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More on peep sights

This report includes:

  • Back to the 853
  • 5899 — simple yet precise
  • Eye placement
  • Close enough can be a problem
  • Anything else?
  • Level?
  • Summary

I have more to say about peep sights and today is the day for that. I will jump around a bit because there are a lot of different things I need to address. 

Back to the 853

Yesterday’s report on the accuracy of the four new pellets gave me the opportunity to shoot my Daisy 853 again after many years. And what that did was renew my experience with an inexpensive peep sight, the Daisy 5899 that came on the 853 target rifle.

Daisy 5899 peep
Daisy 5899 peep sight. 

The Daisy 5899 is a mostly plastic unit that came standard on the now-obsolete 853. But the sight is still available and comes mounted on the 499 BB gun. My 499 is an older one that came with a much simpler peep that Daisy no longer supplies. But I installed a 5899 and now I have just what the champions have.

old Daisy peep
The Daisy 499 used to come with a simpler peep sight. It was just as accurate as the current peep, but it was much more difficult to adjust because you just loosened it and slid it up, down and sideways where you wanted it to go.

5899 — simple yet precise

The 5899 is plastic, yet it can be just as precise as the most expensive Olympic target peep you can buy — ONCE IT IS ADJUSTED. It is the proper method of adjustment that has to be learned. The plastic parts give the sight some slop when it it’s adjusted. To dial that out the shooter has to turn the adjustment knobs several clicks in the opposite direction (at least three) and then dial it back in the direction you want the sight to move to take up all the slack. Once you get it on target the 5899 is just as precise as any other peep sight.

Eye placement

But with any peep sight the shooter needs to do his or her job too and, while shooting the 853, I discovered (once again) what that meant. The placement of the sighting eye needs to be consistent from shot to shot. I read comments where some shooters say peep sights have no parallax so your head placement is of no concern, but that’s just wrong. It is true that with a peep there is less to align when sighting, but consistent placement of the sighting eye still matters.

And I told you that the 853’s stock was adjusted too long (for me) for that to happen. I rectified that by the end of the test, but it brought up another weakness of peep sights. They need to be close to the shooter’s eye to work their best. Remember the Buffington sight?

Buffington sight
The Buffington sight was the first peep sight the United States military used. It was fine for target work and for long range shooting, but it was located so far from the eye that the shooter needed perfect vision to use it.

Buffington up
To use the Buffington peep sight the leaf must be up.

trapdoor open
Because of the way the Trapdoor Springfield’s breech opens (like a trap door), the Buffington sight couldn’t be placed close to the shooter’s eye.

Therefore, the most accurate Trapdoor marksmen after the Buffington became standard were the men with the best vision. It surprises me that the Buffington remained in service as long as it did — 1884 to 1945. But the Army noticed its shortcomings long before the end and when the O3A3 Springfield came out its redesigned peep sight was positioned back behind the bolt where it belongs.

Close enough can be a problem

I talk about getting close enough to the peephole, but that can sometimes present a problem, and not just with heavy-recoiling firearms. In the case of the FWB 150 and all the variations of the FWB 300 target air rifles, the backward motion of the spring tube that cancels recoil can push the peep sight into the shooter’s eye if it’s too close. Recoiling spring-piston target rifles of the past such as the HW55-series present a similar problem, though less of one because the whole rifle moves — not just the spring tube. The shooter’s shoulder negates much of this movement because it’s attached to the shooter.

This movement is where soft eye cups come into play. And on the Airgun Nation forum I found someone who makes (or made) a kit for a Williams sporting peep that fits on a recoiling spring piston rifle.

peep sight kit
Custom kit extends a soft eyeshade of the peep sight back to where the shooter’s eye can be comfortably placed for a Williams sporting peep sight.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Anything else?

What if you don’t have a rubber eye cup for your peep? My solution has been to put a piece of masking tape on the stock where the front of my cheek should stop. When I can feel the tape against my cheek I know my eye is in the same place each time I sight. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can do.

Level?

Do you need to level the rifle for every shot like you do for a scope? Well, if you don’t some shooters are spending hundreds of dollars needlessly.

spirit level sight
This MVA spirit level sight retails for $365. That’s a lot to pay if you don’t need to  level the rifle when using a peep sight.

Summary

I jumped around a bit in this report but I wanted to address these things for those who either use a peep sight already or are considering it. Did I miss anything?

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 Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

40 thoughts on “More on peep sights”

    • Hmm, my 3D printing side just kicked in.

      Since it’s soft, I would bet he printed it with TPU (Thermo Plastic Urethane),

      The long tube extension is weird unless he designed it that way to get the cup closer to his eye to compensate for the sight being too far forward.

      It also looks like the tube just press fits over the small diameter Williams peep.

      It looks like if it’s bumped, it could possibly get knocked out of alignment slightly. Thereby throwing off the alignment of the “stacked rings” that you want with a peep arrangement.

      To quote Artie Johnson..”Very interesting.”

      Ian

      • Ian,

        The “stacked rings” have nothing to do with sighting the peep. They are for light reflection. most eye cups are more like an accordion to collapse slightly on any recoil.

        The long tube is indeed to get the cup closer to the eye to help the shooter to set the proper position repeatedly. Hector makes a brass tube to move the peep rearward.

        The distance from the peep is not critical as long as the distance is consistent. This is why BB uses masking tape on his stocks. Many use the soft eyecup to do such.

        Now, if you were to do that 3D thing, I would be most happy to try it out on my “new” Diana 34 on which I mounted a Williams peep. 😉

        • By stacked rings, I was Not referring to the design of that eyecup.

          I was referring to the Bullseye being centered in the front site and that being centered in the rear side peep, which is surrounded by that long skinny tube, which is extending from the eyecup to the Williams Peep sight.

          The human eye naturally wants to align and Center concentric circles and it’s pretty good at it.

          I would think that if that tube was out of alignment with the Rear sight, front sight and target it may confuse your alignment.

          Ian

          • Ian,

            Sorry it took me so long to reply. I had to think about what you were saying.

            The long tube should not matter unless it is so far out of alignment as to obscure the sight through the rear aperture. The one that Hector makes is made of brass and threads into the Williams base and the aperture then threads into the other end of it.

            I have mounted a Williams peep and a TruGlo globe front sight on my Diana 34. This is the same setup as I have on the HW30. I will let you and the others know how it does.

  1. B.B.,

    I believe their is a more technical term you could have used. “The plastic parts give the sight some slop when it it’s adjusted. To dial that out the shooter has to turn the adjustment knobs several clicks in the opposite direction (at least three) and then dial it back in the direction you want the sight to move to take up all the slack.”
    In place of SLOP you could have used Lash or Backlash.

    The MVA windage adjustable front (Globe) sights are nice for sure but every rifle sighting system with adjustable front WINDAGE has caused many shooters to be driven over the brink trying to figure out which way to adjust almost as bad as BEI HOCH!

    shootski

    • shootski,

      lash or backlash would have confused me. I think, sometimes less precise words are easier understood. I’m somewhat of a simpleton who likes simple stuff. 🙂
      Also, I submit that layman’s language is better for a large and varied audience, better yet, when it accompanies a picture! 🙂

      As for the various sight adjustment instructions that can be found on the sights themselves, have a look at a couple of pictured below versions by the same manufacturer and note yet more opportunity for confusion (yep, for me!)…

      I would prefer to simply know what adjustment moves the airgun in which direction. 🙂

      • hihihi,

        I see your point(s) obviously since i do believe in KISS (simplification) to the maximum extent possible. However, there comes a point where we are no longer a Layperson and need to step up our knowledge of accepted terminology in our hobbies, avocations, and vocations. With a blog like Tom’s using a word like concertina, as you did in a post below, can cause all manner of mistranslation. For instance is it a button accordion or a squeezebox, is it the concertina wire found in some countries, is the Etymology and current usage understood by most of the readership?
        That is the main reason for not using the words we personally like and using accepted and precise terminology.
        For me, SLOP is what some practicioners of animal husbandry feed to the pigs.

        shootski

        • shootski,

          fair enough! 🙂

          I have always been bad at expressing myself and for that I can only apologise: sorry.

          ——–
          However, I still believe, the larger and more varied the audience, the simpler the language wants to be.

          For me, and in this context, slop could mean the way a professor has lost touch with his/her audience. Yes, it might be nice to see them nodding but is that really a sign of agreement, or have their eyes begun to glaze over? 🙂

  2. B.B.

    Great report. Really brought a smile to my face. Made me decide to bring my peep sighted 10M gun to the range on Wednesday.
    After your 853 sat for so long, did you do anything to “wake it up”?

    Yogi

    • Yogi,

      Yes. I oiled the pump piston head with ATF sealant and I fired three shots to wake up the rifle. Sight-in woke it up the rest of the way.

      BB

  3. gehmann makes a rubber cup that fits on the 1” williams (or any brand i suppose) aperture. i got two of them to put on my b3’s after i first got my 753s last year before i decided that larger hole peep sights worked best for my preferred shooting/ plinking.

  4. Is the extension tube from peep sight to sighting eye supposed to reduce light and distractions from the side, similar to the eye cups on binoculars?

    Would this dark tunnel allow for smaller peep holes that let less light through?

    Does a smaller aperture help accuracy by more precisely repeated eye alignment?

    Would those soft rubber gaiters ideally seal around the eye socket, ie lightly touch the face, thereby ensuring that the eye is always at the same distance?

    Would a peep sight with adjustable hole size be ideal for these concertina tubes, different shooter eyes and varying light conditions, for example due to weather and time of day?

    • 3hi,

      These are all good questions. I will attempt to answer them as long as others are willing to step in and straighten me out.

      The extension tube helps to position the head in the proper (repeatable) position.

      The tube does reduce light glare but does not allow for smaller peep holes.

      The smaller the aperture, the better the accuracy. Of course, this will also depend on the type/style of the front sight.

      I have seen rather long eyecups on scopes and peeps with side flaps to help position the shooter’s head consistently and eliminate any distractions. You may notice on some 10-meter air rifle shooter’s head rigs they will have side shields to do the same.

      As for the adjustable aperture size, I have no experience whatsoever with such and cannot answer that, however I would think you would not do such except when using a peep for hunting, etcetera. Having said that, the varying size of the aperture should not affect accuracy. The smaller the peep, the better.

      • RidgeRunner,

        thanks for correcting some of my assumptions and confirming others. I appreciate your response.

        I like the idea of an adjustable aperture peep sight, though, I too, have yet to experience one… 🙂

        • Hihihi: I’ve used Merit Discs on my Williams Peeps and they are superb and very finely made. Also, I don’t think you would ever want to work on one unless you are a watch maker. Having said all that, and that they screw right into a Williams Peep base/chassis, here’s my take on some of the variables I’ve disc-covered (intentional pun!).

          First, while the disc screws into the Williams base/chassis, I added an higher friction fiber washer with an I/D that is the size of the disc threaded tube that attaches it to the base. That added a bit of friction to allow the disc aperture to be adjusted rather than unscrewing the Merit Disc whole out of the base/chassis. If I remember correctly, the aperture gets smaller with clockwise twist, so that also tightens the whole Merit Disc into the base/chasis. The problem can arise when wanting to enlarge the aperture as that is a counter-clockwise rotation, thus tending to want to unscrew the whole Merit Disc from the base/chassis. The friction of the fiber washer prevents that.

          The Merit Disc is perfect for allowing the shooter to choose the SAMLLEST aperture that the ambient light allows. If one gets too small, the aperture picture tends to gain shadows/fuzziness – that condition leads one to expand the aperture to the point that the sight picture is sharp and clear. In my basement range, the light is constant, so once adjusted to the target at approximately 10 M lit with a halogen bulb, I don’t change it much at all. Outside, however, if taking out a lawn pest, I can make a smaller aperture dependent on time of day.

          Although I have many scoped pieces, including pistols as I have aged, I still think that springers find a number of advantages from peeps. The first is a lack of mass on the scope rail quite unlike scopes that tend to want to move and scrape their way down the ramp (except for picatinny rails). Moving scopes have driven me crazy over my time with springers (since ’89!). The peep also makes the rifle much lighter.

          Second, given the actual effective range of a springer, a peep’s accuracy is well within a useable limit. My peeps seem to be uncannily mated to my springers’ performances. And cheaper, too! Within my yard, out of any of my house windows, the peep is more than able for critter elimination equal to any of my scopes.

          Check out the Merit Disc. They have a website. I think you talk to the guy who actually makes them!

          Hope this helps!

          • LFranke,

            thank you very much! You made me look up Merit Disc and, while failing to find a European source for them, came across Gehman’s offerings, that seem to include various lenses too. All bewilderingly interesting… 🙂

            I agree with a peep sight’s suitability on spring powered airguns, well, as long as they also suit the shooter’s eyesight.
            Thanks again! 🙂

    • 3hi-

      I’ve spent a lot of time behind rifles with varying sighting systems- telescopic, open, peep, target….
      Don’t overthink adjustable aperture sights and what they are good for. Think of a camera. The light passes to the image plate. Whether it passes through a simple pinhole or multi thousand dollar lens system, it is all the same. Light passing through a restriction. Now, we would normally choose a camera with an adjustable aperture (restriction) to allow us to tailor our picture taking results. The same adjustable aperture allows you to tailor your shooting abilities to changing light conditions and to your MK One eyeball.

  5. BB

    Much appreciated and useful information. I have several peeps of the slop type. They work fine for me only after I have stopped adjusting them. But this requires me to be content with shooting groups whose POI may be farther away from the bullseye than I want. Happily I have several peeps that adjust precisely (Walther, Air Force, FWB and Williams). But my slop peeps tend to wind up in a drawer. I even have a Williams peep on my Daisy 499B. Your 3 click tip in the opposite direction instead of only 1 may give new life to them.

    Deck

  6. Thanks for the well-done report. Is that the trapdoor Springfield that you recently said you acquired? It looks nice either way. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if the peep hole is significantly further away from the eye, then (to get a similar sized field of view) it probably must be a larger hole than it would be if placed closer to the eye. This larger peep hole would then tend to make the sight less precise.

    • joem5636,

      I am assuming you are referring to a Williams peep. Many do just remove the peep hole and use the hole it screws into. It will still do the same thing.

  7. BB,

    Thanks for this little blog. I can most definitely see where many would not like that Buffington sight and why the flip up peep on the stock similar to the Creedmoor became popular. I myself am giving serious thought to such.

    If you should happen to have one laying around somewhere, perhaps you could do a blog on such or perhaps even donate such to RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. Hint, hint. 😉

  8. Wonder if the Daisy peep would work in the HWs? – FM would hate to put the extra $ into a more expensive one only to wind up disappointed like he was with that Tru-Glo globe sight.

  9. I’m using a peep sight on my Diana 52 right now. This rifle has a lot of barrel droop so a scope has to be mounted high on a drooper rail to over come it. It works much better for me to just use a peep sight.

    Mike

  10. Please forgive me for not paying closer attention to the MVA spirit level sight the first time I read this report. I think that might be a great idea. They make a non-windage-adjustable version for significantly less money. However it is still rather expensive. Anyway, I just might have an idea to attempt to experiment with a possible DIY version. Thanks for posting this BB!

  11. B.B. and Readership,

    WESTPORT, Conn., April 30, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Compass Diversified (NYSE: CODI) (“CODI” or the “Company”), an owner of leading middle market businesses, is announcing the simultaneous entry into a definitive agreement (the “Agreement”) and completion of its sale of Crosman Corporation (“Crosman”), the air gun division of its Velocity Outdoor, Inc. subsidiary, to Daisy Manufacturing Company (“Daisy”).

    Wow!

    shootski

  12. “The Daisy 499 used to come with a simpler peep sight. It was just as accurate as the current peep, but it was much more difficult to adjust because you just loosened it and slid it up, down and sideways where you wanted it to go.”

    BB, I think that old style peep on your 499 is pretty cool; I would much prefer it over the newer style one that I shot (a gift for our pastor). It looks like it would be as fiddly as adjusting the sights on my Webley Tempest; they may be a bit of a pain, but once they’re in, they are in!
    And that old simpler peep sight just looks cool. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    dave

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