Flat-top with optics -or- iron sights?

Discussion in 'AR-15 Discussion' started by CHLChris, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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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:

    http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f18/survival-defense-if-only-one-rifle-25602/

    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)
     

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  2. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    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:

    JD
     

  3. hillbilly68

    hillbilly68 New Member

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    ^ 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.
     
  4. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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    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?
     
  5. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    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.

    JD
     
  6. NY Marksman

    NY Marksman New Member

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    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).
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  7. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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    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 ar15.com 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.
     
  8. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    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.

    JD
     
  9. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  10. jwhirl413

    jwhirl413 New Member

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    Chris, I have just gone through the decision making progress that you are in now. I chose the flattop option and i'm extremely glad i did. I was really unsure of what type of sights i wanted to begin with so i started out with some troy BUIS, i think it was a combo deal for the front and rear from AIM Surplus Home and it was 189.99 for the both. Then I started doing as much research as possible on different sights, and ended up shooting my cousins AR with his eotech 511(it was 375.00 shipped). It was set up for co-witness and after that experience I just had to have one. With 3 reference points its really difficult to be off target, plus you can go either way, and the BUIS really help out if your batteries die...nobody wants to be on Mr. Zombie's lunch menu

    and take JD's advise, I did, and I'm extremely happy with the outcome, one badass zombie stick
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  11. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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    And your signature line tells the whole story behind this thread. If JD says, "Right" and you go left, an "I told you so" is bound to be warranted in the future.

    I've read a bit about the co-witness thing. It does sound as if some front sights are designed to be aligned with the center of the optics. That way, one would only need to pop up the rear sight and you're in business if the worst-case battery scenario happens during use.

    I'm still not clear on the term "1/3" as related to co-witness.
     
  12. IGETEVEN

    IGETEVEN New Member

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    Chis, as the others have stated, get a flat-top rail. There's a whole lot of goodies you can add on and take off easily, and it is really a much better choice for any of your optic's or BUIS foundation. :)

    Jack
     
  13. NY Marksman

    NY Marksman New Member

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    SWFA (an internet optics dealer) has a sale going on right now for an Aimpoint M2 with a quality mount, Flip up lens covers and and a flip up ARD, all for $477.00. The one in the picture of my AR is the very same one, I bought mine 2 weeks ago from them.
     
  14. hillbilly68

    hillbilly68 New Member

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    CHris, the 1/3 co-witness applies when you have your back-up front sight up or are using a standard front sight assembly. The "1/3" means that the tip of the front sight post is visible about 1/3 of the way up into what you see through the glass. It "disappears" or kinda fuzzes out when you are shooting with the optic. An "absolute co-witness" is when the optic is mounted lower on the upper receiver and aligns the red dot with the tip of the front sight post. Both are OK to use, shooter preference. It is a function of the mount you put the sight in, not the optic or front sight assembly itself. The 1/3 gives a little more open space in the glass, and to me it is a bit faster. If the dot goes out, flip the rear up and your irons are aligned (after zero) and you are ready to roll. Thats why I like the fixed front sight option (again shooter preference).
    As far as prices, the last M2 I bought was under 400 shipped. Do some research on EoTechs before you consider them, some guys have good luck with them while others have not. Cant beat an Aimpoint though. ;)