1x to 20x Reviews: The 15+ Best AR-15 Scopes [2022]

Last Updated on August 10, 2022.

A major aspect of customizing your AR-15 is getting the best AR-15 scope for the type of shooting you do.

See further, Shoot further

The right scope, in the right shooting context, improves precision, target acquisition speed, and can even help you scout terrain and size up targets.

If you’re not sure which scope is right for you, we’ll show you how to choose an AR-15 scope. Then we’ve got reviews of all the best AR-15 scopes on the market, from my perspective working on a gun rental range and in a gunsmithing shop.

By the end, you’ll know which scope perfectly fits your budget and shooting context.

Best Choice

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x224mm Rifle Scope

Specifications:

Magnification:

1 – 8 x

Fabric/Material:

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Weight:

17.6 oz

Pros:

  • Excellent balance of price and performance.
  • Impressively clear glass.
  • Super capable reticle.

Comparison Table

Skip Straight to Product Reviews

Table of Contents

Should I put a scope or red dot on my AR-15?

Deciding whether you should put a scope or red dot on your AR-15 is a matter of assessing how far you’re shooting and how big the targets are.

Generally, use a scope for shooting at small, distant targets. For fast, close range shooting, a red dot is usually best.

That’s the thirty-second answer…

Just in case you feel like that answer leaves a lot of muddy water, here’s a more detailed primer to help you figure out if you need a scope for your AR-15.

  1. Red dots and 1x magnification prism sights: Home and personal defense, typical tactical competition, casual recreation (short range, 0 – 100 yards)

For short distances, red dots, holographic sights, and unmagnified prism sights are best for quick target acquisition and precision in fast-paced scenarios.

  1. LPVOs and low-magnification scopes: Hunting, 3-gun and more advanced competition, enthusiastic recreation (medium range, 0 – 500 yards).

LPVOs and low-magnification scopes can be quite versatile. They’re not quite as simple for short range shooting. They work, though.

Plus, a little magnification can help extend your effective range with your AR-15.

  1. Medium to high-magnification scopes: Hunting, long-range competition and recreation (long range, 500+ yards).

Higher magnification scopes are best suited for shooting from a stable position and pushing rounds as far as you can.

Red dots and holographic sights vs scopes

The simple difference between red dots and holographic sights and scopes is the reticle.

The vast majority of red dots and holographic sights are unmagnified. Additionally, the reticle is usually entirely generated with LED systems or lasers. It’s projected into your field of view.

Conversely, scopes are almost always magnified. The reticle is often etched into one of the lenses.

So red dots and holographic sights are excellent for fast, short range shooting because it’s super easy to pick up your reticle and quickly get your sight picture when you present your rifle.

Scopes, on the other hand, are better for medium and long-range shooting where you need magnification to see your target clearly and get the shot placement you need.

Shooters who need medium to long range precision at lower rates of fire and shooting from a fixed position will benefit from a magnified scope. Hunters and competition shooters usually fall into this category. 

Some hunters might prefer slightly lower magnification if they hunt fast moving game at shorter ranges.

For example, if you have an AR-15 for coyote hunting, a low magnification scope would be best, since this is medium range shooting at fast moving targets that change direction quickly.

Extreme long range shooters need a high-quality, magnified optic to be successful in this area.

A majority of extreme long range shooters are competition shooters, and a select few hunters. Anyone looking to push their shots out to 700 meters or more should be in the market for a good scope.

Magnification

Magnification is simply how much a scope will magnify the image within the field of view. Rifle scope magnification is expressed as the first number in the specifications. For instance, a 4×32 scope magnifies the image four times more than viewing with the naked eye.

Here’s a good rifle scope magnification comparison:

More magnification might seem better, but there is such a thing as too much magnification.

Scopes with extremely high power are generally designed for longer ranges than an AR-15 is capable of. Additionally, more magnification narrows the field of view of a scope and reduces how much light comes through the lenses to your eye.

Typically hunters and competition shooters need more magnification.

A magnification range around 3-9x is enough for typical competition and hunting. If you frequently shoot 500 yards and further, you may want to consider going as high as 20x magnification.

If you, like most people, fall somewhere in between the long and short-range categories or want a scope that’s viable in the broadest range of shooting contexts, an LPVO is an excellent option.

Reticle

A more complex reticle may have more functionality, but it also obscures the field of view more. The rule of thumb for AR-15 rifle scope reticles is to get the simplest reticle that meets your needs.

If you never use the markings on the reticle, then it’s best not to have them.

Duplex reticle

The duplex reticle is the simplest rifle scope reticle.

It’s a classic set of crossed lines that form a crosshair. This reticle presents the least obstructed field of view, but requires range adjustments and manual windage estimation.

Most hunters that hunt medium to large game at ranges between 50-300 yards can do very well with a  duplex reticle.

BDC reticle

The BDC reticle is essentially a duplex reticle with range indicators and an aiming circle for each range.

Some BDC reticles have range markers for ranges as far as 600 yards. The purpose of the range markers is to make it easier to shoot at various ranges without having to make elevation adjustments to your scope.

A BDC reticle is handy for competition shooters or hunters that need to set up and quickly take shots at varying ranges.

Mildot reticle

The mil-dot reticle looks a lot like a standard duplex reticle, with hash marks or dots on both the vertical and horizontal lines.

These markings are good for taking shots at varying ranges (the same way the range circles on a BDC reticle are used), estimating wind calls, and leading moving targets.

The mil-dot reticle is most popular in tactical settings. However, it’s also excellent for hunters and competition shooters, especially those looking to shoot at extreme long ranges or at moving targets.

Mils (MRAD) vs Minutes (MOA)

The  MRAD vs MOA debate is long and storied. For most shooters, though, the difference is less important than many gun experts make it sound.

MRAD and MOA simply refer to the system of measurement that the scope uses for elevation and windage adjustments.

Both systems are perfectly capable. However, shooters who are familiar with one or the other should stick with what they know.

Military optics, for example, almost always use MRAD adjustments. Shooters who are familiar with military scopes are probably best using an MRAD scope.

The reasoning for this mostly comes down to familiarization. It’s going to take a lot longer to get proficient with a scope if you have to unlearn old habits and make new ones as you learn to operate your scope.

If you’re not familiar with either system, don’t worry.

Choose a scope that has the magnification, reticle, and durability you need, and familiarize yourself with whatever measurement that scope uses. Then, choose a scope with the same system when you buy your next one.

If you’re concerned about MRAD vs MOA for hunting or competition shooting, both MRAD and MOA adjustments are perfectly capable for almost every type of shooting.

The only caveat here is extreme long range shooting…

There are some that disagree with this, but a vast majority of the best extreme long range shooters are using MRAD optics. This is likely because MRAD is a slightly more precise system.

So, if you’re planning on shooting out past 700 yards, MRAD may be your best option.

Focal plane (FFP vs SFP)

The biggest question people have here is, “What is the difference between first and second focal plane scopes?”

Focal plane simply refers to where the image is focused in the scope.

In a first focal plane scope, the image is focused closer to the objective lens. In a second focal plane scope, the image is focused closer to your eye.

The biggest impact of the focal plane is how the reticle is affected by the scope magnification.

In a first focal plane scope, the reticle scales with the magnification. The measurements of the range and windage markings are the same at every magnification power.

In a second focal plane scope, the reticle does not change with the magnification power.

This means that the range and windage measurements of the reticle will only be accurate at the magnification the reticle is scaled to match — usually maximum magnification.

Both first focal plane (FFP) scopes and second focal plane (SFP) scopes work just fine.

It’s just important to understand how your scope works and how to use your reticle for estimations and calculations.

Parallax

Parallax is one of the most confusing characteristics of rifle scopes. Plenty of shooters never fully understand parallax…

So, what is the parallax on a rifle scope?

Without getting too scientific, parallax is caused by two things:

  • Light traveling in a straight line.
  • The reticle being between your eye and the target.

If you look out the window of a moving car, you’ll notice that things which are close to the car appear to be moving faster than things that are far away from the car. This isn’t truly parallax.

However, parallax causes a similar effect when it comes to optics.

If you move your head while looking through your rifle scope, you’ll notice that the crosshair may appear to move around faster than the target moves. This causes the crosshair to shift its position on the target, even though the target is also moving.

You’re witnessing parallax in action.

If you want to understand it better, this is a great video that explains the effect.

Most rifle scopes are designed to be parallax free at 100 or 150 yards.

For most hunting applications, this is no problem. There’s not much need for any scope parallax adjustment.

Competition shooters and extreme long range shooters may find a parallax adjustment necessary.

However, good shooting technique will be enough for most shooters to make accurate shots, since the effect of parallax is mostly only noticeable when the shooter moves their eye around behind the scope.

Light gathering

Image clarity in low light conditions and at high magnification depends on how much light reaches the shooter’s eye.

A wider objective lens enables a scope to collect more light, which does two things:

  • Provides a clearer image in low light conditions. 
  • Gives a clearer image at high magnification.

As such, quality high magnification scopes and the best rifle scopes for low light conditions are fitted with very wide objective lenses.

The diameter of the objective lens is expressed as the second number in the specifications. A 4×32 scope has a 32mm objective lense.

Something to consider if you’re looking for a scope with exceptional light collection capabilities is that a very wide objective lens may interfere with the rail system on your forend.

If you have bulky handguards or any attachments on your rifle, check to make sure the diameter of the objective lens won’t cause compatibility issues.

Typically, hunters and long range competition shooters are most interested in an extra wide objective lens.

Hunters need a large objective lens for better low light performance. Long range competition shooters benefit from the clearer image of a wide objective lens when sighting in at maximum magnification.

Eye relief

The eye relief of a scope is the distance from the ocular lens — the lens closest to your eye — to where your eye should be for the most focused image.

Longer eye relief means that your eye will be further from your scope when the image is focused and vice versa.

Longer eye relief distance usually translates to less eye strain and fatigue.

Eye relief distance is of particular importance to shooters who need to look through their scope for long periods of time. If you use your scope to scan for animals when you hunt, or if you plan on using your scope for tactical observation, look for a scope with longer eye relief.

Some scopes have adjustable eye relief, which is quite useful for AR 15 shooters using adjustable stocks.

Budget

Maybe this consideration should actually be first…

In any case, the old rule, “you get what you pay for,” holds true when it comes to rifle scopes.

However, this doesn’t mean that the most expensive scope is always the best for your situation. The goal is to get a scope that exactly meets your shooting needs, without paying for functionality you won’t use.

The Best AR-15 Scope Reviews: Through the looking glass

These are the best scopes, from the best AR-15 scope brands, based on their characteristics and what shooting context they excel in.

For most people, the ideal specs for an AR-15 scope are pretty straightforward. If you’re not interested in extreme long-range or exclusively short-range shooting, a scope with specs similar to these will do the trick:

MagnificationBetween 1x and 10x
ReticleDuplex or BDC
Measurement systemMRAD or MOA
Focal planeFirst focal plane or second focal plane
Overall Best

1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 8 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

  • Weight:

17.6 oz

Pros:

  • Excellent balance of price and performance.
  • Impressively clear glass.
  • Super capable reticle.

Cons:

  • Only the red center reticle is clearly visible at 1x
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The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x224mm Rifle Scope is easily one of the most popular AR-15 scopes.

It’s not exactly a budget AR-15 scope. It’s not off the charts expensive, either. The balance of performance and price is hard to beat.

The glass on this scope is some of the clearest glass you can get in this price range.

Yes, there are scopes with better glass. They have a much higher price point, though. The difference in clarity between the Strike Eagle and some much more expensive scopes is minimal.

The other really nice thing about this scope is the reticle.

It’s got a ton of utility for range and windage estimations. At 1x, it looks a lot like a red dot, which is nice for fast, short-range shooting at minimum magnification.

Really, the only gripe one might have about this scope is that it’s made in China.

Vortex Optics obviously has excellent supervision and quality control in their production facilities. Though, if you’re wondering how Vortex keeps their prices so low, the manufacturing location probably plays a big part.

Budget Scope

2. UTG BugBuster 3-9x32mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

3 – 9 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aluminum

  • Weight:

13.9 oz

Pros:

  • 3-9x magnification.
  • Mil-dot reticle.
  • MOA increments.
  • Second focal plane.

Cons:

  • Impressively well-made, considering the price.
  • Mil-dot reticle with several illumination options.
  • Includes picatinny rail mounts.
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The UTG BugBuster 3-9x32mm Rifle Scope has been the champion of budget AR-15 scopes for years now. It’s such a good little scope that there’s no way I could leave it out of this article.

The BugBuster is basically a compact hunting scope that mounts to a picatinny rail. It’s got a basic mil-dot reticle with a few illumination options, and it’s impressively durable.

The glass may not be the clearest. There’s a bit of edge distortion, and the battery life is just decent.

With scopes and optics, you get what you pay for. Even though it’s not perfect, this scope delivers a ton of value for the money.

1-4x LPVO under $200

3. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Riflescope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 4 x

  • Length:

9.4 in

  • Weight:

18 oz

Pros:

  • Tuned for .223/5.56mm ballistics.
  • Ideal magnification range for short to medium-range shooting.
  • Simple, but capable, BDC reticle.

Cons:

  • Lower magnification range isn’t great for super long-range shooting
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LPVOs have kind of become the norm for AR-15 scopes.

The lower magnification range matches the capabilities of the .223/5.56mm round very well. Also, a minimum magnification of 1x gives LPVOs decent performance for short range shooting.

Since an LPVO is such a good match for the performance of an AR-15, Bushnell made the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Riflescope. As the name suggests, it’s an LPVO for AR-15 rifles.

The magnification and the reticle are designed to match the ballistics of the .223/5.56mm round.

The reticle has bullet drop markings for holdovers out to 500 yards, in 100 yard increments.

The reticle pairs pretty nicely with the 1-4x magnification, which might be just a tad on the low side. However, it’s enough to shoot out to 500 yards without much trouble seeing your target.

Lastly, the glass is impressively clear. It’s not uncommon for scopes in this price range to have pretty noticeable color degradation or distortion. This scope has very little image degradation, even at 500 yards.

The glass isn’t perfect, but it’s better than you’d expect for the price. This scope performs well enough overall to meet the demands of almost any shooting context.

Hunting Scope

4. Sig Sauer Whiskey3 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

3 – 9 x

  • Length:

12.3 in

  • Weight:

15.7 oz

Pros:

  • 3-9x magnification.
  • Quadplex reticle.
  • MOA increments.
  • Second focal plane.

Cons:

  • Simple, but useful, reticle.
  • Clear glass with almost no image distortion.
  • Relatively all-purpose magnification range.
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Sig didn’t always make optics, but they do now. So far, the Sig optics are pretty good.

The Sig Sauer Whiskey3 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope is pretty much a traditional hunting scope. It just looks tactical enough to fit the aesthetic of an AR-15.

…But seriously, it uses a quadplex reticle, with or without bullet drop hash marks.

.

The magnification is 3-9x. Both the reticle and the magnification range are pretty standard hunting scope stuff.

The thing that makes this scope stand out is the glass. There’s a little bit of a gray tinge to the image, especially at maximum magnification. However, there’s almost no distortion, even at the edges.

In short, if you need an AR-15 hunting scope for less than $200, this scope is the way to go.

Sig also makes a more powerful version of this scope, the Sig Sauer Whiskey3 4-12x50mm Rifle Scope. It’s also very well priced. If you’re looking for a value AR-15 scope for long range, the 4-12x model is perfect.

Competition scope

5. Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

3.5 – 10 x

  • Fabric/Material:

6061-T6 Aluminum

  • Weight:

12.6 oz

Pros:

  • Versatile magnification range.
  • Offered with multiple duplex reticle variations.
  • Exceptionally clear glass.

Cons:

  • 3.5x minimum magnification is unique and can take some getting used to.
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The Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Rifle Scope is one of the more versatile scopes out there. It also falls about in the middle of the road, as far as price goes.

So, it’s probably the best scope for a lot of people…

The magnification range is just a bit more powerful than your grandad’s hunting scope, which is nice for benchrest shooters and competitors. However, this scope is definitely not overkill for hunting or recreational long-range shooting.

In short, it works great for just about everything except super short range shooting.

Additionally, the reticle comes in a few options, with and without bullet drop markings or hash marks. Though, all of the reticles are minimal enough to keep your field of view uncluttered.

Additionally, the glass is remarkably clear at all magnifications. The Leupold diamond coating on the lenses definitely seems to work as well as they claim.
If you need a scope for all sorts of long-range shooting, this scope is right for you.

Short-Range scope

6. Vortex Optics Viper PST 1-4x24mm Riflescope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 4 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

  • Weight:

16 oz

Pros:

  • Reticle is excellent for short to medium-range shooting.
  • Bullet drop markings are good enough for holdovers out to 500 yards.
  • Excellent glass.

Cons:

  • Reticle is only okay for long-range precision.
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The Vortex Optics Viper PST 1-4x24mm Riflescope is essentially an upgraded version of the Strike Eagle. It’s got slightly better glass, crisper adjustment clicks, and a slightly more precise reticle.

Of course, the 1-4x magnification range might seem worse than the Strike Eagle. This scope is just more focused on short to medium range shooting, and 1-4x fits that bill better.

The reticle is more suited to short and medium range shooting as well. The design is more symmetrical and there aren’t quite as many marks for holdovers. However, you can pretty easily use the reticle for holdovers out to 500 yards.

On the other hand, the symmetrical reticle is much easier to use like a red dot in short-range situations.

The glass is also slightly clearer than the Strike Eagle, but only by a small margin. It makes sense that the more expensive scope would have better optics. Anyway, if you want an LPVO for a tactical or defensive AR-15, this is one of the best options.

Long-range scope

7. Nightforce Optics 5-20×56 SHV Riflescope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

5 – 20 x

  • Tube Diameter:

30 mm

  • Field of View, Linear:

5 – 17.9 ft at 100 yds

Pros:

  • High magnification for extreme long-range shooting.
  • Insanely clear glass and target image.
  • Excellent mil-dot style reticle.

Cons:

  • More magnification than most AR-15 shooters need.
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Admittedly, the Nightforce Optics 5-20×56 SHV Riflescope is probably more than most people need, especially when you’re shooting 5.56mm.

However, you could use this scope on both an AR-15 and an AR-10 or bolt-action rifle to save some money.

5-20x magnification is as much magnification as you would ever need on a 5.56mm rifle. You can see as far as the bullet will fly with this scope. Also, the glass is stupidly clear, which you would expect from a Nightforce scope.

The reticle also has nice hash marks to help you make some estimations and calculations for those long-range shots. 

Obviously, this is definitely not the scope for everyone. It’s certainly not going to make your AR-15 feel light or maneuverable. However, if you’re trying to drive nails at the limits of your rifle’s capabilities, this scope is indeed for you.

Digital night vision scope

8. ATN X-Sight 4K 3-14x Pro Edition

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

5 – 20 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aluminum

  • Weight:

2.2 lb

Pros:

  • Includes all the utility you might need in one piece of gear.
  • Digital image generation is clear enough to make target acquisition quick and easy.
  • Tons of reticle options.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
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Not everyone needs a thermal sight (or maybe everyone does need a thermal sight…).

If you do need a thermal sight, the ATN X-Sight 4K 3-14x Pro Edition is one of the more affordable options, and it’s a good thermal sight.

It’s got a whole bunch of reticle options, a built-in rangefinder, and it records video footage. Not a bad all-in-one package.

Additionally, the screen resolution and night vision sensor produce a nice, crisp image.

There are other options. However, under $1000, this is probably the best thermal sight, dollar for dollar.

Tactical scope

9. Trijicon ACOG

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

4 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Forged Aluminum

  • Weight:

9.9 oz

Pros:

  • Incredibly versatile reticle.
  • Overhold marks for up to 600 yards.
  • Batteryless illumination.

Cons:

  • Reticle can get a bit too bright in full sunlight.
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The Trijicon ACOG probably needs no introduction.

It’s technically not a scope… It’s an Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG).

If your method of choosing a scope is to ask, “What scope does the military use on their AR-15s?” and then get that one, you’ll probably end up with a Trijicon ACOG.

It’s been one of the standard issue magnified optics in conventional military units for a couple of decades now.

Even though Trijicon calls it a gun sight, the ACOG has 4x magnification and a self-illuminated chevron reticle with overhold hash marks. So we’ll call it an AR-15 scope.

The reticle is calibrated for holdovers out to 600 meters. The ACOG is built for the military. Hence, the reticle is optimized for 62 grain bullets. Though, it works well enough with other types of ammunition.

Also, despite being fixed at 4x magnification, the reticle is surprisingly easy to use for short range shooting. The chevron is bright, easy to pick up, and can be zeroed for the point of impact at short distances.

1-6x Scope

10. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 6 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

  • Weight:

22.7 oz

Pros:

  • Super versatile magnification range>
  • Produces an exceptionally clear image>
  • Vortex BDC reticle is one of the least cluttered, but most capable reticles on the market>

Cons:

  • No center dot for short-range shooting at minimum magnification.
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The Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x24mm Rifle Scope is simply the more powerful version of the Viper PST1-4x, with a few feature tweaks to accommodate the higher magnification range.

The main difference is the reticle. This scope uses the Vortex VMR-2 reticle, which is essentially a duplex reticle with hash marks.

It’s simple, but the design puts more emphasis on long-range shooting.

It’s still usable for short range shooting. It just doesn’t show up quite as well for fast reticle acquisition.

Also, the magnification at 1x is just slightly more than 1x. Probably 1.1x or 1.2x. It’s certainly not a deal breaker. It can seem like distortion when you’re expecting a 1x image., though.Overall, though, this is a solid LPVO for long-range shooting, and it does well enough at short ranges.

Medium-range scope

11. Primary Arms 1-6x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 6 x

  • Fabric/Material:

6063 Aluminum

  • Objective Lens Diameter:

24 mm

Pros:

  • Virtually no image distortion.
  • Reticle offers a ridiculous amount of utility.
  • Easy to use for both short and long-range shooting.

Cons:

  • Reticle can feel a bit cluttered at maximum magnification.
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I’ve been rather impressed with the Primary Arms optics.

If you’re on the market for a 1-6x AR-15 scope, the Primary Arms 1-6x24mm Rifle Scope is one of the most affordable options, and this scope outperforms its price point.

The glass is impressively clear. There’s almost no distortion, even at 6x magnification, which is uncommon at this price point.

Additionally, the ACSS reticle is awesome. Look at all the stuff you can do with this reticle:

Also, the horseshoe at the top works great as a short-range aiming point. The reticle feels rather non-intrusive, on the whole, even though it’s got a lot of utility.

If you’re looking for an LPVO under $300, this is one of the best options.

All-Purpose scope

12. Sig Sauer Tango 1-10x28mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 10 x

  • Objective Lens Diameter:

28 mm

  • Weight:

1.281 lb

Pros:

  • Wide magnification range covers everything from short to long-range shooting.
  • Reticle works great for shooting at all ranges.
  • Super clear glass.

Cons:

  • A tiny bit of distortion at minimum and maximum magnification.
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If you need one scope for everything, the Sig Sauer Tango 1-10x28mm Rifle Scope is probably what you’re looking for.

1-10x magnification is about right for hunting. It’s powerful enough that you could easily use this scope for benchrest shooting. The 1x minimum magnification is usable at short ranges.

Boom. Bases covered.

Sig seems to know what they’re doing here, because the reticle is designed to work at all distances, too.

It’s got a nice horseshoe at the top and a bunch of overhold and windage marks underneath. It’s kind of like the ACSS reticle: able to do just about everything.

There is a tad bit of distortion at 10x. And the 1x setting seems to be a bit more than true 1x, maybe 1.2. However, the distortion is minimal and totally reasonable for a scope with such a wide magnification range.

If you want a scope that goes from 0 to 500 better than almost any other AR-15 optic, this is one of the few scopes that does the job well.

Red dot alternative

13. Vortex Spitfire HD Gen II 3x Prism Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

3 x

  • Battery Type:

Lithium Ion, CR2032

  • Weight:

9.3 oz

Pros:

  • Long eye relief for easy reticle acquisition.
  • Excellent BDC reticle works great for all types of shooting.
  • 3x magnification is easy to use at almost all distances.

Cons:

  • Not quite as easy to use as a red dot.
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The Vortex Spitfire HD Gen II 3x Prism Scope is sometimes called the “poor man’s ACOG.” That’s a fair nickname.

The Spitfire is less expensive than the ACOG and features a slightly lower magnification setting. The reticle is battery illuminated and is slightly more universal than the ACOG reticle.

On the bright side, though, the Spitfire has 2.6 inches of eye relief, which is usually not a big deal.

However, the relatively long eye relief is nice if you use a prism scope like a red dot, because it’s easier to pick up your reticle and get a sight picture quickly when you don’t need to get your eye all that close to the sight.

Also, the reticle is pretty nicely designed for short to mid-range shooting, with just enough bullet drop marks to make the most of the 3x magnification.

All that said, I would only recommend this as an AR-15 red dot alternative if you want magnification without a red dot and magnifier. For that purpose, this is a great option.
If you have astigmatism, like me, and just need a 1x sight with a reticle that looks crisp, get the Vortex Spitfire 1x-AR Prism Scope.

Scope for coyote hunting

14. Leupold FX-II 2.5x28mm Ultralight Riflescope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

2.5 x

  • Fabric/Material:

6061-T6 Aluminum

  • Weight:

6.5 oz

Pros:

  • Incredibly simple Reticle.
  • Relatively versatile fixed magnification setting.
  • Excellent for quick shots at short and medium ranges.
  • Lightweight.

Cons:

  • Not great for tactical and long-range shooting.
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The Leupold FX-II 2.5x28mm Ultralight Riflescope is great because it’s simple.

The magnification is fixed at 2.5x. It uses a minimal duplex reticle. Also, as the name suggests, it’s pretty lightweight.

Basically, it’s an ACOG for dummies. This is an ideal scope for running around, looking for small animals, and taking quick shots.

It’s nothing fancy. The glass is clear, everything is streamlined and functional, and this scope is far more affordable than an ACOG.

Value LPVO

15. Atibal XP8 Mirage 1-8x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 8 x

  • Fabric/Material:

6061-T6 Aircraft Grade Aluminum

  • Weight:

17.4 oz

Pros:

  • Excellent performance for the price.
  • Includes throw lever for the magnification adjustment ring.
  • Excellent all-purpose reticle.

Cons:

  • Tiny bit of distortion at maximum magnification.
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Atibal is a relatively new brand to me. So far, the Atibal XP8 Mirage 1-8x24mm Rifle Scope is a great LPVO.

The glass is as clear as any other LPVO in the price range.

The build quality is sturdy, with nice crisp clicks on the adjustment knobs. It even comes with a throw lever on the magnification adjustment ring, which is a feature that most other scopes don’t come with.

There’s a little bit of distortion at maximum magnification. It’s about the same as any competing scope.

Overall, this is an excellent option if you’re looking for an LPVO with a little bit more high end magnification, at about the price of a 1-6x optic.

LPVO for the money

16. Swampfox Optics Arrowhead LPVO 1-10x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 10 x

  • Objective Lens Diameter:

24 mm

  • Weight:

20.3 oz

Pros:

  • Impressive performance for the price.
  • Includes throw lever for magnification adjustment.
  • Reticle is excellent for both short and long-range shooting.

Cons:

  • Image can be a bit dim in low light conditions.
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The Swampfox Optics Arrowhead LPVO 1-10x24mm Rifle Scope is another really versatile LPVO, with a wide magnification range and strong optics. The glass is impressively clear and the reticle is cool.

The reticle is an illuminated horseshoe with bullet drop marks. It’s not revolutionary. It’s just a proven design that offers a lot of utility at longer ranges and performs well at short range.

Then, they went one step further and added some really precise adjustment markings to the adjustment knobs.

The click value is the normal 0.5 MOA. However, there are more markings on the knobs than most other LPVOs, which is nice if you’re building a range card.

Also, this scope comes with a magnification throw lever, which is a nice feature that more scopes should include as a standard.

The only downside is that the objective lens is 24mm.

A 28mm objective lens would make the image a tad bit brighter. Though, if I’m being honest, the difference between 24mm and 28mm is only noticeable in low light. Even then, it’s not a massive difference.

Overall, this is one of the best options if you’re set on a 1-10x LPVO.

FFP AR-15 LPVO

17. Sig Sauer Tango4 1-4x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 4 x

  • Objective Lens Diameter:

24 mm

  • Parallax:

100 yds

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable first focal plane LPVOs on the market.
  • Offered with multiple reticle options.
  • Almost no image distortion.

Cons:

  • Narrow magnification range doesn’t take full advantage of first focal plane construction.
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The thing that sets the Sig Sauer Tango4 1-4x24mm Rifle Scope apart from most other LPVOs is the focal plane.

This is one of the few first focal plane LPVOs around, and it’s priced about the same as a good second focal plane scope.

Some people consider the focal plane to come down to personal preference. Maybe that’s true…

However, if you want a reticle that scales with your magnification setting, first focal plane is the only option.

This scope comes with multiple reticle options, which is nice, since it’s easier to use the reticle for windage and elevation estimations when you have a first focal plane scope.

The only limiting factor is the magnification. 1-4x magnification is fine. It’s a small magnification range, which minimizes distortion at maximum magnification.

But a wider magnification would take better advantage of the first focal plane construction.

Sig does have the Tango6T 1-6x24mm, which gives you a little more magnification power in a first focal plane package. However, the price is significantly higher.

In terms of performance per dollar, the Tango4 1-4x is easily the best value in a first focal plane LPVO, even if the magnification isn’t tremendously strong.

Illuminated LPVO

18. Trijicon AccuPoint TR-24 1-4x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 4 x

  • Fabric/Material:

6061-T6 Aluminum

  • Weight:

14.4 oz

Pros:

  • Bright, batteryless illumination.
  • Triangle post reticle is simple and easy to use.
  • Incredibly clear glass.

Cons:

  • No bullet drop markings
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If you don’t like batteries, the Trijicon AccuPoint TR-24 1-4x24mm Rifle Scope is for you. It’s pretty much the only self-illuminated LPVO on the market.

The reticle is illuminated with ambient light through Trijicon’s fiber optic illumination system. It’s the same technology Trijicon uses in the ACOG.

The illumination gives you a bright center aiming point with an etched post.

It’s a simple reticle, but it works. It’s pretty appropriate for a 1-4x scope. Although, some bullet drop hash marks would be nice.

However, it’s a Trijicon scope. So the glass is excellent and the construction is incredibly durable.

If you want a scope that doesn’t rely on batteries, and specializes in short to medium range shooting, this is your best bet.

The Final Shot

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24mm Rifle Scope

Key Specs:

  • Magnification:

1 – 8 x

  • Fabric/Material:

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

  • Weight:

17.6 oz

Pros:

  • Excellent balance of price and performance.
  • Impressively clear glass.
  • Super capable reticle.

Cons:

  • Only the red center reticle is clearly visible at 1x.
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Although some shooters will be at one end of the spectrum or the other, most AR 15 owners will find a scope that fits their needs within the $200 price range, such as the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Riflescope.

At this price point, there are scopes with the features that shine in almost every context.

Competitive long range shooters may need to search above this price range in order to get the sort of clarity at high magnifications that high precision shooters require.

However, many competitive shooters won’t need to go much beyond the $300 price point. A scope such as the Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Rifle Scope will work for most competitive shooters.

Tactical shooters who need rapid fire and close quarters performance would be better served with some sort of reflex sight like a red dot or holographic sight.

Tactical shooters who want versatile fixed magnification should save up for the Trijicon ACOG.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these scopes. They all have excellent glass and build quality. It’s really a matter of getting a scope with a reticle you like and magnification does what you need.

I’m not going to tell you what to do. Those are just what I think are the best of the best scopes. Have at them.

Read our other related articles here:

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AR 15 Scope Under $100-$300 Reviews

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AR 15 rifle scope reticles