Outdoor Optics Scopes

2020’s Best AR-15 Scopes For An Accurate Target At Hunting Trips

It took me a bit to figure out what AR stood for. Initially, I was on the wrong track thinking that AR stands for ArmaLite rifle, the Company that came up with the AR-style of rifle back in 1950. The ArmaLite is a semi-automatic rifle which means that at the pull of the trigger, only one round is discharged. But this is a coincidence.

When we are talking riflescopes, AR stands for an automatic rifle. Though telescopic sights have been around, modern technology has transformed them into superlative scopes such as red dot sights, traditional magnified optics, low-light/night vision optics and more.

A plethora of attachments and accessories have refined the riflescope to an infallible status without which a shooter would be practically shooting blind. We have imparted an in-depth descriptive analysis to assist you in understanding the workings of the individual components which should dispel any confusion in your mind when you are ready to go and grab that best AR 15 scope.

Top AR-15 Scopes : Comparison Chart

Pick NameThumbnailProduct NamePrice
Overall BestVortex Optics Crossfire II 1-inch Tube RiflescopesCheck Price
For the Budget-ConsciousUTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster ScopeCheck Price
Advanced ChoiceTrijicon ACOG 3.5×35 RiflescopesCheck Price
Beginner’s ChoiceUTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact ScopeCheck Price
Multifunctional ChoiceATN X-Sight II HD 3-14Check Price
6thVortex Optics Spitfire EBR-556B Reticle (MOA)Check Price
7thNikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte RiflescopeCheck Price
8thNikon Buckmasters II, 4-12x40mmCheck Price
9thVortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane RiflescopesCheck Price
10thBushnell Optics Drop Zone Reticle RiflescopeCheck Price
11thVortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane RiflescopesCheck Price
12thBurris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mmCheck Price

Why Follow Our Lead

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How We Made Our Scope Selection

Over the years, we’ve developed a comprehensive product selection and testing procedure based on trial and error. Initially we conducted a 22-hour long research online and singled out the most popular scopes for AR rifles that today’s market had to offer. Then with the involvement of our volunteers, we tested every model at our favorite shooting ranges.

It took us around 4 weeks to get it done and by then, we got a clear idea about the level of accuracy and the overall performance of those scope models. We championed the top 10 choices based on these findings.

But that was not all. We then contacted other veteran marksmen we personally knew and asked for their opinions about our shortlist. As we had expected, they too were very positive about our findings that gave us the go to represent this list to you.

FOr your information, we tried these scopes on several AR rifles manufactured by both top-and mid-tier brands like Colt, Larue, Noveske, Rainier Arms, Bushmaster, Stag, Delton, Smith & Wesson, Aero Precision, Anderson, and Ruger.

1 Overall Best: Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-inch Tube Riflescopes

Vortex spells quality and they have incorporated many features in this low powered scope.

The 1-4x is for short-and mid-range shooting. The scope is constructed of a single tube from aircraft-grade aluminum. Both shock-proof performance and strength are assured. Nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed, the Crossfire II is fog-and water-resistant.

The magnification range is 4-12x and the objective is 24mm. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle supports varying ranges.

The eye relief is long. Getting a sight picture is swift and easy to acquire. The reticle focusing is provided with a fast-focus eyepiece.

Fully multi-coated lenses are anti-reflective and provide crystal-clear bright views for the user. The reset turrets are capped and are adjustable by finger with MOA clicks that after sighting in can be reset to zero.

Having nominated the Vortex Optics Crossfire II as our top Choice, we need to justify our research.

The lenses are splendid, durable and the reticle is illuminated but lens caps are not provided.

This is not for use on scout type rifles as the image will wash out with higher magnification. The red dot works flawlessly. Also, the zero holds true after sighting in.

It is a well-engineered product and overall, we stand by the Vortex Optics Crossfire II. It’s a winner hands down.

The Crossfire II has a Dead-Hold BDC reticle for shooting at various ranges. The BugBuster is armed with a mil-dot reticle. Mounting it was easy. The magnification and objective settings are user friendly. The BugBuster is used for medium to long-range whereas the Crossfire II is more suited for short to medium range.

The Vortex Crossfire II is highly rated and has a price range from $120-$220.

Specifications

  • Magnification 2-7x
  • Objective 32mm
  • Eye relief 4 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 96.2-24.1 feet
  • Parallax setting 100 yards
  • Length 9.61 inches
  • Adjustment graduation ½ MOA

Pros

  • Affordable
  • BDC and illuminated reticle option
  • Zero resettable turrets
  • Lifetime transferable warranty

Cons

  • Glass not good enough on high magnification

Our Verdict

TheVortex Crossfire II is durable enough for most range shooting and hunting. But if you intend to really put it through the grind, you should contemplate on getting yourself a higher-end scope. The turret dial is squishy and there are no clicks.

The Vortex Lifetime is reliable and you have no fears on that count. The Vortex Crossfire II is worth its price but for a few bucks more, the Vortex Diamondback is a better buy.

2 For the Budget-Conscious: UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

When it comes to looking for a budget-friendly rifle scope for the AR-15, the UTG is among the more favored and is worth checking out.

The Bug Buster is a hardy, versatile scope. The exterior tube is 1-inch, 9.8 inches long and weighs 13.9 ounces. The lens coating is made of emerald for ultimate light transmission with a 2-inch sunshade. Two heavy-duty mounting rings and two lens caps that flip open are provided.

The scope is variable and includes a 32mm objective lens with 3-9x magnification. This is an ideal magnification range for both mid and long-range. Generous eye relief is provided.

A mil-dot reticle for range estimating is fitted. The scope comes with an impressive dual green/red illumination. Illumination is adjusted by means of a side control wheel.

The turrets of the UTG Bug Buster are lockable and resettable, permitting adjustments to windage and elevation.

Different weather conditions do not adversely affect this scope as it is totally sealed and filled with nitrogen.

This is the product we narrowed down as our Budget choice. We ran our own trials on the Bug Buster and found it delivers big. It mounts easily and can be used both for hunting and shooting. As far as durability and toughness go, it passes with flying colors.

High-quality materials were used for its construction. Recoil and battering have also been rigorously tested.

A rather grave problem we faced was the windage setting, even at 25 yards was quite off.

The scope zeroes well, the turret moves fluidly with smooth, sharp clicks. The magnification adjustment proved a bit stiff. Higher magnification introduces blurry black edges.

The ocular rings are trouble-free and the scope looks and feels well made.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3-9x
  • Objective 32mm
  • Eye relief 3.2-4.2 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 14-37.7 feet
  • Parallax setting 3 yards to infinity
  • Length 8.11 inches
  • Adjustment graduation ¼ MOA
  • Weight 13.9 0z.
  • Reticle RGB mil-dot

Pros

  • Good pricing
  • Zero reset/ lockable turret
  • RGB Swat (Side Wheel Adjustable Turret) illumination
  • TS (True Strength) Platform
  • Included rings

Cons

  • None that we could think of

Our Verdict

We wonder if there is anything they have missed out in adding to the features; emerald coating that offers effective light-transmission, zero resettable & lockable turrets, 1/4 MOA for every click adjustment, Mil-dot reticle and what not. On top of that, its track record is enviable. This scope is well suited for competitive shooting and home defense. Vortex is a reliable brand and so is this money-saver!

3Advanced Choice: Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 Riflescopes

The Trijicon ACOG is an insanely durable and combat driven scope. .

The ACOG is short for Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight it was designed specifically for the US Military, in particular, The Navy Seals for a long time. It’s housing of top-quality forged aircraft-grade aluminum. The lens is of multiple coatings that supplement its strength. It is waterproof and shockproof and it can handle a few bumps and thumps without any adverse effects.

The magnification of the Trijicon scope is a fixed 3.5x. In case you’re wondering if this magnification is a little miserly, the low power has been chosen, because the scope can then be deployed rapidly at targets close enough.

The illumination for this scope is battery-less. The illumination for the Trijicon ACOG is dual; fiber optics and TrItium. The fiber optics swing into play in daylight brightness and the Tritium glows in low light conditions. This incredible scope comes with 10 reticle options and 3 color alternatives. (red, green and amber)

The Trijicon ACOG is our Advanced choice. Based on the brightness conditions, this optic will auto adjust the illumination. The battery is illumination-free.  The sight picture is amazingly clear and there is no strain or fatigue.

To tally it all up, the 3.5×35 is one combat-proven optic that most consider the best in its class.

We undertook a comparison of two products in the same genre; The Trijicon ACOG and the Vortex Viper Gen II, worthy rivals. The means of reticle illumination are different, the ACOG stealing the march here.

The lens on the Viper is stellar. We were overawed. This is the most expensive of all the products we have chosen and being a premium product, hence few takers we guess.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3.5x
  • Objective 35mm
  • Eye relief 2.4 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 28.9 feet
  • Material Forged Aluminum
  • Length 8 inches
  • Adjustment at 100 yards 3 clicks
  • Weight 14 0z.
  • Reticle RGB mil-dot

Pros

  • Adjustable scope magnification
  • Super durable optic
  • Integrated rangefinder
  • Dual illumination
  • Mount included

Cons

  • Less peripheral view
  • No solid reticle

Our Verdict

Not for nothing has the Trijicon ACOG earned the respect of many users. As the choice armament of the Navy Seals, it proves its pedigree. It is a tactical scope that can also be used for hunting and shooting. Some may complain that the magnification is on the lower side but this is a tactical scope. It is combat proven and comes with a high price tag.

4 Beginner’s Choice: UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

For a memorable hunting experience, a great riflescope is a must. Just team it with a fabulous rifle, and sit back. This is the reason why the UTG 30mm SWAT 3-12X44 with its compact scope and AO Mil-dot has a considerable fan-following amongst hunters.

Its specific purpose is tactical hunting, predator hunting and also hunting big game.

The turret is zero resetting and target zero locking. By adjusting these features, your target aiming will be bang on. A parallax range of between 10yards and infinity works great.

The IE (Illumination Enhancing) reticle is another prime feature. This customizes the illumination and multi-color mode with a spectrum that has 36 colors.

The UTG scope has emerald coated lenses and these top-rated optics come with lenses that are multi-colored. A glare avoiding angled sunshade with flip open lens caps is fitted.

And now let’s take a good look at our Beginner’s choice, the UTG Compact scope. We loved the feature whereby the illumination is non-stop. This is also when experiencing heavy recoil. .

The glass is clean, holds zero wonderfully and the brightness is more than one can expect. The focus knob positioned on the left is wonderful. If you are on a budget and also aiming for accuracy, this scope will have you doing hoops. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

We are pitting two products of the same manufacturer into the arena, the UTG BugMaster (Budget Choice) and the UTG 30mm Compact Scope (Beginners choice), both inexpensive scopes, to start with.

The mil-dot reticle of both is a great hit amongst hunters. The Compact has a zero-reset and a zero lock facility. Mostly, they are evenly matched and are joint winners.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3-12x
  • Objective 44mm
  • Eye relief 84mm to 72mm
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 34-8.4 feet
  • Material Forged Aluminum
  • Length 356 mm
  • Parallax setting 10 yards to infinity
  • Weight 23.2 oz.
  • Reticle Illumination Enhancing

Pros

  • Wider field of view
  • Illuminated, multi-color reticle
  • Solid turrets
  • Versatile parallax adjustment
  • Eye relief range forgiving

Cons

  • Large objective lens
  • Light transmission can be better.

Our Verdict

The UTG Compact scope is touted as an entry-level scope but judging by the number of goodies packed in, we are a bit bewildered. This scope has been tried and tested in all forms of use be it hunting for predators and even big game which is a dead giveaway to its superior versatility. At under 200 USD, it’s economically priced keeping in mind that the target audience would be beginners. A word of caution, make sure the scope and your rifle are compatible.

5 Multifunctional Choice: ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14

best ar scopes: ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14

Riflescope technology has traveled a long way over the years. Thermal imaging, nocturnal vision, and smart scopes are the stuff of science fiction. The AXN X-Sight II is a smart Day/Night Rifle Scope.

The ATN X-Sight combines digital imaging technology with the features of the rifle scope.

The magnification of this scope is 3-14x.

The night vision at HD standard, targets are visible in any condition of lighting. This night vision can be gained in green or black and white.

The X-Sight II is also a digital camera. It can take high quality still pictures and the camera records at 1080p resolution, is also WiFi-enabled and can stream directly to another device.

Probably the best AR15 scope out there, it permits you to automatically calculate the distance to the target you are aiming at with the built-in rangefinder.

The scope also contains a built-in ballistic calculator. This gizmo integrates  the variables in your bullets trajectory and advises you where to hold to make long-range shots.

The ATN X-sight is our Multifunctional choice because we discovered it is indeed worthy of being called a smart scope. The image quality was excellent though we observed some blurring at 14x (which is to be expected). The zoom worked well and the picture quality was exceptional.

The night vision quality exceeds expectations though there’s no thermal. The recoil activated video though turned out mediocre. This scope is a battery guzzler. A micro-SD card should have been included but isn’t.

There is no windage or elevation setting. Zeroing is by auto-calibration. If your AR15 has a carry handle, it will still work.

We can convincingly say, the ATN X-Sight is what it claims to be. It is an exceptional riflescope.

Its closest rival is the Burris 200261 which is cheaper. It performs well though and though can’t be said to be at par with the ATN, is still an all-rounder.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3-14x
  • Objective 50mm
  • Eye relief 65mm
  • Field of view 9 degrees
  • Material Aluminum
  • Length 294 mm
  • Focus range 10 m to infinity
  • Weight 2.15 lb
  • Battery life 6 hours

Pros

  • Night vision capability
  • Built-in rangefinder and ballistic calculator
  • Record HD videos and photos
  • Stream to other devices
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Adds weight to the rifle
  • Requires frequent battery changes

Our Verdict

That the ATN X-Sight is described as a multifunctional choice is apt. It is truly a smart scope and accordingly outplays the competition on several fronts. The day/night vision, the ballistic calculator, the in-built camera; you name it. At the price it is offered at, one would be tempted to grab it. But a sensible choice would be to take your time, try the features, read as many reviews as you can before you make a move.

6 Vortex Optics Spitfire EBR-556B Reticle (MOA)

best ar scopes: Vortex Optics Spitfire EBR-556B Reticle (MOA)

Vortex Optics have recently gained ground as the manufacturers of the superb optic around the world.

The Spitfire 3x is devised to function as the optic that any rifle utilizing a 5.56 cartridge The Spitfire 3x has high recoil potential and is a good fit for semi-automatic weapons. Its uses are multifarious- hunting, tactical shooting, police work and competitions as the precision of its targeting aim and accuracy is peerless.

The Vortex Spitfire optic’s weight is 12.2 oz.and 5.5 inches in length.

It was devised as a near replacement to an ACOG optic, though unfairly alluded to as the “poor cousin of the ACOG”.

The Spitfire has a fixed sight magnification but it does its task as a mid-range top-quality gun with aplomb. This sight is well-matched with other rifles that take a 5.56 caliber cartridge. It is a workhorse in tough conditions and handles high recoil efficiently, which makes semi-automatic weapons compatible with it.

The optic holds zero unerringly while the EBR-556B (Enhanced Battle Reticle) reticle is matchless in making distance measurements striking the target accurately. The reticle can be used at differing ranges using the varied markings. You can pick between many illumination colors. Five intensity levels are present. This really works wonders for divergent lighting conditions.

What grabbed us straight up was the ‘always ready platform’ of this beauty. We found this rifle scope pretty underrated. For many years, fixed prism scopes have been on the top of the game owing to simplicity, compact and reliable design. This culminates in the Spitfire 3x. The custom BDC reticle takes out any guesswork from 0-500 yards.

It is a mid-range scope with a lifetime warranty.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3x fixed
  • Objective 32 mm
  • Eye relief 2.8 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 31.5 feet
  • Material Aluminum Alloy
  • Length 5.5 inches
  • Adjustment click value ½ MOA
  • Weight 15.4 oz.
  • Reticle EBR-556B MOA

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Independent reticle
  • Flip caps
  • Adjustment for height
  • Five brightness settings
  • Prism Optics

Cons

  • Weight on the heavier side
  • Fixed magnification

Our Verdict

Vortex Optics is always a reliable brand and this scope lives up to anyone’s expectations. It can be fitted on a wide variety of rifles. The batteries are powerful that last between 150-3000 hours depending on usage. The reticle may appear thinner or smaller, especially for older shooters. These scopes have pedigree and are the last word in ruggedness. Make sure you are buying your scope from an authorized dealer or your warranty is void.

7 Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope

best ar scopes: ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope

Nikon is a name that does not come as a surprise to anyone. Their skill is carved in stone. The Nikon Prostaff Rimfire 3-9x 40 is from their stables.

Though this scope is inexpensive, full functionality is guaranteed and the device is made to last given its rugged durability. It is patented by Nikon’s full lifetime warranty.

The parallax is set at 50 yards so if you are sighting at 25 yards or less, you could experience blurring as parallax adjustment is not possible. It is crucial that the rifle, scope, and bullets are matched.

Nitrogen -purging ensures that the seals do not allow any moisture making the scope totally fog-free.

The ProStaff 3-9 rifle scope supplies a BDC reticle that is 22 LR-specific. The parallax setting is 50 yards. The zero-reset turrets are spring-loaded.

Nikon’s multicoated lenses render an exclusive sight picture. The optical system that is fully multi-coated provides light transmission up to 98%. The eye relief of this rimfire scope is a comfortable 3.6 inches.

A fair review means refusing to be browbeaten. Sure, it’s a Nikon and great scope for a .22.The scope was crystal clear and focused steadily. The BDC reticle was wonderful. We discovered that it was possible to transmit to the Nikon website that will calculate ranges and hold points in the BDC.

Parallax adjustment is not provided which is a bit of a letdown. We say, with much confidence that you cannot source a scope at this price.The Burris 200621 and the Spitfire 3x compare well being in the same price range; the former a little under $350, the later a little under $400.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3-9x
  • Objective 40 mm
  • Eye relief 3.6 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 33.8-11.3 feet
  • Material Aluminum Alloy
  • Length 12.4 inches
  • Adjustment click value ¼ MOA
  • Weight 13.7 oz.
  • Reticle BDC
  • Parallax setting 100 yards

Pros

  • Easy to set up and adjust
  • The Spot on software makes it super accurate
  • Takes less zeroing time with the auto-adjust turrets
  • Good value for the money

Cons

  • At close range, the scope may be blurry
  • No installation rings provided

Our Verdict

Once in a while, you come across a scope that leaves your jaw-dropping. This is a modern rifle scope for sale with infinite quality. Almost all the features described on this AR 15 optics review score heavily. To achieve the maximum performance, it is highly desirable that rifle, scope and ammo match. If the scope you’re looking for demands perfection and affordability, you won’t be disappointed.

8 Nikon Buckmasters II, 4-12x40mm

best ar scopes: Nikon Buckmasters II, 4-12x40mm

Nikon is a name you are familiar with and this riflescope runs out the competition. The Nikon Buckmasters II is Nikon’s top launch.

With a 40mm objective lens and magnification range 4-12x, the picture is crystal clear, your target cannot elude you.

The Buckmasters II comes with a brawny, durable body structure.

The Nikon riflescope harvests light which enables shooting even if it’s dark outside. The optical system being multi-coated has the means to transmit 98% light irrespective of the ambient light.

Generous eye relief of 3.7 inches has been incorporated. .

This scope’s tube is nitrogen-filled, insurance against fogging over, shockproof and waterproof. .

Hitherto, long-range shooting was a bit problematic. The built-in BDC allows exceeding this range. A ballistic circle view is incorporated. Adjusting for around 300 yards is simple.

This scope is provided with a spring-loaded knob integral with the zero-reset knob. Excessive sunlight is a deterrent for the shooter and the adjustable sunshade.

We know for a fact that the Nikon Buckmaster II was a rifle scope much coveted. Our review made it amply clear that at the price offered, holding back could be a disaster.

The two scopes we could not resist to compare are the Buckmaster II and the Nikon Prostaff. The Buckmaster II has a greater magnification and the reticle is standard BDC. The Prostaff is equipped with the BDC LR-22 reticle. One of the best cheap AR scopes out there, it has been fairly reviewed by other sharpshooters as well.

Specifications

  • Magnification 4-12x
  • Objective 40mm
  • Eye relief 3.7 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 23.6-7-9 feet
  • Material Aluminum
  • Length 14 inches
  • Adjustment click value ¼ MOA
  • Weight 13.6 oz
  • Reticle BDC

Pros

  • Simple to use the zero-reset turret
  • Has an adaptable sunshade
  • Useable in any condition
  • The BDC compensation allows a greater range

Cons

  • Lens blurred along edges

Our Verdict

Among the top renowned brands, Nikon contributes highly sophisticated products. When perfection counts nothing can surpass their products. Not only is the product of the choicest quality, but it also will not overstretch your budget. You get a great deal by paying less for more. This riflescope is a terrific blend of a flawless optic and mobility.

Prior to reviewing this product, we had examined each of its elements and we believe you will not be disappointed. So rev up your shooting skills by grabbing one of these as soon as possible.

9 Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

We loved the Vortex Optics Viper as it was worthy of all types of firearms. It has been made sturdy by cutting from a 30mm tube. With adjustable turrets super clear scope they’ve offered a compact package here with a myriad of excellent features.

Viper is designed to perform for all ranges of shootings– long, mid and short– the credit goes to its 6-24x magnification capacity. In terms of field of view and image clarity, this 50mm stands out from the rest for clarity and image resolution. They’ve also added 4″ eye relief will make it easy for the eyes. You wouldn’t have to dread the so-called ‘scope bite’ anymore.

Coated 1-piece anodized aluminum has been used to construct the body of the scope. They’ve also made it waterproof and the high-end engineering ensured it to be argon purged for being fog-proof.

Designed to be held for long-range shots, the scope features VMR-1 reticle model which is functions independently from the magnification process, thanks to its design that allows a second focal plane carrying hash marks. This type of reticle supersedes the performance of a red dot one when performing in windy conditions. If you are up for moving targets, this VMR-1 reticle, although not illuminated, shines there too.

With strong MOA turrets and parallax adjustments, this scope is absolutely fun to use. One downside we found about it is that they haven’t included the mounting with the package. The Vortex Viper comes with VIP warranty coverage.

We closely examined the build quality of the scope and it made us happy with its overall construction. Nonetheless, we found it a bit on the heavy side. The overall design appeared a bit bulky for us, not to mention that it is 16-inch in length. We found signs of edge blurring when pushing it beyond 24x magnification, the achromatic aberration is also there. What impressed us is the clarity of the central focus area.

Despite being a digitally advanced and capable scope it can easily be compared to ATN X-Sight. We’d say this is an excellent all-around option for your AR 15 rifle.

Specifications

  • Magnification 6-24x
  • Objective 50 mm
  • Eye relief 4 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 5.1-17.8 feet
  • Material Aluminum Alloy
  • Length 15.5 inches
  • Adjustment range 65 MOA
  • Weight 22.6 oz.
  • Reticle VMR-1
  • Parallax 50 yards to infinity

Pros

  • Great value for seasoned shooters
  • 4-inch eye relief
  • Wide magnification range
  • Highly durable
  • Sturdy turrets
  • Great light transmission

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side
  • Vision clarity could be better

Our Verdict

It is downright hard to find another scope that can do what this one does. It is in a league of its own. If you look beyond the incremental weight difference and the length, you will see a scope that is great for all ranges to shoot with, is a study in craftsmanship and sturdiness. The construction is rock solid. For the sheer weight of the features it offers, this scope is amazingly low-priced; almost a giveaway.

10 Bushnell Optics Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope

For hunting expeditions and shooting at long-range specifically, the Bushnell AR optic fits the bill. Even when engaged in dreary lighting and dismal weather conditions, the Bushnell Optics has come out on top with its proven enhanced precision scope.

An indisputable functionality is the parallax correction that is side focus, a showpiece of the Bushnell riflescope. This functionality rectifies parallax errors which go some way in bestowing near-flawless precision at all shooting distances virtually.

A reticle that is BDC ballistic and drop zone is featured on this scope. This reticle is in a class of its own and races in at roughly 104 yards. Not only that, but it also has aiming points accurate to 500 yards.

The target turrets are imperative and expressly designed for high fidelity adjustments. The reticle comes with multi-coated optics. This delivers to users the ability to obtain a sharp, crisp and clear sighting of their targets at long-range.

Rapid and reliable target acquisition is provided by a fast-focus eyepiece. 4.5-18x is virtually invaluable in hunting or shooting from a long-distance.

Another best scope for AR 15 (.223 Remington / 5.56×45mm NATO), the Bushnell Optics Drop Zone riflescope is a no-nonsense scope. What you see is what you get. It is a second focal plane scope. The crosshair may be a bit dense for some folks but we believe this is not a big issue.

Beyond, the zero was wandering. The magnification is a bit restrained for anything beyond the medium-range. We were thrilled with the side parallax focus. The Bushnell Drop Zone scope is a gem; easy to use and devoid of frills. It has a single agenda that delivers accuracy.

Specifications

  • Magnification 3-9x
  • Objective 40 mm
  • Eye relief 3.5 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 29-11 feet
  • Material Aluminum Alloy
  • Length 12 inches
  • Adjustment range 50 MOA
  • Weight 19 oz.
  • Reticle VMR-1
  • Parallax 10 yards to infinity

Pros

  • Side focus parallax
  • Easy to use
  • Well made, durable and sturdy
  • Great optical quality

Cons

  • May be hard to mount using low rings
  • Drop zone reticle may be hard to sight

Our Verdict

The Bushnell AR Optics riflescope is one that is impressive for the price, especially when you compare it with other Bushnell scopes like the Elite Tactical LRTS 4.5-18×44 G3 FDE that comes at around 1000 USD. Multi-coated lenses, parallax adjustments, and similar features being routine on more expensive scopes, you are in for a bit of a shock when you look at the price tag. With a magnification power of 3-9x, we highly recommend this amazing scope to competitive shooters and varmint hunters who want the best of their weapons.

11 Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex, a well-known name in the field of optics is the creator of this masterpiece, the Viper PST Gen II riflescope.

This is a great long-range scope because the illuminated first focal plane reticle and tactical style turrets make it simple to recompense bullet drop and wind drift at long ranges. The Rapid Return Zero (RZR) design halts the turret from misaligning below the original zero after a compensated long-range shot.

Resolution and color trueness is increased by using extra-low dispersion glass. This gives you a crisp, sharp image. All air to glass surfaces is fully multi-coated with anti-reflective coatings to boost light transmission. The exterior of the lens surface features Vortex’s patented ultra-hard ArmorTek coating to safeguard against oil, dirt, and scratches. The body is of 1-piece, 30mm tube of aircraft-grade aluminum.

To promote concealment, a durable hard-anodized low glare matte finish is applied. The Viper PST Gen II scope is O-ring sealed and argon-gas purged for that cent percent waterproof and fog proof dependability.

The EBR-2C MOA reticle for calculating windage and elevation compensation. This riflescope is covered by a VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty.

We would like to put in a word here. Vortex Optics is our all-time favorite. The bad news first; zero does not hold. The manufacturer made adjustments and all was hunky-dory. The reticle illumination for daytime does not quite cut it. It’s all up from here especially the lens that we simply felt was a sublime piece of optical engineering.

Our Multifunctional choice, the ATN X-Sight is a good comparison with the Viper Gen II which may not be high-tech but it sure delivers the goods. The centerpiece, the lens is superior to the ATN. Eye relief is a bit constrained.

Specifications

  • Magnification 2-10x
  • Objective 32 mm
  • Eye relief 3.2 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 58.3-11.7 feet
  • Material Aircraft-grade Aluminum
  • Length 12.75 inches
  • Adjustment range 50 MOA
  • Weight 26.3 oz.
  • Reticle EBR-4MOA
  • Finish Matte Black

Pros

  • Robust single-piece 30mm main tube
  • Lightweight
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Excellent optical system
  • Tactical adjustment controls and zero stop

Cons

  • Good for medium to long-range only
  • Eye relief inadequate at lower magnification

Our Verdict

Vortex is no Johnny come lately in the field of riflescopes. The Viper PST Gen II is a stunning piece of optics and bears testimony to the skill and professionalism of Vortex. What took our breath away was the superlative optical arrangement and the care and expertise that has been put into ensuring the lens is well protected. The price is on the higher side but we personally believe this is the best scope for AR 10.

12 Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm

Are you in a quandary about which scope to acquire for this deer hunting season? Let’s help narrow the choices down to a few select options. Straight away comes to mind the Burris Scout 2-7 which is designed for scout rifles. The Burris scope comes loaded to the brim with a truckload of advantageous features such as positive click adjustments, double adjustment rings, quad ring seals, and more.

Foul weather is not going to restrict you indoors when you decide to go hunting. Thanks to the Burris Scout 2-7 scope you can foray out hunting – irrespective of the weather – owing to it’s rugged construction. It is water and fog proof which supplements overall performance. It will retain its functionality come hell or high water.

The scope is of a shockproof housing so that trying and rugged field use in any weather will not faze it.

Eye relief is one feature that cannot be compromised. Its role is crucial in the functionality and safety of the scope. Burris fully recognizes this and provides what is arguably the best eye relief range in the market. .At 7.3 inches, the eye relief delivered is both generous and tightly controlled. A full crisp view with the absence of dark rings around the edges enables swift target acquisition. Black eyes are avoided especially when you are using a high recoil rifle.

The Burriss 200261 is a lone hunter. It is a medium budget scope made with features required for a hunter/ shooter; accuracy, image quality, weatherproof and more. We regard safety highly and the eye relief provided is ample. If you are getting your feet wet in this compelling sport, a hassle-free scope like the Burriss is your best bet.

Specifications

  • Magnification 2-7x
  • Objective 32 mm
  • Eye relief 9.2-12 inches
  • Field of view/ 100 yards 7-21 feet
  • Material Aluminum Alloy
  • Length 9.7 inches
  • Adjustment click value ¼ MOA
  • Weight 13 oz.
  • Reticle Ballistic Plex

Pros

  • Shock resistant
  • Lightweight at 13 oz.
  • Scratch-resistant lens
  • Features great magnification
  • Allows for forward placement on the rifle
  • Making adjustments easy

Cons

  • Does not come with mounting hardware

Our Verdict

When shopping for a rifle scope, the vital things to consider include optical stability, glare reduction, light handling, construction, suitability and mechanical reliability to your hunting applications. The Burris Scout stands out in these areas that makes it a great buy. The icing on the cake is that despite its unsurpassed quality and performance, it is not too costly when priced under 500 USD.

Other Notable Brands

If AR is your favorite toy, you might be familiar with these famous brands also known for manufacturing high-quality scopes.

Weaver, Firefield, EOTECH, Sniper, Pinty, MidTen, Beileshi, Tacticon Armament, UUQ, Feyachi, and Leapers.

What’s So Special About AR Scopes?

best ar 15 scopes

One of the predominant uses of a rifle scope is target magnification. This is a great deal better than seeing with the naked eye. Magnification gives you a much clearer sight picture and here accuracy is the name of the game.

This not only permits you to shoot unerringly at greater distances but adds to safety as you can see with clarity what lies before and after your target.

The prime time for the big game to move about is around dawn and dusk. Using an iron sight will mostly result in an unethical shot because the game might be injured. Riflescopes harvest all available light making it feasible to shoot accurately in low-light conditions.

A higher level of precision is attainable by a rifle scope than traditional iron sights. An iron ramp sight, at 100 yards will cover 6 inches of the target. Precise bullet positioning is restricted by the target’s large area that is covered. Modern riflescopes use a reticle or crosshair that only covers ⅛ inch at 100 yards. .
Finally, a riflescope can take the lead in the modern cartridges and rifles at disposal. New rifles and calibers have more energy, shoot flatter and faster than those that people used at the turn of the century. With a correctly mounted and sighted in a scope, hunters can now hit the bullseye at greater distances.

AR Scopes – Buying Guide

1. Magnification

Scopes are often tagged with the numbers 3.9 x 40. The first figure is the magnification range of the scope, which means that objects are visible at least 3 times larger than the naked eye, The second figure denotes the size of the objective lens. The larger the objective, the more light is transmitted and the clearer the image.

For long-distance shooting in open ground, a scope with a minimum magnification of 9x is recommended. This has to be teamed with a lense large enough for peak light transmission, which yields clearer and brighter images over extended distances.

For close-quarters tactical settings and point-blank range, image clarity takes precedence over magnification. A 1-4 magnification will suffice and these scopes meant for close range encounters have smaller objectives rendering them compact and low profile.

2. Shooting Distances

  • Ranges are classified into three broadly.
  • Close – up to 150 yards
  • Medium – 150 to 350 yards
  • Long – 350 to 800 yards

3. Reticles

  • Duplex– These are widely known and are the basis of reticle types. And similar to the magnification, depending on the use of your AR-15 will dictate the choice of the reticle. The duplex reticle is straightforward and common. Quick target acquisition is its hallmark. It features a cross, the edges being marked with thick lines and thinner lines at the intersection point. Some scopes have a duplex reticle for long-range shooting to gauge distances accurately.
  • Mil Dot– In appearance, the mil dot reticle is hardly any different from the duplex. Etched on the scope is a simple cross. The main difference between the two is that the mil dot reticle always includes a set of markers for the estimation of the distance in both horizontal and vertical planes. Marksmen and hunters who relish long-distance shooting prefer the mil dot reticle.
  • BDC– The BDC reticle figures in the effect of gravity on the fired bullet. The aim needs to be higher in long-distance shooting and the measurements needed to compensate for the drop in the bullet are provided by the BDC reticle. Scopes designated for extremely long-range shooting are invariably equipped with the BDC reticle.

For precise target acquisition in low-light conditions, illuminated reticles are used. They make it a lot simpler to pick out the target in dark conditions.

4. MOA or MRAD

To harness the full benefits of your scope, you need to calibrate it. You need to understand the correlation between an inch on your scope’s motion and the field distance is. Herein enters the minute of angle, a mathematical equation. It could be a bit complicated to understand but the benefits are manifold once you get the hang of it.

The first step is to divide the circle into 360 parts called degrees and further subdivide each degree into 60 equal parts called minutes. The matter becomes imperative when sighting your new scope. Extreme accuracy is called for as due to identical triangles, any error propagates and grows.

As is apparent, one MOA dot enlarges to 1-inch at every 100 yards. The knobs help you fine-tune the scope till you zero in.

5. Objective

The objective lens is the one on the outer side of the scope. The larger the objective, the more light it will allow in which renders the image clearer especially in low-light conditions. Larger lenses are bulkier but they also offer a larger field of view.

Another important parameter is the exit pupil. This is the amount of light emanating from the scope. It is derived by dividing the objective with magnification. So an objective of 32mm with a power of 4 will give you 8mm. By day, the human pupil varies from 2-4mm; at dawn and dusk, this goes up to 5-9mm. In low light conditions, it is desirable to get as much light in your eye as possible.

6. Focal plane

The etching of a reticle is either in the first focal plane or the second focal plane. This means that in the FFP it is positioned near to the objective lens and in the SFP, it is closer to the ocular lens and eyepiece.

When set in the first focal plane, the reticle is magnified along with the image whenever the magnification power of your scope is adjusted. In other words, when you zoom in a scope with a mil-dot reticle, the small markers become enlarged with enhanced accuracy over long distances.

A reticle situated in the second focal plane behaves the opposite. Regardless of the magnification of the scope, the reticle remains the same size. Which configuration to use is strictly on the application and the user’s preference.

7. Parallax Adjustment

When the focal plane is misaligned, it is termed parallax. It is easy to test and see if the parallax is present in your scope. Sight your target via this scope at a range of 100-110 yards. After being on the target, move your eyes to a different part of the target and watch for any image movement. If you spot any difference, parallax is present.

This can be corrected using the scopes adjustment for this problem if such an adjustment is included in your scope. If your scope doesn’t have a dedicated parallax adjustment, you will need to sight the scope again. The downside is that if your scope has parallax you cannot correct it in the field.

8. AR-15 Rifle Types

    • Marker-Based Augmented Reality
    • Markerless Augmented Reality
    • Projection Augmented Reality
    • Superimposition Based Augmented Reality

9. Eye Relief

This is the distance that a scope can be held comfortably from the eye and still allow the shooter to sight the entire view. It is stated as a range since in a scope with variable power, the eye relief will vary with the power.

A lateral adjustment can be made with the mounting to get the optimum eye relief. 3 to 4 inches is the norm. On large magnum rifles, maximum relief is desirable as the recoil can be large and the possibility of eye injury exists.

10. Accuracy and brightness

Any shooter will wager that a scope without clarity is a dud. More so during hours of dawn and dusk. This goes hand in hand with the brightness which is equally principal.

Accuracy is the focal point of every gunsight and rifle scope in the world, especially when you are after the big game at close quarters. You may get just that one perfect shot!

Cleaning & Maintenance Tips

Alt text: best ar 15 scopes

The most common cause of damage to a lens is a fall. The second is water, dirt not being removed or removed improperly. To clean the lenses, you’ll need:

  • Lenspen and
  • Spudz microfiber lens cloth

Tips for Servicing and Cleaning

  • Prevention is always better than cur
  • To keep your scope in good condition, it doesn’t take much
  • Put into place, a scope maintenance regime
  • The most common damage is breakage
  • Promptly remove water or dirt from the lens
  • Use quality lens cloth or brushes
  • Brush the dust off first before using the cloth on the lens
  • Keep the lens cap on when not in use

Dos

  • Tap the lens with the optic pointing downward for the dust to drop off
  • Get a lens pen, lens brush or a soft-bristled brush
  • Make sure the dusting tool is clean of debris and oil
  • Allow debris to fall off by lightly brushing the lens
  • If you’re using a lens pen, allow for a tighter bristle group by retracting the brush to loosen up tough buildup
  • Use the microfiber cloth in a circular motion to clear away smears

Don’ts

  • Don’t use your shirttails to wipe the lens. They are abrasive and will scratch the lens
  • Don’t use your handkerchief since it might be contaminated
  • Don’t use your sleeve to wipe off condensation
  • Avoid applying spray cleaners directly on the lenses

It’s Time to Wrap Up

The right scope makes all the difference in the world of shooting. Hopefully, with our help, you might have already figured out what would be the best ar 15 scope for you.

Make sure that your scope and rifle match and also about the warranty. This is a giveaway as the good makers always include a warranty being sure of their product. When shopping for a scope make absolutely sure what suits you and your needs.

An illuminated reticle is a different ball game than a laser sight. If you are in doubt or confused, speak to someone knowledgeable who will guide you. Follow these tips and soon you will be the owner of the best scope for AR rifles!

FAQ

Q. 1: What is the optimal magnification for an AR-15?

Ans. The AR-15 is a tactical weapon, though many Americans also use this to rid their properties of coyotes, foxes, and other varmints. Assuming that this is the case, the magnification you will need is between 5x and 9x, not from 1x to 6x. The range is medium, which is 150-400 yards.

Q. 2: For an AR 15 scope, what are the magnification levels available?

Ans. When deciding on the level of magnification, it is important to define what your primary style of shooting is to be. If you are going to be shooting long-range precision, then your scope magnification is going to be high.

With innumerable uses for an AR-15, the answers as to the right level of magnification are equally varied. Other reasons why your style of shooting will affect the magnification are:

  • When you are taking a shot standing, the rifle is bound to wobble. The higher the magnification, the greater the wobble.
  • The higher the magnification, the shorter the field of view.
  • Heatwaves and mirages increase at higher magnifications

Q. 3: On an AR 15 scope, what is a BDC Reticle?

Ans. BDC stands for the Bullet Drop Compensator. These may be the best choice when it comes to the AR-15. Most BDC reticles are illuminated. Reticles can have hash marks that allow for differing distances; some prefer a single reticle dot. Some reticles are adjustable in color and intensity.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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