People often ask experts and experienced hunters about scope type which is best to buy. I suppose there is no clear answer for this question. You might read loads of reviews revealing best optics on the market and still get confused when choosing the only model to buy. AR-15 rifle isn't as simple as one might think - it needs best choice of optical devices and sights to provide normal shooting.
What is good for soldier is nothing for hunting, and among AR-15 scopes you could find hundreds of models with some extraordinary features and unbelievable prices. Choosing the best optics for the money might be the biggest market challenge for those who want some new equipment.
You also need to think of a best mount type, normal fastening options and dimensions of the thing you buy. Specs shouldn't be forgotten and the producer always plays major role in price segments. Looking at top and really best sight for AR-15, Bushmaster, Colt or some carbine of the same family, you'll find lots of propositions. Let's try to sort out some features and shorten the circle of searching.
Buyer's guide to AR-15 scope choosing and purchasing
First step to understanding all specs and features of up-to-date equipment is to learn all important points to look at while buying and comparing. Tactical scopes reviews sometimes help us understand what exactly features we should check before ordering and paying money for the things. Here is a short buyer's guide to purchase great equipment for hunting, military using or sport tasks. You need to look at such specs:
- Magnification - you won't need 100x magnification for AR-15 rifle. Long range shooting isn't the best option of this gun. So, there is no need to buy the most expensive and very effective optics in this case. 3x sometimes seem to be enough, but for relatively long range shooting you really need more - 9x or 12x zoom.
- Reticle type and settings. This is vitally important part of the scope. Some producers provide special options for AR-15 and all its brothers in weapon range. In nearly all cheap and compact ideas the reticle and targeting equipment isn't as wonderful as in expensive top grade goods.
- Illumination - it seems to be absolutely needed to have illuminated reticle and crosshairs in your scope, look at all features of illumination and find the things with no troubles in battery module.
- Materials and weight - dimensions are everything nowadays. You better look at top rating optics with lightweight construction and very hard to break materials of body. It also should be protected against fog, rainy weather and all types of shock.
- Coating and optics protection. In cheap versions you won't see great coating and lens protection, so these models don't live long enough and don't give you chances to use them for years. It's any damage which can bring your optics out of order.
Also look at eye relief. If there is no possibility to use the optics with at least minimal eye relief, you'll clearly get troubles with shooting in inconvenient conditions. The producer plays nearly major role in choosing appropriate thing to install on your AR-15 rifle. Lots of people ask the same question - who makes the best optical devices? Look at TOP 10 of the companies in the field and you'll understand that. But before we look at best tactical and hunting equipment, let's talk about AR-15 construction and particular features.
AR-15 construction - important to know for owners
If you possess AR-15 rifle, M4 or M16 gun, then you need to know a little bit about its construction. The gun can be split to parts, lots of materials and modules can be changed to new ones. This is one of the options which is great in comparison with all other carbines and hunting rifles. One of the cheapest ways to make additional settings for your gun is to change buffer in AR-15 - read my review and instructions to buffer settings in the rifle.
Also important thing of the AR is barrel. Producer offers simple 4140 thing in base models but you can easily change it even to stainless steel or chrome lined modules. It won't take big budget but it really changes the way your rifle is acting on the hunting field. I also wrote some instructions of how to choose barrel materials for AR-15.
Lower receiver in AR-15 rifle - how to change one?
You need to know that every part of the rifle is registered in the US. So, you can't buy or sell lower receivers without checking its markings and all needed features. You actually have to do it if you don't want to be sentenced. To reduce any troubles in this sphere I created overview of lower receiver options in AR-15 and tried to present all information on buying, selling and other actions.
Be careful and don't install any unknown parts of lower receiver module in your gun. It may be very dangerous for your health and life. Check that all features are produced professionally and are fully finished in production. This is the only warranty you can get, especially when buying used products for your rifle.
The optics recommendations - prices and quality
What is the best option on the market to buy for your rifle? The riflescopes are all featured by advertisement and presented by producers as the best ones. Lots of prospective buyers want to buy only the best cheap option and don't want to look at high price ranges. But the only possible variant is to value all ideas and specs of different price sections and find out which scopes are really best with no doubts.
You won't find BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) in cheap options, you'll never be sure in quality. The TOP Ten never consists any options under mid price range. And it's not only advertisement as you might think. It's impossible to produce valuable and great riflescope for little money. Let's look at options which are best for target shooting with AR-15 gun model.
1. UTG 30mm SWAT 3-12x44 - great option for small amount of money
I would start with more expensive options, but I see that you want to compare it with the most widely recommended cheap scope for carbine and rifle for hunting. It's UTG SWAT series with optimal magnification, great features to shoot at mid distances and normal optics protection. You might note such features:
- it shoots in any conditions and provides wonderful protection;
- for the money you'll find a lot of options to use on hunting;
- the materials seem to be ok, they last long and don't cause troubles;
- magnification 3-12x is great for AR guns, it's the optimal feature;
- warranty from UTG is wonderful and provides all needed functions.
Let's be honest - I won't recommend this riflescope for those who want expert preciseness and all those features of a professional scope. But if you just need an affordable optical device to shoot precisely at all distances, be sure it's a wonderful choice. You may also read my full review of UTG 30mm SWAT in here.
2. Nikon P-223 in all models - keep AR-15 in mind
Of course, 223 rifle isn't exactly what we are speaking today about. But the Nikon P-223 optics is fully appropriate for AR models. Nikon seems to be optimal producer in comparing price and specs. Also Nikon tactical is of high quality. There are some models to view and think of their possibilities.
Nikon P-223 3-9x40 Mate BDC 600. Bullet drop compensation and traditional quality of the company makes it wonderful idea to put onto your rifle. 9x maximum magnification is optimal for AR rifles and seems to be ok for hunting.
Nikon P-223 BDC 600 Riflescope with Rapid Action Turret - another and more expensive option which helps to get more out of a simple scope. You can use it more mobile and confident in any conditions. And also you get 4-12x magnification which is a pleasant bonus.
Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 Riflescope - my favorite option of the producer which seems to be wonderful in all specs and possibilities to use. This is optimal and quite cheap technology with 3-9x magnification, lens coating and all protections which may be used in optics.
Maybe Nikon isn't the best assault rifle optics or military CQB modules scope. But it's surely great for hunting and sport. Although it's not my favorite producer, I give my respect to it and I'm always glad to shoot with Prostaff series.
3. Bushnell AR Optics - best for the money and quality
And the last version which is seen as best for the money decision will be Bushnell AR Optics Drop Zone-223. This small and compact thing made by world known brand gives lots of possibilities for hunting usage. The best magnifying option is 1-4x24mm which is optimal for AR guns and the series of other weapon in this segment. The all-purpose equipment seems to be wonderful in all ways.
Of course, you better don't compare this option to what DPMS Firearms Inc. offers you to install on their guns officially. But compare the prices and you'll see the reason of differences. Bushnell provides everything it can give you for the money you pay.
One more thing to look at is a mil-got option Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot. It's no-magnification optics with lots and lots of wonderful ideas to buy the thing. You could start being a fan of red dot scopes after using this comfortable option.
4. Trijicon Accupoint TR24G - start looking at expensive ones
Well, it's time to turn the page and look at the most interesting options on the market. They are my favorite things to use on hunting or during sport shooting. Trijicon Accupoint (as well as ACOG series) provides wonderful combination of mid price range and professional technical specs. There are some visible pros in the TR24G option for you:
- best setup for AR-15 and optimal setting range for reticle options;
- no need to change batteries all the time;
- clear picture in all 1-4x magnification range;
- wonderful protection of the optics against everything;
- long lasting technologies and great fog resistance;
- nearly no competitors on the market.
This price range is really weak at providing big assortment. Though, you can be sure and buy Trijicon Acccupoint with no troubles guaranteed. I reviewed this item closer in special article about Trijicon scopes. You might find it helpful when choosing the best scope to buy in this price niche.
5. Vortex AR optics - best golden middle you might have
The optical devices for AR-15 are wonderful in all specs and prices. It's one of the eternal TOP Ten players on the market who seems to be leading in a lot of sections. Especially interesting is Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24 AR. It has bullet drop compensation and is best for 100 yard shooting or similar distances. It's nearly sniper option according to optics quality and picture clarity.
Best variable reticle may appear to be great for all reasons and weather types. You could find options which are great for target shooting, tactical tasks and military using. These are the spheres of using of AR-15 and its brothers in model range. Actually, I see Vortex as one of the best alternatives to more expensive things on the market. Sometimes you don't need to pay more money.
So, what exactly riflescope for AR gun should I buy today?
The question seems to be tricky again. If you like red dot optics, go to Vortex and Bushnell options. If you want the cheapest scope on the market, look at UTG and maybe Nikon. Vortex will propose you expensive and middle price range decisions with a lot of optimal functions. But they aren't always worth recommendation. The small price tells a lot about quality of production. So, you better find really best option to buy if you are ready to spend some money.
Personally I would choose Trijicon Accupoint TR24G. This is best option in specs, variability and optics quality. It proposes you best coating, wonderful protection of body and very lightweight construction. It also seems to be optimal in time of living. There are owners who claim that the device can live for years and prove its quality to the end. But it's my personal choice and you might go for any other model.