Indian Defence

Explained: Different Types of Aiming Devices/ Sights

Hello Defence Lovers. Today we are going to discuss various aiming devices which are commonly knowns as “optics” or “sights” which are used on modern firearms. In modern warfare, optics play a very important role. Optics are mounted on small arms such as assault rifles, SMGs, LMGs, Squad automatic weapons and obviously on DMRs and Sniper rifles. Optics make it easier for a soldier to hit its target by providing a more accurate aim. We are going to discuss about them in details.

Iron Sights

Iron Sights are the most primitive sights that are being used today. In fact, these are the first type of sights ever used. Earlier muskets didn’t have any aiming devices as these were not very accurate. As firearms evolved, the concept of iron sights was developed. Perhaps its invention was somehow related to the invention of the process “Rifling” which made firearms much more accurate.

A typical iron sight has basically two components – front and rear aiming pieces that have to be lined up. Most of the sidearms are still dependent upon the iron sight. These are the simplest sights thus are present on every firearm, at least for a backup.

Telescopic Sights

telescopic sight, commonly known as a scope, is an optical sighting instrument based on a refracting telescope. It is equipped with a reticle mounted in a focally appropriate position in its optical system to give an accurate point of aim. 

The telescopic sight was the first optical sight ever made. Some telescopic sights were made as early as 18th century but they became common for the sniper rifles during the first and second world war.

Nowadays telescopic sights inseparable partners of modern sniper rifles and DMRs. These are also used in some assault rifles as well. Often these are also used in combination with infrared optics.

Reflector/Reflex/Red Dot Sight

reflector sight/reflex sight is a type of optical sight which allows the user to look through a partially reflecting glass element and see an illuminated projection of an aiming point 9 usually a dot) superimposed on the field of view. These sights work on the simple optical principle that anything at the focus of a lens or curved mirror (such as an illuminated reticle i.e. the dot) will appear to be sitting in front of the viewer at infinity. 

As the name suggests, the reflex sights allow the shooter to shoot really fast. The red dot type is the most famous type and is extensively used nowadays. These are mostly used for close-quarter engagements.

Holographic Sight

holographic weapon sight or holographic diffraction sight is a non-magnifying sight which allows the user to look through a glass optical window and see a holographic reticle image superimposed at a distance on the field of view. The hologram of the reticle is built into the window and is illuminated by a laser diode.

Holographic sights are very common in the modern armies world wide. Generally these are used on assault rifles and submachine guns. These sights are used extensively in indian army and often mounted on their Aks.

Infrared/Thermal Optics

A thermographic weapon sight/thermal imagery scope/infrared/thermal weapon sight is a sighting device combining a compact thermographic camera and an aiming reticle. They can be mounted on a variety of small arms as well as some heavier weapons.

These sights use the infrared radiations that are emitted from the target’s body to form its image. These sights are very useful at night and are often used as night vision optics. Though some night vision devices work on the principle of magnification of light. Thermal optics are also useful to see through the smoke screens and other similar obstacles.

So these were the various sights that are currently being used all over the world. There are also some hybrid sights which combine the features of multiple other optical devices.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

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