Top 10 Best AR 15 Scope Reviews and Optics Guide 2017

Planning to buy a new scope for your AR 15 rifle? Want to buy best AR 15 Scope for your rifle? Having too many doubts at the same time? Anyway, there is no doubt about one fact that AR-15 rifles are one of the most popular guns all over the globe. It has become one of the most trusted names in the US and there are many good reasons behind its popularity.

Below, check out the list of best AR -15 scopes for you, each of them is a fantastic product packed with incredible features and they are well refined after hours of online researches, customer reviews, analysis and findings of top scope experts.

Our Recommendation

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster” Scope 

RankImageNamePrice
1UTG 3-9X32 1" BugBuster” ScopeCheck Price
2UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact ScopeCheck Price
3Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2Check Price
4Nikon ProStaff 3-9x40 Matte BDCCheck Price
5Bushnell AR Optics FFP Check Price
6Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Check Price
7Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle OpticCheck Price
8ATN X-Sight II Smart RiflescopeCheck Price

Let’s check out an interesting fact associated with AR-15, do you know that many confuse its abbreviation ‘AR’ with ‘Assault Rifle’. But, in reality, it’s not that and please don’t confuse, AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle, and ArmaLite is an American company.

AR-15 has such powerful features that it’s following a modification of paved the path for the ‘M16 rifles’ that the US military uses today.

What makes AR-15 so popular?

So, returning to discuss the previous point. There are many factors that make AR-15 a first choice among the shooting enthusiasts. The gun is super easy to handle. Anyone, even old citizens or children can readily shoot with it. It’s light weight and gentle in recoil. The gun is easy to be customized. You can add various accessories to it. The parts are convenient in assembling and easily interchangeable. The complete system uses pins, screws and threaded parts for assembly.

AR-15 Scopes: The essential accessory

As said, adding accessories is an important feature of AR 15. You can customize and equip it with different cool and useful attachments. However adding scope to your AR 15 is the most intelligent and essential decision to make. It makes your shooting endeavor more precise, accurate and convenient.

But, before you buy the one, you must analyze the need and conditions in which you are going to use your rifle. Are you are going to use it for sporting events (like shooting competition)? Are you going to use it at a particular time? Whether you are going to use it at night times or day times? What’s the usual range of your shooting? Are you going to shoot for a long distance or shorter distance? Are you going to target mostly the moving objects or stationary objects? All these points must be analyzed before you start your search. It is going to help you choose the best scope for you that serves all your purposes.

 

Best AR-15 Scope Under $100 Dollars

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster” Scope

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster” Scope

Being from UTG, the brand known for its excellent quality, this scope holds every great feature that you look for. It is built on true strength(TS) platform, has passed stringent tests, supports high-quality turrets, side wheel illumination, high precision mid dot reticles and parallax-free view. The scope(Bug Buster) is very similar to UTG Swat in features. However, Bug Buster is more compact; it measures 8.11 inches in length. Whereas ad UTG Swat measures 10.3 inches in length. Weight wise also Bug Buster is lighter, it weighs 13.9 oz while Swat weighs 23.2 oz.

The scope is sturdy and light made from high-grade Aluminium and polymer. It is crafted on ‘True Strength(TS) Platform’. Using innovative and latest Smart Spherical Structure(SSS) joint the scope joins the inner and outer tube with excellent reliability and strength. It helps in correct elevation setting. To be certain of maximum performance the scope has passed through various test parameters. The stringent quality check makes sure that you get the best quality.

It uses ‘Convinient Turret’. The turrets are well designed to provide easy and precise adjustment. RGB illumination of side wheel gives easy accessibility even in low lighting condition.

The scope is well protected from external environment. The lenses are filled with nitrogen and sealed with O-Ring. Nitrogen protects from the effect of dust and moisture. While the O-Ring makes sure that it gives leak proof performance even in worst environment condition like fog, rain or desert. For crystal clear view it uses Emerald Coated Lens that allows maximum light transmission. You get Parallax-free View from 3 yards to infinity.

There is an innovative ‘EZ-TAP® Illumination Enhancing (IE) System’. It uses patented technology that uses 36 multicolor modes along with red/green dual-color mode to enable you clear visibility in various environmental condition. Also, the 1-Click Illumination Memory Feature activates the last used illumination setting at a single click.

It supports Mil-dot Reticle. Just like Swat scope, it uses ‘Tactical Range Estimating(TRE) Mil-Dot Reticle’ that provides much better range estimation for long range shooting. Unlike standard mid dot reticles that employ 4 different aiming points in each direction, BugBuster uses nine aiming points.


Best AR-15 Scope Under $200 Dollars

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

It’s an another short and compact scope that is manufactured on True Strength(TS) Platform using 30 mm tube. True Strength(TS) is the hallmark of every scope from Leapers. Much consideration is given on the strength and durability of the scope. For high strength joints it uses a Smart Spherical Structure(SSS) feature to join and control the joint at inner and outer tubes.

The scope uses best quality multi emerald coated lenses with integrated angled front sunshade. This gives it a glare-free view even in bright sun. These lenses are sealed, and nitrogen filled that give it shockproof, fog proof and rainproof operation in tough environmental condition. The accurate and quick adjustable lens setting give a clear field of view in serial shooting even during the recoiling period. It makes sure that you hit the target accurately even at your second and third shots. For the professionals and hunters, this quick and accurate focusing ability empowers them to shoot without a miss. There are a quick flip-open caps to protect the lens while you the gun is being carried or stored.

It employs user-friendly, quick lockable, adjustable and resettable turrets. The wheels are designed with considerations to make it easy and quick in operation. You can even buy the optional bigger wheel that comes as its accessories and fit accurately on the original turret wheels. It gives a crisp elevation and windage adjustment along with quick resetting and locking features. The scope provides a parallax-free view from 10 yards to infinity

The reticle of the scope employs patented ‘Illumination Enhancing(IE) Technology’. Using this technology, it provides 36 different colors reticles with the traditional green and red colors for operation. Thus, the shooters can choose a favorable color which gives them the best visibility even in bad weather and environmental condition. The reticle uses ‘Mil-dot Reticle’ for range estimation. This ’Mil-Dot Tactical Range Estimating Reticle (TRE)’ comes with more accurate 19 aiming points using nine dots in each direction. While the commonly available reticles in the market come with nine different aiming points using four dots in each direction.


Nikon ProStaff 3-9×40 Matte BDC

ProStaff 3-9×40 Matte BDC

Made from light and sturdy Aluminum, ProStaff 3-9×40 is a sought-after compact scope that is very popular with AR-15 guns. The scopes give a magnification of up to 9x power and use 40 mm objective lens. It’s larger eyepieces give a wider field of view.

Built from high quality and precise multicoated optical lenses it transmits as high as 98% of light giving you perfect visibility. The anti-reflective coating on it helps to focus well even in bright glaring light condition. The spring loaded ‘Zero-Reset Turret’ provides a quick adjustment. The scope is short and compact. It provides a decent amount of 3.6 inches space for eye relief so that your eyes remain protected from shock and recoil while shooting.

ProStaff uses the Patented BDC reticle which is very apt for both long range and short range shooting. Its innovative ‘See-Through Ballistic Circle’ allows getting better approximation and calculation for distant shooting ranges.

The lenses are O-ring sealed and filled with nitrogen gas. It makes it immune from environmental defects like moisture, fog or dust. Thus you can aim and focus better with its fog proof, dustproof and waterproof performance. The scope comes with two lens caps that keep the lenses protected from dust and scratches while you carry or store it.


Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2

Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2

StrikeFire 2 is the updated version of StrikeFire with notable improvements in both design and feature. Crafted out of light and sturdy aluminum alloy it is quite sturdy. The scope stands high on various performance parameters like run time, visibility, protection, and ease of operation. Running on CR2 Battery, it can run up to 200 hours. There is an auto-shutdown option that switches off the power supply after hours(around 6 hours) of the idle stage. This helps to conserve battery power in case you have forgotten to switch it off.

The scope provides you with a zero parallax view with its parallax free design. Thus, you can aim and shoot with both eyes open. It is short and compact inbuilt with a length of 5.6”. You get significant eye relief and flexibility to shoot from different angles.

It uses high-quality multi-coated lenses that allow maximum light transmission for a clear view. The anti-reflective coatings on it make your target visible even in the highly brightened environment. There are ten brightness settings to choose from as per the exterior condition. The night-vision feature let to shoot even in no light condition. The red dot on reticle appears quite bright and intense even in the sunny and bright day.

The scope is well protected with the flip up caps on both sides. And the optical lenses are sealed with rubber O-rings and filled with Nitrogen gas. This shields it from any external effect of dust and moisture. All these protections give it a dust-proof, fog-proof and waterproof capabilities.

Altogether it a fabulous scope with remarkable features.


Best AR-15 Scope Under $500 Dollars

Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Reticle AR-223 Rifle Scope

Bushnell AR Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Reticle AR-223 Rifle Scope

Bushnell is one of the trusted names in the world of AR scopes. It is known for its accurate, precise and rugged scope. The FFP Illuminated BTR-1 is yet another powerful scope from Bushnell with various added features like Throw Down Power Change Lever, illuminated FFP reticle, nitrogen(and O-ring) sealed lenses and fully anodized aluminum body.

The Bushnell AR optics is made from light weight and high durability anodize-finished aluminum alloy. Aluminum gives it required lightness and strength along with rust and scratch proof capability for robust performance. The scope is effectively sealed from inside to protect from dust, moisture, and other environmental factors. The lenses are sealed with nitrogen and O-ring so that they remain unaffected by environmental factors like moisture and dust. The exclusive multi-coated optics gives a perfect visibility by reducing glare even on viewing bright images.BTR-1 illuminated First Focal Plane(FFP) reticle provides spectacular low-light performance. You get better focusing in the dark forest or evening time when the light is low. It also gives the capability of accurate aiming up to 500 yards. And that’s a great thing if you are hunter or need to target far off things

The scope is very convenient and quick to use. The exclusive ‘Throw Down Power Change Lever(PCL)’ allows you to quickly change power while you are targeting a far off aim. Its turrets allow you to have to-the-point accuracy with precise adjustments of .1 mm click value.

You can buy this affordable scope with full confidence of quality and performance.


Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope, 1x32mm

Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope, 1x32mm

Bushnell has been a pioneer in the world of the riflescope. It has years of experience with military and design experts in producing finest defense equipment. Employing Amber-Bright™ optics it gives a clean and clear visibility for perfect shooting accuracy. These lenses are multi-coated to give you glare free viewing capability.

The wide 32mm objective gives you ample sight coverage to aim your target. No zooming option makes it quick in operation and also a preferable option for the new users. There is an intuitive Zoom Dot option using which you can readily vary the size of aiming point from 1 MOA to 10 MOA. Hunters find this feature very helpful as they can get the best zooming while aiming at different targets.

The scope uses innovative T-dot reticle available in two colors, red and green. This new kind of reticle is designed to provide rapid target set up even in dim light condition. There are five brightness settings to adjust your sight as per the lighting condition. The scope looks like a single casting piece with no joints. This design gives it the needed strength and ruggedness to bear every torture. It’s fully waterproof, shockproof and fog proof.

It measures 6.75 inches in length, which is neither short nor long. Thus, you get the right amount of eye-relief to protect your eyes from the gun’s recoil. Also, with a weight of 15.6 ounces, it is light and convenient to mount. With all these fabulous features it’s a favorable scope for both naive and expert shooters. You can have this scope no matter you are a naive or expert shooter, it suits both.


Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

While discussing Aimpoint PRO the first feature that strikes the mind is its ‘Unlimited Power Supply’ using the high-efficiency circuit. The scope can remain in on mode for straight three years on a just single battery. Impressive! Isn’t it?

It is built on hard-anodized 30mm tube chassis that provides it ultimate strength. With just five inches in length and 7.8 ounces of weight its compact and light. Thus, you get maximum eye-relief, flexibility, and ease in carrying.

Mounting this scope on your AR-15 rifle is also super easy. For this, it employs specially designed ‘torque-limiting knob’ that supplies the right amount of pressure on twisting the knob. Once it reaches its maximum level just after three clicks, it frees from further tightening safeguarding the rail. You can easily remove and replace for cleaning and maintenance without any complexity.

Coming to its optics and lens system, the scope uses a band-pass coating. This particular and unique coating make it a powerful night vision gadget. The both front and rear lenses are provided with attached protection cap that keeps the lenses safe from any damages that may come while in transit. Also, the threaded portion of front lens enables you to attach screw-in anti-reflection device (ARD) to the scope. A two Minute of Angle (2 MOA), red dot on it, allow excellent accuracy at all ranges in any environmental conditions.

Aimpoint has been able to make this innovative product with such incredible features after much research and inputs from professionals. It has tried to make the scope much simple and user-friendly giving more consideration on needed features to eradicate complexity.


Best AR-15 Scope Under $700 Dollars

ATN X-Sight II Smart Riflescope (HD Video, WiFi, GPS, Image Stabilization, Range Finder and Shooting Solution)

ATN X-Sight II Smart Riflescope (HD Video, WiFi, GPS, Image Stabilization, Range Finder and Shooting Solution)

ATN X-Sight II is probably the most advanced riflescope with every smart feature that you wish to see in your scope. So, if you are cool with the latest technologies, here is the perfect scope for you.

The scope is Wi-Fi enabled, records HD videos, have night vision(and thermal imaging) mode, employs smart range finder and provides multiple reticle options to choose. It’s more of a computer than a rifle scope, something beyond expectations. There are other cool features like E-Barometer, Gyroscope, and E-compass. They help in image stabilization and direction finding. The scope connects very readily with other device and even the internet with Bluetooth and WiFi. It let you access GPS to find direction and share photos and data seamlessly with other devices.

The scope is powered by OBSIDIAN II CORE & UI, a high-speed computer engineered mainly to run sensors to process unlimited data in a fraction of a second. Its firmware is upgradable that keeps you abreast with the latest updates from time to time. At the same time, its friendly UI makes it easier than a smartphone in operation. You can readily customize it just as your smartphone. Its new radial menus give much better performance than the regular drop list.

To give high definition picture quality it employs HD lenses, HD sensor and HD display, a complete high definition system. Not just that, there is a Recoil Activated Video (RAV) feature that helps to record distortion-free video as you shoot the target. The RAV feature compensates the effect of gun recoil and gives a perfect video. You can easily enjoy the full glory of your shooting event with 1080p full HD video playback.

The next significant feature is the ‘Smart Shooting’. Behind its ‘Smart Range Finder’ works Obsidian Core high-speed processor churning out sophisticated ballistic calculations employing various parameters like weight, velocity, drag, and angle. It makes sure that you have a perfect shot every time without a miss. The ‘Smooth Zoom’ feature backed with HD picture quality let you zoom the far off target very intuitively.

If you have different guns then also you can easily use this cool scope on them. Thanks to its intuitive profile manager that save all the settings and ballistic data in different profiles that you can choose.

The advantages of AR-15 scopes are immense. These can be summarized as:

  • Most of the scopes employ multi-coated lenses that give glare free visibility even in bright lighting condition. Thus help to enhance visibility.
  • Better focussing with the specially designed reticles. The newly developed and improved reticles come with various features like distance approximation that contribute to aim far off targets with accuracy.
  • Wider view and increased range.
  • Night illuminated vision, some of the reticles are coming with light illumination that enables you to have accurate aiming even in dark conditions.
  • Faster target capture and focus.

With all these advantages scopes make you a better shooter. The next question that must be hitting your brain cells is, how are you going to find the best scope for your AR-15? Well, the answer is in knowing the basics.

Before you start your search (maybe the offline or online research) for the proper AR-15 scope, you should be clear with certain essential features of the scopes such as eye relief, magnification, and reticle.

Have a look at the five basic factors on which performance of your rifle scope depends:

Magnification

No doubt magnification is a major factor but, often it is very focusing. It’s not necessary that only a high magnifying scope will work well. In case you have to focus on far-off objects like for hunting, it becomes essential to choose magnification wisely.

The scopes come with fixed and variable magnification. If you are a beginner, you are advised to go for fixed magnification. The fixed ones don’t involve additional moving parts. Therefore, they are more rugged and accurate.Also, they are far lighter than the variable version. Use variable scope only in the situation when there is a requirement for it. Otherwise, you should go for fixed scopes.

Reticles

Well, these are the patterns( mostly cross type or dotted) that you see on your scope’s lens. The primary purpose of the reticle is to aid you in focusing the targets accurately. Many times they are also called as crosshairs. Earlier, mostly simple “+” sign reticles were in use. But, now many new designs are introduced for better aiming. The popular types of reticles are Duplex, Mil Dot, BDC and Illuminated.

i) Illuminated reticle: These reticles are designed for low light condition. If you are going to use your AR-15 in the evening or night, it can be a difficult task. Even in the dense forest, there is a scarcity of light making your visibility poorer. To cover this gap, the new scopes are coming with illuminated reticle features. Some of them are offering options for different colors that allows you choose a suitable color.

ii) BDC Reticle: BDC is shortened form of Bullet Drop Compensation. These reticles are used for long range shooting and are designed to compensate the bullet drop by gravity.

iii) Duplex reticle: In the duplex type cross lines become thinner towards the intersection. It helps to see the target more clearly. Often the thicker lines( particularly in the intersection) makes the aiming a bit difficult. In some designs, you can even spot a small dot at the center.

iv) Mil-dot Reticle: Mil-dot has the cross line integrated with a little dot. These are a bit complex and need a calculation to compensate gravity and drift effects. The dots help to adjust your shooting point as per the distance. But, these reticles are mostly designed for particular types of cartilages as their design parameters are based on the weight of cartilage.

Parallax

Many of you are confused with this term. Well, nothing to worry, you have learned this concept in your school. It was in your Science book, like when you put a coin in a jug and see it from above, it appears to be raised. Similarly, when you try to aim at fish in water, you have to hit a bit lower so as to hit the fish accurately. It’s all due to refraction. When light passes from denser medium to rarer medium, it moves away from the normal( and vice-versa).

Mostly when you use high power scopes the problem of parallax appears. It happens when the focal plane of the reticle and the object are offset from each other. As you shift your gaze, the reticle also appears to move. In an ideal condition, reticle should be in locked-in position, a steady. The movement occurs when the focal plane of objective and reticle is not coincident. You need to adjust the objective ring or turret for parallax compensation. There should not be any movement in reticle as you move your gaze.

Eye-relief

The recoiling of AR-15 guns(or any other guns) is a common phenomenon that you experience while shooting. And the same can be hazardous for your eyes. You need to keep caution to protect your eyes. Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the scope. For most of the AR 15 rifles, it is around 4 inches. This implies that you should maintain a minimum distance of 4 inches between the rear of scope and your eye to be safe. Also, the way you mount your rifle plays a significant factor in absorbing the shocks. A proper mounting is a crucial point of consideration especially if you are a beginner. Otherwise, you may end up absorbing the shocks through your eye socket than your shoulder.

So, if you are new to shooting you should:

  • Go for the compact scope with a shorter length.
  • Mount the gun in right way with your shoulder.

Minute of Angle (MOA)

MOA is an another technical term that you need to master to become an expert shooter. It’s a kind of mathematics behind the shooting. 1 minute of angle is 1/60th of a degree. It can further be related to the distance of your target. 1 MOA at 50 yard = 0.5 inch, at 100 yards = 1 inch, at 200 yards = 2 inch and so on. Similarly, 2 MOA at 100 yards = 2 inches and so on. You need to set for MOA when you are aiming for far off targets. The different scope has different MOA adjustment per click, like 1/4 MOA per click or 1/8, 1/2 or even 1 MOA per click. Thus, you need to adjust accordingly. Most of you may be confused with the concept of MOA; it’s a little technical. Watch

Once you start analyzing your scope in the context of these fundamental properties and features, it becomes easier for you to choose the perfect piece for your shooting endeavors.

Wrapping it up!

The top 10 list ends up here. Thank you very much for taking your time. We hope that the list has helped you in finding the best scope for your AR-15 gun. We have tried our best to bring best of best for you. All these 10 scopes are highly rated by customers and reviewers. These powerful scopes are well analyzed on the most basic features that ultimately make them popular among the shooting enthusiasts. And we also hope that by now all of you have the basic idea of those important points you need to look when searching for your scope. If not, we recommend you to turn back to the starting section of this blog that deals with the important features you should look into any scope.

Do share your experiences with these scopes in the comment section below.

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