Make the Best of your Iron Sights with the KNS Crosshair Front Sight Post

KNS AR-15 crosshair front sight post.

Even with modern advances in riflescope technology, many shooters still shun the use of optics, and for many reasons. Good optics can be prohibitively expensive after the purchase of a rifle and other accessories, and glass can also add a level of complexity that some shooters may not wish to deal with.

Scope lenses can also occasionally fog up under certain weather conditions, potentially rendering your rifle useless. Some people, such as myself, simply like to shoot with iron sights. And, when using a riflescope on a defensive carbine, it’s important to keep a set of back-up iron sights on the gun in case anything goes wrong with the primary optic.

No matter what your reasons are for sticking with irons, you’re in good company. Many serious competitive disciplines such as silhouette shooting, service rifle and Palma matches focus on primarily using non-magnified sighting systems. And while these different specialties all share a common bond, there are differing rules about which sights you can and cannot utilize.

For instance, Palma shooters and other long-range iron-sighted marksman have long known that aperture style front sights give them a major advantage when aiming at tiny things that are far away. Service rifle competitors are barred from usage of this superior sighting system, because their equipment must closely mirror standard-issue military rifles.

I found it very interesting, and quite telling, that competitors with unrestricted equipment choices almost exclusively pick aperture front sights over a traditional post-style front sight. I asked myself: if aperture front sights are more precise and easier to hit with when compared to standard sights, then could my iron-sighted AR-15 benefit from the same system?

Pricing out quality Palma-style front sight bases and apertures for an AR-15 gave me a bad case of sticker shock, and their real-world durability was questionable. I began thinking my idea of uber-precise, match-style sights on a practical gun was not itself practical, until I stumbled upon the KNS AR-15 crosshair front sight post.

KNS AR-15 crosshair front sight post.
The KNS AR-15 crosshair sight post is a sturdily made aperture style front sight.

The KNS AR-15 crosshair sight post is a sturdy, aperture-style front sight, specifically designed to integrate easily into any standard AR-15 front sight housing and most aftermarket rail-mounted sights. Elevation adjustments can be conveniently made by simply rotating the aperture in half-turn increments. Within the aperture, a fixed duplex-style “reticle” is securely anchored in place.

It really can’t be overstated enough just how thin this reticle really is. For instance, the standard front sight post included with my AR-15 measures .070-inch wide. The fine duplex wires of the KNS aperture front sight, on the other hand, measure a slight .010-inch in diameter, centered in a .240” aperture. Realistically, this means that the KNS wires cover less than two inches of the target at 100 yards, as opposed to the roughly 12 inches that the standard post covers. This, combined with the front aperture, makes for exceptionally easy shooting.

Why are aperture-style front sights easier to use than regular “post” style sights? The answer, as it turns out, lies within human physiology. The human eye is extremely good at aligning things. That’s how post-style front sights work: your eye automatically centers the tip of the post in the rear aperture.

Unfortunately, slight misalignments are easy to overlook with a front post, and this is why aperture front sights are so popular with long-range irons shooters. Your eye can easily and repeatedly align twin circles with a much greater degree of precision than a post/circle combination.

After the simple installation process (unscrew standard sight post, screw-in KNS), I was able to quickly and easily zero the rifle at 50 yards. This was my first experience shooting with an aperture front sight, and I found that my eye did indeed naturally center the front aperture within the rear. After moving the target out to 200 yards, I was able to rapidly and accurately engage targets by placing the thin crosshairs on the very center of my target, with an equal amount of the target in each of the four quadrants defined by the center of the crosshairs.

The KNS crosshair sight gave me great success at a distance, but the benefits didn’t end there. I immediately noticed a sharp increase in target acquisition speed at close distances (inside of 25 yards). By peering over the rear aperture (to accommodate for the elevation change due to the sight/bore offset inherent in AR-15 rifles), standard silhouette targets were nicely framed solely within the front aperture. The fine wires were easily ignored at close range, and quick, instinctive hits were possible by simply throwing the circular aperture up into my field of view and on the targets.

I was initially worried that the fine crosshairs would be easily damaged, but after the rifle rode around in the trunk of my vehicle without a gun case for several weeks, they remained intact. Since the overall thickness of the crosshair housing is quite thick, it shields the wires quite well.

I’m sure that with enough abuse, they would break, but then again so would a standard sight post. Durability simply isn’t an issue, although the black coating did start to wear on the edges of the brass aperture. Nothing a little Sharpie marker couldn’t touch up.

I was also concerned about the usability of the fine crosshairs in low-light conditions. Again, this did not prove to be an issue, as my “practical” rifle is equipped with a Streamlight TLR-1 (because it’s dark outside half the time!). Activating the light after the sun went down clearly silhouetted the crosshairs against the underbrush outside my farmhouse, and contrasted well with the broad, blinding beam of the TLR-1. In fact, the isolation of the central aiming point within the aperture made it significantly easier to use than the thick standard post in low light conditions.

KNS Precision has managed to give AR-15 shooters an easy way to gain the precision of aperture front sights, without breaking the bank and without purchasing expensive barrel-mounted sight bases. The overall unit is well made, attractively priced, and extremely functional at all distances and under varying light conditions. On a ranch rifle or hog gun, this product would be outstanding.

The very nature of the AR-15 platform makes switching up and changing out parts and accessories an almost daily occurrence for some of us; however, this is one part that should earn a permanent home on your rifle.

What iron sights do you use? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. was thinking of goin to iron sites..i know u get wat u pay for..but does anyone have a recommendation on something a little less expensive yet accurate and durable? thanks

    1. Mitch,

      I second Suzanne’s recommendation. Magpuls are high quality and durable.

      To be honest, I qualified Expert with M16s every time i ever went to the range in the Army, and that was always with plain old issue iron sights.

    2. @Mitch
      i agree that MagPul is a good choice.
      Are you planning on going to iron as your primary or keeping some from of optics and having iron sights on the 45 degree angle as your secondary or CQC primary sights? there are other sets of iron out there, how much are you set to spend?

  2. By the time I successfully fired Expert with a service grade M14 using standard issue iron sights using a rifle with thousands of rounds through it on qual day, after two full weeks on the range at MCRD Parris Island decades ago, I had scored ten bulls out of ten shots at five hundred yards three out of five days. Marine basic was my first experience with a firearm and I’ve been an avid student of the gun, ever since.
    I’ve worn glasses since I was about six or seven and was surprised at the accuracy using the principles they taught us all.
    As a result, I’ve never had a desire to use optical aids, taking pride in my ability with any firearm to be proficient and quick at longer than normal distances or under stressful conditions with iron sights.
    That has changed now that my old eyes don’t focus and a recent season of competitive shooting in a local rimfire league left me fighting to overcome the ‘old eyes’ problems. Using a twenty year old standard profile barrel 10/22 I found the factory sights useless at 50 yards, the rear for lack of adjustment and the front was too tiny to show up well,especially after sunset in our night league.
    I helped my ability by adding a Lyman globe front sight with interchangeable inserts to the front. It needed a riser insert between the sight and the dovetail to reach acceptable height despite adding an adjustable Williams aperture rear sight. I was able to be more than competitive even out to 50 yds. with 1 1/2″ groups average and some under an inch, despite the thin barrel on it’s third string of ten by then. The front globe did become someone dim after dark, despite the ample lighting provided by the excellent Clark County Shooting Park.
    My decades old Ruger 22/45 .22LR pistol proved the same to a lessor extent with improvement provided by an interchangeable fiber optic front sight with using small diameter light tubes and the standard black adjustable target rear sight, with which I was able to take both overall high score and high average at seasons end. The rim fire league allows only iron sights with no optic aids of any kind but allows fiber optic inserts in the sights.
    I find red dot sights when allowed are the greatest solution for old eyes as they eliminate focus, parallax and other problems out to reasonable distances which for me on my AR 100 yards. At two hundred and beyond I have to use either iron sights or preferably a magnified optic to achieve my personal expectations.
    I’ve had lots of training in and out of service since those days at Parris Island but those basics learned then have benefited my shooting more than any other training I’ve ever had. With good basics and good iron sights, one can shoot beyond his or her sight for longer distances than you would think until age finally begins to take away more than the brain can compensate for without visual aids. I love iron sights but am beginning to appreciate what newer advances can help me to do now that my eyes are trying to make me a porch dog.

  3. I have 4 AR15 style rifles plus an extra upper. All but one (an old Brady era DPMS M4) are flat tops so I can quickly switch to any sight I want. I have Red Dots or reflex sights for all of them (including the non-flat top through use of an adapter), but always have BU iron sights available. just in case because anything with a battery can fail, and having never qualified anything less than Expert with the M16 back in the days before optics, I like iron sights.

    Always keep your options open. And this seems like an option to explore, so I guess I’ll pick a couple up and see how they do.

    If you read the reviews on CTD, most people said the sight isn’t very durable for rough conditions, but for home defense it should be just fine. All my weapons are stored in their own padded soft side case with the exception of my Garand, which is in it’s CMP hard case, so storing weapons to prevent damage is not really rocket science.

  4. I use iron sites on my AR-10, and several other rifles that I have. I like scopes, but it’s good to have the old school iron sites. Can’t beat them at any range.

    1. Agreed, Michael.

      Anything with a battery or glass optics can fail. And if you are in a SHTF scenario, that failure will like be permanent.

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