m going to have to learn how to deal with a scope and all the problem that twotalon mentioned above. I’m not looking forward to it.

          • Don’t sweat it too much. I have bad eyes too that don’t work very well under various circumstances.
            You can get lucky and have everything work for a long time, but with some limitations. You have limitations with any kind of sights.
            Different kinds of sights all have +- to them for when they will be the best option or not.
            There are a lot of gremlins to watch out for with scopes including mount problems . The more you know, the easier it is to know what to do or where to look for problems.


          • We’re good as far as I’m concerned. Sorry to hear about the eye problems — scope is better than not shooting, for sure, though you’ll start to wonder at times, esp. if you put it on a springer! And don’t give up on the irons without a fight. A member of my ML’ing club was 82 when he died of bladder cancer this summer, but only a couple of months before, he had split the playing card on his last woodswalk (quite poetically, and the last station as well — normally we try “within reason” to find the pieces, but that time several of us spent a long time to find them, knowing that he most likely would not get another chance). And he had done quite well in line matches also, though he often got so tired halfway through that he couldn’t finish. Anyway, a competitive spirit and experience can overcome a lot, and the story above is one big inspiration for me (fat, myopic and forty-something, but really not bad considering how little effort I took early on), so I’m hoping it will inspire you in your more serious physical trials also! You never know what you can do if you give up trying…

    • Ha, ironclad traditionalist for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, do open sights have any advantage over peep sights other than requiring more work? This leads you down the slippery slope of dispensing with sights altogether and going for the zen archery.

      I will say that I was quite taken with Elmer Keith’s description of using holdover with his pistol sights with great precision. He even invented his own model with graduated sights. There is quite an art to this that is not really possible with peep sights. But otherwise, I don’t know what else you get with the open sights.


      • Since most open sights are mounted on the barrel, one doesn’t have to contend with misaligned barrel-receiver joins (if you look down on top of my Marlin-Glenfield 60c, there is a distinctive leftward angle, the stock inletting even matches — thin on the left end). On a break-barrel airgun, this means the sight alignment doesn’t shift with changes in the barrel lock-up.

      • My favorite part is that windage and elevation can easily be changed on the fly with the open sights without losing zero or touching anything, just as you describe Keith doing. I don’t like mechanical adjustment of sights while shooting (or ever really; sight in once, and that should be it, esp. if the sights are peened in or soldered on). Spend enough time with a rifle and it is amazing how easy it can be to use “Kentucky windage” and/or a “coarse or fine bead” (for elevation).

        Wulfraed also makes a good point.

  6. BB,

    In your article you say for small peep holes get as close as you can. My only experience with a peep sight is on my Crosman 1377 pump air pistol. Obviously you don’t shoot a pistol pulled up against your face. What is the purpose of the peep sight on such a gun? I turn the sight upside down for the traditional open sights.

    Could it be there for when you buy the custom stock and make it into a carbine? That’s my only guess.


  7. Back in Russia, back in action.

    This week is going to be marked with epoxy and heavy clamp oppression. With some cutting and threading, as my receiver arrives. I hope I will be able to completely assemble my rifle’s action by the end of this week and start working on its stock.


  8. I don’t usually comment here, but I really liked this Blog. One of the best uses I have found for the peep is in training new shooters. With open sights, using the same gun with multiple shooters is a pain because POI changes with each shooter. With a peep rear and a globe front, POI seems to remain relatively constant from shooter to shooter, making the training go much faster.

      • I understand that the latest iteration of the AK for the Russian army is fitted with peep sights to replace their old open sights with the miniature sight radius. So, the Russians are finally coming to the party.


    • Mac,

      Great observation.

      Wish I was smart enough to have thought of that. I’ve been graduating young kids at my club from shooting a walther 53 (little bit of recoil) with open sights to shooting a browning take down with long rifles (slightly more recoil) with open sights. Even benched I’ve noticed the shooters group in different places. Assumed with these young kids it was cant since I see them mounting the gun differently to get the right sight picture.

      I don’t want to alienate them from the FUN of the experience so I haven’t been much of a task master with cheek placement and after the first few shots on paper they quickly want to shoot at the hanging balls or potatoes painted red. They get bored with paper quickly.

      A peep sight for these young shooters makes perfect sense and should minimize the variations in grouping shots between shooters.

      Do you have a suggestion for the type of insert for the front globe sight that new shooters find easiest to use?


      • As long as the front aperture is big enough to see the entire potato, or what ever they shoot, it really doesn’t matter. Just have them put the potato in the middle. The closer the match of target to front aperture size, the better the accuracy potential. I like to see a thin rim around round targets. I find the aperture sights build shooter confidence so when they go to open sights, they already know they are capable, if they can master the technique.

    • Hi Mac,
      You should speak up more often. Even BB listens to you! See you in Little Rock next year.

      I started my girls shooting with an IZH 60, well actually I had two at the time. I tried open sights, the aperture sight plate that they provided to change the open sight to an aperture, and a small scope. Both girls had trouble with open sights and the scope but both of my girls instinctively picked up the aperture and were instantly hitting cans.

      My objection to aperture sights is that I like to shoot at small bullseyes (20 or 30 on a 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet) and small spinners. I cannot see small targets with an aperture sight from 30 yards away or so. I can do OK if I shoot at a 4″ or 6″ target though.

      BB, I enjoyed the article. Keep up the good work.

      David Enoch

      David Enoch

      • David, I use a 1.5 diopter on my aperture sight. It magnifies the front sight disc. I use a front disc that is clear and the hole just floats there. With the magnification, I am able to use an extremely small front aperture size, 1.8mm or smaller. With that setup, I can hit empty 9mm cases at 25 yds, on a good day. There is a past blog that touches on it, maybe something about mini-sniping. Mac

  9. In our local 4H bb gun program (and the air rifle school that follows it) all shooting is done with peep sights. The bb gun school introduces youngsters, often with no prior shooting experience, to shooting.

    The kids seem to take to using these sights naturally.


  10. My Marlin 39a will always wear a receiver peep sight. I, personally, am not a fan of open rifle sights, because my first rifle iron sight experience was with my marlin. Open sights are much too niggly for me.

  11. Another excellent blog article. I, too, like peep sights. I have them on my Challenger and prefer them over a scope. However, with help from this blog and from Victor in particular, I am beginning to use the open sight notch and flat blade as second nature on my IZH-46M.

    I find shooting a pistol very challenging. I’m also finding that most of my pistol problems are resolving themselves through use as my brain’s hand/eye coordination improves. I experience this during a normal shooting session. I thought I would start out at my most steady aim and get more shaky with each shot. But I see my aim becoming more steady as I progress through the session. Of course, eventually, I do tire out. My steadiness is like a bell curve. Also, as my strength increases, so does the top of the curve. But I don’t think the strength increase is having as much of an effect now as the hand/eye coordination is.


  12. Peep sights are great. My Marlin 39a also has a vintage Redfield Receiver Sight on it. I also use them on my Sheridan “C”, Ruger 10/22, and a number of military rifles. They are fast and accurate, what’s not to like!


    • Mike, I can’t believe it! I’m coming around to your way of thinking on AR-15s. I’m thinking specifically of the LWRC products. They have a piston design that goes back to the AR18 designed by Stoner himself. So, there’s continuity. And the record of this particular design in the German G36 and some other rifles is unblemished. This design is fairly clever involving certain self-cleaning and self-scraping functions. And it has been mated with this new material called Cerakote or Melonite that is like a lubricant so that the gun hardly needs to be cleaned, just wiped down, so you’ve got the reliability. It seems to be plenty accurate. It is chambered for both 6.8 and 7.62 calibers. And the design gives you access to all the ergonomic and optical accessories of the AR platform. By Jove, they might have finally done it!


  13. Fascinating blog. I’ve wondered about a comment by Col. Jeff Cooper on peep sights. He claims that a large ghost ring is not only faster but more accurate than a smaller target aperture. With the smaller one, you are consciously making adjustments, but with the large ring, you don’t even see it. You concentrate on the front sight, and your eye automatically centers the rear sight. Sounds like the Jaws of the Subconscious. Anyway, so he says. Clint Fowler tried to get me to put a target sight on my M1 (for $150) but I stuck with the GI sight, partly for historical reasons. Clint said that the GI sight looked as a big as a bushel barrel to him who is used to target sights, but it seemed pretty small to me.

    Clint made another comment about peep sights. He said that for those with impaired vision, the smaller peep sight is actually better and will sharpen the vision. Recently, I had an eye test where they swung down a little screen perforated with tiny holes, and through them, the eye chart sharpened up considerably. This must be the same principle although what it is I can’t really say–something to do with the interference of light waves perhaps? Anyway, perhaps this could be a radical new invention. You fit your peep sight with the screen with the tiny holes. FTW? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kevin, when the American Guns folks talked about building an avalanche gun I thought of you and wondered if they were in Colorado. So odd that people with a terrible reputation locally turn around and project themselves on the national stage. Well, they had me fairly fooled with their gunsmithing which looked all right from the bit I saw; it certainly seemed ambitious. However, I would have been saved by my repulsion from their personalities. The head guy gets invited into the home of famous hunter and shown his outstanding collection as part of a trade. The Gunsmoke person is explicitly told that a particular rifle is not for sale. But there he goes scheming on camera about how he is going to “separate” the owner from his gun! That would really tick me off–to say the least.

    I was impressed about one thing though. In the course of building the avalanche gun, they do a dye penetrant test to make sure that the metal does not have cracks. This seems like a great idea for surplus guns of the kind that I’m about to send in for a safety check. Is this service commonly available among gunsmiths? Would it make sense to ask for it?


    • It’s the same action as photography depth of field.

      Since eye exams tend to be done in dim rooms, one’s pupil is rather large. This means you have light rays near the edges which need to be bent at larger angles to achieve focus at the same point.

      When you restrict the light angles to a smaller circle, all the light rays which pass through are more parallel, and need less refraction to come to a point. This also means that light rays from objects at different distances are closer to being parallel, and appear in focus at the same time.

      Without this effect, light rays from varying distances will enter the eye at different angles, and the eye can only adjust to focus the rays from one set of angles. I really wish I could include a sketch

  14. Large or small aperture? One aspect you left out relates to target shooting, especially at 10m. If your aperture is too small, only a portion of the black bull is visible and there’s no way to determine if you are centered, as all you see is black. Yes, moving your eye closer will help, but there are limits. You need to have both the aperture size and the front sight such that you can see a ring of white about the black bull. Not much is needed, but it much be enough so that your eye can automatically center your aim.

    • Gerry,

      Different from prone shooting, where a small aperture works well because of stability, a larger aperture is better for offhand shooting, as in 10 meter competition. It’s really a function of your wobble-area. If you have a lot of motion, and your aperture is too small, then the best you can do is try to catch the shot, which isn’t the way to do things. It’s best to find your natural-point-of-aim, and your best stance (lower body) and hold (upper body), and then shoot to your wobble-area. That means getting the gun to go off without disturbing your sight alignment. So, what you MUST master is perfect sight alignment.

      If you can get the gun to go off without disturbing your sight alignment, then you’re going to do as well as you can, assuming the other body details.


  15. Great article. If you don’t like shooting with peep sights you either have really bad eyes or weren’t taught how to use them properly.

    An adjustable iris is a wonderful option for shooting with many peep sights. Although B.B. showed one in a picture above he’s apparently keeping this as one of his secrets. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  16. I do love aperture sights but something funny happens when I keep both eyes open while I’m aiming at my typical target which is an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of card with eight 10M air rifle targets printed on it (I use a homemade version of the Archer Airguns silent trap). If I have both eyes open I get confused as to just which of the bullseyes I’m actually aiming at. If I close my left eye, roughly center the target and then open my left eye again I get the improved sight picture you talk about but if I try to make the initial aim with both eyes open I can’t tell which of the bullseyes I’m lining up on. Maybe it’s something to do with being left eye dominant but right handed? (I naturally find myself using my left eye when shooting a pistol). I don’t get this effect with open sights, presumably because they don’t obscure the field of view so much as aperture sights.

    • nowhere,

      It is hard to hold both eyes open for the reasons that you sighted, but one of the reasons for wanting both eyes open is so that both eyes get light. So it’s better to use some kind of blinder than it is to close one eye. A patch directly over the eye is just as bad as closing your eye.

      What competitive marksman do with the rear aperture sight, like the one that B.B. shows for his FWB, is they cut out a semi-rectangular piece of plastic, preferably something translucent so that light hits both eyes, and then cut a hole at one end so that it installs where the rear eye-piece screws into the rear sight assembly (i.e., the hole is the same diameter of the rear eye-piece threads that screw into the rear sight assembly).

      Hope that helps.


    • You need an eye patch or use safety glasses and put sticky tape over the off eye so it cannot focus. Another trick is to read 1 hour a day with an eye patch on your off eye. To weight more to your dominant eye.

      • Thanks! I just tried the suggestions. I wear glasses so I think making a clip on shade might be the easiest. I tried a kluged version of this along with the other ideas and found that a translucent shade over the left lens (lets light through but it’s makes it impossible to focus on the target with that eye) works quite well. Certainly easier than keeping the left eye closed until the target is acquired and then opening it. The shade on the rear sight worked well too. Of course, I’m nearsighted enough that if I had spare pair of glasses that I was willing to remove the left lens from that would probably work too.

  17. If you have good eye-sight, then aperture sights are at least as good as a scope in competition. They give you just the right amount of information. However, the benefit of using a scope is that you can see wind direction and speed with things like grass or mirage.

  18. Great article. I love merit peep sights and mil-spec red dot sights. The 1x magnification really works well training my hand eye coordination.

    Plus peep sights are near indestructible, and very light. You should follow up with a post on recommend peeps for hard recoil springers… Dare I say, maybe the best sighing system for those magnums and rws 34 guns.

  19. Anyone tried shooting field target events with peep sights? I am only near sighted by 1 diopter, but can’t see the kill zones without a scope more than 25 yards away. Would a peep sight with a small aperture make far targets appear bigger?

    • There is no target magnification using a peep.

      Target peeps tend to need good light, since the aperture is so small. If you currently wear glasses, take them off, watch a TV from 10-20 feet away, then make an @ with your thumb and fingers — look through the opening at the TV and squeeze the fingers tighter, to make a narrower opening. As the opening narrows, you’ll notice the TV image comes into focus — but also gets dimmer. That is the effect of a target aperture peep sight.

      Battle sights are noticeably larger, though still small enough that night use may be problematic. The apertures on my HK-91 are graduated for 200, 300, and 400 meters — for close range there is a generic V-notch.

    • Johng10,

      Re: Field Target events with peep sights

      Your bigger problem will be judging distances. You’re relying on your eye alone to determine the variety of distances in Field Target.

      With practice you can determine proper adjustment/clicks for your rear peep sight at various given distances but typically in Field Target you’re not given the distances.


          • Yes those are for sport! They are m96 and m38 mostly, then you have the CG63, a modernized version with a nicer stock. Nowadays they use a Sauer rifle. For that you can get a .22 conversion, and it is available in 6,5 and .308 and .223 as well (Don’t know why really!?).

            There were many brands of sights, some are collectible now, but some are easy to find. The finish is not exactly what hunters want, but they were all made of good materials with hardened parts. Makes a Williams look sad!

            • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYek-7mP678

              This is what it can look like. And you can notice some shooting scoped rifles, I think that is called the Hunter class, it is a relatively new class.

              Fรคltskytte used to be extremely popular in the old days (greatly subsidized by the State). But has waned considerably since the 1960s. With the advent of Cultural Marxism shooting has taken a real bashing in the media here. But still Sweden should be able to mobilize a few thousand snipers…

              Today Fรคltskytte with pistols is more popular, it is a much younger sport, introduced in the 1930s.

  20. Thank you so much for this primer. I have little experience with peep sights in general. However, My Father -in-law and I recently shot his M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and 1903 Enfield. We were fine at smaller distances but definitely completely innaccurate at greater distances. This primer explains that we were using the sights completely wrong. This will be rectified at our next range session.

  21. I have peep sights on my FWB 300S but I think that rifle will shoot well with any sight. I dislike fibre optic sights so much so that I discarded the ones that came with my QB 78 the same day. The new Walther LGV has fibre optics, what a pity! I guess they are cheap so no loss in getting rid of them but it’s a shame to have cheap sights on a top class gun.

  22. Great article!

    I love aperture sights, but I wear glasses for distance, and notice that with my glasses on the front sight is blurry but the target is sharp. If I take them off, the pin is sharp, but the target is blurry. If the target is contrasty, I can do fine without glasses because I can tell where to put the front sight. What do you guys do about this? Would a smaller diameter rear sight help to focus the target without glasses?

    Thanks much in advance,

    – Mark

    • Mark,

      A smaller hole might help, but it also might be impossible for some people to use peep sights because of their prescriptions. It’s a difficult thing to diagnose through this medium.

      I think the thing you need to do is experiment. You can make any peep smaller by covering it and poking a hole through black electrical tape. That should tell you what you need to know about whether you can ever use the peep.

      Please let us know your experience if you try it.


    • To address your peep sight use (and I hope I don’t need corrected here but surely welcome it lest I put out false info) it is better to have a sharp front sight with a blurry target rather than the reverse. From my own experience I find this to be true.

      I am currently practicing with an IZH-46M pistol with rear notch and front post and am experiencing the same issue as you.

      If I can’t focus on the front sight I get a fuzzy and double image of it which makes it very difficult to pick the correct front post image for my sight picture. With my guns with a rear notch and front post it is difficult to get the front post positioned equidistant from both sides of the notch. Every time I blink the image changes driving me to distraction. With a peep the positioning of my eye with the rear sight comes mostly automatic and does not produce a double image of its orifice.

      However, with the front post in focus I do get a blurry target but not a double image of it and it is, with practice, manageable for me to get a reasonable aim point. At first I didn’t think a blurry target would produce good results but I’m finding that it does and gets better with practice.

      Now I concentrate on the front sight primarily as I line things up. I am able to keep 20 pellets inside the black bull of an Olympic pistol target at 10m while standing and shooting off-hand. That’s a 2 1/4″ group which is a good start for me. Although much credit goes to Victor for his invaluable shooting tips that allow me to do this.


    • Mark,
      Forgive my poor etiquete as I forgot to address my previous comment to you.

      I also want to clarify my first sentence to say “it is better to have a sharply focused front sight with a blurry target”. I didn’t want that to be misunderstood as a sharp pointed front sight. Although…who knows? Might work.


  23. Thats kinda funny how new shooters are scared of them, my second rifle and my favorite rifle is my grand dads winchester 69a with winchester 80 peep sights on it. after using peep sights i can never go back…. like ever i personally dislike scopes and prefer sights peep or notch though the former is ages better. The reason its funny to me that new shooters hate peeps is cause im only 18 and if i could, i would have them on all my rifles… and make them mandatory by law. Happy shooting.

  24. Hi BB, I found this excellent article on peep sights by Tom Gaylord; a topic that’s been consuming me for the past few days…..know this guy? ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep finding these gems from the past…thanks! Anyhow, following your instructions from yesterday, reinforced by this article, I purposely reset my rear peep sight to center. Aligning only the front sight to my target, my groups are now off to the lower right, about 1-1/2″ from center, albeit still scattered due to poor springer technique. Is this due to a misalignment of the front sight? If so, how does one adjust the front sight? I have the IZH 60. Do I off-set the front globe? Also, if the rear sight is not needed, what are the windage and elevation knobs used for, if anything? I hope you don’t mind all these questions. I am learning this stuff as I go!


    • Peter,

      The offset could be due to several reasons. The front sight may not be centered. Or the hole through the barrel may be drilled off-center. Both things are extremely common. In fact, no factory barrel I have examined ever had its hole centered. Barrelmakers charge extra for that service. I’ve seen the hole through Crosman barrels 1/8-inch off-center.

      If you can move the front sight globe a little to the right (opposite the direction you want to pellet to move) and the peep sight a little to the left (same direction as you want the pellet to move) you should correct things.

      I never said the peep sight is not needed. I said you don’t do anything with it. You peek through it like you’re looking through the knothole in a fence. By adjusting it, you are moving the entire fence — hence the knothole.


      • Hi BB, hahaha, moving the entire fence, good one…..sorry I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions! I will give these adjustments a try. I’m not sure if the pellet choice played a part as well. I’ve been using the inexpensive 7.4 grain Crosman competition pellets. Having read your recent article on H&N pellets, perhaps the H&N pellets are better? Seems like they are of a higher quality…..hand inspected and all! …certainly more expensive though


          • Hi BB,

            Never thought adjusting the front sights is all part of sighting in. I even “fixed” the globe by turning it back straight when it came out of the box. The canted position was probably the correct one to begin with! ๐Ÿ™‚ So I turn the globe one click toward the right and tweaked the rear slightly to the left. The groups are still scattered, but that definitely corrected the alignment. The large groups are due to shooter error for sure….I’ll get there…..a lot of trial and error right?

            I did manage to place an order for a couple of tins of Hobbies last night. This sighting in is eating up all my pellets! I have both the IZH 60 and 61 ๐Ÿ™‚ do they prefer the same brand/type of pellets? I hate to have to stock up different ones for each. I hope the Hobbies work out as the match pellets are significantly more expensive! ๐Ÿ™‚ i’ll let you know how the Hobbies turn out.

            Thanks for your advice BB!


              • Hi BB,

                I REALLY enjoy this sport, so I’m glad to be in the “club” ๐Ÿ™‚ though at the rate I’m burning through them, probably good to buy bulk.

                Do you have any advice on how to shoot these springers? I read in your previous articles that the IZH is very particular on the way you hold them and require perfect technique to shoot well. I find that I change position every time I reload. How do you keep the rifle in the same position in reference to yourself consistently? My goal is to shoot this rifle well off-hand….tall order right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Any tips?


          • Hi BB, I managed to get some Hobby at 7.0 gr and Meisterkugelns at 8.2 gr over the weekend. Both did very well. However, the Meisterkugelns appear to be more consistent. The Hobbies had nice group one time and not the next. Is that because it’s lighter? I also noticed the Hobbies had rifling on the skirt and the Meisterkugelns were smooth. Is that a gimick or does it acutally do something?

            I recall you saying (in an older article) to get the lightest pellet for the IZH 60/61. Will the Meisterkugelns be too heavy at 8.2 gr?


              • Hi BB, thanks for your reply…Meisterkugeln it is. Is there an increase in accuracy with heavier pellets? When does pellet weight matter in terms of damage to the spring and innards of the gun?


                  • Hi BB, thanks for your insights. So there are stability issues with pellets that are too heavy as well!? ๐Ÿ™‚ I recall reading your 2011 article on supersonic pellets. Those were too light! What happens when a pellet is too heavy….apart from travelling too slow or can’t go as far. How does stability factor in? This is very interesting to me…I hope you don’t mind. ๐Ÿ™‚


          • Hi BB, after testing out a number of wadcutters, I settled with the Meisterkugeln match rifle 8.2 gr. The groups were not great, at about 1/2″, but the best of the lot which included

            RWS Basic 7.0gr
            RWS Hobby 7.0gr
            RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2gr
            H&N Sport 8.18gr
            Crosman Competition 7.4gr

            I’ve also tried some domed pellets thinking wadcutters might be less stable because of the flat head. The JSB Exact 8.44gr were way worse. HOWEVER, Crosman 177DB Premier 7.9gr domed field target pellets had 1/4″ groups! You mentioned stability of the pellet will affect group size. Could the domed shape be more stable? I’d like to develop competition skills and can’t be using domed pellets. Are there wadcutters that group better? It could also be a newbie thing that I’m just not there yet ๐Ÿ™‚ …still practicing a lot about a can of pellets a week


  25. I know this is a old post but retired about 2 years ago and have gotten into vintage air gun collecting. These guns I can shot in my backyard. Just acquired a 1930s era Crosman 102 with a peep sight. Really a much better sight for cataract operated on old eyes! Your article here was quite good helping me get the most out of it. Read all your articles on the 101, as well as many other guns: great resource, thanks, Steve

  26. This operation was as close to a medical miracle as I have experienced. 20 minutes, you walk to your car and in a week your 20l20. Like being a kid again, and the colors so vivid. Your in for a treat.

  27. Hello,
    I just got a Williams 5D-AG peep for my .22 Crosman Optimus (a $90 mistake, I advise everybody to save up and buy reputable quality instead) whose rear plastic sights are unusable (they flex and move all over the place). The Williams is too narrow as received and would not fit into the grooves, it has got two small screws on the side which I tried in vain to rotate with a tiny allen key. Before I take the file out, are there any tricks to adjust the reach of this clamp? For $36, Williams should have provided instructions and a key.
    I appreciate your help!

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