Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Rifle Cheekweld

I’m wondering about getting the proper cheek weld on an AR. With different butt stocks, and flattop vs. handle there seems to be a huge variation with that one gun. Plus, add a Trijicon ACOG with either the backup iron sights or the backup Red Dot, and you have even more problems.

Obtaining a proper cheekweld when firing a rifle is key to getting accurate hits. Accuracy is a result of consistency. Body positioning, the way you hold the weapon, and cheekweld are all important components of accuracy. A proper cheekweld insures a consistent sight-picture for every shot. If your cheekweld varies – you’re seeing the sight picture from a different angle – that will affect bullet placement. This is true for iron sights, red-dots, and traditional optics with magnification.

With multiple sighting devices on a rifle your cheekweld will vary, unless everything is set up on a single plane. For example my AR has an Aimpoint with backup iron sights. The Aimpoint is on a slightly higher plane than the iron sights; when looking through the Aimpoint the iron sights appear in the lower third of the window. This means if I’m using the red-dot and need to switch to the iron sights I have to lower my cheekweld slightly. The more offset between your sighting systems the more adjustment will be necessary to switch from one to the other. Ideally you want the least amount of adjustment as possible, especially on a fighting rifle.

For consistency I set up my rifles to be as similar as possible. If you have some rifles with fixed stocks, and others with collapsible stocks, and they all have different type sighting systems you’re going to have a different cheekweld for each rifle. Depending on offset you may be positioning with your jaw as opposed to your cheek. Regardless of where your face is indexing on the stock you’ll need to strive for consistency. Technically the red-dot sights are supposed to be parallax free, but for surgical shots, or firing from extended distances, I’ve found that this isn’t necessarily true. You’ve got to get your eye positioned in alignment behind that sight.

As with every other aspect of weapon-craft the key is to practice and develop the skills needed to use your gear properly. During a fight is not the time to be trying to figure out how your backup sighting system works. Practice on transitioning from red-dot to iron, and from iron to red-dot. In a fight you have to flow from one to another without delay. And remember you may not be fighting with your weapon. So if you have a friend with a different setup on their rifle, ask them if you can fire a few rounds through it to get an idea of how the different sighting systems function.

As the Marine Corps Rifleman’s Creed states, learn your rifle’s “weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel.” And in a fight, I “must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me.” “I must shoot him,” accurately I would add, “before he shoots me.” Practice and prepare, so when the time comes you’re ready.

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September 19, 2010 - Posted by | AR-15

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