Fold Down Sights: A solution in search for a problem?


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DMK
January 28, 2004, 12:57 PM
I was looking at folding front and rear sights for ARs. Obviously these are for use when mounting optics. However, I'm wondering if these are really woth the extra money.

What are the benefits of folding over co-witnessing for a red dot? If running magnified optics, I could see the benefit of a folding rear sight, but why the front?

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MLC
January 28, 2004, 01:02 PM
With a low power scope mounted on the rail the front sight could obstruct your vision. Same for Aimpoints or other dot type sights.

DMK
January 28, 2004, 02:06 PM
With a low power scope mounted on the rail the front sight could obstruct your vision. Same for Aimpoints or other dot type sights. Like I said above, I can see maybe having that problem with a magnified scope(especially a 2x), but doesn't co-witnessing your red dot with the iron sights solve that problem?

Shawn Dodson
January 28, 2004, 02:32 PM
If the optics get damaged or severely occluded it can be removed and the shooter can drive-on using his iron back-ups.

And, as already mentioned, some shooters prefer a clear field of view through their optics.

JNewell
January 28, 2004, 02:33 PM
In the only real-world failure I've had with an optical sight, there was no time to deploy a fold-up rear sight, much less front and rear. Having co-witnessed stock irons and an optical sight are much less of a problem than you'd think, when you really get out and use the rifle for its intended purposes.

DMK
January 28, 2004, 03:12 PM
Having co-witnessed stock irons and an optical sight are much less of a problem than you'd think, when you really get out and use the rifle for its intended purposes. That's what I'm thinking. I can even see how a folding front sight may be better than a fixed front sight with really low power scopes, but does the rear sight really get in the way with optics?

I'm also wondering how stable folding sights are. There must be some play in them to allow them to fold easily.

Shawn Dodson
January 28, 2004, 03:43 PM
Think in the context of a soldier in the field with damaged equipment, not police/private citizen use.

A soldier in the field with damaged/unusable optics doesn't have many luxuries. He has only what he carries.

Edited to add:

When I was infantry and making decisions about what I wanted to hump in the field, I applied the grunt's golden rule of thumb: "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."

cordex
January 28, 2004, 03:49 PM
Think in the context of a soldier in the field with damaged equipment, not police/private citizen use.

A soldier in the field with damaged/unusable optics doesn't have many luxuries. He has only what he carries.
Shawn,
I don't think he's arguing against backup irons, I think he's questioning the utility of having fold-down backup irons.

Zak Smith
January 28, 2004, 04:00 PM
A flip-up rear BUIS (back-up iron sight) such as the ARMS #40 is nice because you leave it mounted all the time, folded down under or behind your ACOG, Leupold, or Aimpoint. While you could probably make do with a fixed rear sight and an Aimpoint, your field of view will be less obstructed. A fixed rear won't even work with a Leupy or ACOG. So in the unlikely event that your primary optic fails, you just hit the release lever for the optic and pop up the iron. It's zeroed and you're ready to rock.

I do somewhat question the flip-up front sights. It'd be better to keep the standard A2-type front sight tower. It's durable and isn't goint to move. On virtually any magnified optic, including an ACOG, you won't really notice the front sight in the scope view. There will just be a little grey fuzz in the lower part of the image - no problem.

-z

MLC
January 28, 2004, 04:00 PM
Well I'm not going out into oncoming fire,
I'm just shooting at paper and maybe the rogue can or melon.
For my application I wanted a 2.5x scope mounted on my flattop.
With the rings that didn't require a cheek piece the scope was not usable due to the front sight obstructing the target.
I can cowitness fine with my Reflex but I often wish my front sight was out of the way.

Shawn Dodson
January 28, 2004, 04:01 PM
I don't think he's arguing against backup irons, I think he's questioning the utility of having fold-down backup irons. On a flattop, what is one going to use as a rear sight when one cannot see through damaged optics?

Vern Humphrey
January 28, 2004, 04:28 PM
The only time I've had a problem like this was with an M14 sniper rifle (pre-M24), which I carried in my command track. I was trying to engage an NVA and the scope caps were on. My right shoulder and collar bone were broken, and I couldn't figure out how to hold onto the rifle and get them off.

I finally just lined up over the scope.

MrPink
January 28, 2004, 06:10 PM
As some have said, a BUIS is a nice addition - peace of mind for most of us non-military/LEO folk. Also one more gadget to buy!

That being said, I have dinked around with both a folding BUIS, the KAC 300M and a fixed BUIS, the LMT. Personally, I have come to prefer the KAC because it folds down and is out of the way of the primary optic, an EOtech 551.

The LMT is certianly well made and very functional and has the benefit of being there right now. But most all of the time its not needed and provides more "stuff" that obscures or clutters up the perpherial image.

JNewell
January 28, 2004, 10:10 PM
Yes, my point was that fold-up sights are just about as useless as none at all. Maybe not quite, but close. <throws gauntlet down>

On a flattop, what is one going to use as a rear sight when one cannot see through damaged optics?

There are several options for a rear sight that is fixed on a flattop. You can take a hacksaw to the carryhandle, for one. A more finished solution is one of the purpose-made fixed rear sights. I have a Yankee Hill that is extremely sturdy, but there are a couple of other competing producs.

I'd actually argue that for the purposes for which the rifle was originally designed that the original (carryhandle) upper is at least as good a choice as the flattop. Use one of the forward mounts to put the optical sight forward of the handle -- you'll get better overall target/target area visibility and faster target acquisition.

Shawn Dodson
January 28, 2004, 10:32 PM
There are several options for a rear sight that is fixed on a flattop. You can take a hacksaw to the carryhandle, for one. I'm referring to damage discovered while on patrol, insertion, etc., that make the optic totally unusable, as opposed to a mechanical failure. Just remove the optic, flip up the sight(s) and continue on your merry way. I'd actually argue that for the purposes for which the rifle was originally designed that the original (carryhandle) upper is at least as good a choice as the flattop. Use one of the forward mounts to put the optical sight forward of the handle -- you'll get better overall target/target area visibility and faster target acquisition. Concur. However, in my case I'm quicker with iron sights than red dot optics. So I leave the optics to others.

Cheers!

Onslaught
January 28, 2004, 10:43 PM
I'm not going to argue for or against exactly... I look at them like most other things, they're great for those who want them, waste of time for those that don't.

I spend a lot of time on AR15.com, and most guys who use EOTechs prefer the fold down front... NOT ALL, but a good many, and yes, even the high speed military types. The EOTech mounts low, so much that you're using absolute co-witness... When you look THROUGH the iron sights, the reticle is in the middle of the glass. When you look OVER the rear iron sight like one should using a red-dot, the reticle is all crowded up in the top third of the glass...

It's just a preference.

Heck, I don't even see the usefulness of REAR folding sights using a red-dot, but that's just my preference.

There was obviously at least a strong "want" for them, or else they wouldn't be selling like crazy, with more brands coming up all the time.

JNewell
January 29, 2004, 08:26 AM
I'm referring to damage discovered while on patrol, insertion, etc.,

That's certainly one failure situation, and in that case you'd have an opportunity to deploy pop-up sights. But it isn't the only failure situation, and if (for example) you knock the optical sight falling, and the rifle is needed right now, it's very unrealistic -- in my opinion, based on my own experiences -- to expect to be able to deploy one or both pop-up "backup" sights.

I think the starting point for training and weapons config should be the issue iron sights, but the combination of age and cross-dominance has made me a strong believer in quality optical sights.

G&R Tactical
January 29, 2004, 08:50 AM
The best flip up front sight money can buy: http://www.gandrtactical.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=35

And my choice for a flip up rear sight: http://www.gandrtactical.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40

G

BigG
January 29, 2004, 10:00 AM
My opinion is that a lot of stuff out there - accessories - are for sale. I use a carry handle Colt AR15, if I want a scope, it goes on a carry handle mount that comes off with a thumbscrew. It makes more sense to me to alter the ancillary sighting apparatus to fit the rifle rather than the reverse, but what do I know? If the scope goes, I still got a full fledged AR15. YMMV

Shawn Dodson
January 29, 2004, 01:51 PM
But it isn't the only failure situation, and if (for example) you knock the optical sight falling, and the rifle is needed right now, it's very unrealistic -- in my opinion, based on my own experiences -- to expect to be able to deploy one or both pop-up "backup" sights. Concur, as I'm sure many others also agree, which is why I was careful to omit failure during enemy contact.

Stuff happens.

The situation will dictate your course of action, as was Mr. Humphrey's experience.

BigG writes: ...if I want a scope, it goes on a carry handle mount that comes off with a thumbscrew. BTDT. IMO, the disadvantage of mounting optics on top of the carry handle is poor cheek weld. I use an ARMS #39 mount.

444
January 29, 2004, 02:01 PM
Assuming we are talking about AR15s, I much prefer the flat top receiver to the standard carry handle. I use an optical sight (Aimpoint) and prefer to have it mounted as close as possible to the bore. I have no problem at all using the optical sight with a standard front sight tower. You don't see it at all. I also have a flip up rear sight. With the flat top upper receiver, the rear sight has to be high up off the receiver to be in-line with the front sight and also to co-witness with the dot sight (as high as a rear sight on a carry handle). The problem is that the rear sight is now kind of a pain; it catches on stuff and pokes you. I would imagine that because of this, there is also a risk of damaging the rear sight. Therefore, if I am not using it, I fold it down and out of the way. It is there if I need it, but is not in the way when I don't. It only takes a second to deploy. If I dont' have that second, I can simply use the tube of the optical sight as a big ghost ring along with the front sight which is adequate for close range use.
If I leave my rear sight flipped up, it works fine with the optic. Again, you don't even realize it is there. All you see is the dot superimposed over the target.
I have not noticed any problems with accuracy using the fold down rear sight, although I have not done any real serious testing with it. I use it now and then just for the heck of it and it seems to maintain a constant zero. I have actually been thinking about taking a formal carbine class using only my BUIS with my Aimpoint mounted and turned off just for the heck of it. In previous carbine classes, I have used my BUIS a little bit just for a variation and they worked fine, although I can shoot a lot better with the optic.
I see no reason at all for the flip down front sight. I do have one on a .458 Socom upper along with a four rail gas block. I bought the gun with the intention of scoping it, which I did. I just figured since the four rail gas block was there, what the heck, I might as well buy a flip down front sight for it. I dont' even have a rear sight on the gun since it won't clear the scope, so the front sight actually serves no purpose at this time on my gun.
If the optic is somehow damaged to the point that you can't see through it, you flip the levers on the ARMs mount and remove it. If you don't have the time to do that, you are SOL; spray and pray, point shoot or whatever comes to mind. You simply can't plan for every possible or impossible senario.

JNewell
January 29, 2004, 08:20 PM
The flattop/carryhandle upper question is really a personal question. Having said that, for the purposes I require equipment for, I have (after a number of years and a large amount of time and ammo spent in training) come to the conclusion that the A1 design was just about the peak of design choices. I would change only the rear aperture, and last time I built an upper that's how I set it up.

BigG
January 29, 2004, 10:09 PM
JNewell said: the A1 design was just about the peak of design choices Agreed, but to each his own. My feeling is that doodads are just doodads but everybody can vote with their hard earned $$$ like I did! ;)

Oleg Volk
January 30, 2004, 01:47 AM
I gave up on the folding front sight: it got too hot to touch, so I would have burned finger trying to deploy it.

DMK
January 30, 2004, 07:49 AM
so I would have burned finger trying to deploy it. Good point, I hadn't considered that. Of course, gettin' burned finners is preferable to getting shot, stabbed or bitten by a rabid animal. ;)

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