I Tested And Ranked The Best AR-15 Scopes On Amazon In 2023
I tested and ranked the best AR-15 scopes for the money. Here are hand-on reviews of the best options you can get on Amazon right now.
FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.
1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Riflescope
Top-rated: 2,916 ratings | 334 answered questions
Highlight: The new illuminated BDC3 reticle focuses the shooter's eye to the target faster. Holdovers allow for immediate use out to 650 yards for targets of known distance.
Helpful review: "This is the second Vortex optic I've purchased and the result is always the same. Can you find better? Sure you can, but not without triple the cost and you WILL NOT match their warranty anywhere. For the money, you will not find a better scope for your AR. It has very clear glass. The reticle is great. Illumination is daylight bright. The 1-6x at the cost is fantastic as it's a true 1x and works just as well as a red dot. At 6x it maintains its clarity, and it's really pleasing to the eye in a way that doesn't happen with other scopes at this price range. BUT - at 1x there is a very slight amount of fish eye effect (very slight and goes away after 3x and up). The weight is a little on the heavy side. It added enough weight to take my 16"carbine Bushmaster XM-15E2S to about 10.5 lbs. Not a deal breaker but noticeable. The magnification ring is a little stiff and a throw lever will be desired. But the bottom line is, this scope shocked me at how good it was for the low cost. You'll spend near 1k to match it with another brand. And with the lifetime warranty your investment is protected for life. It's built tough, it's very clear and very functional as well as intuitive. Even pro shooter friends of mine are buying this one because they can't justify the extra spend on the higher dollar models when this does so well at such a reasonable price point. Buy it and don't look back!" — Neil Inabnitt
Trending review: ""Finally!! I can see my target. Just what my tired, old eyes needed, as I am no longer able to focus on my Mag Pul flip up front sight. At 1x the Strike Eagle has NO parallax, and AR-BDC reticle acquisition is fast with semi-precise face/ stock placement. Impressive from 6 feet to 50 yards. I haven't practiced at 1x out to 100y yet. Love the arc in the AR-BDC. Reticle focus was set at 1x (now I don't need glasses) and did not change when scope dialed to 6x. Magnification wheel easy to turn. It has a large cog to enhance grip, and it stays set. At 6x I was able to clearly see a 1" bullseye, and was able to shoot 3/4 MOA groups with my AR-15's 16" (match grade) barrel and match grade ammo (and occasionally I'd put two rounds on top of each other at 100y; not bad for a hack). Took 6 rounds to zero scope. Like the extra battery in the windage cap. Detents for windage and elevation are very fine; user has to pay attention. Appreciated 1/2 MOA/ click adjustments on a 1-6x scope (some competitors are 1 MOA per click). My only criticism: Scope caps that flip "up" obstruct vision when raising one's weapon from low-ready to pointed in. I turned mine 90 degrees so they flip to the right (I am right eye dominant, and I don't like looking over the open scope caps). I am able to keep both eyes open when acquiring the reticle at 1x. Caps are a bit flimsy, but do an OK job of protecting the scope's lenses. Otherwise, this is a very well-built scope and unbeatable for the money. Excellent product (old guys rule!)." — Rex Lockhart
Get it from Amazon now: $399.00 & FREE Returns
2. Pinty 4-in-1 Combo Red & Green Dot Sight and Green Laser
Top-rated: 4,779 ratings | 540 answered questions
Highlight: Package includes: 3–9×32 Rifle Scope, Red & Green Dot Sight, Compact Green Laser Sight, Riser Mount, 4 Hex Wrenches, CR2032 Battery, AG3 Batteries, CR2 Batteries.
Helpful review: "I'm actually incredibly pleased with the purchase so far. I bought my first AR-15 earlier this year, but didn't realize it was a flat top optic ready rifle without traditional front and rear sights. So I just wanted something that would get me on paper when target shooting, and something that would be useful for home protection. I actually wanted to cancel the order at the last minute because I didn't think I'd need the riflescope. I found another less expensive option from the same company with just the red dot optic and laser combo, which I wanted instead. I was not able to cancel the order in time and ended up with this three part combo, which turned into a blessing in disguise. The red dot optic is cool, and it's a nice option to have, but the riflescope is actually my favorite feature. You can use it with or without a battery. With a battery, you can switch on a light feature and the crosshairs light up in either red or green, which is a really cool feature. The riflescope comes with cap covers to protect the lenses on both ends. I couldn't fit my rifle into the carry case with the red dot optic mounted on top of the riflescope, so I opted for just the riflescope. If the battery fails on the red dot optic, you're pretty much out of luck. But if the battery dies on the riflescope, the crosshairs still work just fine without the light up feature. I think the laser is a nice option for quick target acquisition. It's easy to turn on and off with your thumb, so you're not draining the battery every time you pick up your rifle. There probably isn't any need to use the laser and riflescope at the same time, but it's nice to have them both on the rifle to serve different functions. If something happens to the riflescope over time, I still have the red dot optic boxed in my closet as a back up plan. I recently went to an outdoor training range with my rifle to field test the riflescope. It didn't take long to zero it in, and it held zero without any issues. Overall, I'm very pleased with this purchase." — Charlie Garza
Trending review: "I ordered this scope for my new Ruger AR 556. After reading the reviews, I realized that the most problems others had were with the laser. I took a chance that I may be one of the lucky ones but it didn't work out that way. The laser never worked, straight from the box. I was hoping that it was just an old/bad battery. But a new one didn't help. Maybe the manufacturer could take a hint and start 100% testing before they package these things! Other than that, the scope and reflex sight seem pretty nice for the price. I thought I'd have been much happier and given a much better review if they just kept the laser and lowered the price a few dollars. And now to the second chance I had given this product: Like several other buyers, I gave a less than stellar review because of problems with the product. Then I had the same experience that some of them had with the customer service. But within hours of posting my review, I received an email apologizing for the problem and an assurance that a new laser was being shipped. It got here in a couple of days. I just opened the box, and the new unit works great! Thanks Pinty! Great customer service means a lot!!! I'll always look for your name when searching for similar products." — Stewart Glusic
Get it from Amazon now: $99.59 & FREE Returns
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane Riflescope
Top-rated: 2,604 ratings | 335 answered questions
Highlight: Fast focus eyepiece for quick and easy reticle focusing.
Helpful review: "I like good glass for my rifles. I tend to own a lot of Leupold scopes just because they tend to have good glass and not be stupid expensive. With that being said, I live in the Pacific Northwest where it tends to rain once in a while, and it never fails that it will start to rain when you are out hunting. I also hunt predators a lot, so I tend to move stands and be generally rough on optics. So I started looking for something that I could use on my predator AR that would no break the bank, but also last through the abuse. I ended up looking at Vortex for two reasons. They make good products, including good glass, and they have a no BS warranty. So when my scope takes the inevitable spill it will be covered.
First, this scope comes well packaged, and is very well built and feels good in the hand. Looking through it, the glass is clear and bright. The 4" sunshade that comes with it matches the coloring of the scope and threads into the objective bell very well. I have this mounted in a Nikon AR style mount, and it mounts well and it positively locked into the mount. Sighting this in was a breeze; fire a test shot at 25yds and then zero it. Move to 50yds and do the same; then move out to 100 and repeat for final 100yd zero. All in all, I used 8rds to zero at 100yds. I then wanted to know how well the scope tracked and the return to zero after adjustments. So I did a box drill which was another 12rds. The box drill at 100yds was perfect and the scope tracked back to zero perfectly. I then input all my values into my ballistic calculator and dialed in the drop for my gong at 380yds and was able to hit it first shot. I returned to my 100yds zero and tested again on paper with perfect return to zero. I was satisfied that the turrets tracked well, and returned to zero. I then used a slotted screw driver to reset the turrets to zero.
The next test was a soggy coyote hunt. I went out during a nice afternoon and wanted to get into my stand and wait for dusk. About 30min after sitting down the rain started. The scope held up without fogging and without any residual problems. While the lenses were wet, and that tends to make any scope harder to see through, the vortex preformed as expected and allowed me to shoot without any problems.
The next test was a night hunt, and how well the scope would gather red light for shooting in the dark. I was very pleasantly surprised that this scope gathered the red light from my shooting light all the way out to 300yds at 14x and 500yds at 4x. I was able to see eye shine out further than that, but was unable to identify the critter.
I can report that it gathers light well both at night and during the day. I did use a green light one night as well (just as a test). The results were about the same, although I was able to make out more detail in the terrain and brush... But that was the nature of green light. It's much easier for the human eye to see. I will be sticking to red just because it tends to not spook coyotes at night.
I got the BDC reticle which is nice for hunting purposes and to be able to quickly send a round down range without having to dial a drop. Vortex offers software on their website that is a little on the clunky side to use. But once you figure it out, it allows you to set your variables and then get a range for each of the BDC hashes at different magnifications. I have a range card that I made with each of the magnifications so that I can quickly take a range, look at my card for a close range, set my zoom, and fire! It takes almost no time at all, and is way faster than trying to count clicks in the field with gloves on. I have gone to the range and verified these, as well as practicing my system. Generally, I am sitting at 14x for anything over 100yds because the drop hashes for my rifle and round at 100/205/307/399/475. So I get almost 100yds per hash. There is very little fussing around if it's a pretty straight forward shot. That is just the way my ballistics worked out. Yours might work out to roughly the same at 12x or 10x, it just depends. So don't take my data as gospel.
For being as cheap as it is, this really is a top notch scope. As long as you are not trying to use it for something that it is not designed for, like shooting 1500yds with your .338 Lapua Magnum, or for very precise LE type shooting, you will be ok! This scope will do very well for you. While I would not hesitate to use this to make a very precise shot with this scope, just use it for the application that it is made for and you will not be disappointed." — Steve Lofton
Get it from Amazon now: $191.99 & FREE Returns
4. UTG EZ-TAP Outdoor MS Rings Scope
Top-rated: 2,818 ratings | 364 answered questions
Highlight: Integrated angled front sunshade complete with flip-open lens caps.
Helpful review: "I wasn't really expecting much, as it is an inexpensive scope. However, I wanted a cheap scope for infrequent varmint hunting with my S&W MPOE15 AR. This scope zeroed easily, and held zero, even after 400+ rounds. I should note that I did NOT use the rings that came with the scope, but opted for some quick detach rings which work excellently. While the few negative reviews on this made me concerned, I can only deduce that while there may be a few defective scopes out there, I would bet the issues are tied to the mounting, not reading instructions, or not understanding how to zero their rifle. Mounting issues could be the rings supplied with the scope not staying tight or being faulty. Loctite can help if the screws are simply not staying tight. Don't want to be critical of others, but I doubt all the negative reviews are the "scope's fault". I have to give this 5 stars as it exceeds my expectations for a scope in this price range, but my expectations were not high. (1) Reasonable clarity in the optics at all magnifications as long as parallax knob is properly adjusted; (2) easy elevation and windage adjustments; (3) easy to reset zero turrets. I should also note that for me the colored illuminated reticle is pointless and I don't use it, but many of the settings are washed out in daylight, so don't expect too much from that. The red and a purple one seem reasonably bright in daylight if you do intend to use that feature. So to sum things up, if you are looking for a usable, inexpensive scope, you should definitely look at this one." — Brad Cafarelli
Trending review: "Arrived when promised with my PRIME membership but that's always the case. Was packaged clever for a scope, wrapped tight to a piece of cardboard and then suspended within another box, so that the scope could not make contact with the outside shipping container at all. Scope arrived close to center and was "perfectly" centered within a few minutes. Scope installed to my AR as easy as one could hope for any scope using the included scope rings. Was also super easy to level. Cross-hairs are perfectly oriented once leveled. The cross-hairs are perfect as far as thickness without the illumination on and may be considered somewhat thick if using the highest brightness setting on most of the available illumination colors, but not thick enough to make it hard to put the hole wherever you want it. I only used the colors to try them and really have no plans for future use other than to maybe show others that they are available should they wish to use them when shooting my rifle. The brightness is VERY bright on the high setting, so I really don't understand the reviews that say the brightness is very low or makes the colors hard to see. The brightness settings can take the colors from SUPER BRIGHT to BARELY NOTICEABLE, and you'll have no problem seeing the illumination on any of the colors if you adjust the brightness correctly (which is done with a button click). The clarity of this scope is OUTSTANDING for a scope of this price. You won't find ANYTHING clearer or even as clear as this scope for this price. So save yourself the time and don't even try. My father and I spent a good hour trying to come up with a BAD thing to say about the picture or clarity of this scope and we couldn't. Even the edges of the picture is GREAT. Zeroing this thing was a freaking dream. Honestly, one of the easiest scopes I've ever zeroed. I used no bore sight, I centered the scope, installed it level and took to the range. Using bags only, this was zeroed to 100 yards in 6 shots. It took 6 shots only because I always do follow-up shots before making adjustments to make sure there was no shooter error and the shots are consistent. Once zeroed, I used the locking feature, and have since put 1,500 rounds through the rifle with ZERO adjustments, Can still hit a US-quarter at 100 yards dead center. This isn't just a good "budget" scope, this is a GOOD SCOPE!" — Michael Smith
Get it from Amazon now: $136.47 & FREE Returns
5. Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescope
Top-rated: 2,508 ratings | 392 answered questions
Highlight: A solid one-piece tube with a hard anodized finish creates a shockproof and durable scope while helping camouflage the shooter's position.
Helpful review: "I did a lot of research before going with someone I had never heard of. What I found on various gun and hunting forums is that not a single person had one negative word to say about Vortex. I used a lot of Google-fu too and found one post by a lifetime Leupold owner who said that after using the Diamondback he'll never spend huge amounts on Leupold again. That was pretty much what sold me. My personal experience is limited to one range trip of about 3 hours. BUT, let me tell you something. This thing is slick! It's THE NICEST scope I've ever owned in this price range. The glass is extremely clear, the variable power ring is easy to twist, and the windage and elevation knobs are knurled and can easily be rotated without a coin or a flat head. The BDC reticle is fantastic and any picture you find online won't do it justice in real life. This is one company I'm glad I took a chance on. I got my hands on their Strike Fire recently too, and it also was a fantastic optic. This is one company that I will definitely be revisiting when I need something else to put on top of another rifle." — P.G.
Trending review: "This is my 4th product from Vortex (3 scopes and a monocular) and I really am impressed with this company. This scope is amazing for the money and it's actually smaller for a 4-12x40. Compared to a Nikon Prostaff, it's a little more than 2 inches shorter. I was hesitant to put this on my AR-15 with a 16 inch barrel, but it really does look good on my gun. And with an American Defense mount, I can take it off in about 5 seconds and put on my Vortex Spitfire 3x red dot scope that I use for close range shooting (under 100 yds). This Diamondback scope is perfect for longer range shooting but isn't as bulky as a lot of hunting scopes are. The dead hold BDC is hard to beat. I was looking at getting either a Nikon or Vortex, but for the money and for the warranty I had to go with the Vortex, plus I like Vortex's BDC reticle compared to Nikon's. For the money, this scope has just as good of glass and crystal clear viewing as the more expensive ones. So I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a good scope for your AR." — Joseph R.
Reassuring review: "My family has been buying Leupolds for as long as I can remember (and a few by NightForce recently). That being said, I still think this scope is awesome. I won a .270 Tikka T3 lite in a skeet shoot recently and needed a scope for it. I had never heard of vortex. I looked through a $500 Leupold, $800 Zeiss, and this cheap vVortex. After looking through all three and comparing them, I couldn't discredit what my eyes were telling me. This Vortex was simply the best of the three best scopes offered on the shelf. This scope rocks. I sighted it in and before you know it I was at the prairie dog field making 100-150 yard shots on softball size targets all afternoon. I can't recommend this scope enough. Later on, I came across a booth at the Safari Club Convention in Dallas with a guy selling vortex scopes, and the man had top of the line optics on the table: Swarovski, US Optics, NightForce, a Vortex Razor HD, etc... He told me to take each scope and look at a dark spot in the corner of the roof across the convention center. I compared all the scopes to the Vortex, and the vortex had a brighter, crisper image at max Magnification than the Swarovski and US optics, and was on par with the NightForce. These scopes are the real deal and unbeatable in price. I am a BIG fan now. I'm about to order one of these for my LaRue OBR. It's earned its place on my custom AR." — Nicholas Martin
Get it from Amazon now: $269.99 & FREE Returns
6. Monstrum Guardian Series AO Rifle Scope
Top-rated: 1,019 ratings | 82 answered questions
Highlight: Adjustable 6-18 times magnification for targeting out to 1000 yards and beyond.
Helpful review: "Purchased a Ruger Precision .22lr to see if I liked the platform before I went with it for a 6.5 Creedmor. As the RPR .22 was only $350 I felt a little silly mounting a Burris or Leopold optic on a range toy. Saw the reviews on the Monstrom sights and figured for this price I would be getting an optic with lots of corners cut in build quality and components. It's cheaper than a box of good ammo, so I really thought this would be on my rifle for one range trip then end up in my box'o'' old parts. Well, I was surprised by the build quality.
The tolerances on the tube, adjustment points, and even the mount felt and looked really good. Optic is a bit heavier than the specs but I will let that slide as it's a couple ounces. The glass (that I thought would be super cheap with irregular aperture and poor clarity) was pretty clear. This does not have the pristine image and sharp clarity of a Leupold VX entry optic, but you are paying $300 less. I have ZERO complaints about the quality and construction of this optic. It exceeded my admittedly very low expectations by a wide margin.
Don't think your getting a true FFP range finder on this glass. The AO dial did allow a guesstimate of the distance to target by assessing the optical sharpness. It is a feature that you really should not see at this price point and it works. That is probably because the biggest surprise of this optic was the glass. It is not just adequate. I would definitely say it is very good. The parallax adjustment was not spectacular, but was comparable to what I would expect on a mid-range Burris or Vortex. Bottom line, it's good glass that allows for an adequate range calculation and provides a more than adequate visual acuity even at 9x. Again, I have seen better but this is the best glass and controls you will get for the money.
So I mounted this shockingly good quality optic to the Ruger and headed to the range. Mount was super easy. It's a picatinny if you can't figure it out you should not be playing with a firearm.
So I started at 100 yards and was off paper the first shot at min magnification. Turned the elevation and windage dials one rotation unit each and missed again. Gave them a couple more twists and I was on paper.
62 grain 5.56 or .223, definitely not a .22lr. I took a couple more shots from a full mount and got the feel for the reticule mils and the drop on the Hornady .22 I was firing. I pulled back to 50 yards and found zero in a 3 shots. Pushed back out to 100 and was able to get a good zero after learning the system and adjustments. The optic was a bit more than the round I was shooting should have, so I put that on me underestimating the scope. Windage and Elevation have nice firm click and resistance. Once you know what a rotational unit is going to do, this optic is easy to zero. The Mag and AO controls worked well and the parallax was minimal. Eye relief was excellent. I was shooting a bolt action precision chassis rifle so recoil was almost non-existent. That being said, this optic easily held zero over probably 200 shots that day.
I have to say I was blown away that a scope with the quality and accuracy of this optic was in junk toy scope price range. Is it a $2,000 scope? NOPE. It is comparable or better than many $300-$500 dollar optics I've had from Burris and Vortex. For the money, this is a no brainer and could easily be used with .223 or .270. I'm not sure how it would handle .308+; but it probably would hold a zero and be a great optic for hunting open terrain.
I can't say this and mean it more. If you're learning to distance shoot, this would be a great way to learn fundamentals without breaking the bank. It exceeds all expectations and will give you a scope that feels and performs like one that is 6 times its price. Just don't put one on a Ruger Precision because that is a crack gun and gets you hooked fast and will quickly result in desire for one of his big brothers.
I have subsequently added an Alpha FFP1x6 24 to an AR race gun that my buddies all admitted shot as well as their $600+ FFP's.
Beginning distance shooters can't go wrong with this high value optic. Seasoned shooters looking for a bargain or a practice rifle scope will be pleased as well. This optic changed my old rule about how optics should be at least the cost of the rifle (and double or triple if you're going to 1,000+ shots). I can assure you this rifle can out to 200 yards with quality .22lr.
When I get the Ruger Precision in 6.5 I will likely give a G3 Monstrum the first crack at the picatinny rail. That will buy me a ton of rounds to enjoy the gun over the Leupold I would have been saving for months to buy." — Shannon Credle
Get it from Amazon now: $109.95 & FREE Returns
7. Crimson Trace Hardline Riflescope
Top-rated: 61 ratings | 11 answered questions
Highlight: Windage (right side) and elevation (top) knobs are exposed for quick and easy adjustments.
Helpful review: "I'll start out with what I don't like, which are BDC reticles. While the idea is great, the drops are made for one barrel length, velocity and climate. Outside of those very specific instances, you are going to have to figure out what the DBC actually is for your rifle. And if you are going to do that, or even just proof that the BDC does work for your setup, why not use a standard reticle with properly marked hash marks? I can't think of a single instance where a BDC is better than a mil dot or similar reticle. You can certainly make it work by figuring out your DOPE and where it corresponds to the BDC, but as Rick would say 'that is just building DOPE with extra steps'. Now on to the good. The glass is very good. The adjustments are good, clear and repeatable. While I'd prefer locking adjustments, the pull system that CT uses is functional. Running box drills show the adjustments are true and repeatable. The ranging adjustment is very stiff, but that is better than too loose and being at 14 when you left it at 6. At about 3.5" the eye relief is pretty good and gives you good usability on large frame ARs and bolt guns while still being usable on standard ARs. Though you will be better served with a cantilever mount there. The optic isn't a lightweight at just over 20 ounces, but it isn't a boat anchor either. More so with the overall footprint of 13.5" long. All in all, I think CT has done a good job at making a very good optic in the affordable price range." — Joshua W. Mullins
Trending review: "If you’ve been complaining about the $150 Chinese-made scope on your AR or bolt action centerfire gun, it’s time you moved up to a better quality scope, and this one offers a major improvement for about twice the price of those bargain scopes. The metal is thicker, the controls are smoother, the optics are sharper, and it just feelers more solidly made. Images are still clear at maximum magnification, something you won’t see in low-end scopes. Focus is adjustable from 50 to 1000 yards, so this isn’t for airguns or .22s, although you could certainly use it on your .22LR bench rest rifle. It’s optimized for long range marksmanship with flat shooting rounds like the .223, .308, or the various 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges. While it’s not up to the quality of a $1,000 scope, it’s far better than any of the cheaper scopes I’ve tried over the past few decades. Definitely a good value." — Michael Jacobson
Get it from Amazon now: $239.42 & FREE Return