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The question of, Which is the (Best AR-15 Scope) can turn into a seriously long conversation if you allow it to. Our team here at Hunters Pulse has put in hundreds of hours doing the research and actually testing several different makes and models of scopes for an AR-15. We have researched (Red Dot Scopes), Holographic Scopes, and every other type of scope you can think of, on our journey for finding the best rifle scopes
If you are confused about the best scope for AR-15 platform firearms do not feel alone. The options of AR-15 scopes are overwhelming! Most people cannot afford to keep buying scope after scope until they find the one that suits their needs.
Let’s face it, Hunting Optics can be expensive! By answering some questions, you should be able to find the best AR-15 scope for your rifle. Remember that you get what you are paying for.
We are not saying to you should rush out and buy the most expensive scope you can find. However, the cheapest might not be the best option either. You need to beware of the craftsmanship and the sometimes, unnecessary features. For the experienced gun owner, some of this information will be basic. But here at Hunter’s Pulse, we want to educate as well as give reviews. At the end of this article, we will review what is hot right now in AR-15 red-dot sights and scopes.
In a Hurry? Here is a Quick look at The Best AR-15 Scopes:
Best AR-15 Scope Platforms and Uses:
What is your planned use for your AR-15 rifle?
AR-15 is a platform that can come in a variety of calibers. The planned use of the rifle will determine the caliber and the desirable optics. Will the AR-15 be used for home protection, competition shooting, hunting, or plinking at targets? Knowing the nature of the target and having a basic idea of how far the target will be, will give you a better idea of what will be the best AR-15 scope to purchase.
Best AR-15 scope Close range: 0 to 100 yards
The best scope for AR-15 firearms used at close range is a red dot sight. A red dot sight is usually best for home defense, self-defense, close-range competitions, and close-range hunting. They are 1x without magnification, so they can be used for distances passed 100 yards, but are not as precise. A magnifier accessory can be added for an additional cost. The shooter has to rely on the strength of their own eyesight to focus on the target. The illuminated reticle aids in quick target acquisition.
Best AR-15 Scope Close to medium range: 0 to 300 yards:
Hunting and some competition shooting will require a magnified scope that will help with target acquisition at 0 to 300 yards. A good example of this is the hunter in the tree stand that needs a scope that can be turned down to 1x magnification to see the deer as it walks under the tree. That same hunter might need to turn up the magnification to see a deer, as it enters the field on the opposite side from where the tree stand is. Magnification can assist a hunter to adjust the clarity of the scope for their own eyesight. The best scope for AR-15 firearms used at close to medium range will need to be lightweight, easy to maneuver and have fast target acquisition.
Best AR-15 Scope Medium to long range:
Medium to long range scopes will be used for distances from 300 to 600 yards or more. They require a higher choice of magnification. Even at the lowest setting, they are still magnified, which is why they are not preferable at close ranges. The objective will be larger, in order to control the amount of light transmitted thru the scope and will result in a wider field of view. This allows the shooter to be able to see the target even when fully magnified. The larger objective can make these scopes slightly heavier. These scopes are often used in long-range shooting competitions or shooting that deer or elk at 500 to 600 yards.
What are the Ar-15 scope specifications?
Magnification and objective lens specification
In order to decide which is the best AR-15 scope, you need to understand the specification numbers for the scope. For example, it may read 1x9x20. The first two numbers refer to the magnification. In this case, the scope will be a zero magnification at 1. The second number indicates that the scope is adjustable from 2 to 9 magnification. The last number is the size of the objective lens in mm. The objective is the end of the scope that is opposite of the eyepiece. A larger objective lens allows for more light to enter the scope. If you hunt in low light conditions you may want a larger objective lens.
Parallax adjustment for the reticle: MOA vs. Mil-Dot
There are also specifications for precise windage and elevation adjustments. This is also called the parallax adjustment of the reticle. These maybe MOA (Minute-of-Angle) or Mil-dot.
MOA = Minute-of-Angle:
A scope with MOA adjustment has a 1-inch adjustment at 100 yards. You can adjust the impact over, up, or down 1 inch for each full MOA adjustment. Most scopes will have the MOA divided into smaller hash marks for more precise adjustment. Larger MOA adjustments will affect how much target is covered. For example, 3 MOA would cover 3″ at 100 yards, 6″ at 200 yards, and 9″ at 300 yards.
Mil-Dot adjustments are typically used for shooting at ranges where the target is measured in meters. They can be difficult for those who aren’t super familiar with the metric system. These are a good choice for the target shooter that wants a lot of versatility for precise shooting.
What type of reticle do you prefer?
The reticle is the image you see when you look down the scope. Traditionally they are called cross hairs because for generations that is all that was available. Now there are 4 basic types of reticles to choose from. This is constantly changing as scope manufactures listen to their customers and try to improve their products in a very competitive market. The choice of reticle you will need for your AR-15 scope will come down to personal preference and use of the firearm.
Duplex reticles have a vertical line that crosses the center of the horizontal line just like traditional cross hairs. But these reticles take this one step farther by having thicker lines at the sides and thinner lines in the middle. They need to be sighted in at 100 yards and manually adjusted for bullet drop and windage. They do NOT have any marking for the bullet drop and windage like some reticles have. These types of reticles are good for smaller calibers and situations where you want some magnification. These are common reticles on rifles used in hunting at medium ranges.
BDC = bullet drop compensating reticle:
BDC reticles have hash tag lines below the center of the crosshairs. First, the scope needs to be zeroed in at 100 yards at the center of the crosshairs. Then each line below represents an additional 100 yards. They are excellent for long range hunting and 3-gun competitions. The one drawback is that they are typically designated to a specific caliber and ammo speed. If you need to buy different ammo, because your supplier doesn’t carry that one anymore, you will possibly need to get a different scope altogether.
This type of reticle is similar to the BDC reticle with one big difference. The lines on the reticle match adjustments on the turrets for elevation and windage. When you make adjustments to zero in the scope the lines in the reticle also adjust. This allows for you to be able to adjust the scope for any caliber and ammo speed.
EBR-2 and EBR-7 reticles:
These types of reticles are the same as the EBR-1 but add dots to either side of the center line to allow for windage. The best EBR reticle for your AR-15 scope comes down to personal preference.
Red dot sight:
A red dot sight is very handy for close range shooting, such as home defense or close target competition. They have very little to no magnification depending on the sight. There are magnifier accessories that can be added for an additional cost. Both eyes are used to acquire your target, unlike a traditional scope, where you close one eye and focus with the other. The red dot is illuminated for quick and easy target acquisition.
Best AR-15 Scope Lens Coatings:
The coating on a scope refers to the lens coating. It is used to reduce light loss and reduce glare. Lens Coating is also designed to help make the lenses scratch resistant. Quality AR-15 Scopes will have o-rings sealing the tubes and will be charged with an inert gas , such as Argon to remove any debris or dust particles from contaminating or fogging up the internal surfaces of the glass.
The quality of the coating depends on the glass quality and coating applications. Here is where spending a little more for the best AR-15 scope will be worth the money. The following is a simple explanation of coating specifications.
- Coated – single layer on at least one lens surface on the scope
- Fully Coated – single layer on all glass surfaces exposed to air
- Multicoated – multiple layers on at least one lens surface
- Fully multicoated – multiple layers on all air to glass surfaces
Best AR-15 Scope and Your budget:
For most of us, the most important question when purchasing the best scope for AR-15 firearms is our budget. Scopes come in several different configurations and price ranges from as low as sixty dollars to as high as a couple of thousand dollars. We have done the serious legwork for you. When you are done here, you will be able to make an Informed decision when you purchase the Best AR-15 Scope to suit your needs.
Best Ar-15 Scope Reviews:
1: Best Budget Red Dot Sight
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope is the top budget red dot sight. This sight is compatible with pistols, shotguns, rifles, and muzzleloaders.
Bushnell’s 50 years of dedication to quality optics makes this an ideal red dot for the buyer who doesn’t have a huge budget.
The durable construction and versatility of the TRS-25 make it one of the best scopes for your AR-15. Engineered with Amber-Bright optics and 11 brightness settings, the TRS-25 assists in quick target acquisition even in low-light conditions.
Key Features and Benefits of the Bushnell Trophy:
- 3 MOA Red Dot
- Multi-coated lenses
- Amber-Bright™ high contrast lens coating
- 100% waterproof/fog proof/shockproof construction
- CR2032 battery for extended battery life
- Easy to mount with most Picatinny rails
- Unlimited eye relief for easy two eye use
- 11 brightness adjustments for the right setting in any situation
- Rubber scope cover
- Quality at a low cost
- Can be used on all types of firearms
- Brightness setting for all types of lighting conditions
- High contrast lens coating
- Water/fog/shock proof
- Easy to mount on picatinny rails
- Mount riser has to be purchased separately
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope is a good investment for someone who doesn’t have a huge budget. You will be able to shoot in a multitude of lighting conditions on multiple types of firearms. We recommend this as the best AR-15 red dot scope for a budget savvy buyer.
2. Best overall performing red dot sight
Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights wins the best AR 15 scope category of Best overall performing red dot sight.
Rapid target acquisition is provided by a 3 MOA dot. Precise aiming for windage and elevation can be made with easily accessible 1 MOA adjustments. You can choose between manual brightness adjustment or auto-brightness mode. Durable and lightweight the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight comes with a Picatinny mount.
- 3 MOA Red Dot Sight
- Aluminum housing
- Fully mulit-coated lenses
- Wide field of view
- 10 brightness levels
- Auto-brightness mode via ambient light sensor
- 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments
- CR1632 battery
- Waterproof/fog-proof/shockproof construction
- Mountable on rifle, pistol, or shotgun
- Comes with a Picatinny mount
- 3 MOA Red Dot Sight
- Durable build
- Auto and manual brightness modes
- Comes with Picatinny mount for rifle, pistol, or shotgun
- Up to 30,000 hours of CR1632 battery life at lowest setting
- Only 150 hours of battery life at the highest setting
If you are looking for a red dot sight that will allow for precise aiming for windage and elevation the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight is an excellent choice. The durable, and weatherproof build, along with the auto and manual brightness modes, making this the best overall performing red dot AR-15 scope.
3. Best AR 15 scope from 0 to 300 yards
Monstrum Tactical G2 1-4×24 First Focal Plane (FFP) Rifle Scope with Illuminated BDC Reticle is our choice for Best AR-15 Scope from 0 to 300 yards.
This scope is built to deliver premium and consistent performance for a very reasonable price tag. The first focal plane rangefinder reticle assists in quick range estimation and holdover correction. The scope has ½ MOA windage and elevation adjustment that are resettable to zero.
- 1 x4 magnification with a 24 mm objective lens
- 4-4.5 in eye relief
- First focal plane rangefinder reticle (remains constant regardless of magnification)
- Illuminated reticle in both red and green with multiple setting
- 30 mm tube made up of aircraft grade aluminum
- Water and fog resistant
- Includes high profile Picatinny scope rings
- Detachable filter sunshade
- Flip-up lens covers
- Runs on CR2032 battery
4. All around Best Bargain AR 15 scope
The shooter who needs an all-around scope, but has a limited budget, should consider the UUQ 4-16×50 Tactical Rifle Scope Red/Green Illuminated Range Finder Reticle W/RED(Green) Laser and Holographic Reflex Dot Sight. One of the Best Bargains we have found.
Attached to the top of the scope is a HD103/HD104 – Holographic Red Dot Sight for shooting from 0 to 100 yards. The scope is magnified from 4-16 with an objective of 50 mm. This magnification makes this an excellent choice for long-range shooting. The distance of the lasers is from 300 -500m
- Magnification: 4x-16x
- 50 mm objective lens
- Wide Field of view
- Impact point correction per click (mm/100 m): 7 ; (in/100 yds): 0.25
- Max. elevation/windage adjustment range (m/100 m): 1.2 ; (ft/100 yd): 3.6
HD103/HD104 – Holographic Red Dot Sight
- Dot Color: red & green
- Magnification: 1x
- Objective Diameter: 0.9in/22mm
- Length: 3.2in/82mm
- Rail Size: 11 or 22 mm
- Brightness Control:5 levels unlimited brightness control
- Reticle Pattern: 4
Red Laser Sight
- Red Laser Class: 3R(IIIa) approved by FDA
- Length: 29mm
- Maximum Output Power: ≤ 5 mw
- Wavelength: 625~660nm
- Tube Diameter: 16mm
- Laser Distance:50-300m
Green Laser sight
- Laser Class: 3R(IIIa) approved by FDA
- Standard 22 mm mount rail
- Length: 29mm
- Maximum Output Power: ≤ 5 mw
- Wavelength: 520~550nm
- Tube Diameter: 26mm
- Aluminum Construction Windage and elevation adjustable
- Laser Distance:300-500m
- Great customer service
- Unlimited shooting options
- Great value for the price
- Easy to mount
- Easy to sight in
- Attaches to Picatinny rails
- Will slide if not mounted correctly (suggest using thread lock to secure the scope to your rifle)
- Some buyers complain about the laser not working but customer service honored their warranty and worked quickly to fix any problems.
The combination of these features coupled with a Very Reasonable price tag makes this our choice for All around Best Bargain AR-15 scope for Shooters and Hunters alike.