Scalarworks Peak Sights – The Story Behind The Design

During a recent conversation with Scalarworks founder and president, Phil Bartoszewicz, about his Scalarwork Leap mounts, we discussed the genesis of what would become the highly regarded Scalarworks Peak Sights.

Q: Phil, I’d love to talk briefly about your Scalarworks Peak Sights…They’re well thought of, and visually, they stand out like few others on the market today.

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – The Scalarworks Peak Sights were an exciting project for me. I was an industrial designer living and working in San Francisco. That’s where I got into guns of all places. While there, I designed what I thought would be a modern, thoughtfully styled approach to a rear sight for the Mk18. 

The sight had elevation, windage adjustments, and all the things that you’d want on something like that. I added it to my portfolio. I think I sent it into Crye Precision, who was looking for an industrial designer, and the sight was a part of the portfolio that I sent to them…although I never got that job.

Years later, I had started Scalarworks, and Larry Vickers was one of our first fans…He saw the mounts that we were offering, thought that they were good, and started running them right away.

I met him in person at the first SHOT Show after I had started the company. He told me to come to see him at the booth he was at, as he wanted to talk to me. I went to where he was, and there he told me that he loved my mounts and that I should consider making some fixed iron sights.

My initial thought was to be a bit hesitant. I said, “Larry, I know I like fixed iron sights, I know you like fixed iron sights, but is there really a market for something like that?” 

Read the ARBuildJunkie interview with Larry Vickers

He said there absolutely was. He told me that he taught classes all of the time, and thousands of students come through, and a lot of them have fixed iron sights …they’re out there, people still love them, and it’s something that I really should consider doing.

This was also around the time that he moved from Daniel Defense as consultant/sponsor type deal to Bravo Company…and Bravo Company did not have any fixed iron sights for him.

Normally, I would have said no, but number one, it was Larry Vickers who was asking and number two, I already had this design on my computer (laughs). It wasn’t all the way there, but it was there enough that I knew if I revisited it, I could probably come up with something that would meet his needs. I told Larry, “I’ve got something, and if I think I can make a good product for Scalarworks, I will do it.”

Q: It sounds like you had a good design ready…but were perhaps a bit hesitant?

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – My concern was that as a company, Scalarworks was very new. We were only two products in at that point. I knew that anything I came up with had to make a statement in regard to what my company was all about. I had to make sure that the next thing I came out with would demonstrate where the company was going, and where I wanted it to go. I told Larry that if what I came up with was something truly great, I would do it, and make it.

Scalarworks Peak on the left…Stock A2 on the right

Larry thought that what I proposed sounded good, and then he offered to be my sounding board should I need it. I then got to work, and what you see today is what I came up with. What you see today does have Larry’s requirements included, including the flat-facing peeps. 

Before the Scalarworks Peak Sights, he had been getting them from Canada from Diemaco. He had those irons sent into the United States just so he could use them because they were running their peeps based off of the original M16 spec. That meant flat-facing peeps on both the large and small aperture. 

Q: Why was this necessary?

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – Well, the American peep sights had changed when they went to the A2. They flipped them. 

Q: Why would they do that?

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – The reason was Marines were wearing out the back, flat face of the peeps during qualifications. The rifles they used were a lot like rental rifles, essentially. As the Marines would use these rifles over and over again and go through qualifications, they were flipping the peeps back and forth, and back and forth. 

This constant usage would wear out the black oxide. So, someone decided, “Hey, let’s put the scallop that’s on the other side, on the inside.” Doing that solved one problem but created another, which is a highlight bias.

Q: Can you explain what highlight bias is?

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – By having this dome in front of you, now any point light source like the sun that might be behind you will hit that dome and create a hot spot. That hot spot can trick your eye into thinking that the window is lower than it actually is. This is far from ideal, as the way that iron sights work is that your brain naturally centers objects inside of a frame. Your brain is surprisingly accurate and precise at this.

Q: Were there any other concerns that he had that you wanted to address when designing the Scalarworks Peak Sights?

Phil Bartoszewicz – Scalarworks – We discussed front post and adjustments, and I was able to develop a flat adjustment turret, which essentially takes no space, and does not require the tip of a bullet or anything like that to adjust.  

As far as the styling, if you look at it, it’s clearly influenced by the original front sight on the M16, and the rear is influenced by the Mk18 cut-off carry handle sight, but if they were in the year 2084…if they were hyper-futuristic. Since there was no quick detach method needed or anything, I was really much freer to create the shape in the most aesthetically pleasing way that I could.

I will say that they did cost an absolute fortune to make. I don’t even think we broke even on the first batch of those. Still now, they’re not quite a loss-leader, but… I’ll say this…sometimes people complain about the cost, but if they knew how little we’ve made off of them, maybe they wouldn’t complain quite so much (laughs).  

In the end, I am very happy with what we came up with, how it all came together, as well as how well they’ve been received. Since we’ve released the Scalarworks Peak Sights, they’ve been a smash hit. They’re our second most popular SKU. The market has told us what’s needed and what’s good, and clearly, there was a need that we’ve met.

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