How to Use ar 15 Iron Sights

How to Use AR 15 Iron Sights?

If you are a AR 15 owner, you know that it requires precision and accuracy when using the AR 15 with iron sights. You have invested your money in buying high-priced and higher-quality AR-15 iron sights, so make sure it will not let you down when you need them the most. This post is for new users and all who want to learn how to use AR 15 iron sights.

Your AR 15 has pre-mounted iron sights on top of the rifle. Professional shooters and even some first-time users may prefer other iron sights to help them aim accurately on their target.

If you do not have a mentor or someone who could teach you how to use AR 15 iron sights, this post will guide you. Following this guide makes it is easy to understand how to line up your sights and get a better shot placement on your target. Let’s begin with the basics.

Why Do You Need to Use An AR 15 Rifle With Iron Sight?

The primary purpose of iron sights is to help you hit your target accurately. These iron sights are not heavy, so they won’t add weight to the gun. For hunters and competing shooters, iron sights play a vital role in every hunting and competition they join. Zeroing in the target is much easier with iron sights.

The key to getting your target is understanding the basics and determining why you need to use AR 15 iron sights. Premium quality AR 15 iron sights can provide better precision as compared to other scopes.

Iron sights are used as a backup for the already installed sights in your AR 15.  The pre-installed iron sights are sometimes not aligned properly. Thus aiming at your target is a bit difficult. Adding an iron sight will help you aim at your target accurately.

You can find these sights in the old Sharps 45- 100 long-range shooters which became popular in 1870 for buffalo hunting. At present, it is still used in 1000-yard target rifle events.

During World War Two, the US Army used Receiver sight applied in the M1 Garand in 30-06 Springfield. This weapon is quite deadly if your target is around 1000 yards if the shooter is aware of his action.

What Essential Concepts/tools Do You Need?

The manner of using the iron sights is the same, regardless of what type you will be using. Before we proceed on the steps in using the AR 15 iron sights, here are some of the essential tools you will need:

Eye Protection

You need something to protect your eyes in case something goes wrong. A minor accident could result in lifetime injury, so it is better to wear your safety glasses when shooting.

Ear Protection

The sound of firing a rifle could damage your eardrums. You must wear earplugs or earmuffs when using your AR 15, as this rifle produces a loud roaring sound when fired. Even if you are exposed to short-term noise, it could be deafening. One of the possible results, when exposed to too much noise, is ringing to your ears. You might lose your hearing when exposed to a loud sound. So it is better to be safe than sorry.


Most of the AR 15 rifle has adjustable sights. Some can be adjusted easily using your hand, and others require a screwdriver or specific tool to make the elevation and windage adjustments.

Your Target

If you don’t want to spend extra dollars for your target, you can create one by printing or drawing your bullseye. This will help you in aiming at a certain point. Zero in at the range that you are comfortable with.

AR 15 Rifle with Iron Sights

You can choose from various types of iron sights. The process of using the iron sights is the same regardless of what type you choose.

Open sights are not recommended for long-range, so shooters zero in at 50 yards only while some are aiming at 300 yards.

Steps on How to Use AR 15 Iron Sights?

We have made the steps simple and easy to follow so even new shooters or hunters can follow them:

Step #1 Preparing the Target

It does not matter if you choose to make your target or buy it. Make sure you will position it at your preferred range. We recommend setting it between 50 and 100 yards, but it depends on you. Make sure your target is placed safely, with a bullet stop behind it.

It works both in a shooting range or in the woods. Make sure to wear your protection for your ears and eyes before you start firing.

Step #2 Sights Alignment With the Target

Your primary goal is to connect four dots in a straight line – your eye, target, front, and rear sight. If you align your eye with the front sight and the target, you will be lined up in the left-right direction, but your shot may be high or low. You can accurately predict how high or low your shot will be.

Sight Picture

The sight picture is what you see when lining up your sights. You should see the front and rear sights and the target everything on top of each other. It’s because the front sight, rear sight, and target have different distances from your eye. The one you are focusing on will be your target, and the other two will be a bit blurry. 

In target shooting, focusing on the front sight and the rear sight and the target a bit blurry is allowed. It is one way to get started and experiment on shooting on the target.

Step #3 Line Up AR-15 Iron Sights

You can line up the front and rear sights with a post-style front sight and a notch-type rear sight. Doing this will make them on the same height and make the front sight in-between the two sides of the rear sight. Some sights have markings to hasten the process.

Center the front sight at the middle of the peep sight. It is not easy to tell if the front sight is already in the middle if you use a notch sight.

Look for peep sights with diamond shape instead of circular as it will provide clearer lines which you can utilize to get a better estimate when your front sight is at the middle in the rear sight.

Line your front and rear sights up when aiming, then look at your target when getting started. You need to line up the front sight with your target first when using AR 15, then make some adjustments on the rear sight. But if you are familiarizing yourself with your rifle, it is best to start with the front and rear sights and then adjust what is needed to line up the target.

Step #4 Aim and Shoot

The next step is to aim and shoot. Iron sights are available in three types – the bead types, aperture, and open.

The bead is used mostly on shotguns and is installed on the barrel end. The rear sights usually are short posts.

Open style has a U shape or two posts to be installed at the rear sight, a single post at the barrel’s end, and close to your eye.

Aperture style has a ring or peephole that you can look through and a ring at the barrel’s end, and it could have or not have a single post on it. Using it is pretty simple. Raise your gun to see the rear posts or ring clearly, and then line up the front post or ring at the center.

Circle the aiming point for the ring. Place the center post on your target point with the point on top of the post.

AR 15 Iron Sight Aiming Tips

Here are some tips when aiming your AR 15 iron sight:

  • If you are utilizing an open sight, concentrate on the front sight. The rear sight and your target may appear blurry or fuzzy.
  • For new gun users, aim at the bullseye bottom center. It is referred to as the six o’clock hold as the location is similar to the analog clock at 6 o’clock.
  • Use your dominant eye when aiming, but keep both eyes open. It will provide you better depth perception and more light.
  • Keep in mind that you can’t hold still the rifle as you aim. To lessen the movement, it would help if you rest between shots and do not hold the gun too tightly.

Tips on How To Shoot An AR 15 with Iron Sights

When shooting, focus on the front sight to ensure it is aligned correctly. It would help you to aim accurately and hit your target if you apply some techniques. Below are some tips on shooting using AR 15 with iron sights:

Hold the Rifle Properly

When firing your handgun, you can assume any of the four positions. But, in holding and gripping your AR, it is just the same. Position your firing hand high on the gun’s grip,  place your thumb and wrap on top of the three fingers on the grip. This will help you hold the rifle and stop you from making unnecessary movements, especially your trigger finger.

Wrap the handguard with your non-firing hand. Curl your fingers on the fore-end. Hold it not too tight but not too lose.

Place the AR 15 rifle butt against your body and position the stock on your shoulder pocket. This position will boost your accuracy and enables faster recovery. If you are not sure where your shoulder pocket is, you can straighten your shooting arm. With your other hand, find your collarbone’s high point front. Slide your hand outwards towards your shoulder around your collarbone.

Once your fingers slip down and inward, it means you have found your shoulder pocket. Place your AR 15 heel there and position your check on top of your stock’s comb.

Position Yourself Accordingly

One factor that will affect your shooting is how you position yourself. When firing your AR 15 rifle, decide which position to take – sitting, kneeling, standing, or prone. If you want better mobility when shooting, take the standing position. The sitting and kneeling positions are best if you require to have a lower profile. The prone position is for better stability at the lowest point.

For better accuracy, pick the best position for your situation. Standing position is recommended if you are using your AR 15 with iron sights for hunting. Remember that we all have different body types, which means what is comfortable to you may cause discomfort to others. You can try all four positions and determine which position you are satisfied with.

Step #5 Adjust If Needed

If you think it needs some adjustments, you can follow the procedure in zeroing. You cannot move the front sight, so you can only adjust the rear sight. Zeroing in may require you to use some tool like the screwdriver to adjust the screw. Sometimes you can adjust it with your bare hands.

Adjust the windage at the right path, either left and right or up and down. Then, do some test firing and check if you hit the target. If you still miss it, then you can adjust again until you succeed.

Using Irons in Low Light

If you are using irons for self-defense, you might have limited amount of light. Iron sights do not glow, or are visible in the dark, so using them in the dark is not good. When using the irons in low light, run a white, hot light. You can make your target visible in bright white light and enable your irons to make the target visible.

Having a tritium front sight can help you when firing in low-light conditions. It may not illuminate and brighten your target, but it will provide a better reference point for locating your front sight in the twilight.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t know how to use AR 15 iron sights, you might not be able to hit your target. It is not as simple as pulling the trigger. You must be very careful and focused. Learning how to shoot a AR 15 rifle with iron sights requires determination, the right attitude, and patience to hit your target accurately.

The above tips and information about the handgun will help you improve your shooting skills. You become a better shooter fast. Keep in mind, proper positioning of your fingers on the trigger is vital when shooting. You must have the right mindset, attitude, and the appropriate position. If you have some questions or want to share your ideas, you can comment below.

Related Resource:

How to Use Glock Sights?

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