How To Sight In A Rifle With Iron Sights – Must-Read

how to sight in a rifle with iron sights
Alfred Mendoza

Most rifles have factory-made iron sights, meaning you don’t have to pay an additional cost to have iron sights installed. Regardless of whether you’re a veteran or a novice, you may still find yourself struggling with using iron sights. We’ll show you how. 

1. Find the Mechanical Zero

While you don’t need to have it set to mechanical zero in general, there are certain cases where iron sights have some BDC.

If you have the carry handle sight, you have to use the Z notch when using a 20-inch rifle. For gun owners who are using the carbine length sites, place the drum at the 3/6 marking. Keep in mind you have to consider the smaller radius between the gun’s front and rear sights.

However, you may ignore this step if your rear sight is unadjustable. 

2. Take Aim and Fire at a Target

A new shooter often has trouble accessing what they are shooting on where they are aiming.

They struggle with their point of impact. [1]

If you’re starting, you need to purchase practice ammo, so you can learn shooting and aim with your ar 15 at the target. The goal is to learn in every shot. 

As you gain experience and become an expert, you will tell you why you have missed the target before seeing where the shot hit. 

An experienced shooter assesses the shots and makes the needed adjustments to enhance their skill and become as precise as possible.

3. Adjust the Windage Knob

You may have noticed that plenty of ar 15 rear sights are adjustable to either left or right. What’s more, the front sight allows you to raise and lower it. 

If you have noticed that the wind conditions remain the same, you may look at the owner’s manual of the ar 15. Use it as a guide to compensate for the wind.

However, if the wind conditions are inconsistent, whether they may be irregular or gusty, you have to aim the firearm a little into the wind as you pull the trigger in your shots.

You have to make a number of adjustments before you get it right.

Understanding the Front & Rear Sights

The front sight needs to be placed at the center of the rear sight. They should be aligned across the topmost of the rear sight so that the front sight has the ideal position.

The rule needs to be followed regardless of the shape of your front sight.

It may be square, round, triangle, a bead, or a dot of your ar 15. 

A rear peep sight carries a round shape. This is where the shooter will look through to locate the front sight. A peep sight makes sight picture easier.

Through the rear sight, the front sight is going to be centered. This is where the top of the front sight carries the same length of the circle radius

Some More Tips & Tricks

Know the Differences in Rear Sights

The express sights are just notched rear sights that are aligned with the front bead. It helps a lot if you have the time to aim meticulously at the game.

If you need to aim at a  moving game, you need to utilize a semi-buckhorn rear sight. These have knobs that extend up on either portion of the notch.

It creates a bigger area to draw an initial bead on a fleeing game.

rear sight of a gun

When you have matched the game’s target and movement, you just have to narrow the aim of your AR-15 up until the bead line is up with the smaller notch.

You may use the full buckhorn rear sight if you are into bird hunting. It gives you vertical wings on both sides of the rear. It creates a circular opening, allowing you to see the sight of the flying target. It makes an impact, so make sure it is in line with the bead.

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Adjust for Windage

You will encounter some rear sights that can only be adjustable for windage, which means it’s either left or right. However, some units allow you to adjust for both windage and elevation. Usually, your rifle does not have click adjustments.

Adjusting the rear sight moves the center of a group accordingly, so you take your shot line within sight radius. The shot varies, depending on your rifle’s MOA. Keep in mind that AR-15 delivers a variety of MOA adjustment values.

This way, it gives you plenty of advantages on the field with your guns for better impact. It’ll take a number of tries though.

Choose the Right Front Sight

You will notice that the line beads on the open sights have a distinctive color for the last point. They are gold, red, or in the color white. It makes the bead more noticeable in dim light. 

Chuck Hawks, a long-time rifle enthusiast, says that the colored curved tip reflects sunlight, impairing your aim.

You may tilize a flat top black bead. It minimizes the interference with the aim. You may invest in a quality sight post for precision and impact.


Yes. While it was quite common to have iron sights made together with the rifle, more and more firearms don’t have it due to the popularity of other aiming methods. 

You can have the iron sights installed by yourself, but it’s not a good idea if you don’t have experience or skill for it.

Yes. However, you can have high accuracy using iron sights at around 300 yard, most of the time, at a closer distance. These are better than a scope in many ways.

Yes. Some shooters prefer having a back-up when the primary ones fail, such as the red dot sight, which offers magnification.

Iron sights are now outdated because of the latest optical technologies, but they are more accurate than a scope.

The basic rule is to move the sight in a similar direction to move the group. If your group is high up and it’s on the left side, then you have to move the rear sight down and to the right.

The ideal distance for your iron sights is 50 yards, meter zero. Use its smaller aperture sight or peep sights. After using the aperture, you have to adjust with the use of the front sight.  

For gun owners who are using an adjustable A2 type, a 25-yard zero is ideal for regulating the firearm’s elevation settings.

You aim with the iron sights at the center of mass. The center of the mass places the sights at the center of your target. 

The COM holds are commonly used by handguns. Invest in a site post for target precision.

The farthest you can shoot using an iron sight is 300 yards. If your shots are under 200 yards, then you will have high accuracy and hit the bullseye, as long as the conditions are favorable.

Your accuracy might be a little low at 300 yards, but it’s going to land closer to the target than a scope.

Final Thoughts on Zering Your Rifle Using Iron Sights

Zeroing a rifle using iron sights is a complex skill to pick-up. However, once you have the basics down, it’s certainly possible to become an expert.

These iron sights aren’t popular because there are far more superior sight optics in the market. 

Nonetheless, these make a reliable back-up sight if your main sight fails. It’s just as important to learn about the process. They’re made into barrels of guns, so it’s lower in cost in many ways. 

Shooters find sighting is easy as long as you lock-in the bead in sight alignment. 

In a way, you just have to aim and fire at the target and make necessary precision shooting adjustments for hunting.

You can fine-tune your rifle by shooting 3-5 successive groups. Keep aiming your shots in one direction when you’re hunting.



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