The right AR 15 scope can make all the difference between a great shooting experience and a lousy one. And there’s no single best scope for all shooters–the type of scope that you need will vary greatly depending on the application you’re using it for.
Hunting in the woods, close-range target shooting, and competitive shooting all require very different scope types. Especially if you’re relatively new to shooting, shopping for scopes can seem confusing. As someone with years of shooting experience (and a long-standing interest in all things related to the AR 15), I can help you choose the best AR 15 scopes under $300. Let’s dive right in!
AR 15 Scopes under $300: My Top Picks
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
This scope is an excellent value and is a worthy candidate for the best AR scope under $300. It’s designed primarily to be used for hunting and target shooting in very low-light conditions–the V-Brite reticle uses an illuminated center dot to help you quickly focus on your target.
This is a four-power scope, making it ideal for close-range and medium-range hunting and target shooting. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is fog-proof and waterproof, making it supremely durable and reliable.
This is one of the most favorably talked-about scopes on our list. Many consumers say that this scope is one of the best values possible for the price. Because this scope is great for hunting and tactical use, it’s one that appeals to plenty of AR-15 owners.
- It provides great value for the price
- The second focal plane design with an illuminated dot lets you quickly focus on your target
- The durable and lightweight design is built to last
- The illuminated dot on the reticle is very difficult to see when not used in low-light conditions
- It may not be suitable for very long-range shooting
Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope
If you regularly practice long-range target shooting, you may be looking for the best long-distance scope for AR15.
This scope has a first focal plane reticle, keeping it easy to read at all shooting distances. The SLX uses a reticle marked with MIL dots, making it a great choice for accurate shooting over long distances when you don’t want to use reticles marked for specific caliber types. This scope amplifies your target anywhere from 4x to 14x, and it’s fog-proof, waterproof, and shockproof.
Most consumers seem to think this scope is an excellent value, and many comments that fellow gun enthusiasts have been shocked that it was so affordable. A few of them have called the current “spongy,” but most have been impressed with the scope’s optics.
- This is one of the most affordable scopes on the list
- It has features of scopes that cost much more, making it a great value for the price
- It has MIL-dot markers and a wide magnification range, making it a good choice for distance shooting
- The reticle isn’t illuminated, so it may be harder to use in low light
- Some buyers have reported quality control issues
Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 6-24X50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes
While it is one of the more expensive options on the list, this might be the best AR scope for 100 yards under $300. Athlon Optics is a manufacturer whose affordable scopes typically have features often only found on higher-end scopes.
This one uses a first focal plane design, meaning the reticle shrinks or grows as you zoom out or in. It’s also equipped with multi-coated lenses that give you bright, high-visibility sight pictures even when you’re shooting in low light.
Its 4x magnification also makes it a versatile scope for multiple shooting applications, as it is shockproof and waterproof for durability.
Most buyers seem to be pretty happy with this scope. While its optics aren’t as clear as more expensive options, some buyers have been able to hit targets at over 1,000 yards while using it. This seems to be one of the best options you can find at this price point.
- Has features like the first focal plane reticle that aren’t often found on less expensive scopes
- A very durable build makes it especially rugged
- Provides excellent sight visibility
- Shorter eye relief than most scopes
- Some shooters may prefer the unchanging reticle that comes with a second focal plane scope
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Riflescope
The expanding scope market means that it’s easier than ever to find good optics for AR 15 under $300. This scope is ideal for those who want to maintain visibility in lower-light conditions–it comes equipped with the Twilight Light Management System and provides a very clear sight picture.
The Tri-MOA reticle helps you get a successful shot even at a great distance. These scopes are also more rugged than most–they have been tested for the ability to perform in weather as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or as hot as 160 degrees. They also are designed to withstand repeated recoil force.
Most consumers seem to be impressed with this scope, especially when it comes to its ability to provide clear-sight pictures in low light.
- Especially given its affordable price, this scope is much more durable than most
- Light Management System is a feature you don’t usually find on less expensive scopes
- It’s one of the few affordable scopes that is made in the US
- Some buyers have pointed out that the listing photos of the scope’s reticle are not to scale
- Some have had trouble with its turret adjustment system
Monstrum G3 6-24×50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope
A good 500-yard scope for AR 15 can be tough to find, but this one offers several features that you don’t usually see on more affordable options. This scope is ideal for shooting up to 1000 yards, and its adjustable objective lens lets you dial in the right focus picture for an accurate shot.
While this scope has illuminated reticles, it also offers you the option of adjustable reticle brightness. This makes it much easier to shoot safely and accurately in low-light conditions. The custom type-H reticle is designed to help you estimate range and correct holdovers.
Most buyers seem to be happy with this scope, but some also have quality control issues–one buyer noted that the reticle illumination dial could not be turned without the help of a tool.
- Many reticle illumination options make it great for shooting in low light
- Comes with protective lens caps to protect your optics
- Most buyers say the scope can hold zero even after several rounds
- Several buyers have found most of the knobs difficult to adjust
- While it has been reviewed well. many buyers say the lens covers are very flimsy
Barska 6-24x60mm IR ST Rifle scope
This AR 15 long-range scope is designed to be used in almost any condition. Its side parallax and turret adjustments have a locking capability, which you don’t often find on inexpensive scopes.
You can adjust zoom anywhere from 6x to 24x, and the mil-dot reticle can be adjusted depending on the level of natural light. This scope comes equipped with a sunshade and lens caps, and multi-coated optics give you a much sharper focus picture than most scopes at this price point.
Most buyers seem to think that this is a scope that’s very simple to set up and use. Many also seem to appreciate the illuminated reticle, especially when shooting at dusk.
- The wide magnification range makes this a good choice for longer-range shooting
- The military-style design will appeal to many
- Coated optics and illuminated reticle give you decent visibility
- Some buyers have said that the optics aren’t as crisp as advertised
- Some have reported that the lens caps are too loose
- Price better than 300, and need wait to sale when buying
Hammers Stainless Silver Chrome Rifle Scope
Many people use the AR-15 as a hunting rifle. If you do this, it’s important to have a scope that matches. This may be the best deer hunting scope for AR 15 under $300.
It was designed specifically for shooting small games at long distances, but it also can be used for larger games like deer. Fully coated glass gives you sharp focus with great contrast, and the long eye relief reduces your risk of injury.
Most customers seem to be pretty impressed with this scope, and several say they have successfully used it to hunt small games. Most buyers have stated that this scope is an excellent value as well.
- This is one of the more affordable scopes on the list
- Quality optics make it easy to see your target even in low light
- It comes with many of the accessories you’ll need
- Since this scope is optimized for hunting, non-hunters may want to choose another from the list
Bushnell Engage Riflescope
This is one of the many great scopes for AR 15 that you can find for under $320. This scope can magnify up to 10x, so it likely isn’t ideal for very long-range shooting.
And while it’s one of the more expensive options on the list, it has several benefits, including tool-free adjustment and an impressive ability to hold zero. The turrets are locking, which is a feature not always found on more affordable scopes.
Most buyers, especially those who are target shooters, seem to be impressed with this scope. Many have noted that the glass is especially clear for a scope at this price point.
- Locking turrets are a great feature
- Clear optics help you easily focus on your target
- Has many features of more expensive scopes
- Some shooters may prefer a less-fine reticle
- The regular price is a bit higher than the 300 price tag, so you need to wait till sales to get it for a more affordable price.
Factors to Consider
When shopping for a good scope for AR15, there are a few things to keep in mind. One of the most important things to remember is that you can’t really compare a $300 scope to a $3,000 one.
What Type of Ammunition Are You Using?
That said, you can still find a quality scope at an affordable price. AR 15 optics recommendations will vary based on the caliber of ammunition you use.
Some scopes are specially designed for a given ammunition type, and their reticles show you where to aim in order to offset bullet drop.
How Much Magnification Is Necessary?
You’ll also want to consider magnification. A scope with a high magnification power lets you zero in on a target, but remember that your field of view diminishes as you increase amplification. When choosing an AR scope for deer hunting or other longer-range applications, try to choose a scope with a considerably adjustable range of magnification.
Thinking About Reticles
When it comes to selecting your scope, one of the most important considerations is the reticle type. Many scopes have crosshair reticles. However, you’ll need to choose between the first focal plane and the second focal plane designs.
A first focal plane reticle changes size with magnification, while a second focal plane one stays the same size. Some scopes also have illuminated reticles, which can make it much easier to shoot in lower-light conditions.
When asking what is a good magnification scope for an AR 15, it can be helpful to review some commonly asked questions:
What magnification do I need?
Generally, you only need very high-magnification scopes for long-range shooting. When hunting, you often need low to medium magnification in order to preserve your field of vision through the scope.
Why do I need a quality scope?
In some cases, the quality of your scope maybe even more important than the quality of your rifle. The right scope lets you see your target clearly and aim correctly. Shooting accurately is important, and the right scope can help you do that even in non-ideal weather conditions.
Should I get coated lenses?
Coated lenses usually improve the transmission of light and can increase contrast. This lets you easily focus on your target. In many cases, coated lenses make it easier to see, even in low-light conditions.
Can I mount a scope myself?
Yes, although those who are new to shooting may prefer to have a professional fit their scope.
We think any scope on this list is a worthy candidate for the best AR 15 scopes under $300. However, our top pick is the Athlon Optics Argos BTR.
This scope has illuminated reticles and a highly durable build, and many buyers have praised it for its accuracy. As you shop, take your time and consider specifications, and you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right scope for you.