Are Back Up Sights Necessary?

You might have heard of backup iron sights (BUIS) but do not know what they initially do. You might already know but still need to figure out whether they’re worth it for you.

What is a backup sight?

The first question to answer is what is a backup sight for?

As the name suggests, backup sights are sights that you can plug in and use should your primary sight stop working for whatever reason.

Backup sights were definitely all the rage back then. Before the age of night vision and holographic sights, backup sights were widely used by hunters and shooters alike.

But even so, they still have their uses. There are different kinds of backup sights, but the one in discussion is the iron backup sight.

They are usually mounted by a rail integration system and are adjustable.

Just like other types of back-ups, their role is to provide a sense of relief to the hunter during situations that call for a quick swap replacement.

Here are some reasons why you should consider getting a backup iron sight.

Long Hunting Trips

This should speak for itself. A long trip calls for backups. Whether it is a day trip or a weekend, you will need to bring extra equipment. This ranges from extra food, extra modes of communication, and extra gear for hunting.

You want to have a relatively stress-reduced trip to the great outdoors. It’ll be hard to have one when you start stressing about equipment shortage.

Long trips will call for backup sights. You might be two hours into your hunt and your holographic sight may lose battery. Should it be a far walk back to the camping site, a backup sight is your go-to solution for you to continue your hunting.

Not to mention, a hunting trip will involve more than one person. You might go on a trip with a group of other hunters. This will increase the need to bring backups.

Bring your own backup sight so you don’t have to worry about picking who gets the extra sight amongst yourselves.


The emergency to switch may even occur before you go out hunting. Malfunctions or shortages might occur during the campsite or the trip going there. The thing is, the hunting ground might be an area that will require a pair of extra eyes.

As mentioned in the previous point, your main scope could cease to work unexpectedly. Either this could be from low battery or break during your hunting session.

To ensure that you have something to help you, a backup sight will surely get the job done. It never hurts to be extra prepared. Remember, these things can happen, so it’s best to be prepared for it.


april banner 1Even if you’re not on a trip, it’s still a good thing to bring along your practices. But wouldn’t it be better to practice with your main scope/sight?

Well, that is true, although practicing with a backup sight never hurts. Based on the previous points, anything can happen to your equipment, so being prepared for it is always a good thing.

Backup sights may seem a bit of a hassle because of the extra steps. Over time, you’ll start getting the hang of it. You’ll be easing your way into making the emergency switch.

That is the whole point of practice, after all. Which is why adding this to one of the things you’ll be practicing before your next trip will benefit you greatly.

It will be beneficial to know how to effortlessly switch to your BUIS and make the necessary adjustments to make the shot.

Adjustments and aiming from your main scope to your BUIS take a considerable amount of time. Your target may have already left by the time you’ve finished with that. Or you might have to move to the next location or run back to camp.

Practicing the steps enough times will make the process much more fluid and seamless.

When are times when you might not need BUIS?

So, are BUIS necessities that you need to purchase and bring along with you all the time?

Backups are not so much of a strict requirement that you absolutely need to bring along. Think of them more as safety nets that will make your trip less stressful.

If that is the case, are there times when I may not need to bring them? Whether it is because you’re saving up on one or don’t have enough space yet, these are some times when you won’t need to have one.

Specific practices

This might sound counterintuitive. I mean, there was a section dedicated to saying that having a BUIS is great for practice.

In this case, it depends on what you are practicing. You won’t need to practice using a BUIS if you are a beginner or novice. At this stage, it is best that you learn the basics of shooting first.

It is also ideal to learn more about the rifle you are using as is before adding upgrades or adjustments. Have a good grasp on the basics and foundations of shooting before advancing into more specific topics.

Short Hunting Sessions

Unless you go on a weekend-long hunting trip, you won’t necessarily need to bring backup sights along the way.

Backups won’t be as necessary if your hunting trip only lasts for around two to three hours. Just make sure to charge up your main scope or see if the main one is still new and intact.

This will also not be much of an issue if your main scope is brand new, as it won’t likely break.

Again, it won’t hurt to bring a backup iron sight if you have one since it’s always good to be prepared. However, if you don’t have one, there is no need to worry if you don’t plan on hunting for so long.

If you live close to a hunting area

Just as shorter hunting hours won’t necessitate bringing extra, the same applies if you live relatively near a hunting ground.

If it only requires a short drive to the area, then it won’t be much of a worry to bring extra to the trip.

Of course, just be careful with handling your main scope during the trip and the session.

How to Mount An Iron Sight

Putting on an iron sight will depend on what kind of mount it uses. Most of the time, it is the rail system.

Another thing you will have to determine is where to put it: The front or the back. There are two types of backup sights, the one for the front and the one for the back.

Once you’ve identified it, you can start mounting it. For a better sight radius and better accuracy, set it as far from you as possible (though not too far).

Placing the backup sight is pretty easy. Loosen the mounting screw then place the sight where you wish to put it. Once you’ve decided, tighten the mounting screw.

You want to make sure it holds zero under recoil. Tighten the screw until it does so. Test whether the backup sight folds up and down easily. This usually happens with the press of a button.

Frequently Asked Questions

when are times when you might not need buis

Front backup or rear?

Front sights deal with elevation (up and down), while rear sights deal with windage (left and right).

It is always good to have both on standby just in case. As said previously, it is always best to be prepared.

power eff banner 200How to adjust

For adjusting windage, make some shots (three) to see if you are hitting the target. Adjust your sight to the left if your shots are hitting the left of the bullseye and vice versa.

For elevation, raise your front post if you are hitting above the bullseye. Should you be hitting below, lower it.

How many shots per round when adjusting?

Three shots per round should be okay. You don’t want to waste bullets on adjustments. This should be enough to see if you are hitting at the right spot or if you are far off.

During the actual hunt, try as little as you can. By this time you should be more adept with using the backup sights and making adjustments.


Backup iron sights still have a place with hunters even up to now. While they aren’t a must have, they have their use as a backup should something happen to your main scope.

We hope this gives you a better understanding of back up sights.

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1 thought on “Are Back Up Sights Necessary?”

  1. If it needs batteries or uses electronics, it’s definitely not going to be on my firearm. It’s not the place for spiffy gizmo’s. (A friend once tried to convince me by handing me a weapon with a $500 high-end dot sight. He flipped the switch, and it was dead. Yes, he freaked out.)


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