Best Sights For AR-15: Experts Reviews And Shopping Instructions

Best Sights For AR-15: Experts Reviews And Shopping Instructions
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Thanks to the modular design, AR-15 and its many variants are simple to customize with a wide variety of rifle attachments as well as accessories. From muzzle brake to grenade launcher, the possibilities are endless. However, while there are indeed many choices, optic is widely considered to be one of the most useful additions to an AR-15 style rifle. Attaching a quality scope or red dot sight to an AR-15 would provide it with a substantial improvement in accuracy. In the case you want to grab an optic for your AR-15 but feel overwhelmed by the number of products, this article is for you.

Right down below, you would be provided with the specifications and capabilities of some of the best AR-15 optics around. Every optic listed in this article also comes with a short and straightforward advantages /disadvantages review which means you could quickly grasp the optic performance. All optic reviews come from veteran shooters and experts in the field, they are carefully written from first-hand experience. A comprehensive shopping guide is available as well so you could select a suitable product. Read through everything, incorporate your personal preferences and shooting style then you should be able to make a wise investment.

Top 7 Best Optics For AR-15 – 2018

1/ Trijicon ACOG

  • Type: Fixed Power Scope
  • Magnification: 4x  
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 9.9 oz

Because of their commendable quality and reliability, Trijicon products are well liked by gun enthusiast around the globe and ACOG is surely not an exception. The scope name (ACOG) stands for Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight which indicates its military nature. As it’s made for combat, ACOG could endure exceptional abuse and still remain operational. In term of features, the scope possesses a day/night battery-free illumination setup. A combination of fiber optics and tritium ensure that the scope would provide you with an excellent field of vision.

To keep the body light and strong, ACOG chooses high-grade aluminum as its material. In most of the case, the Trijicon scope should allow you to shoot at man-sized targets out to 500 yards. Thanks to the simple and convenient BDC reticle, it’s relatively easy to figure out the distance to the target. Because ACOG is meant for tactical engagements, you should look for something else if you want a long range scope.    

Pros

  • Backed by a lifetime warranty
  • The body of the scope is light and compact
  • Allow the shooter to aim/shoot with both eyes open

Cons

  • The acquisition cost is high
  • Unsuitable for novice shooters

2/ Bushnell AR Optics

  • Type: Variable Power Scope
  • Magnification: 1-4x  
  • Diameter: 22mm
  • Weight: 16.9 oz

With a reticle pattern that is specifically tuned for 5.56x45mm round, AR Optics is one of the most versatile AR-15 optics you can get. The 24mm lens is sufficient for most of the time and helps to keep down the size of the scope. Since the Bushnell scope is a variable power design, it performs well at CQB as well as medium range shootings. Because of the nitrogen filled tube and a resilient anodized finish, AR Optic could be used to good result in rough environments.  

AR Optic is a first focal plane scope which means the reticle size changes as you increase and decrease the magnification level. Therefore, the BDC pattern is able to remain accurate at any magnification level. All you have to do is to place the suitable hash mark on the target and then squeeze the trigger. The magnification power of the Bushnell optic is somewhat reduced in twilight conditions but it’s usually a negligible drawback.

Pros

  • Versatile and accurate
  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • Excellent choice for beginners

Cons

  • Slightly on the heavy side
  • The sharpness of the reticle should be improved

3/ Aimpoint Pro

  • Type: Red dot
  • Magnification: 1x  
  • Diameter: 26mm
  • Weight: 7.8 oz

Powered by a single 3V lithium battery, Aimpoint Pro could last for 30,000 continuous hours (3 years) before battery replacement is required. If all you need is a rugged and reliable red dot optic, this Aimpoint product would not let you down. Whether it’s for home defense or duty use, the optic shall perform with distinction. Up to 10 settings are available, 4 for nighttime and 6 for daytime. The multi-coated 26mm lens lets a lot of surrounding light in and that explain the respectable level of brightness the optic could offer.  

Aimpoint Pro possesses an always-on illuminator so you don’t have to hit any switch to turn it on. While the optic itself doesn’t have magnification power, it’s compatible with Aimpoint magnifiers in case you want to do some medium range shootings. The adjustments caps and the battery cover all have retaining lanyards attached to prevent loss. To sum it up, Aimpoint Pro is an excellent optic with admirable quality and durability. While the price tag appears to be a bit high for a non-magnified sight, the value of Aimpoint Pro totally worth the acquisition cost.

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Admirable endurance and versatility
  • Handling characteristics are top notch

Cons

  • Costly compared to other red dot sights
  • Customer complains about zeroing issue

4/ SIG Romeo 5

  • Type: Red dot
  • Magnification: 1x  
  • Diameter: 20mm
  • Weight: 5.1 oz

Are you shopping with a tight wallet? In that case, with its reasonable price tag, SIG Romeo 5 is the perfect AR-15 optic for you. Generally speaking, the SIG sight is a straightforward design which incorporates advanced and modern technology. In term of battery life, a single CR 2032 could power SIG Romeo 5 for 5,000 continuous hours. Besides that, the presence of MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) means the illuminator would turn off when not in use in order to preserve battery life.      

For brightness adjustment, SIG Romeo 5 provides its user with 10 settings, 8 for daytime and 2 for nighttime. With an IPX-7 rating, the SIG sight is completely waterproof and could be submerged up to 1 meter without being damaged. The body of the SIG Romeo 5 optic also sits high enough to co-witness with other conventional AR-15 iron sights. Thanks to simple control, this optic is not a bad choice for home defense purpose.  

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable price tag  
  • Multiple brightness settings

Cons

  • Mediocre instruction manual  
  • Take times and effort to zero

5/ Vortex Optics StrikeFire II

  • Type: Red dot
  • Magnification: 1x  
  • Diameter: 30mm
  • Weight: 7.2 oz

Optimized for close range setting, StrikeFire II is the optic you need in a home invasion scenario. The Vortex sight permits you to dispatch fast moving object at short distances without problems and you could use it conveniently with both eyes open. Well sealed and waterproof, the tube of the sight possesses commendable endurance for its size. StrikeFire II could operate in all but the most extreme conditions.  

In order to protect battery life, StrikeFire II has a handy auto shutdown feature that turns of the illuminator after 12 hours in case you forget to do it yourself. Because of that, you don’t have to worry about draining the battery by accident. The Vortex sight comes with built-in caps and a quality mount so it’s a very efficient purchase overall.    

Pros

  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Easy to access power control

Cons

  • Less than ideal quality control
  • Some customers receive sights with a dead battery

6/ Bushnell TRS-25

  • Type: Red dot
  • Magnification: 1x  
  • Diameter: 25mm
  • Weight: 3.7 oz

For people in need of a budget-friendly sight, it’s a good idea to take a look at TRS-25. Beside assault rifle, the could be used on other firearms as well such shotgun and pistol. With unlimited eye relief and 100% waterproof/shockproof/fogproof, TRS-25 is definitely a tough and convenient sight to use. While the Bushnell optic could not compete with top-of-the-line products, it still attracts a lot of customer because of the affordable price.

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Pros

  • Affordable
  • High endurance
  • Fit many firearms

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Not very reliable

7/ Nikon P-223

  • Type:  Fixed Power Scope
  • Magnification: 1x  
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 12.2 oz

Designed for rapid target acquisition, P-223 possesses respectable optical capability without sacrificing its handling characteristics. The 32mm lens is rather big compared to other AR-15 scopes but is size does offer a wide field of vision and improved brightness. With a fixed magnification power of 3x, the Nikon sight is most suited for shootings that take place around 300 yards. BDC reticle pattern also helps to improve your shooting accuracy.

Pros

  • Simple to adjust
  • Solid and compact
  • Helpful customer service

Cons

  • Minor defects are occasionally reported
  • The turrets could not lock in place

What You Have To Consider Before Buying An AR-15 Optic

  • Red Dot Sight Vs Scope  

In order to determine whether you should go after red dot sights or scopes, you must take into the account the purpose of your AR-15. For home defense, a red dot optic is usually sufficient given the close quarter environment. On the other hand, you should use a low power scope (1-6x, 3-9x and others) if you are using your AR-15 as a hunting rifle. If needed, you could pair a magnifier, which is a device that offers fixed magnification, with a red dot optic to achieve a hybrid setup. In any case, using the right optic for the right purpose is essential if you truly want to have a good time with your AR-15.

For most of the time, using a high power scope for AR-15 is not really efficient due to the range of the 5.56x45mm round. The practical range of AR-15 is limited to 600 yards and that means it’s simply a waste to attach a powerful scope to your rifle. In the usual case, a variable scope with a maximum magnification power of 10x or 12x is more than enough. For man-sized targets, a 4x fixed power scope could perform well out to 500 yards.

  • The Compatibility Of Your AR-15

Having the best AR-15 scope means nothing if you could not mount it on your rifle.

Generally speaking, pretty much all modern AR-15 style rifles could accept an optic without difficulties. One of the most common attachments/accessories mounting platforms you could run into is the Picatinny rail (or MIL-STD-1913). If you happen to own an old style AR-15 with an integrated carrying handle, it’s still possible to attach a rifle scope to it. Nonetheless, you should expect some annoying issues because of the high sight line and the canting of the rifle could cause a considerable accuracy problem.   

  • Your Budget For Optic Purchase

We always want to look for something that is both quality and cheap but the rule of thumb is: “You get what you pay for”. Sure, expensive products are not always able to match our expectation but you could expect top-of-the-line performance from a dirt cheap product. Fortunately, you should be able to find an optic that suits both your budget and your requirements as long as you are willing to look.

In the case you want a product that could last for a decade or so, investing a bit of money is not a bad idea. Some of the best sights for AR-15 are definitely expensive but their performance justify the cost. Do remember to compare the price of the scope to your AR-15: Getting a $2.000 scope for a $600 rifle just doesn’t sound right at all.

  • The Reticle Of The Optic

As you may already know, the reticle of a scope is what you use to aim so it has a considerable influence on the accuracy. There are many styles of reticle available for rifle scopes, from simple crosshairs to complex BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) design.  Use whichever reticle you like but do remember that you have to make the decision base on your shooting skill. It’s pointless to go after a sophisticated reticle if you are unable to utilize it to its full potential. For red dot optics, the reticle is the red dot. Nowadays, there are many models similar to red dot optics but they come with a green or amber dot instead.

  • The Brand Of The Optic

While shopping for an optic, you should keep an eye for brands like Trijicon, Leupold, Nikon, Bushnell and so on. These are famous names in the industry so their warranties, as well as post-purchase supports, are far better compared to other lesser-known manufacturers. You could get any product that satisfies your needs and tastes but if possible, you should get your optic from one of the mentioned brands. As always, there are conflicting opinions about particular brands so you should make the final decision base on your preferences.

  • The Operation Of The Optic

Not every optic is created in the same manner, each product has its own pros and cons in different situations. For instances, scopes that are designed to let more light to come into view work well in low light environments. To extend the optic reticle into distances, red dots sight could be made to accept a magnifier which reduces the need for carrying many optics. The use of a magnifier here could potentially take up the room for the back up or flip up sights

Conclusion:

Generally, you could always get more than one optic so you could engage your targets more effectively but you should set up priorities in advance. Here is an example: Most of your shooting take place in short to medium range. Therefore, you would spend more on an optic that let you hit your target at that range and spend less on a long range optic.

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