This is a guest post by Almo Gregor at RifleOpticsWorld.com
The rifle is quickly becoming one of the most popular options for home defense. The rifle, specifically carbines like the AR 15 are the highest selling weapons in the United States. The carbine makes sense as a home defense weapon, it’s lightweight, accurate, low recoiling, and often has the option of 30 rounds or more. These rifles are modular and allow the use of weapon mounted lights, foregrips, lasers, and optics. The modularity of these rifles has opened the question of what is the best style of sight for home defense?
The red dot and holographic sights are often seen as the only choice for home defense. The reason being these optics are specifically designed for close quarters combat. Unless you live in a mansion, most home defense encounters will be at close range. These red dot and holographic optics are very simple and feature simple reticles that are often a single red dot, or a combination of a circle and dot. With a holographic or red dot sight, it’s as simple as getting the dot on the target and pulling the trigger.
These optics are very easy to use and they allow a shooter to get on target rapidly and accurately engage a target. Red dot and holographic optics are often compatible with night vision, and their illuminated reticles allow the optics to be used in both low light situations, and bright light situations. A red dot optic is easier and often faster to use than lining up iron sights correctly.
First of all anything electronic can fail, and if something fails during a home invasion you may find yourself trying to troubleshoot in a gunfight. This failure could be something as simple as a dead battery, which is often the primary cause. A home invasion situation is going to be moving very rapidly, and you may not have time to turn the optic on before the fight makes it to you. These optics also require zeroing, and if the weapon is kept in the safe for a long period it may bump around and lose zero.
A set of iron sights should be on any rifle. All shooters should be capable of using iron sights as a basic beginner rifle skill. Iron sights typically come in two varieties, open sights like the AK series, and peep sights like the AR platform. For home defense, open sights work well, and for an AR a nice, wide, peep site should be used.
First off iron sights do not rely on batteries, cannot have an electronic failure, and one doesn’t need to worry about irons losing zero unless someone fools with it. iron sights require no on switch, they are ready to go as soon as you grab the rifle. In close range situations, you can simply use the front sight for rapid engagements.
The first and foremost is that iron sights have to be lined up for precise shots at anything past point blank range. Iron sights can also be difficult to use at night unless they are designed for night use.
Laser sights have gained a massive amount of popularity in the last decade as technology has allowed them to shrink to nearly nothing. Laser sights work by emitting a beam of light, typically red or green. The laser simply needs to be put on target, and if dialed in correctly marks where the round will hit.
Laser sights are incredibly easy to use and rapid to engage. A laser can be activated by a pressure switch, which simply turns the laser on as soon as you grab the rifle. These lasers are course useful for low light, nighttime situations. Modern laser are very precise and very lightweight. A laser has the added intimidation factor.
Like optics they are electronic and can fail, and have to rely on batteries. Lasers are also poor is bright light situations, and if you do not rapidly recognize the laser you may stall trying to find it. Of course, lasers have to be dialed in correctly, and if it’s not dialed in correctly your shots could be all over the place.
So what’s the Best?
So what is the absolute best sighting option for a home defense weapon? That’s a very subjective answer, and people being different have different preferences and different methods of fighting. I propose this, though, why not all three? The modern modular rifle has the room and the ability to hold all three without weighing the rifle down.
I firmly believe that any rifle with an optic should have iron sight backups anyway. Popular red dot optics like Aimpoint and holographic optics like Eotech XPS 2-0 can naturally co-witness with iron sights. If your optic fails to come one when you hit the switch, you just revert to iron sights. If it’s dark, and your optic has failed and you can’t see your irons, you have the laser as a tertiary aiming device. All three methods compliment each other and there is no reason they cannot work well together.