Defensive Rifle Iron Sights

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Many modern AR-type rifles are equipped with a red-dot sight that helps the shooter get hits on target. But what if you have a 1980s or 1990s vintage AR with iron sights and the carry handle that makes mounting a red-dot sight a challenge?


Is this type of rifle still a viable weapon for personal or home defense? Rob Pincus has the first AR-type firearm he bought, in the early 1990s, and it’s basically still in the same configuration he bought it in. Only the bolt carrier group, adjustable stock (it started with a fixed stock), and charging handle are different. But the firing mechanism, carry handle, barrel, and rifle iron sights are all the original Colt parts.

Rob thinks the question of whether this rifle is a viable defensive firearm is a bit facetious — of course it is, as long as it’s in good operating condition. But the older rifle iron sights throw a lot of people off when you look at today’s modern AR-type firearms, which very rarely have any type of carry handle, and if they do, it’s a removable one.

Usually modern ARs have a rail for mounting a red-dot sight. Though there are ways to mount a red-dot sight on the older AR carry handle, it gives you a lot of mechanical offset, which is not the best option.


If you have done and continue to keep up with your rifle training and practice, there’s no reason you can’t defend yourself, your loved ones, and your home with this rifle and its iron sights. The only difference is that instead of finding a modern red dot, you use the ghost ring and the dot as furnished by these rifle iron sights. Look for that and put rounds on target.

Rob does some shooting to illustrate his point. It may be a bit slower to take a precise shot such as a head shot, but it’s completely doable, and putting rounds into the high center chest area should be no problem. Keep in mind that the offset with these rifle iron sights is a bit different than what we’re used to with a red-dot sight.

In a worst-case scenario, your older AR-type rifle can definitely be employed as a defensive firearm.