If you don’t own an AR-15 yet, I encourage you to put it on your Christmas list. Since there are dozens of companies who produce ARs (I like Rock River Arms and Colt), I’m sure somebody is having a Black Friday deal.
Of course, once you get an AR it becomes tempting to put a million bells and whistles on it and many folks end up spending more money on accessories than the actual AR itself. Personally, I’m a minimalist and believe the only things you truly need on an AR are a sling, light, and solid sights.
When it comes to sights for the AR, there are dozens of companies who make excellent optics. These include Aimpoint, EOTech, and if you really want to spend some money, Trijicon (get the ACOG or wait until the new year and get the VCOG.)
But even if you buy a quality optic…
I believe it’s extremely important that you have back-up sights on your rifle. The fact is, I’ve taught too many defensive rifle courses where a person’s battery has died on their optic and they have no back-up sights to rely on. Just imagine if you were using your rifle to defend yourself and the battery died and you had no other sighting option as someone was trying to attack you?
The good news is, if your AR doesn’t come with iron sights, they’re easy to purchase and install. For instance, Magpul makes back-up sights called the MBUS. These sights are made of polymer and you can get both the front and rear sight for about $100. Fab Defense is another company that makes polymer sights similar to the ones of Magpul. You can get a Fab Defense front and rear sight for around $75.
When most people think of the Blackhawk company they think of holsters. But Blackhawk also makes back-up sights that run around $100 for the combination. I could go on and on because many companies make back-up sights, but here’s the important thing to remember: Don’t be cheap about your back-up sights. Spending $75-$100 for a set of sights is nothing if your battery ever dies and you need those back-up sights to save your life.
Of course, if you decide to get back-up sights make sure you practice with them and that you also zero the sights. If you simply install them and never zero the sights they’re pointless because you have no idea if you’re actually going to hit your target when using them.