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Stacking AR-15 rifle sights

Gun Tips by Donald K. Burleson

October 2010

One beautiful thing about the AR15' s is the modularity of parts and the rails that allow you to quickly reconfigure the rifle, the Barbie doll for men, with enough accessories to last a lifetime!

The entire AR-15 can be disassembled in just a few minutes and re-configured, at-will.

Also see my notes on Mounting a rifle sight on an AR-15 or M4

Here is the quick-release rear iron sight from an AR15:

Co-Witnessing a AR15 sight

Synchronizing multiple sight types is called "co-witnessing", and it's great if you want to combine a red-dot with a telescopic sight or a red dot with an iron sight.

Because the front iron sight does not flip-down the front sight becomes a distraction.  I mounted a red dot sight on my AR-15 and discovered that the iron front sign is quite annoying:

You must ignore the front sight on the older model AR-15 rifles unless you “co-witness” the iron sight with the red dot.

Co-witnessing is also done with telescopic sights and red dot, but it’s expensive and time consuming.

With co-witnessing, the iron and red-dot become synchronized together:

Another approach: AR15 sight stacking

AR's are flexible and you can get carried away when adding accessories:

Here is an experiment I tried on a .22 and my .223 AR-15, stacking a telescopic sight on top of the existing iron sights. 

On the .22 caliber rifle (with low recoil), this stacking worked OK, allowing me to use both sights, but I had to take my cheek off of the stock when using the scope. 

Iron peep stacked under a telescopic sight

When I tried it on my .223 AR-15, the height difference was too much to effectively use the scope.
So beware, even thought the AR-15 assault rifle has modular parts, sometimes you can combine them into less effective components.

I solved my problem with a quick-release rail mount that allow you to remove a red-dot of telescopic sight without loss of zero. 

This make it only take a few seconds to change sight types, so I can use all three sight types, depending on the distance of the enemy.  Note below that the stacking is not necessary since the front sight quickly unscrews:

.22 cal AR15: low recoil, stacking is OK for sighting telescope

Another option if you have an AR15 or M4 with a fixed front sight is to cut-off the front sight (about $100) but a faster solution is to use a cheek riser. 

Using a cheek riser also has the added benefit of preserving the original military configuration for long-distance iron sight competitions.

The Bell and Carlson cheek extender

Using a cheek riser means that you don't have to mess with co-witnessing or cutting-off the annoying front sight.

Cheek weld and high sights

Another option for high stacked sights is an extended stock butt to allow for proper cheek weld. 

Here is a process for installing an elevated butt for high telescopic sights.

For the older A2 style AR-15 butts, you can get these extenders.  This is the Bell & Carlson model

There are also AR15 AR15 rifle cheek "swells" a simple solution that takes minutes to mount.


Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright ? 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.