The Ultimate Guide to AR 15 Sights

The AR 15 is an extremely versatile gun in terms of the various accessories and attachments that can be interchanged on them. There are many different kinds of stocks, barrels, grips, triggers and more than can be customized on an AR 15, but one of the most versatile attachments is the sight. There are many types of AR 15 sights that can make your shooting more accurate, effective and fun. However, it’s important to be as informed as possible about your choices before purchasing any AR 15 sights.

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Exploring the Types of AR 15 Sights

Every sight has the same goal of making a target easier to see and making the shooter more accurate. The main difference between the various types of sight is how they achieve this goal. It’s important to keep in mind that even slight differences can make a world of difference in your shooting.

Diopter Sights

While not very common amongst AR 15 sights, there are still some benefits to using diopter sights. Diopter sights are incredibly simple to use, and it’s difficult to knock the aim off accidentally. Diopter sights are also very useful if you commonly shoot or hunt in an area that is particularly windy as it is very good at adapting to wind changes.

Globe Sights

Diopter sights are commonly used alongside globe sights since they complement each other quite well with each sight matching from the front and back of the barrel. However, they can be used on their own and perform just as well. Globe sights rest on the front of the barrel and provide the shooter with a tunnel view of their target. Globe sights are also incredibly versatile as an assortment of easily interchanged front sight inserts can be used with them to customize the reticle for the situation.

Holographic Sights

Holographic AR 15 sights project a hologram of a reticle onto a film within the sight. They are easy to adjust, and they allow for easy shooting in darker areas. However, their use of laser transmissions can be a weakness as it’s possible for the sight to be affected by temperature changes and possibly electrical interference.

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Iron Sights

Iron sights are one of the oldest and most commonly used AR 15 sights available today, and they prove that less truly is more. Iron sights are very basic sights that use one small piece of iron in the front of the barrel in the shape of a post, bead or ring and one in back as another ring or a notch to match up with each other for a good shot. They are the default sight option on many firearms, and they are still noted for being very accurate and effective if installed correctly. While there aren’t many adjustment options on iron sights, you can usually adjust the rear sight to make up for elevation and wind.

Red Dot Sights

Another favorite amongst AR 15 sights is the red dot sight. Red dot sights are commonly confused with laser sights, but they are actually very different. In red dot AR 15 sights, the dot is only visible to the shooter. It provides an illuminated red dot within the sight to pinpoint shots on targets, and it allows shooters to see their reticles in the dark. Another benefit of this sight is that it essentially removes the issue of parallax since the dot constantly stays on alignment.

Laser Sights

Finally, laser sights are great for target shooters and tactical purposes. They differ from red dot sights in that they use an actual beam of light that rests on the target as opposed to being contained in the sight. This allows the shooter to get a good fix on the target even if they aren’t looking through the sight. However, this also allows living targets to possibly detect you before you can shoot, and it sometimes be difficult to spot the bead when it’s bright out.

Tips for Choosing AR 15 Sights

When it comes to selecting one of many AR 15 sights for your gun, there are some key aspects that you should focus on to make your final decision. Personal preference is an important factor when it comes to deciding between AR 15 sights, but here are some of the main aspects that you should consider to help narrow down your choices for a more effective selection.

Purpose

What will your AR 15 mostly be used for? If it’s mainly for protection, a red dot sight or a laser sight can be a very effective choice. Red dots, lasers and holographic sights are also very useful for people who hunt at darker times of day. Iron sights, holographic sights, diopter and globe sights are good for recreational shooting, sport and hunting purposes.

Durability

Plastic or flimsy metal sights can easily be thrown off by a simple bump, and they can be damaged just as quickly. Iron sights, diopters and globe sights are some of the most durable choices for AR 15 sights. If you choose another option, ensure that it is made from strong metal. Any glass pieces should be tempered and properly protected by overhang from the metal and covers if possible.

Weight

While sights are typically not as heavy as your average scope, they can add enough weight to a gun to affect the aim. Sights set at the end of the barrel are especially prone to this problem. Any good sight will inevitably have a little weight to it, but avoid sights that are overly heavy.

Adjustment Options

No sight is perfect right out of the box. You’ll need to adjust your AR 15 sights every so often to ensure that your shots are always as accurate as possible. Sights that are nearly fixed such as iron sights can work perfectly fine, but the added benefit of customizing the sight to exactly how you want it to be can make for some incredible shots. The rule of thumb for the average shooter is to find a nice middle ground between simple and complex. While having a lot of options can be very nice, they can also be overwhelming, cluttering, and some options may be utterly useless. A good balance between the two is a perfect fit for many people.

Fitting a Sight to Your AR 15

The default AR 15 sights are usually some form of iron sights. Many sights can work in conjunction with the default sights. However, if you’d like to replace them or remove them entirely you can do that by simply removing two pins on the front sight for the sling loop. A long thin screwdriver and hammer can easily drive these pins out. A very tiny retention pin in the gas tube will also need to be removed. This can be removed in the same manner, but you will need a much thinner piece of metal to help drive it out. Remove the gas tube from the front sight base and you should be able to slide it off with some force.

Installing the new sight should be as simple as attaching the sight in the same manner where the previous sight was, but there are some circumstances where custom parts and modification to the barrel may be needed.

Different sights have different base systems that require their own specific installation instructions. However, mounting any one of the various AR 15 sights to your gun can be very easy by using a picatinny rail system. Picatinny rails are used for easy installation of various gun accessories including sights.

Just attach the first clamp near the back of the rail and tighten it enough to ensure that it doesn’t fall off or move easily. Take your sight and hold it over where you’d like to install it. It should cover the first bracket entirely. Take note of the notch where the front of the sight ends. Your second bracket’s end should match that notch to ensure that the sight completely covers that bracket as well. Install the second bracket and tighten it in the same manner as the first.

Slide the back end of the sight into the back bracket and then maneuver the front of the sight into the front bracket. While it may be tricky to get both sides in, try to avoid loosening the brackets even further as the brackets may fall off during assembly. Once the sight is securely in both brackets, tighten the brackets enough to keep the sight in place.

Look through the sight to ensure that it is properly seated and straight. If it is, tighten the brackets as much as you can with your fingers. It may also be a good idea to make them even tighter with a pair of pliers. Try to avoid making the brackets overly tight in case you need to make adjustments later on.

Below is a video that provides a guide to zero your AR15

Conclusion

A gun as nice as the AR 15 deserves a great sight. There are many AR 15 sights that fit many different preferences, styles of shooting and situations. Learning about them as well as their various benefits will allow you to make your final decision a smart one.

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