Are Iron Sights Still a Must Have for Your AR?

A growing number of AR platforms are being offered without iron sights. Sure, it looks cool and makes you feel like an operator- but is it leaving you ill prepared?

Maybe I’m just old school but I like to have iron sights available on any platform I am shooting. Even if it is going to be outfitted with a top of the line red dot system I start with the traditional sights THEN make the upgrade.

Yes, modern non-magnified red dot systems are much more dependable than earlier models. While there have been reports of some systems failing or simply running out of juice it is not common. In truth your iron sights are far more likely to be bumped, broken or lost. So why should they still be a part of the system?

Because if you are depending on your rifle for life or death there is no reason to leave anything to chance.

Even though today’s red dot systems are far more durable than their predecessors they are still capable of being broken. Yes, battery life is now measured in years verse hours but even a star burns out eventually. The list goes on. No matter what pluses your red dot may have every plus has an opposite – the negative, that time when it does fail.

Of course, we all know that IF something is going to fail it will not be on the training range. Catastrophic failures do not happen when it is convenient, they happen when everything is on the line. When this happens you will be glad you spent the little bit extra to have back up iron sights included or added them aftermarket.

Plus, iron sights are also an excellent means of double checking your red dot’s zero. If you have need to take off your red dot, drop it and might have knocked it out of whack or even decide to upgrade you will want to double check everything. If you have iron sights installed you can cut the process to minutes by first matching the red dot to the front post then firing a few rounds to confirm. Nice when you don’t have a lot of time to spend hitting the range.

The bottom line is Murphy love shooters and he also loves to rear his ugly head at the most inconvenient time. When this happens do you want to spend time cleaning, fixing or replacing parts and batteries or would you prefer being able to switch to iron sights and keep moving forward?

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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7 thoughts on “Are Iron Sights Still a Must Have for Your AR?

  1. Tom, I am Old School too having retired from US Army back in 1994. I agree I would want the iron sight as back up. As you said the SNAFU never happens during training.

  2. def. must now if its just a range plinking gun then i say you can get away with it. but a self defense or Minute man(S.H.T.F.) rifle a def. must have. If possible put iron on everything exception are bolt action rifles

  3. Iron sights ate a must. Yeah it’s cool to have a acog or a red dot. But what happens when the batteries die. If u don’t have iron sights then guess what you can’t aim. There is a reason we train first with iron sights.

  4. The high tech stuff is great, but you gotta have skills…if you rely to much on scopes, laser sights, etc you don’t get a “feel” for your true shooting skills! You HAVE TO have good skills to aim true! Keep iron sights!

  5. Optical sights are fine for those who have the extensive training to acquire a sight picture under stress, but iron sights can’t be beat for getting on target quick for most.

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