Ar15 Carry Handle Rear Sight

14 min read | Jun 11, 2024 | 28 likes

The Enduring Legacy: A Deep Dive into the AR-15 Carry Handle Rear Sight

The AR-15 platform, a testament to modularity and adaptability, has seen countless modifications and upgrades over the years. While the evolution towards optics and advanced sighting systems is undeniable, there's a certain charm and practicality to the classic AR-15 Carry Handle Rear Sight.

This article takes you on a journey into the heart of this iconic component, delving into its history, design, functionality, and the reasons why it continues to hold a place of honor in the hearts of many shooters.

A Blast from the Past: The Birth of the Carry Handle

The AR-15, designed by Eugene Stoner and adopted by the US military as the M16, initially featured a fixed carry handle. This integrated rear sight and carrying handle served a dual purpose, providing a stable platform for aiming and a convenient method for transporting the rifle.

The carry handle, with its built-in rear sight, was the standard sighting system for the M16 series rifles for decades. It was a simple, reliable, and robust solution that was well-suited for the military's needs.

Exploring the Design: A Closer Look at the Carry Handle Rear Sight

The AR-15 carry handle rear sight is a relatively simple yet ingenious design. Here's a breakdown of its key elements:

  • Carry Handle: The handle itself is typically made from aluminum or steel and attaches to the upper receiver of the AR-15. It provides a solid platform for the rear sight and a grip for carrying the rifle.
  • Rear Sight: The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. It features an aperture that can be adjusted for different distances. Some carry handles even have a "peep" sight, which allows for finer adjustments and precise aiming.
  • Aperture: The aperture of the rear sight is the key component for aiming. It acts as a frame to align with the front sight, creating a clear line of sight.
  • Elevation and Windage Adjustments: The rear sight can be adjusted for both elevation and windage. This allows the shooter to zero the rifle at different ranges and compensate for wind drift.

The Function and Advantages of the Carry Handle Rear Sight

The AR-15 carry handle rear sight, despite its simplicity, offers several distinct advantages:

  • Robustness: The carry handle's integrated design contributes to its exceptional durability. It's built to withstand harsh conditions and heavy use.
  • Reliance: It's a failsafe backup system that's always there. If your primary optics fail or malfunction, you can quickly switch to the carry handle sight and continue engaging targets.
  • Simplicity: The carry handle rear sight is remarkably easy to use and requires minimal training. Even beginners can quickly understand how to operate it effectively.
  • Durability: The carry handle sight is built to last. The simple design and robust construction ensure it can withstand the rigors of extensive use.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Carry handle rear sights are generally more affordable than modern optics. This makes them an attractive option for budget-conscious shooters.

Disadvantages of the Carry Handle Rear Sight

While the carry handle sight offers undeniable advantages, it's not without its limitations:

  • Limited Field of View: The carry handle can obstruct the shooter's peripheral vision, making it difficult to acquire targets quickly. This is particularly noticeable in close-quarters engagements.
  • Height: The carry handle raises the height of the rifle, potentially impacting cheek weld and comfort.
  • Weight: The carry handle adds a bit of extra weight to the rifle. While this might not seem significant, it can become noticeable during extended shooting sessions.
  • Limited Adjustment Range: The carry handle sight typically has a limited adjustment range compared to modern optics, which can be restrictive for long-range shooting.

Carry Handle vs. Modern Optics: An Informed Choice

The decision of whether to use a carry handle rear sight or modern optics depends on individual preferences and needs. Here's a breakdown of the key considerations:

Carry Handle:

  • Ideal for: Budget-conscious shooters, those seeking a robust and reliable backup, and those who prioritize simplicity and ease of use.
  • Limitations: Restricted field of view, increased height, weight, and limited adjustment range.

Modern Optics:

  • Ideal for: Serious shooters who demand accuracy and precision, those who value a wider field of view, and those who need versatility and adaptability.
  • Limitations: Higher cost, potential for malfunction, and the need for additional training and maintenance.

The Resurgence of the Carry Handle Rear Sight: The "Retro" Trend

While modern optics have undeniably taken center stage in the AR-15 world, there's a growing resurgence of interest in the classic carry handle rear sight. This "retro" trend is driven by several factors:

  • Nostalgia: Many shooters appreciate the classic look and feel of the carry handle and the connection it evokes to the early days of the AR-15.
  • Aesthetics: The carry handle adds a unique and distinctive aesthetic to the AR-15, particularly for those who prefer a more traditional look.
  • Reliability: Many shooters trust the proven reliability of the carry handle sight and see it as a solid backup option.
  • Cost: The affordability of carry handle rear sights makes them an attractive option for budget-conscious shooters.

Exploring the World of Carry Handle Rear Sights: Options and Upgrades

The AR-15 platform, known for its versatility, offers a wealth of options for carry handle rear sights. From simple and affordable to advanced and feature-rich, there's a carry handle sight for every shooter's needs.

  • Standard Military Carry Handle: These are the original carry handles that were issued to the US military. They are typically made of aluminum and feature a basic rear sight with adjustable windage and elevation.
  • Aftermarket Carry Handles: The market offers a wide range of aftermarket carry handles made by reputable brands. These can offer improved features, such as adjustable aperture sizes, different sight heights, and enhanced durability.
  • Carry Handle Sights with Integrated Optics: Some carry handles incorporate a dedicated mount for optics. This allows shooters to use their preferred optics while retaining the functionality of the carry handle rear sight.
  • Carry Handle Upgrades: Various upgrades are available for carry handle rear sights, including replacement aperture inserts, windage knobs, and other accessories. These upgrades can enhance the sight's functionality and user experience.

Installation and Adjustment: Mastering the Carry Handle Rear Sight

Installing a carry handle rear sight is a straightforward process, even for beginners. It typically involves attaching the handle to the upper receiver of the AR-15 using a few screws.

Adjusting the carry handle sight for windage and elevation is essential for accurate shooting. This process involves adjusting the rear sight's knobs to compensate for wind drift and bullet drop at different ranges.

  • Windage Adjustment: This adjusts the horizontal alignment of the sight, correcting for wind drift.
  • Elevation Adjustment: This adjusts the vertical alignment of the sight, compensating for bullet drop at different distances.

Tips for Using the Carry Handle Rear Sight

Here are some helpful tips for using the carry handle rear sight effectively:

  • Practice: Like any other sighting system, the carry handle sight requires practice to master. Spend time on the range to familiarize yourself with its operation and sight picture.
  • Proper Cheek Weld: Ensure a consistent cheek weld for accurate aiming. This involves placing your cheek firmly against the stock while aligning your eye with the rear sight aperture.
  • Clear Sight Picture: Maintain a clear sight picture by aligning the front sight post with the center of the rear sight aperture. This ensures your shot will go where you intend it to.
  • Proper Breathing: Hold your breath briefly while aiming to minimize movement and ensure a stable shot.

Conclusion: A Legacy of Reliability and Simplicity

The AR-15 carry handle rear sight, despite its simplicity, has earned a special place in the hearts of many shooters. Its robust design, proven reliability, and ease of use make it a valuable component for both seasoned veterans and newcomers to the AR-15 platform.

Whether you're seeking a reliable backup sight, a classic aesthetic for your AR-15, or a cost-effective option for your shooting needs, the carry handle rear sight continues to offer undeniable advantages.

The enduring popularity of the carry handle sight is a testament to its timeless appeal and enduring legacy in the world of AR-15s.


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