At a Glance: Top AR-15 Scopes for Less than $100
- OUR TOP PICK: CenterPoint Optics Illuminated Hunting Rifle Scope
- Visionking Hunting Rifle Scope
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: BSA Optics Sweet .243 AO Rifle Scope
Comparison of Top AR-15 Scopes for Less than $100
Our Top Pick
|CenterPoint Optics Illuminated Hunting Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Visionking Hunting Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|BSA Optics Sweet .243 AO Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
AR-15 is the most versatile rifle worldwide. Designed for all kinds of jobs, the AR-15 can support plinking, fighting, and distance fighting as far as a thousand yards away. The modern rifleman has access to various optics in a range of options.
All AR-15 scopes are compatible with AR-15 rifles. Available in lightweight sizes, the rifles use compact scopes. If you’re into target shooting, self-defense or hunting and want to sharpen your shooting accuracy, you need AR-15 scopes.
Our Guide To The Best Ar-15 Scopes For Less Than $100
If you’re looking for the right AR 15 scopes for your rifles, read our reviews below to help you make an informed decision.
CenterPoint Optics Illuminated Hunting Rifle Scope
CenterPoint Optics believes that what you see matters. It designs and manufactures various scopes and optical accessories that meet all your hunting needs on the range or in the field.
The CenterPoint Rifle Scope comes in a sleek, modern design and industrial style for advanced use. The scope features a red/green illuminated reticle for improved visibility in any daylight condition. The reticle has varied brightness settings to meet your unique needs for illumination.
The rifle scope also includes ⅜ inch Dovetail rings for easy mounting on the rails and lens covers for protection. It’s compatible with both .17 and .22 calibrated rim-fire rifles. With the Mil-Dot range feature, estimating the reticle is a breeze.
- Visible in daylight despite prevailing lighting conditions
- Comes in a sleek, modern design for compact use
- Reasonably priced and offers great value
- Dramatically improves shooting accuracy
- Easy to mount and use
- Offers amazing clarity comparable to that of high-end scopes
- Available scope rings don’t fit Pica tinny rails rings
Visionking Hunting Rifle Scope
The Visionking Rifle Scope is built with R/B target dot reticle that’s illuminated for better visibility in poor lighting conditions. The dual, three-pin reticle is glass-etched and illuminated. Fully-purged with Nitrogen, the scope is waterproof and fog proof.
With the standard click value of 0.25, the scope is built for beginner or light use. It also features flip-up covers to protect your scope from dust when not in use.
The 26mm objective lens provides clear images when focusing your rifle. You’ll find the scope in a matte black finish.
- 100% nitrogen-purged for waterproof and fogproof use
- Variable magnification of 1.25-5X
- Large field of view that covers up to 100 yards
- Shock resistant
- Variable eye relief from 3.0 to 4.3
- Isn’t ideal for anything outside the range
- Reports of wrong diameter kill flash
- Stiff illumination dial
BSA Optics Sweet .243 AO Rifle Scope
The BSA Optics SweetRifle Scope is explicitly designed for the .243 caliber rifle cartridge. It features 3 ballistically-calibrated turrets for 80gr, 55gr, and 100gr cartridges.The rifle scope also comes with fully-coated lenses for increased durability and is made from glass for increased clarity. It features an adjustable objective, 2-pc weaver rings for easy mounting on the rails.
The 30/30 reticle is built for enhanced illumination in poor lighting conditions. The scope also features a 40mm objective lens and 3-9X variable magnification for clearer images. It has an eye relief of 3 inches and comes in a single aluminum body.
The matte black finish gives the scope a classic look.
- Fogproof, waterproof and shockproof
- High 3-9X magnification for clearer images
- Clear glass lens material
- Easy mounting using the weaver mounts
- Bright reticle and dependable scope
- Adjustable objective for versatile use
- Some users reported issued trying to align the crosshairs
TAC Vector Optics Tactical Tri Illuminated Chevron Reticle Scope
The TAC Vector Optics Tactical Tri Illuminated Chevron Reticle Scope is built with 1.5-4x magnification and a 30mm objective lens to offer clearer targeting. The magnifier is entirely adjustable and offers great clarity for targeted shooting.
You can center the reticle despite the height of the sight or red dot. Paired with a flip to side mount, the setup is easy, and the scope holds uptight. Simply push the disengage button to flip the magnifier to the side when not in use.
The scope features a glass range-finder to support long-distance targeting and precise range estimation. It’s compatible with .223 and 5.56 gun rifles. The red, green, and blue reticle offers excellent illumination at low lighting conditions.
The reticle is made from Chevron etched glass for durability and improved performance. With the three Weaver rails mount ring, mounting the scope is easy. It has a 100 yards field of view and eye relief range of 3.5-3.7 inches. The scope weighs 17.6 oz.
- Delivers clearer targeting
- Fully adjustable and offers exceptional clarity
- Reticle can be centered despite the red dot sight’s height
- Precise range estimation
- Waterproof and fogproof
- Supports long distance targeting
- The magnifier is easy to mount and disengage
- Lots of barrel distortion
- Illumination is poor in the dark
TRUGLO TRUSHOT Rifle Scope
The TRUGLO TRUSHOT Rifle Scope is a series of variable and compact scopes built to deliver high mechanical resolution, high contrast, and optical performance. Constructed in specially-formulated multi-coatings, the scope provides contrast clarity and optimal brightness in poor lighting conditions.
The scope is rubber-coated for easy grip and comes with a speed-focus eyepiece. It’s built in a compact design atop being lightweight for easy carriage. With the durable leaf spring, elevation and windage adjustments are made easier.
The TRUSHOT Scope Series are built with completely-coated lenses for clear, bright field of views. The black duplex reticle is standard and offers bright illumination for accurate shot placement and fast target acquisition. The handy elevation and fingertip knobs make sighting easier using your rifle.
- Generous eye relief
- Duplex reticle for improved illumination
- Speed-focus, rubber-coated eyepiece for improved performance
- Fully-coated lenses for optimal contrast, clarity and brightness
- Scratch resistant
- Durable and available in an attractive, non-reflective matte finish
- Fogproof and waterproof
- Doesn’t come with mount rings
- Reports of cloudy edges at optimal power
- Crosshairs come off after a few uses
Why You Need A Scope For Your AR-15
The AR-15 is more like a civilian M16. It’s powerful, low in roil, lightweight, and easily customizable. This explains why the U.S. Army initially used the M16; it delivered top performance in Vietnam’s close-quarter.
The AR-15 has the ability to hit 150 yards without using a sight. However, if you pair it with the best AR 15 scope available, you can easily hit 600 yards plus, in targets. Realistically, you may not need to shoot as far as 600 yards plus. If there’s a need for such long-distance targeting, you’ll need the best AR-10 scope.
Are there really reliable AR15 scopes for under $100?
Yes, AR15 scopes for under $100 are available in reliable options. For instance, you can opt for 1.5-4×32 for an LPVO or 3-9×40 for longer distance range. However, if you don’t need any magnification, you’ll find suitable scopes on the market.
With a wide variety of scopes on the market, there’s something for every shooting need out there. This ensures that you get the level of reliability you need.
Scopes compared with other AR-15 optics
Optics enhance your AR-15 shooting experience. A comparison of scopes and other AR-15 optics such as red dot helps you make an informed decision for your rifle. Also known as co-witnessing, a red dot is an optic with a green or red LED dot that lies at the center. Red dots are fast, parallax-free, light, contain a glow, and feature a simple reticle. What’s more, red dots allow you to shoot with both of your eyes open.
You can also use an iron sight with red dots. This ensures that you can focus on your target from different angles, making it perfect for close-quarter combat (CQB) shootings.
On the other hand, a magnified optic can “zoom in” distant or faraway objects within your focus. They feature more advanced reticles, larger power levels, and enhanced long-distance preciseness.
Also known as LPVOs, magnified optics can engage both long and short range targets simultaneously. You’ll find this convenient in the field when you’ve got lots of gear to lug around.
However, unlike when using red dots, magnified optics take longer to “zoom in” targets within a short range.
One company conducted a speed and distance test to compare red dot and magnified optics. The simple test covered 7-300 yards to determine which of the two was faster for each shooting range.
The experiment found that red dots outperformed magnified optics from 7 to 50 yards by tenths of a second. This is significant because tenths of a second in close-quarter scenarios could translate to death or life.
However, the magnified optic outperformed red dot from 100 yards onwards by up to 30 seconds. This isn’t surprising because magnified sights are built to hit targets within long ranges.
Read our review on the Best AR-15 Long Range Scopes here.
Red dots focus on short-range targets. Red dots have the disadvantage of astigmatism, a biological issue of the eye; it can impact your ability to use red dots. This means that the red dot appears as a blurred, weird shape, making it unusable in highly extreme situations.
What’s more, red dots are only designed to shoot short range. Therefore, some people use a magnifier with an ACOG or flip mount to counter this challenge. Whichever is the case, you end up spending more money that can easily add up to over $1000.
We reviewed the Best Red Dot Sights for AR-15 Under $200. Check it out Here!
If that’s the case, consider magnified optics.
The main cons of magnified optics is their short-range speed of target acquisition. According to another study, magnified optics take more time to “aim down” targets within the 7-50 yards range. Unlike using a red dot, magnified optics are heavier to use.
Magnified optics offer more freedom over red dots. You can easily do the job of ACOGs and red dots with low-powered variable optics (LPVOs) without spending more money.
Which of the two is better?
The right optics for your AR-15 depends on your specific application needs. Opt for a red dot if you only need to use your rifle for home defense or want to shoot close-range from 0 to 50 yards. Red dots are faster, lighter, and easier to use.
If there’s a need for close-long range shooting over 100 yards, opt for a magnified scope. It’s specifically designed for longer-range shooting.
Things to Consider When Buying a Rifle Scope
When shopping around for a budget AR-15 scope, you should consider various factors. Some include magnification, reticle, parallax, eye relief, and budget.
A good AR-15 optic is as good as its magnification power. Choosing the right magnification power ensures that you don’t waste your money on either too little or too much magnifications you won’t need or use.
NATO ammo .223 or 5.56 firearms are available in three main distance ranges:
- Long-range – over 400 yards
- Medium range – 150 – 400 yards
- Close range – 0 – 150 yards
Choose the right shooting range for your AR-15 rifle. With the shooting distance or range known, it becomes necessary to pick the right magnification. Beginners make many mistakes when choosing the right magnification’ they either opt for too little or too much magnification.
Magnification helps “zooms in” your shooting target closer. A combination of the right short, medium or long-range, and an ideal magnification power are key to selecting the best AR-15 scope. With the right variable range scope, you can shoot from different angles or distances. It allows you to see distant objects. Here is a table comparing different range scopes and what they are best used for:
|Long Range (400+ yards)||Medium Range (150 – 400 yards)||Close Range (0<150 yards)|
A scope reticle is the crosshair you see when looking via a scope. It eases shooting and helps with distance estimation. The three types of scope reticles include:
- Mil-Dot reticle estimates the distance of your target and it’s mainly used by the military and law enforcement officers.
- Duplex is the default reticle in scopes. Built for beginner use, it’s easy to use and fast.
- BDC reticle estimates holdover, bullet drop, etc. for long-range shooting.
The right type of reticle is dependent on your application needs. If you’re into target shooting or hunting, opt for duplex reticles. Mil-dot reticles find use in law enforcement, the military or security. On the other hand, BDC reticles are meant for general use.
Choose a reticle that you understand and can easily use.
A scope parallax is when the reticle bobs around with the movement of your head. It leads to blurriness and missed shots if left unchecked.
You can fix or correct parallax in various ways, including:
- Factory-set – this adjustment of parallax is automatic, usually at 50-100 yards as set by the manufacturer.
- Parallax turret adjustment – built to adjust parallax, this is a third turret knob.
- Adjustable Objective (AO) – constructed in the form of a ring, AO can be twisted to correct parallax.
Factory-set is the easiest way to kill parallax, making it the best option for beginners. Most scopes come factory-set to kill parallax. Opt for a parallax correction method you understand and can easily use.
Eye relief is the distance between the front or ocular lens of your scope and your eye. It’s the distance you can easily maintain between the ocular and your eye while using your scope’s full visibility view.
Lack of proper eye relief can cause you to rock a mad-looking eye patch like that of Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter. Make sure your scope has enough eye relief to protect your eyes from any injuries.
How much eye relief do you need?
Opt for a minimum of 3.5-4 inches eye relief for safe use of your scope. Opt for more eye relief if your rifle kicks like a donkey to ensure that your eyes are safe when using the scope.
Easily adjustable knobs
Just like kilometers and miles, MRAD and MOA are interchangeable. However, opt for an adjustment system or adjustable knobs that your hunting friends use.
It’s more likely your buddies use MOA because it’s popular, simple and utilizes familiar American units of measurements such as inches. Find out what your hunting buddies use to help you choose the right adjustable knobs or system.
Make sure that the adjustable knobs your scope comes with are easy to use and adjust easily.
Size and Weight
AR-15 scopes are built for mobile use when hunting or target shooting. Therefore, they usually come in small, compact sizes for easy usage in the field.
The weight of scopes also matters. Choose lightweight scopes you can easily carry around your application area without getting fatigues.
Measured in ounces, make sure that the weight of your ideal scope is light and reasonable. Look out for aluminum body constructions for lightweight scopes.
If you’re into target shooting or hunting for the long-haul, you need scopes you can use with your rifles for a long time.
Make sure that your scope is made using premium materials for increased durability. Some scopes are made from aluminum for lightweight yet durable use.
Working on a tight budget? Opt for an AR-15 scope that you can easily afford. Create a budget to guide your purchase to ensure that you don’t spend money that you don’t have. It’s also important to spend on a scope that’s ideal for your application to get value for your money.
- BDC – estimates holdover, bullet drop, etc. for long-range shooting.
- Mil-Dot – estimates the distance of your target and it’s mainly used by the military and law enforcement officers.
- Illuminated – allows for improved visibility in poor lighting conditions during the day.
- Duplex – the default reticle in scopes that’s built for beginner use; it’s easy to use and fast.
- First or second focal plane – the reticle enlarges as magnification increases. First focal plane is ideal for long-range shots because it obscures views if used at shorter ranges.
However, the second focal plane doesn’t affect the reticle because it remains fixed in size despite your scope’s magnification. The second focal plane doesn’t obscure views at all ranges. It’s also the most cost-effective.
The second focal plane saves you from serious or costly mistakes because the first focal plane is more costly and obscures views within short ranges. However, the former doesn’t obscure views.
The first focal plane is ideal for long-range tactical shooting with high magnification power of at least 10X. On the other hand, the second focal plane is ideal for target shooting and hunting in busy environments. The magnification power is a maximum of 8X.
Our clear winner of the roundup is the BSA Sweet Rifle Scope featured on our list. Featuring high magnification power of 3-9X and large objective scopes of 40mm in diameter. They also feature generous eye relief and illuminated reticle for enhanced performance.
Apart from advanced features, the scopes are available at cost-effective prices for users on tight budgets. Opt for the BSA Sweet 243 AO 3-9X40mm rifle scope if you want to use it with a ballistically-calibrated turret for 80gr, 55gr, 100gr cartridges.