How to Sight in Backup AR-15 Sights

Posted by Frankie Chan on 8th Feb 2022

When using your AR-15, the better your sight, the more accurate your shots. Adding high-quality backup sights to your rifle can improve your aim and help you shoot more precisely and confidently. Many backup sights also enable faster target acquisition, which is vital in any shooting situation.

Backup sights allow you to continue using the firearm accurately even if your regular or red dot scope fails. These sights fold down when not in use to keep them out of the way, then flip up with ease when you need them, allowing you to get right back to shooting. Both front and rear backup sights come in a wide range of configurations so you can find the perfect fit for your intended use.

Whatever backup sights you choose, it's important to sight them in properly. Since backup sights are slightly different than a standard set, sighting them in requires specific equipment and steps to ensure your line of sight meets your intended point of impact.

Equipment You'll Need

You'll want to confirm the accuracy of your backup sights on the range before using the gun for anything else. The goal is to zero your rifle to shoot a target at a specific distance. Sighting in your AR-15 backup sights requires the gun itself and a few other pieces of equipment, including:

  • At least two boxes of ammunition
  • Proper eye and ear protection
  • A rifle rest, such as a bench rest, sandbags, or bipod
  • A spotting scope (recommended)
  • Adjustment tools that fit your sights
  • Paper targets with a center bullseye and underlying 1-inch grid

Steps to Sighting in Backup Sights

Once you have your equipment, use the following steps as a guide to sight in your AR-15s backup sights:

  1. Ensure your backup sights are installed properly and mounted securely to your rifle: If you can wiggle the sights with your hands, they aren't adequately secured and should be tightened.
  2. Mechanically zero your backup sights: For the front sight, adjust the base of the post until it's level with the housing. For the rear sight, ensure the aperture is centered in the housing by moving it all the way to one side. Then, move it all the way to the other side and count how many clicks it takes to get there. Divide that number by two, then move the aperture back by that number of clicks.
  3. Set up a steady shooting position: Shoot from a stable bench or platform with a comfortable seat behind it. Place a rifle rest on your platform, anchoring the rifle at two points on the stock.
  4. Begin shooting your target: Fire three shots at the center of your target at 25 yards.
  5. Check your target for shot placement: The average measurement from your three shots is your approximate point of impact.
  6. Adjust your sights accordingly: Calculate the adjustments you need to make to bring your point of impact to the center of the target. For most backup sights, you'll adjust the front sight up or down and the rear sight left or right.
  7. Fire three more shots: If the group hits the target, your AR-15 is now zeroed at 25 yards. If it doesn't, continue making adjustments until you have a centered group on the bullseye.
  8. Start shooting at a longer range: Repeat the same shooting procedure from 50 or 100 yards, firing three careful shots at the target, checking their placement and making adjustments until you have a centered group on the bullseye.
  9. Confirm your zero: After making your final adjustments, fire one last group to confirm your zero.

Purchase Backup AR-15 Sights From Wing Tactical

Wing Tactical is your source for top-quality backup AR-15 sights. We carry backup sights from top manufacturers like Magpul and Troy Industries that you can trust to perform to the highest standards, even in the most demanding environments. We also offer discounted prices to give you the best value on your purchase.

When you buy from us, you'll benefit from perks like next-day shipping and 30-day, hassle-free returns. Our goal is to ensure you end up with the right parts and accessories that get you back at the range as soon as possible. 

Shop backup sights from Wing Tactical today to ensure your AR-15 will always fires at its best.