This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links.
Is choosing a scope for your AR-10 an easy task?
With AR-style pistols, short-barreled carbines, and heavy match grade MSR rifles all defined in their own way as an AR-10 firearm, buying the right scope can be daunting.
Where do you start?
The fastest and most effective way to narrow down your options is to personalize your needs according to your shooting style and what you intend to get out of your optic.
With that said, we have a lineup of various scopes that may very well fit your rifle's functionality and for the right price too. Let us do the heavy sifting so you can make the easy choice of the best scope for AR 10 setups!
Top AR-10 Scopes in 2020 (Comparison)
|Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24||CHECK PRICE|
|Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 TA11J-308||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold VX Freedom 1.5-4x20||CHECK PRICE|
|Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20||CHECK PRICE|
|Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16x42SF BDC 800||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris MTAC 1-4x24||CHECK PRICE|
|TRUGLO TruBrite 1-6x24||CHECK PRICE|
While an AR-15 is widely used for many applications, the demand for a larger caliber version of the AR-15 has boosted the popularity of the AR-10. It may not have really taken off as a sought-after rifle until civilians got their hands on it, but it's been around for decades, and it's going to be around for a long time yet.
The more aggressive, older sibling of the AR-15 uses the 7.62x55 mm NATO round that's interchangeable with the .308 WIN. Big game hunting, law enforcement/military sharpshooting, and target and benchrest shooting are all capable applications of the versatile cartridge. Inherently, this allows the AR rifle to be used in multiple shooting applications as the user sees fit with the right gear and experience.
Part of having the right gear is using the most appropriate optics for your intended firearm application. When you know what you want to use your AR for, you can narrow down scope options that will compliment your system.
The market is flooded with junky options in the budget price range to exorbitant, precision scopes that no one can afford. This leaves the middle ground to sift through. We've scrutinized 8 scopes that you can mount to your AR that have been approved for use by other AR-10 shooters ranging in price from just over $100 to $2000 to give you an idea of what your options are.
The 8 Best Scopes for AR-10
1. Best Tactical Scope for AR 10 308 SHTF - Trijicon VCOG 1-6X24
The VCOG is a classic gunsight that more than meets the standard for hunters, law enforcement, and armed citizens. This particular model is one of the most popular of the line with its low power for close quarter combat and rapid target acquisition to its 6x to stretch the distance when you want long-range advantage.
- Variable 1-6x power
- FFP/illuminated reticle
- Trijicon build quality
- Magnification dial fin
- .308 reticle
Because Trijicon offers options, this gunsight comes with multiple reticle styles. This model has the .308 (175 gr) ballistic reticle with the illuminated segmented circle at the center. With that caliber and load, you can match the holdover points of the reticle out to 600 yards. If you've built a .308/7.62x51 AR, then this is reticle you'll need.
Consider this rifle and gunsight the ultimate, all-round package. You have a big game hunting caliber, a patrol-use and personal/self-defense sight system, and you can even start out in precision shooting with this cartridge.
With the illuminated, segmented circle, you can quickly get on target at low power including being able to keep both eyes open at true 1x with the Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC). Since it has a FFP (First Focal Plane) reticle, you can reliably depend on holdovers at any magnification. Moving between power ranges for versatility in the field or in tactical situations can be quickly done with the integrated dial fin built into the magnification ring.
With a robust build and extreme waterproofness down to 20 ft, this thing is built like a tank and is ready for any abuse you can imagine up. Load it up with a single AA battery and you'll have up to 700 hours of constant illumination use. A Trijicon may be expensive, but it's always been said to be worth it.
2. Best ACOG Scope for AR 10 - Trijicon ACOG 3.5X35 TA11J-308
It should come as no surprise that Trijicon dominates when it comes to optics mounted on AR/MSR style rifles. They've never been in the cheap category, but they've always been said to be worth saving up for. This ACOG leans more on the affordable end of the price spectrum, if around a grand sounds affordable to you.
- 7.62 (.308) cal reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- Battery-free illumination
- Includes mount
- Illumination issues
The ACOG doesn't have illuminations issues per se, but it might not perform the way you expect it to if you're accustomed to battery-powered illumination. Fiber optics and tritium provide red illumination to this reticle, and this produce differing results for some users. Sometimes it might not be as bright as you'd like it, or it might halo and washout the target picture because it's too bright. It's a feature that may force you to learn a few tricks of the trade when dealing with fiber optics.
The reticle on this ACOG is best suited for a .308 AR. It's a crosshair/duplex style reticle with hashmarks for holdovers. It's simple, easy to use, and should be fast to get sighted-in. Since you're strutting around with a .308, why not try your hand at long-range shooting out to 1200 meters? The TA11J-308 reticle is designed specifically to help you get out that far without having to dial it in.
It's not a particularly flashy model, but ACOGs are combat-proven, highly effective, and this one runs without reliance on batteries. It may be a compromise to go without high-end features, but without spending excessively for a specialized Trijicon, this model won't disappoint.
If you're still iffy about the debatable, "cheap" price tag, you'll see that this model comes with the TA51 Flattop Adapter mount that's compatible with Picatinny rails. It's also not the only accessory thrown in with the ACOG. Expect a scopecoat, Lenspen, and a lanyard assembly with external adjuster caps.
With some extras in the buy, it might help to ease the anxiety of pulling the trigger on a $1000 gunsight. Is it expensive? In most people's books - yes. Regrets? Zilch.
3. Best Vortex Scope for AR 10 - Vortex Diamondback 4-12X40
The Diamondbacks have long been said to the "best bang for your buck" and we tend to agree. Not only does it have quality beyond its price tag, it's also a versatile scope that's made to take the punishment of being mounted to heavy and large caliber rifles, like, hunting rifles. Looking to make the most use of your more aggressive AR 10? The Diamondback fits the bill by coming in way under budget.
- High magnification
- Argon purged
- Dead-Hold BDC reticle
- Capped turrets
- Quality control issues
Straight off the bat, the more economical scopes may come with more quality control issues than their higher-end cousins. Some of the Diamondbacks may have image quality aberrations or poor build quality that can't handle heavy recoil or is affecting your zero. Fortunately, this scope is covered with Vortex's VIP warranty, and issues of this sort warrant repair or replacement.
But, what does this scope do that it does get right? Where do we begin? It has high magnification of 4-12x to take advantage of longer ranges and your bigger caliber AR 10 for taking down deer, elk, and maybe bad guys. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is simple, non-illuminated, and comes with hashmarks for bullet drop and wind drift compensation.
Capped turrets are a hunting scope feature that provide protection to the integrity of the turrets from weather exposure and from clumsily moving your turrets out of place. Never fear though because the caps are resettable to zero after you've sighted it in.
Being weatherproof is important if you're going to head out further than the covered shelter of your local shooting range. With an O-ring sealed and argon-purged tube, nothing is getting in or out to contaminate it and degrade image and metal integrity. By the way, argon is an upgrade from nitrogen - a feature you often have to pay more for.
But, are you paying more for the argon, the FMC (fully multi-coated) optics, BDC reticle, capped resettable turrets, and high power? You'd expect to, but you don't have to. It's a Diamondback - the best bang for your buck!
4. Best Leupold Scope for AR 10 - Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20
Leupold says they brought the VX-Freedom line of scopes to the market to provide quality, reliability, and durability to shooters of all kinds. What they left out was the affordability factor. It's one of our cheaper options in this lineup, but it's not cheap in terms of quality control. It is a Leupold after all.
- Easy-To-Grip power ring
- Twilight Light Management System
- Long eye relief
- Slightly mushy turrets
Define mushy: not crisp, feel some slack in adjustments, prone to rapid movement beyond intended clicks. Is this the norm for the VX-Freedom scope? Absolutely not. This issue hasn't been reported as a mainstream complaint, but since we're in an audit-type mood, we're being extra hard on our scope choices. Leupold recognizes this as a defective feature and offers a Full Lifetime Guarantee that's owner transferable without proof of purchase needed.
But, like we said, it's not a mainstream issue so it's likely you won't give turret integrity a second thought. Since we're on the topic of turrets, they're marked with number references in threes up to 12 but with revolutions up to 15 MOA on top of the dials. To see them, don't forget to remove the caps. They're finger adjustable, and they're simple in design to set and forget 'em after you're sighted in - easily done with the low 1.5-4x power for CQB and fast target acquisition and the simple style of the duplex reticle.
It's an excellent scope to mount to your AR considering its ultra-light weight of 9.6 ounces. If you're looking for a compact scope to compliment your MSR system or to keep the poundage down, this scope is definitely your take home option. Long eye relief of 4.17-3.74 inches keeps things in safe perspective, and an Easy-To-Grip power selector can move and zoom things along quicker than without it.
With scratch resistant lenses and Twilight Light Management System technology, your image quality should always be that of Leupold expectations - clear, bright, and lasting into lowlight.
But, can it handle recoil for your AR 10? This scope has been punisher tested to withstand recoil 3x that of a .308. Good enough for us. Is it good enough for you?
5. Best Red Dot Scope for AR 10 - Sig Sauer Romeo5 1X20
We would be doing you a disservice if we didn't feature a Best Seller, highly ranked gunsight that's been around long enough to weave its own impressive track record. The Sig Romeo5 gun sight has a 2 MOA dot to get you on target with red dot style and speed. Not your traditional rifle scope for your AR, but it's a proven optic perfect for your AR.
- Red dot
- Rapid target acquisition
- Motion Activated Illumination
- Built-in Picatinny low mount riser
- Quality control issues
This is the most affordable AR 10 red dot sight for under $200 in our lineup. It's a no-brainer red dot that gets the job done as is obvious with its favorable ratings. However, there are multiple reports about quality control. Between poor build quality, inability to turn on, and the sight just dying on you, it could very well be one thing or another.
What's the good news? The Romeo5 is covered under the Infinite Guarantee with a 5-year electronic components warranty. Send in your red dot if it has any issues. Sig will even send you a fully insured, prepaid shipping label for it!
But, if your scope experience is like most buyers, your sight will enable you get that dot on targets and enemies faster than a low power variable scope. With a single CR2032 battery, your red dot will automatically try to conserve battery life by powering down when not in use. All it takes to get it back up and running without any extra effort or pushing of buttons is to pick up or move your AR-10. Motion Activated Illumination is self-explanatory.
Built with an integrated M1913 Picatinny interface to make things easy when mounting to your MSR. Illumination settings include 8 daylight bright levels and 2 compatible with night vision gear. It's IPX7-rated, so stay out in the rain or toss it into the lake, it'll survive up to 1 meter - not sure why you'd want to do that though.
For patrol-use, home defense, and law enforcement work, the Romeo5 is an affordable buy worth checking out!
6. Best Nikon AR 10 Scope - Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16x42SF BDC 800
Nikon M-Tactical - it's new and hitting home with AR 10 gun owners. This Nikon scope is part of the M-Tactical series and is specifically designed for the .308 Win/7.62 NATO round. With some high-performing features in place, let's see what it has to offer you whether you're at work, home, or in the hunt.
- Side focus
- High magnification
- 30 mm tube
- BDC 800 reticle
- No illumination
It looks like a tactical scope. It has tactical-style exposed turrets. It even has tactical in its product name. While it seems ideally outfitted for tactical situations, it's also a good scope for hunting and personal/self-defense scenarios even without an illuminated reticle - we're just being picky because we can.
High magnification allows you to see out further and take advantage of your caliber's full potential for long-range accuracy. With 4-16x power, you'll appreciate the side focus feature to achieve a crisp, sharp sight picture and to correct for parallax.
The BDC 800 reticle is designed for heavy barrel AR platforms for .308 WIN 168 gr hollow points. With a 100-yard zero, open circles indicate 200, 400, 600, and 800 yard holdovers. The dots indicate the odd yardages of 300, 500, and 700 yards. Sporting 150 gr bullets instead? No problem. Use Nikon's Spot On Ballistic website and punch in your numbers to get exact yardages for each hashmark on the crosshair.
With a 30 mm tube, you could say it adds to the robustness and ruggedness of the scope, but it's mainly for allowing 55 MOA of adjustment travel. Turrets move in 1/4 MOA clicks with 20 MOA per revolution. Resettable turrets ensure you never lose your zero when you're dialing it in or it gets nudged out of place.
This scope is tacti-cool in many ways, but it has more value to the buyer when you recognize it as a quality, multi-purpose optic that can satisfy almost any need you have.
7. Best Scope for AR 10 Carbine - Burris MTAC 1-4x24
Did your red dot sight die on you and you're looking for a low power variable optic (LPVO)? The MTAC is a high-quality optic that will introduce you to the benefits of using a scope over a gun sight for everything from CQB, patrol use, and even hunting. Sporting a carbine short barreled rifle? Not a problem. The MTAC scope is a perfect option for your setup.
- 30 mm tube
- Illuminated reticle
- Ballistic CQ reticle
- Multi-purpose scope
- Reticle illumination issues
Many tactical scopes feature illuminated reticles, especially the low power ones designed for duty, combat, and close quarter use. The Ballistic CQ reticle on this MTAC features illumination with 10 brightness settings and intermittent "off" positions to rapidly get on target at close range and in low light conditions. Illumination is easily controlled with the side rotary dial and is powered with a CR2032 battery.
A circular center and BDC dots that calibrate with 7.62 cartridges will push your holdover limits out to 600 yards. However, the illumination has presented problems for a very small handful of owners ranging from not working at all to being prone to fail. Burris does acknowledge this is a defective issue and it's covered under their Forever Warranty.
The overall design and CQ reticle is specifically designed for 3-gun competition, military, and law enforcement applications, but varmint (including coyote hunters) and even big game hunters find it's an ideal, multi-purpose scope to have mounted to their AR-10.
With a 30 mm tube, you'll have 130 MOA of adjustment travel to get zeroed in and dial out with 1/2 MOA click adjustments. The build quality has said to be that of a tank, as buyers have put it, and it may be on the heavy side for a 1-4x weighing in at 14.5 ounces. However, for an optic of this quality, it's right in range with other rifle scopes.
Guess what else? It's also compatible with AR night vision devices if you're a nighttime varmint hunter, on a stake-out, or prepping for a home defense situation. Come on over to the MTAC LPV side of things whether you're sporting a short barrel carbine rifle or a full-length AR platform.
8. Best AR-10 Scope for the Money - TRUGLO Tru-Brite 30 Series 1-6X24
Those switching out from red dot, prism, and holo sights to variable power scopes may be looking to stay with low magnification as they want a few more versatile advantages in their scope and rifle setup. The Tru-Brite scope offers that with its popular 1-6x power range and a price that comes in under 200 bucks.
- Illuminated center dot
- 30 mm tube
- .308 turret
- Dual illumination
- Blurry at max power
What are the advantages of the 1-6x scope? You have extended shooting range and the ability to zoom in on a target as needed without giving up your ability to achieve ultra-fast engagement in close quarters.
The illuminated center dot reticle is similar to that in a red dot or prism gunsight, but it also features crosshairs and bullet-drop/windage holdover dots. What else? You also have dual illumination between red and green to suit your preferences and light conditions.
The kicker in making it a great option for your .308 AR-10 is that it comes with a .308 (168 gr) pre-calibrated turret designed to help you reach out to 800 yards. Zooming in on your targets at such long-range distances might be a little tricky as it's been said that image quality gets blurry at max magnification beyond 4x.
The included turrets aren't the only bonus kicker in the buy, you'll also get 30 mm rings/mount to quickly get setup. No need to buy extra parts with this Tru-Brite scope.
Although this setup is heavy, approx. 2 lbs, you can blame the 30 mm tube, illumination dial, power throw lever, and the included mount. So, is it blame or credit that's due? All these features may be worth the weight for the price. We guess a "thank you" is in order.
What to Look for in a Good AR 10 Scope
You want to focus on the features that really matter - quality and price tag. You can always spend as excessively as you want, but will the scope be the right choice for your AR? Are you strapped for cash but don't want to compromise on scope options? As is always the case, choosing the best AR 10 scope can be a balancing act between performance, needs versus wants, and a realistic budget. So, look to scope quality to help determine how much you want or must fork out.
When we say "quality," we want you to consider the appropriate amount of magnification you'll need: more isn't always better. Weight and size may hinder your ability to shoot or travel for extended periods of time. The most appropriate reticle and turret system for you may be simpler than what you think you "want." Here's our 2 cents on what you should look for.
AR10 Scope Features to Consider
This happens to be the make-it or break-it factor that you'll need to consider. The budget you set may very well determine overall quality, brand, and optical performance of the scope. Choosing the best one may almost always test your budget limits, but it's important to choose the right tool for the job. When determining your budget, evaluate your application needs, shooting/hunting style, and what you expect out of your AR scope.
An AR-10 certainly has the capability to reach out further and more aggressively than its AR-15 counterpart, so magnification needs are largely going to be dependent on what cartridge you're using and what your application is. Low variable power of 1-4x and 1-6x is popular for those primarily looking for close quarter, close to mid-range, and ultra-fast target acquisition benefits.
Going higher in power allows shooters to stretch the distance for long-range shooting and hunting. 3-9x is a popular hunting power range, but you can also take things further with 4-16x if your hunting needs vary from small targets at faraway distances to varmint and big game hunting.
AR-10s can be lightweight compared to the wood stock builds of conventional hunting rifles. You don't necessarily want to weigh down this system with a heavy scope that makes it a burden to trek the field or surveil the property with for long periods of time.
If you're not setting up your rifle for benchrest shooting at the range or anything like that, consider weights around 24 ounces and less to compliment your shooting style and AR platform. Many scopes come in around 16 ounces and our lightest scope in the lineup comes in at less than 10 ounces!
Illumination - not a priority for many hunters but can be a must-have feature if you're planning on being out in low light conditions. Illumination also raises the need to depend on batteries for a power source, and you may want to keep this in mind as it can fail you or may require you to carry extra batteries. There's also the option of fiber optic illumination on scopes like on this Trijicon ACOG.
You'll also want to consider reticle style. Red dots, crosshairs, and bullet drop compensating reticles serve their purpose. Consider what you plan on using your scope for. Are you planning on dialing in for long range shots? Will you holdover for most of your shots? Is close-range, fast acquisition shooting more applicable?
Scope Build Quality:
Depending on how hot your load is, you could have some kick in your AR 10 even though they have components to reduce recoil. However, handling recoil is a subjective matter, and regardless of how much your shoulders can personally handle, your scope has to be durable and reliable. The best scope for AR 10 setups must handle multiple, repeated shots, keep zero, and be robust enough to stay out when the weather turns. Being brand-specific can help to ensure you're buying a scope that will stand up to the abuse you intend to put it through.
No matter how much research you do, there are some scopes that just might end up being duds. Having a money back guarantee, quality warranty coverage, and an acceptable return window can help to protect your buy and budget. Nearly all scopes come with a limited lifetime warranty, but the best warranties will be owner transferable, unlimited lifetime coverage, no proof of purchase required, and no questions/excuses/hassle guaranteed. Repairs and replacements should also be free of charge when qualifying coverage is approved.
Buying a Riflescope for an AR-10: Hard or as Easy as You Make it!
Building your own AR-10 can be something of an art-form. As parts get cheaper, cartridge options are expanding, and scope options allow for AR-10 versatility in various applications, it explains why you're scoping the market for the best buy.
Thanks to flat top uppers and Picatinny rails, mounting a scope on your AR is a non-issue. The hard work lies in picking the right scope for you. Weigh up the options against your budget, shooting style and needs, and overall functionality of your rifle. When you put as much effort into your scope buy as you did when you bought your fully assembled AR or built it yourself, you can't go wrong in choosing the best scope for AR 10!