Preferred Cowitness - With a Poll

This is a discussion on Preferred Cowitness - With a Poll within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I just purchased a DD M4 V2 and am considering a red dot for it. I will likley go with either an Aimpoint or Eotech, ...

View Poll Results: What is your preferred cowitness set-up for a M4

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  • Absolute cowitness

    9 23.08%
  • Lower 1/3 cowitness

    26 66.67%
  • Depends on the situation - see my post

    1 2.56%
  • I prefer iron sights only - please explain

    3 7.69%
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Thread: Preferred Cowitness - With a Poll

  1. #1
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    Preferred Cowitness - With a Poll

    I just purchased a DD M4 V2 and am considering a red dot for it. I will likley go with either an Aimpoint or Eotech, but that is not my question here. I am pretty conversant with shotguns and handguns, but am, while not a newbee, still learning a lot about rifles. My experience with rifles is with hunting arms, lever actions, bolts and pumps all with scopes.

    I have experimented with a cheapie red dot on a shotgun for turkey and rather like it, but it is the only sight on that weapon. For my M4, I have stock iron sights and I want them to act as BUIS for the red dot. My questions is on the cowitness setup that people prefer.

    Do you prefer an absolute cowitness or a lower 1/3 cowitness. Please also include rationale as to why you prefer what you prefer. Also, if you feel that there are different scenario that work for each, please elucidate.
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Without question, I prefer a lower 1/3. Pretty much everyone I know and shoot with does as well. Now, if it's an issue of cheek weld, you can always do an absolute cowitness and fold the irons down.

    I've seen a lot of confusion with cowitnessing and have helped a few through it before. Not saying you misunderstand, but some reading this may. The thing to keep in mind is that you really never cowitness your dot and irons when shooting. If you do, you're defeating the purpose of a red dot. So, I prefer a 1/3 and the irons only take up a small amount of my view.

    What I see when viewing through the irons… Well, the rear aperture ghosts quite a bit more being closer to it, but you get the idea..



    What I see when I'm shooting. The way a cowitness should be viewed.




    Now, I usually keep my irons folded down on this rifle, but not on all of my rifles. I always use a folding rear sight since I use a 3x magnifier now and then. For the front, I use both folding and fixed. For my home defense rifle, a 10.5", I've been running a fixed front DD and a MaTech rear that I keep up.

    Again, I'm not implying you don't know these things… I'm just posting it as reference as I've heard a lot of guys coming from other types of rifles and magnified optics trying to use a red dot through the irons and not understanding, or at least are confused by the idea, that the dot floating above the irons will still give you the same POA/POI.
    Last edited by jonconsiglio; March 13th, 2012 at 12:10 PM. Reason: spelling
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    I am 100% in agreement with John.

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    Distinguished Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    anything between the sights has to line up.
    even with a rifle i am getting my first shots offf like a shot gun--
    mount the gun and fire in the targets direction. off course not this way if there is a hostage
    but are we practicing for real life use of the gun or for games?

    in real life i want the BG to re-act to me and fast--not be shooting in my direction while i bez aiming carefully.
    rather the gun comes up and the red-dot sweeps the target and the trigger is caressed 3 times.

    for me that starts rifle slung muzzle down on off shoulder; buzzer to 3rd shot in ~1.8 seconds.
    of the 3 shots on the IDPA cardboard at least one is COM.
    Be aware, be deliberate in your actions and be accurate.
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  6. #5
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claude clay View Post
    anything between the sights has to line up.
    even with a rifle i am getting my first shots offf like a shot gun--
    mount the gun and fire in the targets direction. off course not this way if there is a hostage
    but are we practicing for real life use of the gun or for games?

    in real life i want the BG to re-act to me and fast--not be shooting in my direction while i bez aiming carefully.
    rather the gun comes up and the red-dot sweeps the target and the trigger is caressed 3 times.

    for me that starts rifle slung muzzle down on off shoulder; buzzer to 3rd shot in ~1.8 seconds.
    of the 3 shots on the IDPA cardboard at least one is COM.
    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying? When you say anything between the sights must line up, what do you mean? A red dot between irons does not need to line up as the red dot will be precisely on target whether at the very top or very bottom of the window and whether it's lined up with the irons or far above them. You'll still land just as precise of a shot as the POA/POI will be exactly where you see the red dot, whether viewed through irons or above them.

    In both of my pics above, where the dot is, is exactly where the bullet will land. If the rifle was locked in a vice and you viewed through the irons, you'd see all three. If you lifted your head a bit, the dot would rise above the irons, but both the dot and irons will still be on target at the same point, it will just view different. Viewing the dot through irons has no benefit whatsoever and just slows you down.

    Maybe I misread the post?? I'm assuming I did somehow. Where you mention the flash picture of your red dot, shows you know how to use one, so I think it's me!
    aus71383 likes this.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    My lower 1/3 cowitness is the way i like it. Larue Lt660 mount, aimpoint T1. Rear magpul mbus sight always down. No reason for it to be up unless the red dot has issues.

    I have no issue seeing the sights through it.

    IMG_3289 (Large).jpgIMG_3291 (Large).jpg

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    jon, i don't think you missed so much as learned and practice a different way.
    and what works for you is correct for you.

    my style of carry has for years gotten comments but my speed has also gotten converts. and the safety vs cross body or muzzle up is noted also.
    as to sighting, im of the co-witness, all
    3 in a line. rear sight, red-dot ( and some time a 4x optic in the line) and front sight..

    my reasoning in part is this allows me to acquire at 200+ yards with the red-dot and snap off some shots in their direction--hopfully drawing blood.
    than turn off the dot and contine with aiimed fire to, if necessary, finish the BG.
    Be aware, be deliberate in your actions and be accurate.
    -------------------
    Why do those elected to positions of power than work so hard
    to deny those same opportunities to the same people who empowered them

  9. #8
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claude clay View Post
    jon, i don't think you missed so much as learned and practice a different way.
    and what works for you is correct for you.

    my style of carry has for years gotten comments but my speed has also gotten converts. and the safety vs cross body or muzzle up is noted also.
    as to sighting, im of the co-witness, all
    3 in a line. rear sight, red-dot ( and some time a 4x optic in the line) and front sight..

    my reasoning in part is this allows me to acquire at 200+ yards with the red-dot and snap off some shots in their direction--hopfully drawing blood.
    than turn off the dot and contine with aiimed fire to, if necessary, finish the BG.
    Ok, I understand what you're saying here, but what is lining all three up in a row doing for you? I'd be more inclined to just paint the front sight in that case. Remember, the red dot, being 2 or 4 MOA, is smaller than the front sight by half, at the least. Lining all three up kind of defeats the purpose of a red dot. Now, I can understand transition to irons or all three for longer range shots or to dial the elevation, but for 200 yards and in, I don't see it.

    When I'm in a ready position, low or high, and I bring the rifle up for my shots, I want a quick flash of the red dot, wherever it is in the window. If I need to center it between the front and rear iron, I am now using it the same as I would irons and am gaining very little.

    This is what I was talking about in my first post, in a way. A lot of guys use them to augment their irons, and I'm not saying it's wrong, but it does offer less of an advantage than if it was the red dot only. The point of the red dot is to not have to line anything up in any way as the dot, not matter where it is in the window, will be as precise as lining it up with the irons.

    I guess what I'm saying is that since the red dot is smaller than the front sight post, I can be just as precise, if not more and the only time the irons are a benefit, is if I need to dial elevation. This isn't just my style of shooting, it's how a red dot was designed and what it was designed for.

    Now, you may be so good with it that way, that you'll see no benefit to doing it any other way, and that's cool too. But, I don't believe one can be any more precise with lining all three up than they can with just a red dot. For precise shots, I can lower the brightness and have a dot about 1/4 the size of my front sight post, therefore making more accurate shots.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  10. #9
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    Jon - you are not incorrect in assuming that I am a neophyte in the AR/M4 realm. I am hear to learn and won't be offended.

    Everybody - I appreciate the input so far. Please keep it coming.

    My understanding of the BUIS cowitnessing is so that if the Red Dot goes down, you can still see the BUIS through the tube/window. Additionally, while I don't understand how they do the magic, if the red dot is on the screen and you have it covering something, that something will get shot (assuming a proper zeroing in). I am kind of leaning toward the lower 1/3 as it keeps the BUIS lower and mostly out of the way. My rear sight has 2 aperatures that are 90 degrees from each other. One is larger than the other, but one is always up, so I don't think I can fold the rear sight down.

    My primary mission for the M4 is hunker down home defense (stay in the bedroom and wait for the door to open, ID, shoot [or not as the case may be]), so low light could be an issue. This is why I am considering the red dot.
    It's the Land of Opportunity, not the Land of Entitlements - Vote America!!!

    "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." Thomas Jefferson

    You are only paranoid until you are right - then you are a visionary.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksholder View Post
    Jon - you are not incorrect in assuming that I am a neophyte in the AR/M4 realm. I am hear to learn and won't be offended.

    Everybody - I appreciate the input so far. Please keep it coming.

    My understanding of the BUIS cowitnessing is so that if the Red Dot goes down, you can still see the BUIS through the tube/window. Additionally, while I don't understand how they do the magic, if the red dot is on the screen and you have it covering something, that something will get shot (assuming a proper zeroing in). I am kind of leaning toward the lower 1/3 as it keeps the BUIS lower and mostly out of the way. My rear sight has 2 aperatures that are 90 degrees from each other. One is larger than the other, but one is always up, so I don't think I can fold the rear sight down.

    My primary mission for the M4 is hunker down home defense (stay in the bedroom and wait for the door to open, ID, shoot [or not as the case may be]), so low light could be an issue. This is why I am considering the red dot.
    Yes, no matter where the red dot is in the window, it will hit exactly where it is aiming. I'll try to get a pic of that for you today and post it up. Let's say you had a rifle in a vice and the red dot on and the irons up with it lined up and on target with a bulls eye, for example. If you look through the irons and have the red dot lined up, all three will be in a row and on target. Let's assume you are not touching the rifle here, just looking through the optics. Now, if you walk away from the rifle completely, the irons and red dot will still be on target, whether you see them or not. Let's assume you're looking through the irons again, lining all three up on target. Now, you raise your head and look over the irons. Well, they're still aiming at the same point, though you don't see the same picture. BUT, when you raise your head that little bit, the red dot moves up in the window in line with your eye and the bulls eye. So, the red dot will still be on target, and also still appear to you to be on target. The irons will still be on target as well, just not appear to be since you're no longer looking through the rear aperture.

    There is absolutely no difference in accuracy at this point. The red dot will be smaller than the front sight, so you may shoot a little more precise with the red dot, regardless of its position in the window. You can also lower the brightness to make the dot appear smaller.

    If the dot were to die on you or you were to go from indoors to outdoors (different lighting) the dot may no longer appear. At that point, you can use the irons through the red dot's window.

    The whole point of the red dot is to be faster. If you raise a rifle to your shoulder without a red dot, you have to view through the rear aperture and line up the front sight, focusing on your front sight and slightly blurring the target. With a red dot, you raise the rifle to your shoulder while focusing on the target. As soon as you see some of the red dot through the window on target, whether it's in the top left, bottom right or centered, you can take your shot while still focusing on the target. The dot will never become blurry unlike a front sight.

    When used correctly, it will undoubtedly give you an advantage in the speed department. If you take the time to line it up, there's little difference than just painting your front sight with a bright paint.

    Here's a video I found. Now, he's using an absolute cowitness here, but all that means is that the red dot will in line with the irons in the center of the window. A 1/3 will just be lower, which I prefer as it keeps the irons out of the way a bit more. You'll notice as he moves the camera and the irons are no longer in line, the red dot stays exactly on target. I hope this helps a bit and shows why it's faster to not line up all three.

    Just like a laser stays on target whether you're looking through your sights or not, the red dot works in much the same way, but the image is only projected on the window and not the target. Now, if you use a laser but take time to view through your irons, it'll be much slower than just using the laser alone. Same idea in a sense.

    EOTech 511 & Magpul MBUS Co-Witness Sight Picture - YouTube

    Here's another video. I'll post more if I find them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deAY6kNxwrQ&feature=related


    OK, here's another one. This guy has some great videos and his stuff is usually very good.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj3NY2jwDEo
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    I should add that for low light home defense, if I had to choose, I'd rather have irons and a weapon mounted light than a red dot and no light. Of course, I'd prefer to have both, but for me, the light makes more sense for home defense if I had to choose.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  13. #12
    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    I prefer my saiga 12 with a 20 round drum fulll of 00 buck in low light

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    I agree that a light is pretty important. I am looking at light options. I like the idea of the DD flashlight mount that is offset so you can hit the tailcap of the light with your support hand thumb if you are using the vertical grip. I have contacted DD to determine the max light barrel that will fit in the mount.
    It's the Land of Opportunity, not the Land of Entitlements - Vote America!!!

    "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." Thomas Jefferson

    You are only paranoid until you are right - then you are a visionary.

  15. #14
    RKM
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    Lower 1/3 for me. Though, I still keep my rear sight folded down when viewing through my sight picture. It just help keeps the clutter out of the way. But shooting both eyes open, it really shouldn't even matter. As a matter of fact, as long as you keep both eyes open, you can keep the lens cover on the front of a red dot and it still wouldn't matter. Your brain will still put the red dot on the target, even though you can't see the target with the eye viewing through the red dots itself. Am I confusing you yet?

  16. #15
    Senior Member Array DaRedneck's Avatar
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    Lower 1/3 for me as well. I don't want irons totally in the way of my glass.
    "He who does not punish evil commands it to be done." - Leonardo da Vinci

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