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8 Best Scopes for AR-15 under $200 in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on May 17, 2021

HIRAM ScopeThis isn’t your grandpa’s rifle; this is an AR-15, and it needs its own kind of scope. Sure, you could put a regular scope on it, but the recoil is going to give you a black eye if you do. Finding the best scope for an AR-15 is a daunting task, though. With so many on the market, it is hard to know where to begin.

Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of detailed reviews that will help you narrow down the options. We hand-picked eight different scopes with different prices so you can find what is hopefully right for you.

Each one comes with its own set of pros and cons, but any of these eight would make an impressive addition to your rifle.

scope crosshairs divider 1

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Vortex Optics Strikefire II Scope Vortex Optics Strikefire II Scope
  • Water and Fog proof
  • Rear facing controls
  • Both eyes stay open
  • Second place
    UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope
  • Easily adjustable
  • 2-inch Sunshade
  • Shock, water, and fog proof
  • Third place
    CVLIFE 4x32 Tactical Rifle Scope CVLIFE 4x32 Tactical Rifle Scope
  • Crisp focus with multi-coated lens
  • Water, fog, and shock proof
  • Pre-set parallax
  • MidTen 4-12x50 Dual Illuminated Scope MidTen 4-12x50 Dual Illuminated Scope
  • Laser sight
  • 3-inch eye relief
  • 5 levels of brightness
  • Pinty 4-16X50 Illuminated Rifle Scope Pinty 4-16X50 Illuminated Rifle Scope
  • Detachable laser sight
  • Eye relief of 3–3.4 inches
  • Rear facing controls
  • The 8 Best Scope for AR-15 under $200 – Reviews 2021

    1. Vortex Optics Strikefire II Scope – Best Overall

    Vortex Optics Strikefire II Scope

    Coming in at our best overall AR-15 scope is the Vortex Optics Strikefire II. This product is unique in that you don’t use one eye to shoot. For maximum field of view, you have both eyes open. There are rear facing controls that allow you to adjust the dot intensity levels 1–10. The lowest levels are night-vison compatible, making hunting in the low light easier than ever. The 30mm aluminum alloy chassis not only provides an extra high recoil rating but also waterproofing and fog proofing. One of the bet parts is eye placement is not critical, like other scopes on the market. As long as you can see the dot, you can hit your target.

    Pros
    • 10 dot intensity adjustment levels
    • Eye placement not critical
    • Water and Fog proof
    • Rear facing controls
    • Both eyes stay open
    Cons
    • Movement can cause blurred vision
    • Adjusting takes skill and time

    2. UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope

    UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope

    At our second we have the BugBuster scopes. While it lacks technology, our number one pick has it comes in at two because of the sure durability of this scope. This scope was built on a true strength platform. No matter where you take this scope, it is going to be ready. The aluminum shell is completely sealed and filled with nitrogen providing fog proofing, waterproofing, and shock proofing. The optimal aiming and shooting performance of this scope can go from three yards to infinity on the best days. There is also a 2-inch sunshade that allows for less glare on those bright days. Like the one before, this uses a red/green dot for the perfect shot.

    Pros
    • Emerald coated for maximum light transmission
    • Easily adjustable
    • Large field view with eye relief
    • 2-inch Sunshade
    • Shock, water, and fog proof
    Cons
    • No light adjustment for red/green dot
    • Easily misaligned reticle

    3. CVLIFE 4×32 Tactical Rifle Scope

    CVLIFE 4x32 Tactical Rifle Scope

    The CVLIFE Tactical Rifle Scope has the highest magnification of the scopes on this list so far at 4x. The field of view on this scope is 36.6 per 100 yards. This scope is a high preference scope with a fiber optic sight for quick and accurate acquisition. This is going to be a scope that is good for moving around more and ignoring the stand completely. This is also one of the best scopes if you are on a budget. This is on the lower end of the price range, leaving you the ability to add more features later on as attachments. The glass etched reticle with three colors (green/blue/red) adjust with 3 levels of brightness, allowing shooters to find the perfect brightness for lighting and weather.

    Pros
    • Glass teched reticle with 3 illuminations
    • Crisp focus with multi-coated lens
    • Water, fog, and shock proof
    • Pre-set parallax
    • Weaver mount slot on each side for accessories
    Cons
    • Heavier than other scopes
    • Not made for night vision

    4. MidTen 4-12×50 Dual Illuminated Scope

    MidTen 4-12x50 Dual Illuminated Scope

    In the fourth spot, we have the MidTen Dual Illuminated Scopes. This comes in as the heaviest scope, so far wearing in at 25 ounces all together. However, this scope provides anywhere from 4–12x magnification, which is greater than any scope listed. With five levels of brightness it is great for any time of day or night. The red and green work tougher to give the best possible view of the target. With a 3-inch eye relief, it takes some time to get used to the proper alignment. This lovely scope does come with a laser sigh integrated with the optics and electronics. It has a distance of 200–500 meters and is great for quick acquisition of fast-moving targets.

    Pros
    • Laser sight
    • 3-inch eye relief
    • Rain, fog, and shock proof
    • 5 levels of brightness
    • Multi-coated lenses for high light transmission
    Cons
    • Heavy scope at 25 ounces
    • No AO adjustment

    5. Pinty 4-16X50 Illuminated Rifle Scope

    Pinty 4-16X50 Illuminated Rifle Scope

    At the perfect spot for the fifth ranked scope is priced in the middle of the ones on the list. This scope comes in with a magnification of 4–16x, allowing for greater range. There are 2 buttons that adjust the level of brightness for both the green and red illuminated dot sight with 4 reticle patterns. This optic is best for wide range shooting because of the magnification range. It also allows for quick acquisition of close quarter and faster moving targets for best results. With 9 different levels of brightness for both the red and green dot sights, it is open for all day use. Their slots are 14 slots on the riser mount that is compatible with many Weaver and all Picatinny scopes. Like above, there is a detachable green laser that reaches a distance of 100 meters.

    Pros
    • 9 dot intensity adjustment levels
    • Detachable laser sight
    • Eye relief of 3–3.4 inches
    • Rear facing controls
    • Water and fog proof
    Cons
    • Uncommon battery size
    • Eye piece is stiff

    6. Monstrum 3-9×32 Rifle Scope

    Monstrum 3-9x32 Rifle Scope

    While further down on this list, this is still a great scope to be had. However, this is going to be a more beginner friendly scope than anything. It comes in around the cheaper options on this list, meaning it lacks some bells and whistles of the other scopes. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own charm, though. With 3­–9x magnification, it is great for long distance targeting. The eye relief sits at about 3.5–3.8 inches. The illumination of the red and green is controlled by the dial on the side of the scope. The optics on this scope are going to be clear thanks to the multi-layer lens coating that protects them from scratches and fog.

    Pros
    • Lighter weight
    • Eye relief at 3.5–3.8 inches
    • Water, fog, and shock proof
    • Easy adjustment knobs
    • Suited for all light levels and environments
    Cons
    • Cheaper than other scopes
    • Circle becomes less refined as you zoom

    7. HIRAM 4-16×50 AO Rifle Scope

    HIRAM 4-16x50 AO Rifle Scope

    While at the higher end of the price range, this scope offers a 4-in-1 combo that brings in a new option not on this list yet. The primary reason this scope isn’t placed at number one is the weight behind it and the fact you need a LED tactical flashlight to use it at night. Thankfully, this scope comes ready with the LED tactical flashlight and a green laser sight that a wavelength of 625–660nm. The magnification on the scope is 4–16x, depending on how much you zoom in. The eye relief sits at about 3–3.4 inches for comfort. Overall, this scope offers red and green modes for the reticle crosshairs to work with various light levels.

    Pros
    • LED Flashlight included
    • Eye relief at 3–3.4 inches
    • 4–16x magnification
    • 4 brightness levels
    • Water, fog, and shock proof
    Cons
    • Not made for hunting in low light without flashlight
    • Heavier than other scopes due to attachments

    8. TRUGLO TRU-BRITE Illuminated Tactical Rifle Scope

    TRUGLO TRU-BRITE Illuminated Tactical Rifle Scope

    Last but not least is the TRUGLO Tactical Rifle Scope, wrapping up the list with style. This scope is the heaviest one on this list, coming in at 2.2 pounds. This scope comes with a dual-color illuminated reticle in red and green. The glass it etched and can be used with the illumination as well depending on light. The mil-dot reticle enables the user to determine the distance of an object of a known size and provides a quick trajectory reference. Being made of one piece of aircraft grade aluminum, it is water and shock resistant while being fog proof.

    Pros
    • Dual-color illumination
    • Eye placement not critical
    • Trajectory reference available
    • 4-inch eye relief
    • Quick zoom lever
    Cons
    • 2 pounds making it heavy
    • Lacks brightness adjustment

    Buyer’s Guide

    Tips When Buying

    You Get What You Pay For

    No matter what kind of scope you end up going after, you should go with a well-known manufacture with a long-established reputation. Why? They are known to make high quality optics for a long period of time. By going to someone who has a reputation for making quality optics, it saves you time and often money.

    In addition to that, the saying “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to optics. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy anything above $200 dollars, though. Sure, there are amazing optics above that price range, but you may not need everything that scope provides. Determine what you want out of your scope and what you intend to use it for, then decide on the price range. Our list above includes everything from the lower end to the more expensive end. It comes down to what is best for you.

    Weight Matters

    Another tip is to look at the weights of the scopes. AR-15s are meant to be compact and lightweight. You are going to want a scope that isn’t too heavy but still gets what you need out of it. While you may not notice the weight of a 2 pound scope at first, you will after a few hours of carrying it around.

    Rugged and Durable are Key Factors

    The best optics are going to be those that are designed for what you want to handle. All the scopes you look at should be rugged and durable, so they can withstand minor and major impacts as well as recoil. There is nothing worse than having to reset your zero on a scope after one shot. A scope made from lower-quality materials will lose the zero point after a few shots.

    Know Your Range

    Are you going for more up close and personal range hunting, or are you thinking longer distances? Both require two unique abilities. The close range is going to use the red dot, green dot, or holographic sights for this type of shooting. They allow you to find your target and aim quickly so you can get your shot off before your target moves again.

    Where the longer ranges don’t need a quick target acquisition. Meaning you could get away with a scope with minimal to moderate magnification and leave out the fancy target acquisition factors if you wanted. The red dots are still handy, and some scopes give trajectory insights, but it isn’t needed for longer prep time of aiming.

    Clarity is Key

    When choosing a rifle scope, the ability to see your target is imperative. This is where the eye relief comes into play. If you want to be able to be farther from your scope, opt for a longer distance. The closer you are to it, the more likely you are to get some recoil against your eye.

    The amount of coatings a lens has is also going to determine the clarity of the image. The more coatings, the better as there will be less glare to worry about. It will also prevent scratches to your lens if it were to take some damage. Magnification also plays a part in clarity. The more you magnify something in the distance, you will want more definition rather than it being fuzzy and pixilated.

    If you intend to use your scope during all kinds of weather, then look into water, fog, and shockproof scopes. If your scope has electronics, this is imperative to keep it running.

    AR-15

    Image Credit By: oleg_mit, Pixabay

    Electronic or Not?

    What is the best one? That is going to depend on what you are looking to do with your optic and where you are taking it. Remember, for an electronic scope there are batteries, some in which you can recharge, and others that are not. No matter the case, this puts a limit on the amount of time you can use your scope. If this is going to be a problem, then consider one that doesn’t require illumination or the red dot feature.

    Sizing

    All these scopes come in various sizes. There are the more low-profile scopes that have sleek lines and capped turrets for adjustment. Then you have the tactical-style turrets for adjustment to the magnification. The capped turrets do not allow for quick adjustment, making them better for long-range shooting where you don’t have to adjust often. This style is best used for close range shooting where the tactical style is used for extensive range shooting where you have to make more adjustments.

    Fixed or Variable Magnification

    With magnification, you have two options. The fixed power scopes are going to be lighter and have minimal to moderate magnification. These types of scopes are often used for tactical or short-range shooting. Where the variable magnification allows you to adjust the magnification from anywhere between 4–16x. The downside to the variable magnification is the weight behind it.

    Most variable power scopes are going to start at 14–18 ounces. Adding on the mount adds more weight and any other items add more. You’ll notice our fixed variable magnification scopes weigh less on the list.

    Important Things to Consider

    When going to buy a scope there are many options out there, but finding the one you need comes down to a few things. Here are the fundamental things to consider when looking at a scope:

    • What field of view are you looking for?
    • Do you prefer electronic or not?
    • How much are you willing to spend on an optic?
    • What weather conditions are you going to use your optic in?
    • Is the ability to adjust magnification important to you or not?
    • Do you prefer red dot/green dot or holographic?
    • How much eye relief do you prefer?

    When you answer those questions, you can find the best scope for you. There are plenty of options that do share similar features. Knowing what to narrow it down to will make your life easier when sifting through the list of products above.

    Conclusion

    The winner of our group as the best scope all around is the Vortex Optics Strikefire II. This scope is the best of the best for under $200 and comes with everything you need to have for the best hunting experience. It holds all the features you could want and none of the ones you could live without. Hopefully, our reviews made it easier to navigate through the products and find what suits your needs. There are so many options it can make your head spin just looking at them. Here you have found everything from the most minimalistic to the one with all the bells and whistles.

    About the Author Robert Sparks

    Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.