The AR-15 is one of the most versatile rifles out there. It’s an incredibly accurate rifle that allows for engagements up to 600 yards and beyond. At the same time, the rifle is lightweight and low recoiling, making it the perfect rifle for close range encounters. It’s also a growing choice for hunters (enter the 300 blackout upper or the AR-10 build) looking for a do everything rifle. You can also build your own AR-15 in almost any configuration imaginable for every use imaginable with an 80 lower receiver and an AR-15 build kit. The AR-15 is a jack of all trades, but can only be a master of a trade when outfitted with a proper optic.

Tactical Scopes

To be successful in close-quarters shooting you need to be fast, and accurate. Typically speed and accuracy are difficult to combine. A traditional scope’s magnification is a hindrance at room-to-room range. A 1x red dot sight allows the shooter to get rid of magnification, and have an option that’s faster and more accurate than iron sights. Red dot optics also allow the shooter to rapidly transition from target to target. You can also effectively use one with both eyes opened, which increases your peripheral vision. A red dot optic is a perfect companion to an AR-15 designed for close quarter’s combat. It’s an excellent choice for law enforcement, police, and citizens concerned about home defense.

Suggested Tactical ScopeAimpoint Comp M4s

Hunting Scopes

Hunting with the AR-15 is becoming one of the more popular options. You can have almost any style AR-15 build and turn it into a hunting rifle with minor changes. A big one is using a proper optic. A hunting optic needs to be a few things. First I suggest an appropriate level of magnification, nothing too high. The optic should also be lightweight, this way you can accurately shoot from an off hand position. Another necessity is the optic needs to be fog and waterproof. When it comes to hunting your weapon and optic are going to be exposed to the elements, often more so than you expect. Lastly, a nice 40mm objective lens on your AR-15 scope and some quality multi-coating will make it possible for you to see a bit better in those early mornings and late evenings.

Suggested OpticPrimary Arms 4-14X44mm Riflescope – Mil-Dot

Three Gun Scope

Three gun is the fastest growing competitive shooting sport in the world. The most common choice for a rifle is, of course, the AR-15. In three gun you could be tasked with shooting targets are 10 yards or at 500 yards in the same round. You preferably want an optic that has a variable magnification. The best choice for a Three gun AR-15 scope would be a 1x to 4x or 6x. The 1x can be used at close range and the 4x or 6x for longer ranges. Going over 6 power means your AR-15 scope will start to get heavier. In three gun ounces, pounds and pounds equal pain. Three gun is a sport where you are moving, moving, moving. I’d suggest a scope that is shockproof, and tough enough to take a beating.

Suggested opticLeupold Multi-Gun

Plinking – Bushnell AR optics

Plinking is where most of us get trigger time. Plinking is simply shooting your gun for fun with no other intended purpose. Plinking has very few requirements in terms of a scope. The main thing the scope needs to do is allow you to hit your target, consistently. Perhaps your AR build is chambered in 22 LR, then there is no need for an expensive scope. A good plinking scope will be easy to use, and accurate to a few hundred yards. A variable magnification will allow you to informally shoot at almost any range.

Suggested OpticBushnell AR optics 2-7 x 33mm

Special Purpose Rifle Scope

A Special Purpose rifle is a custom AR-15 build designed for precise shooting at longer than average ranges. A Special Purpose rifle is most commonly used for tactical applications and tactical shooting competitions. In either role, a first focal plane is a necessity for consistent target engagement at a variety of ranges. In terms of magnification, you want a high variable. Because you may have to shoot anywhere from 50 to 600 yards you want to be able to engage both up close and far away. You also want a reticle that has holdovers for windage and elevation. This will allow you to instantly compensate for both windage and bullet drop on the fly.

Suggested opticVortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP

In general, you can assemble your AR-15 build kit to be anything you desire. The rifle can do what you need, but can you? An optic doesn’t necessarily improve the rifle, it improves our ability to use a rifle. This is why an optic can define the rifle. It makes up the inherent weaknesses of the shooter. One rifle can easily have multiple purposes, simply swap the optic and get to it!

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