AR-15 rifles are unquestionably the most versatile weapons available today that though you’re not a law enforcer or a soldier, you can still acquire one for your needs and even for your wants.
AR-15 scopes are so useful and it’s proven by the existence of various AR-15 scope reviews accessible on the internet. It is said that the best AR-15 for you is the one with a mounted AR-15 scope on it. From hunting, competition, close quarter combat, long-range precision shooting, self-defense, down to recreational purposes, an AR-15 scope is required.
I say it’s a requirement simply because of the following: a) it will allow you to zoom in to your target digitally without the need to move nearer, b) you’ll acquire your target faster, c) you’ll have more accurate shots than ever, d) you may adjust the brightness of your scope which means you can hunt or use your rifle any time of the day, e), your optical range will increase with a scope, and f) the customizable dot colors and reticles will help you aim better.
Truth be told, there are literally hundreds, even thousands of choices on the market today. That is why we’ll be giving you the top AR-15 scopes. We’ll look through their specifications so you can match them with your needs. And in no time, you’ll find the best AR-15 scope for you.
Best AR-15 Scope Reviews
Ah, the price. Choosing the best scope with an unlimited budget is downright hassle-free. You can just search for the best and the most expensive one on the market, read a few reviews, and buy it. But the headache begins when your budget is limited. You may think you can’t get the best scope with your limited budget. You may think you won’t find the best AR-15 scope that will give you the most bang for your buck with your limited budget. Well, you’re wrong. In every price range, there will always be one scope that stands out among the rest. That is why we have done the extensive study to narrow your search and we now provide you with the best AR-15 scope for the money for every possible budget you can think of.
Low Price Range
UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
This shockproof, fogproof, and rainproof scope under $100 is the best budget AR-15 scope. This one-inch tube has Emerald Coated Lens which allows you to see your target clearly. It’s built on True Strength Platform and includes a Smart Spherical Structure (SSS). With this design, the scope can offer long lasting reliability. Add up its Premium Zero Lockable and Zero Resettable Target Turrets and this becomes the best AR-15 scope for beginners as well. For Optimum Critical CQB Mission, it provides a large field of view combined with the most accommodating eye relief. Thanks to its Range Estimating Mil-dot Reticle, you’ll experience optimal aiming and the best shooting performance.
- Using the scope is elementary.
- It’s durable, reliable, and guarantees precise elevation adjustment over time.
- It achieves an impressive parallax view from 3 yards to infinity using its wide angle front objective.
- It can be used in all weather conditions because of the versatility of the red/green dual illumination.
- It performs well in various light weather conditions because it’s completely sealed and Nitrogen-filled.
- It offers sharp optics with an extremely affordable price.
- It holds zero even after 1000 shots.
- The crosshairs may either be too thick or too thin that it’s barely visible.
- The reticle may rotate after 40 shots and may lose focus.
- The focus for the crosshairs doesn’t have a locking mechanism so it turns every time you shoot.
Bottom Line: Don’t expect this to be of premium quality like that of a scope with a more expensive price tag. Expect it to perform well for a beginner and to be as great as it can be for its price. It’s a good scope to start with and there are a lot of advantages attached to its name.
Low-Mid Price Range
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
UTG has done an amazing job again with this scope. It’s a 30-millimeter tube build on True Strength Platform featuring a 30-millimeter SWAT SWAT 3-12X44 IE tactical range estimating scope with mil-dot, full 36-color EZ Tap reticle, multicoated Emerald lenses with flip-open lens caps, and special circuit and housing design for uninterrupted illumination even under heavy recoil. It also features premium zero locking and zero resetting target turrets for consistent and accurate adjustment and a lifetime warranty.
- It’s shockproof, fogproof, and rainproof.
- The built makes it durable.
- Setup settings make it easy to use because your setup can be saved with the locking functionality.
- It’s completely sealed and nitrogen-filled.
- The scope can be used even without a battery because only the illumination requires it; the crosshair doesn’t.
- The scope is precise even if the target is as far as 200 yards.
- The scope rings allow you to fit any Picatinny rail with ease.
- It provides an effective view from as close as 10 yards to infinity.
- It holds zero even after several shots.
- Great for short range and long range shooting thanks to its 3-12x magnification power.
- Misadjusting the controls is possible because they are well exposed.
- The illuminator functions only with a battery.
- It may be a little difficult for beginners to get a hang of it.
- You need to improve your shooting skills if you want to aim for targets at distances greater than 200 yards.
Bottom Line: It’s an all-purpose scope for any weather and is definitely worth the price. Experience uninterrupted shooting with this solidly built, high quality scope.
Mid Price Range
Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600 – Best AR-15 Scope For The Money
With a fully multicoated optical system that provides up to 98% light transmission and maximum brightness, you’ll definitely see more light with this one. This bestseller will suit your hunting needs with its versatile magnification range. The BDC 600 reticle, which was developed for the trajectory of the .223 Rem /5.56 NATO round, offers the shooter unique, open circle aiming points and hash marks from 100-600 yards. It also features precise, ¼ MOA hand-turn tactical-style turrets to hold zero and maintain your setting even with repeated recoil.
- Its sleek design gives a more aesthetic and simpler look.
- It’s completely waterproof and fogproof which can be used in any weather condition.
- It’s Nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed.
- The turrets are easily accessible.
- The scope is exceptionally clear even at full zoom.
- It has more eye relief compared to other scopes in its price range.
- The quality of this scope is as impressive as other scopes in a higher price range.
- The lines on the turrets may be misaligned.
- Turret caps are not included.
- It requires a lot of concentration to aim the target using the dots on the scope.
Bottom Line: This scope is accurate, easy to zero, and durable. It’s one of the best AR-15 scopes for the money. Plus, it’s Nikon. Need I say more?
Mid Price Range
Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC
With its high definition, multicoated optics, you’ll definitely get incredible brightness and clarity from this Bushnell product. As expected from Bushnell, this AR-15 scope provides excellent low light performance and accurate holdovers out to 500 yards. These are possible thanks to the BTR-1 illuminated First Focal Plane reticle of the scope. It’s easy and quick to change power with the Exclusive Throw Down Power Change Lever (PCL), too. Not only that, this scope features target turrets (.1 Mil click value) for pinpoint-precise adjustments.
- It’s easy to operate.
- It’s accurate and can still be used without the battery since the reticle doesn’t require it.
- It’s durable because it’s made of aluminum alloy. It’s also anodize-finished and sealed to protect the inside from dust and dirt.
- The lens is crystal clear.
- You’ll get tight groups with this scope.
- It holds zero in no time.
- It’s beautifully designed and built to last.
- It’s a bit heavy; it weighs 492 grams.
- The illumination at 4x magnification power is barely visible during the day.
- You can’t lock turrets so be careful not to hit them when you adjust your magnification power.
Bottom Line: This Bushnell product’s durability has been proven and tested by many. It’s one incredible scope under $200. It’s rustproof and virtually scratchproof. It’s a perfect sight to your AR-15.
High Price Range
Trijicon Acog 4 X 32 Scope – Top Pick
This scope is probably the most outstanding scope for your AR-15. Its engineering offers enhanced controls to its users and its quality is unquestionable. It features a straightforward brightness dial, allowing you to know how much illumination the reticle needs even in transitional lighting. It’s equipped with Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) that allows you to use both eyes when aiming along with scope magnification sighting for quick target acquisition. Another great thing about this scope is it’s internally adjustable. It’s also 100% battery-free, to avoid interruptions and delays during your activity.
- It has a longer eye relief for larger caliber rifles and large exit pupil for fast target acquisition.
- It’s proudly made in the U.S.A. with Grade Aluminum Alloy Housing, so it’s certainly robust.
- It has Broad Band Anti-Reflective Coated Lenses for superior clarity and light gathering abilities with no distortion and works well in any weather condition.
- Regardless of weather conditions, this scope will work flawlessly.
- The scope’s fiber optics automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast level of the reticle for easier and clearer aiming.
- It’s waterproof up to 100 feet and it’s dry Nitrogen-filled which makes it fogproof, too.
- It’s perfect for hunting even if your target will most likely move fast.
- It has a lifetime warranty.
- It costs about $1,800. But this is a con only if you have a limited budget. Nonetheless, it’s worth the price.
Bottom Line: This is clearly the best optics for your AR-15. You won’t find a better scope than this one. Period.
AR-15 Scope Buying Guide
If you’re going to use a scope for tactical use or close range shooting, remember that it should have a fast target acquisition feature. Red-dot sights and holographic sights are usually the choice for this type of shooting. If you’re going to shoot at long ranges, you don’t have to look for the fast target acquisition feature, instead, look for one with a moderate magnification. It’s also unreasonable to purchase a scope that can outrange the ammo you’re shooting. Opt for the scope that can work at the optimum range you’ll shoot; get the scope you’ll actually use.
There is a lot of factors to consider but before I tell you what to specifically look for in a scope, be knowledgeable of the parts of the AR-15 first.
Parts of an AR-15 Scope
- Elevation – This turret provides vertical adjustment for your reticle. The adjustments are measured either in MOA (Minute of Angle) or MRAD (milliradian).
- Focus – These dials on the eyepiece allow you to adjust the focus of the reticle to provide the sharpest level of clarity possible as you view your target.
- Illumination – It provides lighting for your reticle and helps you aim in low light situations and shadow areas.
- Magnification – Sometimes referred to as the Power Ring, this allows you to adjust the magnification power of your scope depending on its specifications. By dialing the magnification up and down, the shooter can zoom in and out on their target.
- Objective lens – This is the lens on the other end of the scope that gathers light around the target. Their diameter is measured in millimeters. The objective bell is the housing for the objective lens. Some bells hold up to 75mm of lens or more.
- Ocular lens – This is the piece of glass the shooter faces when he aims. It is generally smaller than the objective lens and it focuses the light gather by the objective lens into the eye of the viewer.
- Parallax – It is the term that describes the difference in angles between objects that are seen up close and those seen far away.
- Windage – The windage turret allows you to adjust the horizontal alignment of your reticle. Adjustments are also measured in MOA or MRAD like the elevation turret.
Tips on How to Choose the Best AR-15 Scope
Below are the things to consider when selecting the best AR-15 Scope for your needs.
- If you’re shooting at 100 yard targets, a fixed scope of 6x magnification will do. It’s smaller and lighter. It is also less expensive than the variable powered scope.
- If you’re into competitions, you’ll need a scope that will help you acquire targets in a blink of an eye. For closer ranges, 1x will do. For distances beyond 100 meters, opt for a scope with a magnification power of 1-6x.
- If you’re a sniper, you’ll need a high powered scope with premium quality. This is because most of your targets will be at 600 meters or farther.
- If you’re a hunter, a scope with 3-9x magnification is ideal. If you wish to shoot from dawn to dusk, consider larger objective lenses and illuminated reticles.
- If you’re a soldier, you would want a durable and dependable scope with 1x for short ranges, and a medium-to-long variable scope for long range.
- Objective Lens
- A larger objective lens gathers more light.
- This is beneficial in low light situations and will help you identify the target faster.
- However, a larger objective lens means you also get a heavier and lighter scope.
- Magnification Power
- The lower the magnification, the wider the field of view, and the easier it is to acquire your target.
- Higher magnification allows you to watch your target which is farther away and will be helpful to you when you are observing your target.
- A variable power scope offers both options but it’s more complicated than the fixed scope because it is heavier and more expensive.
- If you’re a plinker, a scope with 3-9x magnification power will do.
- If you’re into hunting, it’s recommended that you get a lower powered scope to find targets faster.
- If you’re into competition shooting with stationary targets, it’s best to get a higher powered scope. A 4-20x magnification power is usually the ideal choice for competitors.
- Eye Relief
- Eye relief is the distance between your eye to the ocular lens to make the scope’s image focus at the back of your eye.
- Modern scopes usually have the 2-4-inch range.
- The picture will perfectly fill the eyepiece if you’re following the correct distance of a scope.
- When you’re too close, the image will fill only a part of the eyepiece.
- You’ll know your eyes are too far if the eyepiece will show only a part of the image.
- If you’re usually hunting from place to place and you love going on long hunting journeys, you have to consider the weight of the scope.
- You’ll be carrying your rifle a lot as you travel which makes it heavier and heavier as the trek continues.
- Avoid regret by purchasing that 3lb. scope if there’s an available scope with the same specifications weighing 1 pound.
- Consider the quality of the turrets because they help you in sighting in and properly adjusting the scope in hitting targets at whatever distance you choose.
- Each Minute of Angle (MOA) is divided into 60 seconds.
- One MOA is equal to about one inch at a range of 100 yards.
- The turrets will usually have positive detents, either 1/4 or 1/8 MOA.
- At 100 yards, the increments would either be ¼ inch or 1/8-inch adjustment.
- At 400 yards, it’s either 1 or ½ inch.
- Most turrets will allow you to reset the dials to zero after dialing it in.
You’ve probably noticed that there are several things to consider before purchasing your AR-15 scope. And a lot of reading will help especially if you’re a first-time buyer. One of the most important things to take note is the type of reticle because some reticles are better suited for close range use while others are ideal for long range shooting.
Also remember that your AR-15 should get a scope that can take the two-way recoil. It’s always advantageous to get a scope mount that has a positive recoil stop to prevent slips. Don’t settle for a clamping mount because it won’t hold up to sustained recoil.
Mind the price and the quality of the AR-15 scope as well. Not all expensive scopes perform well and not all cheap scopes are of low quality. You have to read customers’ reviews and study the scopes’ specifications. If you can’t maximize the performance of the scope because your activity hinders you from doing so, then it’s close to being useless. It’s significant to get a scope that you can use for your specific activity.
The technology of AR-15 scopes has been developed at a rapid rate throughout the recent years. Scopes now offer more practical features. Clearly, there are a lot of AR-15 scopes to choose from but with proper knowledge, knowing which scope to get becomes easier. With several prices and brands to choose from, it may look confusing. But hopefully, through this guide, I have made it easier for you to decide.
You should also check out our rifle scope buying guide, that contains a ton of interesting information on rifle scopes.