Ghost-Ring sights are mounted on pistols, shotguns, rifles and submachine guns.Their advocates claim that they allow the user to obtain a sight-picture faster than any other type of sight, excluding optical sights. As such their most common application is on defensive or combat weapons. Understand that this is not a conventional peep-sight, where the relatively thick ring obscures a large part of the target. These sights are designed to be used with both eyes open and the primary focal point is the front sight. This makes the rear aperture sight appear translucent, thus the term Ghost Ring.
I’ve been unable to find out who invented this sort of sight, but they have been around for a quite a while now. Their proponents claim they are very fast at target acquisition and their detractors claim that they lack precision. One thing is for certain- they are easy to use. Even used incorrectly they still work pretty well.
For handguns I have always used conventional sights, whether it was for IPSC competition, target shooting, hunting or defensive use. I trained intensively in a technique called the ‘Flash Sight Picture’ method. It’s very effective, very fast and quite precise when one is sufficiently trained. With practice one can obtain a sight picture as fast as they can bring the gun to eye-level. To me this throws the claims of the Ghost Ring being faster into doubt since I can already aim as fast as I can point the pistol. I’ve recently had the occasion to try out the Ghost Ring sight.
This autumn a dear friend passed away and left me one of his carry pistols- a Glock 23 in .40 S&W fitted with a Ghost Ring sight. This gun wasn’t just carried; he used it in tactical shooting courses as well and he swore by it. In his memory I’m not making alterations to the gun- with the exception of an after-market grip mod needed to keep the slide from chewing up my hand. So I tried the Ghost Ring.
For the first couple of shooting sessions I didn’t ‘get it.’ I used it as an aperture sight and it worked OK, but was less precise than I am used to from conventional sights. My wife Linda tried it out and quite liked it, but her testing was limited because she did not enjoy the recoil of the .40 S&W; she has a bad wrist and is used to 9mm.
OK, I’m a little thick, but eventually I realized how to properly use the sight. Both eyes open, focus on the front sight. This made an immediate difference in precision. Whereas at first it was all I could do to keep my shots on an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper at 50 feet, once I was using the sight properly groups shrank to a size more typical of my shooting with conventional sights. This was notably not faster than conventional sights; in fact it was slower because my eyes have not yet mastered the trick of focussing quickly and correctly for this device. I think in time they will; it’s simply a matter of practice.
For me it will be unlikely to ever be quicker than standard sights, but I have a great deal more training than most people. What about people with little training? I took the opportunity to have several other people at various levels of skill try it out at the range. The results were instructive. The more experienced the shooter was the less they liked the Ghost Ring. But people with little experience found it easier to use than conventional sights, and produced results comparable to or better than they were already achieving. Linda’s experience was similar.
I think that boils it down nicely- on handguns at least the Ghost Ring seems to require less training to produce acceptable accuracy for defensive shooting at close range. It may or may not be less precise when a sufficient amount of practice is applied; I haven’t shot it enough to be able to tell. I’ve put 500 rounds through the gun, but I’ve practiced the ‘flash sight picture’ thousands of times.
Is it a ‘better mousetrap?’ Not as far as I can tell. Is it useful and effective? Definitely. I will never part with my friend’s Glock, so there will be plenty of time for me to try it out and form a more complete opinion.