I’ve always valued simplicity and efficiency when it comes to my AR-15 setup, especially for rapid emergency deployment. One of my favorite patrol rifles before retirement was my box stock Brownell’s BRN-601 Retro AR-15. It was the perfect grab-and-go rifle, with standard A1 Sights and a military sling. However, I like red-dot optics or telescopic sights on rifles in certain circumstances. And my range test partner, Chief Bret Rogers, prefers his AR-15s more “tricked out.” In looking to improve his close-range deployment speed, which is hindered by having to move the Magnifier before firing, he found the XT12 45-degree offset backup iron sights (BUIS) from XS Sights.

The XS Sights Advantage

XS Sights, a family-owned American company, has been a longstanding favorite of mine for their ingenious and practical designs. We requested a set of XS XT12 Offset BUIS with a big Tritium dot front with white outline, and a plain white stripe non-tritium express rear.

Based on those used for hunting big game, express sights offer quick target acquisition with the front sight using a large brass or ivory bead, while the rear sight is a shallow V-trough. The XS express sights work well whether mounted on pistols or rifles and are more than accurate enough for any threat out to 25 yards. With practice they are effective beyond that distance.

How Offset BUIS Work

Mounting on the top rail of an AR-15 forend, Offset BUIS follow a simple concept. The sights cant 45 degrees to the right, keeping BUIS front and rear sight out of the field of view of the optic. BUIS sights are not co-witnessed with the optic.

Bringing Offset BUIS to bear on a target simply requires rotating the rifle counterclockwise until the offset sights become visible. While it takes only a split second to use the BUIS AR-15 sights, the maneuver should be practiced when working with a sight-equipped rifle.

Why Choose Backup Iron Sights from XS Sights

There are a number of high-quality 45-degree offset BUIS out there, many of which are less expensive than the XS XT12 Offsets. However, most of the other offset designs use a peep rear sight and plain post front sight. These are standard BUIS, mounted on a 45-degree rail mount. You have to look through the rear peephole at a plain post front sight in order to obtain a proper secondary peep sight picture. That’s difficult to do when situations occur quickly or in low-light conditions.

When using the XS XT12 sights, both eyes are kept wide open as you locate the shallow V-trough of the rear sight, moving it up into alignment with the large Tritium front sight. The front and rear sights are very easy to visually capture, starting with your peripheral vision. Simply roll the front sight into place in the trough with rough alignment with the rear vertical stripe. The rear sight is windage adjustable. No other setup is faster for close-range encounters.

Testing the XT12 AR-15 Sights

We tested the XS XT12 sights on Rogers’ AR-15 on a sunny afternoon with a box of Barnaul 60-grain steel-cased .223 ammo. Using a B27 PROS silhouette target, the first rounds printed to the right and a bit high but still well within center mass. The next four rounds from the same distance were closer to the center in a tight group measuring approximately 4 inches. The rear sight is windage adjustable, which, moved left, should have put the rounds closer to dead center. However, the two groups we fired would’ve achieved their goal just fine.

Where to Buy XT12 45-Degree BUIS Sights

BUIS are meant for shooters to achieve emergency close-range hits without having to move a magnifier offline. The XT12 45-Degree Offset BUIS accomplished this perfectly. These sights would work well on a home-defense carbine as well. You may also want to consider XS DXT2 Big Dot Night Sight for your self-defense combat handgun. You can install the handgun sights yourself or have XS do it. MSRP of the XS XT12 45-Degree Offset BUIS as tested is $175.99.


XS Sights: XSSights.com
Ruger: Ruger.com