Best AR-15 Iron Sights: Top 6 Expert Picks

We spend a lot of time discussing optics for AR-15’s.  The variety of optics often overshadows the question of iron sights.  Many AR-15 enthusiasts no longer mount iron sights on their AR-15, preferring to focus entirely on the optics system they have chosen.  I believe this is a bad decision.  Optics fail.  Batteries die.  Iron sights rarely fail and don’t require batteries.

Most of us wouldn’t consider going into the field with only one knife.  Why do many of us insist on having only one means of aiming our rifle?  Why would you put your hunt’s success, or maybe your life, into one aiming system?  

A good set of iron sights can mean the difference between a successful hunt or perhaps your survival.  Spend a bit of time and find a set of iron sights that fit your shooting style and mount them properly on your file.  There is a wide variety of styles, types, and prices available.  Let’s look at some of the options to consider.

The Two Ends of Your Rifle – Consider them Separately

Iron sights present a unique challenge.  Unlike optics, you don’t buy a single sight.  Iron sights require a front sight and a rear sight.  You don’t necessarily need to purchase sights together.  It is perfectly acceptable to purchase a rear sight and a front sight separately to get the sight picture you want.  This article will discuss rear iron sights, front iron sights, and packages that include both.


How is your Rifle Configured?  

The style of iron sight you chose depends on the optic mounted on your rifle.  You certainly don’t want your backup iron sights to interfere with your expensive scope.  However, you also want to use those iron sights if the optic fails without dismounting the scope.  Some optical systems allow you to sight through the optic with iron sights.  Before you buy your iron sights, consider how those sights will interface with your scope.


The Big Considerations When Purchasing Iron Sights

Before you rush out to purchase a set of iron sights for your AR, there are some things to consider.  

  • Keep the Sights in the Same Plane – The sight plane refers t the line of sight through the rear sight aperture and the front sight post.  These two points must be in the same plane above the barrel of the rifle if you want any hope of sighting in your iron sights.   The major issue is the front sight and where it mounts.  You must be sure that your front iron sight’s mounting point and the sight’s height are in the same plane as the aperture on the rear sight.
  • Folding Sights and Fixed Sights –  The optical system you have on your rifle often determines whether you need folding iron sights or fixed iron sights.  Folding sights are convenient for mounting behind an optical system to keep the aperture out of the sight picture.  A lower profile when folded makes folding iron sights more convenient as well.
  • Material Choices, Steel, Aluminum, or Polymer – For durability, steel is the material of choice.  However, steel is heavy.  Most shooters opt for backup iron sights machined from aluminum.  Polymer sights are very light and can be as accurate as steel or aluminum sights.  However, the durability of a polymer can be much less.  The quality of manufacturing on some polymer sights is dubious, and you should take great care when choosing polymer sights.

The Options and the Choices – Where I Put My Money

Iron sights may not be the most expensive option that you buy for your AR-15.  However, the iron sights you choose may be the most important decision you make if your optical sights fail at a critical moment.  These are the iron sights that I have found reliable and cost-effective in the long run.

Best Value in Iron Sights – Magpul MBUS Polymer Folding Sights Review

Most AR-15 shooters mount iron sights as backups, which makes folding sights much more popular.  Any added weight to a rifle is also a consideration.  Polymer sights are the obvious choice when weight is a factor.  

Magpul MBUS Flip-Up Backup Sights, Black, Rear Sight

Magpul’s MBUS sight system solves both of these problems in a reliable and cost-effective package.  The MBUS sights a low profile when folded yet provide excellent adjustability and aiming qualities when needed. The Magpul reputation for quality and service is well known.  For the price, the features included with the Magpul MBUS sights are impressive.

  • Injection-molded of high-quality polymer materials
  • Several colors available to match your Magpul rifle furniture
  • Spring-loaded flip up system activated from the side or by pressing on the top of the sights
  • Dual aperture 
  • The rear sight easily adjustable for windage and elevation 
  • Fits AR’s with Picatinny Rails
  • Rear sight useable with rifles equipped with mil-std A2 front sight posts
  • Co-witnesses with many optical sights
  • Sight Aperture Center – 1.42 inches above Picatinny rail

The Magpul MBUS front and rear sights are purchased separately.  If your rifle has a fixed front sight, adding an MBUS rear sight is a quick way to add iron sight backups to your rifle using the existing front sight.  

Pros

  • Great cost to feature ratio
  • Lightweight and reliable
  • Easy to mount and sight in
  • Low profile almost disappears on the rifle

Cons

  • The flip-up mechanism can be a problem
  • The colors may not match your other Magpul furniture exactly
  • Switching the apertures can be hard 

Last update on 2021-02-14 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Runner-up Best Value in Iron Sights – Magpul MBUS Steel Folding Sights Review

If you prefer the durability and strength of steel for your backup sights, Magpul has an alternative.  The Magpul MBUS Pro sights are made of corrosion-resistant steel for maximum reliability and minimum bulk.  

Magpul MBUS PRO Steel Sight Set MAG275 & MAG276 Black

Magpul understands the needs of shooters who demand the most from their rifles and accessories.  The Magpul MBUS Pro series folding sights offer shooters the same Magpul quality and reputation as other Magpul products.  These sights won’t let you down in the feature department either.

  • All steel construction is extremely rugged and durable
  • Melonite QPQ finish protects the steel from corrosion 
  • Easy to manipulate windage adjustment knob needs no tools.
  • Positive locking mechanism holds the sights securely in both up and down positions
  • Aperture and front sight post are in the mil-std A2 sight plane
  • Mounts on any Mil-std Picatinny rail
  • Weighs on tenths of an ounce more than the Magpul polymer flip-up sights

The Magpul MBUS Pro sights are a few dollars more than the Magpul MBUS polymer sights.  However, the increased durability of the steel sights is undeniable.  If you work in extreme situations, a set of Magpul MBUS Pro sights are a good option. 

Pros

  • Lower price point than comparable folding sights from other manufacturers
  • Slim and low profile when mounted to your rifle
  • Dual aperture rear sight
  • No tools required to adjust the windage or elevation

Cons

  • More expensive than polymer sights
  • Not made in America

Last update on 2021-02-14 at 06:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ultimate Iron Sights for your AR-15 – Troy Industries Micro HK style Tritium Battle Sights Review

If your budget allows and your want the absolute best in manual sights, my choice is the Troy Industries Micro HK Style Folding Battle Sights.  These top rail mount folding sights feature a tritium insert on the front sight post of enhanced sight visibility in low light situations.

Troy Industries Micro Tritium HK Style Front and Rear Set Battle Sight...

Troy Industries has a reputation among shooters for producing some of the best AR-15 accessories available.   The Micro HK-style folding sights are no exception.  The quality of the construction and the features that Troy Industries offers are unparalleled.

  • Quick and Easy mount to your AR-15 top Picatinny rail
  • Low profile when folded down
  • Quick flip-up puts the sights in use easily
  • Rugged all-steel construction for dependable use
  • Tritium insert in front sight post makes target acquisition quick in even questionable lighting
  • Multiple apertures for short and long-range shooting

Troy Industry Micro HK style Tritium Battle Sights are, in my opinion, the top pick of backup iron sights.  If your budget allows them, you won’t be disappointed in the results or the performance.   

Pros

  • Machining is flawless
  • Great look and great performance
  • Easy installation
  • Hold zero despite being dropped

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The machining is so close that sometimes the front sight is hard to move to adjust

Last update on 2021-02-14 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Alternative Mounts – Thinking a Little To One Side

There are alternatives to consider if you don’t want to mount iron sights on the upper rail with your optic.  Many manufacturers now build flip-up sights that mount 45 degrees to your strong shooting side.  This position gets the sights out of the way yet makes them readily accessible if a rapid shift to iron sights is required. 

Don’t discard this option too readily. Tilting your rifle to one side to access the iron sights may sound awkward and strange, but it is not as difficult or as awkward as you might think.  Many shooters find the canted shooting position comfortable and almost intuitive.

Best Value 45 Degree Offset Iron Sights for Your AR-15 –  Leapers UTG ACCU-SYNC 45 Degree Flip-Up Sights Review

The Leapers UTG ACCU-SYNC 45 degree flip-up sights are surprisingly well built and rugged.  Built to mount to a top Picatinny rail, the Leapers sights are quick to install and easy to adjust.  Their reasonable price belies their solid construction and accuracy.

UTG ACCU-SYNC Spring Loaded Flip-up Front Sight

The Leapers 45 degree offset sights are sold individually and not in kits.  However, the price versus the features makes them a solid choice for backup sights.  The all-metal construction ensures that these sights can withstand extreme conditions and use.  Feature-wise, the Leapers sights leave nothing to be desired.

  • Precision machined in the USA
  • Milled from aircraft aluminum and finished in matte black
  • Posi-lock detents ensure secure positioning of the sights when deployed
  • Tool-free adjustments
  • Low profile mounting base requires a Torx screwdriver

You can spend less or much more on a set of foldable offset iron sights.  However, for most casual shooters and hunters, their iron sights are backups.   These sights are mounted to provide a failsafe 

should the primary optic fail.  The Leapers ACCU-SYNC 45 degree offset iron sights are an affordable and reliable choice for the backup iron sight role.

Pros

  • Best value for offset sights on the market
  • Installs quickly and easily
  • Well built.  The quality is apparent
  • Easy to adjust and zero

Cons

  • The flip-up sights are not spring-loaded

Last update on 2021-02-14 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Ultimate 45 Degree Offset Flip Up Iron Sights for Your AR-15 – Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights Review

If only the best goes on your AR-15, then the 45 degree offset sights will be Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights. Designed and built by a combat veteran, these offset sights are at home on the competition range or in the field under combat conditions.

Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sight – Set (Front & Rear)

The Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights are built like tanks.  From the solid Picatinny rail mounts to the sights’ shielded bodies, the Dueck Defense sights reflect the concern for reliability and durability. Functionally, the Rapid Transition Sights make target acquisition quick. Nothing has been left to chance with these iron sights.

  • Ultra-durability.  Machined from 7075 aluminum alloy bar stock.
  • Half MOA elevation and windage adjustments
  • Mil-Spec anodized finish
  • Stand A4 height
  • Ambidextrous windage and elevation settings
  • Low profile design.  Rail mounts are only 2/1oths of an inch tall
  • No special tools required to install or adjust
  • Made in the USA

Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights are the choice of many law enforcement and military groups.  If reliability, durability, and accuracy are your goals, the Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights should be at or near the top of your shopping list.

Pros

  • Short and long-range apertures included
  • High-quality materials, design, and construction
  • Low profile mounts minimize obstructions 
  • 1.2 click MOA Adjustments for windage and elevation

Cons

Last update on 2021-02-14 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Budget Offset Sights for Your AR-15 – AIM Sports Low Profile 45 Degree Flip-Up Sights Review

If you are like me and understand the need for backup sights but can’t readily justify spending what most mid-range to upper-tier offset sights cost, the AIM sports offset sights may be an option.  I chose my primary optic because it is usable even if the illumination fails.  I would only resort to my backup sights in the case of a catastrophic failure.

The AIM sports 45-degree backup sights meet my needs perfectly.  These iron sights are a perfect fit for my shooting needs and provide just what I want readily and quickly to deploy iron sight.  The construction is above average, and the materials are solid for this application.  

  • Low profile A2 design
  • Black anodized aircraft aluminum construction
  • Positive locks in both the up and down positions
  • Dual rear aperture for long and short-range shooting
  • Audible click rear windage adjustments
  • Mi-Sd front sight elevation adjustments

I find that the AIM Sports offset sights offer me the advantage of offset sights without a huge investment.  I have zeroed these sights on my AR platform.  After numerous trips to the field and the range, these sights hold true.  


Find the Sights That Work for You

In the end, the style and type of backup iron sight that works for you is the right choice.  Whether it is a flip-up top-mounted style or a 45-degree offset mount, finding the combination of the front sight and rear sight is a very personal matter.  Take some time and try out various options and combinations if you have the chance. Just remember.  Shot safe and have fun.


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