Image by Adam Anderson from Pixabay

Best AR Sights for Self Defense

The AR rifle remains one of the most common and easily customizable rifles in the United States. With an AR rifle, you can basically add anything from a cup holder to a grenade launcher. However, for self-defense, one of the most crucial additions to an AR is an optic. Adding a quality rifle scope greatly improves the performance of the AR rifle for self-defense.

However, there is so much more when it comes to improving the performance of your AR. Apart from scopes, you can add laser, lights, and sights. AR sights play a crucial role, and you would wish you had them when your optics fail. If you bought an AR15 and looking for some of the best sights, then deciding on the best should not be hard. In fact, you simply have to choose between red dot sights and iron sights. Iron sights have been in use for years and still play a crucial sighting role.

Whether it is an ambush on the street or a bear attack, having some iron sights with you can mean the difference between life and death. However, with the entry of a red dot sight, choosing the best for self-defense might be a problem for most people.

Most elderly shooters still prefer using iron sights while newer shooter prefers red sights. Whatever your preference, we are going to help you decide on the best. There is a reason why we have both sighting systems in use.

Iron sights

One of the best and obvious reasons that people still use iron sights is that they don’t require any battery use. Iron sights are just an adjustment tool for your front sight. You can choose from fixed or unfixed iron sights. One thing that stands out on fixed iron sights is the fact that you can pick your gun and sight right away. They are usually fixed in an upright position and get you ready to shoot. This makes them a great self-defense option.

We also have the flip-up and rear and front sights that easily fold rest against the rail to allow for easy storage.

Red dot sights

Installing a red dot on your AR is another great way to sight. In most cases, the red dot might end up replacing your iron sight completely. Red dots offer excellent convenience when it comes from moving from one target to another. The fact that they run on batteries is another issue. However, most red dots come with long-lasting batteries. The last thing you want is batteries dying on you in the middle of a competition or defensive situation.

All, the same, red dots play a pretty decent job in bridging the gap between scopes and iron sights. It is worth noting that red dots on the market are available on a wide range of the spectrum. Some of the high-end red dots will offer pretty fast target acquisition. Red dot sights can also be paired with an external magnifier providing shooters with better target acquisition. High-quality red dots provide a wide field of view that most scopes and any other sight.

However, there are some disadvantages to using red dot sights. First, while they are lightweight, red dots are a bit heavier than iron sights. Red dot sights are also quite expensive and will cost more than traditional scopes.

So, which is the best R sight to use for self-defense? Let’s have a comparison of the two sighting systems under four basic categories of:

  • Accuracy
  • Speed
  • Weight
  • Reliability
  1. Red Dot Vs. Iron Sights: Which one is more accurate

When it comes to accuracy, neither sight is the best. This is because shooting accuracy is more reliant on the shooter’s skills. However, iron sights tend to the target on the front sight post. However, you can improve on this by installing a thinner sight post on the front.

Image by Adam Anderson from Pixabay

In such situations, reflex sights tend to work better. With red dots, make sure to use optics with large sized dots. Some of the recommended sights include 1 MOA, 2MOA and 3MOA. However, anything above 3MOA ends covering too much space of your target.

There is no clear winner under accuracy, and it all comes down your skills. With iron sights, one really needs to focus on the alignment between the front and rear sights. The same does not apply when using reflex sights where you simply look through the lens and focus the dot on the target.

  1. Red Dot Vs. Iron Sights: Which one is faster

When it comes to speed, red dots are the obvious winner. Most shooting competition uses red dots since they are extremely fast and reliable. However, this does not take anything out of iron sights. It is worth noting that iron sights have been in use for years. In fact, there are people that have used iron sights pretty much in their entire life and are extremely talented. Such persons can be extremely quick when using iron sights. However, they can even get faster when using optics.

Under speed, red dots are the winner and widely used in civilian competition and the military. Some of the fastest pistols sighting times have been recorded using reflex sights. However, your experience can also affect your shooting speeds. In fact, professional shooters using iron sights can still shoot faster than amateurs with red dots. However, with regular practice, the average shooter can surpass the experienced shooter since they are using red dots.

  1. Weight advantage between red dots and iron sights

Being able to take off some weight off your rifle comes with several advantages. It is common knowledge that iron sights are much lighter than red dots. However, there are still several things to take into consideration. Your AR 15 can take iron sights in different ways from fixed to a flip-up front. They are also made of different materials like steel, polymer, and aluminum, which also affect weight.

The same applies to red dots where there are many variations on the market. However, bigger sized optics will even weigh more

While the winner, in this case, is the iron sight, the difference is very minimal, especially when using a micro red dot. The weight difference is quite small at an ounce or two ounces.

  1. Reliability

When it comes to reliability, iron sights tend to have an edge. This is because they are sturdier and don’t rely on batteries to work. Iron sights can also withstand some tough weather conditions with minimal maintenance.

With that said, there are still red dot sights which are incredibly durable and long-lasting. Even with long-lasting batteries, the fact that they run on batteries is still a big concern.

Final Verdict

While both come with pros and cons, red dots tend to have a small edge. However, if you’re still unable to decide on the best, then go with both. With reflex sights as your primary way sighting, go right ahead and have iron sights as a backup. In fact, iron sights are nowadays called Back-Up Iron Sights or BUIS.

Self-defense is a matter of life and death. You need to know you have a proper sighting mechanism just in case the batteries die on red dots. Even with added weight when using both, the benefit of reliability is hard to ignore.

Author Bio:

This guest post was written by Eric Patton of Rangefinder Today.  A website dedicated to the art and discipline of long range hunting and shooting.  An art that Eric has spent years in learning and teaching.  To learn more about long range shooting, hunting, and all the gear that makes it fun, check out other articles at

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