How many of you have added to and modified your AR 15 until the original firearm is barely recognizable? Maybe you started by swapping out for a different carrier group, or by replacing the buttstock. Then, of course, your weak hand needs a bit of help getting a grip, which means adding a rail system so you can attach a handstop or a grip. The list just goes on from there. So many of the modifications and adjustments we choose to make to our ARs, we do in the name of improved accuracy. Whether you’re regularly entering shooting competitions or you keep your AR for home defense, improving your accuracy can make a huge difference. Of course, most of us don’t have natural vision as great as the Marvel superhero Hawkeye, so we need a bit of help. Debates will carry on, probably forever, over what the perfect optic option is—and, as always, will vary based on what you’re setting up your AR for. But, given the number of high-tech optics options out there, is there still room for the good ol’ fashioned fixed iron sight?
No matter what your primary planned usage is for your AR, there’s an optic for it. Actually, there are probably dozens to hundreds of different options out there that claim to be the best magnifying scope/red dot sight/holographic sight/other option for a given purpose. And, it makes sense. You’ll have different needs when you’re hunting versus participating in shooting competitions versus home defense. And, as is the case with pretty much any AR modification or accessory, you’ll want to target your optics decisions to your intended usage. Of course, most rail systems make swapping between different AR accessories easy enough, so you can have as many different optics options as you want. We won’t judge. But one question we hear pretty often here at Rail Scales is, with so many high-functioning, technologically perfected optics options, is there still a need for a fixed iron sight?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what we’re talking about, well, welcome to the world of firearms. An iron sight is one of the earliest forms of aim assistance aside from simply eyeing it. Iron sights can come in a variety of different configurations, some which can be adjusted and some that cannot, but the main point is that the configuration of notches and/or circles are designed to help you be more accurate when lining up a shot. As the name implies, iron sights were and are usually still are made from metal for the sake of durability, and for good reason. If a fixed iron sight were to somehow get bent, it wouldn’t provide much help with accuracy.
The initial iron sights weren’t adjustable, which made sighting-in a bit more complex, and ultimately spurred the design for adjustable iron sights and, later, led to the more advanced optics options we have today. In a world where there are so many more advanced options, it may seem like the fixed iron sight is just a relic of our past, something to be remembered but not necessarily used anymore. Think about how many AR owners you’ve seen recently. How many of them had an iron sight incorporated into their AR’s setup? Sure, they’re a bit harder to notice than the bigger and bulkier optics options, but you should be able to pick out the tell-tale notches easily enough. You may be surprised what you see, when you start looking for them.