Everybody’s been jumping on the bandwagon and putting expensive red dots and tactical scopes on their AR15s. People are bypassing the traditional iron sight for what they think offers a better option. Happily running rifles that rely solely on advanced hardware, but there’s a better option. Flip up sites give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to use traditional scopes and red dots simultaneously with an iron sight.
Magpul Industries Iron Sight is by far the best flip up AR15 sight on the market. Magpul designed its sights to be some of the most durable sights on the market. Spring loaded to keep the sight erect and its impact resistant body provides reliable operation under heavy abuse. For the price you aren’t going to beat Magpul’s Front and Rear Flip Up Sights.
Why use a Flip Up Sight?
I really love the fact the you can just fold your flip up sight out of the way when you’re not using it. You don’t have to choose between a red dot and traditional irons. Most red dots are designed to be co-witnessed with traditional flip up sights. This allows you to use your traditional irons as a backup to your more advanced optics. Quickly switch back and forth in case of optical failure or just simply because you can. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve used my traditional irons even with my Aimpoint Pro mounted.
What’s The Best Flip Up AR15 Sight?
1. Magpul Industries MBUS Front and Rear Flip UP AR15 Sights
When you think of iron sights you’re probably thinking of a Magpul flip up sight. Regardless of what you buy you’ll never go wrong with a MagPul product. Magpul designs all their products to be extremely durable, functional and set at a reasonable price.
Magpul designed their sights to be damn near bombproof. While it might not actually withstand a bomb, but it will function under almost any operational abuse. Using an impact resistant polymer construction they were able to provide a lightweight design that will withstand almost anything life throws at it.
By far the best thing about Magpul sights is its spring-loaded design. Extremely easy to use the Mbus sights can be activated from either side using the fully ambidextrous controls. Just by pressing down on the top the sights will come up and stand erect even under impact.(that can’t be said for cheaper models) Able to clamp to any standard AR15 you can’t go wrong with Magpul branded sights.
2. Diamondhead Polymer Front and Rear Flip up Sights
Check Price: Amazon
Diamondhead sights might not have the same name recognition as Magpul but they’re well worth a look. With Diamondheads polymer flip up sights they are quickly making a name for themselves in the firearms industry. With extremely durable designs and advanced sight pictures these are some of the best flip up sites on the market.
Everything about Diamondhead’s pop up sights is great except for the price. Normally one of the most expensive iron sights on the market you’re paying for quality. Personally I think they’re worth the additional price tag, but that’s up to you.
Diamondhead designed it’s pop up sites to be extremely easy to use. With a single flip of a button your sites will pop up and be ready to use. The coolest thing about Diamondhead sites is at site picture. With its patented diamond design you’re guaranteed to get extreme accuracy out of these tiny peep sites. The wide opening is definitely their biggest selling point. You’ll be able to clearly see your target and most of its surroundings. To add to your visibility they also included photoluminescent inserts that light up in the dark. Easily adjust your weapon sights for both elevation and windage without the need of any special tools. In just a few seconds you can dial in your shot without all that additional messing around.
3. Leapers UTG Low Profile Flip Up Rear Sight
Check Price: Amazon
Leapers aka UTG has really been making a name for themselves in the firearm industry. They’ve been around Europe since the 90’s and only recently moved production into the United States. I’ve tried a lot of UTG products and haven’t been disappointed by any of them. They know how to build a quality product at an affordable price.
UTG doesn’t include the front sight in this package so keep that in mind. You have to buy the front sight separately but it’s really not all that expensive. By using Aircraft Grade Aluminum UTG designed their sight to be both lightweight and durable. Personally I’d prefer one of the above polymer sights because they stand up better to damage, but to each their own.
Featuring a low profile design and weighing only 1.59oz this really is an impressive little iron sight. When in the down position the sight is unobtrusively low profile and quick to deploy. The Posi-Lock plunger activates with a click of a button and locks the sight in the upright position. For such an affordable rifle sight it really does have a high quality design.
4. Feyachi Flip Up Sight Set
Check Price: Amazon
It really is amazing that Feyachi could build a set of flip up sites for this price. They might not be the best on the market, but they’re damn good for the money. With its durable design an affordable price tag these Feyachi sights are well worth a look.
Built to work well on any budget AR 15 build, these Feyachi weapon sights are both durable and functional. Machine from lightweight and extremely durable aluminum you won’t have to worry about damaging these little iron sights. The only downside to cheap aluminum sights is that they tend to get damaged easily when dropped.
Calibrated and matched together as a set they work perfect together on the same focal plane. The flip up design works with the push of a button and is extremely easy to use after you get the hang of it. They lock into position and aren’t easily knocked out of place. While they’re not quite up to the same quality standards as the above flip ups, you can’t ask for much more for the price.
5. Ozark Armament Flip Up Backup Battle Sights
Check Price: Amazon
Ozark Armaments motto is “No Frills Only Necessities” and you see that in these sights. Ozark Armament designed their sights to give you the standard iron sight experience without the added cost. Designed with value in mind, but that doesn’t mean they’re poor quality. In fact I know so many people that have these on their budget AR15 builds that I had to buy a set for myself. It’s always nice to have a few extra sets of iron sights sitting around just in case.
Ozark Armament actually used quality materials when designing this flip up sight. Machine milled out of Aluminum these flip up sights feel like they could take some abuse. The spring loaded design is easy to use (not as easy as Magpul or Diamondhead) and hold the sight firmly in place. These are the perfect size for Co-Witnessing with most red dots and flip down nearly flat. Furthermore, both the front and rear sights are fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. If you’re on a tight budget I don’t think you can go wrong with these Ozark Armament Flip Up Sights.
What to Look For When Purchasing Flip Up Sights
For something as basic as flip up sites you’d be surprised at just how many differences each of them have. With a wide variety of options on the market at various price points there’s a lot that actually goes into making your purchase. The following four points should point you on your way to making a smart purchase.
- Construction: All of the flip up sights on this list are serviceable, but how do you know if they’re going to be able to run with the big dogs. Honestly it seems a bit counterintuitive but you’re going to want to pick a polymer site over steel/aluminum construction. Polymer sights tend to be way more durable reducing damage from falls and dings.
- Style Sight Picture: Most of the above optics have the same basic style of sight picture. The Peep sight uses an age old design that’s proven itself since before World War 2.(back when iron sights really mattered) The only product that doesn’t share this same basic style is the Diamondhead flip up sight. It’s definitely nice to see some innovations in a industry that’s been stagnant for decades. The diamond design gives you multiple aiming points and offers a clearer sight picture than standard reticles.
- Sight Visibility: Diamondhead is the only manufacturer that really goes out of their way to try and offer a brighter sight picture. Using photo luminescent paint they were able to increase the brightness of their weapon sights. The only downside is that it’s like the poor man’s tritium. You’ll need to charge the sight bringing it out during the day or using a flashlight to make it glow.
Polymer Vs Steel Construction
The age-old question of polymer versus steel construction has been around for most of my lifetime. I’m not talking about Glocks here, I’m talking about “iron sights”. Common knowledge would make you think that steel should always be better than polymer, but that’s just not the case with flip up sights. You would be amazed at just how much stronger polymer sights are than steel. Steel sights tend to bend and break when they start to get knocked around. Polymer on the other hand holds firm under almost anything life throws at it.
The only time you should purchase a steel sight is when mounting directly on your gas block. When mounting directly onto a gas block polymer sights will melt. You’ll either want to move your polymer sight back to a cooler location or swap it out for a steel front sight.
Why Co-Witness Your Sights
Honestly for the vast majority of the population co-witnessing is entirely unnecessary. When you’re just spending a fun day at the range who cares if your red dots batteries die or your glass breaks. Unless you’re really into the tactical scene the only real time you should worry about co-witnessing is you’re going off to battle. If you’re life depends on your optics you’re going to want the guaranteed durability of backup irons.
Problems With Co-Witnessing Sights
The only real downside to co-witnessing a sight is that it obstructs your sight picture. You can somewhat get around this by using a lower 1/3 setup, but it’ll still partially obstruct your view. The real glory of flip up sights is that you can just fold them out of the way when not in use. They shouldn’t obstruct your sight picture and with a push of a button they’re back in use.