Best AR-15 Scopes and Red Dot Sights – Reviews and Buying Guide
No matter how much power your AR-15 has, you won’t be able to hit your target unless you can see it. You need a scope that has good magnification, but it should allow you to shoot targets that are closer as well.
There are other features to consider, and it can be overwhelming when you look at all of the options on the market. Continue reading to find the best scopes for AR-15.
- 1 What Are the Basics of a Scope for an AR-15?
- 2 What Magnification Do You Need for the Typical Use of an AR Rifle Scope?
- 3 What Are the Best AR Scopes?
- 4 Best AR-15 Red Dot Sights
- 5 Best AR-15 Rifle Scopes
- 5.1 UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
- 5.2 Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC
- 5.3 Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 Rifle Scope
- 5.4 Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9×40 Matte BDC600
- 5.5 Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4×24 SFP Rifle Scope
- 5.6 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope
- 5.7 Sig Sauer TANGO6T 1-6×24 mm Riflescope
- 6 Conclusion
What Are the Basics of a Scope for an AR-15?
People often want to know what the best AR scope is, but the way to consider it is by looking at the best scope for the type of shooting you do. Different types of scopes are the best at different things, which is why it is important to look at your needs and find the scope that satisfies them.
When you look at a scope for an AR rifle up to 600’ish yards, you need a lens that makes your target appear clear. It should be O-ring sealed, and it should be fogproof and waterproof. You can use a scope up to 600 yards for target practice or for hunting deer, coyotes, and other targets, and it is engineered to perform well in rugged conditions. It is usually made of aircraft-grade aluminum and one-piece construction for the most stability and excellent performance.
The important thing about the best AR 15 scopes for up to 600 or so yards is the fact that it gives you a crisp and clear image that is precise. You should also look for a scope with advanced turrets and reticles. This will allow you to make adjustments and compensate for factors that can interfere with your precision, such as elevation and wind.
Shooting at 600 yards is difficult and requires precision. You need to be able to make adjustments for elevation and windage because there is little room for error. In addition, the Field of View (FOV) is important. Keep in mind that FOV is measured at 100 yards, so you should consider your target when you are looking. Scopes with higher light transmission are going to give you a better image, and the glass quality will impact how clear the image is When you look at glass quality, look at the clarity, the brightness, and the color. You need higher quality glass for larger distances.
What Magnification Do You Need for the Typical Use of an AR Rifle Scope?
The type of shooting you do will determine what magnification you need for your scope. Long-range shooting will require higher magnification, whereas when you are shooting at a closer range, you can get away with a lower magnification.
It is important to remember that your field of view will be smaller when you have higher magnification. The AR 15 is normally used for a range of less than 400 yards, although some people do go up to 600 yards.
If you are shooting targets or hunting small game, you will want a magnification of 1x to 4x power. You can also use a red dot sight. Medium range shooting is usually between 150 and 400 yards, and this is the hunting range. People shoot coyotes, foxes, and other predators at this range. You will want a magnification of between 5x and 9x if you plan to shoot medium-range targets.
Although the AR 15 isn’t designed for long-range shooting over 400 yards, you can use it and will need to have a magnification of 9x or more.
The best way to choose the right magnification is to consider what you plan to shoot. You need to know how you plan to use your AR 15 and what range you plan to shoot in. You can get a variable scope that shoots over a few ranges, such as short and medium.
AR 15 rifles are very popular, so there are a lot of scopes available. No matter what you plan to shoot with your rifle, you need to have the right magnification to make sure that you can hit your target. Red dot sights are designed to be used at close to moderate ranges, while rifle scopes can give you a wider variety of choices. The difference is that the riflescope offers magnification, whereas the red dot sight does not.
What Are the Best AR Scopes?
There are two different ways to sight in on your target. You can use a red dot sight or a rifle scope. If you are shooting at closer ranges and don’t need to shoot distant targets, a red dot sight may be enough. Otherwise, you will want a riflescope with the appropriate magnification. Take a look at the best AR scopes on the market today.
Best AR-15 Red Dot Sights
You can find a few of the top-rated RDS optics for the AR-15’s below. For a more extensive list, check out our reviews and recommendations for the Best Red Dot Sight for AR15!
Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope
The Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope is made for targets in ranges from zero up to 500 yards. It uses a fixed three-power magnified optic that is optimized for the AR.
It also has an illuminated reticle option that works with or without illumination, and it uses a red dot or a green dot sight. You can use this scope for most light conditions. This scope is so popular because it works in a number of different situations. It is a bullet Drop Compensator scope, and it has a reticle that is designed for the .55 grain 556 x 45 mm cartridge. The red dot sight allows rapid target acquisition through the reticle that can be adjusted to all lighting conditions with various brightness settings.
This is one of the ar 15 optics that has a reticle that can be lit up with either red or green by turning a dial. You can use it without illumination because it has five different settings. This reticle is etched directly onto the prism, and it allows you to make accurate shots up to 500 yards. The fact that the reticle is etched means that you get a consistent aim with accuracy.
In addition, you get a windage and elevation adjustment of 120 MOA. It has wired tethered caps, which are better quality than rubber ones. It has great optical performance in spite of its compact design, and the optics are in a chassis that is a single piece of aluminum alloy stock. It is lightweight at just 15.4 ounces, so it allows you to move around easily and keep the AR 15 steady.
Finally, this scope is durable, and all of the glass surfaces have a multicoating anti-reflective finish, which allows for greater light transmission. In addition, the scope has been nitrogen gas purged so that it won’t have internal fogging. It also has O-ring seals that prevent dust and moisture. All of this makes it a durable scope that is very versatile. Last but not least, the optic comes with Vortex Optics lifetime warranty.
- Crisp and clear red and green reticle
- Good clarity and light transmission glass
- Reticle can be seen without battery
- Small eye relief and eyebox
The Bushnell TRS-25 is a red dot sight that is great for beginners. You do not need to set it at any specific distance, so it offers unlimited eye relief.
It is parallax free, so if you move your head, the dot will still be on the target. Another benefit is that you can keep both eyes open, and you can keep your eyes on all of your surroundings.
The Bushnell TRS-25 offers accuracy, and it is rugged enough to hold up in tough environments. It has a brightness adjustment knob that allows you to change the brightness with a simple turn of the dial. The battery lasts around 1,000 hours at medium brightness. It is an affordable red dot sight that is durable enough to use for range and competitions.
The red dot reticle on this sight is crisp and bright. It has Amber bright high contrast lens coating, so you can easily distinguish between your target and its surroundings in spite of being the same shade. The tube is nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed, so you have complete water, fog, and shock protection. You have improved visibility at night and during low-light conditions as the scope has fully multi-coated optics.
Finally, this sight zeroes quickly. It is equipped with tactical turrets for rapid windage and elevation adjustments in the field. It comes ready to mount, and it is easy to put it on your rifle. You should get a rise mount. You can also buy a magnifier if you want to add magnification to the sight.
- Allows precision and accuracy in your shots
- Multicoating on lenses
- Shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof
- Easy to mount and detach
- Ambient lighting can limit brightness
- Feels small on the rifle
Aimpoint Micro H-1
Aimpoint created this micro-red dot sight as an alternative to the larger versions on the market. The Aimpoint Micro H-1 model is a great sight for hunters and competition shooters.
It comes with either a 2 MOA or a 4 MOA sized dot and weighs just 3.7 ounces. It is made with a compact aluminum housing that is extruded and has an aperture of 20 mm. It also uses Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology, which gives you long battery life.
This sight is compact, which means it takes up less of the Field of View. You can see more of your target, and it is just a matter of placing the red dot on the target and shooting. It also has an adjustment knob with a sure grip, which allows you to choose the brightness you want. It has 13 different brightness settings from zero to 12. Zero provides you with no light, whereas 12 has a lot of brightness.
Another feature of this sight is that it has elevation and windage knobs on each side. These knobs have aluminum caps that are sealed, but you need to keep track of them. The H-1 sight offers unlimited eye relief, and it is lightweight so that it won’t get in your way when you are shooting. This AR-15 sight is best used for close-range shooting, and its reticle size and large Field of View make it easy to have a follow-up shot. Depending on what mount you use you can set the sight up for absolute or 1/3 cowitness with iron sights.
- Long battery life
- Easy to use
- Easy to lose lens covers (not attached)
Sig Sauer Romeo 5 Red Dot Sight
First of all, Sig Sauer is a trusted manufacturer of firearms and firearms accessories. They do not disappoint with the Sig Sauer Romeo 5 Red Dot Sight.
It comes with motion-activated illumination (MOTAC), so it has a longer battery life than other models that stay on all the time. It is lightweight at just 5.1 ounces, and it is tightly packed so that it doesn’t add weight to your rifle when you are using it. It comes with a battery, a cloth for cleaning it, and two mounts. One is a high riser mount, and the other is a low riser mount. These mounts provide the perfect height for absolute or 1/3 co-witness with iron sights.
This sight is durable and can handle rugged conditions. It is waterproof and fogproof with an IPX-7 rating. If you need to hunt or compete in the rain, you will not have any trouble with this sight. It also has an adjustable illumination setting, which allows you to use it in different light situations. The anti-reflection optics make it possible to see more clearly in low-light settings, so it works well during night excursions.
This AR-15 sight by Sig Sauer works well for experienced shooters and beginners alike because it is so easy to use. It offers a clear sight in a variety of settings, and the motion-activated illumination makes it simple. It is rugged and well made, and it won’t weigh down your rifle. The MOTAC is an added benefit because it saves your battery, and you won’t need to replace it as often. It has unlimited relief for your eyes, which makes it easy to pick up the red dot and see your target. This is one of the best options on the market, and anyone can enjoy using this AR-15 sight.
- Durable and waterproof
- Long battery life
- Includes two mounts
- Motion sensor
- Mounts aren’t as durable
Best AR-15 Rifle Scopes
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
If you are looking for a great scope for your AR 15, then you can’t ignore the UTG 3-12×44 AR 15 scope. Having a great rifle scope will improve your experience when you are hunting or shooting targets, and the UTG 3-12X44 30 mm Compact Scope has great features and the latest technology. This scope provides everything you need when you are hunting or shooting.
This ar scope comes with UTG’s SWAT (Side Wheel Adjustment Turret) knobs that provide a parallax range between 10 yards and infinity. This will help you to be more accurate in your shooting because it has zero reset and zero locking target turrets.
Another important feature is the innovative IE (illumination enhancing) reticle on the second focal plane. It allows you to personalize your illumination and colors. It actually has 36 colors so you can match your environment, and it offers great low light performance.
In addition, this scope for AR rifles has some high-quality optics, and it comes with multicolored lenses that have a glare-free angled sunshade, and it has lens caps that you can flip open. The 30 mm objecitve lens is large enough to provide enough light transmission in all circumstances. It also has a unique housing design and circuit that gives you continuous illumination. It is built to be durable, and it is shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof. This allows you to use the scope in all different weather conditions without having water or fog leaking into the scope.
This is one of the scopes that has a locking feature that allows you to keep your presets so that it is easier to prepare for hunting and shooting, and the magnification ranges from 3x to 10x, so you can use it across long-range and short-range shooting. This allows you to have precision when you have distant targets, but you can still keep track of your target if it moves closer. This scope has a rugged build, and it is ideal for a number of different styles of shooting.
- Parallax can go beyond 10 yards
- Scope has locking feature
- Allows precise shots
Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC
The Bushnell AR Optics scope is well-made with fully multi-coated optics and 1x to 4x magnification. It also has a BTR-1 illuminated focal reticle that provides you with high performance in low-light settings.
It is accurate up to 500 yards, which is a great feature. In addition, it is rugged and made of durable alloy with an anodized finish, and it is sealed so that the inside is protected from bad weather and outdoor wear and tear.
It has a Throw Down PCL, which allows you to easily change power, and it has Nitrogen to make sure that dust and moisture don’t accumulate inside. It is built well and will last a long time. It is also easy to adjust the windage and elevation with a lever, which helps to ensure that you have a sharp image of your target. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, so you will not have to worry about the elements interfering with performance.
The Throw Down PCL lever makes it easy to change the power and illumination, so you can adjust it if your lighting changes. The optic is ideal for close-quarters shooting and hunting. The magnification is one of the most important features to look at, and this one ranges from 1x to 4x, and it has fully-coated optics to help make sure that you have clear and bright images when you are shooting.
In addition, this scope offers a reticle with illumination and is optimized for use for 5.56 rounds. The reticle is positioned on the first focal plane so it changes its size in relation to the magnification you dialed in. You will have accurate distance management as well as adjustable target turrets of 0.1 Mil click value that doesn’t lock. It also offers 3.6 inches of eye relief. This is great for people who want to keep back during recoils, and it doesn’t change how bright and clear the target is.
- Made of high quality and durable materials
- Throw Down PCL lever
- Illuminated reticle
- Multicoated optics
- Can’t use extra low scope rings
Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 Rifle Scope
This Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 riflescope is super durable and proven in combat, so you know you are getting a rugged device. It has glass that is crystal clear and battery-free illumination.
ACOG is short for Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, and they are true to the name. This AR 15 scope is rugged, durable, and well-made, and you can expect it to handle a variety of settings. In fact, it has been used by the military because it is designed to hold up in tough combat.
This Trijicon ACOG is made of high-quality forged aircraft-grade aluminum, and the lens has multiple coatings, which add to its toughness. In addition, it is shockproof and waterproof. You can use it in the rain and wind, and it has a durable finish that will make sure that it holds up.
This scope is a fixed 3.5x magnification scope with a 35mm objective lens. Your target will always appear 3.5x its size when you sight at it. This is a low enough magnification that you can use it for targets that are close to you, but you can still range out to medium ranges without trouble.
It has illumination that is not dependent on a battery, so you won’t have to worry about losing your illumination. It is illuminated with fiber optics, which gathers light into the reticle when it is bright outside. It will be there when it is lower light outside, so you can still see. It can adjust automatically, which makes it easy to use.
The scope has excellent lens clarity, and it has 10 reticle illumination options and for each one, there are three color options: amber, green, and red. The horseshoe reticle is a great choice because you can range out to 1,000 yards quickly and it holds its windage. This is a durable, rugged scope that works well in different situations.
- Illuminated reticle
- Solid construction
- Excellent clarity
- Good eye relief
Check out our list of the best cheap ACOGs you can find. What Trijicog ACOG clones are worth their money?
Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9×40 Matte BDC600
The Nikon P-Tactical .223 scope is versatile and works in a number of different situations. The P-223 has a magnification that ranges from 3x to 9x, so you can use it for tree stand hunting to range shooting, and more.
It has eye relief that allows you to be accurate and precise, even at long ranges. This is a multipurpose scope that can be used for competition shooting, short-range hunting, and long-range hunting. The 40mm objective lens provides a lot of area to let light in for a crisp scope image.
The Nikon P-223 has a BDC (bullet drop compensation) reticle, which is open and unobtrusive. It helps you with accuracy. It also has zero-reset turrets, and you can adjust windage and elevation accurately and return to your original settings. The Nikon lens of the P-223 allows you to have maximum light transmission, so it works well even in low-light conditions. It offers a 100-yard parallax, so your shots will be more accurate.
The eye relief offers you maximum comfort and is suited for high-powered recoil and extreme shooting angles. The knobs that control windage and elevation are easy to use, and there is a return to zero feature that is simple to use. The magnification allows you to shoot anything from 100 to 800 yards, and you will have a clear image of your target at these ranges.
Finally, the BDC reticle of the Nikon P-223 allows for open circle aiming points, and it has bullet hash marks from 100 to 600 yards. You can determine what yardage each dot represents, and this helps to improve your accuracy. The elevation knobs make it customizable, and the turret adjustments are crisp. It has a light transmission rate of 98%, which works well in low-light settings. This is a powerful scope that is useful in a range of situations and a serious contender to be the best AR-15 scope.
- BDC reticle
- Maximum light transmission
- Zero-reset turrets
- 40 mm objective lens
- No parallax adjustment
Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4×24 SFP Rifle Scope
The Primary Arms Class Series 1-4×24 scope is an entry-level optical system that still offers everything needed by a new shooter or someone working within a budget. They produce a quality scope that performs well with your AR 15.
This scope for AR-15 rifles has a duplex center dot reticle, and it offers generous eye relief that ranges from 3.5 inches to 4.9 inches depending on the magnification you choose. It has magnification ranging from 1x to 4x, and it is good for close to medium range shooting and hunting. The high-quality glass lenses provide a clear and crisp sight picture.
In addition, the Primary Arms scope has a brightness knob on the left side of the tube that has 12 different brightness settings to illuminate the center dot. It is made with durable construction, and it is waterproof and fog-resistant. It is multi-coated and has an adjustable ocular that leads to a sharp reticle positioned on the second focal plane. The glass is bright and clear, and it is a great buy for people on a budget.
- Fogproof and waterproof
- 12 light settings
- Variable eye relief
- Red dot can be hard to see in bright sunlight
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope
The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle is a scope that works well in a range of different range. It offers 1x to 8x magnification range, which gives you a lot of options. At the higher end you can even use it as a long range scope.
It is an all-purpose AR 15 scope with high-quality lenses that allow you to see a clear sight picture, no matter the magnification level. It also has an illuminated reticle, so you will be able to accurately sight your target in different lighting. The objective lens measures 24 mm in diameter. For typical uses of an AR-15, the diameter is large enough to provide enough light while not being so large to be cumbersome to deal with and heavy.
The reticle is located on the second focal plane, so it doesn’t change size when you change your magnification power. It has 11 different brightness settings, so you can use it in just about any lighting situation. It also has additional battery storage that is in the windage cap, so you do not need to be concerned that you will run out of illumination. The illuminated reticle is etched onto the glass of fully coated lenses, which have excellent light transmission and damage protection. It is durable and can handle rugged situations.
The reticle is a BDC reticle, which means that it has holdover points at the bottom of the crosshair, and it can help you determine how much gravity will impact your shot. It is considered one of the best reticle and magnification systems out there today.
It has windage and elevation turrets that are capped, and the turrets click when you turn them. The scope is preset for parallax at 100 yards, and it is not adjustable. This scope is durable and waterproof and will hold up in tough conditions. This might overall be the best scope for AR-15 rifles.
- Offers many high-end features
- Versatile with wide range of magnification
- Works well in low light with 11 light settings
- Durable and built to last
- No parallax adjustment (preset at 100 yards)
Sig Sauer TANGO6T 1-6×24 mm Riflescope
The Sig Sauer TANGO6T 1-6×24 scope was chosen by the US Army for its marksman rifles, and this civilian version offers durability and accuracy for everyone. There’s no doubt that a sophisticated and accurate optic like this is high up in the list of being the best scope for AR-15 rifles.
The Sig Sauer Tango 6T is a second focal plane scope and comes with a 1x to 6x magnification range, and it is versatile for precise shooting from close-range to long-range distances. The magnification is machined with traction for strength and durability, and it has a throw lever to make simple adjustments on the go.
In addition, this multi-range scope offers a large, bright field of view, and it has a large ocular housing and lenses. The fast focus eyepiece allows you to have excellent clarity, and it stays in place once you set it. It is IPX-8 rated for waterproofing, which means that it will work in most wet conditions, including rainstorms and it certainly is fog proof as well.
It is also rated for proof on the interior, and the lenses are protected with a special coating that prevents any buildup of debris, moisture, or oil. This is a rugged scope that works well in many different settings because it is well made and has different magnification capabilities.
- High quality
- Large bright field of view
- IPX-8 waterproof rating
When you are looking for the best AR 15 rifle scopes and optics, you need to consider the features. The first step for picking amongst the AR 15 scopes is to determine what kind of shooting you plan to do and make sure that you set your budget.
If you want to shoot long-range targets, you will want a riflescope, not a red dot sight. The best options for long-range shooting are the Vortex Strike Eagle and the Sig TANGO6T. If you’re looking for an affordable scope then have a closer look at the Primary Arms Classic Series or the Bushnell AR scope.
The best fixed scope for the AR 15 is the Trijicon ACOG. It’s not cheap but you get a lot of quality.
However, if you spend a lot of time shooting in close quarters, a red dot sight could be right for you. The classic red dot, and probably the most-sold, is the Bushnell TRS-25. A great reasonably priced AR 15 red dot is the Sig Romeo 5. If money is no option then consider the Aimpoint Micro H-1. The Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope is a solid optic to use for the AR-15 that is affordable while being high-quality.
The magnification when you’re looking at AR-15 optics is a significant factor because it determines your range. If you plan to shoot long-range targets, you should choose a scope that has this capability. If you want the scope to be useful in a variety of settings, you can find them with variable magnification. Finally, if you focus on a specific type of shooting, you may be able to choose a scope that is designed for that purpose.
There are other features to consider when you’re looking for the best AR-15 scope, such as the build. You should make sure that it is made with durable materials that can handle the weather conditions. Many of them are waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, which is a benefit. In addition, look at the color of the illumination. Some have many different color combinations so that you can match the environment, and others have two or three different choices.
It can be overwhelming to look at all of the AR-15 optics on the market, but you can choose the one that is ideal for your budget and your style of shooting. Once you narrow it down, look at the other features to get the best AR 15 scope for your needs.