by Rob Kay
Perhaps I’m partial to Diamondhead USA because I happen to live in Honolulu and Diamond Head crater is part of the landscape. However, there’s more to my interest in Diamondhead USA, the company, than the extinct volcano. The scrappy manufacturer, which produces high quality handguards and rails, is best known for its sights.
Their “secret sauce” is their diamond head-shape.
The corners of the front Diamondhead sight fit naturally within the corners of the rear (diamond-shaped) aperture, which centers the front post automatically. The overall design lends itself to faster, more accurate target acquisition. The profile assists the shooter to center the front post within the sight.
Their newest product is a polymer flip up sight with NiteBrite, a luminescence, which I had a chance to see demonstrated at SHOT. A quick dose of light from a powerful flashlight and bingo you have a well-lit form to frame your target in a low light situation.
First off, a little background on the company. It was founded in 2009 as a collaboration between the inventor of the Diamond-shaped aperture (Dan Ballard) and John DeLuca, who had previously been GM and a Director of Troy Industries. Troy marketed Dan’s sights for a while then dropped it.
Dan and John developed the Diamondhead front and rear sights with their uniquely styled base. Initially the rear sight had a goal-post style upper (that they still use on the narrow version of the “Classic” sight) but the Diamond-shaped upper was introduced in 2012 was a breakthrough, as you can now get a CQC/CQB sight picture just by viewing through the upper housings with the apertures turned flat.
Hence the Integrated Sighting System. This has been employed on the D-45 products which have received a lot of press over the last year, as well as the new polymer sights.
Polymer was previously a sort of dirty word in the gun industry but as anyone observing manufacturing trends knows, it’s rapidly become accepted. (You certainly don’t hear people ranting about how horrible the “plastic” Glocks or Walthers are these days).
Greg Dix, the public affairs person at the company, told me that the main reason the company went with a polymer sight is due to the demand for a lower cost quality sighting system.
Dix observed that with the plethora of new AR15 customers, there could be “slight resistance” to paying $250 (for a pair, not including shipping) when the rifle may have cost under $1000. (Well, no kidding). He cited the example of the STAG 3 which retails at about at $850. (As we all know, ARs are available for a lot less). Dropping a few hundred bucks for iron sites for a $500 gun does seem even more excessive.
Aside from Magpul, no other manufacturer has done sights in polymer at any significant level, so Dix reckons there is plenty of room in the market. He said Diamondhead already has had “incredible responses” to the polymer sights and he expects demand to exceed supply.
The chief selling point of this model is that they incorporate all the features of the flagship Diamondhead aperture plus you get the NiteBrite inserts.
Before I even had a chance to evaluate Diamondhead’s new polymer sights, I had a chance to use the polymer Magpuls on my Barnes Precision upper for the last couple of months. Mr. Barnes puts polymer sights on his (in my opinion) extremely high quality uppers.
After using them in my own practice, I really can’t see any difference at all between a polymer and a metal sight.
The new polymers from Diamondhead work equally, if not better than the Magpuls. The diamond shaped aperture does indeed lend itself to faster and easier target acquisition.
The truth is that the weekend shooters I’ve observed at the range rarely use their iron sights, which mostly serve as window dressing. Yeah that sounds heretical but for most people who are not going to really have to depend on flip up sights as a backup, they pretty much are superfluous.
I do not see the point of dropping $250 on a pair of metal sights if you can get perfectly usable polymer sights for half the price.
For us who use “iron” sights regularly and really want them as true backups, the new polymer incarnation works just fine. The Diamondhead sights have the advantage of luminescence at low light–that’s something that the Magpul doesn’t have.
All the better.
Here in Hawaii our public rifle range only goes out to 100 yards (as of last month). I really don’t need a scope to hit the gong with my AR so guess what I use?
At $49 for the front and $69 for the rear sights, Diamondhead has a winner.
Photos mostly courtesy of On Target staff .
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