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The Best Scopes for AR-15 Rifles [2022 Edition]

A soldier with an AR-15 rifle aiming through his rifle scope A soldier with an AR-15 rifle aiming through his rifle scope A soldier with an AR-15 rifle aiming through his rifle scope

Source: www.taskandpurpose.com

 

The AR-15 style rifle is probably the most widely known lightweight semi-automatic rifle ever produced. The first AR-15 rifle was developed by ArmaLite, an American small arms engineering company, and the first version of this all-time favorite rifle entered production back in 1956. Even though the rifle was an instant success, due to lack of manpower and limited production capacity, ArmaLite had to sell its rights to the AR-15 design to Colt’s Manufacturing Company just a couple of years after the rifle’s introduction.

Colt later rebranded the rifle to the Colt 601 and they later redesigned it and started calling it the Colt AR-15. In 1962, the rifle was adopted for service use by the US military. The AR-15 also laid grounds for the iconic M16 rifle, which has been the primary weapon of the US military (and many other armed forces around the world) for many decades.

Unlike the M16, AR-15 rifles (just a heads-up, the abbreviation stands for “ArmaLite rifle”, not “assault rifle” as many mistakenly think) can be carried by civilians. But this is not the only reason why these rifles are so popular. The most important feature of AR-15 style rifles is that they are super easy to customize and that there’s thousands of amazing aftermarket upgrades available. And that’s exactly what I’m here for today - to introduce you to some of the best AR-15 scopes you won’t regret buying in 2022 (and beyond!).

 

 

The Best Scopes for AR-15 rifles

An AR-15 rifle in camo coating with a rifle scope attached to its top An AR-15 rifle in camo coating with a rifle scope attached to its top An AR-15 rifle in camo coating with a rifle scope attached to its top

Source: www.primaryarms.com

A telescopic sight, commonly referred to as a scope, is an optical sighting device that makes it easier for you to sight a target at long distances, which wouldn’t really be possible with a naked eye. Rifle scopes are much more effective than iron sights, reflex sights, holographic sights, or laser sights as they come with one key feature - magnification (in other words, they “bring” your target closer).

As AR-15 rifles are usually used for medium to long distance shooting, magnification really matters. However, the popular “the more the better” rule doesn’t always apply here. If your target is just some 100 yards away, a scope that can magnify your target by 10 times or more definitely isn’t your best choice, as it would bring the target way close to you. On the other hand, if your target is some 600 yards away, a 3x rifle scope won’t be enough. In other words, you have to select your AR-15 scope based on what distance you want to shoot your rifle at. And that’s exactly why we’re going to divide the best available AR 15 scopes into the following categories - close range, medium range, and long range.

 

 

The best short range AR-15 scopes

 

If your target is within some 100 yards, we’re talking about short range shooting or close-quarters combat/battle (CQC/CQB). In this case, you might do just fine with an AR-15 red dot sight, but it doesn’t mean scopes for AR-15 are completely useless here. If you use your rifle for training or competition target shooting (or close range hunting), you’ll surely appreciate a solid 1 to 3 times magnifying close range AR-15 scope. And here’s 2 such AR 15 scopes that are worth every penny.

 

#1 - Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope - DRT Reticle
AR-15 scope Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope - DRT Reticle (MOA)
#1 - Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope - DRT Reticle
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While the first AR-15 scope on our list only offers 1x magnification, it comes with a feature ideal for short range AR-15 shooting - a built-in prism! This AR 15 scope was developed by Vortex Optics, a famous American manufacturer of optical equipment for all sorts of firearms, including AR-15 style rifles.

This Spitfire Prism Scope features a super durable, yet extremely lightweight design. Also, its mounting is very simple and the DRT reticle etched on the prism provides you with a visible point of aim whether powered up or not. Ten intensity levels perfectly match ambient light conditions while you also have an option between red or green illumination. If you’re looking for a great short to medium range AR-15 scope, then you might just want to try out this one by Vortex Optics.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Lightweight design - mere 11.2 ounces
  • Ideal for short to medium range shooting and hunting
  • Super easy installation (just make sure you’ve properly read the enclosed manual)
  • Compact design - overall length of 4.3 inches
  • Generous eye relief of 3.8 inches (ideal for medium range shooting)
  • Durable construction
  • Resistant to shock, fog, and water
  • Settings - 10 different intensity levels
  • Powered by a single AAA battery
  • Comes in black color
Pros
  • Super lightweight
  • Developed by a trusted brand
  • Ideal choice for short range shooting
Cons
  • Only 1x magnification
  • Not too budget-friendly
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing
#2 - Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope - Best BUDGET option
#2 - Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope - Best BUDGET option
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Another AR 15 short to medium range scope on our list was developed by Monstrum Tactical, an American optics manufacturer who takes pride in offering high-quality optics at a very reasonable price. Their S330P scope offers 3x magnification, which makes it ideal for rapid mid range shooting.

Unlike red dot sights, this AR15 prism scope comes with a reticle that’s visible with or without illumination, ensuring a clean sight picture regardless of lighting or environment. You can also select between red or green illumination. While this AR-15 scope might not be as powerful as some more expensive ones, it’s an ideal choice if you’re on a limited budget.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Lightweight design - mere 15 ounces
  • Ideal for close to mid range shooting (approx. 200 yards)
  • Easy to mount and use
  • Overall length of 5 inches
  • Eye relief of 3 to 3.5 inches
  • Durable construction - made of 6061 aircraft grade aluminum
  • Resistant to shock, fog, and water
  • Powered by a single CR2032 Battery
  • Comes in two colors: black and flat dark earth
Pros
  • Best budget option
  • Shock, water, and fog proof
  • 3x magnification - ideal for short to medium range shooting
Cons
  • Could offer more eye relief
  • A tad too big and heavy
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing

 

The best medium range AR-15 scopes

 

Medium range shooting means your target is from 200 to some 500 yards away from you. If your target isn’t further than 200 yards, the first 2 scopes on our list (short range options) will do just fine. However, if you sometimes shoot at a longer distance, you might need a more powerful AR-15 scope, offering more than just 3x magnification. Ideally, you want to get a rifle scope with a variable magnification as you’ll rarely shoot from the same distance when let’s say hunting. Let’s take a look at some of the best AR15 scopes for mid range shooting.

 

#3 - Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
#3 - Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
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This AR15 rifle scope was developed by Bushnell, an American company specializing in production of sporting optics. This variable AR-15 scope offers 3x to 9x magnification, which means you can also use it for long range shooting (500+ yards).

The multicoated lenses of this scope boast what Bushnell calls “Dusk & Dawn Brightness” for enhanced picture clarity and brightness. Not only does this scope look incredibly sleek, it’s also super durable and it comes at a surprisingly affordable price.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Developed by a trusted brand
  • Ideal for close to mid to long range shooting
  • 3-9x variable magnification
  • Easy to mount and use
  • Overall length of 16.3 inches
  • Eye relief of 3.3 inches
  • Quality optics with HD quality
  • Resistant to shock, fog, and water
  • Comes in black color
Pros
  • Hard-to-beat price
  • Amazing picture clarity
  • Variable magnification
Cons
  • It’s quite big
  • Could use more eye-relief
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing

 

The best sidearm holsters

A guy with an outside the waistband holster staring down from a hill A guy with an outside the waistband holster staring down from a hill A guy with an outside the waistband holster staring down from a hill

 

Before we move on to some more excellent AR-15 riflescopes, let's talk about one other important thing. If you match your AR-15 with one of the scopes on our list, you’ll have pretty much everything you need for a successful hunting session. However, it’s never a bad idea to carry a sidearm as you never know what might be lurking right behind the corner.

And if you carry a sidearm, you should carry it in a reliable holster. And that’s why I’d like to bring to your attention these custom holsters for revolvers and semi-auto pistols. Not only are they custom handmade to fit your handgun like a glove, but they deliver high carry comfort and, most importantly, they’ll keep both you and your backup gun safe.

 

 

#4 - Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescope
#4 - Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescope
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As Vortex Optics indeed is one of the best optics brands in the world, no wonder I’m introducing another AR15 rifle scope made by these guys. Unlike the previously mentioned one, their Diamondback scope is ideal for medium and long range shooting and hunting.

The scope offers 4 to 12x magnification, but even at the maximum magnification level, you can expect a very bright and clear picture. At least that’s what Vortex guarantees. Surely, you can’t expect to get their products at low cost, but the money you’ll have to pay will surely be money well spent.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Developed by the world’s most trusted optics brand
  • Ideal for close to mid to long range shooting
  • 4-12x variable magnification
  • Easy to mount and use
  • Overall length of 12 inches
  • Eye relief of 3.1 inches
  • Crystal clear and super bright picture from dawn till dusk
  • Fog and waterproof
  • Comes in black color
Pros
  • Great for a number of scenarios
  • More compact than other mid-long range scopes
  • Up to 12x magnification
Cons
  • Price tag
  • Low eye relief
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing

 

The best long range AR-15 scopes

 

Long range shooting means your target is at least 500 yards away. Such shooting will require an optics with at least some 9x magnification. Surely, for such a purpose, you might want to use something a bit bigger than an AR-15 rifle, but to each his own, right? Let’s take a look at some of the best AR 15 scopes for long range shooting.

 

#5 - Burris Optics Fullfield E1 Riflescope
#5 - Burris Optics Fullfield E1 Riflescope
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If you’re not completely new to the world of shooting optics, you’ve surely heard of Burris Optics. Their E1 rifle scope for AR-15s is an amazing choice for super long range shooting as it comes with incredible 4.5 - 14x magnification. The higher magnification levels this scope offers might be a bit of an overkill when it comes to AR 15, but you can use it with all sorts of firearms such as sniper rifles.

This scope also features very interesting trajectory-compensating technology and cascading dots to compensate for wind drift, which is something you’ll inevitably need when shooting at long distances. This AR 15 long range scope is ideal for hunters of big game as well as for tactical & military shooters.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Ideal for long range shooting
  • 4.5-14x variable magnification
  • Trajectory-compensating technology
  • Overall length of 14.9 inches
  • Variable eye relief of 3.1 - 3.8 inches
  • Simple yet sophisticated design
  • Backed up with no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty
  • Comes in black color
Pros
  • Best choice for super long range shooting
  • Up to 14x magnification
  • Generous eye relief of 3.8 inches
Cons
  • Quite expensive
  • A bit too big
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing
#6 - Vortex Optics Crossfire II
#6 - Vortex Optics Crossfire II
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No, I haven’t been paid to promote Vortex products. The reason why this list includes 3 of their AR-15 scopes is because they simply make great optics. This one offers variable 4-16x magnification, which means it can help you hit your target even if it’s very far away and moving quite fast.

With very generous eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture and acquire your target. Moreover, as it’s made of hard anodized single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum, you can expect super high durability and resistance in all sorts of conditions. BTW, this AR15 rifle scope is also available in 6-24x magnification levels.

 

Features & Benefits
  • Ideal for long range shooting
  • 4-16x variable magnification
  • Super high durability
  • Resistant to shock, fog, and water
  • Overall length of 14.5 inches
  • 3.7 inches eye relief
  • Ultra-forgiving eye box
  • Comes in black color
  • Also available in 6-24x magnification
Pros
  • Ideal for super long range shooting
  • Incredible 4-16x magnification
  • Sufficient eye relief of 3.7 inches
Cons
  • Price tag
  • A bit too long
Price & Availability
Prices accurate at time of writing

 

Conclusion - How to choose the best AR-15 scope

 

Just like mentioned in the introduction, when shopping for a new scope for the AR-15 rifle, you first need to figure out what kind of shooting you want to use your AR15 for. If it’s for short range hunting, then AR-15 scopes with up to 3x magnification will do.  If you practice medium range shooting, then I’d certainly get an AR 15 scope with variable magnification. And as AR-15s are used mainly for mid range shooting, the best AR-15 scope might just be #4 on our list - the Vortex Optics Diamondback. This scope comes with 4-12x magnification, which means it will be useful even if you need to shoot at long range distances.

I hope you’ve found your new AR-15 scope on our list and that it will serve you well. And I also hope you’ll get yourself a well made leather holster for your sidearm, just in case there’s no time to zoom in on a close-quarter threat.

 

 

Do you fancy some more lightweight reading? Then carry on with these articles:

 

Backup Firearm While Hunting

Concealed Carry Tips for Hunters

The 5 Best Holsters for Pistols with Red Dot Sights

SHOP WITH CONFIDENCE