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How to Use AR 15 Iron Sights: 3-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Use AR 15 Iron Sights

Nowadays, the basic iron sight may seem to be neglected because of the enhancement of scope sights, ACOG, and red dot sights over the years. However, this isn’t true.

Read on to find out how to use AR 15 iron sights and other important information any shooter needs to know before using them!

What You’ll Need Before Using AR 15 Iron Sights

What You'll Need


This is a no-brainer when it comes to using guns and iron sights, whether it be rifles or other shooters.

Wearing them now is not only CHEAPER than if you had to go to a hospital after an accident. Plus, you’ll keep all your senses intact!

Eye protection, like a pair of goggles, can save you from a world of trouble if anything goes wrong.

Similarly, ear protection like earmuffs or earplugs helps you from suffering long-term hearing loss or other damage.

Plus, let’s face it: no shooter wants that loud ringing in their ears after each shot!

You can also check out this set if you want to get both at a cheaper price for your iron sight.

AR 15 Rifle Iron Sight

There are different kinds of iron sights for AR that shooters can choose from (more on this later), including those we couldn’t cover here because there are just too many of them.

Just remember that what matters is you learn to use them properly, regardless of what kind you choose.


A lot of open iron sights can be adjusted for windage and elevation, either by using your fingers or some tool like a screwdriver. If you have these tools, make sure to bring them.


You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy targets.

Whether you’re practicing with an M-16 or some other shooter, you can just draw or print targets on large pieces of paper.

For long ranges, we recommend you zero at 15 yards (like with the M-16) if you’re using open peep sights. Others also prefer aiming at 300 yards.

How to Use AR 15 Iron Sights in 3 Steps

Step 1: Fix Your Target

Fix Your Target

Now that you have everything ready, get the target you just drew or printed out and position it at your preferred range or field area.

Because you are using an AR 15 with iron sights, you should ideally place your target between 50 and 100 yards. You’re welcome to set it at another distance, though! It’s up to your preference.

  • Home defenders won’t need to place it that far since most of your encounters won’t require far shots.
  • For buffalo hunting, you should practice different distances.

The critical factor you need to consider is your target is in a safe space with a reliable bullet stop behind it.

You can do this in the woods or a shooting range, just make sure there are no random people around to avoid nasty accidents.

Step 2: Aim and Shoot

Aim and Shoot

Now that everything’s ready, it’s time to use your sighting system!

Remember how we said there are different types of iron sights? Well, the way you’ll aim and shoot will depend on the type of iron sights you have:

  1. If you have an open style, it’s quite easy to aim and fire.
  2. If you have an aperture style, you just have to raise your AR 15 so that you can see through the rear posts with the rear sight. Then, line up the ring or front post at the center.
  3. In the case of the bead-style sight, you should see the aiming point inside the circle. For target posts, just position the target so that the aiming point is right above it.

Take the time to focus on the front sight to ensure you line it up perfectly.

Remember: This isn’t about speed, but about how accurately you can aim your rifle

For a more detailed guide, you can check out our guide on How to Aim with Iron Sights Correctly.

Step 3: Zeroing In

Zeroing In

Check your first few shots and see if you need to make some adjustments.

Chances are, you will need to zero it in and adjust your iron sights accordingly. This is easy enough to do, so don’t worry.

Whether you’re dealing with a case of a bar sight or front sights that can be adjusted by hand or with the use of tools, the process of adjusting is simple. You just need to be patient and keep trying until you center your shots perfectly.

  1. First, set your gun on a rest, mark a target at close range, and fire the first round into your target.
  2. Second, move your red dot or scope several clicks and send another round onto your target.
  3. Now, depending on where it landed, adjust your red dot scope or iron sights left, right, up, or down, to compensate for the windage you are experiencing.
  4. Fire some test shots with your rifle again to see if you are now hitting your target.
  5. Then, rinse and repeat until you can position your gun, point your scope or rear sights onto your desired area, aim at the target, and fire.

Pro tip: Keep in mind your sight radius will affect the accuracy of your iron sights. The sight radius is the mounting system between the rear and front sight.

The farther away the rear and front sight are from each other, the more accurate it will be.

What Are Iron Sights For?

What for

In the case of home defenders, law enforcement officers who engage in urban close support situations, or even those who just love buffalo hunting rifle iron sights are sail essential.

They act as a backup sight if the glass of the sight you’re using becomes dirty or starts malfunctioning, which we know you don’t want when you’re in a dangerous situation.

You use them when the AR-15 uses the tower front sight, just like how it works in the old M-16. Both models also use the H bar sight on the receiver.

You use a small hole in the sight housing of the sight as peep or receiver sights. You look into the hole and line up the front sight to hone in your target.

Types of Iron Sights


The iron sight family has various members. The right one for you will depend on many circumstances. Relax and read on because this section will clear things up for you.

Generally, there are 3 general kinds in the iron sight family: bead types, open, and aperture. Each iron sight works differently.

  • Open iron sights refer to your primary sight post style that has a U shape or two posts for the rear sight. At the position closest to your eye is a single post at the end of the barrel.
  • The aperture is a style that has one ring or peephole in the sight housing that you look through and another at the end of the barrel. They can come with or without a single post inside.

1. Receiver Sight

Out of all the types of sights you can find, the receiver sight is the most precise. If you remember the old Sharps 45-100 long-range shooters, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

These are so good they are still used today for 1000-yard target shooting events.

Equipped with these receiver sights, the US Army favored the M1 Garand in 30-06 Springfield during World War Two.

Speaking of which, if you’re looking to do well in 1000-yard shooting, this weapon will do you well.

2. Front and Rear Sights

Another kind of rifle sight you might encounter for the AR 15 is the Square-Notched, Partridge Back or Squared-Off sight. If you ever get the chance to try these out, you shouldn’t pass it up!

This is an easy-to-handle combat-style iron sight and front sight designed to be tough for your use out in the field, especially if you tend to give your rifle a beating whenever you use it.

3. Flip-Up Rear Sight

This type of sighting has a spring tension system and is specifically designed for AR shooters, making them the perfect iron sight.

Unlike an ordinary type of rear sight, these will not obstruct your view when you’re not using them and can easily sit upright with its spring tension.

This means that the moment you need to use your iron sight, you can simply POP it out!

Final Words

Final Words

Whether you want a way to learn to use iron sights to shoot for fun or you want to be as good as US Army military shooters during World War Two, we hope this guide to how to use AR 15 iron sights helped!

Good luck with using your AR 15, then!



May 6, 2022 - Made minor updates to content and formatting
September 16, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links, updated article title

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