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What is the Best AR Scope to Buy?

Updated on September 5, 2014

Buying the Best Scope for Your AR-15

It might seem a simple question to ask what's the best AR scope to buy but it quickly becomes a long-winded, tricky answer.

Are you a serious enthusiast who won't bat an eye at spending over $1,500 for a top of the line AR-15 scope such as a Leupold Mark 4 HAMR?

Or are you just getting started with your AR-15 and looking for a great entry level scope for under $200 such as the VISM 1.1-4x Evolution Scope?

Are you looking for a scope for close up self-defense shooting or some glass better suited for longer range targets? Shopping for a 30 mm tube? Need a MilDot or Sniper reticle?

Never fear -- we've got all the angles covered and will walk you through some of the best options when it comes to AR scopes. Here are the three scopes we'll be reviewing and highlighting below:

VISM 1-4Ã24 Evolution Scope
VISM 1-4Ã24 Evolution Scope

Best AR Scope Under $200

The VISM Evolution Scope is our top pick for a great AR scope under $200 and it's often the started scope that many AR-15 owners get started with.

Made by NcStar -- which has been in business for over 15 years -- the Evolution is a versatile scope that gives you 4x magnification for longer shots and 1x for close range shooting, along with finger adjustable windage and elevation turrets.

You'll also have the choice of MilDot or Sniper reticles depending on the type of shooting you're doing and reticle preference, with a glass etched reticle that appears crisp and bright at all times.

The 4 inch eye relief is perfect for AR rifles and the 30 mm tube checks in at a relatively slim and trim 10 inches, so it looks nicely proportioned sitting on your rifle.

Bottom line: the VISM Evolution Scope is a great flexible scope at an amazing price, with many of the features and quality components that you'd pay $300-$400 in other scopes.

Burris AR332
Burris AR332

Best AR Scope Under $500

The competition gets a lot more intense when you start hunting for the best AR-15 scope under $500, as plenty of contenders way in with very nice scopes.

The Burris AR-332 gets the nod here, packing in a ton of features and performance at a price that won't kill your wallet.

This scope is a fixed 3x designed for tactical rifles that see use in a wide range of settings, with a Circle Dot reticle that works well with various rifle calibers including .223/5.56 rifles.

Target acquisition is extremely fast with the Burris AR-332 and it performs amazingly well even at 300 yards+.

It comes with a flexible red or green reticle, etched black reticle.

Bottom line: this scope is the top choice for people shopping for a great AR scope but who aren't quite ready to shell out over $1,000 for an ACOG scope.

4X32 Trijicon ACOG Scope
4X32 Trijicon ACOG Scope

Best AR Scope at Any Price

If you're after performance at any price, you can't beat a 4X32 Trijicon ACOG Scope for your AR-15.

This is the Rolls Royce of AR scopes and for good reason, as the Trijicon ACOG is battlefield tested and the very best scope used by various US military branches when outfitting soldiers with the absolute best scopes in the world.

The dual-sighting system is a snap to use in both day and night and quick finger adjusted windage and elevation adjustments are easy to make out in the field in demanding situations.

This scope can take a ton of abuse and never flinch off zero, with the aiming system incorporating a Bullet Drop Compensated (BDC) reticle that comes calibrated to the trajectory of both 5.56 and .223 cartridges.

Bottom line: Trijicon ACOGs are in a class all their own, deadly accurate in close quarters and spot on at well over 500 yards.

Rifle Scope Lingo 101

Confused by some of the terms here? Below is a quick guide to some of the common terms used for AR scopes as well as rifle scopes in general:

  • AR-15: the line of semi-automatic civilian assault rifles based on the M-16 design. The term is a trademark of Colt, which bought the design rights from ArmaLite
  • Reticle: reticles come in different types and are the fine lines or embedded fibers in scopes that produce the crosshairs used to aim. Most modern reticles are computer-generated and superimposed on the eyepiece.
  • Eye relief: eye relief is the distance between the end of the scope and the eye or face when full field of view is achieved. In simpler terms, it's the safe distance between the scope and your face when objects are sighted in to keep the recoil from slamming the scope into your head.

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Chime In on Your Own Favorite AR Scope

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    • Seth Shafer profile image

      Seth 5 years ago from California

      @hamstring: Varmint rifle, ftw!

    • hamstring profile image

      hamstring 5 years ago

      I keep threatening to get an AR and put a night vision scope on it. It'd make an incredible Coyote gun