There is literally no end to the number of items that can be mounted on an AR-15 rifle in some fashion, be it a high-end $4,000 scope designed for the most extreme range shooting or a rail-mounted bottle opener for extreme range drinking. Out of all the things that you are able to stick on an AR, though, the most common and seemingly least understood are iron sights.

Most people have a working knowledge of what iron sights are supposed to do, but often have very little understanding of what makes them work or what they are really good for. I hear it said over and over again these days that red dot sights and scopes are in all ways superior to iron sights, which, for many shooters, are nothing but close-range afterthoughts, but this is far from the truth.

The first thing we’ll cover is the idea that AR-15 iron sights are cheap and outdated. The folks who think that are usually the same people who buy a budget set of low profile Picatinny-mounted iron sights that folds down, think of them strictly as backup sights, and only zero them by making them line up with their red dot in order to co-witness.

If you’re thinking that iron sights are the gun equivalent of that donut tire in your trunk, you’re doing it wrong. You should never buy a cheap set of folding flip-up sights and expect them to perform with any degree of repeatability or precision. You can sometimes get away with just a rear sight if your gun already has a front sight integral to the barrel.

The “battle sights” I’m referencing here are usually found on the budget/cheap trash tables at gun shows, right next to those $50 ‘tactical’ scopes and ‘military’ grade lasers. If you’re paying only $20 for a set of iron sights, you aren’t spending enough. And you’re getting even less.

I don’t want to be a snob about it, but it turns out I am. I consider iron sight sets that are in the $150-300 range to be of the best quality. You can even get good set of BUIS with a 45 degree offset in this price range to use in tandem with a magnified optic.

I talked to a guy at the range when I was working on another article who had a $2,500 AR. His nice rifle was sporting a set of knockoff Magpul MBUS flip-ups mounted ‘just in case the SHTF’. In addition to being tasteless and tacky, it was obvious to me that he lacked the experience to prioritize the minutia of his gear. Most $1,500 rifles are easily as good and he then could have afforded a better, well, everything he had attached to it. A great rifle is nothing special when you’re aiming it with junk.

A high quality set of AR-15 iron sights will give you greater precision than any red dot and many scopes. If you have cash to burn on a cheap scope in the $200 range, realize that the USA-made, world-class set of sights pictured in this article, the Scalarworks PEAK sights, are $239.00 for the set. You can either buy a cheap, easily broken piece of gun show junk, or you can buy something that works and will last. Your choice.

This brings us to the next problem associated with AR-15 iron sights: zeroing. There are many, many ways to zero a rifle and many are hard to grasp. I’m a National Match competitor and have won all my CMP medals with iron sights, but they are never zeroed at point of aim. How is that possible?

Well, I zero for what is called a six-o-clock hold, which means that my front post is aimed at the bottom of the black target center. My bullets impact about 7” high at 200 yards, which puts them in the center of the black.

The actual point the bullet intersects the tip of my front sight is somewhere around 275 yards depending on the caliber/bullet used, which means I can hold just a touch high to hit deer-sized game out to 325 yards, but would need to hold a bit low at 100 yards to be sure to hit vitals, as I’d be hitting too high at that closer distance. It may seem like a foreign concept to have a ‘floating’ zero, but you’d be surprised at how accessible it is after a range session.

The idea of a zero at a fixed distance is a myth. All that iron sights do is give you a reference to a specific point along a bullet’s trajectory, but it is very flexible.

If I were to take the gun in the photos, which is a 7.5” barreled .300 Blackout, and zero it at 100 yards for point of impact (bullets hit right on the tip of the front sight) I can hold center mass on anything out to about 200 yards using most supersonic 110-125gr ammo. Past that, I can hold just high on the target, about head level, and hit center mass again. If I wanted to be more precise at longer ranges, I can adjust my front sight just like on a target scope. The PEAK sights are great in that they allow toolless, repeatable adjustment.

Advantages to having iron sight include their ruggedness and ability to hold their zero even with bumps in and out of the stand. It’s much harder to lose zero with irons as the sights are attached in a much more integrated way than a scope.

Scopes, being much more delicate, are more prone to damage. Everyone has at least one story of smacking their scope on something before a key shot. You can idiot-proof your gun a bit by removing glass from the equation, especially since most hunting occurs inside 200 yards anyway. That’s well inside the effective range of most iron sights.

The zero you want for an ‘emergency’ is one that accounts for the flattest part of your round’s trajectory. This idea includes both ‘close’ and ‘far’ zeroes. Many AR shooters zero their sights at 50 yards, which is the ‘close’ zero. The bullet will rise above point of aim in the meantime and again cross point of aim somewhere around 200 yards.

This is not a precise means of zeroing, but it works for many people. If you do this, understand that there is no magic zero. You will certainly have to test it at all ranges you plan on shooting at.

An easy way to zero is to do it at 100 yards, as most iron sight use will take place inside that distance. Many shooters find it hard to see or aim at longer ranges, but it just takes time to learn and you will be able to adjust your sights as you gain skill and learn how to best apply them.

The last part I will address here is the size of the physical sights. Most front sights I see out there are far too thick, and a wide post won’t allow for precision shooting. This is made worse by sloppy rear sights that have apertures with random dimensions.

The PEAK sights I recommend have a fine front post and a flip-style rear sight with both fine and wide same-plane apertures. Elevation settings do not change by switching from fine to wide, unlike many other sights out there. I like the wide one for close work and the fine one for precision shooting at longer ranges.

I recommend that you give iron sights a chance. If you haven’t tried them before you may be pleasantly surprised by their affordability, accuracy, and durability. Although it takes a little getting used to, if you try out various styles and techniques I’m sure you’ll find a zeroing style that works for you. You may even find yourself converting others at the range and sharing your success story with the skeptics.


  1. I really don’t think the Magpuo BUIS are good at all. The front sight has to much play in it. You can push on the right side of the sight, then the left, and change your point of impact by about 4 MOA at 100 yards.

  2. Generally agreed.

    ALL of the irons on my carbines are Troy flip ups and ARE cowitnessed with my Eotechs OR in the case of my 8.5″ upper just REALLY nice and easy to use LWRC Troy irons.

    Practice with em…

    • I second that about Troy sights. I have a S&W M&P15 that came with Magpul rear sights. Piece ‘o junk. The Troy sight is much, much better.

      Added plus– the Troy sight uses a diamond-shaped peep hole, as opposed to the little round pin-hole on the Magpul. To those with younger eyes this may not be an issue, but for us old farts, the diamond configuration is much more forgiving.

  3. The writer contradicts himself. The only difference in brands of sights is the ability to stay where you put them. A block of wood with a hole drilled through it would work as long as 1) it stayed where you set it it, and 2) you know where your zero point is. Just as he said he does with his $150 irons. Practice and familiarity imare far more important than how muchh you paid.

  4. I have an integrated handle and rear sight as well as a stand alone rear sight. I prefer the handle but both are zeroed for 6 o’clock hold at 100 yards landing 6 inches high.

    No one should discount the necessity of open sights. Learn how to be accurate with iron before glass.

  5. Iron sights worked pretty damn well for the BEF in both the great wars. 15 hits on a 12″ target at 300 yards every minute with a bolt gun was ‘average’.

    That bottle opener is the awesomest thing I’ve ever seen connected to a picatinny rail. Any chance they make an M-LOK version?

    The only open sighted rifle I’ve got is a Marlin 336BL. I calculated that the brass bead appears to be about 9-10moa. Held at the 6 o’clock position it takes about 230 yards to reach the top of the bead and 330 to get directly behind the center of the bead.

  6. So at 200 yards you are about 7 inches high? Why would you not zero at 50 to be about the same at 200 and not vary more than 3ish inches along the entire path of travel? Is there a difference between a “combat” zero and a “cmp target” zero? At what range are your poi/poa the same? How is setting up your sights to be about 7 inches high at 200 yards a zero? Just the term zero should tell you that it means to require zero adjustments to hit poa at the set range. Am I ignorant of something or confused?

    • There seems to be a bit more orthodoxy regarding the range at which one might zero one’s weapon than thought and reason. And, IMHO that has to do with the inability of many shooters to use mathematics.

      I don’t choose to argue about zeros as the mythology is so extreme that, despite it being not only illogical and false, is a near-religion for many. Who want’s to argue endlessly about religion with a believer?

      The correct zero DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION!!!!!!!!!!! And, it has nothing to do with what sort of sights are being zeroed (although, I’m a strong proponent of iron sights).

      Let’s all be flexible enough to realize that mental rigidity regarding the use and tuning of our weapons is a FAULT, rather than an asset. The right way depends on the circumstances and the mission / purpose.

      • Correct. I once shifted my aim at Camp Perry from the target center to the frame holding the target, and adjusted the sights accordingly, because on that day I was unable to clearly see the target at 1000 yards. Even that technique (suggested by the instructor) left me also attempting to center the target frame on top of my front sight, since the post was wider than the frame. But it worked, as in my groups were smaller than they had been holding center target. Shooting a National Match M1A, BTW, great iron sights!

    • There’s a little confusion in terms here, is all. If you know at what range your point of aim will match the bullet’s point of impact, then you have an effective zero (as you said).

      Wayner undoubtedly knows where his bullet’s trajectory will place it relative to point of aim at various distances, so we can infer that he also knows where his actual zero is, where point of aim equals point of impact, or he wouldn’t be winning any medals.

      Seems to me that he’s doing it the same way you and I would do it, only with a small difference that makes it easier for him to hit the bullseye of a CMP target at common competition distance.

      He just didn’t explain it very well.

    • He has to zero at the base of his competition target or most of it would be obliterated by the front post at that range. Something that makes me pretty impressed that he could make an ethical shot on a deer with .223 or .300 Blackout at 325 yards using iron sights with a hold over.

  7. My guess is because he is shooting to the center of a black circle. Instead of trying to have the top of the front sight somewhere the center, he can aim at the exact edge between the black circle and the white background. As long as the distance is static, and the target size is constant, it sounds like a good way to set up his sights.

    • My grandfather was an Olympic competitor, frequent national champion and frequent PanAmerican gold medalist in pistol. He taught me to set up pistol sights the same way. It works better than poi because of the greater contrast of black on white vs black on black (X ring vs 10 ring). It worked for him because he shot at consistent targets at fixed distances.

      • In the ’70s and ’80s, I had a pair of 4″ Pythons. Forget where I got the idea, but the one I shot all the time I had sighted so that the bullet struck the center of the black when the entirety of the black ball was set on the top of the front sight, and the shiny new one was set so that the black ball had to be bisected by the front sight to hit the center, as in the gunshot to the top of the sight, not above it. The one was for shooting paper targets, but the other was what I intended for actual defense. I was sighting in both at 100 yards, so I guess I was just nuts.

        • Yea, if I remember correctly, S&W use to make their fixed sight revolvers for a 6 oclock hold at 25 yards. I aimed at the bottom of the black to put the round in the X. This was on their model 10’s, 65’s etc.

  8. A lot of NM shooters can do wonderful things on the range with Iron sights.

    On the Range and in real life are too different things.

    Having carried some sort of rifle professionally for personal protection for over 4 decades.

    Having hunted and shot hundreds of head of big game and 10s of thousands of varmints in all kinds of weather, lighting conditions for over 5 decades.

    Having shot rifle matches and instructed dozens of patrol rifle classes.

    Because a lot of people do not have perfect eye sight.

    Good optics well allow you to place rounds more precisely then irons under more conditions.

    Because things fail I do have back up iron sights on my personal defensive rifles.

  9. Iron sight shooting is just plain fun, not to mention practical. I shot them on my AR for quite some time before I picked up a red dot (the red dot helps with my cross-dominance, although iron sights are not hard to use), and will always love them.

    • Oh, and I still run a folding rear sight (A2 front sight) with an absolute co-witness. I’ve found that for me, the ability to use the same cheek weld with both the optic and the irons help me get more repeatable accuracy.

  10. I like iron sights. That’s what I have on most of my guns. I roll with whatever stock iron came with the gun and that’s ussually good enough for me. I put some basic scopes on a couple of mine, but nothing battery powered.

  11. So now I have to get rid of my Mbuis sights?!? Dang and I just got my new AR…this reminds me of all the “yer poor” bs I see on FB. We’re not all competing or going to war.

    • “We’re not all competing or going to war”
      So why do you have your gun? Is it for fun? Or defense of self? Hunting?
      If it’s for fun, then that’s fine. If it’s for defense, or hunting you should still buy the best. Don’t be a cheapskate for the sake of saving a few dollars.
      That’s what people making fun of “the poors” are getting at.

  12. I do a lot more shooting with iron sights than I do with optics. I use the stock sights when I had my AR-15 SP1. I set the short range to point of aim at 200 meters. At 100, the impact was 2″high, which is irrelevant in service shooting. At 300m I used the long range sight which was on target. At 400m I had to aim high to get hits, and really concentrate on technique.

    But using a Lee-Enfield in both .223 and .303 with the MK 1 1MOA click adjustment was a big improvement. And the half-MOA Central and Rawson sights were even better again.

    I use point-of-aim shooting center mass at 100 and 200 meters. I only use 6 o’clock holds at 300m.

  13. A fast miss is still a miss. The sight staying sighted in, once I lock it down is the most important criteria for me, brand name and price can be a guide, but neither count for much if I can’t depend on the thing being reliable. -30-

  14. I can’t practice as much as I like due to work but I love my iron sights. I have reeeeally bad astigmatism so irons are at least consistent. I’m not worried about long range shots with my HD rifle.

    Off topic, what does the author think about fixed front sights mounted on free float handguards? Won’t the flex of the handguard result in an inconsistent zero?

    • I also have an astigmatism that makes the red dot seem blurry. What works well for me is using a dual aperture rear sight and looking through the larger one at the red dot. Clears things right up.

  15. i never had a problem with magpul buis moving as much as i had a problem with the front sight picture being bad
    too much of it being in the way
    i put them on my first couple of builds
    now i just use the 30 dollar 45 degree offset back up irons and have had no problems
    if all youre going to shoot is irons pay the extra and get the good ones
    if theyre only backups to a red dot or a lpvo i dont see the point in spending a ton of cash
    but thats just me

  16. The MBUS sight is fine for what it is designed for. It is a back-up. If your primary sighting system is damaged, you can use the back-ups to maintain some sort of aiming system. They are definitely not an ideal primary sight system (wide post, not very fine adjustments, etc). They are workable at shorter range, don’t take up much space, weight relatively little, and are not expensive.

    Further, advances in optics design and quality have made many of them quite reliable and durable. Something like an Aimpoint or Trijicon MRO is unlikely to fail under normal use.

  17. Hmmmmm.

    I agree that most front sights are too wide for precision.

    Dont agree that you have to spend a bunch of money for sights.

    Factory sights are often pretty good. My Ruger Scout has nice sights, allowing 3 inch groups from standing at 100 yards.

    I replaced the front sight on my mini14 as it was too thick.

    Seems like all this is a factor of lots of people buying slick top ARs and focusing on glass optics. The manufacturers start thinking they can put crap sights on guns or leave them off.

    I have have never any 300 dollars irons that i would consider buying.

    Guess Im not a snob. Buy quality guns with decent irons.

    • “Guess I’m not a snob. Buy quality guns with decent irons”

      I doubt the author of this article had people like you in mind, and I think the primary takeaway should be, if all you have is $200 for a sight for your new rifle you’d be better served by buying a $200 set of iron sights than you would be buying whatever optic you could scrounge for the same amount.

      Which is absolutely true; especially considering the fact that most people shopping for a “cheap” scope for their AR aren’t going to do the sensible thing and buy a decent midfield contender bare bones model with a duplex reticle and capped adjustments, so that at least every possible penny of their money goes towards the most important part of the scope (ie. the glass), instead opting for whatever model that has turrets and other cosmetic features like turrets that dont track, a reticle with incorrect/inconsistent sub-tensions, illumination that is unusable in low light because it washes the entire sight picture out, and glass that’s only a moderate improvement over unpolished plexiglass.

      No need to spend $200 on irons though, if you buy a decent quality AR that comes with a decent set of irons and know how to shoot them, you are way better off than the guy running the plastic MBUS set or a $200 ACOG knockoff on their $2500 LaRue.

      That said, I run a pair of Scalarworks irons on my AR, and wont change them for the world. Then again, my other rifle is wearing a US Optics LR-17 so… its all relative.

    • Meant to add to my previous post…

      I think the broader takeaway should be that if the only thing you can afford after buying the rifle is a cheap scope or crappy set of flip-up backup irons as your primary sight for the gun, you are doing things wrong. You probably spent too much on the gun and should have bought something more reasonable that gave you a little more money leftover for what is arguably one of the most important parts of the gun.

  18. I built a AR with a 16” Bravo Company CHF barrel and Magpul MBUS sights. I put them at a 50 yard zero. I can hit a 12” plate at 100 yards with a 6 o’clock hold with scary regularity.
    My buddy has an AR with a Trijicon ACOG sighted in at a 100 yard zero. I smack that target with far more regularity than he does. People with expensive glass get far too confident. You gotta start with the fundamentals.

    • Two Bravos here, one 20 inch and one 16 inch mid. Both have f marked front sight posts and the 16 has Magpul BUIS. Solid and stays put. Zeroed at 50 yds. The 20 has the removable carry handle with f marked irons. 25 meter zero and way more accurate than I am. I prefer Irons on ARs but that is how my “Uncle” taught me many years ago.

    • I have an M&P 15 Sport II that came with a Magpul BUIS on the rear, and a standard A2 front sight. I wanted iron sights; that’s how I learnt to shoot and planned to get an optic later on if I fancied it.

      Having most of my experience on a rimfire .22lr for both plinking and rabbiting, I wasn’t experienced with much past 80yds, and I can tell you at my club most people would consider that optics territory. It’s just the culture I have observed.

      Indeed, things start to look very small indeed at the 100yd berm, and miniscule at 200yds. Paper targets get difficult for my eyes, particularly if they lack contrast. Black on white seems best; colours really do not pop enough at distance. I bought a 10″ AR500 gong which made a nice big target. Interestingly, once your eyes get used to 100yds it really doesn’t feel too difficult, and from a rested and supported position I could hit it quite easily; I noted I was starting to group fairly well, too.

      I tried it at 200yds and wasn’t quite so consistent, but I could still hit it about half the time, and I was fairly certain I could improve on that as my fundamentals needed work.

      I have not had any problems with the BUIS rear sight, but I do baby my rifle. It does have a tiny bit of play though, so I bought a UTG forged ‘carry handle’ for about $70 which is pretty solid. The picture isn’t that different, but I know it won’t move at all.

      I do also have a Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS scope. Truth be told it’s absolutely fantastic, but once set up it really doesn’t leave much challenge on the 200yd range, even if it’s allowed me to be fairly clear on what various ammo will group at. I think it would be very useful on small game hunts out to 150yds or so, offhand.

      There’s no question that irons are a constant challenge though; it’s just you and the gun. Fortunately with the AR platform you can choose what you want to work on.

  19. I got interested in shooting 3 years ago when my inlaw showed me his Army M4. He said this optical thing had a hologram in it. Me with a math and physics degree, and being polite, I only thought the words BS. Sure enough, it was an EOTech sight with a hologram.

    Eventually, I wondered why does an M16 have such a damn high sight line? 2.5 inches above the bore axis. Just for the handle? Nah. Then I saw the Army spec. for zeroing the rifle. Actually zeroed at 25m. 25m !!! What?

    Then it dawned on me. This creates a fairly strong upward angle of the barrel relative to the sight line. So if you line the sights up on center mass of an enemy combatant at any range from 0 to 400 yards (or even 450 yds), your going to hit something vital.

    My ballistic calc. tells me that a 70 gr 2850 ft/s round is 2.5″ low at the muzzle, dead on at 27 yds., 5″ high at 100 yds., 7.3″ high at 200 yds., 3.6″ high at 300 yds., zero again at about 340 yds. 7.6″ low at 400 yds., and 16.5″ low at 450 yds. Pretty sweet.

    I’m sure the really good soldiers know how to hold low or high for the different ranges, but I’m guessing that one could get by without that.

    Of course, more modern M4 irons have different range settings built into the rear sight.

    • Regarding the high sight line on the M16, there’s more to the story.

      The stock is basically straight behind the bore axis. This geometry reduces muzzle rise, allows for faster follow-up shots and more controllability in full-auto. This also means the sights need to be higher above the bore.

  20. Spends several paragraphs telling us we don’t know how to zero or use irons. Then tells us that 5.56/300BLK (super) are flat shooting and a zero around 100yds will keep a round in the kill zone out to 200yds. But only with a $300 set.

    Iconic literature, here.

    • Yeah, main thing I got from this is that Josh doesn’t think anything under $200 will hold zero, and that he’s a better shooter than he is a writer.

      It also sounds like he has young eyes.

      • That “young eyes” is a thing. When I was under about 60, when I aimed a handgun I could hold the rear sight, the front sight, and the target all in focus at the same time. Now, at 72, I still have better than 20/20 vision uncorrected, but cannot focus on the front or rear sight *at all*. Thus I transitioned to red dots, even with a scope I need reading glasses to get the reticle in focus. Enjoy those eyes, they won’t last forever.

  21. The author here was too busy being a snob to offer useful advice or practical options. What a shame.

    The front sight integral to the gas block on your garden variety AR-15 gives you a sight radius of about 15 inches. Replace that with a 15″ free floating hand guard, mount a sight on the front end of it, and you’ll gain 5 inches of sight radius. That is not insignificant and will help any shooter, regardless of skills.

    You can spend $200+ on fixed sights if you want. It’s your money. But for a shooter of average rifle skills they offer no real advantage over the Magpul flip-ups the author ridicules.

    Iron sights have their place. So do red dots, holograms and magnified scopes. As with almost any pursuit, high-end equipment offers no advantage to those who don’t have high-end skills to match.

    • Well – being a snob is kind of his MO. He’s insecure in his position on the totem pole, so he has to let everyone know how knowledgeable he is every 10 seconds.

  22. world-class set of sights pictured in this article, the Scalarworks PEAK sights, are $239.00 for the set.

    Sounds like there is a scalarworks salesman here.

    You can either buy a cheap, easily broken piece of gun show junk, or you can buy something that works and will last. Your choice.

    Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? I can get a Williams sight or kensight for some other rifle that costs 30 bucks, is made out of steel, and works great. I’m just waiting for the right company to come along and deliver a great sight for the AR15 at a reasonable price. $150-300 is not reasonable.

  23. Good grief.

    I have the (discontinued) Troy FIXED dioptic rear tritium and XS tritium front strips on posts up front on all my AR’s.

    They are fantastic, but they still don’t acquire targets like a red dot or discriminate targets like a light gathering, glare reducing scope.

    Now is not the time to be defending sights from 700 years ago.

    Iron sights almost always a) obscure the target, and b) don’t cut glare, gather light, sharpen, or magnify.

  24. I honestly don’t know why someone wouldn’t buy a gun that comes with irons built onto it. If it’s a quality gun, the sights would have to pass QC just like every other part.

    Obviously, I’ve never built my own AR.

    Regardless, if it’s a good gun, just follow the instruction manual and you’ll have a viable weapon. I believe AR’s are typically set for 25/300 zero. Aim low at targets before 300, aim high at targets past 300, and your good.

  25. WOW, a lot of words for a simple sight that’s been around.
    It’s just a basic sight. Zero it at a FIXED Distance, and project your bullet based on what the calculation says.

  26. Captain Kirk nor anyone else in Star Fleet ever had sights on a phaser and I’m not about to put one on my AR. It’s a new .300 blk pistol and it ain’t seeing no iron sight….ever.

  27. Well, the one thing the article explained is why so many of the rear sights out there have no adjustment for elevation, just windage. I was shopping recently and wondered about that, since the sights for most of the older military rifles and Winchesters all had ladders or other methods of adjusting for range.

    To tell the truth, I bought a set of iron sites, and not expensive ones, just to make an AR 10 build shootable while I save up for a decent distance optic. At over 60 and developing a cataract in my right eye, I don’t have he eyesight to shoot very far unless I shoot left handed.

  28. Agreed, and a pile on.

    I’ve got damn good vision, 20/15 or 20/10 in each eye, depending on far vs. near vision. I’ve shot using some real nice irons, and some junky aluminum Amazon specials. All have held a zero, all have been unobtrusive, and all have been absolutely worthless on a foggy or partial sunlit morning as the deer or hogs start wandering around. I tried an illuminated front sight, painting the front post, or skinnier front posts to try and make the target visible. I then tried a simple unmagnified red dot and haven’t gone back. A red dot on a very low power setting pops out crisp and clear against a deer’s shoulder, even through light foliage, fog, or dimly lit conditions (after official sunrise, of course).

    Irons are fun and effective for static paper or painted steel out to several hundred yards. For putting meat in the freezer, I’ll use the best tool for the job.

  29. Most military rifles have a wide front sight for a reason. In low light they are easier to see. The front post of an M16 is about the same width of a 18” silhouette target at 175 M. If an enemy soldier is closer, I would think that this would give an acceptable sight picture. If they are farther away, the probability of making hits with iron sights against moving targets wearing camouflage diminished rapidly as range increases anyway. A finer front post isn’t going to help much.

    I put quality metal sights on most of my builds, but if cash is limited then you are better off buying a quality red dot like an Aimpoint PRO or a Trijicon MRO for $400 and skipping iron sights than buying a crap optic and good iron sights. If you are afraid of batteries dying then a prism sight like the Primary Arms Cyclops 1x or their 2.5x ACSS are great budget options that are very durable and less than $200.

    At close range inside a house, hitting a man sized target just by looking through the tube of a red dot optic isn’t difficult. If you are shooting people 100 yards away you will be facing an extended prison stay, so run and hide is probably a better strategy than transitioning to your $239 backup irons. Too many build a rifle to fit their fantasy vs what they need in reality.

  30. I will not be getting a scope until I master my Daniel Defense AR-15, magpul Iron sites. I like them better than the iron sites on my army issued M16a1. I know I need more practice. I try to go to the range once a month.

  31. I like Magpul BUIS sights. Even the plastic ones. A lot of people (whose opinions I respect and trust as sound advice) hate them… it seems, primarily because they are plastic. I guess I’ve been lucky. Folks say the wings break off them… I like the dog-ear wings, because it gives my eye and brain a sense of scope.

    I especially like the BUIS with and A2 sight post… and I zero them at 100yds with a six-o’clock hold… and shoot the ever-lovin’ sheet out of them 🙂

    I have never used the big “CQB” aperture, though. On some apertures, though if I don’t like them, I will drill out my own circle (to some “random size” as the author says)… KelTec S2K comes to mind– that aperture is for like 600yd apple-on-head shooting, and a 9×19 would be meteorite digging a dirt trench before it ever reached the target (…okay yes, it’s not really that bad, but I’m just saying most of the handywork you’re doing with a 9×19 carbine is within a 100yd envelope, unless you get creative and challenging…).

    Anyhow, I get the author’s “you get whatcha pay for” attitude with regard to iron sights capability, and especially one’s ability to expand skills on irons. But most of us “country boy” type shooters just need SOMETHING, some point of reference for windage and elevation.. and with a couple of spots, we’ll find a way to get the bullet in there. That is not to say that some sights are better than others… but AR sights in whatever circle-post configuration are pretty magnificent, all said… 🙂

    PS– I haaaaaate the stupid Three Dot system on pistols. I personally think it sucks. So inaccurate, so wavy-gravy, loosey-goosey… I feel like I am guessing half the time (and I have been shooting these stupid things for 27 years). I like the Lollipops on Kahrs, or even the basketball hoop on Glocks… three-dots, blecccch. It is the ultimate manifestation of “50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong!” illogical nonsense.

  32. Yeah, like most things in the gun industry, people are penny-wise and pound-foolish… or just plain foolish, but nowhere is that more true than with optics/sights.

    I frigging love my PEAK sights.

  33. At the basic infantry school we qualified using only iron sights and many of us qualified expert or sharp shooter hitting 40 out of 40 targets from 50 meters to 300 meters. And each time soldiers qualify their weapons we only use iron sights. Iron sights are our primary sights, all others like the CCO for CQB and scopes for long range killing are used only as mission dictates.

  34. I shoot a BCM M4 Mod 0. The exact location of the sight, on my rear fixed sight, is at the #2 slot on the rail and I shoot at full extension with my adjustable buttstock. If I were to move the buttstock one click forward to have a shorter extension, do I need to move the rear sigh forward on the rail?

    • Personally I would not move the rear sight. On an AR15 I always put it as far back on the upper as I can.

      The only time you might find yourself crowded on the stock is shooting prone. If you have enough room to get your eye in the right position (generally nose to charging handle) then you don’t need to move the rearm sight. If you are scrunched up prone, leaving the stock fully extended would be preferred over moving the sights forward.

      You might find that shooting prone that it is more comfortable to leave the stock extended and that it feels better to shorten the stock a notch or two when standing or kneeling. This is because you want an upright head position in these positions and with a shorter length of pull, you don’t have to stretch your neck forward to get your eye close to the rear sight.

      If you are getting any gas blowing into your dominant eye while shooting, putting a small bead of high temp (red) silicon in the bottom of the crescent cutout on the top of the charging handle where it meets the upper will stop it.

  35. OK, former Marine infantry officer here.

    We zeroed our weapons at 300 meters. Then we depended on the concept called MAXIMUM POINT BLANK RANGE (MPBR) at distances less than the zero range. The hold on the human target was center of mass out to the zero range.

    In increments, the point of aim (POA) was dictated by heart, head, hat holds which corresponded to 300, then 400 and then to 500 yards. No need to adjust the iron sights at those holds AS FIREFIGHTS ARE A BIRTCH (deliberate misspelling) and there’s just no time to play precision sniper…as doing so would likely end your life and maybe also those around you.

    These are simple concepts. 8 years in they served me well.

    Try these concepts. You might like them.


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