How to Choose the Best AR-15 Scopes for You

Choosing the right scope for your AR-15 can be a daunting task. With so many options on the market and so many factors to consider, what’s the best?

The truth is, there is no “best” scope that is objectively better than all others. What you should be looking for is the best scope for your particular situation and needs.

So, what should you be looking for? Here are a few key variables of AR-15 scopes to consider when you’re ready to buy your next scope.


Guns and gun accessories are expensive, and scopes are no exception. Your biggest limiting factor will be price, and it will also be the biggest factor of what is the “best” scope for you to buy.

A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the scope, the better the quality. With that said, there’s only so much quality that you’ll need for most jobs.

A scope might be able to read the heat signature of an animal four miles distant and tell you what it had for breakfast, but is that necessary for hunting prairie dogs? It can be easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles, but the best scope for you is one that does what you need it to do at a cost you can afford.


There are two main types of magnification on scopes: fixed power and variable power. They are sometimes called other terms, but these are the general terms that most people use. Since pistols and rifles are different, their scopes are somewhat different as well, but most of these variables still play a part in both.

A fixed power scope will only have one magnification, say 6x. This means that the scope will always magnify things six times.

A variable power scope will have a range of magnifications it can do, such as 3x-9x. This means the scope can magnify things anywhere from three times up to nine times. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, and different powers have different uses.

Higher powers let you see farther and magnify objects more, but they are difficult for searching or spotting things, as they only show a very small area. Lower powers are better for searching and figuring out the landscape, but are more difficult for long-range spotting and shooting.

Variable power scopes are generally more versatile, allowing you to search your field of view until you spot something and then zoom in once you’ve narrowed down where you want to aim. Unfortunately, with this extra capability comes higher cost and weight.

Fixed power scopes are (usually) set in a good mid-range power, allowing you to scan and see distant objects without being amazing at either. They are typically cheaper and lighter than variable power scopes. This type of scope is also sometimes better for some hunting situations where you want to be able to snap a shot off without having to adjust your sights.

What Kind of Magnification Do You Need?

Military sniper scopes
will have much more magnification abilities than a generic varmint hunting scope, but they may not be the best riflescopes for a lot of people. You don’t need fancy USMC sniper scopes to do every job, so make sure you know your magnification needs and what kind of scope you should look for.

If you have the money to spend, a variable power scope will serve most of your needs, but it is not necessary for all AR-15 optics. There are definitely reasons to buy a fixed power scope too!

In the end, your needs will dictate the type of magnification you should get. If you only want to spend a little bit of money and are fine with fixed power, go for it!


Different scopes will weigh different amounts depending on their specifications, magnification, and quality. For some activities, you may not be too worried about the extra weight on your rifle. But other times, it may be quite critical.

If you’re hiking long distances to hunt, for example, extra weight can be tiring, even if it’s just a pound or two. And if you need to snap up the rifle for a quick shot, that extra weight can make you a little bit slower.

You also need to pay attention to your AR-15 scope mounts and the weight they add, along with the scope itself. Some scopes may need extra attachments and mounts, and you may decide that isn’t the right option for you!

Generally, the scope isn’t going to be the heaviest part of your rifle, and many people don’t worry too much about their scopes. But it is definitely important for a lot of applications, and is a good thing to keep in mind when shopping for your next scope!

Adjustability and Reticles

Most scopes will have dials that allow you to adjust your scope for the range you want to shoot at. Sighting in your rifle can be a pain if you don’t have a scope that adjusts easily, so pick one that works for you! Some dials require a coin or screwdriver to operate, while many are just serrated knobs that you turn.

The reticle (or crosshairs) of your scope is another factor to consider. Do you care about target dot reticle scopes, or do you not care at all? Look through the scope and see if you like that particular reticle, or whether you have trouble lining things up.

Also, do you want an illuminated reticle, or are you fine with natural light? A lot of this depends on the type of shooting you want to do. The best AR-15 optics tend to include illumination, but they can often be more expensive.

If you’re planning on shooting at night or using your AR for self-defense, it could be a good idea to invest in lighted tactical rifle scopes, allowing you to see in dim or dark conditions. Otherwise, you can save some money by going for a more “basic” scope that only works with natural light.

Sniper optics and scopes
will have different needs than competition target scopes. A target gun scope, for example, probably doesn’t need illumination, so you can splurge more on the magnification and other features.

With all of these, the best AR-15 scope will be the one that has what you need. If a basic scope does the trick for you and covers all these factors, you probably don’t have to splurge for the Scope-o-Matic 3000 with targeting computer.

Research AR-15 Scopes

Buying used from RKB Armory is a great way to afford a higher quality scope than if you were buying new. The best thing you can do is to research any and all scopes you’re interested in. Go to stores, go to websites, and see what they have to offer that fits your needs.

And if you have any questions or want to ask about used sniper scopes, cheap hunting scopes, or specific needs, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to contact us, and we’ll do our best to help answer any questions about AR-15 scopes you might have.

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