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When you try to pick among the best AR15 scopes, consider your budget and shooting situation, because they determine cost, weight and size. Higher-quality optics are more expensive, but more precise. Larger-optics and tubes maximize light transfer, but they are heavier. Also, the more durable and tough the material making up the tube, the more cost you’ll incur. If you practice target shooting at definite distances, you require a fixed focal length scope or magnification power. However, if you’re in extremely dangerous situations such as war and sniping, high-quality optics that provide at least medium-range power are necessary.
Speed and accuracy are important if you compete in sports. Spotting targets should be quick and easy. If you want to clear stubborn pests from your farm, mid-range power is suitable for targets who switch positions. But if you’re on a long hunting trek, spanning several days, look for variable power ranges as you track down unpredictable targets. Also, you might complement the regular scope with a thermal scope for night hunting.
- 1 Our pick of the best AR15 scopes
- 1.1 1. Steiner gs3 – 3-15x50mm Scope
- 1.2 2. Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14×50
- 1.3 3. Vortex Viper PST GEN II 1-6×24 SFP Riflescope
- 1.4 4. Nikon P 223 4-12×40 Review
- 1.5 5. Athlon ARES BTR 2.5-15×50 FFP Review
- 1.6 6. Bushnell 756245B Trophy Xtreme 6-24×50
- 1.7 7. Burris XTR II 3-15×50 SCR MOA
- 1.8 8. Swarovski Z6i 1-6×24 BRT-I
- 1.9 9. Vortex Optics Diamondback Riflescope
- 1.10 10. Nightforce SHV 3-10×42 IHR – .250 MOA
- 2 FAQs
- 3 Conclusion
Our pick of the best AR15 scopes
A game hunter will find 3-15X magnification range suitable for short- and medium-distance hunting. Size of objective lens is large, so when you focus sight at 8X or more, you’ll have to worry less about blurry images.
No matter how darkly lit your environment is, spotting is easy, because coatings of the Steiner GS3 exaggerate contrast by leveraging the peak range of your sight’s sensitivity to light.
Thus, in a thick, leafy or shadowy environment, as in thick brush or woods, you can spot your target stress-freely. Adaptable to various cartridges, mounting can be easy.
What’s even more appealing is that the zoom factor: 5X, assists your vision by optimizing resolution when aiming sight at longer-ranges. Nothing’s as sweeter as targeting in wide fields like a prairie.
Make adjustments for bullet-drop and windage using reticles. The glass onto which reticles etch has holdover marks, so you can adjust height, and cascading dots you can use to adjust for wind drifts.
Many layers of coatings over lenses optimize contrast. Window’s sight is clear, because your eye balls can see separate targets from shadowy backgrounds. Human eye error – parallax – has a correction.
The material making up the tube is tough, so when your caliber produces intense recoil every time, the riflescope can withstand shocks and vibrations.
No need of levers for power throw, as you can rotate the wheel for magnification settings from minimum to maximum half-way. For you to hear each click, you must rotate the turret for ¼-inches. Maximum setting for windage would require you to hear the click sound 192 times, and for elevation 256 times.
Objective lens’s size is 50mm, so you don’t have to worry about blurriness, when you focus your lenses at greater magnification than 8X. Eye relief is long, and combines with eye box to give you freedom to position your head for clear and bright targets.
And so, Leupold VX-3i is suitable for close- and medium-range shooting needs. You can turn the selector of magnification power quickly and easily, even when you put on gloves. With a zoom factor of 3X, you can leverage all-purpose use.
MOA etchings are on the second focal plane reticle; thus, you can use your finger to make point of impact corrections for wind and height. The Duplex design of the reticle make the task of spotting the target easy. A thin crosshair removes the need for compromises, as target acquisition is spot-on.
A one-inch tube has an exterior whose treatment with DiamondCoat 2 and a layer of ion-assist coating resist scratches on optics and maximize light transfer. Thus, you can be sure of clear, sharp and bright images, no matter how inhospitable the terrain is. What’s more, you’ve the freedom to control glare.
A twilight management maximizes light transfer, giving you highest brightness, irrespective of color. Edges of optics are darkened to absorb stray light and diffusion for better resolution and contrast.
Encasing the one-inch tube is lightweight, aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum. Inside the tube, two noble (unreactive) gases: argon and krypton, combine to give you the freedom to change environments without worrying about foggy optics.
While recoil can remove your focus off the “0” mark, a twin-bias system of spring erector absorbs the effects.
If you intend to take down targets tactically in close- or medium-range distances, vortex viper PST Gen II is a great go-to. This is one of the Best AR 15 hunting scope. The diameter of the objective lens is 24mm, which is small for a good reason.
With a second focal plane reticle, which has hash markings for spotting targets, you can adapt the weapon to variable shooting scenarios within the tactical range.
What’s even more awesome about the reticle is that the field of view is clean, whilst giving you details, intuition and function in hold points. You can set the intensity of illumination of the reticle in 10 different ways.
Color fidelity is more real, and the resolution is higher, because of the lens’s glass has extra-low dispersion. On top of that, optics have multiple coatings to maximize light transfer.
With a protective layer of Armortek, you won’t see ugly marks when you scratch the surface of optics. What’s more, oil and dirt can’t penetrate the lens.
As the firing distance increases, so is the likelihood of parallax errors and the need for windage and elevation adjustments. Laser-etched turrets have dials, which allow you to make adjustments for bullet drop (holdover) and wind drifts.
RZR zero stop is available. As the turret rotates, it can be difficult to keep up with its position. Thankfully, a fiber optic indicator is available.
Inside a one-piece tube is argon gas, so when you move across different environments with variable temperatures, you won’t have to worry about fogging up of the optics.
An encasement of lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum adds to tube’s durability. O-ring seals also prevent water or moisture from entering the tube.
Nikon P 223 is already adapted to AR-style shooting. Coming with a bullet-drop compensation (BDC) design, the reticle has hash markings for yardages ranging from 100 yards to 600 yards. Alternatively, you can adjust the height turret for holdovers. At 100-yard intervals, you require to rotate the turret to cover 0.25-inches.
No matter how unfriendly a terrain is, even when your caliber produces heavy recoil frequently, you can maintain the “0” mark as a result of positive adjustments of the click reticle.
All you need to do is mount the scope atop your rifle before you lift the adjustment knob. What you simply do is to dial-in successive ranges.
One aiming position of open circle reticle isn’t same as the other. Thus, you can experiment with aiming positions for different distances and cartridges until you find ones that you’re comfortable with. You can increase reticle’s sharpness by focusing the eyepiece.
Even when you want to focus your sight with maximum magnification (12X), a large lens together with compensating design ensures the downrange trajectory of bullets is in-line with elevation and windage requirements. Long-range shooters can find 4-12X scope suitable.
Optics have several layers of coatings to maximize light transfer and brightness, even in poor light.
Even when recoil removes the focus off the “0” mark, the spring system absorbs shock to restore the focus.
The tube’s inside contains nitrogen to prevent the lenses from turning foggy in variable temperatures and environments. O-rings seals increase the toughness of the tube, making it resistant to shock and impermeable to water.
As a long-range shooter, you’ll find attraction to a 2.5-15X scope whose lens’s diameter is 50mm. Beyond 8X, the big objective lens ensures images remain bright and clear.
Reticle’s location is on the first focal plane; hence, when you increase magnification power, the reticle’s size changes in proportion to the surface area under which the target appears. No need to calculate compensation values, as FFP removes the necessity.
You can adapt the scope to various cartridges and loads, as a zoom factor of 6X gives you plenty of room to experiment. Of particular interest about the eyepiece is that you can make corrections for parallax as soon as 10 yards.
Making up the optics is a glass whose design is high-definition to maximize light transfer, sharpness and contrast. In spite of total darkness, you can still rotate the turret back to “0” mark sharply and precisely, because you can lock down the “0” mark using a precision system: zero stop.
Lenses have multiple layers of coatings, and the manufacturer has blackened their edges to absorb stray lights, glares or reflections for brighter images than single-coated lenses.
When changing magnification power, you don’t need to worry about accuracy, as the tolerance level of the erector system, ensures high precision.
A one-piece design characterizes a tube whose cover is made up of aircraft-quality aluminum to ensure accuracy and precision all the time.
Housing the single-piece tube is aircraft-grade aluminum. Installed with erector system: zero stop, you can expect high precision. Atop the tube is elevation turret, and aside a wind turret, so you can dial-in positions with sharpness and precision.
The Trophy Xtreme model has its differences to distinguish it from the AR Optics version despite both of them being Bushnell’s recommendations for your AR 15. It gathers more light if you are hunting in low light conditions, thanks to the big 50mm objective lens.
If it’s chilly or rainy while using the scope, the fully multicoated lenses have an added water repellent rain guard to keep the water drops out of the scope. The reticle in use takes your gun to another level. It’s a DOA LR 800 with a thin crosshair for target shooting and four tapered posts of medium weight.
The trapezoid grid represented by the dots below the cross hair guide you compensating for the wind and bullet drop up to 800 yards. That is why this scope suits the long distance shooters.
The MOA increments are finer at 1/8 with an overall MOA adjustment range of 50. On the eye piece, you enjoy fast focusing since the ringis serrated to prevent accidental slipping as you rotate.
At the back, where your eye is, the 3.6-inch eye relief prevents the recoils injury while still giving you enough space to get a comfortable view. Taking it out in the wild is not a problem since the 30mm tube is nitrogen purged to render it as a waterproof and fog proof instrument.
With 58mm as a diameter of the objective lens, you can focus on your target at greater magnification power than 8X with little worries about images becoming blurrier.
Ideal for close- to medium-range shooting, you’ll find 3-15X scope useful for tactical operations and competitive shooting. Aiding optics is a zoom factor: 5X.
On the first focal plane is a reticle, which has an illumination, ensuring you aim targets at long-range and in low light.
Around the optics are multiple layers of coatings to maximize resolution, sharpness and light transfer. High-quality glass makes up the lenses for clear and bright images.
There are 11 different ways, which you can adjust the brightness. Each way provides you with an opportunity to save battery power.
Protecting the tube is 25% thicker than average material to increase toughness and resistance. For a caliber that produces recoil, no matter how big, tension of a triple spring absorbs shock and vibrations, even in the unfriendliest terrains.
Using zero stops, you’ll hear click sounds when you rotate the turrets. You don’t have to do math, memorizing or counting clicks, to go back to the original yardages or “0” mark. From 50 yards onwards, you can correct for parallax errors.
When it’s cold and raining, you lenses won’t fog up, because, filling up the main-tube is nitrogen gas. As a one-piece design, the outer tube is tough to withstand heaviest recoils. Made of a durable, aircraft-grade aluminum, and coming with O-ring seals, the tube is waterproof.
Keeping the bullets on course, so you hit same spot (point of impact) every time, internal assemblies have a precision gauging, ensuring the riflescope remains in position, despite heavy recoil, which causes shocks and vibrations.
Small diameter of objective lenses – 24mm – makes the field of view widest when you aim or focus sight in long-range positions. You don’t need a rangefinder, nor do you need a spotting scope.
Leverage the 1275 feet wide of field of view to track targets that are 1000 yards away. As such, you can spot targets easily, although you’ll have to take them down at close range. Tactical calibers or rifles can work well with Swarovski Z6i. That means, you’ll need tactical cartridges to punch targets.
And by focus, we mean that you’ll take aim with both eyes wide open. Hence, you don’t need high magnification power, and the best AR 15 tactical scope provides just that.
Illuminated reticles are placed on the second focal plane, and have a red dot sight. If your rifle is idle for a while, the reticle illumination will switch off automatically to preserve battery power.
Arguably, quality of optics is near-perfect; hence, unmatched. Therefore, you can work your way as you move through thick woods or brush where lighting is poor and pathways are narrow. Optics can give you enormous advantages over your competitors.
Inside the main-tube is nitrogen gas to prevent fogging up of optics. Housing the tube is smooth aluminum, which, in turn, houses ring mounting.
As you rotate the knobs on the turret, as you make adjustments for wind and height (bullet drop), you can rotate the selector for magnification power to maximize detail and clarity. At maximum magnification, you can shoot targets at a medium range.
If the mid-range Vortex Viper limits your viewing capability, here is another mid-range from the same company with a 40mm magnification specification.
The Diamondback scope comes with a matte casing for the rough terrain. What qualifies it as a tactical scope is the smooth controls, with serrated knobs on the turrets and the VMR-1 MOA reticle.
As for the reticle, it lets you calibrate everything from the range to windage and holdover corrections. Are you chasing a moving target? It will also assist you in better aiming if the point of impact is on the move.
Being in the second focal plane means it stays the same regardless of the magnification. Changing the focus on the reticle is possible via the fast focus eye piece.
Controlling via the turrets lets you achieve precise compensation when it comes to wind drifting and bullet drop. Resetting to zero is another reliable feature.
You can re-index the zero references on both turrets once you are done sighting. The turrets also possess the fiber optic rotation indicators which remind you of their current position.
Viewing via the glasses is aided by the XD elements which increase the resolution and color, giving you a clear image ready for the shot.
The lenses are also fully multicoated to cultivate on the light transmission while smooth magnification under harsh conditions is achieved by using the Precise-Glide erector system.
What’s more? The aircraft grade aluminum casing for strength and reliability during recoils. In it is the nitrogen purging specification with O-Ring seals to ensure to facilitate all-round proofing aspects.
Sufficiently large as the diameter of the objective lens may be, you can aim your sight in close- and medium-range, as the maximum magnification power is 10X.
Chances of images becoming blurry when focusing at 8X or more are almost nil. Ideally, you can bring down big game and varmint in close-up positions. As well, you can practice target shooting.
And the best part of the nightforce SHV 3, you can customize the scope to your caliber, load or shooting situation.
On a second focal plane is a reticle, which lacks illumination. As a compensation for this weakness, you can spot targets quickly. In addition, you can see magnification markings in low light.
Amazingly, you’ll find on the reticle crosshairs with a floating center design with posts at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. And so, if you intend to take down dangerous games, like a bear, a T-rex or an African elephant, then 3-10X should be your top choice.
Several layers of coatings cover the glass making up the optics.
Sighting in a best budget AR scope is easy, especially to a mountain rifle, which serves you well as you make your way through brush.
As near a range as 25 yards, you can make corrections for parallax errors. There’s a lever for power throw to assist you to adjust knob settings quickly.
As you rotate a turret when making corrections for wind drifts and bullet drop, when you hear a click sound, then you’ll have covered ¼-inches of MOA. For a full rotation, you’ll have to hear 450 clicks to cover 90-inches of MOA.
What is the Maximum Effective Range of an AR 15?
The AR-15 rifle has a platform that you can swap out with modular components making it a versatile gun to use. You can change the receiver no matter what the weapons chambered.
Therefore, you can change it from a .223 and chamber it for a .204 Ruger 5.7×28, .243 WIN, 6.5 Creedmoor and the list goes on. What makes the AR 15 effective is its accuracy for longer distance shots.
Also, for each shooting purpose, you use a variety of bullet types. For example, with a .223 you can shoot out to 600-yards, while chambered with a .308 you can quickly shoot out to 800-yards. Now if you equip it with a .338 Laupa’s you can go past the 1000-yard mark.
AR15 Scopes Magnification Requirements
When purchasing one of the best AR15 scopes, consider that your rifle is semi-automatic, and every shot you execute comes with repetition.
Therefore, you need a shock absorption scope, and you must remember that the recoil does impede the FOV to an extent.
Furthermore, another concern is the reticle and depends on what you plan to use the rifle for.
However, when it comes to the magnification requirements, there is one rule of thumb—the larger the zoom, the more your image distorts.
You can find different scopes to help reduce the distortion and depends on what you need from the weapon.
If you are a hunter, you need to choose a 9X32 providing a higher zoom. However, you need to consider the light allowance as well.
You can find some lenses coated with emerald allowing for magnification of the light and great for low light conditions making the FOV at a higher magnification clearer.
Facts and Features to Consider Before you buy a Scope for AR-15 Rifle
When choosing best AR 15 scope, it’s important to consider your budget, as in price range. There are many models and features, but no one has everything you need. Look for a scope that feels like you but whose price range you can afford.
Moreover, consider your hunting or shooting situation. There are several situations you can find yourself in as a hunter, a competitor or a shooter:
- Sniper at longer distances than 600 yards.
- Shooting practice at 100 yards or less.
- Shooting competitions.
- Hunting varmints.
- Fighting wars, etc.
If you practice target shooting, where distances are fixed, you require a scope whose focal length isn’t variable. As in, you don’t need 1-6X scope; what you need is a 5X scope.
If you’re a sniper, quality and power of optics must be highest. Besides, a target can spot you, too! Therefore, optics must remove reflections or glares. Medium- to long-range power is a must.
And if you’re in competition, speed is important. Consider selecting a riflescope that enables you to spot targets much quicker and more accurately. A lower power like 1-6X, 6X or 1-4X is better.
If you’re a varmint hunter, you require to keep track of targets who don’t show up easily. A mid-range scope with a low magnification as 3-9X can be suitable.
Consider a lighter scope if you’re on a long hunting expedition, which involves finding hard targets. Examine your rifle’s range, and choose a mid- to long-range of magnification power.
The more tough, durable, sealed, heavy and precise the material making up the scope is, the more money you’ll spend.
While larger lenses give brighter images, they’re heavier. A larger tube means larger optics; hence, more light transfer, but heavier weight. You want to cut down on extra costs, weight and size. That’s why, it’s important you consider the hunting situations; maximum ranges specific to your missions.
If you want to spot targets more easily, you require a wider field of view. No need for higher magnifications. But for longer-ranger shootings, you’ll require more magnification power.
A reticle, whether BDC, mil-dot or crosshair, should go with your lenses and magnification power range first. For ease of use, select a second focal plane reticle, as its image doesn’t change with magnification.
Furthermore, the reticle has to have an illumination, so you can spot shadowy targets in low-light environments. However, the reticle has to have a way of preserving battery.
Don’t also forget to look out for parallax adjustment. As long as your scope can calculate cant and angles of inclination, you can find range and make necessary adjustments, whether they be holdover or wind drifts. The range of adjustment on turrets needn’t be big.
Importantly, consider eye relief. You don’t want a recoiling caliber to injure your eyes, simply because your placed them too close to the ocular lens, as in spotting scopes or binoculars.
What you want is optimum distance of your eyes from riflescope, so the image fits perfectly with the eyepiece. Sight in scope to your rifle in accordance with where your cheek weld is.
Your selection of one of the best AR15 scopes largely depends on your budget and shooting situation, as they determine the size, weight and costs of the riflescope. You don’t want to spend extra money on a scope that gives you more range than your rifle can fire. Besides, if you practice target shooting at a fixed distance, what do you need a variable scope for? Remember, the more durable and tough the material of scope is, and the higher quality of optics, the more expensive.
- If you’re a sniper, a soldier or a security personnel (SWAT), Bushnell AR Optics, Burris XTR II and Athlon ARES BTR are most suitable.
- Where speed and accuracy matters, as in sports, Vortex Viper PST GEN II, Burris XTR II, Steiner GS3 and Swarovski Z6i should come top.
- Taking down pests would require Steiner GS3, Nightforce SHV, Nikon P223, Leupold VX 3i and Vortex Diamond HP.