10 Best Scopes for AR-15 Under $100 (2022): Buyer’s Guide and Unbiased Reviews

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you on a quest to find the best scopes for AR-15 under $100?

Then you’re in the right place. Because I have done the hard work for you and have reviewed dozens of products to bring you the best scopes for AR-15 under $100.

In addition, I will introduce the following related topics.

  • Product Details (Including advantages and disadvantages) 
  • Scopes for AR-15 Buyer’s Guide
  • Benefits of Scopes for AR-15
  • Different Types of AR-15 Optics
  • Matching Optics to Your AR 15
  • Top Brands of Scopes
  • Important Rifle Scope Terminology

I will also answer some common questions.

  • Are Scopes under $100 Reliable for Hunting and Other Uses?

Without further ado, let’s begin!

#Note: At the time of writing this post, the prices of these products were below $100. Because the actual prices may change at any time. Maybe some products are already over $100. Usually, it will not change much.

Top 3 Picks

In a hurry? Here are the winners.

Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Professional's Choice
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
Best Value
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Our Rating
Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Professional's Choice
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Best Value
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon

Chief Editor


Hours Researching

Products Evaluated

Reviews Considered

Researched Sources

Best Scopes for AR-15 Under $100

Getting the right scope for a AR 15 can be a difficult choice, which becomes even more complex when you are on a tight budget. It can be a bothersome task since many of the top models are in a price range that is higher. Yet, do not worry. There are a few options which you can choose from when it comes to this important addition.

More specifically, the best scopes for a AR 15 under $100 can still offer decent performance and accuracy when out on a field. Even though the quality is not superior when compared to high-end counterparts, proficiency and stability can still be trusted. They still serve well when it comes to the beginners and the frugal.

It is really okay if you have to settle for one of these models momentarily. In fact, these scopes will be easy to use. As soon as your restrictions with cash flow are alleviated, you will be ready and prepared to move onto a premium scope. For now, here is a list of the entry-level ranges.

1. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope – Editor’s Choice & Best Seller | Best Red Dot Scope

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
  • Matte black featuring a 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness...
  • Waterproof construction: O ring sealed optics stay dry...
  • Shockproof construction: Built to withstand bumps, bangs,...
  • Nitrogen purged fog proofing: Nitrogen inside the scope...

The Trophy Riflescope from Bushnell is the ideal choice when it comes to its price, low-power-draw, and size. The battery lasts for much longer as it uses less power when compared to many of its bigger, competitor riflescopes. The chassis is durable, weatherproof, and small and the size makes it an ideal fit for an AR-15. In addition, the knobs are not hard to view over or too large, either.

The reticle on this model is a 3MOA, crisp Red Dot which benefits from the multi-coated optics. It also comes with a lens which has been optimized to offer high-contrast sight which allows the user to focus easily between the objects down this scope. This makes acquiring targets much easier and faster.

However, the Red Dot may become blurry or fuzzy in association to ambient light levels. If the illumination is set too high when you are indoors, the device may over-compensate which may cause the sight to become blurry. For this reason, find a better setting for the illumination using indoor light well before you begin using the device for your tactical practices.

Eye relief on this device is unlimited, which means you are able to get close to this scope as possible with your eye without having to worry about distortion. The windage and elevation adjusters are simple to click and change with very precise increments.

This Riflescope from Bushnell is one of the top selections as it is budget-friendly and offers so many features. The Red Dot sight is sharp and capable and you can use the device both outdoors and indoors, although in some indoor environments the scope can become slightly blurry when you adjust the setting for brightness incorrectly.

  • Precise and fast target acquisition
  • Limitless eye-relief
  • Compact and small
  • It is able to perform well in low-light settings
  • Weatherproof and durable
  • Compatible with various mounting systems
  • Foolproof construction
  • Ideal for low-light conditions
  • The Red Dot may turn blurry when exposed to specific types of ambient-light conditions

2. UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings

UTG 3-9X32 1" BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings , Black#ad
  • 1 Inch Tube with Emerald Coating for Maximum Light...
  • Range Estimating Mil-dot Reticle for Optimal Aiming and...
  • Red/Green Dual Illumination for Versatile Applications,...
  • Complete with 2" Sunshade, High Quality Flip-open Lens Caps...
  • Built on True Strength Platform, Completely Sealed and...

Built on a specialized True Strength platform, the BugBuster is described as a durable and versatile scope that is designed for the AR 15 rifle range. It works well in just about any weather condition and comes with SSS (Smart Spherical Structure) benefits from a joint-interaction that occurs between the inner-tubes and outer parts of this scope.

Views of this scope are parallax-free when moving forward from distances of 3 yards, while the wide-angle front objective comes fully-adjustable. The BugBuster guarantees precise accuracy of the shot times which is due to the mil-dot reticle that assists with range estimation. This rain, fog, water, and shockproof scope which is completely sealed and 100% nitrogen filled is easy to mount on just about any rifle type which provides supreme usability.

Accommodating red and dual green illumination along with eye relief makes the scope an ideal choice for the shooters that are often exposed to weather conditions that are adverse.

The lens which is emerald coated provides superior visibility when it comes to low light environments and it functions in the way fo duplicating the minimum light that is present while focusing on field-of-view for the shooter.

This completely customizable scope is enhanced by the one-click MOA that assists with sighting that is easy while out in a field. The mounting may feel slightly derailed, while the scope once mounted will have to sight to your rifles. The turrets are well-constructed and assist with precise, crisp, and consistent elevation adjustments along with windage. The locking and re-setting features protect and compliment the essential optic parts from zeroing.

  • Scope optics are sharp
  • Well-positioned elevation and windage knobs along with spot-on target locking
  • Durable design and compact ergonomics
  • Ideal turret tracking
  • The light reticle assists with improving accuracy especially if used in a dark environment
  • The eye relief is limited due to its overall compact design
  • The control knob for the lighted-reticle is slightly twisted
  • The battery-door may become unscrewed

3. CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount – Best Value

CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
  • Magnification: 2.5-10X with 40mm objective ; Field of...
  • Clearer Image: multi-coated green lens boast much higher...
  • Illumination Modes: red & green (5 intensity)
  • Durable: made of high strength aircraft aluminum
  • If you want to install in any 3/8" Dovetail / 11mm Dovetail...

This scope from CVLIFE is one of the others which features a reticle which can either be illuminated using green or red light. The reticle is precise and simple, is easy to toggle between 5 variations when it comes to brightness intensity. This function will allow you to use your illuminated reticle for both nighttime and daytime conditions, without causing any harm to your eyes.

The distancing and targeting laser is positioned on one side of the device. This feature is fantastic which makes this scope a great option when you shoot at the distant targets. Magnification levels provide for the full usability of the laser, which alternates between 2X to 10X magnification. Adjusting the laser along with elements like elevation and windage are easy to control with the access knobs which are positioned on the chassis’s side.

This scope has a durable chassis which is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, yet the lens is slightly fragile and can break if you drop it. However, considering the attractive price range of the product, this is easy to overlook.

Field-of-view on this scope is generous with reasonable eye relief. The shape is relatively compact which means it can fit onto both smaller and larger models without any difficulties.

This is the ideal option if you are on a budget and you need a scope quickly, this the model that won’t break the bank. The optics are pretty decent and the added distancing laser happens to be an impressive addition which is often not found on some of the offerings that are more expensive. The illumination levels and the reticle is ideal to use in any of the ambient lighting conditions.

  • The Kellner eyepiece offers additional view field and at the same time eliminates the majority of image abnormalities
  • 5 illumination levels help to use the reticle for various lighting conditions
  • Both far and near-sighted users will benefit from the viewfinder image that is clear without the need to use eyeglasses due to the efficient dioptric-adjustment lens
  • The durable exterior imparts protection that is adequate from dirt, scratches, and oil
  • Loose construction

4. Tacticon Armament Predator V1 Red Dot Sight | Green Dot Sight | VETERAN OWNED | Rifle Optic Reflex Sight

Tacticon Armament | Predator V1 Adjustable Red and Green Dot in One Sight | Combat Veteran Owned Company | Absolute Co...#ad
  • ✔ CO-WITNESSES BEAUTIFULLY - This red/green dot scope was...
  • ✔ WATERPROOF AND FOG PROOF - Sealed with O-rings to...

The Predator from Tacticon is the ideal option for fast-paced, close-range engagement associated with a nature that is tactical. If you have plans for shooting your weapon at a smaller distance, this is the ideal choice due to its sight along with abilities to provide an iron backup sight.

The reticle offers either a green or red dot, while you can adjust the intensity using the small dial positioned on the chassis. The mount makes it easy to position and slide onto a rack of either an AR-15 or a similar rifle, while you can combine this scope with iron-sight from the front. This allows for a fast way to switch between sights. This reticle was specifically designed to work with iron sights and you are able to obtain them from Tacticon.

The Predator is highly durable, completely weatherproof and constructed from strong materials which are able to withstand a degree of damage before it will start displaying signals of distress. Windage and elevation adjustments are simple using the dials found on the tops and the sides.

The built-in mount will mean you do not need special tools in order to install the scope onto your AR-15, yet this will make it slightly bulky. Yet, since this is what it is meant to be used for, the inabilities to attach to another weapon is not something we regard as an issue.

A handy lens cleaner and additional battery are included when you purchase this product.

The close-range scope is designed to combine with an iron-sight and you can use them in tandem. The green or red reticle is easy to adjust to dimmer or brighter luminance which will depend on your requirements, while the dials positioned on the sides offer an easy way to tune the measurement variables. The built-in mount makes it very easy when it comes to installing this product.

  • Waterproof and durable
  • The mount is simple to install
  • Ideal to use with backup iron sights
  • Small yet bulky

5. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings – Professional’s Choice

UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
  • 30-millimeter SWAT 3-12X44 IE tactical range estimating...
  • 30-Millimeter tube built on True Strength Platform: sealed...
  • Best in class multi emerald coated lenses; integrated angled...
  • Special circuit and housing design for uninterrupted...
  • Premium zero locking and zero resetting target turrets with...

This rifle scope is notably exceptional, particularly to do with its capacity and build. Even though it is priced so low, the range is not lacking in performance or reliability. The 1-inch diameter tube is very durable and it’s nitrogen-purged and completely seamless. With these features, you are guaranteed that your scope can handle external forces like fog and water.

The optics feature a bright emerald coating with lenses that maximize capabilities when it comes to light transmission. This results in a range which performs well in the low-light conditions. Zeroing this scope is never a problem, while the turrets are lockable and re-settable, which makes it ergonomic and intuitive. Every click you make will give 1 / 4 MOA adjustment.

The scope’s reticle is pretty decent, and more specifically the Mil-dot reticle will improve on the accuracy of your aim. The objective lens is adjustable which starts from 3 yards. This BugBuster Scope also offers a red and green reticle illumination. This makes sure you can use this scope in any type of setting.

  • Accommodating eye relief
  • The field-of-view is large
  • Durable and rugged housing
  • Features a 2-inch protective-lens cap
  • Parallax-free performance
  • Slightly heavy
  • The knobs are difficult to adjust due to their locking mechanisms

6. Pinty 2.5-10×40 AOEG Red Green Illuminated Mil-dot Tactical Rifle Scope

Pinty 2.5-10x40 Red Green Illuminated Mil-dot Tactical Rifle Scope with Red Laser Combo - Green Lens Color#ad
  • FIELD OF VIEW: Magnification 2.5-10X with 40mm objective,...
  • MULTI-COATED GREEN OBJECTIVE LENS, boast higher light...
  • RED AND GREEN ILLUMINATED RETICLE, 5 brightness levels for...
  • A QUALITY COMPLET SET OF LASER SCOPE, Solid aluminum alloy...
  • WATERPROOF, FOG PROOF PERFORMANCE, Nitrogen filled and...

This PInty scope is not made for distance shooting, but it perfect for close-range shooting up to 100 yards. It can be dialed in accurately and stays consistent at those ranges.

If you are trying to shoot long distances, exceeding 125 yards, you should probably choose a different scope. This scope is for tactical purposes and works great within that framework.

Pinty kept their feature set simple because they know at close range it is more important to be quick, then to mess with features. The one weak point in that area is the mildot reticle, which is not needed for the ranges we are working with.

The scope requires two batteries to power the laser sights, which are included with the scope.

The 2.5-10X magnifications work great for short-range shooting. The 40mm objective is sized perfectly for the purpose. If your primary shooting is under 125 yards, this could be your ultimate scope.

The scope uses a green objective lens to provide higher light transmittance when compared to a blue objective lens. You get higher clarity through the scope, which makes for more accurate shots.

The scope is nitrogen filled and sealed with an O-ring to provide excellent water and fog proof performance. The scope works flawlessly in adverse weather.

  • Adjustable brightness, 5 settings, gives good performance in a variety of lighting conditions.
  • Provides good wind and elevation adjustment for more accurate shots.
  • Red Laser sight provides fast target acquisition.
  • Kellner eyepiece helps eliminate image aberrations.
  • Laser dot is not adjustable.
  • Not suited for night shooting. The illuminated reticle scope is meant for day time use only.

7. Monstrum Tactical S330P Ultra-Compact 3x Prism Scope

Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope | Black#ad
  • Compact yet heavy duty prism sight with 3x magnification and...
  • Features a glass prism optical system rather a refracting...
  • Unlike red dots, the reticle is visible with or without...
  • Only 15 ounces in weight and 5 inches in length.
  • All Monstrum Tactical Rifle Scope products are backed by a...

Monstrum Tactical packed a lot of features into this compact 3X Prism Scope. The scope will not weigh you down with its lightweight design. Even though it is light, it is built strong. They back up the durability with a 1-year warranty. The housing is sealed and can withstand harsh conditions. The tube is designed to withstand the recoils and the bumps that come from normal use. In internal circuitry is shielded from shock damage.

This compact scope is intended for use up to 500 yards but is not suited for long-range sniper shots. The 3X magnification and 30mm objective are highly effective for short to mid-range shooting. If your target is within 500 yards, you can lock onto it instantly and take the shot.

The scope uses glass-prism optics instead of the more common refracting option. The glass-prism design provides higher performance and allows for a more compact design. You will be impressed by the clarity through the scope. The S330P Ultra-Compact provides great sighting through the reticle, which is visible without illumination. You can light the rear reticle for improved sighting when lighting conditions are not optimal.

  • Small and lightweight
  • Superior light transmission for quick target acquisition
  • Both red and green illumination available
  • High-clarity image
  • Excellent for short to mid-range firing
  • It takes a little time to get comfortable with the adjustment knobs.
  • Does not offer a quick release option.

8. UUQ 2.5-10×40 Clarity+ Combo Rifle Scope Dual Illuminated Mil-dot W/Green Light and Mini Reflex 3 MOA

UUQ 2.5-10x40 Combo Rifle Scope, Dual Illuminated Mil-dot Reticle, W/ Mini Reflex 3 MOA Red Dot Sight and Laser Sight...#ad
  • High optical clarity at 2.5-10X magnification and a 40mm...
  • Integrated GREEN Laser featuring an on/off activation push...
  • Fog proof with shock resistant housing, nitrogen purged with...
  • Durable all metal construction, high-grade optical lens and...
  • This scope is great for use in close quarter combat and for...

UUQ built this scope for close quarter battle. The 2.5-10X magnification works great for short to mid-range shooting. It has superior optical clarity.

You can adjust the red or green reticle brightness for easy sighting in varying lighting condition. It is not intended for night use but is very effective during any brightness of daylight.

The scope is built for quick target acquisition, especially with targets on the run. It features high-powered integrated light sight and a detachable micro reflex dot so you can get a bead on your target instantly.

UUQ chose a scratch resistant green lens for the scope to provide for better light transfer. You get a high-clarity sighting at a reasonable cost

The scope can be mounted on either Weaver or Picatinny rails, providing fast and secure mounting. The scope has an all-metal design for durability. If you want durability, this scope is a great choice.

If you need a tactical scope for rapid target acquisition for short to mid-range combat, this UUQ Tactical Rifle scope will get the job done.

  • Easy to mount and get dialed in.
  • Solid construction with great durability
  • Red Dot sight provides quick target acquisition in close quarters.
  • 10 brightness modes make the reticle clear in any lighting condition.
  • Permanent reticle allows for accurate shooting without battery power.
  • 1-year warranty
  • Not designed for use on shotguns.

9. CenterPoint 1-4×20 MSR Rifle Scope with Offset Picatinny Mount and Glass Reticle

Centerpoint Optics 1-4x20 MSR Rifle Scope with Offset Picatinny Mount and Glass Reticle Black#ad
  • 1-inch diameter tube
  • Quick-aim reticle with 3 MOA center dot
  • 65 MOA ring for ultimate versatility
  • Extra-ling eye relief
  • Includes Picatinny rail mount rings and lens covers

The CenterPoint scope by Crossman is not the newest technology on the market, but it still an effective scope at an amazing price. The compact scope is designed for accurate shooting to a range of approximately 250 yards.

The sight is rugged in design and it should last for many years. It works great for AR rifles and on airsoft guns. It can handle intense recoil jolts and stay perfectly on target.
The CenterPoint 72002 MSR Rifle Scope uses an etched glass sight to allow for quick aiming. The 3 MOA center dot reticle provides great precision for shots up to 250 yards.

The scope uses an offset Picatinny rail for mounting. CenterPoint included lens covers for extra protection. The long eye relief gives the scope added versatility.

The CenterPoint 72002 is designed for fast action. It uses a second focal plane reticle so you can quickly estimate and take a shot without making adjustments. This is great when you are quickly switching from close range shots to longer range shots. The crosshairs look consistent at all magnification levels, which makes both short range and long range shots more consistent.

For fast target acquisition, use the red or green illuminated glass reticle. It has 3MOA center dots to provide quick distance estimations. The center reticle can be set to red or green, but if you turn off illumination the dot remains visible in black.

  • Great value for a low-cost scope.
  • Illuminated dot allows fast target acquisition.
  • Picatinny rail support is built-in.
  • Comes with a lens cover.
  • Clear reticle allows for good accuracy up to 250 yards.
  • Adjusting the mount and center dot is not easy.
  • Not the most precise scope.

10. Simmons ProHunter Truplex Reticle Handgun Scope

Simmons ProHunter Truplex Reticle Handgun Scope, 4x32mm (Silver)#ad
  • 4x fixed magnification; 32mm objective; Simmons TruPlex...
  • Multi-coated optics and high-quality optical glass provide...
  • Exclusive TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment system...
  • Raised tab on power change ring provides an easier grip and...
  • Waterproof, fogproof and recoil-proof to 1,000 rounds from a...

If you are looking for a feature-rich scope at a low price, the Simmons Prohunter Truplex Reticle Scope should top your shopping list. It has all the features you want, but they kept the price low. Usually, we expect quality to go down when we talk about low prices, but that does not happen with this Simmons scope.

The Simmons ProHunter can be used on a wide variety of weapons. They tested it on shotguns, pistols, and rifles. It stood up to intensive testing, withstanding 1,000 shots on a .375 caliber H&H Rifle without being damaged or loss of sighting. The scope uses multi-coated optics to endure long hunts and intense tactical situations. It has a no-glare finish, so you can always sight in on your target.

Simmons included their TrueZero Technology which is featured in their high-end scopes. You can quickly calculate your shots based on wind speeds and elevation, so you don’t miss a shot. They added in their patented Quick Target Acquisition technology, too. You get a full 3.75 inches of eye relief, no matter what magnification level you are using. These features are hard to find at any price but are unexpected at this price range.

  • TrueZero Adjustment for wind and elevation adjustment.
  • Shock resistant and waterproof
  • Multi-coated optics
  • Great quality magnification range with locked in 4X.
  • Great field of view.
  • A little too feature rich for use on a pistol
  • Stiff turrets
  • Only one magnification level

Are You Still Wondering If You Should Buy A New Scope? (Benefits of Scopes for AR-15)

Here are a few benefits which might help you decide.

  • Greater accuracy when shooting at longer distances.
  • Eliminates the need to use a flashlight
  • Precision shooting at all distances with adjustable magnification
  • The scope makes hitting the right spot on your target easier since the target can be seen clearly.
  • Fast target acquisition
  • The tactical advantage over opponents not using a scope.
  • Guarantees more accurate target shooting.
  • No more guessing at the distance of the target.
  • Increases the range you can accurately shoot.
  • Improves your safety by allowing you to shoot from a greater distance.
  • Easy to identify your game before taking the shot.
  • Never misidentify an animal again.
  • Choose the trophy level game.
  • Easier for beginners and experienced shooters to adjust sight than with built-in iron sights.
  • Extends the hours of the day you can hunt. You can hunt from early twilight to late dusk.
  • Some scopes provide night shooting capability, which is useful when hunting large game.
  • Longer shooting hours gives you more opportunity to bring home trophy-level game.
  • Clear imaging allows you to hit your targets consistently.
  • Save ammo costs, since you reduce missed shots.

Are Scopes Under $100 Reliable For Hunting and Other Uses?

There are differences between scopes that cost under $100 and scopes that cost almost $1000. But, a scope priced under $100 can still be very reliable and improve your accuracy dramatically. The real question should be, “Will a scope under $100 improve my accuracy over shooting without a scope?” The answer is a resounding yes. You can start with a budget scope, and upgrade when your budget allows it.

The biggest difference in scopes priced under $100 and around $1000 is the extra features. You get more settings, easier customization, and sometimes longer ranges. Otherwise, the scopes are very similar in design and in the materials used. You can get great performance out of a budget scope. Most shooters do not need all of the extra features packed into expensive scopes.

Scopes priced under $100 are perfect for most shooters and hunters who have tight budgets. You want a scope that provides the essential features and lets you improve accuracy. Choose a scope that fits the type of use and environments you will experience. Extreme shooters and extreme situations may require a more advanced scope, but that is not true for most of us.

Different Types of AR-15 Optics

There are many different types of sights that have been built for the AR-15. Every scope and optics company has come up with its unique design. Here are a few of the common types of scopes you will find:

  • Variable Power Scope
  • Magnification Rifle Scope
  • Red Dot Sights
  • Reflex Sights
  • Holographic Sights

A Few Tips To Choose Your Rifle Scope

Take a little time to do your research and study different scopes before you make your purchase.

There are a wide variety of scopes available. Make sure you choose the right scope for your use.

  • Do not rely on just the manufacturer’s description and specs when choosing your scope. It may sound perfect, but only people who have used the scope know its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Carefully read reviews on scopes you are considering. Pay attention to both the bad reviews and good reviews. This lets you make an informed decision and understand the scopes strengths and shortcomings.
  • Verify the scope is compatible with your rifle without modification.
  • Read the companies warranty for the scope. Some companies offer a lifetime warranty which even includes accidents.
  • Think carefully about how you will use the scope. Is a laser light scope or an illuminated reticle better for your style of shooting?
  • Check how the scope is factory sighted. Is it pre-sighted to work with your rifle and bullets? This makes it easy to mount the scope and start using it with minimal adjustments.

Are you still not sure? Try asking other people what scopes they like, especially people who use your model of rifle and use it similarly. They may suggest a scope you never considered.

Buying Guide

When you are researching different scopes, there is so much information and specifications that are available that it can be very overwhelming. In this article, we will be outlining some of the most important things that you need to consider when choosing your scope.


Magnification, above all, is among the most critical specifications that are involved with the scope for a AR 15. The specification refers to how powerful of a scope it is. It allows you to increase the size of the image and allows you to aim reliably at a long distance.

A scope will typically come with a two number rating that describes its magnification. For example, with a 4 x 32 scope, it means that an image is magnified 4 times bigger than it appears using the naked eye. Then the second number, which is the 32 in our example, it is the diameter in millimeters of the objective lens. In our tests, we tend to prefer to search for the largest size of objective lens that we can fit on a gun, and therefore enhance the allowable light and image clarity.

The AR 15 scopes have an extra number. So, for instance, the BugBuster 3-9 x 32. The numbering is a description of a variable zoom scope which can magnify from 3 times up to 9 times. The variable zoom is practically a necessity since it allows a lot more flexibility compared to fixed magnification. This is why only included since they are the absolute best.


Your AR 15 scope’s reticle is a very important thing to consider and may vary greatly depending on the scope design and brand. There are typically one of four different types of reticles: Mil-dot Reticle, Duplex Reticle, BDC Reticle, and Illuminated Reticle. Make sure that you like how the reticle looks and feels since this definitely changes based on what your individual preferences are. Personally, we like the illuminated reticles the best, since they can be used in low light scenes effectively.

Illuminated Reticle – This type of reticle actually lights up and can glow. Typically there are different control for things like even color and brightness to customize the appearance for preference and time of day. Throughout our reviews, we have discovered that the illuminated reticles normally look the best, and in our opinion, performed the best as well.

BDC Reticle – This is a basic crosshair reticle that has dots or has marks that align to a specific range. What BDC stands for is bullet drop compensation, and that is exactly what you are able to do after you understand which range correlates to which marking. The reticle is very nice since you can alter the range while you are aiming while on the fly, instead of it sighting it within a specific range.

Duplex Reticle – This is the simplest reticle and offers the least obstructed view. Its crosshairs narrow down to really thin lines the closer you get to the center (your target point) so that you are able to see your subject really well. You do lose being able to do range changes while on the fly, the way that the BDC reticle allows you to do.

Mil-Dot Reticle – This type of reticle looks like the BDC reticle, and comes with hash marks for the range, but rather than having a crosshair intersection, it has a big circle for its focal point. The style is one of the more complex reticles, but once you get used to it, it can be very effective.


This is the effect you get when a high powered rifle scope is used. You don’t want that effect to occur since it may cause you to miss your target, and therefore, many scopes come with parallax compensation options. Parallax is essentially the relative motion of the subject and reticle. If you are looking through the scope, shift your gaze slightly, and the reticle then moves into position, then what you are experiencing is parallax and an adjustment needs to be made.

There are a couple of steps that can be taken to make adjustments for parallax

  1. First of all, be sure that your scope is zeroed properly for your specific rifle
  2. Place your AR 15 or another rifle on a sandbag, tripod or stand and then aim down the range.
  3. Put the target at its maximum distance for the capabilities and scope
  4. Maximize its magnification level
  5. Change your gaze and then check for any relative motion (it will seem to be traveling on the target).
  6. Utilize the parallax compensation ring and then make adjustments to the focal planes until there isn’t any more relative motion

Another thing that can happen is that Parallax effect may make it seem that you are on target when actually you are not. Make sure that you compensate for that before you go hunting and then watch for it later down the line to start creeping up on you.

Eye Relief

This is just the distance between the ocular lens (the lens that is closest to your eye) and your eye. Scopes have various eye relief specifications so you need to ensure to make you choose the one that works the best for you. A bigger eye relief is typically preferred (longer distance) since it strains your eyes less and enables a safe distance in order to avoid incurring a recoil-related eye injury.

There are some scopes that come with adjustable eye relief, which are especially useful for a AR 15 that has an adjustable stock. Also, adjustable eye reliefs enable you to customize your rifle further to whatever is comfortable for you.

Easily Adjustable Knobs

Good scopes have knobs that can be easily adjusted. The turret should especially be able to easily adjust since it will help you zero it correctly. The knobs also should be the right size, not too long or too small to adjust easily.


Although you might have a completely empty rail for optics that doesn’t mean that you always need to fill it, does it? It all depends on what the purpose of your AR-15 is. There are some optics that may be less than a couple of inches and there are some long-range scopes that may be more than one foot long. So if you are thinking about carrying your rifle frequently and taking short or mid-range shots, then a large scope will obviously not be the best option for you.


Weight, similar to size, must be considered. Whenever you are looking at a long range scope that is able to magnify up to 100 yards, it might be necessary for the scope of this caliber to weigh up to nearly two pounds. But there are red dot optic scopes that might weight just a couple of ounces that makes it possible to quickly maneuver during competition shooting.


When you find a scope that is able to withstand being thrown around and used repeatedly while shooting it among the most important of all criteria. If a scope is not made from high-quality parts and ends up breaking down, it will make shooting nearly impossible or frustrating at the very least. Therefore, when you have a durable scope it will ensure that you can fire whenever necessary and make sure you have a scope to use for many years into the future.


The price can vary widely on scopes. You can get a good quality AR scope easily for less than $100 and then go up to a couple of thousand dollars, especially when you consider thermal scopes.

On a higher priced scope, typically you will get a couple more features, stronger magnification, and durability. It is very important to get the best scope for you and that is in your budget. This is why we check out the inexpensive ones in this review.

Matching Optics to Your AR 15

Earlier we mentioned choosing the optics to match your shooting goals. This is an important consideration to make sure you get the most value from your scope. There are so many options available that you do not need to compromise. Choose a scope that meets your needs perfectly.

Here are the most common uses for an AR-15 and the type of optics that work best for those uses:

Defending Your Home – This is a close quarter battle. A dot sight is a good choice for acquiring a target in this situation.

Hunting – This sport is filled with variables. Your game is at different distances. It could be standing still or be on the move. A low powered variable optic scope works well for hunting with your AR-15. Choose a scope with either a 1X to 6X magnification or one with 3X to 9X, depending on the game you plan to hunt.

Special Purpose Rifle – These rifles can be used for a wide variety of purposes, so need a more flexible use scope. A 2.5X to 10X scope is a great choice.

Duty Use – What kind of situations do you run into while you are on duty? Most duty officers choose between a dot scope for fast target acquisition or a low-powered fixed power optic.

Plinking Rifle – Are you just using your gun for fun? Shooting targets and cans with your AR-15 is a lot of fun. A simple dot sight is inexpensive and allows you to quick fire for added fun.

The Top Brands of Scopes

There are several great brands of rifle scopes that are very popular today. Let’s name a few so that you can be familiar with them before we progress any further.

There are dozens of companies selling scopes today. Here are a few of the top brands who make great scopes. This list will help you recognize the top players in the scope business while you shop.


Bushnell is a name you can trust. They have been around for decades producing scopes for tactical purposes and hunting. They build some of the best rifle scopes available. You can find good-quality Bushnell scopes at any price range, even under $100.


Armasight is one of the biggest names in tactical scopes and has great rifle scopes, too. Their scopes are popular with both professional and hobby shooters. Just like Bushnell, they have scopes priced for everyone. You can buy an Armasight for under $100 or well over $1000. If you are interested in the finest scope for the money, do not overlook Armasight.


UTG is well known among rifle owners. Their budget priced scopes compete favorably with much higher priced brands. If you are on a tight budget, but still want the high quality, check out UTG’s line of scopes.


There are few names better known in the optics world than Nikon. Their name is synonymous with quality cameras and scopes. What surprises many people is their line of wallet-friendly scopes which offer superior quality.


Low prices, high-quality, and accuracy are what makes Vortex special. Their name may be a little less known, but their products are making them more popular year-after-year.


Aimpoint offers high-quality scopes, but are priced closer to Armasight. Their prices are not always budget-friendly, but their quality is hard to match. If you are looking to spend a few more dollars, check out the scopes from Aimpoint.


If you are looking for night vision scopes for your rifle, then ATN is the brand for you. ATN is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of digital scopes and sights. The night vision scopes of ATN are an engineering and design masterpieces. When you have enough budget, you can consider their high-quality products.

Important Rifle Scope Terminology

Scope Tube – The scope tube is the connecting tube between the ocular and objective lenses. It is usually made of metal. The scope tube is usually either 30mm or 1 inch in diameter.

Objective Bell – At one end of the scope tube is the objective bell. The bell connects the objective lens to the scope tube. It is responsible for keeping the objective lens fixed in-place. They come in 1 inch and 30mm options.

Objective Lens – As the name suggests, the objective lens faces your target. It is one of the most important parts of your scope. It gathers the light from where you are aiming and feeds it towards your eye. It is larger than the ocular lens. Its size varies from 20 to 60mm.

Eyepiece – The eyepiece is responsible for keeping the ocular lens in place and for focus adjustment. It is equipped with focus adjustment dials.

Ocular Lens – The ocular lens faces your eye. It focuses the light which has been captured by the objective lens to your eye. The ocular lens usually has multiple coatings to improve its function and to repel water and fog.

Turrets – The turret knows are used to adjust your scope for elevation, wind speed, and parallax. They help you make the perfect shot in variable conditions.

Eye Relief – This is the measurement of how far your eyes need to be from the ocular eye for getting a focused and clear image of your target. Most scopes are designed for a 2 to 4 inches eye relief.

Field of View – Your field of view is the width you can see through your scope at 100 yards. The greater your magnification, the less your field of view will be.

Exit Pupil – The exit pupil affect the brightness of your view. It is created using a lighted disc placed in the field center.

Crosshair or Reticle – This is your sighting lines or dots. It can be crossed lines, a series of dots, or other shapes which help you center your shot on the target.

Parallax – This effect is caused when your reticle and target are not on the same focal plane.

Mil/MOA – This is two different standards for adjustment measurements for windage and elevation which you adjust with your turret knobs.

BDC Reticle – BDC stands for Bullet Drop Compensator. This is used to estimate how far your bullet will fall over great distances. It helps increase shooting accuracy for longer shots up to 1000 yards.


As you have just learned, there are a wide variety of scopes priced under $100 for your AR-15. You do not have to sacrifice on features or quality while saving money. You can choose a scope that is durable and meets your shooting needs.

We hope this guide helped you discover the right scope to use for your AR-15 and to have a better understanding of important features on your scope.


Best Scopes for AR-15 Under $100 ( Top 3 Picks )

Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Professional's Choice
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
Best Value
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Our Rating
Editor’s Choice & Best Seller
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x20mm, Black#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Professional's Choice
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon
Best Value
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount#ad
Our Rating
Read Full Review
View on Amazon

Last update on 2022-05-30 / Rating by Author / Affiliate links, Images, Descriptions & Price from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.