Gun guy, Norman Gray, answers the question: What are the best AR-15 Iron Sights? Hear his top five best.
Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- In my time, (no old jokes!) I used iron sights on my military issued M-16A2 simply because EOTech and Aimpoint didn’t exist.
Fast forward 26 years and every civilian shooter, soldier and law enforcement officer has one on their rifle.
It’s truly amazing the technical advancements we have made in that time, but shooters don’t often learn from history. As tough as these sights may be, they are still man made devices and prone to malfunction or breakage and in a worst case scenario, bullets and shrapnel can severely shorten their lifespan. It’s these times when we can still rely on old fashioned low tech to get us through these unforeseen events and still be effective on the battlefield.
AR-15 Iron sights or fixed sights are now used as backups and not the primary sight, but they shouldn’t be disregarded altogether.
I taught my boys to shoot iron sights long before they ever saw optics, this teaches concentration and helps in mastering the basic of breath control and trigger squeeze. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, if something was to happen to those optics they could survive on the battlefield and/or hunt without them. In the Army, I effectively engaged targets at 300 meters and I trained with British troops who used their 7.62x51mm L1-A1 rifles effectively out to 600 meters with iron sights.
You see where I’m going with this? Don’t get me wrong, I love all the bells and whistles, but I have learned that there is no prize for second place in combat and being prepared, trained and equipped with the right tools will help you come home.
The best way I’ve found to have your cake and eat it too is pairing your AR's iron sights and red dot together creating a symbiotic relationship known as co-witnessing. If your primary goes down you can use your secondary iron rifle sights with the red dot since they will have been zeroed with the optic. If you’re using a scope with higher magnifications, offset sights will be a clear choice. Like everything else in the AR rifle accessories world, there are many choices and manufacturers of iron sights. Your choice will depend on your experience, research, and budget. My five choices are not in any order of importance, they are simply my picks of iron sights I would use myself or currently own.
So let’s Zero In on my top 5 iron sights for your AR-15… Hey, it was slightly funny right?
5 Best AR-15 Iron Sights Recommendations:
Here are what I shoot on my guns and I think are the best AR 15 Iron Sights?
- DPMS Detachable Carry Handle with A2 Rear SightTrijic
- on – Self-Luminous Replacement Rifle Sight Sets
- Magpul – AR-15/M16 MBUS Pro Sight Set
- Dueck Defense – AR-15 Rapid Transition Sights
- Global Military Gear's AR-15 Detachable Front & Rear Sight Set
Most AR rifle manufacturers offer a no sight option or just sell certain models with sights since some owners may not prefer the manufacturer’s sights choices and wish to purchase their own. This also lowers the cost and the money saved that can be spent elsewhere.
If you need iron sights or just prefer using them, the Global Military Gear AR-15 Detachable Front & Rear AR 15 Iron Sights Set will fill that need. These are metal A2 style AR 15 Iron Sights with the rear being adjustable for windage and elevation and the front sight post is elevation adjustable.
They are easy to install and remove with large finger knobs and like most removable sights, if placed in the same position on the rail will retain their zero. The manufacturer backs up their product with a lifetime warranty and they are reasonably priced (read – low cost).
When using magnified rifle optics for combat or competition, having a set of backup iron sights that will allow close quarters engagement with minimal movement is a must. The Dueck Defense – AR-15 Rapid Transition Sights allow you to transition from magnified optics to backup sights with just a 45 degree turn of your AR rifle and these are the standard A2 type sights many are familiar with. They work right or left handed and provide the same bore height and sight picture as standard A2 rifle sights with short and long range apertures and feature ½ minute of angle clicks.
These AR-15 iron sights install with a standard slotted screwdriver and will not move or interfere with other equipment placed on your rifle. They are pricey, but you get what you pay for and these AR-15 Iron Sights are top notch in every way.
Sometimes you just need a great pair of backup gun sights to co-witness with your red dot sight and the Magpul AR-15 / M16 MBUS Pro AR 15 Iron Sights Set comes with all the bells and whistles. Made of case hardened steel with a corrosion resistant, melonite finish they will withstand the rigors of hard duty and since they’re constructed of steel will be unaffected by the heat of the rifle. When not needed, the rear iron sight folds away into a low profile that’s only 3/8 inch high off the rail and the detents keep them up or folded down. The rear gun sight also has a finger adjustable windage setting so you can lose the sight adjustment tool. The front AR 15 iron sight folds down to 7/16th and also has a finger adjustable elevation knob and its slim width will not interfere with lasers and light attachments.
Magpul has done their homework with this pair of AR 15 iron sights and they keep improving on perfection to give you more sight for the money.
If you plan on doing some night work then you will need some help putting your sights on target and I cannot think of anything better than the Trijicon Self-Luminous Replacement Rifle Sight Sets. These are not a full set of sights, but merely a replacement for your existing rear aperture and front sight post.
These are self-luminous rifle sights constructed with a rugged Traser luminous, sapphire crystal, tritium lamps and are guaranteed by Trijicon to be active for 12 years. Simple remove the rear aperture and front sight post and replace with this Trijicon set and if you can see your target in low light you can hit it.
- Fits Ar-15 A1/A2 W/ 10-36 Windage Screws.
I use these on my AR rifles and carry guns and they don’t disappoint and they won’t break your bank.
You might call my number one pick odd, but I loved the carry handle on my issued M-16A2 and was reminded more than once that it was not to be used for that purpose. But why would they call it a carrying handle if you couldn’t carry it like an American Tourister suitcase? But I digress. If you felt or still feel the same way as I do and own a current AR-15 with an M-1913 Picatinny rail and no iron sights, then here you go.
The DPMS Detachable Carry Handle with A2 Rear Sight will give you that pleasure without being yelled at by Gunny (RIP), just pair it up with your favorite removable front sight assembly that is the same standard height and you’re ready to zero. The full-length clamping bar has two large thumb knobs and when removed and placed back will retain the original zero, and the price is workable for a great sight and great memories.
With so many AR 15 Iron Sight choices on the market today, I realism I have only scratched the surface. Hopefully my picks of the best AR rifle sights will help in dialing in your gun. If you have some rifle sights you think I missed or I should try let me know in the comments below.
About Norman Gray:
Norman Gray has been involved in the shooting sports for well over 30 years. He has served in both active duty and reserve component of the United States Army as an Infantryman and was honorably discharged at the end of his service. Moving to Arizona, he began assisting his long time friend and mentor Bob Shell, an accomplished writer and author in his own right. Norman is a freelance contributor with Handguns Magazine, Canadian Firearms Journal, and Manzano Valley Outdoors. He is also a member of (POMA) The Professional Outdoor Media Association, the (NSSF) National Shooting Sports Foundation and a Life Member of the (NRA) National Rifle Association. Visit: www.unleaded-ink.blogspot.com/
AmmoLand Editor Comments: This article was updated to reflect changes in product improvements/availability on 05/01/2018..