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CHLChris 04-13-2010 10:32 PM

Flat-top with optics -or- iron sights?
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I am looking into purchasing an AR-15 that I would be using to fill two needs. I would use it to hunt small/medium game in a SHTF situation and would also use it to protect the home-front against zombies should I ever need to do that.

At my lower price range I can usually find models that are flat-topped with a single picatinny rail on which I'd mount some glass. Also available, of course, are models with the standard AR-15 iron sights (with that handle).

I am most comfortable with iron sights, but would like to hear some thoughts about use of optics instead of iron sights. I don't see myself hunting 200-300 yards downrange, but you never know.

I am asking because another thread I started pretty much convinced me that I should be looking at the AR-15 platform:

These pictures are just to make sure I am making my question clear, not to suggest that these are the exact models I would purchase. Although they're pretty great for the price. (~$800)

Dillinger 04-13-2010 10:36 PM

Back Up Iron Sights ( BUIS )

It's what all the big boys are running these days.

Optics go bad? Broken? Took a round meant for your melon? Zombie blood all over it?

Pull the scope or heads up device, push two pins and your back up irons pop into place.

Then like Wonderdog, you are off to save the day. :p

I like the ones from YHM and of course Troy Industries makes some good ones. :cool:


hillbilly68 04-14-2010 12:29 AM

^ Yup.

Have taken to using glass (M68 aka Comp M2) and a quality BUIS. Carrying handles are OK, but the aforementioned setup is a lot faster. You could ACOG it as well, but with added magnification comes degraded capability within about 50 yards. It is truly a scope.

Get used to the 1/3 co-witness and leave the front sight assembly on it; a lot less to go wrong.

My 2c.

CHLChris 04-14-2010 12:36 AM

Yeah, Dillinger, you were right there with me on that other thread. I think AR-15 is the way to go. I didn't realize that there were options at a lower price range.

Now a flat-topped AR only seems to have one rail above the bolt housing. Would these back-up setups needs more rails or a modified fore-end?

Would you start with the flat-top and modify for back-up iron sights, or start with iron sights and add optics?

Dillinger 04-14-2010 12:43 AM

Chris, I can't stress this enough. The AR platform is about as plug and play as it gets.

You want more rails up front? Get a 2 or 4 rail front hand guard.

You want a multi position stock? Get a collapsible one that goes to 4 or 5 or 6 positions.

Now, with a standard flat top UPPER receiver, you can put your rear BUIS all the way to the rear and still mount a lot of optic choices.

If you want to go with a true glass scope, like a fixed 4 or 6 power, just get a set of ARMS Quick Throw Release Levers and they go on and off in seconds.

As for the front, if you want a completely smooth fore end, get a gas block with a rail on the top, mount your front BUIS on top of it and away you go.

You want more options? Just get a fore end with one rail running the entire length of the top of the handguard. Then you can mount anything you need to go with the scope or the sights. I don't know what, but you get the idea.

Want to add a bipod? Get a rail on top of the handguard and one on the bottom of the handguard.

Want to add a tac light? Get a four position handguard and put a protective rail on the one side you don't use.

You can really build one of these to fit ANY need you have. And since you can have multiple uppers, in different calibers, to go with one upper, you are really buying a platform that can be used over and over again with different intentions.


NY Marksman 04-14-2010 12:50 AM

I would go with a flat top. You can mount optics easier on a flat top for one thing and for another if you ever decide you want to add a carry handle you can always add a detachable one but you can't go the other way if you later decide you really would have been more satisfied with the Flat top.
As far as optics got you can go with a decent red dot like an Aimpoint and if you really decide you want some magnification you can always add a magnifier. You can also use back up irons with the Aimpoint. Thats the route I took when building my new AR (minus the iron sights).

CHLChris 04-14-2010 01:47 AM

Man, that was a whole lot of alphabet soup for me. BUIS, ARMS, ACOG. I can figure all those out, but I gotta stop my head from spinning after that 1/3 co-witness. WHATTT?!? I'm somewhat new to firearms and am just starting to feel up-to-speed on handguns and shotguns. This AR-15 lingo is quite new to me.

I've already found and am trying to drink it all in, but it might be slow.

One thing I can tell I would want is non-magnification with the option of adding a magnifier. I would not want to have to think very hard acquiring a sight picture during a critical situation, especially one within 50 yards. It seems that hunting is something I would have time to add a magnifier for, but a critical situation might happen more quickly than I could REMOVE a magnifying scope.

Thanks for that direction. Flat-top it is. Better to have options than be stuck in a certain direction.

Dillinger 04-14-2010 02:00 AM

Okay. Relax. Breathe. This does not need to be learned tonight.

Now, I am going to offer this because I truly believe it.

DO NOT jump from forum to forum trying to get a bunch of information on the same subject.

You don't know who is talking out of their ass and who knows what they are talking about - so everything you are trying to digest is going to be clouded with good and bad information.

If you want to go with the guys at AR15 - then get over there and start participating in threads so that you can learn who knows what they are talking about who is posing.

The AR-15 platform is not complicated, but if you try to be an expert know it all over night, you are going to rush and you are going to make a mistake in a purchase or something stupid.

Just realize 3 rules about firearms, no matter what weapon you are talking about.
  1. Everyone is an expert in the firearm you are asking about.
  2. Everyone knows a guy, shot a guy's gun, has a gun in the safe or was next to a guy shooting at the range that will shoot the daylights out of every other gun of the same type on the planet.
  3. No one is ever wrong when talking about a gun they know about, especially on the Interwebz.
Feel free to PM me if you want - but I will leave the future of how you go about this project in your hands.


canebrake 04-14-2010 02:13 AM


CHLChris 04-14-2010 03:50 PM

The reference to that other forum wasn't because of the discussion forums on that site, but the how-to articles. One thing I know I am good at is asking questions and being able to sniff out the good answers from the HUTB answers.

Head Up Their Butt

BTW, ACOG's look awesome but certainly aren't in my league ($1K-2K). Aimpoint has a product (about $575) that I will definitely want to save up for. It appears that a set of BUIS (about $200 for the pair) would be a necessity for a flat-top right at purchase, though.

Are these prices sounding right?

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