Many years ago, when I fired my first shots from a .22 caliber rifle my grandfather taught me the proper cheek weld. Later, a number of young Vietnam veterans returning from the war taught me the right way to hold the rifle. No one mentioned cheek weld. However, I knew how to get my cheek down on the stock when they were done. The four-position weld to the rifle-cheek, shoulder, hand and support hand-are vital for proper marksmanship. And cheek weld doesn’t always work properly with every system. Cheek weld and chin weld are dependent on the rifle and stock configuration, and optics. The problem is that optic technology sometimes overtakes rifle technology. The result is that the optic isn’t the most comfortable to use with the cheek weld. As a result, the shooter tries to adapt with various methods, some physical and some mechanical. As one example cheek pads that raise the cheek to the proper eye relief for rifle scopes were often added to military rifles such as the M 1 Garand. With some rifles, this simply doesn’t work. As an example, I recently worked with the Springfield M1A1 rifle and the EOTech red dot sight. The results have been stellar. This is a good combination well worth the time and effort to master. A conventional cheek weld isn’t possible.
It is very difficult to hold the head erect and look through the sight, so some form of contact and rest with the stock is necessary. This means that cheek weld is executed with the high mounted sight. While a compromise of sorts, in the end after a hard look and firing evaluations, it turns out that cheek weld is not only workable it has certain advantages. One of these is the field of view. Couple with a red dot and you have a great line of sight and field of view with both eyes open. The benefit of holding the head erect and meeting a threat head-on with both eyes open is an important advantage. The advantages there are also disadvantages. One of these disadvantages is that stability is degraded. There is some loss in stability and the rifle may waver from side to side. Getting a fast cheek weld for a snapshot isn’t possible with a high mounted scope, but with the chin weld, it is. There is a learning curve with the chin weld. The chin isn’t held close to the stock, it is actually held on the stock. Not the point of the chin but the side of the chin. Don’t expect the best long-range accuracy but with the speed of the red dot, the technique works well at 50 yards or more. Just be certain that you keep the balance of the rifle up and understand the difference.
The combination of the Springfield M1A1 and EOTech red dot isn’t the only combination that benefits from learning the chin weld. For the most part, AR-15 type rifles are settled into the proper angle for sight weld. Old technology when fitted to a modern scope sometimes must be worked with a physical solution. When practicing with the M1A1 I needed a lot of ammunition and it needed to be expensive. Using small base .308 Winchester dies I have worked up a load with the Hornady 168 grain A Max bullet and Varget powder. The results have been excellent, not only is the combination affordable and reliable it is very accurate. I have also used the Hornady Black .308 Winchester loading to sight the piece in and this is my alarms and excursion load. I have used this combination with good results. If you are using a high mounted rifle scope, then learn the chin weld and get with the program. It could be a lifesaver.
Do you use a cheek weld or chin weld when you shooting rifle? Share your experiences with us in the comment section!
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice, and is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills, and others. He is a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications also. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.