When taking a hard look at the AR-10 the first thing that comes to mind is a rifle that is designed to take on much larger cartridges than those offered in the small short frame/receiver AR-15. Being the base cartridge as applied to the AR-10 is the 7.62 NATO, or also known as the 308 Winchester, the game has moved up a real notch when it comes to effective range as in longer range performance. The AR-10 will carry not only the 7.62 NATO round but the 243 Winchester all the way up to the 300 Win Mag.
With this information in mind as we take a look at workable scopes for use with the AR-10 platform, it is also necessary to know what cartilage is being applied as well. What is workable for the 308 Winchester may not be the best setup in glass sights if the chambering is going to move all the way up to the 30-06 Springfield, or 300 Win Mag. More range, more scope power, and better lens glass is the formula that fits the basic need in this case.
When applied to the 308 Winchester being the primary cartridge associated with the AR-10 rifle the first in a series of scopes will center on glass that will be in the medium power range, but larger on optical light control, sniper grade sub tensions, and large well built primary main tubes.
Best AR 10 Scopes
1. Leupold VX Freedom 3-9×40
In terms of my experience with the AR-10, my three hunting partners all shoot them, and as such use scopes designed for trophy mule deer and whitetail hunting. As to where I fit in here. I shoot a Uberti High Wall single shot in 303 British thank you! However, the fact remains that I see a whole lot of action as applied to the AR-10 in and about my deer hunting camp. Cartridge selection is both in 308 Winchester and 243 Winchester. Both rounds have a specific purpose in this case as applied to open country styles of shooting big game.
This Leupold glass sight is built at a design level that is an outstanding balance as applied to the AR-10 platform. The scope is not bulky, built for working a deep tough to move in canyon, or draw on foot while slipping from rock to rock in search of that elusive mule deer buck, and when the show starts the AR-10 gives the shooter ample chances at making a lethal hit on the target.
This scope retains the Leupold Ultimate Slam reticle that is designed for whitetail hunting in that it has a through the sight element in mil dots to gain fast accurate elevation without going to guesswork or using the open turret style elevation settings.
Built of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, and as such retains a Leupold guarantee of a lifetime of performance, the scope is flat out bulletproof in terms of hanging together when the tough get going, and the going gets tough.
Built with the advanced Leupold Twilight Management system installed this scope is able to pull more light in the early morning and also late in the evening. Totally the scope gives the shooter about an extra hour of gunning time over some other less effective glass sights.
When adjusting windage or elevation the capped turrets will allow fingertip adjustments in both areas for a quick accurate zero setting downrange.
Power setting at 3-9, and the 40X bell make for a solid big game viewing and operational window. The 3-9 is the gold standard among big game rifle scopes when power settings are the question of the day.
Priced at a working mans level, with that being a very good thing nowadays, you can’t beat the brand or the model if you are a whitetail hunter chasing deer with the tricked-out AR-10 in a standard performance level cartridge.
2. Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm
Here we have a combat / tactical style scope that cuts carry weight, it is designed for close range shooting like that found in timber country hunting. Some shots even in my part of the world are under 100 yards, and when in timber most shooting will be at that range or even much less.
This scope design has become the norm in terms of military rifles currently. It is replacing the ACOG sight system on army rifles, and in terms of the US Army’s M-10, being the rifle we are talking about here the cut-off forward bells and smaller objective lens has some advantages.
In this case, the Leupold design is right on track and is zero set using an MOA ¼ inch click adjustment range, and the ability to return to the correct zero when moved off the mark.
The scope is set up with Leupold Twilight Management systems for great low light performance function, and the primary tube is built from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum,
The scope is installed using the Leupold Duplex reticle for fast target acquisition in heavy cover, or when just a quick look at your target is possible.
For more on ACOGs see our write up on the best ACOG sight money can buy.
3. TRACT Toric 3-15×50
TRACT Toric 3-15×50 is a hog of a glass sight, but she retains great glass, very correctable turret settings, and sub tensions that are just what the American sniper ordered.
The reticle is etched versus separately set crosshairs, and the windage correction and elevation settings as used through the glass are outstanding. I currently shoot three of these scopes on varied test rifles here at Ballistics Research & Development.
Built of 6061T aircraft grade aluminum, coated with a dust gray surface that will not give of glints or shine in the sunlight the scope is field ready.
TRACT offers a full lifetime warranty on their scopes. No paperwork and no questions asked. Can’t beat that no how, no way.
4. Tract Toric UHD 4.5-30X56
This second Tract is the Toric UHD 4.5-30X56 34mm MRAD scope.
This scope is built for ultra long range work and can be well used on larger chambering the AR-10’s as in the 300 Win Mag.
I run this glass on the 338 Lapua and the 300 PRC for 1500 through one mile shooting.
This rifle makes use of high capacity correction turrets with external adjustments on the high and large surfaced knobs.
The large 34 mm main tube carries big league components that are designed to be cranked on forever as in long range sight adjustment use on an everyday basis.
Sub tension on these scopes is set up in the “Christmas tree “ design that allows through the lens elevation and windage correction on the fly. Most shootings with almost all of the current offerings chambered in the AR-10 will be covered by simply using the sub tension through the lens settings.
The scope based on my observations will return clear target images, very low target fade, and color control is outstanding. Good glass, great components, and covered by TRACT Optics for life.
5. Steiner GS3
This scope is the Steiner GS3 Game Sensing hunting scope.
The scope is German-grade glass and built by German craftsmen to meet the exacting needs of big game hunters all over the world. This scope is close to the scopes my partners run on their AR-10 out here in the wild American west ( SouthDakota). The glass is not overly large, but it is designed as a big rifle optical system to be sure.
This scope makes use of capped turrets for hunting protection in the backcountry. Lens surfaces will pull light and return clear sharp images.
This scope makes use of the Steiner Plex S1 reticle and allows the shooter to use sub tension that will aid in marking the exact hold over for longer range shooting.
Steiner warranties this scope for life and will replace or repair at no charge to the owner in terms of any possible issues with the glass sight.
O ring sealed and will not leak up to 33 ft in depth if submerged. Be advised like Leupold and others here these scopes are also designed for warfighters, and as such these folks that build them know their craft well.
6. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X reticle
This scope is a tough little field tube and it is not going to break the bank when the average working man or lady wants to get the old AR-10 scoped up with some hunting glass.
I have included this scope because I shoot Bushnell a whole lot here at my research facility and to be sure they have taken me through some nasty adventures when running gun tests or new ammo without letting me down.
The Bushnell series are all great working scopes and for the hunter searching for a scope that will work well at normal gunning ranges this little number is just the ticket.
These scopes are built to last as I have some in my inventory that are over 40 years old and still doing the deal just fine.
The glass in this scope is the Bushnell Dusk & Dawn type meaning that it will give the shooter some additional field time in low light if that record class whitetail walks out right at sunset.
The MultiX reticle is designed to allow the hunter to gain some additional data in terms of holdover on the long shot, and the ¼ MOA settings in the turret are an easy style to remember and use in the field.
Scope total length is 12 inches long. Not compact, but much shorter than some of the others listed here. 3-9X40 marks this as the gold standard in power and object size measurements.
For more on Bushnell scopes see my guide on the best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor rifles.
7. Sig Sauer SOW33202 Whiskey3
Here we have the final scope in my list of workable AR-10 glass sights. This Sig Sauer scope is offered in 3-9X40, which is again the gold standard in scope sizes for big game hunting.
This Sig glass is affordable and in keeping with the brand, it is well made, easy to use with a positive zero ability, and set up in the SFP second focal plane which is best for warm target big game hunters.
Capped windage and elevation turrets for protection in the field, and safe in water submerged to one meter. Other variations in those scope offer Hell Fire illumination, as well as other related features. Reticle options ( sub tensions ) are also flexible as offered by Sig so the shooter need not feel locked into one type or another here.
I have given you a few examples of what can work on the AR-10 platform. This being a very flexible weapon the type of style glass you select will almost always be workable. Keep in mind what you’re going to be shooting at the cartridge chambered for the rifle, and the varied ranges you will most likely be sending bullet. Add all that up and go get your scope sight with confidence.
At one point in time, I shot special high mountain big game training setups by the NRA. The rifles were Smith & Wesson M&PAR-10 platform rifles, and the scopes were a custom-built one foot long open turret variable turret system. At altitude, some shooting was done at 1000 yards via the 308 Winchester as offered by Hornady in an advanced long-range MATCH bullet. The AR-10 performed very well and now tack on the fact that we here at Ballistics Research have tagged out on no less than 20 trophy class deer taken at long range by the rifle and selected scopes in this review, and you can see that for those that want to shoot an AR-10 in a major horsepower cartridge the choice has been clearly been settled.
For more see our article on the best rifle scope mounts money can buy.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material for over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world, including Russia, and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American West and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems TM.
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