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10 Best Vortex Scopes for AR 15 in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

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AR-15 with red dot sight

There’s no questioning that Vortex Optics makes phenomenal scopes. The problem is that they make so many it can be hard to find the right one. That’s why we took the time to review the top ten rifle scopes that Vortex Optics makes and broke down our findings here.

No matter which scope you choose, you’ll get a lifetime warranty, so if you pick the right scope the first time, it might be the last scope you ever need to buy. We’ll start by breaking down the ten best scopes before diving into our comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you decide which scope is best for you.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes
  • Easily adjustable magnification
  • 1 to 24x magnification settings
  • Fast focus dial
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scopes Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scopes
  • Low-priced
  • Four scopes with different magnification settings
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes
  • Multiple coatings on lenses
  • Fantastic for long-range shooting
  • Quick windage and elevation adjustments
  • Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scopes Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scopes
  • Great for long-range shooting applications
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Rifle Scopes Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Rifle Scopes
  • Extra lens coatings for premium resolution and color fidelity
  • Maximum magnification of 24x
  • The 10 Best Vortex Scopes for AR 15 – Reviews 2021

    1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes – Best Overall

    Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes

    If you’re looking for a top-notch scope but don’t want to break the bank on a premium product – the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes are a perfect blend of performance and affordability.

    This line offers three different magnification settings to choose from, so whether you’re looking for a long-range rifle scope or a true 1x magnification, they have the perfect option for you. Moreover, the scope uses an illuminated reticle that makes it easier to see in low light situations.

    Finally, when making adjustments, there are easy to use and access knobs that allow you to make all the adjustments you need without ever leaving the shooting position.

    Whether you’re looking for a competition scope or simple addition for hunting, the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes line is an outstanding choice and the best score for AR15 we have reviewed.

    Pros
    • It provides a good mix of affordability and performance
    • Illuminated reticle makes it easier to see
    • You can easily adjust magnification without looking away
    • Fast focus dial makes it super quick to focus the sights
    • 1 to 24x magnification settings
    • Three scopes with different magnification settings
    Cons
    • The top magnification scope doesn’t have a 1x magnification setting

    2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scopes – Best Value

    Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scopes

    If you’re on a budget but still want a top-notch scope, then the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scopes are a great choice. In fact, this line makes the best Vortex scopes for an AR 15 without spending a ton of money.

    The Crossfire II has four rifle scopes with different magnification options ranging anywhere from 2x to 12x. That means that they don’t offer a true 1x magnification option and the options that provide have limited magnification ranges.

    This is alright for most applications, just know what you’re getting into before you buy. Adjusting the focus after making magnification changes is easy with the fast-focus eyepiece. It’s a great choice if you’re in the market for a scope that does more than you need for simple hunting applications.

    Pros
    • Low-priced
    • Four scopes with different magnification settings
    • Anywhere from 2x to 12x magnification, depending on the scope size you choose
    • Fast focus eyepiece for easy adjusting
    Cons
    • No scope size has a 1x magnification setting

    3. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes – Premium Choice

    Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes

    If money is no object, then the Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes are what you want. While these scopes excel at long-range shooting applications, their minimum magnification of 3x means that you don’t have to be extremely far away from a target for them to be effective.

    Meanwhile, with a maximum magnification of 27x, if you are looking to shoot something at distance, it has plenty of power to handle it. But that’s just where the perks start with this premium scope. For starters, it only weighs 6-ounces, making it the lightest scope that Vortex Optics makes.

    Making both windage and elevation adjustments are easy, and the visual turret rotation indicator tells you the number of adjustments you’ve already made for easy tracking.

    Finally, the lenses have multiple premium coatings for maximum brightness, even in low light situations. It’s a great choice all around, especially if you need a scope for distance shooting.

    Pros
    • Extremely lightweight (6 ounces)
    • Anywhere from 3x to 27x magnification depending on the scope size you choose
    • Visual turret rotation indicator makes it easy to track the number of adjustments
    • Lenses have multiple coatings for maximum brightness
    • You can make quick windage and elevation adjustments
    • It is a fantastic scope for long-range shooting
    Cons
    • It has a very expensive price tag
    • No scope size has a 1x magnification setting

    4. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics makes tons of high-quality rifle scopes, and the fact that their Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scopes comes in fourth on this list attests to that fact. The Diamondback line has two different scope sizes to choose from, and both are great for distance shooting.

    These scopes have a maximum magnification of 24x. However, the minimum magnification is 4x, so if you’re shooting something a little closer to you, it’s going to be hard to use this scope.

    Like most scopes that Vortex Optics makes, they have a fast-focus eyepiece that easily allows you to refocus the image after making magnification adjustments. Finally, the Diamondback Rifle Scopes have low light dispersion, which gives you a brighter sight picture whenever you’re shooting.

    Pros
    • Up to 24x magnification depending on the scope size you choose
    • Great for long-range shooting applications
    • Low glass dispersion for brighter sight picture
    • Fast focus eyepiece for easy adjustments
    Cons
    • No 1x magnification – only good for long-range shooting applications

    5. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Rifle Scopes

    Another excellent choice for rifle scopes from Vortex Optics is the Viper HS-T Rifle Scope. The Viper HS-T line offers two different size scopes, with the maximum magnification is 24x. Even better, for such a powerful scope, it has an affordable price tag.

    Not only do you get two different sized scopes to choose from, but you also get your choice of two different reticles, a MOA and a MRAD.

    The zero-stop technology in this line of rifle scopes allows you to quickly reset the height and elevation adjustments to line up your next shot. The extra lens coatings in each scope provides premium quality resolution and color fidelity, making this an enjoyable scope to use.

    Finally, while the minimum 4x magnification makes this hard to use for short-range targets, the ability to quickly change magnification and refocus makes this an excellent choice for both competition and recreational shooting activities.

    Pros
    • Zero stop allows you easily reset height and elevation adjustments
    • Fast focus eyepiece for quicker adjustments
    • Extra lens coatings for premium resolution and color fidelity
    • Two reticles to choose from
    • Maximum magnification of 24x
    Cons
    • No 1x magnification – only good for long-range shooting applications
    • More expensive than other similar options

    6. Vortex Optics Spitfire Scope

    Vortex Optics Spitfire Scope

    The Vortex Optics Spitfire is a bit different than the rest of the scopes that we reviewed here. Because while they are a traditional rifle scope, the Spitfire is a red dot scope that is an outstanding choice.

    It only provides a 1x magnification, so if you’re looking for a longer-range scope, this isn’t what you’re looking for.

    But if you want an easy-to-use red dot, this is a great choice. The Spitfire utilizes AAA batteries, which are easy to source and replace. Overall, Vortex Optics sells this scope for an affordable price, and it comes with ten different intensity levels for the reticle.

    While this is an easy-to-use scope, it does not work with a magnifier, so if you need anything more powerful than a 1x magnification, this isn’t the scope that you want.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Red dot scope is easy to use
    • Easy to replace AAA batteries
    • Ten intensity levels for the reticle
    Cons
    • It only has a 1x magnification
    • You can’t put a Vortex magnifier on it

    7. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II Rifle Scopes

    The problem with the Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II Rifle Scope line is that the Strike Eagle Rifle Scope line exists. This isn’t a bad rifle scope. It’s just more expensive than the Strike Eagle line and doesn’t do anything special to justify the additional cost.

    The Viper PST Gen II has two different sized rifle scopes to choose from, ranging from a true 1x magnification to a 15x magnification.

    There are ten intensity levels you can select on the reticle to adapt to current light conditions. Furthermore, there is excellent light dispersion, resolution, and color fidelity. But it’s also a heavy scope weighing in at 3-pounds.

    Overall, the Viper PST Gen II is a good rifle scope line. It’s just not worth the extra money compared to a Strike Eagle scope.

    Pros
    • Anywhere from 1x to 15x magnification depending on the scope size you use
    • Ten intensity levels on the reticle for optimal viewing
    • Low light dispersion and incredible resolution, and color fidelity
    Cons
    • More expensive option
    • Heavier weight at 3-pounds

    8. Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 SFP PA Rifle Scope

    Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 SFP PA Rifle Scope

    If you’re looking for a long-range rifle scope, then the Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 SFP PA Rifle Scope isn’t a bad choice. As the name breaks down, it has a maximum magnification of 20x, but the minimum magnification of 6.5x makes it all but unusable for short-range targets.

    When you are setting up your shots, you can make both elevation and windage adjustments while in the shooting position, and the lens utilizes XD elements for an ultra-crisp image. But while these are all great features, two more drawbacks sent this scope plummeting down our list.

    First, it’s a heavier scope at 2.3-pounds. Second, the minimum eye relief of 3.1″ means you’ll be crouched over your rifle whenever you’re trying to make a shot. For a long-range rifle, you want something that makes it a little easier to line up your shot while you’re in the prone position.

    Pros
    • Great for long-distance shooting applications – up to 20x magnification
    • Easy to adjust windage and elevation knobs – you can adjust while in the shooting position
    • It has XD lens elements that produce excellent resolution and color clarity
    Cons
    • Heavier weight at 2.3-pounds
    • Only good for long-range applications (6.5x magnification minimum)
    • Minimum 3.1″ eye relief

    9. Vortex Optics Golden Eagle HD Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics Golden Eagle HD Rifle Scopes

    Now that we’re nearing the bottom of our list, the choices simply aren’t as great as they were near the top. While the Golden Eagle HD Rifle Scopes are great scopes, they just don’t deserve their exorbitant price tag.

    While the maximum magnification of 60x, most users never need that much power behind their scope. Compounding the issue is the fact that the minimum magnification is 15x! This isn’t a scope that you can use for most shooting applications.

    However, if you are a long-range sniper, you can make fine-tuned adjustments at 1/8 MOA at a time. Furthermore, the XR anti-reflective coating gives you the maximum possible brightness.

    Keep in mind that a scope that has this much magnification will be heavy, and at 3-pounds, these Golden Eagle HD Rifle Scopes are no exception.

    Pros
    • Great for extremely long-distance shooting – maximum magnification is 60x
    • You can make adjustments at 1/8 MOA at a time
    • XR anti-reflective coating gives maximum brightness
    Cons
    • Higher price tag
    • Heavy at 3-pounds
    • Only good for ultra-long-range applications – minimum magnification is 15x

    10. Vortex Optics Razor HD LH Rifle Scopes

    Vortex Optics Razor HD LH Rifle Scopes

    Rounding out our list is the Razor HD LH Rifle Scopes. They’re an extremely expensive rifle scope line that isn’t any better than the Strike Eagle Rifle Scope line. Despite this fact, they cost over twice as much!

    While they offer a ton of light in low light operations, it’s not a big enough difference to justify the additional cost. Moreover, while they aren’t the heaviest scope at 1.5-pounds, they are heavier than a Strike Eagle Rifle Scope.

    Moreover, they don’t offer a true 1x magnification, but they also only provide a 15x magnification. This puts you between a rock and a hard place because it’s not a great long-range scope, but you can exclusively use it for short-range applications either.

    It’s a scope that doesn’t excel at anything, but you have to pay an arm and a leg for a scope that’s mediocre across every application.

    Pros
    • Two lens sizes to choose from
    • Maximum light during low light operation
    • Average weight at 1.5-pounds
    Cons
    • Extremely expensive option
    • No 1x magnification option
    • Maximum 15x magnification is low for a scope without 1x magnification

    Buyer’s Guide

    Narrowing down all the different choices to a single scope can seem more than a little daunting. Before you add a scope to your cart and buy it, check out the guide below to ensure that you got the right scope.

    With so many features out there, it can be hard to figure out what you need and what is fluff. Keep reading, and we’ll help you figure out what matters to you.

    How Far Away Is Your Target?

    The first question you need to answer when selecting a rifle scope is how far away your target will be. If you’re like most hunters, you’re not typically shooting past 200 or 300 yards. If that’s the case, a scope with 6x to 12x magnification is plenty.

    However, you want to be able to draw that back significantly if the deer wanders up to within 30 yards or so from you. If that’s the case, a scope with 1x or 3x magnification is ideal. That’s why versatility is what you’re looking for when selecting a rifle scope.

    A rifle scope like the Strike Eagle is perfect for targets anywhere from 5 yards to 350 yards away.

    Is Too Much Magnification a Problem?

    You might be thinking that if all a magnification does is make the target bigger, then you can never have too much – that’s simply not true. Too much magnification can cause a whole list of problems while shooting.

    Chief among them is the fact that even the smallest movements make huge differences at higher magnifications. Whether that’s a deer moving across a field or your heartbeat starting to race, that’s all it takes to throw off your shot and cause a bad miss.

    From there, you also have to worry about clarity concerns. When you have that much magnification, are you looking at a tree branch or the side of a deer? It can be hard to tell, which can be extremely dangerous.

    What Is Your Elevation and Is It Windy?

    When you’re selecting a rifle scope, you need to decide how many times you’ll be changing elevation and how often the weather, like the wind, changes where you’ll be shooting. If you find that you’re in a constantly changing environment, you’ll want to invest a little more in a scope that you can easily adjust – even while in the shooting position.

    Not only is the ability to make adjustments critical, but it’s also vital that you can reset those adjustments quickly and easily. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea whether your current setup is for 1,000 feet of elevation or if you need to make adjustments for the full adjustments to reach 2,000.

    Having a solid starting point is just as important as being able to make those adjustments on the fly.

    marines using a riflescope

    Image Credit: Pixabay

    When Are You Shooting?

    We’re not talking about the time of year here – we’re talking about the time of day. When there’s limited light, you need a scope that makes use of the minimal light that is out there, so you have a clear view out of your scope.

    While there are a few different Vortex Optic scopes that excel at this, some are better than others. For instance, the Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scopes is an outstanding choice when it comes to bringing as much light as possible into the scope, so it’s easy for you to see.

    Is a Red Dot Right for You?

    Red dots make aiming your rifle easier than ever. All you have to do is line up the dot on the target and pull the trigger. As long as you make all the windage and elevation adjustments correctly and don’t have any trigger pull, your bullet should hit the target.

    That’s the appeal of a red dot, they’re so easy to use. However, the drawback is that the lower-end models don’t usually offer much if any, magnification. That’s true with the Spitfire scope that we reviewed here too.

    The Spitfire only offers a 1x magnification. This is fine for many targets, but if you’re trying to shoot something closer to 200 or 300 yards away, hitting it with a red dot scope is going to be incredibly difficult.

    Red dot scopes are excellent choices for close-range targets, but you’ll rarely find one that you want to use for a long-range shot.

    Rifle with red dot sight on it. Close-up shot, shallow DOF.

    Image Credit: Anatoly Vartanov, Shutterstock

    Does Vortex Optics Make Good Rifle Scopes?

    When you’re looking for a top-notch rifle scope brand, it’s hard to beat Vortex Optics. They’re an American company that fully guarantees every one of their scopes with a lifetime warranty.

    They provide crystal clear images, maximum color quality, and minimal distortion – even on their lower-end products. So, does Vortex Optics make good rifle scopes? Absolutely!

    Conclusion

    If you’re looking for the best overall rifle scope that Vortex Optics makes, the answer is clearly their Strike Eagle Rifle Scope line. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to save a little money, you can’t go wrong with their Crossfire II scopes.

    The truth is the right scope for you depends on what you want to use it for because if you’re looking for a long-range scope, it might make sense to spend the extra money for a Razor HD Gen II Rifle Scope.

    Hopefully, this guide helped you to navigate the vast offering from Vortex Optics. That way, you can narrow down your selection to the perfect scope for your AR15!


    Featured Image Credit: Reis Photography, Shutterstock

    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.

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