Whatever the problem - a bear attack, an ambush as a street officer in a barricaded building, or a head-on assault on a gun position by a trained mercenary. Your best AR15 iron sights can make the difference between ending the conflict alive or dead.
In a Hurry? Here is Our Top Pick
Magpul MBUS PRO Steel Sight
This Magpul sights are made from steel and mount solidly to ensure the correct zero even in stressful situations.
Iron sights are the general purpose workhorse of any firearm. This goes double when the fancy electric sights, or even basic glass scope sights, fail in the field or on the range.
Magpul MBUS PRO Steel Sight Set
Magpul MBUS PRO Steel Sight Set
Magpul MBUS Pro Offset
Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sight
Troy Industries Folding Battle
TroyIndustries Folding Battle
Troy Industries Front Folding Sight
TroyIndustries Front Folding Sight
Troy Industries Folding Tritium
Troy Rear Tritium Folding Battle Sight
Daniel Defense A1.5
Daniel Defense A1.5
Good Stuff Innovation
Good Stuff Innovation
Diamondhead USA Front and Rear
Diamondhead USA Front and Rear
Strike Industries Sights
Strike Industries Sights
When my father emerged from World War II, he trained me as just a little shaver to shoot rifles. The sights of the day were iron sights, peep sights, leaf sights, or about ten other labels used to define the basic metallic rifle sight.
In the fall of 1950, at the age of nine, I killed my first whitetail deer with a German 98 Mauser that mounted a set of Williams receiver sights. After that hunt, I never set my sights on a glass scope until almost two decades later. You could say that I do know the buis very well indeed.
Practice makes perfect, as was found by Simu Hayha, the world's deadliest sniper at 505 kills during the Russian/Finish Winter War. Modern firepower would have required 13,550 rounds of ammunition to equal his body count.
The sniper did it with a 30 cal M/28 bolt-action and iron sights. How did this happen? Because he trained, trained, trained. A lifetime of shooting in the woodlands of Finland, and it shows what the best backup iron sight can do when applied to the task at hand.
11 Best AR15 Iron Sights Reviews
1. Magpul MBUS PRO Steel Sight Set
In terms of the All American M-16/AR 15, this was the standard all the way through the Vietnam War. We learned in that mess of a conflict that if you want to call a bloodletting war, it took a pile of bullets to create a single casualty among the enemy.
Enter the sandbox wars and with it the use of glass sights which upgraded the M-16 greatly. This became the gold standard for military, police, and shooters of the best AR-15 civilian style weapon around the world.
Magpul, a company that has been a leader in offering aftermarket add-ons, offers a set of AR-15 iron sights that are made up of a rear folding leaf style buis and a post front iron sight.
These mount iron sights directly to an AR Weaver-style rail and are made of metal instead of the plastic found in most of the AR-15 secondary sighting system.
I have noted that the sights are “secondary” because except for some competition classifications and police close quarter entry work, it has gone out of style among many AR-15 shooters.
However, if the primary glass goes down, you can bet that those irons sights will become solid gold to anyone in need of accurate rounds sent down range quickly.
The Magpul sights are made from steel and mount solidly to ensure the correct zero even in stressful situations. This sight features a black finish (Melonite). The steel construction of the sight allows maximum strength with a minimum of carry weight added to the weapon sighting system.
This includes dual aperture windage and elevation knob and windage adjustments on the BUIS. This BUIS is a thick blade model and compatible with laser and other aiming devices.
The rear sights system folds down and stores away when not in use. As a backup system, it will not interfere with the primary glass optical system.
Magpul Pro MBUS
The price of Magpul Pro MBUS varies, so check the latest price at
2. Magpul MBUS PRO Offset Steel Backup Sights
Here, we have the classic combat style BUIS to if the holographic sight or 1-8 scope gets crushed and becomes useless. When the primary goes down, this sight set at 45 degrees and zeroed becomes the lifesaver in combat or the tool that takes the game for the hunter.
This BUIS is also useful for shooting games such as three gun competitions. This sight is built to take a pounding since it is built from steel instead of being a plastic reproduction of the real thing.
This sight system mounts on the basic M1 Picatinny rail and rotates 45 degrees off center. Built of Melonite steel with a black color, the BUIS is aesthetically pleasing and keeps with the AR-15 platform.
The lockup system when extended is a detent design. That keeps the sight on zero and in a solid working position when deployed
Magpul MBUS Pro
The price of Magpul MBUS Pro varies, so check the latest price at
3. Magpul MBUS Rear Flip-Up Back Up Sights Gen 2
When the AR-15 retains the front sight tower, the need for a BUIS set is not at all necessary and the single rear backup sight is all that is required.
This sight is a fold-down model that won't get in the way of a scope system's rear sights aperture or snag clothing when used in stressful conditions.
The sight is made from an impact resistant polymer material. This material proves to be very lightweight in the field. The spring loaded sight will flip up like a flip up sight from either side of the primary leaf extension on the BUIS.
Magpul MBUS Rear Flip-Up Back Up Sight
The price of Magpul MBUS varies, so check the latest price at
Check out our detailed Magpul MBUS review.
4. FAB Defense Front and Rear Set of Flip-up Sights
This BUIS retains an angel-wing shaped shroud that helps align the eye correctly for proper centering over the sight.
The sight retains dual sight apertures that are 3 mm for longer eye relief mounting and low light shooting situations. The second sight aperture measures 1.5 mm for short-range shots. Making a selection of either of these sizes is instantaneous.
The sight retains a low profile that will not snag gear or get in the way regardless of the field situation. This BUIS requires no tools for installation, offers easy elevation and windage adjustments, and is built to last.
The BUIS can be obtained with a matching sight that mounts directly on a Weaver style rail over the handguard. No gunsmith is needed to install this sight system.
The price of FAB Defense varies, so check the latest price at
5. TroyIndustries Folding Battle Sight
In some cases, the secondary sight on a AR-15 is referred to as a “battle sight.” They received this name because these sights are installed for closer range work than your typical glass optical systems.
Regardless of the name, most of these sights use the same design pattern. Here is a flip-up sight that runs .50 MOA of adjustment per click, is MIL-SPEC TYPE III, is hard coated and built from T6 aircraft aluminum.
This BUIS uses no levers or springs. It uses a direct flip into the correct shooting position. With an operation profile of 0.460, this Battle Sight features a zero cant adjustment and makes use of blackened stainless steel parts for military grade field applications.
TroyIndustries Folding Battle Sight
The price of TroyIndustries Folding Battle Sight varies, so check the latest price at
6. TroyIndustries Folding Style
This front sight can be paired with the folding rear sight built by this company or it can be used alone as a tack on with other optical sights choices. The sight fits M-4 style rails and requires no tools for installation.
This BUIS is black in color and is made from T6 aircraft aluminum. This BUIS is durable, hard coated, MIL-SPEC construction makes is useful to special operators and police departments across the country.
This BUIS will not work on a gas block mounting system lower than the receiver height.
TroyIndustries Front Folding Sight
The price of TroyIndustries Front Folding Sight varies, so check the latest price at
7. TroyIndustries Folding
Front sight on M&P 15-T The sight is not fully extended.
Situations occur where the lighting is bad or nonexistent; yet, the need to clear a room, alley or even a complete building is the call of the day. In this case, and many others, the use of a light directed sight like this tritium based optics system is necessary.
With this shooting system, the rear and front sight post is centered between two tritium points of reference light to allow for the correct reference regarding sight alignment. The sight is designed to be mounted on a same plane rail systems.
Don't mount or use it off a riser system on the AR-15. You want direct alignment with that front sight at all times.
The Tritium element of these sights rests on a hydrogen element that emits a continuous light source where the use of batteries is not at all possible. Built of the same material as the other models listed here, the sight is a quality product and well liked by users of the sighting system.
TroyIndustries Folding Rear Sight
The price of TroyIndustries Folding Rear Sight varies, so check the latest price at
8. Daniel Defense A1.5 Fixed Iron Sights
The Daniel Defense rear sight is designed to work as a secondary sight along with today's advanced optical sighting systems. The sight will not get in the way of the charging handle on your AR-15 and fits the flat military style top receiver without the need for tools.
This sight is machined from 5051 aircraft grade aluminum and meets military specifications. The sight is hard coat anodized and is both lightweight and durable. Elevation and Windage adjustments are easy to work with and understand.
No rocket science required here.
Daniel Defense Fixed Rear Sight
The price of Daniel Defense fixed sights varies, so check the latest price at
9. Good Stuff Innovation Flip-Up Rear Sight
This is not one of those high priced rear iron sights, but I like it because it resembles the old school Tang sight once used for buffalo hunting.
This sight is designed as a single post with a receiver sight atop the mount. The clean, simple sight is effective even at long ranges and is an overall great sight.
While not a military grade sight, this is a good sight for the game shooter that wants accuracy or for the Sunday afternoon plinker out on the farm or city range. Built of softer metal and not combat rate at all, this is a good civilian rear iron sight.
Good Stuff Innovation
The price of Good Stuff Innovation varies, so check the latest price at
10. Diamondhead Polymer Diamond Sights
When the scope is toast and you're left in a bind, a set of flip up sights can save the day. A flip sight may save your life in combat or police missions. In some cases, you must go flip or go home.
When we discuss the flip sighting systems on rifles, many are mission specific to the AR-15 and AR-10 platforms. That provides a good place to start this discussion.
Flip up sights are usually located at the rear of the rifle's receiver and centered with the bore. By design, the flip up sight folds down behind the rear of the rifle glass sights. As rifles vary in design and purpose, the sight system changes with the weapon.
Diamond Head sights are sold as a pair and provide a solid example of a complete battle sight system. These sights feature a flip-up design so they are set very low when in the folded position and well away from primary optical systems.
This sight makes use of a patented diamond shaped aperture designed for faster target acquisition under high-stress situations. This sight retains the same “Diamond” shape housing. This makes this twin sight system a real exclusive working team in the battle sight department.
The sight makes use of a 0.5 MOA windage adjustment. It deploys and stows with a small or large aperture activated. The sights are combat quality and can be considered for military or police applications as well as three-gun and other related shooting events.
Diamondhead Polymer Sight
The price of Diamondhead Polymer Sight varies, so check the latest price at
11. Strike Sidewinder AR-15 Iron Sight
The Si-Sidewinder is a backup combat style sight with great flexibility because it can be used as a secondary side mounted sight or also as a direct, combat first line sight and can be mounted on same plane rail systems. This sight is MIL-SPEC because it meets the standard required by special operators, general ground forces, police, and civilian shooters.
Made of aircraft aluminum and steel, the sight is ground pounding tough. Using tool-less dial adjustments for windage and elevation the sights are field craft simple in terms of function.
This sight is reversible for left- or right-hand use and setting adjustments.
Need Help? Check our guide on How to adjust iron sights.
With battle sights on coyote rifle in the early fall. Weather can change and glass can go down. The second set of sights is of real value out here miles from no place,
This sight can be obtained in both front and rear sight units. Being a military directed product, this sight is not eligible for any export standards. Information regarding this AR-15 sighting system states that this sight can't leave the U.S.
The price of Strike Industries varies, so check the latest price at
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
How to Use Iron Sights?
Some sights are very easy to use, as in the very basic leaf sight system. But even that sight method for moving the bullet impact is to move it from one side to another, as well as making changes in elevation.
I train folks to use handgun sights, for example, and after some training I take away the sight , the muscle memory is still there, and they hit by instinct alone. I call it "quick reaction combat-style training". Time on target is everything in a gun fight. Lose that edge and your fried.
Today there is a trend away from AR15 iron sights, even on handguns, where these sights have been the backbone of the weapon for almost forever. I am not fan of dot sights or other electric sights on handguns. Yes, these systems are dummy-proof and anyone who can hold the gun can hit with them.
However, when the little red lights go out, all that is left is those AR15 iron sights, and if they are covered up with some mess of an electrical tool, you're dead. End of story. By all means train with the iron system and, if you feel it necessary, use a best laser sight for ar15 that mounts inside the grip panel or, as with auto loaders, out under the muzzle.
What about magnification? Sorry folks but that’s not a part of this equation at all. Magnified sights are electric or tube glass scope sights. These are not applied here in any way.
In target shooting, the basic receiver-style sight has been used for 1000-yard matches since the early days of rifle development. Buffalo hunters used these systems on the Sharps rifles and took the giant beasts at some unbelievable ranges.
The receiver tang sight was the tool of the day, and is still almost untouched even now. A good tang sight can cost a shooter upwards of $400.00, less installation, on the rifle.
Working with BUIS is easy, and even though I have covered this information previously, the best approach is simply this. All sights have at least elevation on the rear sight as well as, usually, windage adjustments. Simply screw the desired direction based on an arrow marker, in most cases.
Are iron sights better?
As with most things in the world of shooting, “best” is a relative term, and in this context, it depends on what your specific goals and needs are. Are you trying to build an AR15 on a shoestring budget? Then these sights are a great way to save money or divert the optics budget towards more a more reliable receiver or a better trigger.
Even most sights purists will begrudgingly admit that affordable red dots and other optics have made it faster and easier to learn the fundamentals of shooting, and there's no question that optics offer superior performance in their specific niche, but the nice thing about them is that they're perfectly usable at every distance, and there are no reliability issues to worry about – you're never going to run out of batteries, crack a lens, or strip a mounting screw.
And while most shooters will never have to worry about it, there are some extreme conditions—such as in tropical environments—where the issues that arise from dealing with water intrusion, corrosion, and fogging may make iron sights a much more attractive option.
How accurate can you be with iron sights?
This is a difficult question to answer, mainly because the answer largely depends on the shooter rather than the equipment. These are technically capable of the exact same degree of accuracy that an optic is, provided the shooter can see their target, maintain a consistent hold, and keep a consistent sight picture.
In practice, someone shooting with iron sight is probably not going to outshoot a scoped benchrest rifle at 500 yards. But recreational shooters, hunters, and soldiers have been effectively using these sights since firearms were first introduced—in fact, the deadliest sniper of all time, Simo Hayha, exclusively used iron sights so as not to give away his position.
And when you factor in competition-style peep sights or diopter sights, you can make remarkably accurate shots with irons.
While I would hesitate to ever say iron sights are “bad,” there are certainly some drawbacks. Compared to this, red dots or reflex sights and holo sights offer significantly faster target acquisition (especially at close range), while magnified optics allow for better range and wind calculations, and make it easier to locate and identify targets.
Is red dot sight better than iron sights?
In close-quarters shooting scenarios, red dots (along with holo sights and reflex sights) are unquestionably king, thanks to their ability to provide extremely rapid target acquisition without negatively impacting situational awareness and peripheral vision. But once you start reaching distances of about 75 yards or more, the benefits of an unmagnified dot rapidly start to diminish, and iron sights are able to hold their own or even outperform them. Yet again, the answer boils down to what conditions you find yourself shooting in.
Do you really need backup iron sights?
Unless you are shooting purely for recreation, I very highly recommend a set up backup irons. If there is even a chance that your weapon could be used to defend your home or your life, it is simply irresponsible to rely solely on an optic, no matter how rugged it is. A small mistake like forgetting to turn off a red dot sight or reflex sights could leave you without a way to accurately aim during a life-or-death situation. Lenses can crack, electronics can fail, and mounts can wiggle loose, so remember that old adage – “two is one, and one is none.”