The 6 Best Optics for AR-15 Rifles

The AR-15 rifle is America’s rifle, whether in a light and handy carbine or a longer-barrel precision rifle.

The rifle has proven suitable for personal defense, home defense, varmint hunting, deer hunting, wild boar hunting and many forms of competition.

While serious use is important, I believe most of the AR rifles in America are used for good plain fun. We like to see just how accurate we can be, and there is nothing wrong with a trip to the range to make brass.

I am a fan of iron sights and find them well suited to many of my needs. Firing at the AR maximum range and taking out varmints isn’t a good spot for iron sights.

Neither is firing blindingly quickly at a 3-Gun match. I have come to appreciate the efficient and reliable red-dot sights for dedicated home-defense use. I also like convention rifle scopes for long-range use.

I use rifle scopes from many makers in many price ranges. We have the highest-quality AR-15 optics and the best glass for the money in history. I enjoy using a quality optic.

Today’s AR-15 optics are amazing, and you get more for your money than ever.

1. Meopta Optika6

Among the bright stars of the modern optic world is Meopta. They recently introduced the Optika6 rifle scope.

This optic features a 30mm tube, 6x zoom, zero-reset turrets and MeoBright lens coating that delivers edge-to-edge clarity and exceptionally bright, sharp images.

The variety of Meopta optics isn’t quite bewildering, but certainly extensive. Modern manufacturing allows real precision at a fair price, and the opportunity to offer real diversity in options for the shooter.

There are first focal plane reticle options, including a new development called the DichroTech reticles with battery-free illumination. Chromatic aberration isn’t possible with the newest 34mm 5-30×56 model and ED glass.

No matter the specific model. Meopta offers an easy return to zero with their zero-reset turrets. The zoom ring offers a throw lever, which is pretty important when you are using the AR rifle with its high scope offset.

These scopes have proven to be excellent on the AR, and other types as well.

Meopta AR-15 Optics and AR-15 Rifle
Meopta offers a wide range of AR-15 optics including scopes and binoculars.


Eminus means “from a distance.” This fits the new TRUGLO rifle scope well. This is a higher-end scope from a maker that offers a lot of performance for the money.

It is affordable, but more expensive than most of the workmanlike TRUGLO line. EMINUS rifle scopes are offered with 3x9x42mm, and 3x9x44mm options as well.

There is also a 4×16 magnification option. Each features a hard-anodized aluminum 30mm scope tube. The reticle is an illuminated TacPlex design.

I like this reticle because it offers a sharp aiming point and is free of clutter, but has plenty of opportunities to range in on distant targets with the .223 Remington or .308 Winchester rifle.

The illuminated boxes allow excellent practical accuracy. The locking turrets allow the standard ½-MOA adjustment. Eye relief is critical with the AR rifle and the EMINUS offers good eye relief.

Here is a short list of most features of the TRUGLO EMINUS:

  • Multi-coated lenses for enhanced clarity and contrast
  • 30mm tube for increased turret-adjustment range and increased brightness
  • 1/4-MOA locking target turrets
  • MOA-based reticle for simplified adjustments, tracking and holdover
  • Included APTUS-M1 mount for a stronghold and ideal mounting position on modern sporting rifles
  • Illuminated TacPlex Reticle (T.P.R.) for precision measurement (in MOA) without a crowded sight picture
  • Hard-coat anodized matte black finish
  • Nitrogen gas-filled, fog-proof construction
  • Water-resistant and shock-resistant
  • Illuminated glass-etched reticle
  • Leaf-spring turret control for positive and responsive click adjustments
  • Generous eye relief
The TRUGLO EMINUS offers an excellent range of adjustment.


The OMNIA is an interesting rifle scope. With the magnification cranked down, you may use this illuminated-reticle scope like a red dot, but then crank back up for longer-range use.

I like the concept, and this 1×4 option is a good one. The TRUGLO OMNIA makes for one of the best AR-15 optics for the money.

AR-15 Optics and Scopes
A 1×4 scope offers real versatility at modest range, making them one of the great AR-15 optic options.

4. Leupold VariX-6

I took advantage of legendary ruggedness and stunning optics to outfit my long-range AR, a Springfield SAINT Victor I like to call the Saint on Steroids.

Using the tank-tough Warne scope mount, I mounted the scope low enough to form a good cheek weld.  The scope is a Leupold VariX-6.  The 1x6x24mm scope is ideal for use on an accurate self-loading rifle.

The FireDot duplex reticle is illuminated. The range of adjustment makes for fast acquisition of the target at modest range, and by maxing out magnification, you may connect at a long 300 yards.

When I began using this combination, results were good with a range of loads. Groups of less than two inches for five shots were average. This is a good standard for the average AR-10 .308 Winchester.

As I gained trigger time, and later fitted the Wilson Combat TTU trigger — with a four-pound, one-ounce compression — things improved dramatically.

Although I am stuck at a 1.5-inch average with most loads, I have fired a single three-shot group at 100 yards that went into 0.9 inches. That is excellent and more accuracy than expected.

This is a very good optic for those that favor the .308 AR rifle, or anyone wishing to own a superb optic.

Leupold Scope on AR-15 Rifle
Leupold’s rifle scope rides on the author’s Springfield SAINT Victor.


Recently I worked up a parts gun, an AR-15 rifle featuring a Troy Tomahawk stock, Hyperfire trigger and a quad rail. The result was a very fast handling and respectable AR-15.

I used economy brands in receiver selection, but just the same, the rifle seems reliable. I decided that a rifle that may be used for personal defense — this is a bedroom and truck gun — should have an easy-to-use red dot.

The TRUGLO IGNITE fit that bill. The red dot could not cost as much as the rifle in this project, but I wanted a respectable unit I have faith in.

I don’t like high mounts, but the IGNITE may be used with a high mount for back-up sights. A better option, in my opinion, is the new XS Sights back-up sight.

Mounted on the rail, these sights allow the user to quickly access the backup by canting the rifle. These are neat sights that are well designed with plenty of adjustment.

The IGNITE is easy to operate.  Depress the forward “+” button to power the IGNITE up. There are ten brightness settings.

A lot of folks don’t realize that the brightness setting has an effect on visibility in dim light and you need far less light in a dim environment.

You may preset the default light setting, a great option in a relatively inexpensive red dot. An auto-off feature is highly desirable. Windage and elevation adjustment is simple enough.

The red dot is gauged 2-MOA. I like this size for work to about 50 yards, a long shot indeed for this rifle’s design envelope. This is a friendly sight to use, easy to adjust, affordable and workmanlike.

The TRUGLO IGNITE is a friendly and useful all-around red dot.


I wanted a heavy-duty, service-grade red dot for my favorite AR-15. My son built this rifle based on an Aero lower and upper receiver, and high-quality components.

The rifle is fitted for all-around use, and I wanted accuracy potential well past 100 yards without compromising short-range speed. The ROMEO7 filled the bill.

A top-selling point for me is the ROMEO7’s battery life of 62,500 hours. This is with a simple AA battery. The glass is very clean and there is an optional filter, which I installed.

The ROMEO7 is a 30mm red dot. This allows greater eye relief compared to other optics, including the popular ROMEO5.

The ROMEO7 has been tested to immersion depths of a yard or more without effect on the internals, and it is rated fog proof. The matte finish graphite is businesslike attractive.

The mount is very stable and easily changed out if need be. It is true the ROMEO7 weighs 12.5 ounces, but just the same, it isn’t a heavyweight. I like this scope very much, and it rides on my most trusted rifle.

SIG ROMEO7 On AR-15 Rifle - Optic
SIG’s ROMEO7 rides on the author’s only custom rifle and is one of the best AR-15 optic options.

What are your favorite AR-15 optics? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. I agree with Mark and Anon, and others, lets begin to draw attention away from china-made products. It seems like everything I have looked for lately wears the ‘made in china’ logo. I’m having trouble finding electric hand tools, red dot sights, t-shirts, insulated beverage containers, even batteries that are not made in china. I challenge each of you to invest your money in American made products. And check out the company – just because it is an American company does not mean they are not selling chinese imports *cough, Wally world, Slowes Home Improvements, Home Teapot, and so many more. Thank you for reviewing each of these sight options but maybe if enough of your readers make enough requests we can build America’s economy better through American-made products.

    1. It won’t be easy,especially re pharmaceuticals,but the sooner we start=and be cical about it,the sooner things may-happen.I’m guessing the American public is too lazy and stupid to do so.Glad I’m 69

  2. A 3-9×40 Burris Fullfield E1 for my custom Creedmoor AR-10, dubbed the BFG (Big Friendly Gun). With scope, bipod, and a full mag it breaks 16lbs (the Big). With an Aero Lambda muzzle brake, rifle gas, 2-stage Armaspec spring and the aforementioned overall weight, it does not kick at all (the Friendly). E1’s ballistic reticle (the “Christmas Tree” as my broth calls it) makes compensating for bullet drop easier without too much clutter. Respectable 3-5 inches eye relief. Rings a 2’x2′ steel target at 400yds every time. — At the other end of the spectrum, my custom .50 Beowulf AR-15 carbine uses only open sights. One reason is that it’s a sub-50 yard brick shooter. Another is that any optic built to survive the recoil would cost as much or more than the entire gun.

  3. Hi Bob. I like your articles and read them here and in FN.

    I have a SIG Romeo5. The eye relief is unlimited. I have it mounted at the end of the rail on top of the hand guard on my AR pistol. It works great out there for, ahh… older eyes.

  4. I have a fondness for Hi-Lux scopes. I have a 1×4 with illuminated redicle for close up – medium range work with a carbine barrel. For my long range shooting, I use a Hi-Lux 4×16 mil-dot scope. I’ve been using them since the early 80s when I bought a Hi-Lux ART scope which is auto ranging. Hey, if it was good enough for ARMY Sniper’s, then it was good enough for me!

  5. I did a custom build of an AR-15 about 8 years ago, starting with a Daniel Defense barrel and upper. I bought one of the pre-temperature sensitive EOTech’s, a 517/A65 (basically a 512 with the on/off/brightness buttons on the side) from Cabellas, which EOTech replaced for free two years out of warranty because of the temperature problem. If there’s another holographic sight on the market with a 1 MOA dot inside a ghost ring, I have not seen it. Even with 75-year-old eyes and trifocals I can shoot a 2-3″ group at 100 yards without a rest.

  6. I agree with Mark Laughlin.

    Anyone who values freedom should avoid buying anything from China if alternatives are available.

  7. I’ve had really bad luck with Moepta scopes. Several years ago I purchased a Meopta manufactured reproduction ZF 4 scope from Numrich. After just a few shots the zero went to extreme right and down and windage knob would not move. Scope was returned through Meopta channels to Meopta. They sent it back unrepaired with the note that they didn’t have the equipment to work on it. Strange, given that I have the performance certification paper work from Meopta generated at the time they manufactured the scope. I will never purchase another Meopta product.

  8. I have been running a vortex razor JM-1 BDC 1-6×30 on my JP enterprise 18” and loving it! Awesome clarity and easy to use illuminated reticle. It’s zeroed at 200 yards and easily makes accurate shots out to 600 yards. It works great for 3gun and NRA style 2gun.
    They are a bit pricey, but the quality is second to none! I highly recommend the vortex!

  9. As a 32 year cop with 20 years on SWAT and a Certified Firearms Instructor, I have to ask, where is the EoTech?

  10. I purchased a Osprey Global 3x9x42 scope at a gun show in Prescott Valley, Arizona an was surprised how clear and bright my sight picture was. The eye relief can be from 3.5 to about 9 inches. The scope came with lens covers, scope rings, red, green an blue illumination plus a bullet drop compensator you can adjust out to 500 yards. The lifetime warranty is also a plus for the complete package of 260.00 out the door, a very good deal indeed.

  11. I think it is short sighted to buy Chinese optics even though they are getting quite good and very affordable. Doing so helps enhance the martial capabilities of the CCP.

    Stick with American optics or at least optics from pro west countries like the Philippines, India, and Isreal.

    One of the west’s great strategic disasters is that Canada bans the importation of AR rifles, but allows in the Chinese QBZ95 which has benefited greatly from the Canadian gun culture/marksman feedback.

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