AR-15 Scopes: Determining the Best Fit for Your Shooting Needs
How to choose from the myriad variety of AR-15 scopes. Scopes and other optics are great tools to enhance the capabilities of your AR-15. Whether it is fast target acquisition, long-range precision, or a combination of the two, these simple tips will make the buying process much less complicated.
What to consider
Target size. How big is the target you will be shooting? First, you need to be able to clearly see it. If your target is small or not clearly visible, you probably need some kind of magnification.
Range. The AR-15 is an incredibly versatile weapon. Fully capable for use in CQB/MOUT or as a hunting rifle.
Purpose of the weapon. Is somebody’s life going to depend on this weapon? Typically this applies to MIL/LEO and PSD types, but also if the AR-15 is your primary home defense tool.
This goes without saying, but almost all optics for AR-15′s require a mounting system such as a picatinny or weaver rail system. The common exception being the ACOG by Trijicon, which has carrying handle mounting capability.
1. Holographic and Red dot sights. These are one of the best options for LEO/MIL operators. These sights fall into the category of reflex sights. Usually a red dot or a simple reticle pattern, with no magnification. Allows the user to rapidly apply accurate fire at close ranges. These can be coupled with magnifiers and NVG’s for greater application. Most popular are the EOTech and Aimpoint.
2. Low magnification scopes. Smaller scale scopes such as the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, or ACOG, is basic scope for the AR-15 and its variants. Used widely by the U.S. Military, the ACOG comes in several varieties from 1.5x to 8x magnification. Another example of a reflex sight, the ACOG requires no batteries, can be used in any lighting conditions, and has a built-in bullet drop compensator.
3. Long Range scopes. Long range AR-15 scopes such a the 4-12x/40mm Leupold Mark AR. Variable power scopes are ideal for long-range precision marksmanship, such as a hunting rifle or sniper rifle. These are generally the most expensive, but usually well worth the money.
Don’t forget a back up. The downside of any optical attachment or AR-15 accessory is that it could break when you need it most. For this reason, having a flip-up sight is a wise decision.