Best AR-15 Hunting Scopes of 2020 – Ultimate Round-up

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Are you looking for the best AR-15 hunting scope? If the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. Finding the best scope for your rifle will be important, especially if you are intending to hunt varmint, big game targets, or both. The chances are good that you will find a scope that will allow for accurate, precise shooting at any distance (depending on what you are hunting).

Now, it will come down to some of the finer details as you choose the scope that will stand out as your favorite among the pack. While there are many scopes currently on the market that are dedicated to AR-15 hunting, we’ve managed to pull together the very best in this article. Our featured scopes are considered to be optimal choices based on several features and characteristics.

Before we get to or reviews, we will discuss whether or not scopes are important for hunting, what size of scope you may need, and which characteristics of our favorite scopes were good enough to make the list.

Comparison of the Best AR-15 Hunting Scopes

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • One inch tube
  • Best AR-15 hunting scope
  • Magnification power of 3 to 9 times
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  • Magnification levels of 4 to 14 times
  • Runner-up for best AR-15 hunting scope
  • Features a 44mm objective for quick acquisition and large field of view
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  • Objective measured at 30mm
  • Best AR-15 hunting scope for the money
  • Includes zero locking and resetting features
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  • Objective measured at 40mm
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Best scope for AR-15 coyote hunting
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  • 1-inch tube
  • Objective of 42mm
  • Editor’s pick for best AR-15 hunting scope
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Are Scopes Important For Hunting?

The short answer: yes. In fact, you might need a scope that will be best for hunting at any given distance, be it at short range or long range. Yes, you can choose to utilize other optics and sights for hunting applications, but you are only limited to a certain distance (possibly up to 150 yards). Those may be optional or can co-witness with your scope if you happen to do some close-range hunting. But it would be wise to go with a scope that will fit all your needs so you have some options to work in terms of which will deliver the most accurate, precise shooting.

What Size Scope Do I Need?

Scopes come in numerous different sizes and lengths. It might be up to you to make the choice of what size is best for you. However, let’s say you want a scope that will give you a large field of view. You may need an objective that will be measured at 40mm or above. The larger the objective, the better the chance you’ll be able to get good coverage and quick target acquisition. 

Characteristics of Our Favorite Scopes

If you are in search of a scope for your own personal use, it’s important to know which characteristics and features stand out the best. You need to know the distinction between a great scope and one that is low quality and unworthy of your consideration. Here are some things to look for in an AR-15 hunting scope:

Price

The price will in all likelihood be the one thing that buyers will look for first, especially when they are on a budget and want to keep it within range. No matter if you have to follow a certain budget or have plenty of money to work with, it’s important to find the best quality that you can afford in a scope. Never go for cheap and always use extreme caution if the price tag seems a bit too low (remember that if it seems too good to be true, it very well might be). 

Quality

Almost every scope today is made from high-quality materials that prove its worth in terms of durability. At the same time, these materials are also best for shock absorption. This way, your zero settings are maintained and you won’t need to reset them every so often (i.e. every 100 rounds). The better the quality, the better the chance it will last you a long time.

Easy Installation

All of the scopes on our list will be easy to install. There is a good chance that they will take no more than a couple of minutes for installation if you have experience with installing your own scopes. Most scopes will have installation instructions for newbies who have never installed a scope in their lifetime. But there is a guarantee that it will be an easy task to install your AR-15 hunting scope no matter which of the featured options you choose.

Quick Take | Best AR-15 Hunting Scopes

Review of the Best AR-15 Hunting Scopes

The following is a list of the very best AR-15 hunting scopes on the market. As you go through each one, you should note any features and characteristics that will make such a scope stand out. If you have a basic understanding of scopes, you may have an idea of what will make up your ideal scope in terms of characteristics and features.

Find one that is “close enough” and you’ll be in business. Let’s begin by taking a look at the “best overall” choice:

Pros

  • Easy to install; only takes a few minutes
  • Durable, rugged construction
  • Eye relief is pretty good, even for a hunting scope
  • Adjustments for parallax, elevation, and windage are easy and fluid
  • Multi-coated lenses do a good job of gathering light for low-light shooting

Cons

  • May mount a little lower than expected
  • Some report the crosshairs being crooked
  • A few have complained about the eye relief being shallow due to its size

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were happy with this scope’s ability to provide an excellent image quality while making sure you are able to see your targets in both low light and broad daylight. The construction was impressively strong according to one user. He added that it was so rugged, he knew right away that his zero settings would stay intact through many rounds. Overall, the accurate and precise shooting was consistent even at distances of 500+ yards.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This scope just might be the most perfect AR-15 hunting scope on the market. And why not? The design and construction are absolutely genius. You can make on-the-fly adjustments when the shots look a bit off, installation doesn’t take terribly long to do, and this sucker can go the distance. You know that this will do some serious damage both near and far. Whether you go after varmints or that eight-point buck that you’ve been eyeing all summer long, this scope will make dang sure that your kill shots are right on the money.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be the perfect hunting scope for anyone who wants to knock down deer or varmints from any given distance. Whether you go 100 yards or even 1000 yards, this is the scope that will definitely deliver accurate and dependable kill shots. You’ll know that you’ve made the right decision by the time you pull the trigger and hit your target with quick precision.

Bottom Line

The UTG BugBuster Scope has provided a strong case as to why it stands out as the best overall choice in this category. At this point, it might just be dang near unbeatable. Even if you find a scope that is durable, high-performing, and just all-around awesome, it could easily fall short of this scope. If you want solid durability, excellent all-around performance, and something that is way too fun to use, this is the AR-15 scope to go with.

Pros

  • Perfect for hunting varmints and big game
  • Easy to adjust for windage and elevation
  • Shooting groups are quite tight from 100 yards and beyond
  • Rugged construction can handle all kinds of shock, fog, and even bad weather
  • Illumination settings are easy to cycle through; provides excellent image quality in low-light conditions

Cons

  • Illumination coverage could be better
  • Magnification knob might be a bit stiff
  • Some have complained about the turrets being a bit sloppy

What Recent Buyers Report

New users say that this scope was super easy to install and was just as easy to zero in for accurate shooting. They were able to sight this in and were able to consistently hit their hunting targets from pretty impressive distances. One user said his shooting groups were sub MOA at around 100 yards.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want a scope that is tough but can deliver a superior performance like nothing else, this might be the one you want to go with. You have six illumination settings that will work to your advantage so you are able to get all your shots locked on target, be it in a low-light setting or when you need to see better during the day. With an objective of 44mm, it gives you a good amount of real estate so you can see your targets much quicker than some scopes and lock on them in a flash.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be great for varmint and coyote hunting. One of the reasons we've make that determination is the illumination settings. You can snag these critters in broad daylight. But you have a better chance of getting them either at dawn or at dusk. So, any one of the illumination settings will do you some good. Overall, it’s a hunting scope that is built to last and built to make every kill shot count.

Bottom Line

If you want a true hunting scope that will be no match for any of your varmint or predator targets, then you will certainly enjoy putting the Primary Arms SLX Rifle Scope to good use. With all the illumination settings and sharpshooting features at your disposal, it might be one of the easiest scopes that you’ve ever put to good use. And since it’s lightweight and tough, you can expect your zero settings to last a long time.

Best for the Money: 
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

Pros

  • Really durable
  • Simple to install
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Excellent for varmint hunting
  • Eye relief is pretty good; not too shallow or long

Cons

  • May be a little heavy for some users
  • Some say the quality control could be better
  • AO adjustment knobs are tough to turn at times

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were pretty stoked about a scope that was excellent in quality, delivered accurate shooting each time, and had an affordable price tag to boot. One user said that he was looking for a great scope that would be perfect for varmint hunting, and he was not disappointed in the slightest when he managed to land his targets between 100 to 200 yards.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This scope is small in size, but it can fit most rail systems fairly easily. For the price that it’s going for, it proves its worth as far as durability goes. It’s a pretty good scope that will go above and beyond the call of duty when you are locked on to an invasive critter or a coyote that has long been a threat to livestock on your property. Despite the objective being on the small side, target acquisition is pretty quick.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for an affordable, beginner-friendly scope for varmint hunting, this should be the best option available. It’s like any other hunting scope that you can find on an AR-15; its superb durability allows for precise and accurate shooting and has adjustments that will be available to you and on the fly when you need them most. Even if it is a budget scope, it is not one to be underestimated.

Bottom Line


If you want a scope that will be all business at a price that you can afford, then you should certainly give the UTG 3-12x44 30mm Compact Scope a try. It could easily be a scope that you stick with for the long run or until you can find something better. Either way, it will stand out as a really cool scope for all your varmint and coyote hunting needs.

Best Scope for AR-15 Coyote Hunting: 
Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Superior durability
  • Accurate, precise shooting
  • Excellent for coyote hunting
  • Lenses are multi-coated and are resistant to scratches

Cons

  • Battery cap is stripped
  • Stock battery life is questionable
  • Does not have a parallax adjustment

What Recent Buyers Report

According to most new buyers, this scope was light in weight but was super durable right out of the box. They said that it has no problem handling all kinds of shock from recoil and nasty weather. Not only that, it allowed for superior accuracy at targets ranging from 100 to 200 yards. One user even said that he was able to knock down a coyote before the sun came up thanks to the scope’s ability to gather in enough light.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Vortex Optics is known for manufacturing scopes that are super durable. In fact, they are so confident in them that they are backed by a lifetime warranty. Simply put, you might have a Vortex scope to rely on for the rest of your life. Of course, the image quality is pretty clear as well. You get a good amount of sharpshooting thanks to a reticle that will lock on your targets quickly and easy.

Who Will Use This Most

This will obviously be the go-to scope for anyone in search of a decent scope that excels at coyote hunting situations. Whether you want to shoot coyotes during the day or when there is barely even any daylight, you’d be hard-pressed to find a scope that can work as hard and shoot as sharp as this one. No coyote will stand a chance against anyone hellbent on protecting their property or livestock with this scope.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Crossfire II stands out as the best coyote hunting scope you can find. It’s durable, accurate, and will definitely exceed all kinds of standards that no other coyote hunting scope can match. It will likely last you a long time on durability alone. As long as you make sure that everything is well-adjusted and straight, you will have a scope that will be useful for years or even decades down the road.

Viridian EON 4-12x42 AO, Second Focal Plane Duplex Reticle, 1-inch Riflescope, Lifetime Warranty

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Solid construction
  • Perfect for varmint and big game hunting
  • Large field of vision allows for quick target acquisition
  • Lenses gather in a good amount of light; not a dim sight

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

New users reported that this scope was versatile in its use, meaning that it can be great for hunting both small invasive critters and the big bucks that you’ve been wanting to take down since the beginning of deer season. Most users report the scope being lightweight but very durable in terms of construction. Not only that, the image quality was super clear and the reticle made every shot from 100 to 400 yards quick, precise, and very accurate.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This scope is quite useful for not just hunters, but also target shooters (both casual and competitive). Whether you are out in the field or out at the range, this scope will make sure that your image picture will be clear and will stand out better than any other riflescope on the market. It can also resist all kinds of fog, shock, and bad weather in the process.

Who Will Use This Most

This scope will serve multiple purposes, thus it can get the job done no matter which application you use it for. It can give you a crisp, clear image picture and can stand out as a big surprise for anyone looking for a simple scope that doesn’t have some big name attached to it. If you want a scope that will fly under the radar and deliver exceptional performance, this might be what you need.

Bottom Line

The Viridian EON 4-12x42 Duplex Rifle Scope can be the best beginner-level scope that any AR-15 hunter or target shooter will rely on. It’s got the image clarity, accuracy, and fluid adjustments that will make a scope stand out and make every shot hit their targets exactly where they need to.

Types of Hunting Scopes

If you are in search of a specific type of hunting scope, then this section will give you a brief guide on some of the most popular types available. You should choose one that will work best for all of your hunting needs so it will be something you can rely on for the long term. Here are the following types:

Night Vision Scopes

If you intend to go night hunting for varmints or coyotes as your primary targets, you need to consider getting a night vision scope so you can see your surrounding area. These will have the ability to have you see at a good distance when there is no daylight to work with. You may see slightly farther depending on if the moon is out or not.

Thermal Scopes

Thermal scopes use heat signatures that will allow you to positively identify your target. You can be able to use this both at day or at night. At night, you can pick up heat signatures from distances ranging from 100 to 500+ yards (depending on the kind of scope you purchase).

FFP/SFP Rifle Scopes

These are basically your standard hunting rifle scopes. The first focal plane uses one lens whereas a second focal plane scope will be using two lenses. Either way, it allows you to get a good look at your hunting targets regardless of what they are (varmints or big game). 

Conclusion

If you want a hunting scope for your AR-15 rifle, then you may want to consider the idea of purchasing one of the products listed above. Whether it’s for big game hunting or varmint hunting, you can find a scope that will be accurate, reliable, and guaranteed to go the distance you want it to go. Make sure you find something that is easy to use and will be built for the long haul. Before you know it, your hunting success will be assured each time you are out in the field. 

People Also Ask

Below is a list of questions that are frequently asked by new buyers. If you are among the legions of buyers wanting to know more about hunting scopes, these questions will serve as your guide. Here are the following answers:

What Kind of Scope Do You Use For Deer Hunting?

Any FFP or SFP hunting scope will work just fine for deer hunting. If you want a scope that might be designed for deer hunting, find one that will have a large objective and a more powerful magnification setting (4x or above). 

What is the Best Scope For Long Range Hunting?

Once again, you can rely on any focal plane riflescope for long-range hunting. This time, your magnification levels should be no lower than 8x. It will also depend on the intended distance where you want to shoot the target. 

What Does BDC Mean on A Scope?

BDC stands for bullet drop compensator. These are ideal if you want a scope that is intended to go a good distance. For example, a good BDC scope can be useful if you intend to hit your targets from 400 yards out or beyond. 

Does Magnification Change MOA?

It will depend on the scope. If you are using an FFP scope, the magnification levels will not affect the MOA. However, if you are using an SFP scope, the MOA will usually change depending on the level of magnification.