Sighted Guns Are Low Tech

In Hollywoodland, all automatic firearms benefit from the Law of Inverse Recoil and function solely on the premise of "Spray a lot of bullets on full auto and at least some of them will hit something", and not "I should actually aim at whatever I'm shooting at so I can hit it and take it down in the least amount of shots possible".

Therefore, fictional guns don't bother with gun sights of any kind, since nobody really uses them anyways. A Hand Wave common in SF settings is that some sort of HUD allows the shooter to aim without actually lining up a bead.

See also A-Team Firing.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Lawgiver from Judge Dredd at first glance appears to have no sights. Turns out that the lens on the rear is a sight down the line of the barrel.

  • Every Ray Gun from 1950's science fiction films.
  • The Smart-Guns from Aliens have computer assisted aiming, and don't need iron sights. However, the more basic weapon, the M41-A Pulse Rifle, has a channel down the top of the shroud that acts as a set of iron sights.
  • Justified in The Fifth Element; Zorg advertises that the "replay" feature on his ZF-1 rifle makes aiming unnecessary. Hit a target once, turn on the replay, and every bullet will curve in midair to hit it again no matter where you aim. The ZF-1 actually does have a scope on it, but it is hard to see amongst all the other attachments.
  • Averted in Star Wars, mainly because the blasters were modeled off of real guns. It does have a variant, however, where a lot of the guns are lacking visible ironsights in favor of a scope of some kind; it's mentioned in The Han Solo Trilogy that Han's famous DL-44 blaster pistol originally did have standard sights, but because they would catch on the tip of his holster (not good when you're looking to draw your gun in a hurry) he removed them and attached a short scope.
  • Men in Black plays this trope pretty straight, since all the guns are modeled on 50s sci-fi rayguns.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: Scaramanga's Golden Gun has no sights, which is justified as it's assembled from innocuous-looking parts. At the very least it does have a substitute for a front sight in the form of the pen's clip, but it wouldn't be of much use without a rear sight.
  • Excluding the scoped version used by Private Watkins, the Morita Assault Rifles in The Film of the Book Starship Troopers lack sights of any kind. This is taken to its logical conclusion when the recruits are training with live ammo.
  • RoboCop's super-charged Beretta has iron sights, but due to his cyborg nature he never actually uses or even needs them.

  • Time Scout averts this. Guns are among the things treated realistically. Old guns are treated as more difficult than modern guns, as among modern advancements are those that make them easier to use. But even dangerous modern guns (mostly just described as being "modern" and "evil looking") still have sights and have to be aimed. Many bullets are fired, but very few people end up shot, except at close range.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek phasers have no sights at all. The official Hand Wave is that don't actually need sights: All the one-hand phasers are designed specifically to be point and shoot. Where you point with your index finger (if you extended it) is where you shoot. In practice, actors had so much trouble aiming their guns (so that the effects team could add in the beams coming straight out of the weapons and still hit the target) that the weapons were redesigned with gun sights for Deep Space Nine.
    • Type III Phaser Rifles also have a zoom-able scope on top.
      • As do the rifles used by the MACOs. One was specifically used in the Old West-themed episode to take out a cowboy in a window.
    • The phasers have scopes.
  • Ditto all of the alien weapons in the Stargate Verse. Though the earthlings suspect that they're weapons of terror rather than weapons of war, and such is borne out in the hordes of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy graduates that almost universally wield them. The fact remains that some characters (such as Teal'c) are still superb shots with the things. This gets ridiculous to the extent that Goa'uld Death Gliders lack any sort of targeting systems, requiring their pilot/gunner to aim the staff cannons manually. Mostly, they just strafe their targets, though.
  • Usually averted in Doctor Who, especially the revival era of the series. Notably, the anti-cyberman gun from the episode "Nightmare in Silver" has very prominent gun sights (similar to a modern assault rifle), especially in the front.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 mostly averts this, as bolters have what seem to be iron sights. Strangely enough, heavy bolters have them too, even though they're specifically designed to be fired from the hip.
    • Only Space Marine variants. The Guard fire them from tripods, if they tried the hip method their arms'd fall off.
    • Some Chaos Space Marines also have special bolters whose nozzles are redesigned to resemble the open jaws of a daemon. Cool, but it really hampers with iron sights.
    • Likewise, the Imperial Guard's lasguns have sights (and sometimes bayonets)- and so do the rifles of the highly advanced Eldar and Tau. Figures that the setting that deliberately goes for outdated designs would get something right that nearly all settings don't.
      • Many troop types have systems linking their guns to their helmets to assist aim, but they keep the iron sights just in case.
      • In Real Life militaries there's a clear trend towards scoped guns. Does the fact that a gun has a scope or red dot sight mean that the iron sights are removed? In most cases — definitely not.
    • So do Ork weapons, but being Orks, they have no idea what they're there for.
      • Why, it's there so the gun is more accurate!
      • We call dem gubbinz, and we puts em on da shootaz cuz it makes dem look shootier. Given that Ork technology operates on Clap Your Hands If You Believe, this may actually work.
      • Dat's right! If'n we'z be thinkin' dat dem lit'l bitz o' metal make our shootaz more hittier, den da shootaz'll be more hittier! But, yewz ain't no ork if ya wantz ta be hittier insted o' shootier, ya grot.
      • Who sez yew can't be both shootier and hittier? Hittier shootaz shoot big glowy dakka so the otha guy sees how much more dakka yew have!
      • OY ya git yuze mukin about! Yuze dont need ta aim when yuze got MORE DAKA HA DAKA DAKA DAKADAKADAKADAKADAKA
    • Tyranid weapons don't have sights, they have eyes.
    • The Eldar almost completely avert this, pretty much every weapon in their arsenal (down to the pistols...) is equipped with either an optical scope or a sense-link that allows the user's HUD to display a view of what the gun is looking at.
  • Averted in GURPS with its fairly high attention to detail and one-second combat rounds. Simply taking the time to properly aim before firing can improve a shot's accuracy considerably, and a variety of sights and scopes to boost this further do exist.

    Video Games 
  • The modern trend is that this trope is generally becoming less common in shooters (especially first person shooters), for the simple reason that the games tend to have mechanics for aiming down sights that the player usually has to make use of to get any mileage out of your average gun.
  • The entire top of the assault rifle from the Halo games is completely smooth. So are most of the Covenant weapons. (Though the Expanded Universe claims that the weapon has backup iron sights somewhere along the top.)
    • This is actually averted with almost all other human projectile weapons, which either have a scope or recognizable iron sights. Even the alien-designed Brute Spiker has iron sights, at least in Halo: Reach.
    • Justified with the needler though, as it fires homing ammunition and thus does not need precision aiming.
      • Partially handwavable since all characters controlled by the player in the games note  have targeting systems independent of the weapons. This doesn't explain how everyone else aims with these weapons, though (although given the problems the Earth Government is having with breakaway colonies and all other manner of insurgency, it's entirely possible they don't want civilians to be able to use their weapons effectively).
    • The top of the assault rifle in the Marathon series is likewise smooth, but the thing is so inaccurate that it doesn't matter much. With the other guns (except for the SMG's actual usable sight) one just has to aim for the middle of the screen and watch the impact flashes, since there are no crosshairs in the Marathon HUD.
      • Especially strange since the pistols in Marathon 1 are drawn with scopes, but alas they're only for decoration. They are the most accurate guns in the game, however, even in pairs.
  • Averted in Half-Life 2. The AR2 Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle has tiny iron sights. Nobody uses them and they're hardly noticeable, though.
    • Another aversion in the same game: the MP7 has an open reflex sight.
    • The Tau Cannon from the first game seems specifically designed to be fired from the hip. On the other hand, it IS a prototype that doesn't even have covering, much less sights of any kind.
    • And taken to extremes in Opposing Force, an expansion for the first game. Some of the weapons are living creatures that spit plasma or acid. It looks as if it would be tough enough just to point the thing at something and coax it into belching biological death directly in front of it. Never mind sticking any gun sights on their heads. On the other hand, Shephard IS a highly-trained Marine so he might be just that good at eyeballing.
      • It's entirely possible that the creatures do the aiming themselves. How Shephard can coax them into doing so is another matter entirely.
      • There's also the Desert Eagle, which for some reason forgoes ironsights entirely in favor of a laser aiming module. In a nod to reality, if you fire it with the laser off your shots are much less accurate than they would be with the base game's Colt Python, but in return you get to fire faster.
  • The machine gun (which is actually more of a submachine gun) from Doom 3 seems to be completely ripped off from the assault rifle from the Halo games. That means it has no sights.
    • In the original Doom games neither of the energy weapons have any sights (though with the BFG you really don't need them). The rocket launcher sports both a rear sight and a pistol grip to make it viable, but said sight can't be seen in first person.
  • Averted somewhat with Gears of War; the lancer has iron sights. But none of the other guns do.
    • In the sequel the Hammerburst has been redesigned and now has sights but the shotgun still doesn't.
      • Then again, considering how freaking useless the shotgun is at long range, that may have been intentional.
  • Averted in Perfect Dark Zero. All the guns can be fired from their sights, though Joanna only actually directly looks down them if the weapon has a scope or reflex sight of some form.
  • Fallout:
    • As a general rule, low tech guns (revolvers, small automatic pistols, simple rifles, and the classic plasma defender, for example) have good iron sights, but the high tech weapons like the high-end autopistols and nearly all energy weapons lack them unless you add a scope on your own. Generally the low end weapons seem to be designed to work well, and the high end weapons seem designed to look cool. Fallout 3's hunting rifle has no iron sights at all (which is funny, given that in every other game you can attach a scope to the hunting rifle) but it's strangely one of the more accurate long-range guns in the game. Given that you can only aim so well with the crosshairs anyway at long-range, you may or may not be using V.A.T.S. to help you. Game Mods specialized in iron sight aiming exist, however, and add sights to all unsighted guns in addition to correcting crappily-designed ones like the 10mm pistol's (which has a tall front sight that does not align at all with the low rear ones).
    • Played nearly straight in Fallout: New Vegas, though, which optionally uses iron sights as opposed to just zooming in. Almost all kinetic weapons use them (the only exceptions are the minigun and its unique variant), but a number of energy weapons, particularly lasers, do not. Most explosives don't either, but on many of them that do have iron sights (like the grenade rifle) it's more of a hindrance than it is helpful. One DLC has a great rifle available to find, but after its many years of both pre- and post-nuclear service its front sight is bent. Provided you point the right post at what you want to shoot, the sights are still perfectly accurate. The main game's hunting rifle also has misaligned sights, though attaching a scope fixes this (on top of providing a zoom). The Gun Runners' Arsenal DLC adds versions of default laser/plasma weapons to which iron sights can be attached.
  • Subverted with the Bullseye from Resistance. While the gun lacks physical sights, it has a holographic HUD that serves the same function. Plus there's the Secondary Fire, which causes its bullets to home in on a tagged target no matter what direction they're fired in.
  • Required in one level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, after an EMP strike which renders aftermarket gunsights useless. This requires the use of firearms with iron sights, thus forcing the player to dispose of them consequentially. note  It does, however, illustrate a rather troubling fact that the American military has a potentially crippling dependence upon fancy gadgets and electronic equipment.
    • EMPs are available in multiplayer of Modern Warfare 2 and 3, too, and will disable all Red Dot and Holographic sights (among other things) for a time...except for that of the F2000's unique Red Dot (modeled after the real F2000's specialized sight, though it is actually a scope). ACOG scopes in the second game are also largely unaffected as well, as the crosshairs are still there, just not illuminated.
    • In an odd aversion, Call of Duty: World at War has an easter egg Ray Gun in Nazi Zombies. Said gun has a reflex sight, unlike the rest of the game's guns which are all from World War II, making it one of the most accurate guns in the game. Multiplayer does allow for the addition of telescopic sights for the automatic weapons and scopes for the rifles, otherwise, you'll be using the default iron sights.
    • An aversion in Call of Duty: Black Ops lets you attach upgraded iron sights on most pistols (adding fluorescent dots to the rear sight and coloring the front sight; the Python instead has the ACOG Scope attachment for the same purpose). Unfortunately, since you can only put one upgrade on a pistol, upgrading the sights means you have to forgo better upgrades, like extended magazines, suppressors or the ability to go Guns Akimbo.
  • Similar to the practice of Call of Duty and other more modern shooters, Iron Grip: Warlord encourages you to aim with iron sights for more accurate and effective fire. However, only the basic double-barreled rifle and light machine gun actually feature workable iron sights (activated by the secondary firing mode).
  • Operation Flashpoint is notable for being one of the first FPS games to thoroughly avert this. Each firearm had working sights and using them was essential for hitting anything properly at all (especially if you maxed up the difficulty by disabling things like the small context-sensitive targeting reticule).
    • As a general rule, NATO sniper rifles have a simple crosshair scope, Soviet sniper rifles have a scope with a functional stadiametric rangefinder; assault rifles, carbines and small anti-tank missiles have iron sights while man-portable AA launchers and larger anti-tank missiles have reflex sights.
    • The later ARMA games take this further, with different weapons available with different sets of optics. ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead in particular gives the player the ability to zero in long-range optics to compensate for bullet drop or sight along backup iron sights above them for close-range or night-time shooting, while ARMA III lets you carry extra optics for your weapon and switch them on the fly.
  • They're a little too small to see if the guns feature sights, but Terran Marines in Starcraft shoot from the hip constantly. Although with a Powered Armor heads-up display they might not need 'em.
  • Being that it takes place after an apocalyptic event and most of the guns are made from scavenged scrap metal, the guns of Metro 2033 all use iron sights, though some (namely, the revolver and some Kalash rifles) have sights with dots of glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Averted in Dead Space if you look closely. The pulse rifle, which is the only weapon in the game that was actually designed to be used as a weapon rather than a mining tool, does indeed have iron sights on it (although like all weapons in the game, you aim it using a laser pointer instead).
  • Averted with most of the guns in Borderlands naturally, since the game allows you to aim down the sights. However, sometimes the random gun generator will produce a weapon with a very strange sight setup on it, and there are a few pistols that don't have sights at all. And thanks to the randomized drops, literally anything and everything can have a scope on it. Including the shotgun with a 60 degree spread having a 5x sight.
  • Several guns in PlanetSide don't have any recognizable iron sights. The Terran Republic's Cycler assault rifle, which is the most accurate automatic weapon in the game, has no iron sights or optics. The Vanu Sovereignty's Pulsar assault rifle has no iron sights, but it has a scope affixed to the side of the gun - the wrong side, meaning soldiers would have to hold the gun sideways to use it. The New Conglomerate, which relies on more old fashioned technology, has iron sights on all their weapons, including their Jackhammer shotgun which has an effective range of about 6 feet. Averted in PlanetSide 2, which has usable iron sights or a scope of some form on every infantry weapon.
    • The sequel's heavy weapons, such as the Terran Republic's Mini-Chaingun, play this trope straight. Instead of lining up the sites, holding the right mouse button just zooms the player's view in a bit and tightens up the bullet spread. There was also a bug in beta (that still crops up now-and-again in the finished game) where one might spawn and whatever sights are on their gun are invisible.
  • Several of the Battlearmor weapons in MechWarrior Living Legends have no visible iron-sights, such as the handheld Autocannon/2, the Bear Autocannon, the Flamer, and the Manpack PPC. While it may make sense as they are physically mounted onto the armor's arm and the armor has a built-in HUD, it makes less sense when most of the weapons (lore-wise) are modified infantry support weapons, essentially like stationary machine guns. Averted with the bread-and-butter gun, the handheld Small Laser, which has a simple set of open iron sights.
  • Bizarrely averted in the near-future F.E.A.R. 2, which features a pistol with two sets of iron sights, one of which blocks the other and which no one to this day has figured out how to use properly.
  • Mass Effect goes all over the place. A few guns, like the Revenant Light Machine Gun, the Predator pistol, and the Tempest submachine gun, have iron sights. Many others, such as the Avenger, Mattock, and Vindicator assault rifles, as well as all the sniper rifles, have internally integrated scopes clearly visible on their model. However, most guns just don't have any sort of sight or scope at all.
  • Battlefield played this straight with Battlefield 1942 and Vietnam, where anything without a scope just had a generic zoom mode. Averted for most weapons from Battlefield 2 onwards (which had one interesting variation where the front sight of the USMC Spec Ops' M4 would disappear when looking through the attached red dot sight).
  • The weapons in Command & Conquer: Renegade follow this for the most part. Even the weapons that do seem to have sights (including, surprisingly, the laser rifle) either only have one half (the pistol and the aforementioned laser rifle only have rear sights, the grenade launcher only has a front sight) or have a second set of rear sights instead of a front post (the sniper rifle, otherwise a unique aversion for still having visible sights despite the do-everything scope attached). Despite this, nearly everything is perfectly accurate anyway, and what isn't both carries and spits out a lot of ammo to compensate.


    Real Life 
  • In the majority of real life firefights, there is no time to aim. Point shooting is a method of armed self-defense which accepts this fact, and so focuses on using a fighter's natural instincts and reflexes, rather than the weapon's sights, to hit the target at close range. A gun designed specifically for point shooting would not need sights.