Side mounted sights on AR-15 ???

I saw the below photo on the Sabre Defense website. Can someone please explain the reasoning behind mounting iron sights at a 45 to 75 degree angle?

Picture 13-24

My guess is that it allow quick transition between the Backup Iron Sights and the main EOTech holographic sight if the EOTech glass cracks up or something. Compared to a quick release mount for the EOTech, this seems like a poor solution. Firstly it would require a fair amount of practice to shoot accuracy in that position and secondly who wants sights sticking out the side, just waiting to snag on something (if you sights are going to be flipping down, reaching to flip them up surely would not take much longer than releasing a quick mount EOTech).

Am I wrong? [edit: I am]

UPDATE: ExurbanKevin and Tony explained in the comments that it is a 3-gun competition rig. In a competition some targets may be require to be hit with iron sights so this allows super quick transition.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • 3-Gun competition. Look at the handguard: That’s a 3-gunner rig for certain

    • ExurbanKevin, how does that benefit the shooter in 3-gun?

  • Tony

    I know some people run their IPSC etc. competition rifles with a magnifying optic on top and a non-magnifying optic for close range targets at an angle (usually more like 45 degrees than 75, though). As far as I’ve heard, the same technique has been also applied in “the real world”, too. The idea is that rather than suffer the reduction in speed from the magnifying optic, simply tilt the gun a bit and press on. Works pretty well if you’ve trained enough to use the system, too.

    First time I’ve ever seen iron sights used in that manner though. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to set up a (semi-) co-witnessing setup if the only optic on the rifle is a non-magnifying one?

    • Tony, actually looking at the photo again I think it may be less than a 75 degree angle.

      Thanks for explaining it to me guys, that makes sense.

  • If you’re running in Open or Tactical, you can have one or more (if Open) optics on your rifle. ( Competitors in those divisions either go with a low-power variable scope (something in the 1x-4x range) and switch powers back and forth depending on the range or they go with a rig similar to that setup. It’s surprisingly fast to transition from iron sights to the EoTech and back with that rig: all it takes is a slight tilt of the gun versus having to reach up and sling your scope over from one power to the next.

  • Faster to deal with targets inside 25 yards with the aux iron sight set-up than a magnifying optic. Also addresses the issue of offset distance on an AR between the optic height and the bore line.

    First pioneered by JP Rifles for with their Short-Range Tactical Sight ( for 3-gun competition and now widely used with police and even military…I’ve seen some operators’ rifles set up with the JP rig and they swear by it for urban CQB, where distances can run from contact to 250 yards.

    It’s surprisingly easy to get used to. I have a set-up with Leupold optics and the JP sight…

    Michael B

    • Michael, thanks for the comment.

  • Valhalla

    Also for shooting over a wall in Fallujah or something you don’t have to be as high up to still get a bead on the target.

  • Tom

    This video link shows a better set-up.. Scope on top for long range.. Compact Dot Sight at 45 degrees for close range..

  • jdun1911

    What confused you Steve was the EOtech. Most set up have a magnifying optic and compact red dot (dr optic) or iron sight.

    For those people that want this kind of system but has a standard 1913 rail instead of the tube handguard. You can buy an angle mount. YHM and other manufactures offer them.

    • jdun1911, thanks for the link, that makes sense. Yes, I have seen many with the dr optic mounted.

  • Greg

    Jerry Jerry Miculek has his rifle like this for 3 gun

    On the website Champion shot Jerry Miculek discusses how he sets up his AR-15 for competition.

    To watch the video go to:

    then click on “Rifle” on the lefthand column

    then click on “AR-15” on the left hand column

    then look for the video on the top right hand column.
    It is free. It is entitled,
    “How a Champion Sets up His AR-15” featuring Jerry Miculek


    Side mounted EOTech in Afghanistan, complementing a top mounted ACOG.

  • Some Gangsta

    Yo, Homey! That’s gangsta!

  • cactus jack poltroon
  • Nicholas

    Thank you all for clearing up something I wanted know. A while back a game came out called Metal Gear Solid 4 which had the main character using this technique with an M4. The game had surprisingly realistic weapon techniques and accurate models. (more so then Battlefield Bad Company 2 or Call of duty: Modern Warfare 2) I always wondered if it was real or not though, ironically I don’t think they ever modeled any sights to be used with it.

  • Grave

    a lil late to this post but like in mgs4 you hold the rifle like that to have full view of surroundings with just an instant transition to iron sights.

  • Jonathan

    As a Combat Arms soldier in the Army with 2 deployments to Iraq. I do not consider myself a “expert” by any means but i will say that. I am proficient with my weapons system though. I have had my optics damaged from explosives and other concision. and I did not realize it until I was bringing my weapon up to engage a target. I would have literally killed some one to have the option to have back up sights that were at an offset. a twist of the wrist is much quicker than looking or feeling for a quick release, and you don’t have to reacquire your target before pulling the trigger. Also it does not require you to remove your firing OR non firing hand from your weapon. when some one is shooting at you the the only switch, lever or button you want to fiddle with is you safe/semi selector switch. in addition as a Soldier we train the fire our personal weapon while wearing the M-42 Protective mask. While doing this you must hold the rifle at a 45 degree angle anyway in order to properly see the sights through the mask lenses. So this would not be that difficult of a transition to get use to. Again, this is just my opinion and other may argue the opposite point.

  • Abe

    In my battle experience (WWII /ETO) we just had iron sights and did pretty well from contact to 300 yards – I think we would have really benefitted by all this technology back in the day. Currahee.

  • logan

    Side mounted sites allow someone particularly in le or military to shoot from behind cover at a much lower profile than if you would shoot also takes away the problem of sight over bore ratio having the sights and muzzle parallel with your cover rather than perpendicular

  • Mark

    Also good for long-range scope up top and reflex on the side, but iron is a good thing too.