What is the Best Scope for the AR-15?

Best AR-15 Scope

The AR-15 is one of the most versatile, all-around precision rifles out there.

From hunting to combat, this gun is customizable to be just about anything you want.

So, when you’re choosing the best scope to use with your AR, you’ve gotta focus on what really counts: durability, clarity, magnification and accuracy.

Whether you’re planning on using your AR in a blind or in battle, here are some scopes worthy of your consideration:

Best Hunting Scope: Nikon P-223

The Nikon P-233 3-9×40 BDC 600 is by far my top choice for hunting.

This AR-15 scope is specifically engineered for .223 Remington cartridges. Its BDC 600-second focal plane reticle will give you spot-on bullet drop estimates, which makes dropping that buck easier than ever.

Built for medium-range (between 150 and 400 yards) this scope has 3-9x magnification capabilities and a consistent 3.6” eye-relief that won’t change, no matter how far you zoom in.

The best part?

It’s got easy-to-adjust tactical turrets that are equally easy to zero in.

Add that to the water/fog-proof multi-coated lens, lightweight design, and crystal-clear glass that’s got 98% light transmission and this Nikon is everything I’ve ever dreamed of for AR hunting.

To mount the P-233, make sure you pick up a sturdy 1” mount.

Nikon AR-15 Scope

Best Long-Range Scope: Steiner Px4i 4-16×56

Steiner makes one of the most deadly long-range scopes on the market: the Px4i 4-16×56 scope.

This AR-15 scope is extremely sturdy with crisp turrets and an incredible field of view.

The glass on this scope is what really sold it for me. The picture looked sharp and clear at 4x magnification and stayed exactly the same when I took it out to 16x magnification.

But, if for some reason I found a flaw in the exceptional SCR precision reticle, positive turrets or high-grade aluminum build, I could always fall back on the Steiner Heritage Warranty — a guarantee that goes beyond my lifetime and covers this scope for generations to come.

If you’re looking for a sharp-shooting scope for distances over 400 yards, the Steiner Px4i has never once let me down.

Steiner AR-15 Scope

Best Short-Range Scope: Vortex Spitfire 3x Prism

A short-range shooter needs to be able to hit targets or small game at 150 yards or less.

The Vortex Spitfire 3x Prism is my top choice for these smaller distances because of its etched BDC reticle, variety of brightness settings, and durable shock/waterproof design.

I did find that the battery life on this scope wasn’t as long as others, but if you’re planning on using it for less than 250 hours at a time you should be perfectly fine.

My favorite part about the Spitfire is its compact size. This AR-15 scope is perfect to use alongside your favorite red dot.

And, bonus! It’s one of the rare sights that works even if you’ve got astigmatism.

Throw on the unlimited lifetime warranty, and the Spitfire is the ultimate short-range scope for your AR.

Vortex AR-15 Scope

Best Red-Dot Scope: Bushnell TRS-25

My top choice for red-dot scopes to use on my AR-15 is the Bushnell TRS-25 AR.

It’s got unlimited eye relief that makes it excellent for quick follow-up shots, especially if you’re shooting at strange angles like around a tree limb.

The compact build and waterproof/fogproof 3MOA reticle make this scope a great choice if you need to take it anywhere in less-than-ideal conditions.

One thing I loved about this AR-15 scope was the Amber-Bright coating that made telling the difference between a bear and a box oak a breeze. Sometimes, those brown hues all look the same, but not with this scope!

It held zero perfectly right out of the box, but one downside to this Bushnell is that the first battery doesn’t last long at all. So, make sure to keep a few extras in your pocket.

Bushnell AR-15 Scope

Best Combat Scope: Trijicon ACOG TA31

Last, but not least, on my list of top AR-15 scopes is the Trijicon ACOG TA31.

Its dual-illumination, bullet-drop compensating reticle, both-eyes-open shooting capability, and battery-free tritium/fiber-optic auto-adjust make it the deadliest scope out there — just ask any Marine.

What other features make it the top choice for SPEC-OPS combat units?

It’s durable enough to withstand the harshest conditions because it’s shock-resistant, waterproof and extremely compact.

If you’re looking to use your AR for combat or quick target acquisitions for home defense, this Trijicon model will outperform even your highest expectations.

Trijicon ACOG AR-15 Scope

Conclusion: Best AR-15 Scopes

So, whatever you’re planning on using your AR-15 for, one of these five excellent scopes will line up the perfect picture for your deadliest shots ever.

What scope do you use on your AR-15? Let us know in the comments down below!

About the Author:

Richard Douglas

Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on his Scopes Field blog.
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 (7)

  1. You might want to reconsider the Nikon as they are no longer in the scope business. I just discovered this in March, while having delayed my decision on a scope, due to a repair, I finally decided to purchase and discovered all scopes had been removed from the web page. So they provided a check. Unfortunately, I can only hope my remaining scopes last. What a disappointment, another big company caves to to the liberal anti-gun supporters.

  2. What about the eye relief? Didn’t I read the ACOG only has 1-1/2″ relief? Does the .223/556 not kick? (I’m just starting to build one.) If I put that on my 7.62×39 it would give me a black eye.

  3. The Nikon recommendation is good except that Nikon doesn’t make rife scopes anymore. I’d suggest a Leupold MK1 3x9x40 (or whatever they have renamed it lately) especially fir the Firedot.

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