Quick Tips On How To Choose The Best AR 15 Scope

The AR 15 is a wonderful firearm with a lot of versatility, power and style. Finding the best AR 15 scope for your gun for improved accuracy, style and customization is a common goal for most people when they first purchase one of these fantastic firearms. However, there is no universal option for the everyone when it comes to finding the best AR 15 scope.

Everyone has their own preferences and needs that should be addressed in order to truly find the best AR 15 scope for that specific person. Some situations can be unique or even combined of various aspects, but it’s best to focus on the areas most important to you and your needs.

deer hunting scopeDeer Hunting

When it comes to finding the best AR 15 scope for deer hunting purposes, magnification is a must. A magnification level of x6 is the top level that you should desire as anything more powerful usually means the target is too far away to make a decent or lethal shot anyway. You’ll want to find a scope that has variable magnification. This means that the scope can be adjusted to different levels of magnification for varying situations. In contrast, a fixed power scope that only has one setting is not preferred in this situation. For example, if a deer is far away a fixed scope with x2 or x4 magnification will not be enough to get a clear shot. The more options that you have with magnification, the better.

For the reticle selection, the duplex crosshairs are usually preferred for deer hunting. This reticle provides great precision and accuracy, which is necessary for ensuring a lethal and humane kill.

Self and Home Defense

Magnification is not important on a defense firearm scope. The option is nice to have, but you’ll typically be close enough to an attacker or home invader to get a clean shot without any sort of magnification. The only time when magnification would really be helpful in these situations is if the offender is roaming a medium or large yard or if the house is particularly large. You’ll be better off with a fixed power scope for most situations, but if you’d like a variable scope a range of x1 to x4 is usually enough to handle all self and home defense situations.

The main aspect to focus on when looking for the best AR 15 scope for self and home defense is the red dot reticle or laser sight. Scopes with red dot reticles are great for close quarters and defense. It’s a quick and easy way to get a decent shot on any intruder, even at night. At the very least, you’ll want a reticle that glows, but red dot reticles are really the best option for this situation as they’re simple and easy to adjust to when in an intense situation.

Laser sights can also be useful as you get a clear understanding of where the shot will land even without looking through the scope. However, they do have their drawbacks. The light alerts enemies to your position, and it can sometimes be difficult to work a scope in conjunction with the laser sight to get a clean shot.

While it will add quite a bit more to the price tag, the option of night vision can certainly make even the best AR 15 scope for self and home defense even better. It can take some getting used to, but seeing clearly in a dark area without drawing attention to yourself with a tactical flashlight can be greatly beneficial when trying to deal with attackers or intruders.

Long Range Shooting

Magnification is a major factor for long range scopes. In contrast to deer hunting scopes, the best AR 15 scope for long range shooting usually has a fixed power scope ranging from x12 magnification to x24. Unlike deer hunting where the target can be close or far away, long range shooters live up to their name and typically only want to make shots from farther distances. The simplicity of a fixed power scope allows them to do this with ease.

If you do prefer a variable scope, don’t choose one where the maximum magnification level is x12. While x12 magnification is suitable for long range shooting, it is the bare minimum. A variable range of x6 to x24 is the ideal range for long range scopes, just in case you wish to shoot a target that is somewhat closer than usual.

Since distance is such an important factor to consider when selecting a long range scope, the reticle should definitely be one that measures range. Mil-Dot reticles are commonly the most preferred reticle for this purpose, but any reticle that is comfortable for you to use and measures range is also perfectly suitable.

Competitive Shooting

competition shootingAR 15 scopes used for competitive purposes is a tricky area to explore. Shooting competitions commonly merge several different types of shooting such as long range, short range and tactical shooting. Choosing one type from the bunch is more detrimental than it is beneficial. When it comes to finding the best AR15 scope for competitions, you’ll need something very lightweight and versatile. A variable scope with a wide range of magnification options is your best bet here.

Any crosshair reticle will also be very suitable for competitive shooting. While it’s more appropriate in some areas than others, it’s still the most simple and flexible reticle for the various aspects of competitive shooting.

Other Miscellaneous Considerations

Some details about the scope can ultimately make for a much better experience no matter what your intentions for the scope are. While these may seem like minor aspects to cover, they’re still beneficial to consider when trying to purchase the best AR 15 scope.

Objective Lens Size

A larger objective lens allows for not only an increased range of sight but it also allows more light to enter the scope. This makes the picture much clearer to see and makes shots easier to make. However, the trade off here is that larger lenses mean a heavier scope, which can affect shooting and even make carrying it uncomfortable.

Tube Size

Just as a larger lens will allow more light through a scope and make for a clearer picture, the same is said of larger tubes. The trade off is also the same with a larger tube. The larger size makes it somewhat bulky and heavy, especially considering that the lenses within the scope also need to be larger to accommodate for the larger tube.

Eye Relief

A common fear for many people, especially those inexperienced with firearms, is that they’ll be hit by the scope when the gun is fired due to the kick. This is definitely not an unfounded fear. People suffer from black eyes, broken noses and even loss of vision from getting scoped all the time. While some of these instances are due to poor shooting style, lack of a proper grip on the firearm when it’s being shot or not realizing how powerful the kick of a gun is, one of the most common reasons for this is lack of proper eye relief.

Eye relief is the distance that the human eye can be from the ocular lens while still being able to see clearly through it. The best distance for eye relief in order to maintain safe shooting is usually two to four inches. Anything lower should be avoided.

Lens Cap

The lens cap may seem like a superfluous thing to worry about when trying to purchase the best AR 15 scope, but it’s still a worthy aspect to consider. Lens caps for scopes come in either bikini or flip-up. Bikini lens caps are completely removable, and both lens caps for the objective and ocular lenses are connected by a string. Flip-up lens caps stay mounted on the scope and only need to be flipped to the side when needed. Flip-up lens caps are the more preferred option as it’s pretty easy for bikini caps to get lost, and if one gets lost the other goes right along with it.

Lens caps can also be clear, tinted or opaque. Clear and tinted lens caps can be useful for self and home defense purposes as you can easily grab the gun and shoot quickly without needing to remove the lens cap. It’s not nearly as clear as it would be without the caps on, but at least you’re able to see through it to get a rough shot.

However, opaque caps also have the added advantage of providing the most protection. Translucent caps allow light to enter the scope, which may cause damage or discoloration to the lens over time. They’re also typically thinner than opaque caps.

High Quality Brands

Once you have determined the best AR 15 scope suitable for your needs, you’ll need to take brands into consideration. Higher end products from top name brands commonly makes for a steep price tag. It’s not uncommon for some of the best scopes to cost thousands of dollars. However, the high pricing is usually worth the investment as you’ll likely be getting an extremely high quality product that will last for years. The best brands in the business commonly give out great warranty plans for scopes as well, meaning that if something does go wrong it probably won’t be a big issue to rectify.

Some of the more reputable high-end scope brands around are Schmidt and Bender, Nightforce, Leupold, Zeiss and Swarovski. Keep in mind, however, that price does not automatically reflect quality. Even if the brand is known for high quality and the price tag is steep, it’s still a good idea to check for reviews on specific scope models to see how they stack up with the competition. Even the best AR 15 scope brands can come out with some bad products.

Cheaper Brands

Not everyone can afford to spend thousands of dollars when trying to buy the best AR 15 scope for their needs, no matter how tempting it may be. Luckily, there are some more affordable alternatives out there. Just as high prices don’t always mean a better product, low prices don’t always mean low quality. You can easily find the best AR 15 scope for your needs on a budget.

Nikon is one of the biggest and most reputable names in rifle scopes, and while some of their products reach highly expensive levels, they do have a wide selection of cheaper options between $100 to $600. Bushnell is also a highly popular and reputable option for affordable scopes. Some other cheaper brand options include Vortex, Primary Arms and Simmons.


Understanding the full range of considerations when purchasing an AR 15 scope allows you to make better and more informed choices while shopping. From the smallest detail to the most vital aspects, ensuring that all of your bases are covered during your final decision can lead you to finding the best AR 15 scope for any purpose.

What Do You Think – What Is The Best AR 15 Scope?

There are a lot of opinions out there of what the best AR 15 scope is! If you have an opinion, please post a comment below and tell us what you think the best AR 15 scope is, we would love to hear from you!