Best Iron Sights for AR-15 – 2022 Complete Guide

As any rifleman knows, it can be nearly impossible to line up an accurate shot without assistance.

Using a set of iron sights is a surefire way to make your next hunting trip a success, no matter the game. That’s why most sporting rifles come with iron sights already installed. However, there are lots of hunting rifles nowadays that don’t come with any sights – especially modern sporting rifles like AR-15 style rifles, and just come with a picatinny rail for you to install a scope or red dot onto. What’s the fun in that?

Here, we’re going to go over why every prudent person should have a set of iron sights in their arsenal – installed on their weapon of choice – and cover our favorite iron sights available on the market today for your shiny new picatinny rails. 

IMAGE PRODUCT  
  • Best overall
  • The flip-up mechanism is spring-loaded for quick and easy adjustments
  • Lightweight yet impact-resistant build for a longer lifespan
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  • Best Troy iron sights
  • A sturdy build that can last through years of use and abuse
  • Made of MIL-spec Type III hard-coated T6 aircraft aluminum
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  • Made of Type III hard coat anodized aircraft aluminum
  • Durable yet lightweight design for easy travel
  • Snag-free, rail-mounted design
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  • Best budget option
  • Made of wear-resistant, aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Spring-loaded design for easy flipping up and down
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  • Best canted iron sights
  • Offset design for easy transitioning between long and close-range shooting
  • Mounts easily on most guns with a Picatinny rail
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When Would I Use a set of Iron Sights?

There are plenty of situations where using iron sights can help to improve accuracy when lining up your shot. In some cases, it may even be better to use a traditional iron sight rather than more modern, advanced optics. 

When You Want Reliability

While iron sights might not be as accurate as more advanced optics, it will be much more reliable out on the field. Many hunters keep an iron sight on hand as a backup in case their red dot or reflex sight fails. Because there are no electronic components, iron sights are much less likely to malfunction during use. 

When You Want Durability

Iron sights are also made to be tougher than most red dot optic systems. They aren’t as susceptible to getting bumped or knocked out of calibration. Thanks to a sturdy design, iron sights also tend to be more resistant to wind, weather, and water damage. 

When You Have Poor Visibility

Unlike modern optics, most iron sights won’t cloud or fog up due to weather. If you’re hunting in wet, rainy, or humid conditions, you won’t have to worry about losing visibility or waste time wiping down your sights. 

Are Iron Sights Universal?

While you can find universal iron sights, you shouldn’t assume that all models will fit your gun. It’s important to check the size and fit to ensure that a given sight is compatible with the make and model of your weapon. Some scopes are adjustable, making it easier to fit the unique shape of your gun.

What Should I Look For When Buying an Iron Sight?

No matter what type of hunting rifle you use, there are a couple of key features to keep in mind when looking for a new iron sight. 

Same Plane vs. Gas Block 

If you use a gas gun for hunting, the gas block can raise your sight by as much as a quarter inch. This can affect visibility and accuracy, and so it’s important that you get a sight that can accommodate this configuration. A gas block sight has a raised rear to keep things even. For most standard hunting rifles, however, you’ll be better off with a flat same plane sight. 

Inline vs. Offset

Iron sights with an inline view take a co-witness position during use. You can combine your iron scope with the power of your main optics lens for better accuracy. If you prefer to use your iron sight as a standalone system, offset models are positioned off the main axis. This design allows you to switch back and forth between your main optics and your backup sight. 

Fixed vs. Folding

As the name suggests, a fixed sight stays upright on your rifle at all times, whereas you can flatten a folding sight during storage or travel. If you plan on using an iron sight as your main scoping system, it’s best to opt for a sturdy, rigid fixed model. If you use your iron scope purely as backup, however, you may prefer the versatility offered by a folding model. 

Review of the Best Iron Sights

Here, we’re going to go over our top picks for the best iron sights of 2021.

Top Pick

Magpul Industries MBUS Rear Flip-Up Back Up Sight

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers pleasantly report that this scope meets the high-quality standards of other Magpul products. Most found it to be lightweight and easy to adjust. Because it’s made from polymer, however, many people rely on this as a backup sight instead of a primary. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This versatile flip-up sight is part of the Magpul catalogue, one of the top names in firearms and hunting gear. A powerful spring-loaded mechanism allows you to flip the sight up and down with ease. Thanks to spring pressure, this scope stays reliably erect, even with light bumping. Protective wings ensure that the inner system doesn’t get damaged.

The Magpul MBUS is lighter than other similar models, making it a good choice for those who are concerned with weight or bulk. It’s compatible with most guns and comes in a variety of different colors to suit any style.

Bottom Line

The Magpul MBUS is a good choice of backup iron sight for hunters of any skill level. Thanks to a powerful spring-loaded flip function, you can easily switch back and forth between your main optics and your more reliable iron sight.

Best Troy Iron Sights

Troy Rear Folding Battle Sight

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate the rugged build of these sights, claiming that it’s sturdy enough to withstand even heavy abuse. Most are impressed by the ease of installation and use, though some claim that it can be difficult to adjust out in the field while hunting. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

As one of the leading manufacturers of firearms and accessories, Troy offers a range of top-quality scopes and sights. We love the rear folding battle sight thanks to its versatility and ease of use. Thanks to a durable stainless steel build, the sight holds up well against wind, weather, and wear and tear. 

A simple design boasts no additional levers, springs, or attachments, making this sight easy to use even for beginners. It folds at just the push of a button and lays flat to prevent accidental snags.

Bottom Line

The Troy Rear Folding Battle Sight is durable enough to be used as a primary sight thanks to a sturdy T6 aircraft aluminum construction build. As a flip-up model, it also makes an ideal backup sight.

Daniel Defense A1.5 Fixed Iron Sights

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

The Daniel Defense A1.5 sight continually impresses buyers with its robust build. Users report that it can take heavy abuse without showing signs of damage. Buyers also report that the sights are easy to install, though you may need specialized tools to make adjustments. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This iron sight from Daniel Defense is a fixed scope, making it a durable and reliable choice when out hunting. It’s made from high-grade, aircraft quality aluminum, meaning that it’s not only lightweight but also corrosion-resistant. 

The design mounts easily to the rails of your gun, boasting a snag-free setup for your safety. You can even install this sight alongside a small mounted light for better accuracy in low light conditions.

Bottom Line

The Daniel Defense A1.5 sight makes an ideal primary system for those who prefer using iron sights over red dot options. It’s fixed, so you don’t have to worry about movement when lining up your shot. Those that prefer to use optics can take advantage of the inline design.

Best Budget Option

UTG Low Profile Flip-Up Sights

 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are impressed at the level of quality offered by the UTG Rear and Front Sight, especially considering the low price. Even beginners find this model easy to install and use, though some report issues with adjusting the rear sight.

Why It Stands Out to Us

The UTG Rear Sight is a versatile flip model that boasts a powerful spring-loaded construction. The sight won’t wobble or unlock during use, making this a stable, durable sight option. When not in use, it lays flat for a low profile. 

Thanks to a dual aiming aperture, this sight makes it easy to line up the perfect shot even from a distance. Its lightweight build ensures it won’t weigh you down as you fire, giving you an easier shot every time.

Bottom Line

These iron sights makes an ideal budget backup for your primary optics. It’s easy and quick to deploy when you need it. When you don’t, the sight flips down and lies flush against the gun, giving you a clear view ahead.

Best Canted Iron Sights

Surefire Rapid Transition Sights

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report the quality of these sights to be impressive, from the durable aluminum body to the attractive matte finish. Thanks to its offset design and easy transitioning, most users find this scope to make an ideal backup for their primary optics. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This tactical iron sight boasts an offset design that makes it a breeze to switch back and forth between primary and backup visuals. You don’t need to waste time moving your hands to make manual adjustments, giving you a quicker, cleaner shot. 

The Surefire Rapid Transition Sights work in all conditions, from harsh sunlight to thick fog. You won’t have to worry about losing visibility thanks to the rugged design and clear field of sight.

Bottom Line

This canted iron sight from Surefire is both durable and versatile. Its design allows for easy, hands-free transitions between long and close-range shooting. You can also swap back and forth between your primary optics with ease, making this model a good backup choice for your hunting kit. 

Perks of Getting a New Iron Sight

There are plenty of good reasons that you should consider adding a new iron sight to your hunting arsenal, even if you already have an optics system.

Affordable

When it comes to cost, even top-quality iron sights tend to be much more affordable than high-tech alternatives. Iron sights don’t require batteries or chargers either, so you save money on lifetime maintenance costs as well. 

Portable

While modern optics systems can be relatively bulky, most iron sights are small, compact, and lightweight. Your gun won’t weigh you down nearly as much as you move and aim. You can even find foldable options for easy storage and effortless travel. 

Long-Lasting

Iron sights have a durable, watertight design that can withstand both weather and wear and tear. They also handle bumps much better than more high-tech alternatives. A quality iron scope can last for decades with proper care and never lose accuracy.

Conclusion

The right iron sights can help to improve your accuracy and make your next hunt a success. Whether you’re using it as a primary or backup sight system, iron sights make a durable, reliable, and affordable alternative to more high-tech options.

People Also Ask

When it comes to the best iron sights, both novices and beginners have plenty of questions. We’re going to go over the most common concerns that hunters have when it comes to iron sights. 

Do you need front and rear iron sights?

With red dot optics, you only need a front sight. With iron sights, however, you need both front and rear coverage. The front sight should be focused on the target as you look through the rear sight. 

How much does it cost to put iron sights on a rifle?

The cost to install iron sights on a rifle can depend on the gun, sights, and gunsmith in question. While some smiths will include service costs in the price of a sight system, others may charge in the hundreds for installation fees on top of the cost of your scope. It’s a good idea to shop around for quotes to find the best local price.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.