The AR-15 has become the most popular semi-auto rifle configuration available today. People love the AR-15 firearms due to the different calibers, barrel lengths, add ons, and ability to quickly set up the rifle to best suit your need.
With lots of AR-15’s on the market today, it has also caused many different scopes to flood the market. So, there are endless options when it comes to purchasing a scope for your AR-15 rifle. There are red dots, prism scopes, flip-over magnifiers, and magnified scopes.
Manufacturers are making scopes with caliber-specific BDC reticles and caliber-specific turrets for the AR-15 calibers on the market today. As well as scope packages with two sets of turrets that are caliber specific, but the turrets can be changed for each caliber you may be using your AR-15 for.
Choosing the ideal riflescope for your needs may seem confusing with all the available options today. However, keep in mind that every individual’s needs for scopes will vary, and you will need a scope that fits what you are looking to do with your rifle.
Best Scope For AR-15
1. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 4-16X44mm Riflescope
The Vortex Optics Diamondback tactical 4-16X44mm riflescope is a 30mm tube scope that is nitrogen purged. It is fog proof, waterproof, and shockproof. It is a first focal plane scope as well.
It has exposed turrets that come in either MOA or MRAD adjustments. Magnification is from 4 power to 16 power. The click adjustments are audible, crisp, and clear, making adjustments easier. The turrets are not locking but have zero resets, so after sighting in, the turrets can have zero rest to your sighted in zero.
The diamondback tactical has parallax adjustment as well. The parallax is adjustable from 0 yards to infinity.
The lens is multi-coated with low dispersion glass for low-light shooting. The glass is clear and allows for fine target acquisition.
The diamondback tactical has two different reticle options, and the reticle is etched on the glass. The options for reticle choices are the EBR-2C(MOA) and the EBR-2C(MRAD).
The diamondback tactical scope also has a quick focus eyepiece that allows fine-tuning the sight picture. As a result, the diamondback tactical scope is ideal for long-distance shooting.
2. Vortex Optics Viper PST II 3-15X44mm
The Vortex Optics Viper PST II 3-15mm scope is a 30mm tube scope that is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. The tube is nitrogen purged and is a first focal plane scope as well.
The turrets are exposed and come in either MOA or MRAD adjustments. The clicks are crisp and clear and are also audible. It has a parallax adjustment knob that is adjustable from 20 yards to infinity.
The Viper PST II has four different reticle options. The options are the EBR-2C(MOA), EBR-2C(MRAD), EBR-7C(MOA), and EBR-7C(MRAD). The reticle is etched on the glass. The turrets are also locking and zero resetting and have illumination in 10 settings to assist in low-light shooting situations.
The glass is clear and has XR fully multicoated lenses. The glass also has an Armortek coating that helps protect against scratches, oil, and dirt. As a result, the Viper PST II is great for long-distance and short-range shooting.
3. UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope
The UTG BugBuster scope is a second focal plane scope with a 1-inch tube that is nitrogen purged, shockproof, fog-proof, and waterproof. It has an emerald-coated lens with an etched mil-dot reticle. It also has red/green illumination.
The eye relief is accommodating, allowing for rapid target acquisition at all ranges. In addition, the UTG Bugbuster scope has parallax adjustment from 3 yards to infinity. The turrets are exposed and have ¼ MOA click adjustments. They are zero locking and resettable.
The UTG BugBuster comes with scope rings and a 2″ sunshade. As a result, the UTG BugBuster is ideal for close to midrange shooting.
4. Monstrum 3-9X32mm Rifle Scope With Range Finding Reticle
The Monstrum 3-X32mm riflescope is a one 1″ tube scope that is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
The glass is clear but not as clear as the Vortex scopes listed earlier. The lens is multicoated to reduce scratching. The reticle is a range-finding reticle with hash marks set up for 100 yards zero, increasing to 500 yards.
The Monstrum 3-9X32mm scope has an illuminated reticle that can be green or red. The turrets are covered and not exposed. The clicks are ¼” MOA adjustments for both elevation and windage. The clicks are spongy and not as crisp as other scopes but still work quite well.
The Monstrum 3-9X32mm scope comes with a detachable throw lever to assist magnification adjustments and comes with a standard set of scope rings as well. As a result, the Monstrum 3-9X32mm is ideal for close to midrange shooting.
5. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 red dot is a red dot sight with a 3 MOA dot and 11 different brightness settings. In addition, its nitrogen purged red dot is fog proof, waterproof, and shockproof.
The dot is only able to be illuminated in red.
The TRS-25 is small, compact, and lightweight. That allows for rapid target acquisition and only a small amount of added weight to your rifle set up.
The TRS-25 is a “budget” red dot but is built well and very sturdy.
The TRS-25 is ideal for close-range shooting, including CQB training or use. Though it is best for close-range shooting, it can be paired with a flip-over magnifier to allow further range shots.
6. Leupold VX Freedom 1.5-4X20mm Riflescope
The Leupold VX Freedom 1.5-4X20 is a second focal plane scope with a 1-inch nitrogen purged tube. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
The glass is clear and crisp. The lens is scratch-resistant and has a duplex reticle. The lens also has Leupold’s twilight management system, allowing for longer shooting times at low light levels.
The turrets are capped and have ¼ MOA click adjustments for windage and elevation. They are not locking or zero-reset turrets. However, the clicks are crisp and clear when adjusting.
The VX freedom comes with two reticle options, a standard duplex reticle or a pig-reticle. As a result, the VX freedom is best for long to mid-range shooting.
7. Monstrum P330-B Prism Scope
The Monstrum P330-B prism scope is a 30mm objective with 3X magnification. Unlike a red dot, the dot on the prism scope is visible even when not illuminated.
The reticle is a circle dot sight.
The turrets are covered and are ¼ click MOA adjustments.
The glass is clear and is multicoated to protect against scratches. The eye relief is 3.5 inches. The eye relief is 3.5 inches allows for both eyes to open, shooting.
The P330-B prism scope is ideal for anyone with astigmatism and is best for close to mid-range shooting.
8. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1X20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot
The Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm red dot is a 20mm objective red dot with a 2 MOA dot. It has ten illumination settings, 8 for daytime use and 2 for nighttime shooting.
It is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof.
The glass is clear and multicoated with antireflection technology to decrease any interference with the clarity of the dot in all light conditions.
The Romeo5 comes with both a low mount riser and a co-witness riser.
The Romeo5 has “MOTAC” technology, meaning that when the red dot senses motion, it will automatically turn on, and when it senses no motion, it will turn itself off. This is a great addition to the red dot as it helps save battery life and makes it much easier to just engage your target without turning the power on.
The Romeo5 is ideal for close to the mid-range shooting but can be paired with a flip-to-side magnifier to make longer shots.
9. Nikon P-Tactical 2-7X32mm Matte BDC Scope
The Nikon P-Tactical 2-7X32mm matte BDC is a 1-inch tube scope with a BDC Supersub reticle designed for the AR-15 in .223 Remington, shooting a 55-grain bullet. The reticle has an open circle aiming point with additional hash marks for shots from 100 to 600 yards.
The glass is nitrogen purged, a multicoated optic that is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. In addition, the glass is crisp and clear.
The turrets are exposed with ¼ MOA clicks of windage and elevation adjustment. The turrets are spring-loaded, locking, and zero locking turrets. The zero can be easily returned to after making field adjustments for elevation and windage.
The magnification adjustment does not come with an attached throw lever. As a result, the magnification adjustment is stiff but does loosen up after use. The P-Tactical scope is ideal for close to long-range shooting.
10. Bushnell AR/223 1-4X24mm Riflescope
The Bushnell AR/223 1-4X24mm riflescope is a 30mm tube scope that is nitrogen purged. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
The glass is clear and is multicoated. The reticle is a .223 BDC reticle designed to be sighted in at 100 yards with hash marks out to 500 yards, using .233 caliber bullets that are 55 to 62-grain bullets.
The AR/223 scope has a fast-focus eyepiece but not a parallax adjustment.
The turrets are exposed but are not locking or zero resetting. They are 0.1 mil adjustments for both windage and elevation.
The AR/223 riflescope is designed for close to mid-range shooting.
11. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFF
Similar to the other high-quality optics in this line, the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7*32 is a well-designed 2-7x32mm scope. Designed with magnification powers between 2x and 7x and a 32mm objective lens, it automatically falls within the same range of effectiveness as other traditional hunting scopes, improving your accuracy and helping you land shots below 1000 yards.
With its multicoated lenses and excellent weatherproof capabilities due to special sealing and purging processes, this Vortex scope (and the Crossfire II line in particular) shares many common features with other Vortex scopes. It is made from aircraft-grade aluminum to increase its durability while still relatively light.
Furthermore, it offers great eye relief (above 3 inches even at the highest magnification power) and a forgiving eye box to help you focus quickly. You can zero-reset both windage and elevation adjustment turrets once you’ve bore sighted in your AR-15.
The scope provides a good sight picture, a nice series of magnification powers, and decent windage and elevation turrets to round out the scope.
12. Barska Plinker 4×32 30-30 W-Rings
With the Barska 3-9×32 plinkster rifle scope, you will be able to hunt with clarity even on wet days with its excellent fog and waterproof properties. With a multicoated focus lens, this scope produces HD optical clarity regardless of lighting conditions, perfect for indoor and outdoor purposes.
The knobs make an audible sound when they move, ensuring that you don’t lose your scope’s settings.
Fast-moving targets can be difficult to keep focused on when you’re chasing them. A fast-zoom feature in this plinker sight allows you to focus on a moving target quickly and successfully shoot it. In addition, the 30/30 reticle keeps zero and does not require repetitive adjustments when time is tight.
Dovetail mounting rings fit most weapons with Barska’s scope, making them a universal accessory. In addition, its 11.5oz weight is ideal for those who don’t want to be concerned about the weight of their firearm or packing bags.
One drawback is the blurry crosshair, which becomes more indistinct as magnification increases.
Overall, the Barska 3-9×32 plinker scope offers fine craftsmanship and HD optical clarity making it a great hunting scope for anyone on a budget looking for quality.
What To Look For In A Scope
When purchasing a scope for your new AR-15 rifle, consider many things before purchasing. The biggest thing to look at is the rifle’s use. Will you be doing long-range shooting primarily, or will the scope be used for close-range CQB use?
If using the rifle for long-range shooting only, a magnified scope will be best. You can have a rifle capable of shooting out to long-distance, but it will be tough to hit it if you cannot see what you are shooting at.
If your rifle will be used for CQB training and use, then a red dot or prism scope would be in your best interest. Red dots are mostly do not have any magnification but provide a clear dot for aiming at close ranges. Of course, you can always add a flip to the side magnifier to increase the distance; you can use your red dot out too.
Prism scopes can have no magnification, but several have a different set of magnification power for use at longer distances. Prism scopes can benefit anyone with astigmatism; if using a red dot with astigmatism, the dot will be blurry, causing an inaccurate red dot view. Prism scopes eliminate the blurriness of the dot with astigmatism. (1), (2)
The Best AR-15 Rifles
For more reading on the top AR-15 rifles, we have a full article on the subject. We go over exactly what to look for in an AR.
Review of the Best AR15 Trigger Systems
If you’re looking for more parts to upgrade your existing AR, our review of the best AR15 trigger systems will point you in the right direction.
As previously stated, there are many options out there for a good AR-15 scope. Additionally, there are many with added options and some just a basic scope.
Red dots and prism scopes are great for close to midrange shooting and rapid target acquisition. Magnified scopes are good for long range and mid range shooting.
When looking for a scope for your AR-15, always consider what your rifle will be used for. I highly recommend this route if you can try out a few scopes and find the best one for your needs and budget. If not, look at reviews and make the best choice for you.
- Leupold, HOW TO CHOOSE A HUNTING SCOPE. Retrieved from: https://www.leupold.com/blog/post/how-to-choose-a-hunting-scope
- C.A. Bridges, Is an AR-15 an assault rifle? What you need to know about America’s most popular rifle, Retrieved from: https://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/2022/06/01/ar-15-what-is-what-can-do-and-why-so-many-mass-shooters-like-them/7467147001/
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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2 thoughts on “Best Scope for AR15: Top Tactical Optics (Sights Review)”
Just wondering…if any of these scopes would be “over-kill” for my Radical AR, that I only plan on using for 100 yard range plinking.
The scope you’re looking for is a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x. It’s a great little scope for plinking. Or if you want more magnification grab a 3-15x.
Be sure to check back on our review of the Venom and Strike Eagle next month.