AR firearms are some of the most popular sporting rifles in the market. It is a favorite because of its versatility and customizability. Varmint hunting, deer hunting, home defense, and more are all things that these guns can be used for.
It may not seem so, but AR does not stand for assault rifle. AR firearms do not fall into the category of assault rifles. Instead, AR refers to the Armalite company. This company was the first one to come up with the concept for AR 15s and their relatives.
The idea was bought out by Colt, who took the blueprints and perfected them. There are similar models of the AR, but only one is the official AR 15. There is not much that differentiates them, however.
Depending on who is manufacturing the firearm, it is going to have different characteristics. All of the guns that are encompassed by this term will benefit from additional accessories that make things easier. These accessories are suitable for any model of AR.
Some models might be better for hunting or plinking. The best thing is that they are so customizable that you can practically make your own firearm. The range of AR accessories that are available is quite extensive.
One of these types of accessories is optics. Optics take the image of your target and make it easier to see. They are one of the most essential accessories that will help your accuracy and consistency of shot.
This short guide will give you an overview of AR optics before focusing on scopes in particular. Scopes are ideal for mid to long range shooting and will make a real difference to your shooting.
The Top 4 Best AR Reviews
Now that you know all about scopes and the like, you are probably wondering, what is the best AR scope? The best scopes for AR are the ones that suit your particular needs. By now you should know what those needs are.
The following are a few of the best AR scopes on the market. These scopes are going to be better for some than others, but that is to be expected. The right scope for you and your AR is out there, it will just take some time to find it so be patient.
The following are just a few scopes that are of high quality and are definitely worth a shot. There are many different features between them, so surely there is going to be something that piques your attention.
This scope is ideal for short to mid range shooting. Nikon does well with their products, and this is no different.
It is easy to zero this scope, and it is an incredible value for the money. You will love the crystal clear glass and perfect zero holding that this scope
You are going to have to get your own mounting system, and any compatible one will do. Do not worry about getting a Nikon if you do not mind losing the brand name.
- Holds zero well
- Excellent field of view
- Clear glass
- Great value
- Water and fog proof
- Compatible with Nikon Spot On iPhone application
- No parallax
- Good eye relief
- Bullet drop compensation feature
- No mounting system included
- Awkward turrets
You get the brand name treatment with this best scope for AR. With a scope that is perfect for close and long range shooting, Bushnell gets high marks.
Not only is it easy to sight in, but it is also an attractive addition to your AR firearm. The bright, clear glass will allow you to zero in on your target and aim with precision.
This scope can be on the heavy side, and that may or may not be something that you want. It will not do well with targets that are moving, but aiming with ease is possible.
- Bright and clear glass
- Illuminated reticle
- Customer service
- Keeps to zero
- Great value
- Zooming toggle
- Turrets on the larger side, and cannot be locked down
- Might be on the heavy side
- Have to know range of target
- Does not work well with moving targets
Here are the things that you need to know about this Barska product:
- Water and fog proof
- Red and green dot illuminated reticle
- Knob for making adjustments
- Elevation, windage, rheostat
- Crystal clear lenses
- Excellent value
- Hold true to zero well
- Easy setup
- Quick zeroing
- Ideal for close to mid range distances
- Shallow eye relief
- Mount bolts may end up coming loose
You get what you pay for with this scope. It is truly worth the price that you pay.
Not only is it military grade and quality, but it is also an attractive piece of equipment.
There are no bothersome batteries to deal with. You will be able to zero in on your target quickly, and it will stay that way.
Besides a short eye relief, you can expect to be satisfied with this scope. However, there are some issues with fakes being sent in place of the real deal, so take a look over your product when you first get it. If you do not see any official Trijicon lettering, it is not a true
- Water proof to 100 feet
- Fog reduction
- Military grade
- Bullet drop compensating system is accurate
- Crystal clear
- No batteries needed
- Excellent reticle intensity
- Zeros quickly
- Looks great
- Well made
- Illuminated reticle
- Beware of counterfeit products being sent
- Short eye relief
- No quick release mount
If you are on a budget, this is an amazing scope.
It is a great value and will do exactly what you need it to.
You certainly get what you pay for, but it is still a good quality scope that will take you a long way.
It is durable and ideal for plinking, target practice, or even airsoft guns. Regardless of what you do with it, this scope is easy to use and accurate.
- Good quality
- Clear glass
- Easy to install
- Will hold zero well
- Good eye relief and field of view
- May have fish eye effect on lower power settings
- Reticle issues may occur
- Not fog proof
These scopes are the best of the best when it comes to quality and precision. If none of them work out for you, there are plenty of options out there. Take the time to learn everything that there is to know about a scope before you decide on one. The more information that you have, the easier it will be able to narrow down your options and make the right choice.
There are a few types of optical options for the AR 15 that you should consider. Your shot will be more consistent and accurate with any of these kinds of optics. The correct AR optic for what you do will improve both of these things.
Consistency is hitting the target in the same spot many times without missing. Accuracy is how well you can hit the target. This is much easier to achieve with a reticle since it can be adjusted to work best for you.
- Telescopic optics are what are generally known as Scopes are best for mid range or long range shooting. They will have a crosshair or dot reticle that may or may not be paired with magnification. There are two different kinds of scopes, fixed or variable.
- Holographic sights project an illuminated reticle into the field of view that help you to see your target better. Unlike reflex sights, they use a laser diode to light up the sight. These are low profile and light weight.
- These have become more popular in the last few years. Being non magnifying, they use a LED light to illuminate the target, much like the holographic sight.
- Reflex sights can have various features such as power source, weight, battery life, size, and length.
There are several factors that determine which optics will be best for you. This decision can be overwhelming. If you are a hunter, a scope might be just the thing for you. If you want to shoot at greater distances, either a reflex or holographic sight will do.
Another thing to consider is how the optic is going to interact with the accessories that you already have. Working together to give you the best AR experience is something that you are going to want them to do. The budget can also be a factor that you do not want to lose sight of.
Why Use Scopes?
So now that you know more about optics for AR 15 rifles let us go over some more about scopes in particular. Using a scope can be advantageous for many reasons. Here are just some of these grounds:
- Accuracy of shot is better
- Faster to acquire targets
- Digitally enhanced zoom
- Intensity that is adaptable
- Holographic, telescopic, and reflex sights
- Crosshairs and dot colors are customizable
- Brightness enhancement
These are not the only reasons that using a scope is useful and preferred. Much more exist, but these are just the primary ones. Using a scope will make your shooting easier and more accurate, so why pass up the chance?
Types of Scopes
As mentioned before, there are several different types of scopes. One that was not mentioned is night vision, which is exactly what it sounds like. The other two, variable and fixed, are much more complicated and need to be considered carefully before choosing one.
- Tons of power options accompany a variable scope. Using these scopes allows you to adapt to your environment quickly. If you are going to be shooting at a long range, a variable scope will be a better bet than a fixed one. This will allow you to switch between shorter and much longer distances.
- These scopes are going to be more affordable and maybe even better than variable ones. They are also more compact, with less distortion and a brighter field of view. These scopes can be useful for their clarity and simplicity.
- Night Vision
- These can be helpful as well, especially if you like to do shooting at night. These are relatively less common and have a very particular need that they will fill.
Out of the three types of scopes, the one you want will be determined by how long of range you are shooting from. The longer that you go, you are going to need more options, and a variable scope is good for that. Medium and fixed distances are easier with a fixed scope.
What to Look for
There are tons of options when you are looking at scopes. So much so that it can make you want to give up. However, there are some features to look for that will help you to narrow down your search for the best AR scope.
- Reticles are the aiming points that are going to help you to ‘lock on’ to your target. This is one of the first things to consider when you are looking for a scope.
- What is the reason that you need or want a rifle scope? By answering this question, you can figure out what distances you are going to be shooting from. This will help you to determine what kind of reticle that you need.
- Mildot Reticle
- Mildot reticles help you to determine your distance from the target. The red or green dots are going to be spaced out in mi-radian increments.
- This type of reticle can help to compensate for the arching that happens during the bullet’s trip to the target.
- Will not show you the height that you are supposed to aim at.
- Duplex Reticle
- This is the most popular type of reticle. As a combination of vertical and horizontal lines, duplex reticles intersect in the middle of the optical field of view. The lines are going to be thicker at the end, and they thin out where they intersect.
- Illuminated Reticle
- Ideal for low light conditions, illuminated reticles can be either fully or partially illuminated. These scopes are on the pricier side, and quality certainly rises with the price.
- Crosshair Reticle
- Moving targets are not your friends with this kind of reticle. The crosshairs are two intersecting lines, just like the duplex reticle. However, these lines are thin instead of different thicknesses.
- Bullet Drop Compensating Reticle (BDC)
- A BDC reticle helps to compensate for the natural trajectory drop that happens when a gun is fired. This is super helpful for long range shooting.
- There are a few different options when magnification is concerned. Usually, the larger the zoom is, the more distortion that will occur. Products exist to correct this, but they tend to be relatively
- For hunting, something that zeros in on your target would be useful.
- Little magnification is ideal for tactical situations. A higher fire rate and shorter distance help this to work.
- ARs are not the type of gun to worry too much about integrity. Since there is little to no recoil, the occurrence of recalibration is much less.
- Waterproof, shock proof, and fog proof scopes are all available. Having one that is able to withstand the elements is important if you are frequently exposed to them.
- Field of View
- A measurement of the area that is seen through the scope from left to right is called the field of view. The larger the field of view, the wider of an area that you will see.
- Keep in mind that having a larger objective lens will not give you a better field of view.
- Focal Plane
- The picture that you see through the lens of your scope is called the focal plane. If you removed the primary magnification lens, the picture would show upside down. The movement of the reticle will also be inverted, going right when you move left and vice versa.
- Two types of focal planes exist to choose from. Front and rear focal planes and these options. More companies, however, are going with the front focal planes.
- Front Focal
- Mostly used for tactical things. The image is focused more quickly with this focal plane.
- Rear Focal
- Low light environments are perfect for rear focal planes. This limits its ease of use and is probably more accurate at higher magnifications.
- After some time shooting, you are probably going to start feeling the weight of the firearm on your shoulder. The thickness of the glass is what determines the weight. Scopes can weigh anything from 12 to 20 ounces.
- Eye Relief
- Eye relief is the right distance that your eye needs to be from the lens to get a clear image. This can either be a specific distance or range a little.
- Your eye is in the right position if you see the whole picture within the eyepiece, or at least nearly all of it.
- Helps to determine where your scope should be mounted on your gun.
- Parallax is when the focal plane is not aligned properly. Most scopes come with a way to adjust this, so it is a pretty easy fix. A scope with the ability to set the parallax, which can save you money in the long run.
- Minute of Angle (MOA)
- Minute of Angle is a mathematical equation that helps you to determine the distance that an inch in your scope means in reality. Meaning that, if your reticle needs to be moved an inch, it will be much more in truth.
- Front Focal
What features that you need are going to be determined by your preferences. Not all scopes are made equal, and it can be hard to weed through the options. However, with this information easily available, you can narrow down the choices to just what you need.
Like many other products, firearm scopes are going to have certain brands that stand out from the others. These brands are the best of the best and can be counted on for quality products. When it comes to firearm scopes, they cannot be beaten in clarity and usability.
- Not only known for their amazing camera products, but Nikon is also a top manufacturer of firearm scopes.
- As one of the more well known providers of scopes and other lensed products, Nikon has a large variety of options. They are dedicated to innovation, quality, and the performance of their products.
- Out of Pomona, California, Barska offers some of the top rifle scopes on the market. They do not only distribute to the United States, but they also provide products to over 40 more countries. They allow their corporate customers to customize their products.
- Founded in 1907, Leupold still provides some of the highest quality scopes on the market. The United States Military and Navy SEALs even use the scopes that this company makes. From tactically designed scopes to simple hunting ones, they have a variety of options.
- In 2007, Sightmark was founded, and they have been growing steadily ever since. Operating out of Texas, their products are high quality. Their motto is ‘Make Your ‘
- With large diameter scopes, Burris is used by both professionals and amateurs. They vow only to employ passionate and knowledgeable engineers to develop their products.
- With a motto like ‘No Excuses,’ Redfield is one of the companies that has the best scopes out there. They offer a full lifetime warranty on all of their products that are not electronic.
- Bushnell is one of the oldest scope manufacturers on the market today. With over 65 years of experience, they are still at the top of the list. The pride themselves on only providing the best products to their loyal customers. Their products are reliable and affordable.
- With affordable optics available, you can do some serious damage to your targets. Their products are not as high quality as some, but the products are still usable and worth a try.
- Also producing affordable products, BSA has manufactured for the military in the past. They have quality optics and other awesome outdoor equipment.
- For hunters, shooters, the military, and the police all benefit from the products that Millet makes. In 2005, they were purchased by Bushnell, but they keep going strong with their quality work.
- Taking advantage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trijicon built up their reputation alongside them. Governments and other agencies around the world count on their products.
These brands are at the top of the market for a reason. As long as you buy from one of them, you are guaranteeing high quality. However, there are many more scope manufacturers that are worth taking a look at. You never know what you may find, so do not limit yourself to these brands by any means.
What is AR?
AR is commonly thought to stand for ‘assault rifle,’ and it could not be more wrong. AR actually stands for Armalite, the company that introduced the idea of this rifle to the market. AR 15s are the most common and most popular type of rifle, but there are others as well.
Colt bought the design and manufacturing rights from Armalite in 1959 and tweaked the design to become what the AR 15 is today. This perfected model has some distinctive characteristics. The following are just a few of these features.
- Semi Automatic
- Gas Operated
- Two Part Body
- Upper Receiver
- This section of the gun holds the bolt group, as well as the interfaces in which you can mount a barrel and rear sight.
- Lower Receiver
- The lower receiver houses the trigger unit, manual safety, and the magazine. It also has a buffer tube interface.
- While forged aluminum is the primary material that is used to create these firearms, others are used as well. Plastic is just one of these other materials.
- Upper Receiver
Many things make the AR 15 distinct from the others in the market. There are more than mentioned here, but together they can make other guns as well, so they are not as distinctive. These features are just as important as the others, however.
There is a reason that this firearm is so popular in the United States. Well, there are a few reasons. These reasons allow the AR 15 to be one of the most loved firearms available to the civilian public.
- US Military
- The AR 15 has a similar design to the M16, which is used by the United Stated military. This American symbol can be a really cool thing to have in your possession.
- Modular Design
- Most of the components of the AR 15 are able to be swapped out for others, allowing it to be super customizable.
- The gun is super easy to shoot and has little recoil. It is a very accessible firearm that can be used for many things.
- Many Uses
- These many reasons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the AR 15. A variety of use makes it just that much better. Here are most of the uses that the AR 15 can be put up to.
- Self defense
- Ideal for home and self defense, the AR 15 is easy to learn how to use and reliable when you need it to be. Realistic threats do not stand a chance when you have one by your side.
- Varmint and predators, as well as deer, can be hunted fairly easily with this firearm. This really is the ideal multi purpose
- Teaching or learning
- Learning how to shoot or teaching your kids how to shoot is easy with AR models. Regardless of age, shooters will love shooting this gun.
- Fun or recreation
- As one of the most fun rifles to shoot, it can be used for simple target practice or plinking. Regardless of what you choose to use it for, you will have a blast.
- The ability to switch out the components of your firearm is a very attractive feature. It is easy and fun to learn about, and you can create your dream gun in no time.
- Farm or ranch use
- Keeping the predators on your land under control is a serious matter. Your livestock will appreciate the protection from the coyotes, and your crops will not miss the wild hogs tearing them up.
- Women are the fastest growing demographic that are getting into sports shooting. ARs are favorites because of their cool factor, and women feel no differently. The soft recoil can make it be pleasant to shoot, and the customization options help, too.
- End of the world
- It is always smart to be prepared for a major disaster. Whether it be a zombie apocalypse or other kind of the end of the world situation, having one or two of these laying around can be useful.
- Competitive shooting
- These rifles are ideal for a variety of shooting sports. They are accurate and safe to shoot. Many people out there enjoy using their ARs for competitive events.
AR 15s and their cousins are not just firearms to have for a rainy day. With the right accessories, you are able to do much more than you ever thought was possible. Regardless of what you are planning on using your AR for, a scope will be a valuable addition.
Knowing what your specific needs are will help you to make your decision on what scope to get. Being conscious of these requirements at all times is important. Do not let yourself get sucked in by attractive offers for things that you might not be able to use.
With so many different options, it can be an overwhelming task to find a scope. However, the right scope for you is out there. All it takes is a little research and a little patience for everything to come together.