Gun Sight Technology

A gun sight allows greater accuracy in aiming.

The gun sight has been around as long as guns themselves. In its simplest form, the gun sight is a small piece of iron at the end of the barrel, allowing the shooter to line up the sight with the target. Of course, doing this accurately is a difficult task for the human eye. The eye cannot focus on a distant object and a close object at the same time. Advancing gun sight technology aims to correct that problem.

Iron Sights

Iron sights are the oldest and most basic of gun sight technology. The sights use a series of markers along the barrel of the gun to let the shooter line up the gun and the target for aiming purposes. Unlike more advanced sights, iron sights do not use optics to aid in the aiming process. Iron sights usually comprise two components: a rear sight with a notch or hole to look through, and a forward sight, which is some sort of metal blade or post. The shooter must line both sights up with each other and the target.

Telescopic Scopes

Telescopic sights have existed in some form or another since the late 1800s. These sites attach to the top of a rifle or handgun and give the user magnification of the target. Modern sights can be adjusted for aim and focus, as well as allowing for adjustments based on elevation differences between the shooter and the target.

Laser Sights

Laser sights, used on both rifles and handguns, use laser technology to place a small red dot of light on the target. This red dot represents where the bullet will enter when the gun is fired. Some laser sights use infrared technology to make the dot invisible to the human eye, but visible with night vision goggles. In 2007, a company called LaserMax introduced green laser sights, which are brighter and more visible in bright light conditions.

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MicroSight technology, developed by Idaho National Laboratory, uses zone plates to cut down on the problems the human eye has in focusing on two different targets. Attached to the gun, the zone plate uses diffraction to bring faraway objects and near objects into the same focus. It promises to be better than a traditional telescopic scope because it is lighter in weight and doesn’t remove as much light from your vision.


An independent inventor in California named Matthew Hagerty has been developing a new gun sight technology called SmartSight for 10 years. The device combines a small camera mounted on the gun itself with a remote viewfinder which is worn over the shooter’s eye. This allows the shooter tremendous flexibility when it comes to shooting the gun. It will allow hunters and soldiers to stay hidden while aiming their gun above their heads or to the side, while still giving them perfect visibility.