Which are better for battle, iron sights or a scope?

Hello, my friend and welcome back!  I sincerely hope that each one of you had a great Thanksgiving because I know that I sure did.  So, which is better, a rifle scope with iron sights when you’re in the heat of battle?  This is the question I would like to discuss with you in today’s post, so grab a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit.

Over Thanksgiving, I was talking with a younger Veteran and we got to discussing the subject.  Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never used a rifle scope in battle but he had so I thought we would look at some of the pros and cons of it.

Back when I first joined the Army, all they did was give you a bag of rocks and a big stick and say good luck….. OK, they gave us an M-16 and 15 minutes to sight in its iron sights. And another 30 minutes to shoot at a bunch of still targets and off we went.

This in no way prepared us for using it in battle.  To be completely honest, though, I don’t believe there was anything that they could have done to fully prepare us for it.  There are some things that you just must learn on your own because no amount of training will ever be sufficient. Unfortunately, many men died before fully learning what they needed to survive.

Now, back to the question, which is better in battle, a rifle scope or iron sights?  I grew up with iron sights on my BB guns and in fact never owned a scope until I was out of the Military.  I believed that iron sights forced you to learn how your rifle shoots and its particular characteristics.

For example, on my BB gun, the bb would arc to the right side for some reason before coming back to center.  If you were shooting something that was about 50 yards away, you were fine, but if it was closer however then you needed to adjust to the right a little.  I’m sure there is probably some fancy term for it, but I have no idea what it is.

Another thing is that when you use iron sights, you tend to take in the big picture, so if something changes, you can adapt to it quickly.  Like your little sister running in your line of fire.  Not that it is an issue in combat, innocent civilians could wander into your line of fire while trying to get to safety.  In my opinion, the seeing the big picture in combat or anytime you fire a firearm is extremely important.

So, what about the rifle scope on an M-16?  Is there any advantage to it? My friend insisted that yes there is and that they allow for faster target acquisition especially if they are out 200 yards or more.  I can see how that might be true in some cases.  On a bright lovely day with no wind and nothing between you and the bad guy but air.  Unfortunately, however, I have never seen such a case and doubt few have.

I have never tried to use a scope at night and wonder if that is even possible. (Unless it is one made for that purpose.) Can you see the target with no light?  With iron sights, you can base your site off another object you can see such as a large tree.  Shoot ten feet to the right or left and bang, you live to fight another day.  When I asked my friend about it, he just kind of hemmed and hawed about it and talked about how great it was during the day.  I never did get my answer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have one on my 30-06 and I love it.  It’s a Nikon Pro-staff and not really anything special.  It’s great for shooting out 200 yards or more and lets me place the round right where I want it.  It makes long shots a lot easier than iron sights would.  I just don’t know if I would like to use one in battle.  I just can’t see enough of what is going on around me when I use it.  It’s great for Deer and Elk shooting but battle shooting, …not so much.

Now if I were a sniper, that would be a different story altogether.  For a sniper, scopes are a must and I know it.  For the purposes of this post, I’m talking about the up-close crap of less than two hundred yards.  I think I will stick with my iron sights for battle, but of course, that’s just me.  I’m old and some things die hard.

Have you ever used a scope in battle?  If so, what kind and do you prefer it to iron sights?  I would really like to know.  I may be old, but I can still learn a new trick or two.  Please comment in the area below this post and let me know.

Well, I guess that’s it for today and I hope you have found today’s post interesting.  Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and, stay prepared.  God Bless America!


12 thoughts on “Which are better for battle, iron sights or a scope?”

  1. Red Dot. Fastest target acquisition sight made. Very easy to shoot with both eyes open. It does not project a red dot to the target, just on the same plain as the target. The downside.. Needs batteries.

  2. Daytime 200-300 yards, open iron sights. Nighttime, NV/TI scope with backup irons. Knowing someone is behind you with a scope/good,knowing they are on your side priceless. Lol JMHO

  3. Good adjustable iron sights with a protected or shrouded front sight works best. Even with the best scope long shots are prone to miss if the scope has received rough treatment like you’d expect to happen in a battle. Plus, the newer electronic scopes use batteries and then factor in Murphy’s Law.

  4. I will take iron sights and I have been in close combat in Vietnam. There is a lot more that goes on in close combat, where you have to see what is going on around you and with iron sights you can, perty hard to do that looking through a scope. Now a scope would be good for long range as it brings the enemy closer in the line of vision while still seeing movements going on out there. For me, at long range, I would have to have a scope. But most of fighting in a war , is at close range.

  5. I like the old saying KISS (keep it simple stupid) anything needing batteries, etc are not my option on a battle rifle….I use “good” iron sites . I have a scope on my .308 which is for anything beyond 400 yards. Although I do have Crimson Trace laser grips on two of my pistols as a back up/ primary to the iron sites.


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