Peep sights: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

Ghost ring
However
Daisy combination sight
The lollipop sight
Buffalo hunters
Zimmerstutzen and Schuetzen peeps
Cheep peeps
Summary

Today we are going to look at the oddities among peep sights. We will start with the ghost ring.

Ghost ring

A ghost ring is a peep sight with a very large hole and very thin sides. Compared to the peeps we have been exploring, the ghost ring is barely there. Let’s see.

Mossberg ghost ring
The Mossberg ghost ring sight pairs with a red ramp front sight — ON A SHOTGUN!

Ghost ring sights are in favor right now because they provide rapid target acquisition, with a slight loss of precision. They are found on tactical shotguns and some handguns where the speed of target acquisition is favored over the last bit of precision.

However

I don’t think ghost rings are that new. I think the name is new and people have glommed onto the sight because of the name, but the peep sight on a Lee Enfield Mark IV from World War II looks no different to me. The hole is very large for the same reason — rapid target acquisition. For precision the Mark IV rifle offers a smaller peep on the flip-up sight standard.

Enfield Mark IV sight
Please tell me how this battle sight on a Mark IV Enfield differs from the ghost ring sight shown above?

Daisy combination sight

Starting some time in the 1950s (I think), Daisy offered a rear sight that was the shooter’s choice of either a peep or a rare notch.  I say I think this sight started in the 1950s because my pre-1957 Daisy 25 pump-gun has such a sight and I’ve never seen one on anything earlier.

Daisy combo sight
Daisy had a rear sight that could be either a plain notch or a peep, depending on the shooter’s desires.

This sight was put on other BB guns throughout the ’60s, ’70s and beyond including at least some of their Targeteer 177 BB pistols! Was that appropriate? Not at all. But it is an example of a peep sight on a pistol.

Daisy Targeteer sight
This rare toy blue and white Daisy Targeteer has the same selectable peep and notch rear sight. The peep is useless on a pistol, but it looked cool.

The lollipop sight

Some vintage blackpowder rifles came with a small peep sight that augmented a normal sporting sight. It looked like a lollipop, so that’s what it was called. It was mounted on the comb of the rifle and was crude in comparison to the precision peeps of the day. You find it on hunting rifles and combination guns like my Nelson Lewis double-barrel from the 1860s. To move the sight higher the entire unit was unscrewed at the base and a lockscrew was tightened when the elevation was good. For windage a single screw was loosened and the peephole was slid from side to side.

lollipop sight
A lollipop peep sight is crude but still got the job done.

Buffalo hunters

It is well-known that between 1870 until a little after 1880 the American Bison was slaughtered in massive numbers. The official story was the American fur trade was responsible, but the truth is, it was probably a political operation to hamstring the Indian population, which it did.

Buffalo hunters have been depicted as shooting Sharps and Remington rifles of large caliber over great distances using tang-mounted peep sights. In truth, the more successful hunters scorned the peep for telescopic sights. But the tang-mounted peep sight has become an icon of that bygone era.

midrange tang sight
This midrange tang sight might be used for targets out to as far as 300-400 yards. Beyond that distance a telescopic sight is preferred, though peeps have been selectively effective at ranges of up to one mile (1,760 yards).

Zimmerstutzen and Schuetzen peeps

These are the Stradivari of peep sights. They have no clicks, preferring to adjust smoothly with a clock-style key until the bullet strikes exactly where it is wanted.

Zimmer peep profile
This Zimmerstutzen peep sight adjusts with a clock-type key. There are no clicks — only a smooth adjustment.

Zimmer peep rear
Zimmerstutzen peep sight offers dial-a-peephole (cutout on the left side) to adjust to different lighting situations.

Cheap peeps

I showed you a couple inexpensive airgun peep sights in Part 1 of this series. Now let’s see another one that was made for rimfires.

Mossberg S-100 up
The Mossberg S-100 sight is made of stampings, with few machined parts, yet it conveys an aura of precision. 

Mossberg S-100 aside
The sight swings aside for no purpose on my Mossberg 46M(a) bolt-action rifle on which it’s mounted. On other models the swing-away sight allows the bolt to be removed for cleaning the rifle.

The Mossberg S-100 is one of many peep sights that were made cheaply enough that they could be mounted on inexpensive rimfire rifles with little or no increase in cost over conventional open notches.

I mention and show the cheap peeps to show the airgun manufacturers how clever design can keep the cost within reason. A lot of airgunners want peep sights — preferring them over bundled scopes that have few redeeming factors.

Summary

We have looked at peep sights today that are not what we typically think of when discussing the subject. 

We’re not done, yet! There are still front sights to discuss, and how they relate to and interact with the peeps you have seen.

61 thoughts on “Peep sights: Part 3

  1. B.B.,
    My friend, Jack, has a Lee Enfield Mark IV from World War II, and I concur with you; that 75-year-old rifle has a “modern ghost ring sight” on it.
    “A lot of airgunners want peep sights — preferring them over bundled scopes”
    “A lot of airgunners want peep sights — preferring them over bundled scopes”
    “A lot of airgunners want peep sights — preferring them over bundled scopes”
    Amen!!! I repeated that 3 times to hopefully capture the attention of the airgun manufacturers who read this!
    Looking forward to the rest of this series,
    dave


    • Dave,

      just one small additional information for the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers:

      A Lot of NEW airgunners would want peep sights IF the sellers would devote a little effort to educate their buyers on how to properly use them!

      Repeat 2 more times!

      Sung to the tune of: Row, row, row your boat!

      shootski


    • Dave/Shootski,

      Agreed! Would really like to see more peep sight offerings.

      I’ve bought some Williams AG-AG-TK and FP-GR-TK aperature sights to use instead of scopes. Those seem to be the only modern options.

      I have two springers that came with a “free” bundled scope. A Gamo and a Diana. Honestly, I really wasn’t interested in either scope offering. I really prefer the peep-style method of target acquisition. Also, it just feels a bit more “sporting”. And I think it looks a bit better too.

      Currently experimenting with different inserts / aperture sizes. Would LOVE to have a Merit Corp adjustable aperture. But they seem to have been discontinued for years.

      StarboardRower


      • StarboardRower,
        Peep-sights are awesome! I was trying to find the article for you (but I could only find forums mentioning the article, not the actual article), an old Guns & Ammo article from about 20 years ago, that talks about Hank Williams Jr. doing some shooting on his Montana ranch. It was right after the movie, Quigley Down Under, came out (1990); some friend of his was saying that those old black powder rifles could not be that accurate at 900 yards. So, Hank set up a metal target (a ram, if I recall) at a paced 900 yards (which he later used a laser range finder to verify was actually 869 yards), and hit it with a variety of peep-sighted black powder rifles. Then, he had a neighbor lady, who had never even shot a gun before give it a go; he coached her a bit on how to hold the rifle and use the sights (he also had her use either a .38-55 or a .40-65 [I’m pretty sure it was the .40-65] instead of the .45-70…less recoil for a new shooter), then let her shoot at the ram; she could see her bullet impacts on the ground, and she was able to “walk” the rounds onto the target, hitting it with her fourth shot. THAT impressed me even more than the movie (yes, she was shooting prone, not standing…Hollywood..heh =>) as a testimony to the awesomeness of peep sights.
        Take care,
        dave


    • I concur, Dave, wholly. I am a springer shooter and although I have affixed a number of UTG and a Hawke scope to various RWS, Hatan and Crosman long guns, I find that peeps are a lot less trouble and within typical airgun ranges quite effective.

      The lower mass of the peep sights means there is a lot less creep issues unlike the mass of a scope and mounts on top of the spring tube. There is also fewer issues with movement of the POI/POA than my peeps.

      I shoot in a 10 M basement range and that is quite an happy distance because shooting pests from my suburban home windows is limited to my property lines that are approximately the same distance all round. The peep is perfect for my ranges. I will, however, grant that at longer ranges, the scope has real advantages.

      I also second Dave’s motion that a quality peep option would be welcomed at least among those of us who have learned how to use them. That’s particularly true for 73 year old eyeballs that have difficulty with oven notch and front post alignments.


      • LFranke,
        I am with you; I put a peep sight on my first R7, and it never moved, likely due to its low mass. And I tried several ways to scope my Sheridan (plastic mounts, Sheridan Intermount, modified Intermount) and was never happy with any of them (they also made the rifle top heavy). My rifle was old, with no provision for mounting a peep sight; even though Sheridan sold them, the rifle had to be drilled and tapped for it. Fortunately for me, we had a machinist for a neighbor; he and my Dad did some favor-swapping, and he tapped my gun for the Williams peep sight. I drilled the 0.093″ aperture out to 0.107,” which seemed to suit my eyes for the type of shooting I was doing (plinking and hunting out to 30 yards). The rifle has been perfect for the past 35 years! =>
        Take care & stay safe,
        dave


  2. B.B.,

    I hope this article can move at least one of the manufacturers to offer peep sights especially on their break barrel rifles! How many scopes will be killed/destroyed before the owner realizes he has to buy a scope that costs as much, if not twice the cost, as their bargain rifle? A lot will blame the poor accuracy on their hold or their pellet before they find out that it’s their scope that is the problem.

    Siraniko

    PS: Section: Zimmerstutzen and Schuetzen peeps First image caption: “This Zimmerstutzen peep sight adjusts with a click-type (clock-type) key. There are no clicks — only a smooth adjustment.



      • B.B.,

        I only found it after reading the article twice though. Are there any other simpler examples of factory peep sights. I really regret getting rid of my Father’s collection of old Shooter’s Bibles. I used to pore over them a lot when i was much younger. Unfortunately we had to bin then due to space considerations.

        Siraniko



      • Mildot52,

        Wow! That puts my plan to put a peep sight on the Diana 52 in a new light. I think I’ll shift to a Williams AG peep to keep the mass down. Thanks for the advance warning.

        Siraniko


        • yes the site had a big aluminum base with 2 big thumbscrews and the recoil battered where it clamps to the dovetail. the 48-52 series destroy scopes and even the peep site


    • Siraniko: That’s particularly true for some scopes that are patched onto otherwise quality rifles and then are broken by the double-recoil of magnum springers. My RWS 350 Pro Compact in .177 destroyed three RWS branded scopes in a row within a few dozens of shots apiece. I took the forth replacement and put it on a shelf and replaced the RWS scope (a Xisco?) with an UTG Leapers.

      Unfortunately, the Pro Compact does not have a front sight but a barrel weight instead (counting on it being and remaining scoped). That eliminated the peep option since I am not a machinist. The rifle even broke one UTG that was promptly replaced.

      What all this comes down to is an affirmation of your opinion; violent magnum springers need peeps. Scopes are just biding time until the reticle breaks or the inner tube begins to rotate uncontrollably. Maybe a Dampa Mount would moderate this, but peeps are a real alternative in my book.


  3. I am stuck with my tiny cell phone for access to the world. It cannot connect to my personal email so I cannot see notifications. Healthy for now, though, so that’s good. Peep sights are quite interesting, quite a history. I think Gus used something like the tang sight in Lonesome Dove.
    I haven’t duplicated my first 50 yd shot with my new .177 Marauder, but I made that group indoors from a bench rest using a shooting rest. That told me what I could do with it, though. I am pleased with my progress. Air Arms Field Heavies are zeroed at 25 yds. & that zeroes at 40 yds., which is the longest shot I can make on my property. I am using a scope with a ballistic reticle? I understand it isn’t designed for my useage, but is so much clearer than the Center Point 4-16×40 I switched out. The AO does go downwards of 5 yds where I also use holdover.
    Now using single shot tray to test some B-string pellets. Copper Magnums have surprised me, but JSB Straton pointeds are dismal out of my Marauder.
    Take care.
    ~ken


  4. BB,

    I have a question which relates indirectly to the peeps which we are discussing.

    I have a jezail from around 1860 out of the Sahara (say the current Tunisia or Morocco region) . It is a percussion rifle and has a peep and a normal iron sight in one go. The peep being two holes bored underneath in the iron sight which is 0.55 inch high
    The bore is hexagonal with a speed of around half a turn on the full length of the barrel (length 3,34 feet) . The bullet size is roughly .5 (allowing for the hexagonal form).

    What is the speed of the bullet when leaving the muzzle?

    As the peep sights and the iron sight are fixed I think can compute from the speed of the bullet the distance for which the rifle is set up to shoot from the iron and the peep sights which is quite interesting for a small guest blog.

    Regards,

    August.


    • August,

      This is just a guess, of course, but that bullet (which I hope is a round ball) probably goes out around 1,250 f.p.s., give or take. That’s 381 meters per second.

      Just having photos of that rifle would make an interesting guest blog.

      B.B.


  5. BB,

    Fascinating stuff. In that last picture of Zimmerstutzen peep sight, it looks like a long coil spring is spiral wound into the disc. Or not? How did that adjust exactly?

    Looking forwards to the next installment.

    Chris


  6. BB,

    Please tell me how this battle sight on a Mark IV Enfield differs from the ghost ring sight shown above?

    It is better made.

    I myself would much rather have a peep than a cheap scope. Those Mossberg peeps were nice really. Though they were mostly stamped metal, they were well thought out and worked quite well.

    I enjoy the flip up peep on the Webley Service MK II. I have the notch sight zeroed at 10 yards and the peep at 25 yards. Feral soda cans fear the Webley.

    On the right air rifle that tang sight would be awesome. Hmmm. Maybe an HW95? It would go quite well with a Barnes.


    • the rear site on a Mk 4 enfield is idiotic without windage adjustment. on mine I had to knock the front site over and it is real hard when you aim because you want to center the protective ears on the front site in the peep. meanwhile the site is not centered between the wings


  7. Have any of you guys seen the peep sight on the Ruger PC Carbine? My brother bought one and I shot it. The gun is OK, but I had a tough time with that peep sight. The peep is a long ways from your eye. I am not very familiar with peep sights, but that is the first time I had seen one like that.



    • Captain Bravo,

      As B.B. pointed out they have been around for some time. What someone, probably in some marketing department, did was rename them Ghost Rings is surprisingly not too far off from how to effectively use them. Shooter’s PRIMARY focus is still on Front Sight, the rear sight ring becomes GHOSTLY when the shooters eye is properly focused on the front sight. Takes a little (okay a lot!) bit of concentration at first to keep the ring from coming into focus. But trust me on this my Nightfighter Tritium front sight floated into the ring almost automatically after a few good Moonlight nights of practice. I can make it work for me now with my 2,100 Lumen Destroyer flashlight set on STROBE. The installation on the Ruger looks a bit forward but i held my scattergun at arms length and could still make it work in daylight.
      Maybe starting with your aiming eye closer at first and then moving back on the Buttstock to a more normal shooting position might work?

      shootski


  8. B.B.

    Please explain why a peep sight is worthless on a pistol?

    If Tom Gaylord is writing about peeps sights, does that make Mr. Gaylord a “Peeping Tom”, sorry lol…

    -Y
    PS Is a peep sight by definition, a sight with a hole in it?


    • Yogi,

      Take a good look at the size of the hole in the first Daisy peep sight. Now imagine seeing anything through that hole when it is arm’s distance from your eye. That’s why I said they are worthless.

      Since peep sight is a colloquial term, the answer to you last question is yes.

      B.B.


      • BB

        By now I am sure you do not have eye astigmatism. But it is reported that 90
        % of people do and 20% to 30% have enough to cause blurring. I have had it my entire life but still was able to have 20/15 vision for many years. The clarity for vertical and horizontal lines on a scope reticle demonstrate astigmatism. Some of us who have it have to adjust the reticle to get the horizontal line as sharp as the verticle line.

        So what does this have to do with a peep on a pistol? It is not about alignment to target at all. It is about getting the front sight to be in focus. When I look through a peep (or even a common washer) at the front sight of a pistol at arms length, it gets clearer. Your being a high level pistol competitor I don’t need to remind you that front sight focus is important.

        Love this report!

        Deck


  9. TheDavemyster,

    Amen to that !! . With a peep sight droop is no longer a issue since You have allot of adjust-ability. The Bronco with the Williams sight was a favorite of mine , really wish we could bring these back . Good quality at a good price point . I doubt most manufacturers will use them , most people in the design and marketing probably are not shooters . Another problem is cost and that is the biggest factor involved . Not to mention they would have to get rid of those awful and thick fiber optic front sights and get a nice sharp front post ( AKA not plastic) . We know how much marketing likes those sights . ” Powered buy a Gas -Ram and Fiber Optic sights ”

    Gene Salvino


  10. B.B.,

    “This midrange tang sight might be used for targets out to as far as 300-400 yards. Beyond that distance a telescopic sight is preferred, though peeps have been selectively effective at ranges of up to one mile (1,760 yards).”

    I’ve read accounts of and watched online videos of expert shooters making such shots at a target with peep sights, but how can anyone even SEE a target at 400 yards, let alone a mile? I had 20-15 vision when I was much younger, and I would not have been able to clearly make out a target at such a distance.

    Michael


  11. I have a Mossberg 146B with the swing out peep. It allows you to use the open sight mounted on the barrel for close range work. My model also has a “T” handle on the bolt instead of a knob.

    Mike


  12. I also have that Mossberg peep from my Mossberg .22 RF. I replaced it with a Lyman 57 and mounted the S-100 on my Crosman 140. One of my Mossbergs also has the mid-barrel open sight which also has a peep insert. I really don’t know why you would want that, as the S-100 it also has is where it’s supposed to be.My Diana 34 also got the Mendoza peep and a orphan Mossberg ramp front sight. The factory issue one was too low for the Mendoza peep . Regards ,Robert



      • shootski, Cooper certainly made the observation that stripper clip loading (in an action like the 03 Springfield) is rendered easier by the forward mounting of a scout scope, but that wasn’t a primary consideration. That mounting system does many things at once that are useful, but the biggest thing with the scout scope is its amazing speed of acquisition in snapshooting, with full binocular vision. That’s real, in a way that a casual evaluation may not illustrate. (Many people write off key elements of the Scout design without really having any idea how they work–the worst is a widespread misunderstanding of the Ching Sling, but the scout scope is up there too. It’s painful to see such meticulous design already being lost, so soon after it became understood. 🙂

        One of the big highlights of my life thus far, was taking a week-long rifle course which was designed to illustrate just how efficient the Scout concept really is, in practice. It’s stunning. In a world obsessed with specialization, a truly well-designed general purpose rifle is something that’s hard to understand, without living with it for a time on the broad canvas for which it was intended.


        • Huh, so that’s what that “image for your comment” does. I thought it would be an avatar-type icon to go with the name.

          (For anyone interested, that’s my Craftygrass logo, covering a tripartite interest in writing, shooting, and music. I suppose it’s somewhat of unintentional interest here since that is definitely a ghost-ring sight picture being represented. 🙂 )



  13. Does anyone here really think the manufacturers will do a peep sight verses a open sight or a scope on a air gun now days.

    I’m waiting to see how that goes.

    Who knows that answer?



  14. There’s a common thread that has permeated these comments today that I heartily agree with…….

    “In general the neophyte shooters have no idea how to use and therefore appreciate peep sights”.

    Manufacturers of firearms and airguns realize this fact. It’s only through blogs like this that peeps have a chance of being resurrected.

    I’ve had many seasoned shooters with simple direction from me become converts. It’s just a fun and accurate option for the typical open sight vs scope dogma.

    B.B. deserves a lot of credit for resurrecting this topic.

    A final thought………once upon a time it was very common in Airgun competition to have a category of the Quigley Bucket Shoot. It was sized at 50 yards for a 400 ? Yard firearm target. Only open sights are allowed and I remember many folks putting vernier sights on sheridans. I think LD put a $500 set of verniers on a $250 gun and won the competition.


    • Kevin,

      “………once upon a time….Quigley Bucket Shoot.”. !!!!!!
      Now I feel my age! I didn’t think that was all that long ago until you pointed out that it qualified for “once upon a time” ;^)

      shootski


  15. As to this question of how long the ghost-ring has been around, I seem to recall Jeff Cooper saying that both Townsend Whelen and WDM “Karamojo” Bell advocated for it during the early decades of the twentieth century, although they may or may not have used that exact name.

    I put ghost-ring apertures on any rifle that can accept irons (and I’m with others in this commentariat who would want manufacturers to know that a solid set of irons is much preferable to a bundled telescope, always!). When B.B. turned me on to the Air Venturi Bronco and thus jump-started my own airgun adventure (forever thanks for that, B.B.), I got mine with the Williams rear sight, and just unscrewed the target aperture from the sight and stuck it in a box, where it stays to this day. The hole you screw the target aperture into is a wonderful ghost-ring by itself.

    The ghost-ring system is as accurate as I am; I have on more than one occasion proven this to myself with an 03 Springfield, set up with a similar Williams rear aperture with the target disk removed, looped up in prone at 100 yards–repeatedly shooting groups smaller than I can even see at that range. I make no claims of master marksmanship ability, but the confidence of being able to do that in the field, on demand, is…significant. And of course with a well-set-up ghost-ring, I can see, which is the biggest objection I have to dedicated target sights. I’m a “field” guy, and don’t like anything that gets in the way of seeing what I want to hit!



    • Kevin Wilmeth,

      I wasn’t certain what to apprehend in your first post about scout mounting; your large aperture comments above allowed some light to fall on your position. My conceptions, gained through 65 years of experimentation, is that whatever the rear sight format, not focusing on the front sight will all but eliminate the chance for precision.

      There are many specialized slings attached to general purpose rifles for what specific reason i have no clue. Slings were originally designed to carry a general purpose rifle with you from place to place while freeing the hands for other tasks. Specialized slings are designed for use with specialized rifles (weapons) designed to do specific tasks as a system.

      Snap Shooting. Sounds like a very aristocratic endeavor used to shoot birds that the Beaters have flushed. Or is it shooting of clay birds they have thrown for their Masters for the required practice for hunting flushed birds. I prefer to quiet stalk, box track, overwatch, lay in ambush, or hunt over decoys never allowing the Prey to surprise me into needing to snap shoot.

      Different strokes for different folks… cliched but on occasion accurate.

      shootski


      • Hi shootski:

        I’m in complete agreement on front sight focus being everything, with irons. The human eye can’t physically focus on more than one distance at a time, so we have to choose one, and if you want to hit, you “shoot your front sight”. 🙂 A true ghost-ring aperture makes the front sight stand out all the more by essentially disappearing from conscious view as you look through it, much like looking through a telescope removes the need to align a front and rear sight together. (A good reminder that the biggest advantage to using glass instead of irons, for most general-purpose shooting, isn’t actually magnification, but rather that glass allows that singular focal plane, on which appears both target and sight, focused together.)

        As for the Ching Sling: I’ll fully admit that I’m a semantic nerd, but I would say that it is the Ching Sling which serves the general purpose function, while dedicated carry straps (or the various gizmos of the more-tacticaler-than-thou crowd) are truly what is “specialized”. The Ching sling serves both purposes–a true shooting sling, and also an acceptable carry strap–better than anything I’ve ever seen. For anyone who doesn’t know what this remarkable device is, the best place to look is in Jeff Cooper’s essential work The Art Of The Rifle; if you don’t have access to that book yet, you can settle for a few of my comments on what so many people get wrong about its use.

        As for snap shooting with rifles, that’s just part of the complete rifleman’s skill set. It is one of the most difficult and perishable skills, but it’s really rewarding, not least because a good snap shot requires you to perform so many fundamentals so well. Is it a skill commonly demanded of real-world riflemen? Not for most of us, thank goodness, but I’m nonetheless thankful for my own basic competence, just as I’m thankful for my defensive pistol skills. If I never have to use either, I’ll consider it a win because that is my plan, but if an unexpected or unavoidable emergency requires me to do so, I bloody well intend to win. 🙂

        And for the record, I’ve got little interest in the aristocratic. Excellence has nothing–nothing–to do with status, caste, or wealth; it has only to do with will, intention, and integrity. No, actually I’m the guy who wants to turn the peasantry into competent riflemen. I just reason that if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it well. 😀


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