At a Glance: Best Scope for AR 15 Carry Handle
Comparison of Best Scope for AR 15 Carry Handle
Our Top Pick
|Trijicon ACOG TA31F Carry Handle Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Barska 4×20 Carry Handle Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|TRUGLO Ignite Mini Compact 22mm Red-Dot Sight||View Latest Price|
The iconic AR-15 carry handle is what sets the rifle apart from the rest. While this feature isn’t nearly as common as it used to be, some shooters still swear by it. Adding a reliable scope to a carry handle can improve your accuracy and allow you to shoot your AR-15 rifle as it was intended, at a lower shoulder height which reduces recoil.
Best AR-15 carry handle scopes on the market
The market for AR-15 carry handle scopes isn’t actually that saturated. Most people opt to attach a scope directly onto the upper receiver as this allows for more versatility. Still, choosing any scope requires a lot of research. Research takes time, and we know you want to save that, so here are the best AR-15 carry handle scopes to buy in 2020.
Trijicon ACOG TA31F Carry Handle Rifle Scope
The Trijicon ACOG 4×32 BAC Rifle Scope is a compact carry handle scope with 4x magnification. If you’re looking for top-of-the-range specs and something that you could throw a brick at without much bother, then this is it. That being said, we really don’t recommend throwing bricks at your gear.
The scope can feature a bright red or green Chevron reticle, horseshoe, or crosshair that is perfect for long-distance target shooting. Hunters in particular will find themselves right at home with this scope. The use of the Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) allows the shooter to comfortably acquire targets with both eyes open.
One of the most prized features of Trijicon ACOG scopes is their durability. Made from 7075-T6 Aluminum, the scope can easily withstand recoil time and time again while holding zero, making it ideal for high-volume shooters who are fed up with regularly having to tinker with their optics. The ACOG 4×32 is widely used in the U.S. military thanks to this.
Trijicon ACOG scopes are also battery-free, so you’ll never find yourself out of juice while in the field. It attaches by fitting inside the carry handle channel and uses a simple but effective screw to hold in place. It stays solidly mounted and won’t come loose, although you should be aware that you’ll likely lose zero when you remove the scope from your rifle.
The Trijicon ACOG scope is easy to install and remove and will suit any dedicated shooter who is looking for something that will improve their accuracy over distance. The only downside is the high price tag, but then, you get what you pay for.
- U.S. military-grade scope
- Use of BAC allows for both eyes open when shooting
- 4x magnification
- Sturdy build
- Holds zero like a champ
- Five reticle options in two colors
- Easy to install and remove
- Good warranty
- Loses zero when you remove the scope from the rifle
- Limited eye relief to protect from recoil
Barska 4×20 Carry Handle Scope
For the hunter or long-range target shooter who wants something reliable with good magnification and a clear reticle, the Barska 4×20 Carry Handle Scope will provide you with an excellent shooting experience.
Based on the design of the 1960/70s Colt optics for the AR-15 and M16 rifles, the Barska 4×20 Carry Handle Scope not only looks great, but it’s versatile enough to shoot accurately in pretty much any environment. Being waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, you’ll find this scope to be a handy companion in the field and you won’t have to worry about it losing zero when you fire.
The scope has 4x magnification and you can make 1/2 MOA click adjustments to the reticle to get a better view of your target. The Mil-dot reticle allows you to easily judge the distance to your target and a BDC Bullet Drop Compensation Turret ensures that you’ll be placing shots on target every time.
If you’re looking for a carry handle scope that will allow you to shoot accurately at long distances, but you’re not ready to assault your bank balance with buying an ACOG, then the Barska 4×20 Carry Handle Scope is the ideal budget option.
The scope is easy to fix onto your carry handle. It locks onto the inside track of the handle, allowing you to continue using your iron sights in close quarters situations. Hunters and casual shooters alike will benefit greatly from the Barska scope, as it has a proven track record of serving the needs of both to a high standard.
- Reliable and accurate
- 4x magnification
- Rugged and versatile
- BDC allows for more accuracy at long distance
- Easy to install
- Looks the part
- Good warranty
- Some users have reported that it can come loose at times
- Small sight window
- Not ideal in close-quarters situations
TRUGLO Ignite Mini Compact 22mm Red-Dot Sight
The TruGlo Ignite Carry Handle red dot features a 2 MOA red dot and 1x magnification and can easily pick out targets in any level of brightness. If you’re a speed shooter looking for the convenience of a red dot sight on your carry handle, then this is your go-to.
Red dot sights have several advantages, the first being speed of target acquisition. While this scope obviously won’t lend itself well to long-range shooting, it will be perfect for those participating in tactical competitions, as well as casual shooters and hunters.
The scope is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and is armored with a rubber coating for added protection against shock, allowing it to hold zero for up to 400 rounds. It’s also waterproof and the optic will have no trouble acquiring targets in fog and rain.
The red dot will stay active for up to 300 hours before you’ll need to change the AAA batteries, and it will automatically turn off after 12 hours to ensure that you’re not wasting battery when your rifle isn’t in use.
The TruGlo Ignite red dot allows you to make elevation and windage adjustments to ensure better accuracy. This scope also has the added benefit of allowing you to shoot with both eyes open. You also have unlimited eye relief to prevent injury from recoil.
Attaching the TruGlo Ignite red dot is easy and quick, although some users have reported that they had to use some rubber cement to hold the scope in place more firmly.
- Accurate and reliable red dot scope
- Quick and reflexive tactical shooting
- Holds zero for up to 400 rounds
- Can see the red dot in any brightness level
- Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
- Quick and easy installation
- Good warranty
- 1x magnification isn’t enough for long-range shooters
- Battery life isn’t the best
- Some rubber cement may be needed to support attachment
EOTech 552.A65 Holographic Carry Handle Scope
In the world of holographic sights, there are only two companies that come up: EOTech and newcomers Vortex. The EOTech 552.A65 Holographic Carry Handle Scope will allow you to quickly acquire targets at both close and medium/long range.
The 1 MOA red dot is surrounded by a 68 MOA red circle that is produced using laser-hologram technology. The major advantage of a holographic sight compared to a red dot sight is that a holographic sight projects the reticle out onto your target instead of bouncing the light back into your eyes. This means your eyes are competing with less information and can acquire targets quicker.
The EOTech 552.A65 has been extensively combat tested by the U.S. military and has shown its worth as a sturdy and reliable scope that will still work even if you smash out the front glass. Another big advantage of the EOTech Holographic sight is that you have a larger window of vision than you’d get with any other scope.
This scope is compatible with all Gen I – Gen III night vision devices and has 10 brightness settings for night vision, on top of 20 daylight brightness settings. The scope offers 1x magnification, which isn’t ideal for long-range shooters, although it is more than enough to shoot accurately out to 200 yards.
The battery life on the EOTech 552.A65 is actually better than most holographic scopes at around 2,500 hours, although this will change depending on the batteries and brightness settings you’re using.
The EOTech 552.A65 Holographic Sight is a true all-purpose hero. Whether you’re a tactical shooter, competitive shooter, or a seasoned hunter, this scope will be enough to suit your needs. Quite simply, it’s a knockout scope produced by America’s, and the world’s, best company for holographic sights.
- Top-of-the-range holographic sight
- Field-tested by the U.S. military
- Quick target placement
- Reliable and sturdy build
- Holds zero like a champ
- Compatible with all Gen I – Gen III night vision devices
- Good battery life
- 10-year warranty
- Works even when you smash out the front glass on the optic
- 1x magnification isn’t enough for long-range shooters
- Quite expensive
AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight
For shooters looking for a super-affordable red dot sight to attach to their AR-15, the AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight is an ideal choice. While the price may be low, this sight will still offer you greatly increased accuracy when shooting.
The sight is durable enough to take a beating and withstand harsh environments. It’s waterproof, shockproof, and the optic glass is scratch proof. In the event that it does break, the lifetime warranty will mean you can get a new one without having to shell out any cash. The matte black finish looks the part and will stop light from reflecting off the scope, which helps you to keep a low profile when hunting.
A bright 2 MOA red dot can be adjusted to 11 different daylight settings, meaning you can shoot in any brightness with ease. With 50,000 hours of battery life at the lowest brightness setting, this scope will see you through years in the field before it runs out of juice.
The red dot setup also means that you can shoot with both eyes open, allowing you to take full advantage of your peripheral vision when shooting. Hunters who don’t need to shoot at long-range will be able to gain the most from this scope, as will tactical and competition shooters.
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight allows you to make elevation and windage adjustments in 1 MOA clicks, further increasing your accuracy. It also offers unlimited eye relief to prevent injury from recoil.
- Very affordable red dot sight
- Reliable and able to withstand harsh environments
- 11 brightness settings
- 50,000 hours of battery life
- Can shoot with both eyes open
- Ideal for tactical shooters and hunters alike
- Can adjust windage and elevation in 1 MOA clicks
- Looks great
- Lifetime warranty
- Not premium
- Limited to 1x magnification
CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope
If you want an impressive yet very affordable scope that you don’t mind bashing around or losing, you will not find a better option than this. CVLIFE is basically a no-name brand, but somehow it manages to produce some very effective and much-loved scopes and other shooting accessories.
This scope packs in more features than a unit ten times the price. It has an integrated laser to help you make quick short-range shots without having to acquire a sight picture through the glass. For longer-range shooting, you get an impressive magnification range of 2.5-10x, which is just about right for the capabilities of a standard AR-15. Plus, you get an illuminated reticle for help acquiring your targets in varied lighting conditions. The scope comes with red or green illumination options.
Although budget, a lot of the other features of this scope are what you’d expect to find on a name-brand model. You get an aircraft-grade aluminum tube and multi-coated lenses for brightness and scratch-resistance. You get a mil-dot reticle and a bullet drop compensator. The scope ships with everything you need, a mount, an Allen wrench, and batteries. It even comes with lens covers.
If you just want to get out and see what your AR-15 is truly capable of but are on a tight budget, chances are that you’ll be more than satisfied with this scope.
- Illuminated reticle
- Integrated laser
- Mil-dot reticle
- Bullet drop compensator
- Includes everything you need to get shooting
- Not a name-brand product
What is an AR-15 carry handle scope and why do I need one?
A carry handle scope is exactly what it says on the tin: a scope that attaches to the carry handle on your AR-15 rifle.
The original ArmaLite M16, which was the military variant of the company’s AR-15 rifle, was designed with a carry handle on top for two main reasons – and neither of them was to do with carrying the rifle!
The first reason was that the charging handle stuck out of the upper receiver. This meant that the iron sights needed to be elevated above it and thus the carry handle was installed to solve this issue.
But this isn’t the only reason for the carry handle. Eugene Stoner, the rifle’s inventor, designed the AR-15 to be shot at lower shoulder height than most other rifles in order to absorb the most recoil. This would allow for smoother shooting and more successive shots on target. The problem was that the sights needed to be higher to accommodate this.
Once the charging handle was moved to the back of the upper receiver, the carry handle stuck around for years to come. Put simply, it was an effective sighting system for the AR-15/M16 rifle.
Using a carry handle does limit your options when it comes to scopes, but there are still a variety of AR-15 scopes that have been designed to fit onto a carry handle. Using a carry handle raises the sights up, which allows you to get that perfect rifle posture that Stoner intended when he invented the AR-15.
- Using a carry handle allows you to elevate your sights.
- Elevating your sights allows for a more comfortable posture when shooting.
- Carry handles look awesome. Let’s face it.
How to choose the best carry handle scope for your AR-15
Now that you’re considering purchasing a carry handle scope for your AR-15 rifle, you’ll need to consider how to choose the best one for you. There are several key factors to consider when shopping for a carry handle scope on your AR-15.
- Mounting: There aren’t as many scopes that can be easily mounted onto a carry handle as there are on a flat top rifle. Make sure that your scope can be easily and quickly mounted and that it’ll stay stuck on without wobbling or coming loose.
- Price: The sights are one of the most important upgrades that you can make to your AR-15 rifle. That being said, there are many other important upgrades that also cost a fair bit of money and this might lead you to set a tight budget when shopping for a carry handle scope. You should shop within what you can afford, but you should never buy a scope just because it’s cheap. Always ensure that the quality of the scope is up to scratch, otherwise, there isn’t much point in buying one.
- Quality: Most decent scopes are made of aluminum as this is a material that will withstand a lot of abuse over time and deals well with recoil. If your scope isn’t put together properly or is made from substandard materials, then it won’t hold zero well, which means you’ll quickly be shooting off target when using it.
- Weight: You don’t want a scope that weighs your rifle down too much as this will affect your accuracy. Try to find one with a small profile and a relatively low weight to allow for maximum maneuverability.
- Sighting mechanism: The sighting mechanism that you choose for your carry handle AR-15 scope will depend on what you’re using your rifle for, plus your own personal preferences. In general, Crosshairs are good for precision, while holographic sights allow for great long and short-range accuracy and quick target acquisition. Red dot sights are best suited to close-range shooting. All things considered, personal preference is generally the key factor in choosing a sighting mechanism.
Pros and cons of using carry handle scopes on AR-15s
Carry handles aren’t as common on AR-15 rifles anymore and many shooters discount them altogether, saying that they’re a pointless addition to the rifle. This isn’t true, there are some pros to using a carry handle scope on your AR-15, but the critics are right in that they do come with some serious downsides as well.
- Straighter aim: As mentioned earlier, the original design of the AR-15 meant that the sights needed to be raised to get the best shooting posture and minimize recoil. While newer models of the AR-15 have gone a long way to addressing this issue, using a carry handle scope will still give you a more precise aim.
- Better accuracy: Any scope will give you better accuracy, providing it’s zeroed in properly. Using a carry handle scope on an AR-15 provides an accurate sighting setup that is raised up to the shooter’s eye allowing for quick and reflexive shooting with improved accuracy.
- Lower magnification: Unfortunately, due to the amount of space that a carry handle takes up on your upper receiver, there is a lot less room to install a magnifier. While you can buy scopes with magnification, adding something like a G33 Magnifier will isn’t an option with a carry handle installed.
How to install a carry handle scope on your AR-15
How to install your carry handle scope will depend on the scope itself. In general, most carry handle scopes will attach to the handle via a screw in the bottom. How reliable this screw is will depend on the quality of your product.
Some scopes fit to the inside track of the carry handle, which offers more support, while others will simply rest on top of the carry handle. You can and should refer to the instructions for your specific scope to ensure that you’re installing it in the best way possible. A wobbly scope won’t be accurate, after all.
- Most carry handle scopes are easy to install
- They generally attach to the carry handle and are secured with a screw
- Always read the instructions for your specific scope to ensure they best attachment
What makes a great AR-15 carry handle scope?
A great carry handle scope will allow you to shoot more accurately and it won’t provide you with any bother while you’re using it. Something that doesn’t hold zero well and wobbles after you screw it on is a bad scope. You want something durable, secure, and accurate to help you place shots with surgical precision whether you’re out hunting, shooting at the range, or shooting competitively.
Seeing as your scope is going to be mounted on top of the carry handle, you do need to think about it a little differently than if it was just going to be mounted on the upper receiver. Your scope will be raised higher, so you don’t want something too large or you’ll have far too much going on and this will affect your field of vision.
On top of that, something too bulky will throw more weight onto your carry handle, and given that it’s raised weight, it’ll throw your accuracy off balance. A great carry handle scope will be compact and lightweight and won’t affect how you carry your rifle.
A great carry handle scope will hold zero well even after you’ve fired hundreds of rounds. The whole point of the carry handle was to allow the shooter to experience less recoil, and less recoil means less chance of your sights losing zero. Use this to your advantage.
In short, a carry handle scope with a secure mount and solid construction will last you for years to come and allow you to greatly increase your accuracy.
- Solid construction
- Secure attachment
- Compact and lightweight
- Holds zero
- Good battery life
- Ideal reticle for your preferences
- Good warranty
How much magnification do I need for my carry handle scope
Depending on what range you’ll be shooting your AR-15 rifle will determine how much magnification you’ll need. It goes without saying that long-range shots will require much more magnification than short-range targets.
Seeing as you can’t really install a magnifier alongside a carry handle scope, you’ll need to rely exclusively on the scope itself. This means you’ll need a scope with a larger, say 20x, magnification to hit targets 1000 yards out. The problem here is that these scopes tend to be bulky and heavy and this isn’t ideal for a carry handle.
If you’re shooting targets around 200-300 yards out, then a scope with 4x magnification should do you well. These kinds of scopes are better suited to the carry handle thanks to their more compact size and lighter weight.
In short, if you’re using a carry handle scope, then you shouldn’t expect to get the best results when long-range shooting as you won’t be able to attach a magnifier and most long-range scopes are just too big for it.
Overall, we think that the Trijicon ACOG TA31F Carry Handle Scope is the best choice on the market today. While the price of this scope might make your eyes water, you should consider the benefits of having a top-quality scope, as well as the drawbacks of choosing a sub-par one.
The fact that the U.S. military opts for this scope on their M16A4 rifles should go a long way to revealing why it’s our top choice. The quality and construction are unmatched, and the attachment of the scope will ensure that it stays zeroed in for a long time.