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How to Remove an AR15 A2 Front Sight (With Tool List)

Dakota Potts | Updated February 23, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
AR-15 with scope and front sight block

When buying a new AR-15 firearm, you’ll notice it comes with a standard A2 front and rear sight. While these sights are usable for most shooting, they’re far less accurate than other optics or iron sights. 

So, let’s discuss how to remove AR front sight reliably. 

And when you’re done with that, make sure to check out our article on the best AR-15 scopes for more reading.

How to Remove an AR-15 A2 Fixed Front Iron Sight Post

Overall, this process is somewhat complicated and must be completed step by step. Here’s our guide with photo references for each step so you know what to expect and how it should look when you’re doing it. 

As a rule, don’t force anything, and make sure you know which step you’re on before you proceed. Otherwise, you might damage your sight, your tools, and even your hands if you’re not careful. 

Removing the Handguards

Standard AR-15s come with two-piece handguards that must be removed before you can take off the front sight. For this step, you’ll need a specialized handguard tool to take the piece off. While you can get it off without the tool, it’ll be much harder and take a lot longer. 

Red handguard removal tool around AR-15

The easiest tool to use is the MidwayUSA’s AR-15 Handguard Removal Tool, which allows you to place the arms through the delta ring and hook into the mag well. Then, pinch the arms, lower the delta ring, and pull the handguard pieces off. 

Close up of handguard removal tool around delta ring

You can do this freehanded or you can put your gun into a bench vise first for stability. If you go the latter route, you’ll already be set up for the second step. 

Clamp Upper AR-15 Rifle Assembly Into Vise

For the next steps, it’s best to put your gun into a vise, but it’s not completely necessary. 

If you’re comfortable enough working with your weapon, you may be able to remove the tapered pins without a vise. However, since you might have to use quite a bit of force, it’s best to secure the piece tightly before using a hammer. 

Removing the Upper Half

Before you can put your AR-15 upper receiver into a vise block, you need to remove it from the lower portion. Follow these steps to do that: 

Hands holding upper half of an AR-15
  • First, remove the magazine and any optics you may have attached to the upper receiver. Pull the charging handle and inspect the chamber to ensure there isn’t a round inside. 
Hand pointing at rear pin on a gun’s receiver
  • Next, you have to remove two pins, which you can do with a pin punch or with an extra round – just something that fits into the hole. Remove the rear pin before the front pin, as pictured. Neither pin will come out completely but will allow you to pull the upper receiver off when disengaged. 
Separated upper receiver and bolt carrier from lower receiver
  • Finally, remove the bolt carrier and charging handle and set them to the side. Because the bolt carrier and charging handle provide some internal stability, we recommend using an insert to prevent deformation of the upper receiver while it’s in the vise. 

Removing the Flash Hider

Wrench and tip of a barrel outdoors

The flash hider is at the tip of the barrel, and it’s usually screwed on pretty tight. You can use any wrench to loosen the flash hider, but an armorer’s wrench is often recommended because it’s suited for the job. 

Also, if you plan on modifying your gun regularly, it’s a good idea to have this kind of wrench handy. 

Hand unscrewing flash hider

Once the flash hider is loose, you can unscrew it by hand. There will be a cupped washer behind it, so make sure to take that off too. Now may be a good time to swap for a new flash hider as well if you’re trying to upgrade your gun. 

Hand holding crush washer

Remove the AR-15 Rifle Gas Tube

Close up of black gas tube and sight block

Now that the flash hider is gone, you have to remove the gas tube. 

First, you need to take out the gas tube roll pin. Since this is a roll pin, you should use a pin punch to take it out. Otherwise, you might damage the tube. 

Gas tube pin on hand

The gas tube roll pin should pop out pretty easily, but if it doesn’t, you might have to use a little more force. Using a brass hammer or rubber mallet is ideal so you don’t cause sparks. 

After the gas tube roll pin is out, you can simply pull the tube back until it comes out of the sight, then pull it forward to take it out of the gun completely. 

Hand gripping gas tube

For this step, you can either use the same vise or a bench block to secure the front sight while punching the pin out. Since the gas tube uses a roll pin, you can hit it from either side to loosen it. 

Hand taking out gas tube

Another thing to point out is that the gas tube may be stuck in place. If this happens, don’t worry about taking it out before removing the front sight. If you use pliers to yank on the gas tube, you’ll wind up damaging it and needing a replacement. 

Remove the AR-15 Rifle Front Sight Base Pins

Finger pointing at a front sight pin

There are two more front sight pins to take out before you can remove the front sight completely. You’ll notice either round head tapered pins or flat pins. Depending on the sight pins you have, you should get the right punch to remove them. 

Pin puncher in a front sight pin

A round head punch has a tapered tip with a hole in the center. A flat head punch has a narrow center and a flat tip.

Make sure to line up the punch with the tip of the pin, and don’t forget to tap them out in the correct direction. Because these pins are tapered, they only go one way. 

If you need help determining which direction the pins should go, we recommend using a bench block with the “PINS OUT” side facing up. This eliminates any guesswork and ensures you don’t damage the pieces in the process. 

Fingers holding a front sight pin

Overall, this step should be pretty easy, so if you’re struggling, there’s likely a simple solution to the problem. Some potential troubleshooting may include: 

  • Centering the Pin Punch – If the punch isn’t centered correctly, you’ll be hammering at an angle, causing the pin to stay in place. Make sure to hold the punch directly in the middle of the pin before tapping it. 
  • Loose Vise or Unstable Surface – If you’re not using a bench vise to remove the pins, you may be wasting energy by using a bouncier surface. Also, if the vise isn’t secured as tightly as it should be, your taps may not have as much leeway. 
  • Backward Pin – In rare cases, the manufacturer may have put the pins in backward, meaning you can simply turn the gun around and tap from the opposite side. 
  • Mismatched Pin Sizes – Sometimes, the diameter of the pin may be slightly (i.e, thousands of an inch) larger than the hole. In this case, you have to tap a little harder to loosen the pin since you’re working against friction. You may also want to use penetrating oil to make the job easier. 

Removing the Front Sight Tower Itself

Hands holding a front sight tower

Now that the pins and gas tube are out of the gun, you can take off the sight by sliding it down the end of the barrel. However, this step may or may not be easy, depending on the condition of the weapon. 

A hand pushing against a front sight tower

For example, a used AR-15 may have a stuck-on sight that doesn’t budge when you twist it. Conversely, a brand-new model’s sight may simply slide off with minimal effort. If the sight doesn’t really move at first, try tapping it with a hammer or mallet to see if that does the trick. 

Penetrating oil may be necessary if the sight feels really stuck. Squirt the oil into the space between the sight and the barrel and let it sit for a while before trying again. 

Front sight gas tube separated from a barrel 

Now is also the time to remove the gas block next to the sight and swap it out for something better. You may want to use a low-profile gas block instead or upgrade to better iron sights. 

If you’re using an optic scope, it’s often better to go with a low-profile gas block so it doesn’t get in the way while aiming.

Here’s a helpful video showing how to properly put the gas tube and front sight (if you’ve switched it for something better) back together:

How to Remove Front Sights on AR-15 A2: For Adjustable Models

If your AR-15 is equipped with an adjustable sight, it should have screws you can loosen to take the piece off. This process is a lot simpler and more straightforward because the sight isn’t built into the gun like a standard A2. 

In this case, the steps are: 

  • Remove the upper half of the gun
  • Place it into a vise
  • Remove the flash hider with a wrench
  • Unscrew the adjustable front sight
  • Remove the sight

Overall, you should be able to take it off in a few minutes with basic tools. The hardest part is taking off the flash hider because of how tight it is on the muzzle.

Tips on Removing an AR-15 A2 Front Sight

While the steps to removing the front sight on an AR-15 are pretty straightforward, the whole process can be kind of tricky if you’ve never removed a sight before. So, with that in mind, here are some tips on how to make this process a little easier. 

Don’t Force It, You Might Break Something

As a general rule, if you have to force something, you shouldn’t. Machine parts should fit together seamlessly, so you don’t need to use much effort to disassemble and reassemble the parts. 

If necessary, a little penetrating oil goes a long way. Having some on hand will make each step easier, but you don’t want to apply it unless absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend more time cleaning each piece afterward. 

Close up of a grey front sight

AR-15 Barrel Steel

After removing the front sight, you may notice two bands of unprotected barrel steel where the sight was. This happens when manufacturers parkerize the metal after assembling the weapon, rather than doing each component individually. 

To protect the gun and keep it in excellent condition, you should either send the barrel out to be parkerized or add a coat of Brownell’s Aluma-Hyde. Just make sure to tape off the other sections of the barrel so you don’t add extra coats to the parkerized metal.  

Safety, Front Sight Pins Types & Tools for the Job

Since this job is somewhat complex, there are various tools, pins, and safety gear required to do it correctly. Here’s an overview of what you should have on hand before starting this process. 

AR-15 A2 Front Sight Pin Types

Typically, an AR-15 A2 front sight uses taper pins that are easier to remove. However, sometimes you may find roll pins installed, which require more force to take out. 

Most AR manufacturers use taper pins because they know many shooters will remove the front sight in favor of something more useful. In this case, you can use a taper pin punch to get them out. 

With used ARs, you might see a roll pin installed instead, which uses a different type of pin punch. Usually, this happens when the previous owner wanted to secure the front sight tighter. Overall, it’s pretty rare to see roll pins though. 

Safety

Even though your weapon won’t be loaded, there are still plenty of dangerous elements to pay attention to when taking off the front sight. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself (and your hands) safe: 

  • Wear Safety Goggles – It’s always a good idea to wear safety goggles whenever you’re working on anything. You never know what could happen or which piece may fly up and hit your face. 
  • Use a Brass Hammer – Hitting steel on steel can cause sparks or mini explosions, so it’s best to use a plastic or brass hammer when removing the taper pins from the gas block. Alternatively, a rubber mallet can also work well. 
  • Double-Check Everything – Since there’s hammering involved in this process, you don’t want to start pounding first and asking questions later. Always double-check that your pin punch is in the right position before swinging. 
A metal hammer with wooden handle

Tools for Removing a AR-15 A2 Front Sight

Although you don’t necessarily need specialized tools to remove the front sight, having these pieces will make the job easier and faster. Also, if you plan on doing more modifications to your AR-15 in the future, it’s a good idea to have these tools handy for other projects and add-ons. 

AR-15 Front Sight Removal Kit

While there is no official AR-15 front sight removal kit, you can create your own with the tools we discussed during the steps above. You’ll need: 

  • Handguard Removal Tool
  • Pin Punch
  • Wrench (armorer’s wrench preferred)
  • Taper Pin Starter Punch (or a regular taper pin punch)
  • Front Sight Bench Block (you can find its description below)
  • Brass Hammer (or rubber mallet)
  • Penetrating Oil

Best of all, most of these tools can be used over and over again while working on your weapon. For example, whenever you’re deep-cleaning your AR-15, you’ll want to remove each of these pieces, wipe them down, and then replace them. 

AR-15 Front Sight Bench Block

An AR-15 front sight bench block is handy as it’ll keep the sight in place while you hammer out the taper pins. The block is dual-sided – one for removing the pins and one for putting them in. 

That said, this bench block is only designed for the A2 front sight, so it’s a bit of a specialty piece. If you don’t want to spend money on something so specialized, you can work around it by using a vise and rubber-tipped pliers. 

Cutting Off Front Sight on AR-15

If you want a low-profile gas block, one option is to cut the front sight down using a Dremel or similar metal cutting tool. This process does ruin the sight, so you need to make sure you know what you’re doing first. 

Also, since taking the front sight off makes it harder to put it back on, we recommend cutting the top while holding the upper in a vise block, rather than cutting it after removing the sight. Once the top piece has been cut off, you’ll have to use a sanding or grinding tool to smooth out the sharp edges.

This option is also more dangerous because you’re working with a metal saw that could cause sparks and potential injury if it slips. Always wear gloves and goggles when cutting metal, especially when you’re doing it freehand. 

How to Operate an AR-15

If you’re a new owner of an AR rifle and looking to learn more about how to safely operate it, take a look at our article on how to operate an AR 15 rifle correctly.

How to Bore Sight in an AR-15

Similarity, if you’re sighing in your AR for the first time, our article on how to bore sight in an AR-15 will point you in the right direction.

FAQs

Black AR-15 with front sights and rear sights and red dot

Where do you put the pop-up sights on an AR-15?

A good rule to follow is to put the pop-up sights on the rear and front of an AR-15. These sights should be far away from any optics you may have on the gun. 

The orientation of the sight should match your off-hand. If you’re right-handed, the sight should flip away from you and toward you if you’re a lefty. 

Does AR-15 have sights?

Yes, most standard AR-15 rifles come with an A2 front sight post on the gas block, which offers limited visibility and no targeting. Typically, gun manufacturers don’t install iron sights because they assume shooters want to mount their preferred optics or sights. (1)

What is an A2 sight?

An A2 sight is the default sight installed on most AR-15 guns. Typically, these weapons have front and rear sights, with a tapered front sight and a carry handle rear sight. A2 iron sights are adjustable, allowing you to compensate for windage and elevation. (2)

Free float barrel in a clamp

Can you remove front sight post AR-15?

Yes, you can remove the front sight post on an AR-15. However, since it’s attached to the gas block, you have to remove them together, and it will be impossible to put it back on. 

What size is an A2 gas block?

A standard A2 gas block is 1.75 inches long and 0.75 inches in diameter. This piece is also made of steel and is compatible with an AR-10, LR-308, and AR-15 rifle.  

Can fixed sights be changed?

Yes, you can change and swap out fixed sights as necessary. If you’re talking about adjusting fixed sights so that they’re more accurate or easier to see through, that is also possible. However, you will need additional tools to adjust a fixed sight. 

Is a sight pusher necessary?

No, a sight pusher is not necessary to change sights on an AR-15 or other firearm. That said, a sight pusher does make the job easier, so it’s nice to have it on hand if possible. 

Can you remove AR-15 front sight?

Yes, you can remove an AR-15 front sight as long as you follow the correct steps and use the correct tools. 

Should I remove front sight AR-15?

If you don’t want to use the standard front sight on an AR-15, you should remove it. While it’s virtually impossible to re-install this piece once removed, there are many other front sights that are more accurate, not to mention optical scopes that allow you to zoom in on your target. 

Close up of front sights on an AR-15

References

  1. Jon Schuppe, America’s rifle: Why so many people love the AR-15. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/america-s-rifle-why-so-many-people-love-ar-15-n831171
  2. Merrian Webster, front sight. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/front%20sight

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