The Best Scope for Your AR-15 Under $200 (9 Excellent Options To Choose From)
Last Updated: May 18, 2020
We are big advocates for spending more on your scope than your rifle, but it's not always the affordable reality for most. If you're set on spending no more than two Ben Franklin's on your AR-15 scope, we've made a lineup especially for you.
Our AR-15 scope list is up to date, has some new-to-market models, a couple underdogs, and some authoritative brands loyalists will appreciate.
Cinch your pants tight, just like your budget, and get into work mode as you muse over viable scope options for your AR/MSR rifle!
QUICK LIST: 9 Best AR 15 Scopes Under $200
- Vortex Crossfire II 1-4X24
- Burris MSR 3-9X40
- Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9X40 BDC 600
- TRUGLO TRU-BRITE 30 Series 1-6X24
- Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X24 Drop Zone-223
- Leapers UTG 3-12X44
- Barska 1-4X28 SWAT AR Scope
- Monstrum Tactical G2 1-4X24
- Pinty 3-9X32EG
Our 9 Top Scopes for AR-15 Under $200
|Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris MSR 3-9x40||CHECK PRICE|
|Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9x40 BDC600||CHECK PRICE|
|TRUGLO TruBrite 1-6x24||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell AR Optics||CHECK PRICE|
|UTG 3-12X44||CHECK PRICE|
|Barska 1-4x28 SWAT AR||CHECK PRICE|
|Monstrum Tactical G2||CHECK PRICE|
|Pinty 3-9x32EG||CHECK PRICE|
About 200 bucks is the price range that many a shooter will hover around when setting a budget. If you have the means to spend a little more, please do. But, is pushing the budget for something bigger and better always the rule? Not necessarily.
Like the $100 budget range, it can be a bit of a gamble finding the hidden gem among the torrent of generic, cheaply made scopes from off brands with only $200 to stretch. Fortunately for us, some big players like Nikon, Bushnell, Vortex, and Burris offer quality optics for affordable prices.
The key here is to look for decent glass, repeatability/dependability, and the right specs for the job. If you stick to brand-name manufacturers, you may get a higher-quality warranty with verified and real customer service - all of which is important if you want to make the most of your budget.
Most scopes in this lineup are ready as entry-level scopes for beginners. Some may be higher in quality than others and are an excellent choice for recreational shooting that will satisfy even the most avid hunter and dedicated range goer.
So, is a $200 scope worth it? Let's find out and you decide!
1. Vortex Crossfire II 1-4X24 Review
Give the Crossfire II scope a once-over and be prepared to be instantly sold on it. It's right within budget, is suitably made for the AR, and as all Vortex scopes do, it comes with their VIP warranty.
- 30 mm tube
- Illuminated reticle
- 1-4x magnification
- SFP reticle
- Build quality
This Crossfire II scope is just one model from the series, and it's not only been around long enough to have a proven track record, it's been around the block enough times to be crazy popular with the AR crowd.
What's not to like? It has capped turrets (gotta love the caps!) that sit over 100 MOA elevation and windage travel, 30 MOA revolutions, and 1/2 MOA clicks. Those turrets sit on a one-piece, 30 mm tube constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum that's been nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed.
This 1-4x LPV (low power variable) scope is ideal for AR-15 rifles with shooters looking for low magnification for tactical shooting, home surveillance, and even hunting. With an SFP (second focal plane) reticle, you'll be able to have a consistent visual of the V-Brite reticle that utilizes the V-Plex crosshairs with an illuminated center dot to get you quickly on target.
As for build quality, there have been some defective ones. Various problems such as reticle, zero, and build parts have failed the user. It's not the trend, and fortunately your tight budget buys you one of the best lifetime warranties offered from an optics manufacturer - it's unlimited, fully transferable, and no proof of purchase is needed.
There's very little convincing needed to see why the Vortex Crossfire II tops this lineup!
2. Burris MSR 3-9X40 Review
- Designed for shooters new to tactical rifles, who are ready for an affordable custom tactical riflescope
- Features the Ballistic Plax reticle, the most simple, effective, and elegant trajectory-compensating reticle for hunting
It's not an LPVO by any means, but it does have a hunter's pet magnification range to get it done in the field. With 3-9x, you can take advantage of low power for close-range hunting, and at the same time, mix things up by taking long shots and cranking up magnification. Made for the MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle), Burris brings long-range hunting capabilities to the AR-style platform.
- Short-long range
- Ballistic Plex reticle
- Calibrated for .223
- Quality warranty
- No lens caps included
When the only complaint is about extra accessories not thrown into the buy, it should be taken as a sign that you're dealing with a high-quality scope. When the glass is bright and clear, has Index-matched, Hi-Lume multicoatings, and is made with Burris quality behind it, you know it's a good scope.
When the MSR optic is lightweight at 13 ounces and is compact at 12.2 inches for a full-size 3-9x40, you know it's a good scope. When it has the compensating Ballistic Plex reticle that allows a reach of 500 yards, and is calibrated for .223 cartridges on this model, you know it's a good scope for your .223 MSR/AR-15.
Starting to see the concept we're building behind this scope and the brand? It's a good scope. It also has a warranty worth bragging about, the Burris Forever Warranty. It's a no questions asked, fully transferable, no repair or replacement cost, and no proof of purchase warranty. Did we mention it's forever? It's in the name.
For just a couple hundred bucks, this is the standard of quality you should expect from a scope for your AR-15 - Burris quality.
3. Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9X40 BDC 600 Review
Hot and steaming off the conveyor belt is the new P-Tactical rifle scopes that replaced and booted out the old P-223 series. What does the "P-Tac" have that gives it credibility with the AR-15/MSR crowd? Hm, maybe it's the affordable price, long-ranging reticle, and high magnification?
- Long range
- 3x zoom
- Zero reset turrets
- Fully weatherproof
- Slightly mushy turrets
Who will want this scope? Hunters, target, and long-range shooters. The 3x zoom will help you push distance limits depending on your skill and AR-15/MSR setup. As for this model, the simple ballistic reticle is set up to provide 600 yards of distance reach with see-through circles as holdover points and intermittent 50-yard hashmarks.
Although there isn't a zero stop feature, the 1/4 MOA turrets are re-settable to zero for quick reference after sighting in. Those new to tactical-style scopes will like this model for its tall, exposed turrets. However, it has been said the turrets are slightly on the mushy side. It doesn't seem to be the rule, but if it is, Nikon offers the No Fault Limited Repair/Replacement Warranty if this happens to be the case.
Don't be afraid to be caught out in bad weather, especially if you're a hunter that gets caught out during the Winter storm in elk season. The P-Tac scope is fully weatherproof with its O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged tube body.
The Nikon scope has the potential to be the perfect multi-tasker for the field or hunt. Now, turn that potential into reality by getting out there and shooting with it.
4. TRUGLO TRU-BRITE 30 Series 1-6X24 Review
Red dot sights made for AR-15's have been a longtime favorite for many a MSR shooter. But, as low powered scopes are getting better in quality and matching a price shooters are willing to pay for, it's no surprise that scopes like the TRU-BRITE 1-6x is a viable option to consider.
- Illuminated center dot
- 30 mm tube
- True 1x
- Accessories included
- Blurry at max magnification
You're not only getting a decent price for the scope, you're also getting a bunch of included accessories. Offset, reversible 30 mm aluminum rings and mount, scope caps, and two turrets. What are the two turrets for? Calibrated turrets for .223 and .308 are included for your convenience whether you have an AR-15 or AR-10.
The TRUGLO scope has 1-6x magnification that can be said to be the ideal power range for an LPVO. With true 1x power, you can even keep both eyes open to take the shot at a moment's notice. It's easy to do with the center-illuminated dot that rapidly draws your eye to the target. Not sure what illumination works best for your eyes? No problem. The dot can be lit in red, green, or non-illuminated (black), but it may not be "daylight" bright as it's intended for shaded areas and low light conditions.
To get some distance tacked onto your shot, crank up the power to see further and utilize your 1/2 MOA turrets to dial out to 800 yards. You may lose some of that 3.75" eye relief, and due to the fully-coated optics and small 24 mm aperture, image quality may be lacking after 4x magnification.
The entire assembly will weigh in at approx. 2 lbs. If you can handle the weight for short periods of time called for in tactical situations and some hunting applications, the TRUGLO scope is what we call a decent buy for the money.
5. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X24 Drop Zone-223 Review
The AR Optics series was designed for, you got it, AR-style rifles. With a few different models available in the line, we chose the low powered 1-4x scope that lands right within budget. Entry-level quality guarantees an entry-level price.
- .223 reticle
- 30 mm tube
- Buyer confusion between reticle options
Things can get a little confusing when there are multiple models and then multiple reticle options on top of that in the same product line. To be clear, the model we've picked for the lineup is the 1-4x24 with the Drop Zone 223 reticle, otherwise known as the AR71424.
As for the scope itself, it has a 30 mm tube, weighs 18 oz, and has low power for close quarters and close range shooting. But, the 1-4x isn't the be=all, end-all for distance reach and clarity. The Drop Zone 223 reticle is calibrated for .223 cartridges with holdover dots that reach out to 600 yards. It's simple, effective, and it works.
It's waterproof - important note for hunters that end up in less than ideal weather. It has RainGuard coatings - important for shooters who need clear optics when in less than ideal weather.
The exposed, tactical style turrets have a wide adjustment range with 120 MOA/34.9 MIL elevation travel and 140 MOA/40.7 MIL windage travel thanks to its roomy 30 mm tube. Another tactical feature to be thankful for is the convenient pre-installed short power throw lever. Want even faster magnification operation? Install the included long power throw lever instead.
It's not anything flashy, but it certainly has grit where it counts. This is how you get the most bang for your buck!
6. Leapers UTG 3-12X44 Review
Believe it or not, this nifty, little scope does it for many AR owners. It's compact, has a bunch of features, and it's cheap. Yeah, we said the "C" word - it's cheap. But, there's a difference between garbage and what we call a bargain, and this definitely qualifies as a bargain buy!
- Side focus
- 36 illumination colors
- Lockable & resettable turrets
- Mount included
- Quality control issues
First off, this UTG scope is advertised with an AO (adjustable objective) - it's a bust. It doesn't have an AO feature, instead it has a SWAT (Side Wheel Adjustable Turret) for parallax and focus correction - same function and purpose. The side focus is the third turret located on the left side of the scope body that is adjustable from 10 yards to infinity.
Impressive to see on a budget scope are the lockable and re-settable turrets. The lockable turrets are a feature that isn't even seen on scopes that are triple this price. A 30 mm tube, included flip-open caps and rings, and a ridiculous 36 color palette for the range estimating reticle are added bonuses to this budget buy.
Eye relief is on the short end of the stick, between 3-3.4", and it may be a little heavy, weighing in at 23.2 ounces. But, with the wider tube body, high magnification, and side focus, the extra weight makes sense and is worth the compromise.
There will be lemons that make it off the conveyor belt and to some poor soul's doorstep. With scopes so affordable, a few defective models are going to get past quality control. If your scope won't hold zero, has LED problems, and/or reticle issues, you need to take advantage of your return window or Leaper's/UTG Best Never Rest Warranty.
Is it still worth the risk in buying? As a scope that presently ranks in as #3 in Airsoft Gun Scopes and #13 in Rifle Scopes online, what do you think? Value for money - check!
7. Barska 1-4X28 SWAT AR Review
Barska - known as an affordable brand with decent optics to get the job done. This SWAT-AR scope is a beginner's intro to using a LPVO. As one of the most affordable options in this lineup, there's a few compromises to be made, but there's some features to gasp over.
- Dual illuminated reticle
- 1-4x power
- 30 mm tube
- Glass-etched reticle
- Reticle/zeroing issues
What are the compromises to be made? You may have to return your scope upon inspection. Reticle issues seem to be the trend with the defective models that make it past quality control, and the scope not holding zero is another common complaint.
Reticle issues should definitely be taken up by Barska since it's laser-etched onto the glass. This is a premium feature found on a cheap scope - bonus 1. It also has dual illumination: red and green with various brightness settings to get the best and most comfortable sight picture - bonus 2.
With low 1-4x power, you can make fast, close-range shots, and with the range estimating MIL-dot reticle, you can play around and test out your distance limits on this scope. Fully multi-coated optics are of note, it's waterproof and fogproof, and it's compact and lightweight - 10" and 16 oz. Did you lose count of all the bonus features?
Barska may have decked this scope out with more than what's required for this price range, but that's good news for you!
8. Monstrum Tactical G2 1-4X24 Review
Monstrum Tactical has done extremely well. They've made a name for themselves, offer high quality optics for truly affordable prices, and they've made some milestones in the optics industry. The G2 1-4x24 is a precision tactical scope that's buyer ready and consumer approved by the masses. Here's what they say!
- 1-4x low power
- Dual illumination
- FFP reticle
- Accessories included
- Quality control issues
Yep - this brand isn't immune to defective scopes leaving the factory. Build quality and reticle issues are the complaint of the day - when there is one. It's not the trend to get a scope that's not up to par, and fortunately, Monstrum Tactical is exceptionally responsive to making things right with the customer. Also, the G2 scope comes with a 1-year warranty.
Back to the scope, it has some brow-raising features that earns a standing ovation. Not only is Monstrum the first company to offer FFP (first focal plane) reticles in a scope for under $200, which the G2 1-4x has, it also has a glass-etched reticle. These are premium features not seen in this price range - ever.
The rangefinder reticle has dual illumination (red or green) for low light conditions. The reticle itself has a center cross crosshair with a horseshoe for rapid target acquisition. Hashmarks line the crosshairs for holdovers. It has a 30 mm tube, 1/2 MOA clicks, and 4-4.5" of eye relief.
The tactical scope doesn't come alone either. It comes as a group party with a lens cap, sunshade, felt cover, 30 mm medium rings, and a CR2032A battery to power the illumination.
For the price, it ain't getting any better than this!
9. Pinty 3-9X32EG Review
- 4 in 1, comes with a rangefinder riflescope, a green laser sight and a red/green dot sight everything you will ever need.
- Magnifications from 3X up to 9X, green/red illuminations with 5 brightness adjustments for both the riflescope and electronic unlimited brightness control for the dot...
Pinty is one of those underdog brands that has taken off as a successful optics manufacturer. They're available online and at large department stores, and their low prices have caught the eye of the casual buyer who's willing to give an average scope a try. So, is the Pinty an "average" scope? As a high ranking rifle scope online, it seems average is the next best buy.
- 3-in-1 scope combo
- Rangefinder reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- Highly responsive customer service
- Quality control issues
The Pinty scope has it all. We usually advise buyers to steer clear of seemingly too good to be true scopes that have every feature for a stinking low price. Well, we won't say this scope is without its issues, but its track record shows it may be worth trying out.
Quality control issues lend to its inability to hold zero - everything after that is redundant as a scope that can't hold zero is of no use at all. Fortunately, Banyan Imports (parent company of Pinty) has shown to be extremely responsive to unhappy customers. Replacement parts and refunds have been issued within hours of a complaint being brought to their attention. 5 star effort for customer service, aye?
The rangefinder reticle has illumination in red or green, each of which has 5 brightness levels. With 3-9x magnification, it can easily make quick work of short to long range distances. Multi-coated optics, weatherproofness, and 1/4 MOA clicks are standard for a budget scope.
But, what is a 3-in-1 scope combo? This is a complete AR scope package. The Pinty comes with a red/green reflex sight and green dot laser. Additionally, 1" 20 mm high riser, lens cap, and all the necessary tools and batteries are included. You'll appreciate the 3 included manuals for all the setting up you'll have to do!
What to Look for in an AR-15 Scope In This Price Range
General rule of thumb for spending on a tight budget? Avoid scopes that seem to have it "all." This price range is no place for manufacturers to make promises and claims that it can do everything a $500 scope can. Stick with the features that matter most and it won't let you down when you need it: decent glass, repeatability/dependability, and the right specs for the job.
Here's what we mean by that!
$200 isn't a lot of money when it comes to buying a rifle scope, not just for your AR, but for any firearm. However, it might be the best you can do, and because budget limitations are very real for most of us, you have to make the most of your dollar by picking right the first time.
However, be realistic about quality expectations. Cheap, off-brand scopes may not offer long-term dependability. Being brand specific may help to get the most value out of your buy.
It's not going to be that difficult to determine glass quality if you're staying brand specific. Off-brand companies don't promise to have the best glass because they likely don't have access to the best glass sources. The best glass coatings for easily identifiable standards is fully multi-coated followed with multi-coated. Less than that, and it's indicative of quality under $100.
It's gotta hold zero. If it doesn't, it's useless. Build quality in this price range should be better than the $100 budget range, but it mightn't be too far different if you're not being brand specific. You may even get a quality scope but junk mounting hardware and accessories. Keep the scope and buy your own rings etc. For around 200 bucks, it better be fully weatherproof, too - no excuse for it not to be.
Reticle design for an AR scope will vary. It depends on magnification and what your main shooting application is. Close quarter and true 1x LPVO scopes will most likely feature a simple dot or aiming-typing reticle. If you're going higher in power and are expecting to test out some mid-long range shots, ballistic compensating reticles will be a better option for you.
The best warranties, as seen above, will be from the big brands in the optics industry. They can cover the repairs and replacements for a lifetime without requiring much from the owner. However, if you're buying a scope from a small, not well-known brand, be sure to do some digging on what their customer service is like. It's practically impossible to get a replacement or money back if you don't have a phone number or a real human being to communicate with.
Is a $200 Scope Worth it?
It can be! You can be as picky as you want to be in this budget range when it comes to choice of manufacturer, magnification needs, build quality, and more. It will take a little know-how to filter the good ones from the bad, but fortunately for you, we've got you covered on that end.
You can easily demand more from your scope depending on your AR-15 setup and in that case - spend more. If you can budget for more price flexibility, you should. Check out our up-to-date, comprehensive list of the best AR-15 scopes trending the market right now!