I like iron sights. When I’m using a high-powered scope I sometimes feel like all I have to do is pull the trigger to hit my target. There’s skill involved, for sure, but it isn’t quite like Atticus Finch taking care of business at 100 yards.
Magpul has a great reputation for quality, and their MBUS polymer “irons” are reasonably priced at $57.95 for the rear sight and $39.95 for the front sight. Both sights fold down if you’re using a red dot or scope, and they can be flipped back up with a simple push of a button.
If you’re looking for something a little more durable, Magpul also offers an MBUS Pro line made entirely of steel.
Remember those old Geico commercials about cavemen? Installing the MBUS sights is kind of like that—easy. Magpul includes instructions in the packaging, so I won’t repeat what you can read for yourself. But I find pictures to be helpful for any installation, so I’ll briefly describe the process.
Start by using a flathead screwdriver or the supplied tool to remove the retention screws.
The sights are designed to slide onto a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny/STANAG 4694 receiver rail, which means that as long as you didn’t buy your AR from Shady Steve down the street, they’ll fit your firearm.
Slide the sights onto the rail so that the sight aperture and post are facing the rear of the gun. For the rear sight, you’ll want to pull your charging handle back before installing the sight.
While you can place your irons at any point along the rail, the distance between the front and rear sight should be as large as possible. This allows you to more easily see small movements in your point of aim.
After you have the sights where you want them, simply reinstall and tighten the retention screws. Don’t go crazy with the torque—too much tightening can damage the polymer sights.
The sights can be deployed by pushing the large button on the front of the sight or the two smaller buttons on either side.
The rear sight also includes two aperture sizes: a small opening for longer range targeting and a large opening for closer ranges.
As you might expect, there’s some debate as to the proper distance for zeroing iron sights. The most common distances are 50 and 100 yards, though I’ve also heard of shooters zeroing out to 200.
You can decide what’s best for you and your shooting needs, but I tend to zero at closer distances. My eyes aren’t the greatest, so I can’t actually tell at 100 yards if I’m moving my point of aim. At fifty yards I can more precisely aim at the center of the target, so that’s the distance I usually zero iron sights. Plus, zeroing at fifty yards means I don’t have to worry as much about holding under at close ranges.
Zeroing iron sights is much like zeroing a scope. Start with the target at 20 or 25 yards to get yourself on paper and move out from there.
The front MBUS sight adjusts for elevation (using the supplied tool) and the rear sight adjusts for windage (using the dial). Both sights include directional arrows so you can tell which way to turn the dial to adjust your point of aim.
The amount each click will move your point of aim depends on the distance between the front and rear sight. According to Magpul, the rear sight adjusts ~0.7 MOA per click with a 14.5″ sight radius and ~0.5 MOA (0.547″/100m) per click with a 20″ sight radius. The front sight adjusts ~1.6 MOA per click with a 14.5″ sight radius, and ~1.2 MOA per click with a 20″ sight radius.
I didn’t have much trouble. I started at 25 yards and kept moving back until I got a decent group at 50 yards.
I stopped adjusting after a while because it was tough to tell my precise point of aim. But at the distances I’ll be shooting with irons, I’m satisfied with these results. Those last five or six shots were all within a decent one-inch group. And, if I ever want to dial it down a little more precisely, I’m confident that the sight adjustments will work like they’re supposed to the next time I’m at the range.
Overall, installing and zeroing Magpul’s MBUS polymer iron sights was a surprisingly painless process. I’ll definitely consider these sights for my next AR build, and I’d 100 percent recommend them to anyone in the market for an affordable set of backup sights.
About the Author: Jordan Michaels is a new convert to the gun world. A Canadian immigrant to the United States, he recently became an American citizen and is happily enjoying his newly-acquired Second Amendment freedoms. He’s a communications professional, a political junkie, and an avid basketball fan.