Are scopes really necessary on hunting rifles?

There is a trend that has been going on for the last decade or so — stripping new rifles of any vestige of an open sight, making the only choice to mount an optic. So, are the traditional open sights truly dead or still a worthy alternative to glass?

Many of us who started shooting 20 years or more ago found open sights to be commonplace. When I started hunting with blackpowder rifles, the laws at that time allowed only percussion or flintlock style guns, open sights and the old patched round ball. No scopes or even inline rifles were allowed. Now of course, the rules have changed, but I find myself still using the same type of guns I started with (though I have ditched the patched round balls in favor of conical bullets because they’re more effective). Still, I favor open sights and I have taken deer at some pretty long distances with them.

Now, I don’t think I’m special, which makes me wonder why so many gun manufacturers are leaving off open sights on new hunting rifles, especially guns for big game? One reason of course could be cost — most makers may reason that in some calibers no one is going to want to use open sights anyway so why not save the labor. I accept that, however I think it’s a mistake to assume that a shooter can’t be accurate with open sights out to surprising far distances. Additionally, while I do know that having a scope is more useful for bringing the target into focus at longer ranges, it doesn’t mean that open sights don’t have their uses and in some cases advantages to the hunter.


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