Last Updated on May 17, 2021
This 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.
|Best Overall||Vortex Optics Strikefire II Scope||
|UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope||
|CVLIFE 4x32 Tactical Rifle Scope||
|MidTen 4-12x50 Dual Illuminated Scope||
|Pinty 4-16X50 Illuminated Rifle 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Mirrorless vs. DSLR Cameras in 2021: What Are the Differences?
Hawk vs Eagle: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)
Red Dot vs ACOG Sights: Which Is Better?
Red Dot vs Iron Sights: Which is Better?
Vortex Viper vs. Venom Red Dot Sights: Which Is Better?
Green Dot vs. Red Dot Sight: What’s the Difference?
How Far Is Uranus From the Sun?
How Far Is Neptune From the Sun?