What Are The Best AR 15 Scopes, Sights and Optics?

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If you’ve ever been in a real survival situation, you know your gun is your best friend. We live in a dangerous world. You need to protect yourself. The obvious choice for protection is an AR 15. However, if you want to use it for anything more than defense, you’ll need better accuracy.

The only solution for that problem is to upgrade your optics with a quality scope or sights. Modern options come with tons of features. It’s no longer like putting a telescope on top of a gun. So we’ve put together our list of some of the best products out there. You’ll see features like light adjustment, unibody construction, and even filters to aid in night vision.

Generally, you’re not using this gun for long distance. But why not find the best AR 15 optics? Why not go for the best AR 15 scope or sights? We’re about quality, and functionality. When you’re looking to upgrade, keep these in mind. But first, lets talk about the different types.

Scopes vs Sights

It’s important to understand that these words aren’t interchangeable. They each represent different features and uses. While they all help a gunman aim, even the best sight for AR 15 rifles won’t help him hit a deer 400 yards away.


Differentiating between the two isn’t difficult. A scope possesses magnification, and that’s really all that makes it one. There are closed tube sights, even ones with lenses. However, a scope has to have magnification.

The best AR 15 scope is going to depend on your situation. If you’re in dense foliage, a high powered scope isn’t going to anything but obscure your vision. You can go lower, as your targets aren’t going to be as far away and still in sight.

If you’re surviving in the desert or flatlands, a high pwer scope could help you pick off an antelope from 300 yards. A lower power might still help, but being able to cover vast distances is an advantage.

Over than power, the different types of scopes really just comes down to features. All scopes simply boil down to a tube with magnifying lenses.


A rifle sight is anything that helps the gunman aim WITHOUT magnification. This can include the traditional open sights, aperture sights, red dot sights, and laser sights.

Open sights require the user to line a V shaped unit up with a vertical structure at the end of the barrel. Aperture sights do the same but with a ring instead of a V. Red dot sights project a dot onto the targets image in the lens. Laser sights actually shoot out a red laser onto the target.

Again, the best sight for AR 15 rifles depends on your needs. Obviously, the laser sight is the most accurate. However, if you don’t have a scope to see the red dot, it’s worthless at a far distance.

The second two options can be, and usually are, used in combination with a scope. Together, they make for deadly accuracy. Keep that in mind. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to buy one without the other, but a scope will ALWAYS increase accuracy.


Popular Brands

While you should never shop by brand alone, it’s good to recognize the major players. The bigger the brand, generally the better support they can offer. It does not necessarily mean a better product, but brands don’t get big by producing junk.

We’ve singled out a few of the brands to keep an eye on. Use this as a guide.

1. EOTech

EOTech is a general weapons’ accessory company. They mostly focus on scopes and sights. Some of the best features they offer are night vision and thermal vision. This makes them a key player in tactical and military weapon use.

These are high-end quality products. You’re going to end up paying a good bit, but customers consistently testify that it’s worth every penny. While any of their products would work for hunting, they are much more geared for combat. Night vision may not be necessary for your use.

However, the ability never hurt anyone. If you want to be prepared for anything, one of their specialty scopes might be just what you need. For the most part, their products are also water resistant. If weather is an issue, as it is with any survival situation, make sure you’re ready. There’s nothing worse than ruining your gear in a storm. When you’re ready for a serious upgrade, EOTech is your brand.

2. Vortex Optics

As the name implies, Vortex focuses on all things optical for the gunman. They of course offer scopes and sights. They produce a lot of holographic sights, which is another term for Red Dot, i.e. the dot is holographic. They also branch out into other optics, like binoculars and rangefinders. They even make tripods to support your rifle.

They have a large catalogue of scopes, with a wide range of power. They also sell the accessories to go along with it, like covers and mounting equipment. Vortex is a one-stop shop for all of your upgrade needs.

As far as pricing goes, they run in the gamut. Compared to EOTech, you will find some very cheap options, but their top of the line scopes will set you back. Of course, sights are always cheaper, but they truly have an option for every budget. Check out their line, and find what works for you.

3. Burris Optics

Our third brand targets a little bit more on the hunter demographic. EOTech is tactical, and Vortex straddles the line. Burris Optics offers a few defense options, like a handgun scope, but mostly caters the the sportsman.

Price is really one of the major drawing point of this brand. While their high-end laser scopes can be quite pricey, that doesn’t come close to the previous two. However, you won’t see as wide of a range. This is purely a middle of the road brand. If you’re looking to step into professional level optics, this is a great place to start.

As far as other products go, they few accessories. You’ll have to look at other brands for most anything but mounting kits. Burris puts their efforts into optics and optics only. That focus is what some veterans are looking for. That should be a push factor in investing in a quality Burris scope or sight.

Top 10 AR 15 Optics

So here we are, at the list of the the best AR 15 optics. This is where you should start your search. Keep those brands above in mind, as you’ll be seeing a lot of them. If you feel you need something either higher or lower end than our list, look to those brands first.

1. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot

First, we have a red dot from Vortex. It’s about as simple as a red dot can be.

There is no tube. Nothing to adjust. Just a single lens and a red light. 

​At it’s lowest setting, it can last up to 550 hours. It has a 14 hour auto-shut off to make sure that battery lasts.

The Venom is a tough little sight that can fit on most guns. From rifles to pistols, this is versatile. It is on the higher end for a simple sight, but Vortex is worth every penny. It’s a brand you can trust, and you need that even when it’s something simple.

Next, we have another pretty basic red dot sight from Holosun, but this one has a closed tube. This is the perfect for short distance shooting.

There’s no need for any sort of adjustment. When you line up the dot on the target, you’re ready for a bullseye.

Keep in mind that this is simply a sight. There is no magnification, so you won’t accomplish any sniping. If that’s not an issue, rest assured that you have a high quality, durable product for your rifle. It’s made of high strength aluminum, and it is fully waterproof and submersible.

The rod is battery powered, but said battery lasts for 50,000 hours. That’s of continual use. You can pop them in and essentially forget about it. It also comes with a night vision setting. Day or night, trust Holosun to keep you on target.

Next on our list, we have a combination scope and red dot sight. That’s a fairly common occurrence, as red dot sights require some type of lens to project on.

The scope itself is fairly low power, but the combination of the two makes for a great product.

This scope is generally affordable. This is for sure the bargain option on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s junk. If distance isn’t your main concern, this is great option for tight wallets.

The hardware is completely waterproof, and it has 11 brightness settings. That means that this is perfect from dusk to high noon, and everything in between.

Next up we have a plain and simple sight from Ruger. Unfortunately, the front and rear sight are sold separately. But when you get them together, you have a fine piece of basic optics.

As mentioned earlier, this is an aperture sight. The gunmen lines up the round pinhole of the 90415 with the vertical piece of the 90414 to make the shot.

The main appeal of this is that it can fold flat. If you need to use a more advance optic, you can get these out of the way. For close range shooting, ditch the scope and pop these back up. They’re spring loaded, so the “rapid deploy” is literal. Push a button, and you’re ready to go.

The construction is a lightweight polymer. It’s windage-adjustable, and it will fit on any rifle with a Picatinny rain mounting system.

​Mentioned above, you can choose to get the Ruger 90415 to complete the set.

This is the rear sight where you use in conjunction with the 90414 for a basic aiming function. 

Our next option is a fairly low budget model from Bushnell Optics. This is a scope made specifically for ARs.

This is an aluminium alloy constructed scope, featuring a rust scratch proof coating. It’s usable up to 500 yards, though it’s best at 100.

Use the caliber specific reticle to ensure maximum accuracy. The target turrents click for a 0.1 mil value, so you can really hone in. It also works for close and mid-range aiming.

It boasts a nitrogen purged construction. That means all moisture has been removed. The O-ring seal ensures that it stays that way.

While the varying ranges mean it’s good for almost all purposes, it was designed as a tactical accessory. That should not be an issue for those looking to hunt as well, but keep that in mind. The optics are fully coated to provide optimal brightness in the forest and on the battlefield. This may be a budget option, but it will not let you down.

Despite the name, this model from Burris is actually a scope. It provides 3x magnification, and can provide perfect accuracy at 100 yards.

It’s battery powered to illuminate the reticle, but it can function without it. This is simply a feature to assist at night.

The hardware is waterproof, and comes with integratedlens covers and rail mounting bracket. It will fit on any rifle with a Picatinny rail mounting system.

This is a mid-range priced scope. However, this is a name you can trust. This is a feature-light model, but it’s reliable. Most shooters don’t need anything over the top. If you crave simplicity, invest in this Burris.

Next we have a dot sight from Vortex. This is one of Vortex’s simpler optics, and the price reflects that. However, for a sight, it is feature-rich.

The dot is cast onto a 30mm lens. It’s compatible with night vision, although the sight itself does not have it built in.

Its hardware is recoil resistant, fogproof, and waterproof. Basically, this is a tough piece of gear. The battery can last for 300 hours at maximum intensity, and it features an automatic shutoff. Conserve your battery for when you really need it.

The optic bore center is a little lower on this that other models. It’s made top provide maximum accuracy, specifically for AR-15s. This is not going to be your jack of all trades optic, but the StrikeFire will cover just about anything at close range.

This model is marketed more as a magnifier for red dot sights. However, since it does have 3x magnification, it is technically a scope.

Vortex has formulated the perfect option for the serious gunman with a small budget.

It doesn’t have a red dot built in, so you will have to pair it. But a cheap sight paired with this magnifier makes for a deadly combo. Just keep in mind that you will need to accessorize.

Next we have a powerful scope from Vortex. This is actually the best AR 15 scope on our list.

With up to 6x magnification, you can really go the distance with this model.

It’s a single piece tube for maximum durability and accuracy. There are no seems to throw you off or allow water in.

It offers two reticle options. One is actually etched into the glass, and the other is illuminated. Obviously a physical reticle provides reliability, but illuminated is perfect for night time scenarios.

This is a little bit pricier than some models, it’s still affordable.

With vortex models going for several thousands, this is on their lower end.

Here it is, the best sight for AR 15 rifles. This sight from EOTech is a typical red dot, similar to the Vortex Venom.

However, this is designed for tactical purposes. It’s meant to be paired with a scope to truly get the full effect. There is not magnification, so on it’s own it is best for short-range.

The AA batteries can last for 350 hours. There are 20 different brightness settings, and some are night vision compatible. This is a tough, waterproof unit. If you already have a scope, you are in for a top of the line experience. If not, rest assured that you are still in good hands.

Buying Guide

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an optic. First, what range will you be shooting in? If it’s long, you need a high powered scope. It you will only be shooting at a close range, save your money and buy a red dot sight.

Second, what environment will you be in? If you’re in a dense forest, a scope will do you little good. A red dot or laser sight will be much more beneficial. Don’t waste your money on distance that you can’t use.

Lastly, budget is important. You can go as cheap as you need. There are low priced scopes, but at that price you can either get a crummy scope or a decent red dot sight. If you have unlimited funds, many scopes are versatile and can function as a red dot sight as well.

​Check out what Larry has to say about choosing a scope:


We’ve laid out the best AR 15 optics on the market. If you can’t find something in your budget, dig into the brands. Most have everything from traditional sights to laser scopes.

You can find any and everything you need within just a few major brands. Always make sure you pick on that fits your mounting system, but most that are made for AR 15s use the same brackets.

Pick your optics and grab your rifle. It’s a dangerous world out there. As a survivor, you’re asking for even more danger. Be prepared.

About the author


Colin is a freelance writer and editor. A fan of The Walking Dead. It led him to think what if SHTF and what does it takes to survive. Colin hobbies includes gears, tech gadgets and rehearsing different "End Of The World" situations in his head.

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