While red dot optics have become popular, iron sights are still viable aiming solutions for AR15s. They are effective and accurate up to 100 yards. After shooting for over a decade, here are 7 best iron sights for AR15 as primary or backup aiming options.

Disclosure: All products have affiliate links for earning commission to support the website when you purchase



  • Best Overall
  • HK Style Sights
  • Fixed Iron Sights
  • Super Lightweight
  • Great Offset Alignment
  • Low Profile & Durable
  • Fine Aiming Tip

Magpul MBUS

magpul mbus 3 sights

I bought the MBUS Pros on Amazon for around $136 and was surprised by their solid build, outperforming my expectations and the Micros in finish and durability. While the MBUS Pros have thicker front sight posts and legs, I find my accuracy better with them, possibly due to the rear sight's design that's easier for me to focus on, unlike the KAC's thin ring.

The MBUS Pros also have a thoughtful design feature preventing rail damage when folded, although their front knob is a bit stiff. A unique aspect is the threaded knob on the Magpuls compared to the floating knob on the KACs. Also, the Magpul front sight is more space-efficient on the rail and offers an additional mounting point.

Switching apertures is simpler on the MBUS Pro than the KAC, but I prefer the KAC's larger windage knob. The MBUS Pro's knob is smaller and harder to turn, likely due to its low-profile design. There's a difference in windage clicks too, with the KACs at 84 and the Magpul at 124, though its practical impact is unclear to me.

Daniel Defense Fixed Sights

daniel defense fixed iron sights

I recently checked out the Daniel Defense Fixed Iron Sights, and I want to tell you all about them. These sights are straightforward and reliable, perfect for anyone on a budget. They're not fancy, but they're great as primary sights, especially if you can't get a red dot right away. They're a solid choice over polymer backup sights.

The design is simple. The front sight is just an adjustable traditional A1 front sight post. Installing it is easy too. You just need a flathead screwdriver to remove the bolt and slide it onto your gun.

Adjusting the rear sight is pretty simple. You use a 5.56 round to adjust the aperture for windage. Elevation adjustments are made on the front sight. The rear sight has both a small and a large peep sight, which is handy for different shooting distances.

Installing these sights on my BCM was straightforward. For the rear sight, make sure the charging handle is pulled back so it fits. Ideally, you want the rear sight at the far end of the upper receiver for better marksmanship. The front sight installation is similar. Slide it onto the rail, but don't let it overhang.

If you're using a laser like a PEQ 15, these sights work well. But for newer lasers like Wilcox or NGAL, you might need to position the iron sight differently. And for a DBAL, make sure you leave space for battery changes.

For optics, I suggest something like an EOTECH with a larger field of view. This works well with fixed iron sights. And if your rifle already has a fixed front sight, you might just need the rear sight, making it a cost-effective setup.

Scalarworks PEAK

scalarworks PEAK SW1000 iron sights

So, in a nutshell, these SW1000 Scalarworks PEAK sights are incredible. They're solid, reliable, and elevate my shooting experience. Sure, they're a bit pricey, but for the quality and performance, I think they're absolutely worth it.

My 16” rifle barely feels heavier with them. The rear sight has two apertures for different ranges and a quick-adjustment wheel for windage. The front sight's adjustment wheel is tool-free, and it has a non-rotating sight post that's just the right width, making target acquisition a breeze.

Scalarworks has nailed the design, making these sights blend seamlessly with my AR-15. No snagging, no extra bulk. Installing them was a breeze, too, thanks to the one-way install design. They look more like a premium factory option than an add-on.

After shooting over 500 rounds, the PEAK/01 sights are still holding zero and are securely in place. That's a huge plus for me, considering my past experiences with other sights.

Strike Industries Sidewinder

strike industries sidewinder iron sights

I've been trying out these Strike Industries Sidewinder offset back up iron sights (BUIS) for a while now, and I've got to say, they're changing the game for AR-15 users like me, especially in competitions. These sights let you quickly switch from your main optic to iron sights with just a small turn of your rifle. Plus, you can keep them up all the time without blocking your optic's view.

They're super sleek and don't take up much space on my rifle, yet they work perfectly with popular 30mm tube style optics. They're so low-profile that you hardly notice them on the rifle. This is a huge plus for me, as I often found it hard to fit traditional BUIS on my rifle because of the limited space and the need for proper eye relief.

What's great about these sights is that they're only 3.4 oz and adjustable for both elevation and windage. The rear sight's aperture is just right for quick, close-range shooting and accurate enough for up to 200-300 meters. I've hit targets at 200 meters without any trouble. And they're made of metal, so no worries about heat damage.

The coolest feature, though, is how you can flip them up and tilt the sights to a 12 o'clock position on the rifle. This means I don't even need to tilt my rifle to use them, although this does put the front sight post at an angle, something to remember during zeroing.

As for performance, these Sidewinder BUIS sights have won me over. Their minimalistic design means they're there when I need them and invisible when I don't.

Troy Battle Sights

troy iron sights

These sights are top-notch, just like the famous Troy BUIS. They do wiggle a bit when open, but it's not a big deal.

When folded, the rear sight is quite close to the charging handle. With my BCM Gunfighter handle, I usually use my thumb and forefinger to cycle it, which is tricky with the sight folded. But since I'll only fold them when the rifle is cased, it's not a big issue for me.

Just a heads-up: the sight won't mount further forward than the #2 slot without hitting the shell deflector. On the right side, the button to fold the sight is a bit hard to reach, but it's not a concern for me since I don't need to fold it quickly. Like other Troy sights, these also flip up without pressing the button.

The sight picture through the small aperture is great. This is my first HK style front sight. I thought the rounded wings would make me quicker at close range. The circle within a circle concept is fast, but it requires focusing on the post, not the front circle, for distant targets. If I were using these sights for precision shooting, I'd probably choose the standard front sight.

Through the large aperture, I'm hoping that centering the front guard within the rear sight will get me within 3-4 inches of my target at 10-15 yards. Elevation, not windage, might be the challenge. The HK front is great for quick target acquisition at close range.

Midwest Industries Combat Sights

midwest industries ar15 iron sights

the Midwest Industries CBUIS. It's crafted from billet aluminum, yet it's got this skeletonized design that cuts down the weight. This thing is solid, made from T6 6061 billet aluminum. And guess what? It only weighs about 2 ounces.

That's super light, especially for something made from billet aluminum. It's almost double the weight of Magpul’s polymer BUIS, but still, it's impressive. Midwest Industries did a fantastic job making it light with their smart engineering.

It uses this M16A1-style dial, which changes the impact point by 0.5 minutes of angle per click. It's a bit different from the A2 style, as you need a special tool or a 5.56mm cartridge to adjust it. Midwest Industries chose this style because it's slimmer and less likely to snag on clothing or gear.

Inside, the MI fixed BUIS has these cool mil-spec aperture “peep” sights. There's a larger one for close-range and low-light conditions and a smaller one for longer range. They're both great, but use the smaller one for more precision when zeroing your sights.

One thing I love about peep sights is how they increase your depth of field. It makes both the front sight post and the target clear. It's a smart design that works well, even if you need glasses.

FAB Defense Sights

fab defense sights

Here's what I love about FAB-Defense sights: they give a really clear and easy sight picture. They remind me of sights on M-1 Garand, M1A, M-1 Carbine, or Model of 1917. The closer a back-up sight is to these traditional sight pictures, the better for me. FAB-Defense sights do this perfectly.

But, FAB's sights are a bit different. The "ears" on the FBS turn inward, not outward, kind of like HK-93 sights. This isn't hard to get used to if you're good with G.I. sights. They're the same height as standard AR-15 sights, which means they align perfectly with optics like the Aimpoint T-2 and LaRue mount.

The 0-2 aperture is for when the rear sight is all the way down. The elevation knob, aligned with the “8/3” (300-meter) mark, is for shooting from 300-800 meters by raising the rear sight. However, the FAB-Defense RBS doesn't have this exact elevation adjustment; it's just similar with its dual apertures.

The default position is for close-quarter battles, like the “0-2” aperture. The front sight of the FBS can be adjusted without tools, just by turning a dial, which is awesome compared to the Magpul BUISs that need a special tool. FAB-Defense definitely did better here.

AR15 Iron Sights Buyer Guide

Rear Sight Aperture

magpul mbus rear sight

Some people call the rear sight the peek sight. 

Whether you're shooting up close or way out there, it's perfect for daylight and hitting your mark.

First off, let's dive into some important terms related to using it on a rifle:

Depth of field: This is all about focusing on the front sight of your rifle but still being able to see what's downrange pretty clearly. The peep sight makes this way better. There are a bunch of factors that can change this, but we'll get to those later.

Aperture: The small hole in the peep sight is like a window for your eye. You're looking through it to line up the front sight and your target.

Focus: The trick with the peep sight is pretty neat. You kind of ignore it and just focus on the front sight, not the target.

When you look through the peep sight, it's like squinting through a tiny window. It only lets light from a specific angle hit your eye. This way, you can see the front sight super clearly and still get enough detail of what's downrange. This is something the ghost ring can't do because it's too big. The peep sight makes the front sight look crystal clear, helping you line it up perfectly with a fairly clear target.

ar15 sight picture

The small peep sight reduces what's called parallax, or alignment error. Remember how we talked about lining up your eye with the rear sight? Well, with the ghost ring, you have to kind of guess where to put the front sight in your view.

But with the peep sight, you don't have that problem. As long as you can see the front sight through the peep, you're almost perfectly lined up. It's really impressive how this old design is almost as good as modern red dot sights at keeping parallax in check. This means you can shoot faster without worrying about getting everything perfectly centered.

Sight Radius

The sight radius is the distance between the front and rear sights on a firearm. When this distance is longer, I can align the sights better, making it easier to hit my target. But there's more to it than just length.

magpul MBUS front sight

When the front and rear sights are closer together, the peep sight's ability to create a clear depth of field is less effective. This means that the target, which should be in focus, becomes blurrier as the front sight gets closer to the peep sight.

This is especially true when comparing rifles with longer sight radii to carbines with shorter ones. Sure, I can still hit a target 400 meters away with a carbine, but it'll look a bit fuzzier compared to using a rifle with a longer sight radius.

Zeroing Iron Sights

To adjust back up iron sights on most rifles, you should change the front sight for vertical bullet impact and the rear sight for horizontal impact. Turning the front sight post clockwise raises the bullet's impact point, as shown in the photo. On this rifle, turning the rear sight knob clockwise shifts the bullet impact right.

Different AR-15 models have varying MOA adjustments. For some, a click on the front sight changes the bullet impact by 1.2 MOA (about 1.2 inches at 100 yards), while for others, it's 1.5-2 MOA. A click on the rear sight usually alters the impact by 0.5-0.75 MOA. The best way to know your rifle's specific adjustments is by testing it at the range.

olight pl pro long range

Remember, at 25 yards, you need four times the clicks to move the bullet the same distance as at 100 yards. For instance, if your shots at 25 yards are 1 inch high and 2 inches left, and your rifle has 1.25 MOA elevation and 0.5 MOA windage adjustments, adjust the front sight 3 clicks counterclockwise and the rear sight 16 clicks clockwise.

After adjusting, shoot again. If your next shots hit the target, your AR-15 is zeroed at 25 yards. If not, keep adjusting and shooting until you get a precise 25-yard zero.

25m zeroing target rite in the rain

You can use these methods for longer ranges. If zeroed at 25 yards, your rifle should hit the target at 50 or 100 yards, but the click adjustments will differ. At 50 yards, 2 MOA moves the bullet about 1 inch, and at 100 yards, 1 MOA does the same.

The best distance to zero your AR-15 varies based on your rifle, ammunition, and shooting distance. A 50 or 100-yard zero usually works well for backup iron sights.

After choosing your final zero range and making adjustments, shoot one last group to confirm. If it hits the target, you're set. A well-adjusted backup iron sight will maintain its zero for a long time.