Some folks like buying them and some like building them, but the popularity of the AR-15 is undeniable. And as any enthusiast or their ever-understanding spouses will attest to, they can also be very spendy items. There are some builds out there that you can buy for about $4k, and some you can get for half a grand, this makes them accessible and fun for most shooters.
Once you have your AR (or one of them) ready for a workout, or that hunting trip that’s been too long in coming, you want to make sure you’ve got some good optics for it. Whether you’re looking for a spare scope to keep with the gear or a primary scope that won’t hit the budget too hard, there is a stack of great options on the market.
We’re going to take a look at the best scope for the AR-15 that comes in under $100. Now, what might be right for one, might not be right for some, so we’ve also included a handful of other great scopes that also clock in for less than a Benjamin. No matter what you need it for, there’s a sub-$100 scope here for your AR-15.
The Best Scope For AR-15 Under $100
- UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
- Falcon V1 3X Red Dot
- MidTen Riflescope Combo 4-12x50EG
- Beileshi Rifle Scope 4×32
- Pinty Rifle Scope 4-16X50
- Monstrum 2-7×32 AO Rifle Scope
- Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope
- CVLIFE 4×32 Tactical Rifle Scope
UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
One of the best scopes on the market is the UTG BugBuster. This budget-friendly scope is the perfect choice for hunters, as the magnification makes it perfect for seeing both large and small game. The low price is ideal for beginners and hunters on a budget.
With the Tactical Range Estimating mil-dot reticle, you’ll have no problem hitting your target. It has 21 dots overall that make it super easy to get the perfect shot. It is compatible with both Weaver and Picatinny rails and it’s waterproof.
- SWAT illumination gives a clear image in poor lighting conditions
- Waterproof and fog-proof allows use in all weather
- Still useable without batteries – switches to normal crosshairs
Falcon V1 3X Red Dot
Created by Tacticon, the Falcon V1 is a scope that was designed to switch from 1x to 3x by simply sliding the magnifier. The anti-glare coating gives you a nice clear view regardless of magnification. Whether you’re going into combat or spending a day varmint hunting, the falcon V1 is a great choice.
- Ambidextrous magnification lever
- Crystal clear optics
- Great for varminting
MidTen Riflescope Combo 4-12x50EG
If you want something that has adequate magnification, the MidTen Riflescope Combo would be a great choice. The magnification goes up to 12x, allowing you to hit your target with ease. There are 4 different reticle patterns, each available in red and green, so you’ll have the perfect reticle for any situation. Shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof, this durable scope is a great choice for your next hunting trip.
- Total of 8 reticles
- Illuminated for better views in various lighting settings
- Has 5 levels of brightness
Beileshi Rifle Scope 4×32
Are you looking for a scope that has a really large objective lens? This Beileshi Rifle Scope has a 32 mm objective lens, which is great because it allows the scope to absorb a lot of light, giving a brighter image. The glass-etched reticle has red, green, and blue illumination.
- Has 3 brightness levels
- The nitrogen-filled scope is fog resistant, shockproof, and weatherproof
- The matte finish helps keep you concealed
Pinty Rifle Scope 4-16X50
As far as budget rifle scopes go, this is one of the best ones out there. Right out of the box, you’ll see that this scope was designed well and will complement any rifle. It has up to 16x magnification, making it ideal for hunting and target practice. It also comes with a detachable green laser that can reach up to 110 yards and can help you aim better. This would be a great choice for those that are new to shooting.
- Compatible with Weaver and Picatinny rails
- Green laser is helpful in accurate aiming
- Ideal for wide range shooting
Monstrum 2-7×32 AO Rifle Scope
Monstrum is known for making high-quality scopes that are both affordable and reliable. This scope is exactly what you need from a budget scope. The objective lens is adjustable and lets you focus on your target more easily. With up to 7x magnification, you’ll be able to see clearly up to, and beyond, 400 yards. It also has 5 brightness levels which make it easy to use in various light levels.
- Made from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum
- Nitrogen charged
Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope
For those looking for a simple scope to use for learning how to shoot, this would be a great choice. The 3x magnification allows you to see your target clearly, and the 30mm objective lens ensures a bright image. The glass prism optical system is truly unique.
- Amazingly clear glass
- Reticle visible without illumination
- Great for new hunters
CVLIFE 4×32 Tactical Rifle Scope
If you like having a scope with colored illumination, this is a great option. It has red, green, and blue lights and you have the option of 3 different brightness settings. No matter the daytime lighting condition, there should be a setting that works perfectly.
Another thing that makes this scope a good option is that it is really durable. The nitrogen-filled tube is fog proof, shock-proof, and waterproof. The high-quality optics feature a green multi-layer lens coating that gives a crystal clear image.
- Multicoated lenses for a clear view
- Made from aluminum alloy for durability
- The weather-resistant scope is good for all types of weather
Does Your AR-15 Need A Scope?
This can be a complex question, but in most cases, the answer is a resounding “yes”! The AR-15 is one of the most popular defense and sporting platforms of all time, and the majority of those operators have their build chambered for .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO. This means most, if not all of your usage is going to be at about 500-600 yards or less.
That leaves a lot of room for optics flexibility, which is great because there are a lot of ways that you could potentially use your weapon in the 0-600 yard range. With the right scope you could potentially cover that entire range, and still be agile enough for close-quarters encounters, if needed.
Even if you only plan to use your AR-15 exclusively for close-range work, the right scope can help you be more effective with your loadout. It can help with target acquisition, accuracy, and some even have additional gear like laser sights that can help improve the accuracy of fire when not aiming through the scope or down the sights.
What Are The Benefits Of A Scope Over Other Sights?
Since the AR platform has such versatility with range, using a scope can help you utilize that versatility to a larger degree by giving you incredible target acquisition speed, accuracy, MOA adjustment, windage & elevation adjustment, reticle information density, and more. Using more limited sights, like a reflex or other RDS sight may not grant the same benefits without spending exorbitant sums.
They offer useful magnification levels for finding and tracking prey, but with a scope that can be pulled down to 1x, it can give the same performance that you would expect from a red dot or even iron sights. This gives them the ability to adapt to different scenarios, potentially even unanticipated ones. If you are a hunting or defense enthusiast this means a scope like that can be an invaluable addition to your equipment.
What To Look For In An AR-15 Scope
When looking for an AR-15 scope, you have to be really honest with what you want from it. Will you be using it for 3-gun events, or quiet 600-yard sniper shots? Will it be on your back while out on the ranch or homestead, and see most of its use with gophers and coyotes? Will you be taking it into combat? These situations will all require their own perfect scope, even though there are certainly large areas of overlap.
Larger Objective Lenses & Tubes Make Brighter Scopes
Not only do larger objective lenses allow in far more light than smaller lenses, but they can also be the difference between a successful target identification, or a missed opportunity. The larger tubes of some scopes not only help facilitate the increased light transmission but also allow a much larger degree of adjustability in compensation for windage and elevation.
The downside to all of this, however, is that big scopes and big lenses can often mean greatly increased overall weight of the scope. The larger lenses will be created with more glass, and glass adds significant weight. A difference of a few ounces may not sound like much, but if you have to hike your AR miles into or out of an area of operations, you might find out that a 4 or 6-ounce weight difference can mean the world.
Fit Your Scope To Your Ammo
Even the very best .223 or 5.56mm ammunition out there will be running out of gas, so to speak, in the 550-700 yard range. This means it has run out of kinetic energy and even if the shot hit its mark, there wouldn’t be the energy left for a kill shot. There are some varieties, like the Blackout .300 caliber that might start to approach the 900-1000 yard range. A .308 would probably be able to punch in at 1000 yards reliably.
When you are shopping for scopes, be sure that your scope will be able to reach as far as your ammo, but don’t worry about further. There’s no need to be able to see out 1200 yards if your round is going to be tumbling into the dirt at 700 yards. That extra scope is going to come with extra weight, and if you don’t need it, why lug it around?
Weigh Your Magnification Carefully
This sort of goes along with the last point, but from the other direction. If you know that you will never be in a situation where you’ll need to shoot 400-500 yards away, why buy equipment for it? If all of your use is, for example, 300 yards or closer, you could probably get away with a simple scope that only boasts a 2x or 3x top end. This way you aren’t carrying around extra glass and tube weight that will end up taking its toll on the carrier.