I use primarily RDS's. However, I would never be without irons. I run my RDS's with lower 1/3 co-witness mounts. On my AR, I have a standard gas block/sight and a Troy rear flip up sight. I generally keep the rear sight flipped up at all times and just look over the irons at the red dot. If I need irons, I just lower my head down not even a 1/4". I keep the rear flip up sight because at times, mainly if I need to sight the my RDS or take distance shots, I put a 4x magnifier behind my Aimpoint. And being able to flip the sight down out of the way of the magnifier rather than removing a fixed sight is nice.
Irons are essential, even though I rarely use them. I will on occasion use them at the range just to stay acquainted with them. Otherwise, using an RDS has far to many benefits for me to not use at all. I"m not an "operator", but other than range use, I keep my AR set up for defensive use inside 100 yards. It's sighted at 50. And most likely to ever be used inside 50 or even 25 yards. So being able to be on target super fast is a great benefit. At distance when you have time to use irons and line them up perfectly, they work just fine. But even at distance I still like the RDS because it doesn't "cover" the target and your view of the target isn't blocked. Also to focus on the front sight, yor target will be very hard to see, being blured out. With an RDS, this isn't a problem.
Irons work great, but for me they're a back-up. I much prefer a RDS, Aimpoint or Eotech. My favorite "budget" RDS are Primary Arms. There are few other great ones, but I have no first hand experience with them. I run an Aimpoint on my AR, Primary Arms (Aimpoint T-1 clone) on me AK and an Eotech on my tacticool 10/22. Don't use irons on the .22 as it's not a defensive rifle. It's just a plinker.
All my AR's have Optics, Aimpoint, ACOG, SWFA or Leupold. All but one have BUIS.
"I still like the RDS because it doesn't "cover" the target and your view of the target isn't blocked. Also to focus on the front sight, yor target will be very hard to see, being blured out. With an RDS, this isn't a problem."
Not to argue the point, because I understand this line of thinking, but, with at distance shooting, the front sight should not cover the target. The proper use of the front sight is a 6 o'clock hold. In this way, you are using the clear tip of the front sight post which allows for a clear and unobstructed view of the target.
The proper manipulation of the battle sights, and knowing and understanding how many inches of click move the POI at a given distance is essential with iron sights. Once this is understood and applied, the RDS is actually at a disadvantage at unknown distance shooting.
RKM, I am not saying you do not understand this, I am just quoting this to make a point. I believe the desire by many newcomers to the AR to have the RDS, is based on the ignorant notion that if they can put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger, they can hit the target regardless of distance.
Please listen to this; if you are reading this, and are new to the AR platform, learn how the iron sights work! They are designed for 25-5 or 600 meter shooting with just an easy and quick sight adjustment. Even if you plan to use RDS, this will make you more proficient with the rifle!
I only use iron sights. That's how I learned, that's how I do it.
Originally Posted by TWO GUNS
I only use irons. Optics are neat, but I like my rifle to be as light, simple and fast as possible.
And AR combat setup is pretty perfect out of the box with and A1 or A2 setup. Mine is a 14.5 inch AR, and I toyed with thoughts of optics, but I don't really need or want optics in the way on a short carbine SD gun, but I still had visions of some longer shots. Bought a 20" heavy flat top upper, mounted a nice 3-9x50 Pentax scope, now I have a nice 400 Yard gun too, and a tack driver at 100 yards, and this makes for a 30 second swap out with the very best of both worlds.
I used the carry handle for a little bit until my parents offered to get me an optic for my AR. I've got an Aimpoint PRO/MBUS combo kit coming from PSA. It should be here early next week.
This was my first AR, so it was done on a "broke college kid" budget, and ended up being a PSA carbine build. My next one is either going to be an M16A2 or SDM-R clone, and the one after that will be whichever one I didn't get the time before.
There is a reason why they are called BUIS these days (Back Up Iron Sights)
I have an A2 Non removable carry handle and rear sight elevation and windage adjustable commando forgery 11.5" barrel with 5.5" flash suppressor permanently attached it's my HD gun and at those ranges point and shoot will do the job,I carried an M16A1 in the service before they came out with the A2,the A1 rear sight only had windage adjustment and elevation was accomplished by turning front sight up or down,If the rear sight has elevation adjustment you have an A2 upper
Irons are nice and I wouldn't feel underfunded if that's all I had, but with the advantage of red dot optics, it would be silly for me to take every single advantage available. If I was only 5% faster with an optic, then I want that 5%. If this is a defensive rifle, then I want every possible advantage because stuff happens fast and we can't always ask for the best lighting or get the proper cheek weld for irons, though a flash of the front sight is better than nothing at all.
I'm confident I could fight well with only irons. I'm confident I could fight better with a red dot. I'm faster and more accurate. A 2 or 4 MOA dot beats an 8 MOA post, no matter who you are. The real question isn't if the red dot optics allow you to be faster, track the sight/dot easier and more accurate... The question should be , do you train enough to take advantage of a red dot or does your rifle fill a role where it will make any noticeable difference?
If my rifle fills a role where I shoot in different lighting conditions, shoot from awkward positions, fire quickly from ready or relaxed positions, fire multiple shots quickly, etc... Then I will likely benefit from a red dot if I train on it PROPERLY, making full use of the dot and the window it appears in. If my rifle fills a bench shooting role, or a slow, deliberate fire role, then I'll likely do just fine with irons and probably will not see enough benefit to warrant $400+.
I'm not in any way saying the role that benefits most from a red dot cannot be accomplished with irons... I'm just saying that pretty much every shooter out there will see a benefit, IF, and only if, they train properly. That benefit may be 5% gains, or it may be 50% gains.
There are numerous examples where shooters time themselves with irons only then with a red dot. Almost every single example I've seen, there have been considerable differences in firing from a ready position, and in almost every example there has been a decent improvement in split times. Some of you may be fast enough with irons, that any additional gain would be relatively small, but I can almost gauruntee that at least 90% of the time, there will be a noticeable advantage.
If your life depends on your weapon, then any advantage is worth the price of admission, at least in my opinion. If you shoot a rifle for fun, personally I think it's worth it, but in that case, it's a very personal decision.
I can tell you right now, after having both of my T1's stolen along with a ton of other stuff, the other day, I know for a fact that I am slower from the ready and slower between shots. Since I keep a rifle handy at work, I feel this puts me at a disadvantage, and it's a disadvantage I'm NOT alright with. Hopefully in a month or two, I'll replace at least a T1 and the Aimpoint 3x. Until then, I may have to deal with irons.
If I had a partner or teammate that shot well with irons and could use them properly in different conditions, then I'd be all for it.
With all due respect, AR's are not set up pretty perfect for combat with an A1 or A2 set up. If that was the case, we wouldn't be on the A4. Combat arms gets issued A4s, the only places you see A2s anymore are non-combat arms issue weapons. Or at least that is what I saw in the Marines.
Originally Posted by garwha
The standard issue low magnified optic or red dot sight is in my humble opinion, one of the most important technological advances in infantry small arms post WW2. Having a low magnification optic, like 3-4x, gives a huge advantage in longer distance engagements, as well as in target identification. And then you add in the Bindon Aiming Concept, and the advantage it gives in short distance CQB use, and it becomes very clear, very quickly, an A1 or A2 is not ideally set up for combat. It is true that you can mount a optic on a fixed carrying handle, but it is very high over the bore axis, which detracts from how effective it is.
Back to the OP's question. I run a fixed (non-folding) back up iron behind an Aimpoint RDS. If you just buy an AR and stick a red dot on there, and never learn the irons, you are doing a disservice to yourself. We used to qual with irons at 500 yards, such shooting is very doable. But, I could get good hits faster with an ACOG than with irons. But irons don't have lenses to crack, or batteries to die, which is why you should have a set up irons on the gun, and know how to use them.
I have owned my CAR-15 for 33 years, and have never used anything other than factory iron. I became proficient with the sight system in AIT, and have never considered adding anything to it.
For a no-nonsense ranch rifle that I carry to kill stuff with, I have a 16" carbine with regular ole stock and A2 iron sights. My eyesight isn't near what it used to be, but I can still hit just about anything that needs shot out to 250 yds. For a real good plain jane rifle that you are actually going to bang around in the pickup and use on a daily basis, and not just play SWAT with, I think that iron sights are the only way to go. So far it's worked for me. Don't see much "combat" around here though, knock on wood.
Hmmmm.. I don't know about "playing SWAT", but whether I'm training officers, escorting a client or killing hogs or coyotes, the red dot is a serious advantage.
I've dropped my rifle down cement steps with a T1 on top and it held zero. Fallen numerous times, banged around in vehicles constantly, smacked into all kinds of things, keeps on ticking. I have broken a few BUIS though.
Jon, this is an Aimpoint I got from one of the guys I trained years ago who gave it to me upon returning in 2005. Itsbeat all to hell. but still works. Hell, the battery still works and the glass is in good shape as it has flip up rubber guards on it. Can you tell me what kind of battery it takes, and anything else I need to know about it? Im going to mount it on the Colt and start experimenting.