“Back in my day…” – Yes, you should still learn irons and probably use BUIS

I found this meme upon the internet, and twas funny. IG disgruntled_vets

I know, I know. The quality of the modern optic means that “irons” are no longer a strict necessity and are omitted on certain systems, like certain competition firearms and precision rifles, in their entirity.

I’m not talking about for specialist systems. I am talking about your carry handgun and general purpose carbine, maybe your home defense shotgun too. The two or three guns you probably use the most, handle the most, touch the most, and will grab in an emergency. That use, handle, touch, and play with controls on also gives them the highest probability change that the systems that need to be on might be off when you need them.

What do I mean?

I mean you have to have a viable way to shoot certain guns regardless of their battery status at the time you pick them up. I have an extremely high degree of confidence in modern optics, I still prefer the on deck ability to shoot around or through the optic too.

Are all of my firearms set up like this? No.

Am I worried? Not particularly. The Aimpoints on my MP5 and AK that I can’t use the irons through are probably going to be alright. But I have had that Aimpoint on the AK die during a class.

Aimpoint CompM5 RDS

Yep, that one. That CompM5 decided it had been on long enough on its battery. Middle of the drill, most inconvenient.

Luckily, it was just a drill. I cleared from the line real quick and got a battery. My point isn’t how simple the fix was that got my optic back, my point is that when I needed my optic it was off.

No more dot…

If you have co-witnessed irons or a removable optic via QD, you’re still in business. Flip things that need to be flipped and get back on your sights. Its this ease of resumption that makes keeping irons and paired with your optics in a cohabitant manner preferred, in my opinion.

The options if you do not have irons or cannot remove your optic are not nothing though.

Shoot the tube

A red dot is still an aligned tube and depending upon how close and large your target is it might be good enough to start hammering shots.

Turn your dot off and give it a try at about 5 yards to see both what it looks like and what the impact location is. You may surprise yourself.

Living on the edge

Your sights represent an aligned line to where you want to place your shot. Your optic and irons are precisely aligned, however they aren’t the only things that can get you into the right spot depending on the shot. Take a look at the photo and see what edges on the firearm and sight could be used to line up a shot in a pinch. Yes the EPS Carry allows me to use the irons on the P365, think alternatively.

  1. Edge of the optic
  2. The slide, along a corner
  3. The line made by the slide and frame

None of these are ideal, none of these will stack rounds accurately and the viability falls off quickly at distance. But you aren’t done yet. You aren’t out of options.

Don’t freeze

The most common issue I see when folks pull up a gun and all is not right is a tire screeching halt, this is true of malfunctions, optics off, gun not loaded, anything that causes something to happen that isn’t the expected shot. What we want are options, regardless of the problem, to get us back able to take a needed shot as quickly as possible. Available irons make several of these problems simple to solve.

Don’t be quick to dismiss ye olde iron sights, that’s all folks.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.