The basic technology for the Army’s fancy high-tech M68 CCO (the Aimpoint) was first patented all the way back in 1900. The concept of the reflex sight, in brief, is that ambient light is used to reflect a reticle pattern through a lens into a shooter’s line of sight. When properly mounted on a gun, that reticle can be used for aiming. The first reflex-type gunsights were mounted in fighter aircraft in late World War I, and by World War II they were standard equipment. Up to that point, though, they were fairly bulky and fragile, though, and so the market for reflex sights on small arms didn’t really show up until the end of WWII.

One of the first commercially fairly successful such sights was the Nydar Model 47, made by the Swain Nelson company and introduced in 1945. It was intended as a sight for shotgun hunters, to aid in firing on flying birds (basically the same application as when used in fighter aircraft). We had the chance to take a look at one recently, and it’s pretty neat:

Nydar Model 47 reflex sight
Nydar Model 47 reflex sight with leather lens cover.

The main lens is fairly large by today’s standards, close to 1.5 inches. The reticle is a white bullseye pattern, and is a bit dim but definitely visible (I would rate it as more visible than the integrated sight on the FN PS90).

Nydar Model 47 reflex sight

Nydar Model 47 reflex sight reticle
Bullseye-style reticle pattern (sorry for the dust)

The reticle looks better in person; it was a bit tricky to get a photograph of it. As with today’s optical sights, multiple different mounting bases were made so that the standard sight unit could be attached to a variety of different shotguns.

Nydar Model 47 reflex sight base
Base designed to mount to the rounded receiver of a pump, SxS, or automatic shotgun

We haven’t tried actually using one of these, but the general consensus is that they were a bit fragile. They never really became popular, and it was really only with the fairly recent military acceptance of close-range optical sights that popular interest in them has really become widespread.

 

4 Comments

  1. The Nydar shotgun sight only worked well under the right light conditions.
    I acquired one as a teenager in the early 50’s because I lived down the street from where they were made in Glenview, Ill.

    • 17 April 2017 TO: Ron Reisener FM: Fernan A. Febres Subject NYDAR Sight 4
      Shotguns. Mr. R. Reisener good evening, I am latinamerican ordnance
      engineer and wish to know if you still own and have the NYDAR Sight you
      purchased as a teenager in the 50s. I knew and used the Nydar sight on
      shotguns on for shooting turkeys when I went to Valley Forge Military
      Academy – Wayne Pennsylvania in the late 50s. My company could consider a
      joint venture with you if still have the Nydar Sight, please info.
      Best regards, Fernán A. Febres ++58-416-301.8808 and
      mdc.ferroviaria.1@gmail.com

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