Best AR 15 Scopes And Optics

Choosing the right optics for your rifle is a matter of reviewing mission requirements and evaluating the available scopes. The introduction of the AR-15 type weapons system has made it easier for hunters, marksmen, shooters, and tactical specialists to choose from various AR 15 optics enhancements. The best AR 15 scope is not always the most expensive or the most likely to be used by military units or law enforcement agents; the choice of AR scopes is directly related to the desired outcome.

Optics are designed to assist shooters operate effectively in different environments and under various conditions, but the common goal of all rifle optics is to help shooters improve their aim and the chances of hitting their targets. The effective range of an AR-15 rifle can certainly be improved upon with the right choice of scope, which requires shooters to consider whether certain features will meet their needs in the field or at the firing range.

Top 3 Best Tactical Scopes

  • Magnification: 3 - 12x
  • Length: 12 in
  • Weight: 21.3 oz
  • Field Of View:
       8.5-2.5 @ 100 yds
  • Eye Relief: 3.7 in

Our Rating

  • Magnification: 1x
  • Length: 5.1 in
  • ​Weight: 11.6 oz
  • Field Of View:
       47 feet @ 100 yards
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited

Our Rating

  • Magnification:1x
  • Length: 5.5 in
  • ​Weight: 14 oz
  • Field Of View:
       47.2 feet @ 100 yards
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited

Our Rating

* $$$$ = Under $500
$$$= Under $300
$$ = Under $100

Types of AR-15 Rifle Scopes

As previously mentioned, the AR-15 style of rifle has been widely adopted around the world by military services, police departments, hunting clubs, security firms, and weapons enthusiasts. To this effect, most optics designers these days focus on the AR-15 when creating optics and other accessories.

AR-15 scopes are designed for various purposes. The most common use is for marksmanship, which comes in handy when hunting, at the rifle range or in tactical situations when the acquired targets are at a certain distance away. Other optics make life easier by providing night vision or even the ability to mount a tactical flashlight to illuminate targets. Finally, there are tactical scopes that are meant to be used in close quarters combat as well as other situations when targets are likely to come up fast and close-up.​

When shopping for the best scope for an AR-15 rifle, shooters will encounter the following types:​

  • Compact Optics: These are multipurpose, best-selling optics that come in handy for general shooting.
  • Red Dot Sight Scopes: These are the most ideal scopes for shooters who encounter close quarters situations that require snap shooting. The right red dot scope miounted on an AR-15 can make the weapon feel as nimble and comfortable as a pistol.
  • Sniper Optics: These are ideal for long range targets and are favored by marksmen.
  • Tactical optics: These rugged scopes are ready for active duty and are loaded with features to improve long range shooting, illumination, recoil suppression, and more.

What to Consider When Selecting a Scope for Your AR-15

It is important to consider the following factors when selecting the right scope:


UTG reticle

Shooters who spend time at the rifle range are generally interested in scopes that feature parallax adjustment. Thanks to the parallax feature, modern scopes can be adjusted for sight improvement even after they have been zeroed. This feature is of particular importance for shooting long-range targets.


Fixed power scopes are good for the range, but moving targets may require a variable lens. If you are looking for a tactical home defense scope then you will be aiming for quite a small amount of magnification, possibly as low as 2x.


Some scopes offer just one set of optical crosshairs; others offer alternatives for shooters who expect to encounter a variety of targets. The quality and information provided by the reticle are important factors when selecting a sniper-grade scope.

Objective Diameter

Larger optics are not always heavier. Scopes that feature larger diameters allow more light to pass through their optical structure, which means that they can provide a very clear view in the outdoors, an important aspect for hunters to consider.

Eye Relief

The padding that provides relief and protection to the eye of the shooter. If for some reason an AR-15 reacts with too much recoil, it is important to choose proper eye relief.

Top Three AR-15 Scopes

The following three scopes are among the favorites of AR-15 shooters:

Bushnell AR Optics Drop Zone 223

This scope is manufactured by a very respected name in optics, and it boasts a classic design that will appeal to military veterans and sharpshooters alike. The lens of the Drop Zone 223 is 3-12x 40 mm Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) reticle gives shooters the right amount of magnification and focus on aiming points as far as 500 yards.

Bushnell optics are known to be rugged and moisture-proof, which makes them ideal for hunters. With a weight of less than 22 ounces, the Drop Zone 223 will not slow anyone down, and the classic design of the windage and elevation controls make this scope easy and comfortable to operate in a variety of situations. This high-quality scope is affordable enough to fit in the compact category, but it will also appeal to sharpshooters.

Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

This is one of the best tactical scopes for ar-15 and is deemed to be one of the most reliable red dot sights available. It is used by police departments in the United States, and it is manufactured to deliver nearly mil-spec functionality.

The Aimpoint PRO Patrol is ideal for close quarters situations in urban terrain. This scope is a lot lighter than it appears to be; it weighs only 7.8 ounces but provides a 30 mm field of vision with a large lens and eyepiece for comfortable target acquisition. The energy-efficient electronics of this red dot sight allow three years of continuous use on a single battery.

The reticle shapes and brightness levels can be adjusted for different missions and environments, and every component of this scope is completely waterproof. The Aimpoint PRO Patrol can also be mounted on some shotguns and sub-machine guns.

BARSKA Cross Dot Electro Sight Multi Rail Tactical Scope

Shooters who need a versatile scope on their AR-15 for various missions should strongly consider the BARSKA Cross Dot Electro Sight, which is an affordable piece of optics that can accomplish a lot.

With this scope, BARSKA crosses the line between compact and tactical optics; the Cross Dot Electro provides 1x of magnification with a very clear IR cross dot aiming system that delivers a field of vision of 47.2 feet at 100 yards. This scope will perform well in close quarters and can provide accuracy at medium distances. The 30 mm lens and its housing are just 5.5 inches in length and weigh only 14 ounces.

The versatility of this scope is underscored by its two Picatinny rails on each side of the lens, which allow the expansion of functionality to include a flashlight and even a laser sight, which are included with the scope. This feature is perfect for shooters who would like to use their AR-15 rifles as a weapon for home protection.

With all the above information you are now in a position to choose the best scope for AR 15 rifles that precisely suit your needs. At the top of this page we have our top three recommendations for each of the different uses with a certain amount of overlap conveniently played out with a side by side comparison.

If you do not already own an AR-15 rifle then the following information may help you in understanding how versatile this type of rifle is.

Most Common AR-15 Rifles Available Today

One of the most popular varieties of rifle in production today is the AR-15, which was originally produced in 1959 by the Armalite Company designing small arms for US military purposes. Armalite sold the AR-15 Design plans to Colt who modified the plans to feature the semi-automatic variety so common today.

The AR-15 is a lightweight air-cooled rifle with a rotating lock bolt that is actuated by a piston. The rifle is fed by a magazine cartridge which is available in many different sizes. Due to its success, the AR-15 has been produced in a plethora of different varieties to meet specific situations and demands.

The AR-15 is highly favored for being a reliable piece of equipment with reliability, versatility and practicality. Following is a list of the most common varieties of the AR-15 among experts, military and law enforcement and the fastidious collector alike.

1. Ruger SR-556 Carbine

There is no AR-15 as versatile as the Ruger SR-556 Carbine. This has been chosen by the experts for a number of scenarios ranging from serious defence and duty to hunting and other recreational activities. It is even the rifle of choice for professional marksmen in competitive events.

The AR-15 features an impressive dual-piston system on a 16.12-inch chrome-lined hammer forged mil-spec 41V45 barrel, chrome plated bolt, Hogue Monogrip, one-piece carrier and extractor as well as a light weight hand guard with 2 x 3 inch rail sections.

Consumers who use the Ruger SR-556 say that it is a joy to use, and always receives acclaim for reliability --this is made most evident by the Ruger’s large population of satisfied customers.

2. The Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle

From the producers of some of the finest armaments in the world, the LAR-15 R3 has already seen extensive application in the fields of law enforcement. After an exhaustive review of several options for a tactical standard issue rifle for the DEA and FBI task forces the LAR-15 R3 and Rock River Arms were chosen for patriot contracts.

The LAR-15 R3 is built for exceptional precision and accuracy. It features a 18-inch fluted barrel with a 1:8 twist; the barrel itself is made of cryogenically treated stainless steel. Both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO ammo can be used with the LAR-15 R3

3. Daniel Defense DDM4V9

The Daniel Defense Company was established and is owned by Marty Daniel. Marty Daniel originally founded the company when he was unable to find commercially manufactured components to his beloved M16. Due to Marty’s dedication --but even more so his resourcefulness and creativity - the Daniels Defense company has received international acclaim and become a central figure in the firearms industry.

The DDM4V9 is no less spectacular, as the company's flagship edition, the DDM4V9 is the embodiment of everything we have come to expect out of a quality piece of craftsmanship from Daniels Defense. Featuring a 16-inch cold hammer forged barrel.

Some of the latest versions also sport a whole new design for the buttstock and can actually be custom designed on the company's website to provide the consumer with the rifle that is most appropriate for their specific situation.

The Flexibility Of AR15 Rifles

Now, you don’t have to go complete Rambo style with your AR15, but there are some great accessories that people like to have on their rifles. Because the AR 15 is such a popular weapon there is absolutely no shortage of gear and accessories to improve your rifle.

The improvements you can make can be for any of the following reasons:

  • Increase/decrease weight
  • Provide more accuracy
  • Longer/shorter barrels
  • Personalize the rifle
  • Comfort

1 - Weight

Dependent on your use a heavier or lighter rifle will be something you want to change. This can be achieved by using different high tech materials or cut out stocks. We have met many hunters who prefer something light for long hunting trips, while target and competitive shooters will want something more solid to cater their needs.

There are hundreds of different stocks, some of which even cost more than the basic rifle itself, so there is something for everyone. Rather than give you a list of recommendations here we suggest that you go to a gun store or gun smith and try out some different stocks to get the optimum weight for you.

2 - Grips

For the most part a standard grip will be perfectly suitable for the average person. However, if you larger or smaller than average hands the grip can become cumbersome and even a hindrance when pulling the trigger. If you are not 100% comfortable with the grip then make sure you seek out alternatives.

You can go as far as having a grip custom made by creating a mold of your hand. This is expensive, but provides for a great feel on the trigger.

3 - Barrels

The length of the barrel is customizable and dependent on your intended use you may want a short or long barrel. Shorter barrels are ideal for home defence and use in combat like situations. Longer barrels will provide increased accuracy for hunting and target shooting. Some people opt for two ARs, one for defence and one for hunting, which is possibly the best way to accommodate both. If you are a very accurate shot then an average length will be a good compromise and will not sacrifice too much accuracy.

4 - Laser Guides

These are ideal for close combat and home defence and are used heavily by special law enforcement departments. They are actually rather simple devices and can be easily mounted and configured. If you think you might need one then you should check out the tactical scopes we recommend above where you can have a scope and laser guide in one, providing best of both worlds.

5 - Triggers

This is very much a personal preference, but the trigger is something many people customize. Some people like more resistance and some less, so just figure out what suits you better. Competitive shooters and military/law enforcement snipers generally prefer something light and smooth. As with any accessory, you get what you pay for.

6 - Muzzle Devices

These are more important than many people think and for just a few Dollars you can make a big difference. Their intention is to reduce flash and recoil as well as sound suppression or any combination of the three. Competitive shooters often opt for muzzles that reduce recoil, but these are generally a lot louder due to their design. This however does alow the shooter to remain closer to target for repeated shots.

7 - Slings

The Daniel Defense Company was established and is owned by Marty Daniel. Marty Daniel originally founded the company when he was unable to find commercially manufactured components to his beloved M16. Due to Marty’s dedication --but even more so his resourcefulness and creativity - the Daniels Defense company has received international acclaim and become a central figure in the firearms industry.

8 - Receivers

Along with stocks and barrles this is where there is most diversity and availability. Unless you have some very specific ammunition and cartridge needs this is usually not something you need to worry about much. While most upper and lower receivers are designed to be compatible even between manufacturers, it is recommended to buy these as a pair. Your local gun store will be able to help you with the different options as well as assembly.

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