For practical use, there are several types of shotgun sights. In iron sights, these include the bead, aperture or ghost ring sight, and rifle sight. In optical sights, there is the shotgun slug riflescope and the red dot. The shotgun rib may also be called a sighting device and is an important consideration for sporting guns.
The arguments over firing the shotgun by feel and handling versus aiming are many, but the bottom line is this, both techniques should be used. A moving target demands fast action, swinging, and firing by feel. A stationary target at longer range demands strict use of the sights. It is that simple. There are significant differences in the way shotgun sights are used. As an example, we usually get our eye on flying game and then use the shotgun bead.
In personal defense, the bead is picked up in a fast, flash sight picture as we place the muzzle on the adversary’s center of mass. Rifle-type shotgun sights are used by picking up the front sight in the field of vision and then bringing it into the rear sight for a careful aiming point. With aperture sights, shoulder the shotgun and look through the rear aperture of the ghost ring. The rear sight fades from view as the eye tends to center the front sight in the rear circle. The sights should be easy to use and not terribly complicated.
Few shotguns intended for pure combat use have ribs, but all double barrel shotguns have some form of rib. The rib isn’t necessarily elevated over the barrel; the purpose of the elevating rib is to cause the shotgun to fire high and center the shot pattern. The angled accruement—called the rib—is used to improve accuracy when firing the shotgun. The rib influences pattern placement by drawing the eye to the rib. Barrels are pitched upwards by the shooter taking aim across an elevated rib.
Cosmetics are part of the rib, but the primary purpose of the barrel rib is to enhance accuracy and practical applications. Expediting fast and accurate shooting is the purpose of a proper barrel rib. The rib isn’t for aiming and rifle-like accuracy, but simply to lead the eye to the muzzle and bead front sight. Some ribs have dual beads for this purpose.
Eyes are focused on the target in the fast-moving shotgun game. The shotgun is mounted with the head down and the rib keeps the barrels from vanishing against bright sunlight. The rib provides the certainty of a visual line for aiming. While perhaps this isn’t the intended purpose, I have used shotgun beads on the barrel rib for excellent accuracy work to 25 yards with shotgun slugs.
Flat ribs, known as the straight rib, are most common. Some are designed to give the illusion of a longer barrel and a longer sight radius. Ventilated ribs are used to diffuse radiant heat. The eye makes a linkage with the aiming rib and heat dissipation is a consideration. When the shotgun is properly shouldered, the bore axis is running along the comb line and recoil is reduced. Above the shoulder, recoil is harder. The rib and comb height may be very important in trap and skeet shooting, and in a game shotgun, the rib may be an important consideration. The rib helps the eye find a visual path to the muzzle.
For slug accuracy, the shotgun may be fitted with a scope. The shotgun scope must be rugged and capable of taking a beating from recoil. TruGlo’s 4x scope has given good results. Be certain you have proper eye relief, and you will have a good option for hunting with a slug gun.
I have also used Red Dot sights for the shotgun. The TruGlo 30mm red dot has always given good results. When the range is short, we probably are short on time as well. For those who practice, the red dot sight provides an edge in speed and accuracy. The red dot sight will extend your range and perhaps make short-range shots even faster—providing you practice diligently with the red dot.
Which set of shotgun sights is best? It depends on the mission. For most game shooting, the simple bead is the best choice, especially when it rides on a sporting rib. For fast combat-style shooting, the ghost ring sight stands alone and affords the trained shooter excellent hit potential.
Optical sights give the shooter an edge in accuracy. A quality red dot such as the Meopta MeoRed is useful for game and also for combat shooting. You pay your money and take your chances, but there are many good choices.
Are you a clay shooter? Do you hunt with a shotgun? When using a sight on a shotgun, what would you recommend? Share your answers in the comment section.
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