Few things can equal that sinking feeling of discovering your patrol AR’s primary sight won’t work due to damage or targets located too close for the scope’s base magnification to work, just when a crisis shot is needed. Over the years several solutions have risen to address this concern.
Backup sights are a good example. Co-witnessed with an optical sight, if possible, when the optical sight fails the operator simply transitions to the backup sights. However, not all optics allow for co-witnessing, which requires a bit of creative adapting. In the military, it is common to see small red-dot sights attached to Trijicon ACOGs or an offset rail mount for situations when the primary sight is not usable. However, reports indicate that in some situations using backup sights through a red dot can occasionally be problematic. An alternative is the offset sight. The utility of offset sights is not limited to damaged or too highly magnified optics—in a gunfight, you might have to take an awkward shooting position, and this might require canting the weapon.
Diamondhead D-45 Sights
Known for its diamond-shaped apertures, Diamondhead was the most recent company to get into the offset sight market, and its D-45 sights have several unique design points. They include the Diamondhead apertures and upper housings, and the bases attach to your rifle using slotted screws, just like standard sights. The D-45 sights are made from mil-spec Type III hardcoat anodized 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. The rear sight uses windage adjustable same-plane apertures at the same height as an A2 unit, while the front accepts elevation-adjustable standard A2 front sight posts. Both the front and rear move in 0.5-inch increments.
The D-45 sights mount on a rifle’s top rail, and they fold flat—in the same plane as the bases. When needed, you simply press a button and the sights snap to the right in a 45-degree position relative to the bore, held by stiff springs. Then cant the rifle counterclockwise and obtain a sight picture. The rear D-45 sight’s low deployment arc allows its body to be stored beneath an optic.
Like other Diamondhead sights, the D-45 system is quick on target because of the diamond-shaped housings, which capture the eye quickly. Mastering the use of the diamond shapes, on flip-up sights or D-45s, for maximum speed and efficiency requires a little training. However, the time is minimal. The Diamondhead D-45 sight system offers clutter-free storage, rapid deployment and excellent CQB or extended-range effectiveness.
Dueck Defense RTS
Other than canting 45 degrees to the bore axis, Dueck Defense’s Rapid Transition Sight (RTS) series of sights look and operate strikingly similar to A2 sights. Barry Dueck said the impetus for this sight was discovering that, “When shooting close targets on the move, I was more effective with standard M4/M16 iron sights than when using anything else.”
Machined from 7075-T6 aluminum and given a mil-spec hardcoat anodized finish, Dueck’s RTS sights mount to the top Picatinny rail of your rifle. The bases have a very low profile, but RTS sights are the same height above the bore as standard AR-15 iron sights. With the rear sight’s A2-style, 0.5-MOA windage adjustments and BDC drum, the elevation-adjustable front sight, and the fixed (not-folding) design, RTS sights are like an old friend, only canted. Traditional apertures are used in the rear sight.
The fit and finish on RTS sights is excellent, and they seem robust. As a bonus, the sights can be mounted on either side of the rifle. For those who prefer, Trijicon tritium and fiber-optic inserts are available as options.
To transition to the RTS sights, simply roll the rifle inboard with your eye focused on the front sight as the rear unit pops into place. Overall, I found Dueck Defense’s RTS sights to be quick, easy to use
and always ready to go.
Dueck also recently added an adapter for an Aimpoint Micro T-1/H-1 that mounts “to the front of Gen 2 RTS rear sights without sight or gun modification,” providing an easy co-witness setup.
GG&G Transition Sights
e Transition Sights. The goal, according to GG&G, was non-folding sights for quick and simple transitions. The sights are manufactured from 6061-T6 billet aluminum with mil-spec Type III hardcoat anodizing. At only 1.5 ounces for the pair, GG&G’s 45-Degree Transition Sights offer sturdiness and simplicity in a lightweight package.
GG&G’s Transition Sights have a trim profile, and all edges are rounded for shooter protection. The front sight uses a standard M16A2-style square sight post in a protective ring. A hole in the ring above the sight post provides access for elevation adjustments or post replacement.
The rear sight has a windage-adjustable ghost ring aperture for quick target acquisition. To adjust the aperture, you loosen a flat screw forward on the aperture and then move it by hand. Sure, it’s not a precise adjustment, but it’ll do the trick at the distance I would anticipate using offset sights—from 0 to 50 yards—and can be stretched farther in a pinch. Both bases attach to Picatinny rails using a 9/64 hex wrench. Set up as GG&G intended, with the rear sight 7 to 10 inches from the eye and both sights mounted about 7 to 8 inches apart, the system works much like handgun sights.
stries’ MI Offset Rail offers users a handy mount upon which they can attach any compact optic, sight or other accessory required. Made from 6061 aluminum and hardcoat anodized, the sturdy unit attaches to a Picatinny rail and provides a short strip of Pictainny rail. With this adaptable unit on your rifle, you have a great deal of flexibility in setting up a backup sight system for your weapon.
XS Sight Systems
Considering how popular XS Sight Systems is, it came as no surprise that the company added offset sights to its product lineup. XS’ Xpress Threat Interdiction (XTI) sights are compact, solid feeling and snag resistant, with the usual XS design features for quick use. As with all XS sights, the XTI sight bodies are cut from 1144 stress-proof steel, and the bases are made from 6061-T6 aluminum. The XTI sights hang offset 45 degrees from the bore, and they’re designed to be mounted as far apart as possible on the top rail, secured with slotted screws.
A bullet tip can adjust the Standard Dot tritium or Big Dot tritium front sight post for elevation. XTI rear sights have XS’ famous white stripe express sight design. The front sight appears in the rear’s shallow “V” on top of the stripe. Adjusting the rear sight requires loosening two screws in the “V” and easing the sight left or right. Hash marks in the sight body make changes easy to track. This adjustment isn’t a really precise method, but I don’t view that as a problem given the sights’ intended use.
Transitioning from an optic to the XTI sights is as simple as canting the rifle inboard. With the XS system, the eyes speedily find the front post and position it on the rear sight’s stripe. These sights are truly quick to use. They’re also ambidextrous and easy to install on your own.
Although the optics available to today’s law enforcement officers are incredibly sturdy and reliable, Murphy’s Law can always be counted upon to rear its head at the worst possible time. In addition, you may find yourself in a situation where you must fire from an unconventional position. With that reality in mind, preparing a backup system for keeping your patrol rifle on target during a fight is just sound, prudent planning that could potentially save your life or those you’re sworn to protect. Armed with these options, you’ll be ready for any conceivable issue that may come your way!
Midwest Industries Inc.
XS Sight Systems