2019’s 10 Best AR15 Rifle Scopes & Optics [Budget Friendly]

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Here’s a scenario. You finally purchase an AR-15 that you’ve been wanting for so long now, you hop into the range and shoot some targets, but during that time, you barely hit your target and feel like something is off, while a guy right beside you is perfectly hitting their shots with the same rifle. Is it your muzzle? Did you buy a defective rifle? Are you not experienced enough?

You look over to the other guy to see what they’re doing right and you notice something attached to their AR-15 rifle. You quickly realize that that’s what you lack and decide to get one. But shopping around for an AR-15 scope is a complicated task because of how many products are available in the market.

If you don’t have more time to spend here, then you can start with this UTG bug buster scope. It got the #1 rank on our list.

And that is because of these two factors; an AR-15 is an incredibly flexible and versatile firearm that can easily be mounted with a huge variety of scopes. Next would be the number of scopes and accessories that are available in the market, with hundreds, if not, thousands of manufacturers and brands competing to push out the best AR products, and as a result, flooding the market with the thousands upon thousands of options.

Luckily, if you’re reading this article, you don’t have to do that anymore as we’ve already done the job for you in scouring the market and reviewing each remarkable product that we’ve encountered. All you need to do now is to choose from the list of some of the best AR-15 scopes that are available in the market right now.

If you don’t have more time to know about the more details, here we’ve made the list.

Best rated AR 15 optics under $ 50

Nikon P-223

Best rated AR 15 optics under $100

UTG Bugbuster

Centerpoint

Best rated AR 15 optics under $ 200

Vortex Optics Diamondback

Best rated AR 15 optics under $ 500

Leupold VX-R

Best rated AR 15 optics under $ 1000

Vortex Optics Viper

Best rated AR 15 optics over $1000

Trijicon ACOG

Nightforce Optics

 

Best AR15 Rifle Scopes of 2019 

Product
Product Name
Our Rating
UTG Bugbuster
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Bushnell AR Optics
4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
Nikon P-233
4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
Vortex Optics Diamondback
4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
Nightforce Optics
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
Trijicon ACOG
4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)
Leupold VX-R Patrol
4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Vortex Optics Viper
4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
CenterPoint MSR

4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)
Aimpoint Micro
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

10 Best AR15 Rifle Scopes Reviewed

1.UTG Bugbuster

The first product we’ll be taking on is the UTG Bugbuster Red Dot Scope. This product is 100% sealed and is completely filled to the brim with nitrogen. This scope is perfect to use for any kind of setting because of its fog, rain, and shockproof qualities, which promotes utmost reliability when in use on your firearm.

With the scope’s dual lighting system of green and red colors, plus the accommodating eye relief, no matter what condition or environment you may find yourself in, there’s no other scope to use than this one, as it will certainly deliver on all fronts. It’s also equipped with a standard 2-inch shade, a flip cap, and detachable rings for easy adjustment. This equipment is ready to use the moment you take it out of the box, and will not need any major adjustments.

This product is designed using the True Strength Platform, which is considered to be a significant platform for scope construction. Another thing that makes this scope so durable and flexible is the Smart Spherical Structure or SSS, in which it controls the interaction between the scope’s inner and outer tubes.

PROS

  • Dual Illumination
  • Flip-open Lens Caps
  • Maximum light transmission 

CONS

  • Limited eye relief

UTG stands by its ability to produce quality and durable products such as this AR-15 scope with mount. All their products undergo heavy stress testing, with the help of the consumer’s feedback and input, they will then analyze all the data available to them and will formulate a relevant test to make sure that all their products are running at optimal performance.

The UTG Bugbuster is also equipped with target turrets that allow you to achieve the optimal adjustments for the conditions such as windage, elevation, and more to achieve perfect accuracy.

If you’re in the market for AR-15 optics for coyote, dog, deer, or game hunting, this would be the perfect partner to mount on your rifle.

2.Bushnell AR Optics

Here we have our second product, and it’s by Bushnell, also known for their bore sights. Bushnell has been in the industry for a long time now, and you don’t get to make it that long if you’re not producing quality items.

What Bushnell made and designed this time is a compact AR-15 optics that is very lightweight, only weighing about a pound or so. It’s made out of durable aluminum alloy, so it can withstand the harsh conditions and environment no matter what conditions and activities you bring it to.

And if we’re talking about accuracy, the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 has got it with its superior-close and mid-range accuracy, perfect for close quarter combats, while still giving you that extra range if need be.

This AR optic also comes equipped with a capped turret with a low-profile design that would allow you to make accurate and pinpoint adjustments, giving your rifle that pinpoint accuracy. And let’s not forget about the reticle. The Bushnell AR Optics is equipped with an illuminated reticle with an outstanding low light performance and is also equipped with precise holdovers of up to 500 yards.

PROS

  • Crystal clear view
  • Compact, Rugged Design
  • Waterproof construction

CONS

  • Too heavy

With the equipped Throw Down PCL lever, you can make very quick adjustments to the power of the reticle so adjust to your preference. The large circle you see in the optics represents a hundred yards, while all the subsequent lines below represent another hundred yards.

Upon purchase of this product, it comes with a kit, and what’s in the kit is the following:
* Bushnell AR Optics
* Scope Cover
* Manual
* Wrenches which you can use to adjust the turrets

If you’re in the market for an AR-15 with an illuminated reticle scope, then we highly suggest this one.

3.Nikon P-233 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600

Surprised to see the Nikon brand in here? Me too. As it turns out, Nikon isn’t only limited to developing cameras, but also scopes for rifles as well. We are all familiar with the name Nikon, and how the cameras that they manufacture are all high quality and very innovative, but is it the same for their rifle scopes? Let’s find out.

The Nikon P-233 is one of the many products that are in their P-Series. The P-Series is specifically built and designed for AR-style rifles or automatic rifles. With a reticle with a trajectory-compensating feature, it makes long-range shooting much simpler tasks when using AR rifles.

This scope is designed around a specific rifle, the .223 Rem which has a 5.56 mm NATO round. As with other riflescopes, Nikon has designed this reticle to be compatible with its Nikon Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.

The P-233 and other P-Series offers the user long-range capabilities while still being a compact and lightweight scope that is perfect for short-range shooting. This equipment utilizes the BDC 600 Reticle, which provides the user with a unique circle aiming points as well as hash marks that ranges from a hundred to six hundred yards. And as mentioned above, this is still designed around the .233 REM rifle trajectories.

PROS

  • Lightweight 
  • Ideal optic for a wide range
  • Modern Sporting Rifle

CONS

  • Slightly blurry in ambient light

This equipment utilizes the BDC 600 Reticle, which provides the user with a unique circle aiming points as well as hash marks that ranges from a hundred to six hundred yards. And as mentioned above, this is still designed around the .233 REM rifle trajectories.

Even with how strong a rifle’s recoil is, and how severe or tight the shooting angle is, you don’t have to worry about your brow or eyes with this products eye relief design. With this reticle, you don’t have to worry about light conditions, and that’s because this scope provides 98% light transmission, which means you will have a clear view whether it’s dusk or dawn. It also is filled with nitrogen and sealed with an o-ring to make this reticle water and fog proof.

So if you want an AR-15 scope which is compact but has a short to mid-range capabilities, then we’d suggest this one for you.

4.Vortex Optics Diamondback Riflescopes

For those professional big game hunters out there, this optic is for you. This scope is a part of the Diamondback series from Vortex Optics which is meant and ideal for big game hunting rifles, slug shotguns, and brush hunting.

If there’s any situation where estimating a hold-over would be a concern for you, then an ideal reticle would be the Dead-Hold BDC, which is what this reticle has, which means that it’s great for shooting at various ranges and overall hunting.

The lenses are equipped with a multi-layer coat that enables the reticle to produce clear and sharp images, no matter what the light setting is, while the fast focus designed eyepiece allows for quick focusing and target spot.

The metal to metal design on the precision turrets provides and allows the user to quickly zero reset after the sight-in, while a precise glide erector system does small adjustments for better and more accurate tracking of a target.

PROS

  • Accurate tracking
  • Fog proof performance
  • Ideal for big game

CONS

  • Bit heavy

The overall design of this scope is what makes it durable. It’s only a single tube which has a hard-anodized finish to give it that shockproof quality to it, while also making it very durable. It’s finished with a black painting to allow for better camouflage, while the scope itself is argon purged and sealed with an o-ring to prevent any fogging and water from getting in.

With a customized dot design, you don’t have to guess anymore when correcting holdovers and windage. Another good thing about this scope is that the reticle and SFP don’t change sizes and appearance whenever you zoom in or out.

In short, this AR-15 scope has short and long-range capabilities, perfect for deer or any kind of big game hunting.

5.Nightforce Optics

This optic may be a bit overkill and excessive for an AR-15 rifle, and what’s more, is that the scope range capabilities are way above the capabilities of a rifle with a .223/5.56mm round. But if you do want a scope that has an extremely long-range, then there’s no other product to get than the cream of the crop Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS.

This product boasts a very versatile and flexible 5.5-22x zoom range, which provides the user with outstanding capabilities, even at extremely long ranges, without having too many drawbacks when it comes to short-range shooting.

If you take into account the price of this product, professional shooters and long-range enthusiasts will have a field day when it comes to the capabilities and features of this product. If you’re a hunter and want to try these optics, then you’ll surely be satisfied with its performance, allowing you to spot any target from afar.

These optics offer you a large variety of reticle options, and so too are the other products that come from the NXS series, and most, if not all of them are also glass etched, which is to be expected in a premium quality optic.

Most people prefer the MOAR reticle when it comes to optics, and it tends to be their go-to buying option when shopping around for optics, and that’s because the MOAR reticle offers extremely precise and windage hash marks that’s consistent even in extreme long-range shooting conditions.

PROS

  • Ultimate long range riflescope
  • Ideal for any climate
  • Rugged construction

CONS

  • Not suitable for short range use

If you want an AR-15 scope that has an illuminated reticle, then this is it. The Nightforce optics is equipped with an illuminated reticle that provides great visibility even during nighttime, coupled with a massive objective 56mm lens. Allowing you to see a perfectly clear and crisp image even with minimal lighting.

The eye relief of this product is at 3.9 inches, which is more than enough to make it comfortable while also long enough to accommodate and fit a telescoping AR 15 stock. And if you see an optic that has all the features and functions stated above, then it surely has water and fog proofing.

One drawback with this reticle though is that it’s not suited for beginners, and that’s because it’s not straightforward compared to other ready to use straight out of the box reticles, rather, it needs a lot of adjusting to fit your preference. 

6.Trijicon ACOG

The Trijicon ACOG isn’t technically a scope, but rather means for Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, so in actuality, it’s sight rather than a scope. However, ACOG has been recognized to be the apex when it comes to magnified tactical optics, and it has become a staple attachment for the marines and their rifles for more than a decade now.

An ACOG sight’s magnification is set around 4x, which is a mid-range zoom, allowing for more versatility, simplicity, and consistency in short and long ranges. And that’s why professionals prefer to use an ACOG during the competition, and also hunters have started to utilize it as well, because of how versatile these optics are. A 4x magnification is more than enough for shots of over 500 yards, while still be of use during close-quarter situations.

As for the reticle itself, it has a self-illuminated chevron and has hash marks to show the different ranges.

This product also has no problems with illuminating the reticle no matter what time of day, or light setting, and that’s because for daytime shooting, the reticle is illuminated by a fiberoptic daylight collection function and with low low conditions, you can simply equip a tritium insert.

PROS

  • Easy to target 
  • Extremely durable
  • Extraordinary quality construction

CONS

  • A bit pricey

The vertical hash you see in the reticle functions as an overhold mark, while the distances are determined by the range which the sights is zeroed in on. As ACOG is specifically designed for quick and fast shooting from short to mid-range, adjusting isn’t necessary as once it’s zeroed in, compared to other scopes.

When it comes to durability, the Trijicon ACOG never had any issues with it. It can withstand harsh conditions and climate, and the product itself is made to last for several years, and the illumination of the reticle has a guaranteed 7-year life.

7.Leupold VX-R Patrol Riflescope

The seventh product on our list is an AR-15 scope by Leupold. The VX-R Patrol Riflescope is a scope that you can rely on if you find yourself in volatile and unpredictable situations. It offers unmatched accuracy and precision, while its FireDot reticle provides you with eight different configurations to help you zeroed in on your target immediately, even with harsh light conditions. With it being lightweight, it’s perfect to mount on your rifles, be it during a patrol, hunting, or just a day in the range.

The VX-R Patrol Riflescope is equipped with the Twilight Light Management System, that would balance the light out, reduce glare, contrast the image accordingly, and finally display it in an optimal resolution to deliver you a perfectly clear and crisp image, no matter the lighting conditions are.

PROS

  • Long battery life
  • Made of quality aluminum
  • Perfect for low light conditions

CONS

  • No locking ring

Its waterproof and fog proof properties are thoroughly pushed to its limits by submerging it into 33-foot depth water and continuously changing the water pressure. And the same goes for its durability tests. Every rifle scope from Leupold is carefully engineered and designed to withstand five thousand impacts and blows from the Punisher, which is their machine that imitates and simulates recoil. Each impact from the simulate emulates the recoil of a .308 rifle, only it’s multiplied by three.

As for extreme weather and climate conditions, Leupold is already on top of it. Their scopes are thoroughly tested and designed to perform even at -40ºF to 160ºF.

It has magnification capabilities of up to 4x and weighs in at about only 4 ounces, which is very lightweight and won’t affect the way you use your rifles in any way, shape, or form at all.

8.Vortex Optics Viper HS LR Riflescopes

If you want that extra boost of the range that a rifle scope can give you, then there’s no better rifle scope to use than the Vortex Optics Viper HS LR Riflescopes. The LR in this product’s name means long-range, and they totally mean it.

This riflescope is equipped with an exposed turret which is meant to correct and dial in the correct elevation and windage to achieve total accuracy even at an extended range. The turret is also capped to give it that sleek and minimalist look, which also helps in it getting caught less by clothing, bags, cases, and more. 

PROS

  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Scratch resistant coating
  • Advanced optical system

CONS

  • Does not hold zero in

The Viper HS Riflescope is equipped with an advanced optical system that is then highlighted by a magnificent 4x zoom range, which promotes maximum versatility when it comes to zooming prowess. It’s also equipped with a comfortable eye relief that would allow the shooters to zero in on their targets quickly and easily. It’s all built on a single aluminum tube measured at 30mm, to enable easier adjustments for windage and elevation.

 As for the reticle, it’s equipped with an XLR MOA, which is usually meant for long-range scopes, and that’s why it has wind drift dots. This makes it exceptionally great for long-range shots as you can easily calculate bullet drop and holding drop.

9.CenterPoint MSR Rifle Scope

The ninth product on our list is more for those people who just want to have fun and enjoy shooting their guns from time to time just for the enjoyment of it. It’s an AR-15 scope under $100. It doesn’t offer supreme accuracy, but it gets the job done.

The durability of this product is a bit on the weaker side as it’s made out of plastic, so it might break somewhere down the line when you’re using it, and the screws maybe loosen up after a few shots, so it’s best to strengthen the bond with an adhesive, and it’s no surprise given its price point.

But other than that, it’s quite an okay scope to use. It’s equipped with an MOA reticle with a center dot and 3 other dots to determine the range, which makes it a lot easier to aim. A 65 MOA ring for more versatility in your configurations.

PROS

  • Versatile MOA ring
  • Red and green illuminated glass
  • Comes with picatinny rail mount

CONS

  • Does not hold zero

This scope is ideal for short to mid-range shooting as it has an ideal range of 250 yards. Eye relief is somewhat decent and will allow you to focus on your target quick enough. It also comes with a Picatinny rail mounting rings plus lens covers, so that’s a huge plus.

Overall, this product is worth it for its price. It allows you to shoot at close to mid-range, and it can withstand recoil of an AR-15. It’s a great cheap alternative if you’re not heavily invested in the hobby.

10.Aimpoint Micro

If you’re looking for a scope that’s designed solely for hunters, then we’d highly recommend this product, the Aimpoint Micro. It’s the lightest in the market among scopes with red dot sights but is durable enough.

Since it’s inception back in 2007, this scope has become a staple to every hunter, and that’s because it’s the lightweight and compact size. Only weighing at around 3 ounces without the mount, and 4.1 with the mount, it won’t make any significant impact on the weight of your rifle.

The integral Weaver-style design allows the mount to be easily attached to the gun. The ACET technology allows somewhere around fifty thousand hours of operation on a single battery.

PROS

  • Easy to attach
  • 12 different brightness settings
  • 50,000 hours of continuous operation

CONS

  • Red dot appear blurry often

This scope is fully water and fog proof, while the patent-pending mount can be effortlessly keyed into the sights so it can absorb the recoil efficiently. The top of the scope has a turret that allows the user to adjust it according to the windage and elevation.

While the twelve different settings allow you to adjust your reticle accordingly to the lighting conditions, be it in low or daylight.

Buying Guide

AR-15 scopes and scopes, in general, are a very complicated piece of equipment. And lucky for the users, selecting one isn’t as complicated as the instructions on how to use one. There are a few factors that need considering when shopping around for an AR-15 scope, and that is to ensure that you get the best out within your budget.

Magnification

We’ll start with power. When choosing a scope, one thing that you need to take into account is the magnification. If you’re a beginner, you might think that the more magnification a scope has, the better, but if you’re purchasing a scope for hunting, or using it on a moving target, too much magnification might cause a problem. It may be a nuisance when location or trying to zero in on a target.

The higher the magnification, the more impaired your sight is, and the further you see – so keep that in mind. If you’re just going out to a shooting range, then having a long-range magnification is a good thing, and that’s because you have all the time in the world to find your target and align your shot properly.

Some scopes that are available in the market have variable magnification and will allow you to adjust it accordingly to your target, allowing you to cycle through various different magnification settings. This comes in clutch when you’re trying to scout a target and then zoom in more to focus on your target once you find it.

Weight

Some people won’t even consider the weight of scope, especially if it’s unattached to the rifle, but those little things add up and may affect the overall feel of your rifle. If you’re used to having a lightweight scope attached to your rifle, then go for a lightweight one. If you suddenly equip a heavier one or used the iron sights, the changes will throw you off and will greatly affect your performance.

Reticles

An inexperienced shopper or a newbie may not care much about reticles, but if you’re investing quite an amount on a scope, then you should definitely care about it, especially in achieving a great shooting experience.

Reticles have different variants, and different people will prefer different reticles. A dot or a crosshair in a reticle may not matter much how your rifle will perform, but when it comes to the user, it definitely will, depending on your preference and eye conditions.

Some reticles are even equipped with advanced features meant for professionals, and if you become familiar with them, you might become on as well. Such feature is called a bullet drop compensator.

Those little lines or dots indicate the different levels of range. Usually, you use the center dot or the crosshair to locate your target, and once done, you adjust it accordingly with the use of the lines. These lines are best used on targets that are of considerable range, mostly for moving targets – and that’s why it’s imperative that you get the best scope that’ll match your preference if you’re a hunter.

Effective Range

You may have seen the movie about snipers killing a target far away, and shooting a target from a mile away definitely sounds cool, but only if there’s a bullet capable of traveling that far. Since this article is all about AR-15’s, which only fires a .223 or 5.56 NATO round, it’s impossible for that kind of bullet to reach that far.

The maximum effective range of an AR-15 bullet is only 500 meters away for point targets and for area targets, 600 meters which means that buying a scope that has a range of further than 600 meters will be totally unnecessary.

Most experienced hunters or professionals will use their AR-15 rifles to shoot down a target that is more or less than 400 meters away, even less. Make sure that the scope you choose is that within the range of your usual target is.

How AR-15 Scopes Are Better Than Red Dots

Since we’re talking about short to mid-range optics, why not go for a red dot instead? Usually, a red dot would be better, but there are circumstances where an ar-15 scope would be a better option than red dots.

Red dots are great for fast target acquisition, but that’s about it. Its a downside is that the further your target, the more obscured your vision is, and that’s about it. You can’t do anything about it because a red dot isn’t that flexible compared to an ar-15 magnified scope.

While an AR-15 magnified scope, on the other hand, is perfect for short, mid, and long-range shots. You can easily adjust it to your preference, and overall just presents more accuracy, clarity, and precision.

Types of Optics for AR 15

It classified three major types that are, Red dots and reflex sights, Holographic sights or Holo sights and Traditional optics.

Red Dots and Reflex Sights

Red dot sight is a family sight which includes reflex, prism, and holographic sights. Reflex sights are the type of red dot sight. These sights are very small and exposed sights. It uses a small illuminated dot for aiming the object. It doesn’t have magnification, eye relief. These sights are very fast when compared to the red dots. It helps to improve the shooting speed.

Holographic Sights

Holographic sights or holo sights are a more complex pattern with unlimited eye relief. Most of the holographic sights are illuminated. Much like the red dot sight, the holo sights also helps to improve the shooting speed.

Traditional Optics

You can see these optics in normal scopes like hunting rifles, sniper weapons, and low powered scopes. It is the ideal choice for target shooting, hunting. It helps to increase accuracy, and it is a budget-friendly optics.

All the optics offers many features you can choose as per your needs.

Comparison Chart for Best AR 15 Rifle Scope

Product

Magnification

Material

Aim point

UTG

3 to 9 X

Completely Sealed and Nitrogen Filled

14 to 37.7 ft. at 100 yds

Bushnell

1 to 4 X

High-durability aluminum alloy

33 to 110 ft. at 100 yds

Nikon p-223

3 to 9 X

Polymer

11.3 to 33.8 ft. at 100 yds

Vortex

1.75 to 5 X

Polymer

100 yards

Nightforce

5.5 to 22 X

Aircraft grade aluminum

50+ yards

Trijicon

1.25 to 4 X

Polymer, Aluminium

28.9 ft. at 100 yds

Leupold

1.25 to 4 X

Polymer, Aluminium

100 yards to 500 yards

Vortex viper

6 to 24 X

Polymer

50 to infinity

Centerpoint

1 to 4 X

Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy

250 yards

Aimpoint micro

1X

Aluminum

0.5 to 100 yards

How to Use The AR-15 Scope for Beginners

Mounting and Understanding Your Scope 

Most AR-15 rifle scopes will come with a mounting system or a way to attach it to your rifle. If not, it’s important that you purchase a mounting system that would fit your rifle and your scope. If you’re having any troubles, a gunsmith will help you with the job.

Align the Reticle and Adjust Eye-Relief 

A reticle on a scope is the image you see on the lens, which indicates where you’re aiming at, usually a cross or a dot, but there are many variants in the market. Tighten the mounting rings until the reticle is right side up, and once that’s done, adjust the distance of the lens to your eyes accordingly in order for it not to get hit when the rifle recoils.

Familiarize Yourself with The Scope

While there are many different kinds of scopes that are available in the market, most of them will have the same components. Before you take your scope out for a day in the shooting range, make sure that you familiarize what each component does.

Find out the level of magnification your scope has 

One way to determine the strength of magnification that your scope has is to take a look at its model number. It’s where you usually the level of magnification a scope has and also the diameter of its objective lens. A 4 x 30 means the magnification level of scope is 4x what you see with the naked eye, and the thirty stands for the diameter of the objective lens.

Final Words

Overall, the best scope varies from person to person, and it’s usually the one that meets their needs the most. There are several scopes available in the market that’s perfect for different scenarios, and hopefully, this article has helped you in choosing yours.

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