Skinner Sights

     I always knew I would upgrade the sights on my Marlin 1895. Several of my friends and hunting associates considered it a no-brainer to top it with a scope. But there is something about a lever action rifle, especially a tube-fed one, with a scope that just doesn’t seem right. I wanted something more traditional.
     A peep sight was just the thing to wring out some extra accuracy from my gun while keeping it compact and light. I weighed the pros and cons of receiver-mounted versus tang-mounted peeps and opted for the former. Tang-mounted sights are expensive, and from what I understand, can sometimes interfere with the bolt as it cycles reward. Receiver-mounted sights are fast, accurate and stay out of the way. With this decision made, it was time to do some shopping.
      My first stop when looking at new gear is often Cabelas.com. Sadly, I was disappointed this time. Cabelas had a small selection of peep sights and the only receiver mounted offering was for in-line muzzle loaders. Midway USA and Brownells had several options, but most had mixed reviews. When doing an internet search for “Marlin 1895 peep sight” results with the phrase “Skinner Sights” came up repeatedly. I checked out the Skinner Sights website to get some more information and was pleased with what I found. A small company in St. Ignatious, Montana, Skinner Sights makes aperture and front sights for a wide range of rifles, not just lever actions. They seemed very dedicated to their products, and willing to provide any customer service necessary. The independent testimonials I read spoke volumes for the quality of product.

A Skinner peep sight on a Marlin 1895. The base is a solid chunk of steel and the post and aperture are nothing to be sneezed at either.

    
        Mounting a Skinner peep sight on a Marlin 1895 (or 336) is a simple affair. Remove the two rearmost filler screws on the receiver. Then line up the screws on the sight base with the holes on the receiver. Skinner sights for this model rifle typically ship with the dovetail drifted noticeably to the side, exposing the rear mounting screw. A flat head screw driver, preferably hollow ground, of the appropriate size is all that is needed to secure the the base to the receiver. Snug the base down good and tight, but don’t apply anything special like Loctite.
     Adjustments are easy to make. Loosen the lock screw on the side to allow elevation adjustments, then turn the aperture post to raise or lower the sight. The screw on top locks the dovetailed portion, allowing for windage adjustments. The supplied aperture is fairly large, but other sizes can be ordered if desired.
    My big concern with moving to a peep was the front sight. Every load I have run through my gun has hit very high, even with the factory rear sight at it’s lowest setting. A receiver-mounted peep sight sits quite high, meaning impact will likely be even higher. It’s not uncommon for most shooters to have to replace the factory front sight with something higher to account for this. Bearing this in mind, I purchased a replacement front sight, for a modest $15, at the same time I bought my peep. Turns out, I didn’t need it.

The Skinner peep sight is compact and very fast to use.

     I shot my first group at fifty yards, using a hand-drawn target on a sheet of 1/4″ graph paper. Three shots had me more or less on paper, which is always a good thing. A single turn of the aperture post and a slight drift to the left had me hitting an inch high at 50 yards, pretty much perfect for my hunting applications. At 75 yards, something a bit odd happened. My groups were still tight, but I was hitting several inches high. This held consistent for two five-shot groups. I attribute it to shooting in full sun, while my target was set up in the shade. It didn’t help that the bead sight completely covered the center of the target. Even with the generous size of the aperture, I was quite pleased with how accurate (and fast!) the sight was to use. I look forward to getting many years of use out of this simple but effective devise. Scopes be damned!

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