The AR 15 Sights Buying Guide

A good set of iron sights provide the most basic means of aiming for the AR platform. In fact, if you don’t have upgraded optics it may be your only means.

In today’s world it seems that all shooters are trending towards putting some sort of optics on their rifle and bypassing traditional sights all together. However,  there is still a lot of functionality in AR 15 sights that make them a reliable choice for either primary or secondary aiming modes.

The Case For AR 15 Iron Sights

ar 15 iro sightsUpgraded AR optics have become ubiquitous in the military and civilian use for good reason. Clear shooting advantages like better accuracy, faster target acquisition, and increased range, paired with a cheap price tag makes for an easy decision to upgrade.

In fact, some factory guns don’t even come equipped with basic iron sights because it is assumed that an optic will be placed on it. A far cry from years ago when every new shooter had to learn the nuances of iron sights.

Don’t count iron sights out just yet though. It is the nature of their simple design that makes them appealing at times. What they lack in optical advantages they make up for in brute functionality.

  • Simple Design – With just two main components, a rear sight with a notch/aperture and a front post, to work with there isn’t much to over complicate the process.
  • Light Weight – Without the heavy glass components or batteries that optics utilize makes iron sights incredibly light in comparison. This can help with rifle balance and fatigue.
  • Weather Impervious – You’ll always be able to look through your sights no matter the weather condition. Fog, rain, or snow that will impact glass optics won’t have any effect here.
  • Co-witness/Backup – All the above reasons make them a great to use along with optics. The can be co-witnessed to be aimed inline with red dots or holographic sights or used in situations where the primary optic becomes damaged or loses battery power.

Types of AR 15 Sights

There are a few different options to look out for when searching for AR 15 sights. Variations come with alignment components, mount placement, primary functionality, and more which leads to a lot of different choices for shooters. The most important factor is finding a sight that enhances your AR system and how you operate it.

45 Degree Offset Sights

offset sightsPlenty of shooters have discovered that their optics aren’t ideal for every situation. A magnified scope is useless in close-range target scenarios and therefore requires secondary sights to be used.

45 degree offset sights provide this by mounting at an angle off the top rail, allowing shooters use them simply by rotating their rifle. Great for backups and making a rifle more dynamic, offset sights are a strong addition to any setup.

These are most often used in the military by soldiers who need to be able to engage targets both at CQC distances and mid/long range distances with a single rifle. For those who are issued a fixed power scope as their primary rifle optic, a set of offset sights becomes crucial when the fight is taken indoors. This same concept can also be done with small reflex sights.

Surefire Rapid Transition Sights

surefire rapid transition sightsAs far as offset sights go, Surefire’s Rapid Transition Sights may be the best known and highest rated ones out there. Constructed out of Mil-Spec anodized aluminum these sights hold their zero well and are resilient against every day usage damage.

When mounted they only extend .2″ above the top rail, giving it a low vertical profile that doesn’t get in the way. If you couldn’t tell by the name these sights are great for getting on target quick. No need to adjust hand positions, just rotate the platform 45 degrees and find your target through the aperture rear sight.

The fixed sights are ambidextrous and can be mounted on either side of a Picatinny rail. They are the top choice of military operators and civilians looking for a quality backup sight.

Diamondhead D-45 Combat Sights

diamondhead d 45Diamondhead’s D-45 Combat Sights are great for shooters who want a backup sight that only comes out when needed. Their flip out design means they can collapse in close to the rail when not in use to prevent any snagging or obfuscation.

Quick deployment is made possible by the press of a button that releases an internal spring. Great for close quarters combat or if the primary optic goes down these sights provide a quick way of adjusting to the dynamic shooting environment you may find yourself in. With a diamond shaped aperture and housing, aligning the front post in the rear sight’s center is made quick and easy.

Folding/Collapsible Backup Sights

Sometimes its great to have the option of keeping AR 15 sights out of the way until their needed, having them as hidden backups in case of a primary optic failure. In the case where a primary red dot sight runs out of batteries, or the optic becomes damaged, folding sights work as a failsafe so accurate aiming can still take place.

Folding sights can be pushed into a closed position so that they are out of the sight line and protected. Quick flip up options add a fast way to get them up and running during battle. The added benefit here is that, when in the folded position, they aren’t exposed to snag on gear or break off.

Troy Industries Micro Folding Battle Sight

troy industries microTroy Industries has built their brand on putting out top of the line AR upgrades, and their Mirco Folding Battle Sights live up to that reputation. More shooters are hearing about Troy from all their positive reviews online, making these some of the most popular sights available.

Their micro design is meant to be mounted on rifles with higher top rails, like piston driven ARs. Their folding capability makes them a great choice for backup sights that can co-witness with a red dot optic, or be run solo if thats your preference. A wide rear aperture makes target acquisition simple and accurate.

The flat earth paint scheme matches well with dark or tan rifles. If you’re looking for quality over price then these are the sights for you.

Diamondhead Flip-Up Combat Sights

diamondhead flip up sightsDiamond’s Combat Sights give a great option for primary or co-witness iron sights on AR platforms. They have a solid build that holds its zero through regular usage, even after repeated flip-ups and downs.

It is crafted to Mil-Spec from anodized aluminum and clamps to Mil. Std. 1913 Picatinny Rails. The Combat Sight’s design creates Diamondhead’s Integrated Sighting System, a combination of rear and front sights that makes target acquisition and centering fast.

The key behind this is the matching between their patented diamond-shaped rear aperture and the front post with diamond-shaped housing. Any top-end rifle deserves a quality sight like this.

Primary & Co-witness Sights

cowitness2Some shooters will always want to keep irons sights as primary AR 15 sights out of personal preference or their proven reliability. Another popular option is to co-witness the sights with a red dot optic.

This involves setting up both a red dot and iron sights on your top rail, and aligning it so that the dot is overlayed on the tip of the front sight when looking through it. A setup like this allows the shooter to use the benefits of a red dot and backup irons with the same zero.

Troy Industries Micro Tritium Battle Sights

troy industries micro tritium 2Troy Industries fixed sights are known for their ability to hold a zero and their micro style keeps them closer to the top rail than factory sights.

This can be good for any shooter who wants low profile sights that don’t extend too far out. The tip of the front sight is highlighted with tritium which allows for easy seeing in low light conditions, helping deal with a major issue when using irons instead of optics.

This set features a diamond aperture rear sight paired with a thin post front sight with flared protection posts. Windage and elevation adjustments are made easy on the rear sight with dials located on the base. These sights should be easy installation on any AR 15 top rails.

UTG Model 4/16 Complete Match-grade Rear Sight

utg rear sightUTG is a well known manufacturer in the optics industry and its Model 4/16 rear sight is made for shooters who want to precisely control their shot adjustments and accuracy.

It is made of aluminium and steel components with a matte black finish and mounts nicely on Picatinny top rails. The sight allows for windage and elevation adjustment accuracy that meets military standards. It sports a closed aperture that can be run in two different diameters; a larger size for quick target acquisition in CQC situations, and a smaller size for high higher accuracy shot placement.

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