The Breakdown On Back Up Iron Sights

Matt E
by Matt E

In the world of rifle accessories, the amount of products available today is nearly endless. With multiple versions of every product out there, it’s important to know what you want and what some quality options are in each category. Regarding Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) there are typically a few variations of folding or fixed sights. Some will say offset should be in a variant but typically those fold as well. For people just getting into shooting, they oftentimes don’t know what to look for or what they want when it comes to iron sights. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown on back up iron sights.

Iron Sights @ TFB:

Folding Iron Sights

By far, one of the most common types of back up iron sights is the folding iron sights. These offer an effective last resort option if your main optic for some reason stops working. No matter the size or configuration, the folding iron sights allow shooters to have a second option if their main optic fails or stops working in a given situation. Having a quality set of back up sights that can be folded away just in case of unfortunate circumstances can be an incredibly reassuring move. Folding sights take up little rail space and often weigh almost nothing so the investment to add into a larger system of parts on your gun is little to none. Some people go back and forth between polymer or metal sights.

Personally, I think it’s important to pay a little bit extra money to have quality sights on your firearm so you can zero them and just leave them alone on your gun. Polymer folding sights may be tempting for some because of their lower price and the fact they are back up sights only to be used in an emergency. I understand this way of thinking but the sad truth is, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen polymer folding sights simply fall off someone’s rifle because they hit a barricade or support structure the wrong way. Often times the weight of the rifle and force of the strike can shear polymer sights completely off the gun. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen and as a result, I encourage people to stick with metal folding sights.

The Benefit Of Fixed Iron Sights

When bringing up fixed iron sights on rifles, it can cause strong reactions from some individuals who see fixed iron sights as and older way to aim and a system that just clutters up your field of view. Typically, I hear younger shooters complain about fixed iron sights saying it narrows their overall field of view and adds clutter to their sight picture. The truth is, with various optics on the market, you can run into parallax shift depending on the shooting position you find yourself in. Without the fixed iron sights as a point of reference, you can have the dot be several inches off the target and in some cases can even miss the target altogether.

Having two more points of reference with the front and rear sight can ensure you’re 100% on target without the issue of parallax shift. Having fixed iron sights that are zeroed in can be the lightest option to make accurate shots without relying on optics or equipment. This is why shooters in the gun community still use fixed front sight post and fixed carry handle uppers on their ARs because the system is accurate but incredibly lightweight. I have used both Scalarworks fixed iron sights as well as the Daniel Defense fixed iron sights and can happily report both are incredibly well built and reliable to hold zero after years of abuse.

Struggles With LPVOs and BUIS

The only real issue with back up iron sights is when people start using mounted variable-powered optics. Most scope mounts will either have screws or nuts that need to be tightened down with a wrench. More expensive mounts will have a quick disconnect feature, but the majority on the market tighten down to ensure the scopes don’t move when shooting and moving. Most will argue it’s a total waste of time to put back up folding sights on a rifle with a screw-down optic mount and I understand that thinking. My biggest piece of advice is to have a quality quick disconnect optic mount or be able to remove the mount within a reasonable amount of time.

Personally, I think it’s silly to not have a pair of back up folding sights on your rifle no matter what. So many people say it’s pointless but I would rather have a pair of folding sights than just rely on my optic. I know many of you will not agree with me and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you just plan on going to the range with your rifle and don’t really care about having back up folding sights, then I agree with the idea of leaving folding sights off your rifle. if you happen to travel or shoot your firearm a good amount, then I think it’s important to have a folding pair of sights as an insurance policy. It may seem like a small detail but it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

Find Back Up Iron Sights

Overall Thoughts

When it comes to building out a new rifle or AR pistol, people will typically get really excited about various furniture, optics, and lights for their new gun but don’t think about back up iron sights. In the grand scheme of things, they really don’t cost a ton of money but offer several benefits if things don’t exactly go to plan. I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts on the topic of back up iron sights so be sure to leave your thoughts down in the comments below. If you have questions about iron sights or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you in the next article.

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Matt E
Matt E

I'm an avid shooter and love educating whether it's at my job or in the shooting community. I'm an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.I'm active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.

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6 of 16 comments
  • Dedischado Dedischado on May 22, 2024

    On this subject, does anyone make a version of the M1 Garand rear sight that fits Picatinny rail? I love those and want some for my AR but have not found any.

  • Uniform223 Uniform223 on May 23, 2024

    Better to have and not need than to need and not have.