The Best Backup Iron Sights Heading into 2020

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Backup iron sights don’t seem all that important until you need them. Lots of shooters use the absolute bare minimum or no backup sights at all.

But when your optic goes out—whether it’s in a gun fight or a competition—you’ll feel the pain of skimping on your backup sights, especially if you have no sights.

But there’s a trick to getting good iron sights. On one hand, it’s best if your iron sights are fully functional sights, capable of windage and elevation adjustment.

On the other hand, you want to avoid hardware that’s overly bulky. The whole point of backup iron sights is that they stay out of the way until you need them.

To help you get the right balance of function and minimalism, we’ve cooked up a list of the best backup iron sights.

Our Favorite Choice

Dagger Defense Tactical Flip Up Backup Sights

Spoiler: If you’re in a hurry and you need backup sights right now, get the Dagger Defense Tactical Flip Up Backup Sights. They’re affordable, fully functional, and fold down nice and flat.

Now, onto the good stuff.


The Top Models on the Market

The Best Backup Iron Sights of 2020

1. Dagger Defense Tactical Flip Up: Best Budget

The Dagger Defense Tactical Flip Up Backup Sights pack complete function and smart design into a no frills package.

Dagger Defense designed their backup sights with a low profile that easily stays out of your sight picture when folded down.

The rear aperture is equipped with a precision aperture and a wide aperture for long range and short range capabilities. The wide aperture is also handy for nighttime shooting.

Releasing the sights from their folded position involves pressing a button on the side of the sights. It’s simple and easy to do with gloves on.

Dagger Defense includes an allen wrench and a sight adjustment tool in the box. So you won’t have to use your own tools or fiddle with a round to adjust the front sight.

The anodized finish is thick and coarse to minimize glare during daylight shooting.

The only downside is that the threads on the front sight post threads are exposed. When the front sight is laid down, the threads face up. So the front sight post and threads are a bit vulnerable when the sights are folded down.

Even so, these iron sights are affordable and high quality enough for any rifle.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Low profile
  • Completely functional and easy to use

Cons

  • Front sight post could be protected better

2. Tacticon Armament Flip Up: Value Backup Iron Sights

The Tacticon Armament Flip Up Sights sights are a tad beefier than other sights at this price point, without interfering with your shooting when they’re laid down.

Tacticon built their flip up sights with the standard backup sight features.

They flip up by pushing a button.

The rear sight includes a narrow aperture and a wide aperture. And they come with an allen wrench and a sight adjustment tool.

Tacticon used a matte finish for more glare reduction and better daylight visibility than a standard anodized finish.

However, the base of these sights is a bit thicker than some other sights. This is good for durability and stability. But the picatinny clamp protrudes from the sides of the rail a bit, which might be irritating for some shooters.

The only challenge with these sights is the quality control. About 1% of the units have a defective screw that breaks rather quickly and needs warranty replacement. Fortunately, the sights come with a lifetime warranty.

Overall, though, these flip ups are an excellent option for shooters who want decent backup sights at a decent price, with just a tad better daylight performance than an anodized sight.

Pros

  • Simple operation
  • Solid mounting base
  • Matte finish reduces glare

Cons

  • Occasional quality control issues
  • Wide base might cause interference for some shooters

3. Ozark Armament 45 Degree Offset: Canted Backup Iron Sights

The Ozark Armament 45 Degree Offset Sights present an alternative to flip up sights. The sights are canted to the side, so they’re completely out of the way of your optic.

You just tilt your gun to get a view through your backup sights.

One nice thing about canted sights is that they’re essentially fixed A2 sights. So there are fewer moving parts. Therefore, they tend to be more durable than flip up sights.

The Ozark rear sight has a short range aperture and a long range aperture.

But it also has an elevation adjustment for more precise long range shooting.

The front sight is a standard A2 post. And both sights use a matte finish for glare reduction.

There are only two real gripes about these sights. First, left handed shooters will need to do some disassembly to set the sights up to work for them.

Second, canted sights require a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve got it, they work just like regular sights. But there is a learning curve.

But, if you’re willing to do the work for them, the Ozark canted sights offer the most unimpeded view of your optic with complete iron sight capabilities.

Pros

  • Stays completely out of the way of your optic.
  • Total iron sight functionality
  • Very durable
  • Matte finish causes almost no glare

Cons

  • Inconvenient for left handers
  • Requires some training to deploy effectively

4. Magpul Industries MBUS: Polymer Backup Sights

The Magpul Industries MBUS (Magpul Backup Sights) is the only polymer sight that people actually like.

Obviously, they’re not entirely polymer. The screws and the front post are metal. However, they’re incredibly light.

Magpul fitted the rear sight with both a wide aperture and a narrow aperture for shooting at various ranges and different light conditions.

The front sight wings angle inward for better front post protection and easier sight alignment.

Now, the MBUS aren’t as durable as a metal sight. However, the polymer is tough and holds up well to most abuse.

Polymer also has a matte texture, so the sight causes very little glare.

The main complaint about the MBUS is that they don’t lock in the up position. So it’s possible that your sights might get unintentionally locked down during use. Also, they’re pretty pricey for polymer sights.

Despite the price, these are the only real option if you’re into polymer sights or if you want the lightest backup sights.

Pros

  • Very light
  • Easy to use
  • Matte texture causes minimal glare
  • Front post is well protected

Cons

  • Not as durable as metal
  • A bit expensive for polymer

5. Tagefa Trinity Force Tactical: Weaver Rail Backup Sights

Weaver rails and Picatinny rails are usually interchangeable. However, if you have a Weaver rail, it’s nice to have hardware that’s made for it. The Tagefa Trinity Force Tactical Sight is designed for Weaver rails.

The Trinity Force will fit most Picatinny rails. However, Picatinny rails have different tolerances than Weaver rails. So if you have a rail that’s the widest the tolerances will allow, this sight may not have a long enough screw to tighten down on your rail.

But, Tagefa constructed this sight with more steel than aluminum. It’s a bit heavier. But it’s more durable than most backup sights.

Both the front and rear sight flip up with the push of a button. The rear sight has a wide aperture and a narrow aperture. It also has windage hash marks for measured windage adjustments.

The front sight has a horseshoe front post guard that protects the front post, and provides good reference for getting proper sight alignment.

Overall, these sights are ideal for shooters who have a Weaver rail or those who prioritize durability in their backup sights.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Excellent adjustment and ease of use
  • Promotes proper sight alignment

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • May not work on all Picatinny rails

6. A.R.M.S Flip Up: Long Range Backup Sights

The main gripe about flip up sights is that they lack long range viability. The A.R.M.S. Flip Up Front Sight and A.R.M.S. Flip Up Rear Sight solve that problem.

First, these backup sights are the most durable flip up sights around. They’re built entirely from steel, and feature a steel locking lever that ensures they can’t be popped up accidentally.

The rear sight is adjustable for windage, and includes both the long range and short range apertures.

The rear sight doesn’t have an elevation adjustment. Instead, each aperture has a notch on top with hash marks that indicate where your overhold is at 300, 400, and 500 yards. These hash marks are surprisingly accurate and the sight is totally functional at 500 yards.

Just don’t expect pinpoint accuracy at that range with open sights.

The finish is a rugged matte that causes zero glare and delivers good daylight performance.

There’s one downside to the durability: the mechanism that locks the sights down is so secure that it can be tricky to disengage with gloves on. The sights also don’t lock in the up position. However, the sights can’t be accidentally locked down, since the locking bar has to be manually engaged.

Also, these sights are rather expensive. The front and rear sight must be purchased separately.

The A.R.M.S. sights are hands down the best option for those who want ultimate durability and the ability to get some nice long range hits even if their optic is down.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Excellent adjustment and ease of use
  • Promotes proper sight alignment

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • May not work on all Picatinny rails

All Sighted In

Backup sights shouldn’t be ignored. If your primary optic goes down, the last thing you want is to be aiming with toothpicks.

With that being said, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on your backup sights. The Dagger Defense Tactical Flip Ups will be plenty for most shooters. They’ll fit into any budget and provide adequate sighting capabilities for most contexts.

Now that you’re savvy on which sights are best, grab yourself a pair of backup sights and head to the range with confidence that you won’t need to rely on point shooting if your primary optic goes out.