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When it comes to an AR-15 that I plan to use exclusively for defensive reasons, there are really only two items I like to add to the gun: some sort of white light and a sighting device other than iron sights. I don’t have anything against iron sights, but in low light situations, they can come up short. There are a many other extras that can be added to a tactical rifle, and special operators may even need others for a particular mission, but the simple AR with these two necessities is not only all a guy needs, but may prove to be tactically superior to a rifle with a bunch of additional items strapped on.
Choosing Your Sight
As far as a sight is concerned, I like the red-dot types. For my high mileage eyes something like an EOTech, AimPoint or one of the mini-red dots really improves my speed in lining up on target—particularly in low-light situations. Another great option for the defensive rifle is one of the 1.5×5 scopes that can be like a red dot on low power, but also offers some magnification for longer distance shots. Leupold’s MRT is a great choice in this department.
Depending on your intended use, this might even be a better choice, but for most home defensive and close-quarter situations, a red-dot or iron sight will be a better choice. Remember, it’s not outside the scope of operation to make long shots with a red-dot or iron sights, particularly with good eyes and practice so don’t discount these options just because you expect to shoot farther than 50 or 100 yards now and then. My patrol rifle is topped with an unmagnified EOTech and it’s capable of accurate 300-yard connections.
I had an opportunity to try out a medium-sized red dot from Meopta recently—the M-RAD, which proved to be a rugged little unit that can be used on a Picatinny-railed AR without a lot of added weight. It has a heavy hood to protect the optic and the on/off button is on the forward side of the sight for easy manipulation when shouldering the rifle. The same button can be manipulated when the sight is turned on at the shoulder to get the brightness appropriate for conditions.