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Tangent Sights & Their History
Adjustable tangent sights have been used to maim and destroy with harrowing precision for hundreds of years. They likely saw their first field use mounted to cannons and howitzers prior to the nineteenth century. During this period, smoothbore muskets, the common arm of the western man, tended to lack the accuracy necessary to justify their use at an extended range. As a result, iron sight technology for small arms remained largely simplistic in the form of fixed notches with no particular need or use for drop compensation. Soon after, however, in the year 1847 came the advent of the Minié ball projectile, which proved to be the first projectile streamlined for reliable function in rifled barrels. This drastically changed the course of arms development, spurring an arms race – one that was ran for distance, not speed.
Immediately, western powers began stripping their old, outdated muskets of their smoothbore barrels and retrofitting them with newly manufactured, Minié compatible counterparts – gaining their armies dramatic increases in effective range on the battlefield, thus, prompting a need for more complex sighting systems to accompany them. Wealthier nations, such as Great Britain replaced their arms with new, purpose built rifle-muskets such as the Pattern 1853 Enfield, equipping them with some of the first tangent sights intended for widely fielded small arms. Over the course of the next 50 years, the tangent sight system would rapidly grow in popularity, cropping up in rifles such as the 1866 Chassepot, 1867 Werndl, 1870 Vetterli-Vitali, and the 1886 Mannlicher.
Drawing to the close of the 19th century , we find the birth of the infamous workhorse rifles that would go on to reliably serve in the deadliest conflicts of human history: the 1891 Carcano, 1891 Mosin-Nagant, 1895 Lee-Enfield and 1898 Gewehr. With each equipped with the same tangent sight design, every one of these rifles waged two full world wars without skipping a beat in terms of their battlefield accuracy. English, Germans, Austrians, Russians, Italians and countless other nations of Europe alike trusted their lives to the precision of the tangent sight, stacking one hundred million bodies with them over the course of the twentieth century.
Even after reaching the conclusion of these gruesome endeavors, one finds that the tangent sight was still so beloved that it would be built into the most widely manufactured firearm in recorded history: the Avtomat Kalashnikov series - with estimates of forty to one hundred fifty million total rifles having been produced to this day. Without a doubt, there is no sighting system on planet earth more battlefield tested and proven than the tangent sight system. Therefore, an era in which we have more modularity to our rifles than ever before and yet not a single option for mounting a set of tangent sights to picatinny rail was determined by us to be unacceptable.
A New Era
Enter the Alpha and Omega Tangent Sight System: A precise, lightweight and durable solution for mounting a caliber specific set of tangent sights to the 1913 picatinny rail of your defense or hunting carbine. Each pair of sights features an adjustable sliding bullet drop compensator that adjusts in 100 yard increments out to a maximum of 400 yards, thus, allowing you to reach out and touch your target without the added weight of a scope. Additionally the Alpha and Omega were designed to be cowitnessed with third party non magnified optics, to streamline the process of tacking them onto your preexisting set up.
When designing the Alpha and Omega we made a point of selecting an impact resistant material for their construction in order to maximize the durability of the design. To demonstrate this, we performed a series of drop tests, subjecting a single set of mounted Alpha and Omega sights to six separate drops on flat rock from waist height and then checking for POI shift immediately after. Our results showed that while scuffing did occur, no major damage was found, nor was the use of the sighting system impeded in any way. All controls remained functional while field accuracy and precision remained consistent with pre-drop measurements. Our point of impact had not budged.
Unlike previous iterations of tangent sights, we chose to use a peep hole aperture instead of the more typical notch sight picture as the basis for our sighting system. This allows the user to acquire the target as quickly as one otherwise could with a notch set up, but has the major added benefit of increasing the possible mounting distance between both units to augment the comparative sight radius. A greater sight radius is crucial in giving the shooter an advantage in precision shooting and we had no intent in producing a subpar product for our clientele. When looking at notched tangents mounted to any myriad of milsurp rifles, you may notice that their rear sight is consistently positioned halfway down the gun - usually mounted over the barrel itself instead of near the shooter’s eye. The reason for this, as we discovered, is due to the fact that the average human eye does not have the capability to crisply focus on notch style sights when placed only inches away. This results in a gross distortion in sight picture, rendering the original design less than ideal for mounting to the picatinny rail of our shorter, more modern rifles. The peep hole, however does not suffer from this issue, and thus we chose to hybridize our tangent drop adjustment mechanism with the aperture sight picture to yield the maximum of precision and accuracy that could be afforded.
During development, it was found with notable surprise that the Alpha and Omega would routinely match or outshoot the 1 MOA sized red dot it was cowitnessed with – a class of optics that, in theory, should’ve been easier to shoot with than any set of iron sights. Using multiple shooters, we routinely grouped 3 MOA groups or better using the Alpha and Omega mounted to our Robinson Arms XCR-L test rifle. Additionally at variable one hundred yard increments we confirmed our groupings as centered on target as well, thus confirming the reliability of the mechanical bullet drop compensator out to four hundred yards.
The Alpha and Omega Tangent Sight System is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. You may be interested in turning a lightweight rifle into a long distance capable tool without the added bulk or weight of a scope. Conversely, you may already have a scope on your rifle, but are looking for a set of reliable back up sights to compliment it in case it fails. Or perhaps you may just want a pair of geometrically unique sights on your gun to augment its aesthetic. Regardless of the reason, The Alpha and Omega Tangent Sight System will be the beginning of the end of your problems and a solution we can confidently recommend.
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