So you’ve had your AR-15 for a while now, and you’re getting a bit tired of it? Want to mod it but not sure how?
You’ve come to the right place! Most people think they need to enlist the help of a local gunsmith to remove and replace their AR-15 front sight base — but not you.
You can remove the front sight block from your AR-15 all by yourself at home.
And we’re here to walk you through all the steps.
From gathering the right tools, removing the handguard, the upper receiver, taking out the flash hider, the gas tube, and the front sight base pin, and finally the AR-15 front sight block itself.
Let’s get started!
- Tools You Need to Remove an AR 15 A2 Front Sight
- Step 1: Remove the Handguard Rifle
- Step 2: Remove the Accessories
- Step 3: Clamp the Upper Half of Your AR-15 Bolt Carrier
- Step 4: Remove the AR-15 Rifle Flash Hider
- Step 5: Grab Your Brass Hammer
- Step 6: Remove the Gas Tube Roll Pin From Your AR-15 Rifle
- Step 7: Punch Out the Front Sight Pins From Your AR-15 Rifle
- Step 8: Switch to the Taper Pin Punch
- Step 9: Front Sight Removal
- Step 10: Taking the Delta Ring Out of Your AR-15 Rifle
- Step 11: Clean the Colt Barrel (OPTIONAL)
- Step 12: Inspect the Gas Port (OPTIONAL)
- Safety Reminders for Removing an AR 15 A2 Front Sight
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. Does My AR-15 Rifle Need Any Rear Sights?
- 2. Won’t My AR-15 Need Iron Sights as Well?
- 3. I’m Left With a Bare Metal Barrel. Now What?
- 4. Can a Roll Pin Punch Be Reused?
- 5. Help! I Keep Punching the Pins, But They’re Not Moving?
- 6. Do I Absolutely Need to Install a Replacement Gas Block?
- 7. Do I Really Need to Get a New Crush Washer?
- 8. How Do I Know If My Taper Pins Are Round or Flat Headed?
- 9. What’s the Difference Between a Flat Headed Pin and a Round Headed One?
- Is the Front Sight Removal Process Worth It?
Tools You Need to Remove an AR 15 A2 Front Sight
Before you start removing the front sight post, make sure you grab the right tools first:
- Handguard removal tool – If your AR-15 rifle upper has a handguard attached, you need this tool to take it off
- Clamps – For holding the upper half of your AR-15 in place
- Vise blocks to hold the barrel
- Front sight bench block tool
- Nail starter punch – For the rounded taper pins. Or a flat-headed steel punch for flat-headed ones
- Armorer’s wrench – Any kind of wrench from your tools will do, but this kind works best
- A generous amount of oil for heavily used guns
- Brass or plastic hammer (or any kind that is lighter than your usual steel one)
- You might also need to grab a barrel nut wrench
- An old fabric or towel (OPTIONAL)
- Anti-seize grease (OPTIONAL)
Step 1: Remove the Handguard Rifle
Most AR-15 guns are equipped with a handguard (like a free float tube) that you will need to remove first before dealing with the A2 front sight block.
NOTE: But if your gun does not have the standard two-piece handguard, just skip this step and go straight to dealing with your AR-15 fixed front sight.
For this step, we’ll need your AR-15 handguard removal tool:
- Grab the hooks and place them in the front of the mag. Then slip the arms through the delta ring.
- Next, pull the arms of the handguard back and towards the rear of your AR-15 rifle.
- This will compress the spring and allow you to remove the halves of your AR-15 rifle handguard.
Step 2: Remove the Accessories
For this step, we’ll need your padded vise block to hold the barrel. Go and get your armorer’s wrench too, so you can turn the flash hider before removing the front sight.
- First, separate the upper half of your AR-15 rifle from the lower part.
- Take out the bolt carrier and charging handle.
- Then make sure you also take out the attached rear sights, carry handles, and red dot optics.
Step 3: Clamp the Upper Half of Your AR-15 Bolt Carrier
Now with the charging handle removed from the upper receiver of your AR-15 rifle, it’s time for the next step.
- Grab and place it in the vise block. The upper receiver might not fit the vise block the first time, so wiggle it around inside first until you get the fit right. You know the fit is right when it can close completely.
- Then load the upper receiver into your bench vise. Make sure the bench vise is mounted properly, then we can proceed with removing the flash hider!
Step 4: Remove the AR-15 Rifle Flash Hider
Now the next step in removing the front sight is the flash hider.
- You can now start turning the flash hider with your wrench. We recommend you use an armorer’s wrench, but any wrench will be able to turn the flash hider too.
- After removing the flash hider, you will also notice that the attached crush washer tapers slightly towards the back. It should only be used once.
Step 5: Grab Your Brass Hammer
For this step in removing the front sight, you will need your roll pin punch and a light hammer (a brass or plastic hammer, and even a rubber mallet will do).
Now, why do you need a special hammer when you’ve already got a perfectly working steel one?
FOR SAFETY. When your steel hammer hits those steel pins, it will most likely send them flying. You don’t want your steel hammer to send that little roll pin to attack your eyes.
This is also the reason why you need to wear those safety goggles.
Step 6: Remove the Gas Tube Roll Pin From Your AR-15 Rifle
Grab your front sight bench block for this step:
- Place down your AR-15 upper half from the vise and also the action block on your front sight bench block. You will notice that the front sight bench block has PINS IN and PINS OUT sides and that the upper half is designed to fit the front sight bench block ONLY ONE WAY.
- Lay the front sight bench block with the PINS OUT facing up and place your AR-15 upper half on it.
- Next, we will punch the gas tube roll pin out with your hammer. While you punch, try to control your strength to not break the taper pins in the process.
- With the gas tube roll pin out, you can now easily slide the gas tube off. Depending on how heavily used your AR-15 rifle is, you might also need to use your hammer to force the tube out.
Step 7: Punch Out the Front Sight Pins From Your AR-15 Rifle
Sight base taper pins are a bit hard to remove, so first, you have to identify the small end of the pin and apply penetrating oil on the pin before you start to punch.
- Check the taper pins — usually, they drive out from left to right.
- If your sight base pins are rounded on the end, it’s important that you use your nail set punch (or taper pin starter punch) first.
- If, however, the taper pins have a flat head, then use your flat-headed punch instead.
- Now center your taper pin starter punch on the head of the steel pin, and make sure it’s standing straight. It’s very important to keep it ON TOP of the steel pin the entire time you punch!
- Then, take your brass hammer and give it a few hits to loosen the pins. Removing these taper pins will require a bit more strength than removing the gas tube roll pin.
Step 8: Switch to the Taper Pin Punch
Now you can switch to the taper pin punch to finish driving out the sight base pins. And do the same with the other side and punch them down too.
Be careful not to overdrive your taper pin punch, or you might cause damage to your gun in the process.
Step 9: Front Sight Removal
Now let’s remove the A2 front sight itself from your AR-15 rifle.
With the gas tube and all the tapered pins removed, you can now drive the front sight base from the barrel.
If you are looking to change into a free float, you might need to change out the barrel nut as well using a barrel nut wrench.
Taking Your A2 Front Sight Out Manually
Removing the front sights could be as easy as simply pulling it off with your hand. Just wiggle the front sight left and right and pull it out.
The A2 front sight is connected to the gas tube, so be careful while twisting the front sight out.
You DO NOT want to accidentally crook the gas tube and break the front sight.
Using Tools to Get Your A2 Front Sight Out
With heavily used guns, you might need your brass hammer to force your A2 front sight out.
You might also want to apply penetrating oil on the front sight if it is still too hard to just hammer out.
Step 10: Taking the Delta Ring Out of Your AR-15 Rifle
We are now at the last step!
- Take the upper part of your AR-15 rifle and clamp it again. Then using the wrench, take the delta ring off the barrel.
- The barrel can now be separated from the upper half of your AR-15 rifle.
And you’re done. Congratulations on successfully removing the A2 front sight and gas block from your AR-15 rifle!
If you would also like to clean your AR-15 barrel to prepare it for the new gas block, we’ll walk you through the optional steps below:
Step 11: Clean the Colt Barrel (OPTIONAL)
With your old gas block removed, take a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe clean the gas tube and barrel.
Using anti-seize grease on the contact surfaces will also help ready it for the next low-profile gas block.
Step 12: Inspect the Gas Port (OPTIONAL)
You might also want to check the gas port while you’re at it.
It is possible that the gas port has deteriorated over time from high temperature and high-pressure gas escaping from it and rushing back into the gas tube on its way to the receiver.
If your low-profile gas block still looks clean and intact, then great! It’s totally set for a new gas tube.
In the future, you can make sure your gas port is always in working condition by getting gas port pin gauges for measuring.
Now, your rifle is ready for its new gas block!
Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions in installing the next low-profile gas block on your rifle.
Safety Reminders for Removing an AR 15 A2 Front Sight
Keep these in mind while removing the gas block and front sight:
#1 Find a Flat and Solid Surface to Work On
Your gun and all the steel tools we will be using are heavy.
To remove the front sight and gas block, we will hammer, punch, pull, and do all sorts of things to your steel gun that will require strength and force.
You need a sturdy and reliable table to take out the gas block and front sight, which can withstand all the weight and force.
#2 Unload Your AR-15 Rifle
Before starting anything, don’t forget to unload your rifle. We do NOT want any accidents happening while we remove the sight block.
#3 Detach All the Add-Ons on Your AR-15
Most people have a few extras installed on their AR-15.
If you are one of them, see to it that you have disassembled everything from the carry handles, rear optics, etc., before we start.
#4 Put On Your Safety Goggles and Gloves
We know we already told you to get a new hammer for your AR-15 rifle front sight removal.
But as an extra measure of precaution, make sure you are also wearing your safety goggles THE ENTIRE TIME we remove the front sight.
This is just in case the gas tube roll pin or any of the taper pins decide to attack and fly directly to your eyes. Your goggles are there to defend you!!
You might also want to pull up your gloves for added protection while going through the entire process.
#5 Penetrating Oil Is Your Best Friend
From your taper pins, front sight pins, down to the gas tube roll pin, there is no pin on your front sights that a little oil can not loosen!
Do not be shy in applying it either. A generous amount of oil on the pins will make the entire process easier.
#6 Use Padded Vise Blocks
Doing this will prevent your barrel from being scratched. Alternatively, you could also use towels or some old fabric on the vise blocks to protect your barrel.
#7 Go Easy on the Gas Tube
While taking out the A2 front sight, take special care of the gas tube and DO NOT use too much force.
You do NOT want to break the alignment and bend the gas port by mistake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? We got you!
1. Does My AR-15 Rifle Need Any Rear Sights?
It depends on you.
Some AR-15 owners are fine with just the front sight base without rear sights.
Meanwhile, others prefer theirs with rear sights on top of the front sights post.
2. Won’t My AR-15 Need Iron Sights as Well?
If you are thinking about getting iron sights as a backup, then NO. You do not really need iron sights.
If however, you do NOT have any kind of sight or red dot optics, then YES, you need to install iron sights.
3. I’m Left With a Bare Metal Barrel. Now What?
When you remove the front sight base, you might find yourself with two strips of bare barrel steel.
Your gun manufacturer probably installed the front sight base first before parkerizing your arms.
This time, you might want to take your rifle to your local gunsmith to have your arms reparkerized without any color difference.
But if you prefer to DIY it all the way, just grab some high temp grill paint and apply a couple of coats.
And if you’re asking why you can’t just use some Sharpie, it’s because you want to protect those exposed strips from rust.
4. Can a Roll Pin Punch Be Reused?
Roll pins, nut barrels, and taper pins are more “one-time-use” parts and are supposed to be replaced when you install your new front sight.
Besides, a roll pin punch is cheap and readily available! You do not have to worry that much about saving them for later.
5. Help! I Keep Punching the Pins, But They’re Not Moving?
Here are a few solutions that might work:
Maybe You’re Tapping Them From the Wrong Side
Most pins drive out from left to right, but you have to check first:
- Look at the pins from both sides and look for the side pin smaller in diameter.
- Remember that the pins are tapered, so start tapping from the smaller side to the bigger side.
- You could also check your manufacturer’s instructions. Maybe they have some information on how to drive the pins out easily.
Another Option Is to Oil the Pins First
Sometimes you are already tapping them from the correct side, but they are just really stuck.
Apply a generous amount of oil and let it sit for about an hour before you start driving them out again.
Or Add a Little More Strength
Another possibility is that you need to use more strength while hammering.
We know we said to lightly tap on our previous instructions, so gradually increase the strength you use when you tap.
6. Do I Absolutely Need to Install a Replacement Gas Block?
When you take out the front sight, you do need to install new gas blocks. Gas blocks work by driving the bolt carrier by directing gas from the barrel down the gas tube and back into the receiver.
It is an essential component of the rifle’s operation.
7. Do I Really Need to Get a New Crush Washer?
Just like the pin, it is made to be used only once and must be replaced every time.
Also, if you torqued it too hard during the removal process, then the orientation would not be right. And if you torqued it too lightly, it could also be too loose.
8. How Do I Know If My Taper Pins Are Round or Flat Headed?
It’s super easy!
Just take a close look. If you notice that the pin is protruding a bit and looks more obvious, then it is a rounded one.
If it’s more hidden and well…flat, then it is a flat-headed one!
9. What’s the Difference Between a Flat Headed Pin and a Round Headed One?
Round-headed ones have a slight taper to them, while flatheads have more of a straight pin.
The only difference the two pins have is that the tapered ones are easier to drive out and install, thanks to being able to screw them in.
But because of the taper, sometimes a gun or two gets the pin driven in them the wrong way. As a result, you’ll have a harder time punching them out and will need to exert extra strength.
This is the benefit of the straight pin. There is no way to install them incorrectly, even by accident. You never have to give it more strength than usual when driving them out.
But when they’re already in the gun, both function basically the same way. No pin type is better than the other.
Is the Front Sight Removal Process Worth It?
After reading all of this, there might be a voice in the back of your mind or some internet thread saying that taking it to a professional gunsmith is better than doing all the hard work by yourself.
That might be true, but it’s also not that difficult to remove the front sight at home and all by yourself. Also, having all the right tools and being careful every step of the way makes everything easier.
Now that we’ve walked you through the process, you can probably gauge for yourself if you are up to the task.
We’ll be honest, though — some guns are harder to work with than others. But no gun is impossible to work with.
Just remember that this is 100% doable, even by newbies!
Also, let’s not put aside how cost-effective this project will be. Not to mention fun!
If you’re someone who loves to work and create things with your hands, then this project is definitely for you.
And now we’re really done! Congratulations on going through all the steps (even the additional ones) and all the safety measures.
You are now well-equipped and have more than enough knowledge to remove your front sight base without enlisting the help of a professional.
Go grab your supplies and your gun, then find a solid bench and start working today!
If you’re successful, maybe you can even volunteer to mod your friends’ guns or even teach them how to do it themselves!
FINAL TIP: After going through this whole removal process, we highly recommend you also learn how to mount riflescopes correctly.
CHANGELOG: May 26, 2022 - updated article title May 16, 2022 - minor content edits