Top 4 Best AR 15 Scope Under $200 – Reviews and Optics Guide 2020

4.7/5

Having a high-end AR-15 rifle doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the best of your shots. To get the best shooting chance and have an accurate aim at your targets, you need the top-notch accompanying accessories too. This is where the AR-15 scopes come in.

Without a proper scope, you are very likely to come up short. This is why you should invest in the best AR-15 scope. However, many people can’t afford a top-of-the-line scope with a huge price tag. This article is specially written for those people to help them find the best AR 15 scope under $200.

Top 4 AR-15 Scopes Under $200

We’ve conducted thorough research and single out four best AR-15 scopes under 200 that can do a great job for you. Here they are!

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MODEL

PRICE

RATING

Top 4 AR-15 Scopes Under $200 - Reviews Guide

Our Rating

Top Rated Car Gun Safe

5/5
Designed as a 32mm one-inch tube with a 10.7mm exit pupil, this objective lens from Nikon provides a view of 35.6ft for 100 yards and delivers perfectly clear images. The multicoated optical features a 3X magnification and it can absorb 98 percent of the ambient light. Eye relief is extremely bright, so looking through this scope is very comfortable. That makes it a perfect choice for low light conditions. Turrets have a tactical style with a hand-turned design. Once you have your target in sight, it will zero out swiftly, allowing you to quickly acquire a target. The overall length of the scope is 8.1 inches and it weighs 12.2 ounces only.

PROS

  • Bright and clear eye relief
  • 98% light absorption
  • 6ft field of view for a distance of 100 yards
  • Easy to zero turret
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Not suitable for long shots
  • The turret is somewhat large

Our Rating

4.7/5
Featuring a 24-millimeter objective lens and weighing about 17 ounces, this 9.5-inch reticle riflescope is very compact and lightweight, thereby a great choice for a carabine because of its weight and size. With a large silver sticker and matte-black finish, this scope will attract your attention for sure. The turrets are really awesome and you can easily adjust them with fingertips. It’s both tactile and audible, providing an excellent feedback. When you sight in, the turret can zero out almost instantly, so the process is quite simple and quick compared to other Ar-15 scopes out there.

PROS

  • HD clarity optics
  • Excellent brightness
  • Easy to adjust turrets
  • Compact and lightweight
  • High-quality materials

CONS

  • Not rain-guarded
  • No parallax correction

Our Rating

4.6/5

This Leupold scope is a unique mixture of new technologies and existing features. As a result, you get a superior mid-range scope that is particularly favorable for scouting targets and big game hunting. It’s a great value for money indeed since it delivers exceptional features without giving away anything from its look so that you’ll feel it’s a top-end premium scope.

Thanks to the Quantum Optical System and multicoated optics, you will enjoy crystal-clear images with up to 92% of light transmission. Easily adjustable 1/4 MOA clicks can be easily rotated. Another thing you will appreciate is a low-profile lockable ring that comes with a classy eyepiece.

PROS

  • Perfect for hunters
  • Suited for long distance shots
  • LR Durable reticle
  • Fully recoiled proof
  • Waterproof

CONS

  • No complex ballistic reticle
  • No mil dots

Our Rating

4.2/5

The Vortex Diamondback line of scopes a big step forward for this brand. If you are one of those people who doesn’t seek exposed turrets, chances are this riflescope is going to suit you really well. It is suitable for varmint hunting, paper punching, and slapping steel.

With this product, you’ll get a nice BDC reticle with covered turrets. The build and glass quality is truly outstanding. We especially like how the reticle is incorporated on this scope, as it can be used for wind holds with great success.

All in all, this is a great option for people who want to spend under 200 bucks on the rifle scope. We found it definitely worth the upgrade.

PROS

  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle
  • Solid one-piece tube
  • Easy elevation and windage adjustments
  • Great for wind holds
  • Very clear

CONS

  • Almost unusable at higher magnifications
  • Poor eye relief

Optics Buying Guide

The AR 15 rifle is a versatile weapon with lots of applications. It has its roots in the military but it has become a hit with civilians who use it for recreational hunting, vermin control, and sports. The AR 15 is a reliable, lightweight, and accurate rifle but to make the most of it in any capacity, you will need the right attachments that are suited to your shooting context.

When paired with the best scope under 200, you will be able to improve your shooting accuracy and bring down a variety of game when hunting. Some shots like long-range shots require high magnification optics while others need minimal or zero magnification. When the right scope is used in the right context, it will not only help you improve your accuracy but also in sizing up your targets and even scouting the terrain.

To help you make the best decision when buying a scope for your AR -15, we have created this optics guide to point out the essential factors and key features you should consider before purchasing a scope for your gun in the 200 price range.

Optical Power

The first thing you should determine when purchasing a new AR-15 scope is which distances you're going to shoot at. For example, if most of your targets will be located within 500 yd, it doesn't make sense to put on a 12x rifle scope. Anyway, your optic is supposed to provide clear images and good performance. That means the scope must be multi-coated to transmit a lot of light even when used in low light conditions.

Magnification

As its name suggests, the scope magnification is a feature that determines how far you'll see through it, i.e. how magnified the images will be. A scope with 4X magnification means that the image that you will view will be magnified 4 times. Most budget-friendly riflescopes have a maximum range of 500 yards. Keep in mind that long shots need higher magnification to provide clear images. You should, however, bear in mind that the greater the magnification, the more the images will get distorted and this could make it difficult for you to target objects effectively. There are rifle scopes that will help you deal with the distortion and the scope that you get will depend on how you intend to use your rifle. Shooters have different needs and use their rifles differently. Hunters will demand more magnification to be able to target wild game from far without getting too close to them and as such, they may pick riflescopes with a higher magnification. What one needs to investigate when choosing a scope with the right magnification is light allowance the lens has with some scopes coated with emerald to allow for the magnification of light. This allows for proper visibility in low light environments as well as making the field of view clearer at higher magnification. You can also get a scope with little magnification. Such riflescopes are ideal if you typically fire over short distances or when firing at high rates.

Reticle

With the use of a tiny spot, the reticle enables a shooter to make more accurate shots. A good reticle is the one that lets you follow moving targets and aim without much effort. This is particularly important for hunting where the game moves quickly so that you need to swiftly adapt to a new situation. Reticle types are available in different types and they include

  • Duplex reticle
    Of all the reticle types, the duplex reticle is the most basic and widely used. They offer a simple cross that is placed over the target to allow for simple target acquisition. Duplex reticle types come in different forms with the long-distance duplex reticle using extra rings to make it easy to accurately target objects that are far away in the distance.
  • Mildot reticle
    Mildot reticle types have the same functionality as duplex reticle types only that they feature rings that cover the vertical distance within the scope. A mildot reticle also shows rungs for horizontal targeting that comes in handy when you need to shot a moving object. This allows shooters to factor in the speed of the moving target when aiming and compensate accordingly.
  • BDC reticle
    The BDC reticle operates similarly to the duplex long-range reticle as it gives more details about the target with distance rings. The long-distance duplex, however, shows 25 to 100 yards with the BDC reticle showing 25 to 600 yards. The BDC is, therefore, more versatile and ideal for tactical shooting.

Eye Relief

As you may already know, eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece of the scope. Most Ar-15 scopes come with an eye relief anywhere from 2 to 4 inches for a safety purpose. That’s because all guns tend to recoil when shooting and may injure you if you're aiming very close to your scope. You need to choose an eye relief that gives you the optimal distance in accordance with your shooting style.

Adjustable Knobs

When buying the best Ar-15 scope, you want one that is equipped with easily adjustable knobs. In particular, make sure the turret can be adjusted with ease in order to properly zero in while aiming. Also, the knobs should have an ideal size — not too big and not too small — for hassle-free adjustment.

Focal plane

The focal plane is what one sees when looking through the lens. The image that gets into the scope is usually inverted and if we were to remove the main magnification lens from the scope, then we will be left with an image that is upside down. This happens because the focal plane displays images in their raw and unprocessed form. riflescopes typically have two focal planes; a first focal plane known as the front focal plane and a second focal plane known as the rear focal plane. The first focal plane is used for tactical purposes when the image is focused on the scope. This is very useful because it helps the reticle attain greater accuracy at different magnification. The rear focal plane helps the scope foam clearer images in low-light conditions. When the rear focal plane is used on a BDC reticle scope, it is only able to operate accurately on the highest magnification.

Parallax

Parallax occurs when the focal plane is not aligned properly. To check if your scope is aligned properly, identify a target 100 yards away and look at it through the scope. Once on target, try to look at another part of the target with your eye to see if the image moves. If it moves, then the parallax of your scope is not aligned properly and you will have to adjust it. Most riflescopes have adjustment knobs for this and you will be able to correct it easily. If your scope doesn’t have parallax adjustment, you will have to visit a range to have it adjusted correctly. You will end up wasting valuable time and money and this is why riflescopes with parallax adjustment are the best.

Intended use

Another thing you need to bear in mind when buying an AR-15 scope is how you intend to use it. Someone who will be hunting with their AR -15 will have different optics needs than another who will be using the rifle for competitive sports. The range at which they are shooting is different as such, the scopes that serve them best have different features. Nothing is worse than having to do long range shooting with a short range scope and this is why you need to have a clear understanding of the shooting activities you will be engaging in before buying a scope. If you will be taking long range shots, you will need a scope with variable magnification settings to allow you to make the necessary adjustment depending on the elevation and windage.

Skill level

The scope a beginner need is different from the scope that a competitive and experienced shooter needs. This, however, is something beginners often overlook and they go ahead to buy the coolest scope with a high price tag not knowing that they are better off visiting the range to practice with iron sights to improve the targeting and accuracy before thinking of what scope to buy. Those who are yet to fire more than 200 shots with a AR 15 are better off with scopes of a low price tag rather than buying the expensive models as this allows them to remain with some funds to buy ammunition that they will use for practicing their shots with a AR 15. Once you can hit targets regularly with the rifle, then you can spend more money on a AR 15 scope with better optics.

Optics features

What the Numbers mean

Scope descriptions usually contain several numbers and units that can be quite confusing to the untrained person. To end this confusion, here is what some of those numbers and units mean on the best scopes under 200.

Power

The optic features that you desire will also determine the type of scope that you can get. Scopes are not created the same and if you are buying a scope for a specific purpose, you may have to overlook the price range and spend a little bit more to get all the optics features that you need to make shooting successful. If you will be using your rifle in low light conditions, you will need a scope that allows more light into the objective lens to make your field of view clearer. If you will be shooting in the daytime, then you can overlook this feature and get a scope with other capabilities such as more power and magnification to allow you to make long-range shots with better accuracy.

If you are looking to buy a red dot scope for short-range shooting, then you will want to buy a scope from a high-quality brand with a reputation for making great scopes with a clear reticle that makes it easy to aim at targets when shooting.

Those with varied shooting needs may have to consider buying more than one scope for their needs. This is because it is difficult to get a scope that meets all the optic features of different shooting ranges and external conditions and as such, one may have to buy different scopes for effective shooting.

Objective

The objective of a scope is the second number on the description and it refers to the size of the lens. It is usually measured in millimeters with a scope of 3-9×40 has an objective lens of 40mm. A large number means that the lens has a bigger lens which provides a large field of view when targeting long-range aiming points. Bigger lenses also allow more light into the scope and this makes them perfect for low light shooting activities. The problem with bigger lenses is that they are heavy and bulky and this could make it difficult for you to focus properly when hunting with your AR 15 rifle.

Some scopes are built with adjustable objective lenses that allow you to focus on targets better when shooting at long distances. Such scopes allow you to adjust the parallax and improve your focus at greater distances. You will, however, only have to worry about parallax adjustment when dealing with a scope that has a power of more than 10. Other riflescopes below this threshold auto-adjust their parallax and as such, you will not have to correct it over and over again when shooting.

Reticle

This is what most people identify as the crosshairs of a scope. It is what people use to accurately point their guns at their aiming points. Red dot scopes use red dot reticles while green dot scopes use green reticles

MOA

MOA means “Minute of Angle” and it is an angular measurement that enlarges with distance. Professional shooters use the measure of MOA to ensure that the groupings are tight together before shooting. 1 MOA is equivalent to 5” at 500 yards and professional shooters with a perfect MOA able to shoot a 1” group at 10-yards.

Eye relief distance

Eye relief is the measure of how far from your face you can hold the scope when aiming without getting hit by the rifle when it recoils after firing. AR 15s have some recoil and as such, you should leave some eye relief distance between you and the scope for a kickback to prevent getting hit on the face.

Do I need an AR-15 scope?

If you are an active shooter and want to shoot with better accuracy, then you need a scope for your AR 15. You are only able to see clearly up to a certain distance and to improve your targeting beyond your eyes’ field of view, you will need a scope. A scope magnifies your target all this allows for better targeting and improved accuracy for shots. The type of scope that you should get depends on many things key among them being your intended use as scopes are usually designed for specific purposes. For shorter distances and rapid-fire shooting, a scope with a lower power works best as it won’t magnify the image too much to make sighting difficult. For long-range shooting, you need the image magnified significantly for proper target acquisition and scope with higher power and magnification works best.

How much magnification do you need for your AR 15?

The magnification power of a riflescope is denoted as “nx” with a scope rated as 3x having a magnification power of 3. Large numbers mean more zoom for the scope but you should also note that more magnification results in higher image distortion. Great AR 15 scopes can reduce the distortion but it is important to balance the magnification with other optics features if you want to be able to hit your targets with better accuracy.

Hunters may pick scopes with high magnification power such as 9x but this isn’t the only important feature to consider. You also need to pay attention to the scopes light allowance since lenses with emerald coating allow for better light magnification. Such scopes come in handy when you are hunting in low light settings as they help provide a clear field of view even when you switch to full magnification.

Advantages of using a scope

A rifle scope is one of the most important accessories that you need as an active shooter and below are some of the benefits of using a scope;

  • Make accurate shots even from far. The human eye is not able to see beyond a certain point and this can limit your ability to aim at objects far in the distance. A scope magnifies your field of view allowing you to see far away objects. This makes hunting easy as you will be able to shoot with increased accuracy without getting close to the animal.
  • Eliminates the need for flashlights when shooting. You will not need a flashlight to illuminate your field of view when hunting in low light conditions as the scope has been designed to use ambient light to form visible images. This allows you to hunt discretely in low light conditions without scaring off your target.
  • It helps you acquire the target easily. Riflescopes use precise targeting mechanisms that allow you to zero in on your targets quickly. This comes in handy when hunting fast animals and for competitive shooting.
  • It allows you to shoot with increased precision. Scopes with significant magnification abilities allow for precise targeting of objects far away in the distance.
  • Protects the safety of the shooter by making it possible to shoot without getting too close to the target. With a rifle scope, you don’t have to get too close to the target if you are hunting in the wild and this helps guarantee your safety.

Who makes the best low rifle scope?

Nikon is one of the best brands when it comes to the manufacture of rifle scopes. They have vast experience in the field of photography and their scopes are built to provide clear images when aiming at targets.

Leupold is another brand that makes great lenses. They use innovative optics to make resilient scopes that are a hit with hunters and shooters. Whether you are buying Leupold scopes for competition, military warfare, or for hunting, they offer outstanding performance and pinpoint accuracy for multiple aiming points for both long-range and short-range shooting.

Bushnell scopes are good for military use and this makes them ideal for civilian use as well. They deliver durable and compact scopes built in their proprietary ballistics aiming technology.

Vortex takes pride in the craftsmanship of their scopes. Their scopes are built to last and offer accurate shots in varying environmental conditions.

Vortex Optics Diamondback

What’s the best holographic sight for an AR 15?

The EOTech 512.A65 Tactical Holographic Sight is the best holographic sight for an AR 15. The parent company is a recognized brand in the manufacture of holographic sights and this unit is exactly what you need to improve the accuracy of your shooting. The sight has a rugged design and thus able to withstand harsh terrains. The sighting system is perfectly designed to ensure that it works perfectly with magnifiers and iron sights on the AR 15.

Wrapping Up

Selecting the right AR-15 scope could be a little tricky as there are a lot of factors to take into consideration and a plethora of options to choose from. However, with these guidelines and top models reviewed above, you’re more likely to choose the scope for your rifle that works best for you.