The 8 Best Scopes for the AR 15 in 2021
The AR 15 (ArmaLite 15) is a lightweight, semi-automatic that is most commonly used to fire .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO rounds. That said, it can also be used to fire different caliber rounds such as the .308, .450 Bushmaster, .50 BMG, .338 Laputa and 9mm.
With the 2 common Remington and NATO bullets, this gun has an effective range of around 400-600 meters (roughly 440-650 yds). If you want to aim accurately at this range, you need a proper scope and this review looks at 8 of the best scopes for the AR 15 to consider buying.
- 8 Best Scopes for AR 15 – Review
- 1. ATN X-Sight II HD – Best Overall
- 2. Simmons 510519 – Best for the Money
- 3. Trijicon TA31-R-ACSS – Most Lightweight
- 4. Nikon 6722 – Versatile AR 15 Scope
- 5. Trijicon TA11E – Battery-free
- 6. Bushnell AR93940 – Durable AR 15 Scope
- 7. Vortex CF2-31001 – AR 15 Scope Kit with Lens Covers
- 8. Nikon 8497 – With an Adjustable Objective
- How to Buy the Best Scope for AR 15
8 Best Scopes for AR 15 – Review
1. ATN X-Sight II HD (Best Overall)
2. Simmons 510519 (Best for the Money)
3. Trijicon TA31-R-ACSS (Most Lightweight)
4. Nikon 6722 (Versatile)
5. Trijicon TA11E (With Battery-Free Illumination)
6. Bushnell AR93940 (Durable Tube Design)
7. Vortex CF2-31001 (Has Lens Covers)
8. Nikon 8497 (Has Adjustable Objective)
1. ATN X-Sight II HD
2. Simmons 510519
(Best for the Money)
3. Trijicon TA31-R-ACSS
4. Nikon 6722
5. Trijicon TA11E
(With Battery-Free Illumination)
6. Bushnell AR93940
(Durable Tube Design)
7. Vortex CF2-31001
(Has Lens Covers)
8. Nikon 8497
(Has Adjustable Objective)
1. ATN X-Sight II HD – Best Overall
- Magnification: 3-14x
- Reticle: Multiple
- Field of View: 240 ft. @ 1000 yds
- Weight: 34.4 oz.
Taking the best overall spot is ATN’s X-Sight II and this is due to several factors. For starters, the unit has a powerful magnification of up to 14x, which makes it ideal for short, medium and long-range.
The scope is also technologically advanced, featuring day and night mode for hunting in any lighting condition. In either mode, you get recoil activated video recording, which allows you to capture and document your hunting victories in High Definition (1080p full HD).
A built-in range finder makes hunting easier by accurately estimating the distance to the target while a ballistic calculator determines the trajectory for you so that you can hit the target accurately on the first try. All you have to do is feed in the environmental data.
Other features include Wi-Fi streaming that allows you to use your phone or tablet as a viewfinder, a 3D gyroscope for keeping images blur-free, a smart E-compass for navigation and E-zoom for smooth magnification without losing the target in the field of view.
The only problem is that the product is quite heavy and might wear you down if you carry the rifle for long distances.
2. Simmons 510519 – Best for the Money
- Magnification: 3-9x
- Reticle: Truplex
- Field of View: 31.4 – 10.5 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 13.2 oz.
If you are a bit tight on cash, Simmons 510519 is the most affordable scope for the Ar 15 to consider buying. Despite this, it is equipped with a large 50mm objective lens, which allows as much light through as possible for bright imaging.
This is further boosted by fully coated optics, which ensure you get a high-quality, high-contrast image for easy target spotting.
Other than that, the unit has a waterproof and fog proof design that makes it usable in all weather conditions. It is also recoil proof, which means it is rugged and durable enough to withstand external shocks.
More features include a camouflaged matte black finish, sure-grip turrets with audible clicks for easy use and a quick target acquisition eyepiece.
On the downside, the scope’s Truplex reticle is not illuminated and it lacks BDC markings for range estimation.
3. Trijicon TA31-R-ACSS – Most Lightweight
- Magnification: 4x
- Reticle: ACSS 5.56
- Field of View: 36.8 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 9.9 oz.
If you are looking for a lightweight scope for your AR 15, Trijicon’s TA31-R-ACSS is your best bet. It weighs only 9.9 oz., making it incredibly easy to carry when attached to your rifle.
Aside from that, the unit is equipped with an ACSS 5.56 reticle that provides superior range estimating, bullet drop compensation and wind-holds up to a range of 800 yds.
This reticle is partially illuminated in red and this is done via fiber optics for daylight illumination and tritium for low light conditions. Therefore, no battery is required to power the reticle.
Other features include a fixed 4x magnification that is ideal for close-to-mid range shooting, a both-eyes-open design and finger-adjustable capped turrets. However, the product is quite expensive and has a short eye relief of 1.5 in.
4. Nikon 6722 – Versatile AR 15 Scope
- Magnification: 3-9x
- Reticle: BDC
- Field of View: 33.8 – 11.3 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 13.7 oz.
Nikon’s 6722 is equipped with the brand’s own Spot-On Ballistic Match technology, which optimizes its BDC reticle to easily discover the exact aiming points of different rounds at different yardages.
This makes it very versatile because you can use it to accurately fire different rounds on the Ar 15 rifle.
Apart from that, the unit has fully multicoated optics that transmit up to 98% of the available light for bright imaging.
These optics are nitrogen-filled for fog-proof performance and the exits are sealed via O-rings for waterproof use.
You also get zero-reset spring-loaded turrets that spring-loaded to resist shocks and recoil, precise 1/4 MOA positive click adjustments, parallax adjustment from 100 yds and a quick-focus eyepiece.
The only problem is that the reticle is not illuminated for enhanced low light visibility.
5. Trijicon TA11E – Battery-free
- Magnification: 3.5x
- Reticle: BDC
- Field of View: 28.9 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 14 oz.
Just like the TA31-R-ACSS, this TA11E features a battery-free illumination system that is composed of tritium and fiber optics.
These automatically adjust the reticle’s brightness according to the available light, with the fiber optic being for daylight and tritium for low light illumination.
That said, the scope features a BDC reticle that is specifically calibrated for .308 caliber rounds with compensation marks out to 800 meters (875 yds).
You also get a both-eyes-open design that utilizes the Bindon Aiming Concept for improved situational awareness, a rugged aircraft-grade aluminum-alloy housing, a flattop adapter for installation on military-style rails, a carrying case and a cleaning cloth.
On the downside, the unit is very costly.
6. Bushnell AR93940 – Durable AR 15 Scope
- Magnification: 3-9x
- Reticle: Drop Zone-223 BDC
- Field of View: 31 – 11 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 21 oz.
Bushnell’s AR93940 is characterized by a durable tube design that is made using a sturdy aluminum alloy. This is topped off by an anodized finish, which protects the metal from corrosion for long-lasting use.
Aside from that, the scope has a drop zone-223 BDC reticle that is specifically calibrated for 55-62 grain .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO rounds, with compensation points out to 500 yds.
This is complemented by parallax adjustment for enhanced long-range accuracy and is done using an ergonomic side-focus knob.
You also get precise 1/4 MOA click-adjustments, fully multicoated optics, a fast-focus eyepiece and nitrogen-filled, O-ring sealed lenses for fog proof and waterproof performance. The only problem is that the reticle is not illuminated for enhanced low light visibility.
7. Vortex CF2-31001 – AR 15 Scope Kit with Lens Covers
- Magnification: 2-7x
- Reticle: V-Plex
- Field of View: 42 – 12.6 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 14.3 oz.
To keep the objective and ocular lens protected when not in use, Vortex’s CF2-31001 comes with removable lens covers with straps that stretch over its entire length. It also comes with a cleaning cloth for keeping the lens clean.
The scope itself is equipped with anti-reflective multicoated lenses, which ensure you get a clear field of view with no glares. It also has a fast-focus eyepiece with a forgiving eye box and a generous eye relief of 3.9 in.
Other features include a shockproof aircraft-grade aluminum tube, nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed optics for fog proof and waterproof performance, parallax adjustment from 100 yds and precise 1/4 MOA click adjustments with a maximum adjustment of 60 MOA on both scales.
The only problem is that the scope is equipped with a V-Plex reticle, which is not illuminated and does not have BDC markings.
8. Nikon 8497 – With an Adjustable Objective
- Magnification: 3-9x
- Reticle: BDC 600
- Field of View: 33.8 – 11.3 ft. @ 100 yds
- Weight: 17.1 oz.
Rounding up the list is Nikon’s 8497, which features an adjustable objective lens for parallax adjustment from 100 yds. This helps to enhance accuracy at long range.
On the inside is a BDC 600 reticle that is calibrated for 55 grain .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO rounds, with unique round aiming points for a distance of 100-600 yds.
You also get precise 1/4 MOA positive-click tactical-style turrets that are recoil resistant and Spot-On Ballistic Match technology for versatile use.
Other features include fully multi-coated optics that provide up to 98% light transmission and nitrogen-filled, O-ring sealed optics for fog proof and waterproof performance.
The only problem is that the reticle is not illuminated for better visibility in low light environments.
How to Buy the Best Scope for AR 15
For a 440 – 650-yd range, you need a magnification of about 3-7x. All the scopes reviewed above meet this criterion and are therefore ideal for the Ar 15 rifle.
However, ATN’s X-Sight II stands out from the rest because it has quite a powerful magnification that goes up to 14x. Therefore, if you want to test the limits of your rifle, this is the best option. You can also use the unit on more powerful rifles that fire longer range rounds.
With lenses, there are 2 main things to consider. First is the coating. In most cases, multicoating is used to apply anti-reflective properties especially at the entry point, which is the objective lens. This is important because it helps to prevent glares from obstructing your field of view.
The second and most important aspect is size. Generally, the larger the objective lens is, the more the light that it will allow to penetrate through. This ensures you get a brighter field of view for easy visibility.
Therefore, the large 50mm objective lenses in Simmons’ 510519 and ATN’s X-Sight II give them an edge over the rest and this is highly recommended.
3. Eye Relief
Eye relief is meant for safety purposes. It can be defined as the distance from the ocular lens from which you can visibly sight the field of view and read the reticle markings.
Ideally, it should be long enough such that the gun’s recoil reaction will not cause the scope to collide with your eyebrow. Therefore, the longer it is, the better and safer it is for your eye.
Read More: The Best Long Eye Relief Scopes
4. Minute of Angle or MRAD
These two terms are related to the scopes windage and elevation adjustments. For MOA (Minute of Angle), this means a 1-in adjustment at the field of view at 100 yds.
On the other hand, a single MRAD (Milliradian) is a distance of 3.6-in on the field of view at 100 yds. Therefore, MOA is a slightly more accurate scope adjustment system because it results in a smaller dot or crosshair movement at a long-range.
However, an even more important factor to check is the click value. For instance, a 1/4 MOA click graduation like in Nikon’s 6722 is more precise than a 1/2 MOA because it means a 1/4-in movement at 100 yds.
Ultimately, the smaller the click adjustment value, the more precise the scope will be at long-range accuracy due to the minute graduations.
5. Focal Plane
Concerning the focal plane, a reticle can either be placed on the first or second focal plane. First focal plane reticles are placed at the front of the magnification lenses and this ensures that they grow in size the more you zoom in.
This gives them a slight tactical advantage because the reticle markings become larger and clearer the more you zoom in, which is ideal for long-range shooting.
On the other hand, second focal plane reticles are placed close to the eyepiece, behind the magnification lens.
This design means that it does not change with magnification and therefore, holdover points change with magnification. For accurate shooting, a mathematical formula is required to figure out the MOA or MRAD spacings at each magnification.
On the bright side, by maintaining its size, the reticle remains visible even in low magnification.
Selection between the two should be based on personal preference but first focal plane reticles are recommended for beginners because they are easier and more accurate to use.
6. Mounting & Rings
Lastly, you need to check if the required mounting equipment is included for easy installation. For instance, Trijicon’s TA11E is fitted with a flattop adapter, which makes it easy to fit on military-style rails.
If not included, you will have to buy these accessories separately, which translates to additional costs.
In summary, even though all the 8 scopes above are ideal for the Ar 15 rifle, ATN’s X-Sight II stands out as the overall best because it is very technologically advanced. It has night vision technology, HD video recording, and Wi-Fi streaming, just to name a few.
If you are looking for a lightweight scope though, Trijicon’s TA31-R-ACSS is the easiest one to carry around. However, if the price is your primary concern, be sure to check out Simmons’ 510519.