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Iron Sights Guide

80 Percent Arms   |   Sep 15th 2021

Iron sights. Everyone gets them for their AR15 rifles, but how many people actually use them? Do you own a set of AR15 iron sights? Do you know how to use them? If not, no worries. We all start somewhere. Today we’ll talk mostly about Magpul’s MBUS flip up sights but specifically how to use iron sights, how to adjust and zero them as well.

Best Backup Iron Sights For AR15

Iron sights are actually pretty great. Honestly, if we all just learned on iron sights we wouldn’t necessarily need red dot sights, they’re just fancier and look cool. Properly sighted in iron sights should be able to allow you to hit targets up to 200 yards away. How far are the targets you’re shooting at with your red dot or holographic sight? The practical reason for why it’s better to use red dot sights and holographic sights is for the larger sight picture and faster target acquisition that they provide. They also help to make it a lot easier to reach out and hit targets up to 500 yards away.

But what happens if your battery dies? What do you do in the unlikely event of an EMP blast? Well I hope you’ve got some iron sights to fall back on. In a previous blog, we covered the different types and best backup iron sights for AR15 rifles so check that out to cover the basics first. They’re also referred to in short as (BUIS).

Daniel Defense Iron Sightsdaniel defense iron sights a1

If you’re a fan of Daniel Defense rifles, you might have noticed that sometimes they come with a set of iron sights. Well those sights are quite popular as they are convenient because sometimes buyers don’t have much budget left to get an optic after dropping almost $2000 on a pre-built rifle. Having Daniel Defense iron sights serves as a pretty good placeholder until more budget is freed up for a red dot sight, holographic sight or even LPVO.

Of Daniel Defense’s iron sights the front sight is by far more popular than the rear. Oftentimes buyers will keep the front sight and replace the rear sight with another brand’s. Daniel Defense uses the A1-style design which is a version of low profile iron sights. Even though these are fixed iron sights they still can be used as backup iron sights or in conjunction with an optic if the height matches it well enough to perfectly cowitness.

Offset Iron Sights

magpul mbus pro canted sights

Sometimes referred to as ‘canted iron sights’ these are a cool option often seen in movies or video games but not very often in real life as it requires pretty intentional training or practice to effectively use. Offset sights will cant towards the right of the top picatinny rail of an AR15 by 45 degrees so that the top rail can utilize a magnified optic giving the user an option to freely engage target within short distances as well. If you’re planning on running some offset iron sights we recommend using ones that are fixed in the canted position and not flip ups so that you don’t have to mess around with them when you actually need to use those sights which would otherwise be wasting precious reaction time. Not to say that you can’t buy flip up iron sights such as the MBUS Pro Offset version, it’s just that when you’re running the gun, we recommend you keep them flipped up. When you’re storing the gun and not using it, press them back down to stow it away neatly.

How to Use Iron Sightshow to aim with ar15 iron rights

Regardless if you’re using A1, A2 or newer iron sight styles, the general method of how to use them is the same. Depending on what you’re using you should be able to find elevation and windage knobs for the rear sight and have the ability to make elevation adjustments to the front sight as well. On the rear sight you can expect to have a large aperture hole and a small aperture hole. Both aperture holes on the rear sight are used to look through and aim in conjunction with the front sight however, the large hole is for aiming at targets within closer distances and the smaller hole is for aiming at targets further away. Depending on how you zero the iron sights, you should be able to hit targets up to 300 meters (about 328 yards) away.

How to zero iron sights

But how do we zero iron sights? How to zero Magpul MBUS sights? Can you even do that? Yes, you definitely can. The methods we use to sight in a scope or red dot sight is exactly the same as we’d zero iron sights. First you’d choose to set up a target either at 36 yards or 50 yards away. Shoot a few rounds to get your first grouping to see how off you are and then fine tune your elevation and windage adjustments until your grouping is in the A-zone or all hitting somewhere within the bullseye. If you use a cartridge laser to zero your iron sights you can get them to be really dead-on accurate and save yourself a good amount of ammo in the process as well. This process is the same for all iron sights, back up or not and is true regardless of brand


magpul mbus pro iron sights

What’s so ‘pro’ about the new MBUS? Well the updated AR15 iron sights from Magpul are made out of steel now and in the stowed position they are more streamlined than the MBUS Gen 2 so they take up much less space on the top picatinny rail of your rifle. With the new iteration of these AR 15 iron sights, both the front and rear sights have more accessible adjustment knobs which make it easier to fine tune and zero these backup iron sights. Between the MBUS Pro and the MBUS Gen 2, the Pro does just as good of a job in allowing you to practice the basic fundamentals of aiming and shooting as the Gen 2 but it doesn’t get in the way of other accessories or attachments you may want on your rail compared to the Gen 2.

What does MBUS stand for?

magpul mbus gen 2

Once you know what MBUS stands for you’re going to kick yourself - it stands for Magpul Back-Up Sight.

Where to place Magpul MBUS

Generally, we want to place any back up iron front sight at the first picatinny rail slot or most front spot. The same goes for any back up iron rear sight; we want to place that as far back as possible so that there will still be room for any optics or magnifiers to mount onto the top rail.

Get your Iron Sights from 80 Percent Arms!

Are you ready to get some backup iron sights for your AR15? We carry multiple options between the Magpul MBUS Gen 2, Magpul MBUS PRO, Fab Defense Front & Rear Back-Up Sight set, and even classic AR15 detachable carry handles if that’s what you’re looking for.