It might seem like a simple question - fixed or folding AR-15 sights on your rifle? The reality is, however, it is not a simple decision to make. Sights are incredibly important as they change how you shoot your weapon, affect accuracy, and what you utilize your weapon for.
Back-up Iron Sights
Rear sights tend to be inexpensive depending on the material; Steel, Aluminum, even Polymer! Steel will usually be the more expensive option but remember it will provide durability. Steel sights also tend to add a bit of weight. Aluminum will be lighter, but not have the same level of durability. In the photo above we have a set of fixed steel sights for an AR-style weapon but it has a canted offset of 45 degrees. Let’s take a look at some options and the pros and cons they both have.
Fixed or Folding AR-15 Sights
Keep in mind that gun owners can get real snobbish on what parts they do or don't use when it comes to certain brands and their products. Fixed sights are exactly what they sound like - they are attached to your AR-15 rail and they do not move. Folding sights are handy in the respect that you can get them out of the way of your optic.
- Fixed Sights - Much better durability but it can get in the way of a reflex or holographic sight because you can’t fold it out of the way.
- Folding Sights - A very popular option - when you aren’t using it, fold it forward into the downward position.
Folding sight advantage
Aside from folding, which is a huge advantage, we see many other benefits for shooters! Remember the A2 carry handles?
That’s the one we all watched and many other guys utilize in old 80’s action movies on the AR-15 and the M-16 military version. These are great overall, but don't have the same benefits as many new options!
The Magpul MBUS is an ever-popular choice offering performance and accuracy. Even better is that you can fold them away in a split-second and re-deploy them by pushing a spring-loaded button!
What is the point of Co-witnessing Sights?
Co-witnessing your sights is when your optic and sights line up to provide a single sight picture with no interference between the two. As you aim your rifle you will look straight down your rifle through the optic and it will line up perfectly with your iron sights.
When you are set up for “Absolute co-witnessing” your front and rear iron sights will line up perfectly with your optic. Some pros of this technique are:
- Reduced weapon profile
- Sights sit lower on the rifle
- Excellent for low comb (cheek rest) positions
Co-witness example. Pic credit: Breach Bang Clear
Lower ⅓ co-witnessing means our iron sights will be in the lower 1/3rd of the optic window. This means that when you look through the optic we will see the bottom 1/3rd of our iron sights and the red dot will appear over the front sight. Tucking your head lower will make the red dot move and appear over the iron sights.
Co-Witnessing is an important thing to take into consideration when building your rifle. Consider it this way - if your optic goes down, do you have another option right there ready to go?