5 Best AR 15 Scope Reviews-Buyer Guide Sep, 2020

A good scope will let you engage targets at further distances, with tighter shot groupings, and throw more lead downrange, where it counts.


With all the variety between scopes on the market it can be a daunting task trying to figure out which one to mount on your AR.


The AR 15 rifle is often considered one of the most versatile rifles made.


The AR 15 rifle has been described by some people as an everyman’s rifle. Since it is a multi purpose rifle, it is challenging to recommend just one or two scopes for it. So we have provided a list of our five recommendations for the best scope for ar15.


There are plenty of opinions online referencing scopes that are good for different situations; either for hunting, target practice, or even for self defense. But what matters most is finding the best AR 15 scope that fits your particular needs, so we’re here to help.


Best Value
UTG 3-12X44 30mm

UTG 3-12X44 30mm

  • MAGNIFICATION : 3-12x
PREMIUM PICK
Nikon P-223 3-9x40

Nikon P-223 3-9x40

  • MAGNIFICATION : 3-9x

The question most often asked about the rifle is which is the best AR 15 scope for the money? Well to answer the question, you must first ask yourself, “what type of shooting will I be doing with the rifle?” Will you use the rifle and scope combination for short range or long range shooting?


The scope you buy will determine which type of shooting will work best with your rifle and scope combination. There are so many different scopes on the market today that selecting the right one for you can be a difficult and frustrating process.


Whether you need a scope for hunting, for home defense or tactical shooting, you are in luck because we have done the work for you. We have thoroughly evaluated many of the best ar 15 scopes and now have put together a one-stop-shop list that will help you quickly determine which scope will be the best hunting scope for your situation and needs.

Best AR 15 Scope for the Money

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.

Pros

UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope
  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Buy

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Aim Sports 4X32 Tri III. Scope

Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600

Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9x40 Matte BDC600

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.


Pros and Cons

  • 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?

Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9x40 Matte BDC600

Trijicon Acog 4 X 32 Scope

Trijicon ACOG 4 X 32 Scope

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.

Trijicon ACOG 4 X 32 Scope

Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC

Bushnell Optics, FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Riflescope

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.

Bushnell Optics, FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Riflescope

 

#5. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Riflescope w/Throw Down PCLar 15 scopes

The Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x 24mm BTR-1 riflescope comes with an illuminated BTR reticle that provides superior low light performance and accurate holdovers out to 500 yards. Make lightning quick power changes with the Throw Down PCL lever.

All of the air-to-glass surfaces have multiple layers of anti-reflective coating on them. The multi-coated optical system delivers bright, high contrast images with minimal eye strain because only a small percentage of light is lost before it reaches the shooter’s eye.

This riflescope comes with waterproof and fog proof protection. These models can be submerged in water and not be damaged. Also, the interior optical surfaces won’t fog as a result of rapid changes in temperature or humidity.

What is the Best Scope for AR 15?

A riflescope is the most important piece of equipment needed to improve the accuracy of your shot whether you are hunting for wild game, using for self-defense or just out on the practice shooting at targets. In every situation, top rifle scopes will help hit your target much easier than lining up your standard iron sights.

In the old days before technological advances made out lives so much easier, it would be necessary for shooters to line up the rear sight, front sight and then finally the target before even shooting their gun. With the best rifle scopes, all you have to do is to line up the target in the crosshairs and fire away. It is so much easier today than in the past.

Plus the best rifle scopes include a magnification feature which makes the target to appear closer than it really is to ensure the shot hits the target precisely on the bull’s eye.

Magnification

Several lenses are used to refract incoming light from the target which in turn provides a magnified image of the target. The main reason for using a scope is to be able to see your target better when the target may be far away. Magnification is the way the scope makes this happen.

There are two magnification types for rifle scopes. A riflescope can have either variable or fixed magnification. A scope that has a magnification range of 3x-9x meaning the scope has a variable magnification of 3x to 9x the naked eye is a variable magnification. A fixed magnification has only one setting and cannot be adjusted. Variable magnification is preferred over fixed because you can easily adjust the magnification as needed for target distance.

Objective Lens

The diameter of the objective lens is an important part of the best scope for ar15 rifles because it determines how much light can be gathered to form an image. When a scope’s magnification is increased, the field of view becomes smaller, and the image of the target gets dimmer.
A large diameter lens is used to gather as much light as possible to compensate for the loss of light on the target. The typical lens diameter on most scopes is in the 30 – 40 mm range. However, you can find some scopes with a 50 mm lens diameter.

The Ultimate Riflescope Comparison Guide

The rifle scope reviews discussed above are just a small cross section of the gun scope reviews provided on this website. Take your time to read the reviews and discover which riflescope will best fit your needs.

1. What did Do Rifle Scopes do?

A rifle scope magnifies the object you are looking at. They also place your eye on the identical optic plane as the object you are looking at. An object is magnified by rays of light being bent by several lenses inside the scope. Shorter scopes contain smaller lenses. Therefore, they are not able to see as far as scopes that are longer and contain larger lenses. Rifle scopes come in many different magnification levels to be used for shooting targets from a wide range of distances.

2. The Basics of Long Range Rifle Scopes

a. Magnification levels

The vast majority of long range rifle scopes contain a certain amount of magnification. When the scope has a fixed power, there is an “x” placed after a number. For example, a scope that is “4x” is capable of enlarging the object to four times the size that it appears to the naked eye.

There are also scopes that have variable powers. On these scopes, an “x” is placed after multiple numbers. For example, a scope that is 3-9x, 50mm is capable of magnifying the object between three and nine times what the naked eye can see, as well as all of the powers in between those numbers. 50mm refers to the diameter of the scope’s objective lens.

Having a scope with a variable power lens is ideal for people who are hunting for long periods of time in varying light conditions. Depending on the amount of light that is available to you, more or less magnification may be needed. One serious drawback to scopes containing variable power lenses is the fact they cost considerably more than scopes that are only fixed power.

However, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A variable power scope will provide you with a much more accurate shooting experience.

b. Objective Lens and Tube Diameter

The objective lens is designed to collect all of the light that enters your scope. The diameter of this lens is a very critical element. When a scope contains a high magnification level, the diameter of the objective lens needs to be greater than lower magnification scopes. This is because of the larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light will be allowed to enter.

The greater the light, the greater the range of the scope. If you plan on using a scope with a magnification between four and twelve, a 40mm objective lens will be satisfactory for your purposes.

However, an objective lens that is 50mm will not benefit you greatly when it comes to the level of light transmission it provides for lower power scopes when you take into account the higher price, greater weight and higher mount height that is needed when using a 50mm lens.

c. Light Transmission and Eye Relief

Contrary to popular belief, a rifle scope does not gather light. Although you may hear the term “light gathering ability” used frequently, the reality is that a scope transmits all of the light that is available through the lens and directs it towards your eye.

During this process, some of the available light is lost. Basically, transmitting 98 percent of the available light is the best that any rifle scope can hope to provide. To get this level of light transmission, the scope will need to be among the best and most expensive currently on the market.

A light transmission level of 95 percent is truly outstanding. The majority of scopes you will find transmit somewhere around 90 percent. It is important to note that you can not treat the light transmission figures provided by rifle scope manufacturers as the gospel. This is because all of them have their own methods of measuring light transmission.

As a way of increasing their light transmission statistics, manufacturers will occasionally measure light for certain wavelengths.

The greater amount of magnification your scope provides, the less amount of light will be able to enter the scope’s eyepiece. Likewise, the bigger the objective lens is, the more light is allowed to enter the eyepiece. The eyes of an older person may only have four millimeters of dilation.

Young people may have seven or more millimeters of dilation. It is a waste to have an exit pupil that is too large for your eye to use. An exit pupil is the tiny light circle that you can see in the eyepiece when the rifle scope is held at arm’s length. The bigger the exit pupil is, the less important the position of your head is in relation to the scope.

Eye relief refers to the distance between the ocular lens and your eye that is required for you to obtain a clear and full picture of the object you are looking at. Scopes that have a low power contain a wider range of available distance to get a complete view.

Rifle scopes that have a high power are generally very precise regarding your eye being centered in the tube, and the distance between the ocular lens and your eye. Four inches is the biggest eye relief that is available at the present time for a rifle scope. This is an ideal amount of eye relief because it will prevent the scope from hitting your face during the recoil, assuming you are positioned properly.

d. Adjustments & Parallax

Every rifle scope is able to be adjusted for elevation (up and down), windage (left and right) and focus for the eye of the person using the rifle. It is common to find an adjustment for parallax on rifle scopes that are designed to be used to shoot at targets from long distances.

The adjustments for elevation and windage are both operated using knobs or dials that are found on the adjustment turret in the middle of the scope. The windage dial is found at three o’clock and the elevation dial is at 12 o’clock. These dials change the position of the crosshairs. Doing this will also change the location the bullet will hit on the target. The majority of rifle scopes claim that each click at 100 yards will change the bullet’s impact point by 1.4 inch.

However, this is not true in most cases. Scopes do whatever they please in terms of adjustments, no matter how much they cost.

The parallax adjustment is used to focus rifle scopes that are used for long range shooting or to shoot at small targets. This adjustment is done manually by using either a dial located at nine o’clock on the turret or a calibrated objective lens bell. If you fail to set the parallax adjustment to the proper distance, the target will not appear to be where it actually is. This is known as parallax error.

e. Lenses – THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE

The standard rifle scope will be equipped with roughly eight lenses, including the two that are the most obvious. A lens’ quality is judged by the quality of the coating, the amount of care used to grind it into shape and the quality of the glass used to make the lenses.

Even for an amateur, it is very easy to tell the difference between an expensive scope and a cheap one simply by looking through them. The reason that rifle scope prices range so widely is because of the quality of images offered by the more expensive models versus the cheaper varieties.

Swarovski and Bushnell use a special lens coating that enables water to be dispersed into small droplets that will not get in the way of what you are looking at. Therefore, you can still see clearly in a heavy fog or a downpour.

Coatings are designed to reduce loss of light caused by reflection, as well as glare. They enable sharper contrast and superior transmission of light. It is common for coatings to make the lens scratch resistant. A coated lens has a single layer on a minimum of one lens surface.

A fully coated lens has a single layer on every air to glass surface. A multicoated lens has multiple layers on a minimum of one lens surface. A fully multicoated lens has multiple layers on every air to glass surface.

f. Reticles and Bullet Drop Compensators (BDCs)

The Duplex crosshair, created by Leupold 50 years ago, has become the industry standard. It consists of four thick crosshairs that gradually become thin as they get closer to the middle of the lens. This causes your eye to be drawn to the middle of the scope, enabling you to aim faster and more precisely.

You will find heavy Duplex-style reticles on scopes designed for dangerous game and fine ones on scopes designed for tactical purposes or varmint shooting. Recently, LED lights have been added to reticles by various manufacturers. These lights increase aiming speed. There are also range-compensating reticles that show the user where they should hold for a specific distance.

g. Field of View

Field of view is measured by using feet at 100 yards. This is the amount a person is able to see through the scope at a distance from right to left. The field of view will decrease as the magnification goes up, and vice versa. The way the eyepiece is constructed will play a direct role in the field of view that it is capable of producing.

h. Turret Adjustments and Minute of Angle (MOA)

Minutes of Angle (MOA) are units of measurement for a circle. It is 1.0472 at 100 yards. Basically, it can be considered one inch at 100 yards. It will increase to two inches at 200 yards, and so forth. The adjustments for a scope are most frequently made in increments that are 1/4 inch at 100 yards.

Every time the windage or elevation turret is clicked, the point of impact is changed 1/4 inch at 100 yards. This impact point will be changed by 1.8 of an inch at 50 yards, or half an inch at 200 yards. You will also be able to find scopes that have clicks that are one inch or half an inch. Scopes will often come with adjustments that can be locked to prevent them from being accidentally moved.

The turrets are located in the middle of the scope in an area known as the turret housing. They can be made to adjust with your fingers or a coin. Target turrets provide clicks that can be felt and seen easily.

3. What Should You Spend? You Get What You Pay For!

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for as far as rifle scopes are concerned. You will be able to see an object much better through an expensive scope than you can through a cheaper model. A scope is something you should really spend a lot of money on. This is assuming you really care about your shooting accuracy.

When you are shopping around and making a rifle scope comparison, use all of the information in this buyer’s guide. It will help you to avoid being ripped off and allow you to get a scope that ideally suits the type of shooting you plan on using it for.

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