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Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40 Riflescope Review (Drop Zone 223 Reticle)

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Got an AR-15 in .223 Rem?

Why not get a scope made specifically for that setup?

That’s what the Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40 scope is.

With a wide power range, good glass, and side focus, you can shoot a little further and stay out a little longer.

If you’re concerned about cost, cast your worries aside.

It’s one of the best AR scopes under $200 you can buy and is definitely a worthwhile scope for your AR-15.

Designed for the AR. Affordable. Long-range.

Is that your kind of scope?

Quick Overview...

What We Like: Value

What We Don’t Like: Large BDC dots

Best Uses: Big Game Hunting, Small Game Hunting, Target Shooting, Tactical Use, Close to Long-Range, Light to Heavy Caliber Rifles, Parallax

  • Magnification: 4.5-18x
  • Objective Diameter: 40mm
  • Coatings: FMC
  • FOV: 22-5.5 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief: 3.6”
  • Adjustments: 0.1 MIL
  • Dimensions: 12”/19.4 oz

Our Verdict: The AR Optics 4.5-18x40 is an excellent example of great value for the money. It has some decent features that makes it a value buy but also performs as expected, if not better, for hunters and steel busters out to 500 yards. For an optic made for the AR that doesn’t even cost a small fortune, the Bushnell AR scope is a fitting scope for the job and budget.

Who is the Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18X40 Best Suited to?

There are plenty of scopes that will do the AR-15 justice. But when you’re on a budget and have less than a couple hundred bucks to spend, you should check out what Bushnell has to offer.

They have a specific line of scopes for MSR platforms, respectively, the AR Optics series. The 4.5-18x40 model has a very wide power range, exposed turrets, and mil adjustments. It might just be the type of scope you need this hunting season or range match especially if you don’t have the luxury of spending more.

How Does the Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18X40 Perform?

YouTube video

The AR Optics 4.5-18x40 is a really good scope under $200. For the money, you have quite the amount of scope on your rifle. Like many budget and entry-level options, the scope has a plethora of features that tends to spread quality a little thin, but for the most part, it performs exceptionally well.

Given that it’s a second focal plane scope (SFP), the BDC reticle is only good at max power. This is a very high power that is unrealistic for most people to sit in. But, if you’re shooting steel and hunting big game, it will do the job.

The turret action is accurate enough to get 1 MOA groups at max distances. You’ll have enough MIL travel to get zeroed in at 100 yards and make use of the 500 and 600-yard marks on the Drop Zone reticle.

As far as glass quality, this specific model doesn’t feature anything real fancy. It has FMC coatings and UltraWide Band Coatings. This seems to do the job well for low-light shooting even out to a few hundred yards, but of course, it does mean cranking down the power to acquire good sight.

The AR Optics scope is an entry-level, long-range scope made for the AR-15. Whatever you’re shooting, you’ll have fun with it. The best part about it, it’s affordable.  

Features & Benefits

Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40 scope side on
Image Credit - Bushnell


The 4.5-18x40 model within the AR Optics series is one of the most popular scopes from the Bushnell line. Most buyers report positive reviews about its feature-packed value for the low price.

The AR Optics scope was made for ARs and also sports some tactical flair with its large, exposed turrets and included throw levers. However, it’s also outfitted for hunting and anything that you’d use a scope for. It’s IPX7 rated for complete fog and waterproof protection to keep you in the hunt longer, and the reticle allows for up to 600-yard holdovers.

With a side focus, fast focus eyepiece, wide magnification range, and mil adjustments, this AR Optics scope is a crowd-pleaser in both cost and performance.

Drop Zone-223 Reticle

Drop Zone 223 reticle on the AR Optics 4.5-18x40 scope
Image Credit - Bushnell

The DZ-223 reticle is specifically calibrated for the 223 Rem/5.56mm NATO with 55-62 grain ammo. In other words, it’s definitely made for the AR-15.

The Drop Zone-223 reticle features a clean BDC-style reticle with holdover dots down the elevation crosshair for up to 500 yards. The tip of the post marks the 600-yard mark.

It’s designed to be zeroed at 100 yards, and with the reticle in the SFP, it will only be accurate at max (18x) power. You’ll have to do a little Kentucky Windage to hold for wind.

MIL Turrets

An attractive feature for many is the mil-dot adjustments. The AR Optics scope features exposed, large MIL target turrets. They move in 0.1 MIL increments and have 6 MILs per revolution with a total of 18 MIL elevation and windage travel.

The turrets track well and allow for tight groups up to 600 yards. This is pretty consistent with the 18 MIL of adjustment with a .223. While the turrets have some tacti-cool appeal, the elevation turret lacks a zero stop and does not lock. However, you can reset zero by aligning the 0 with the index mark for your 100-yard zero.

All in all, the turrets work well, are accurate, and perform for hunting and busting steel at mid to long ranges. They may be a little spongy, but they don’t hinder performance, and it’s within acceptable quality for the price.

While you may hear of the AR Optics scopes coming with a multi-turret feature, this specific model lacks the additional turrets in the box. The additional turrets are specifically calibrated for various loads and are included with the Multi-Turret and Illuminated Multi-Turret versions.

Throw Down PCL Levers

Specs of AR Optics 4.5-18x40 scope
Image Credit - Bushnell

The PCL stands for Power Change Lever, also called a throw lever. With an SFP reticle and for fast adaption of any circumstance, it’s a convenient bonus to have included throw levers in the box.

Usually typical of tactical-style scopes, the AR Optics 4.5-18x comes with a long throw lever for rapid use and a short throw lever. The scope comes with the short PCL already installed but unscrew it and you can switch it out for the long lever.

Tip: While there doesn’t seem to be any issue with them coming loose during recoil, a little Loctite can help keep them secure.


Large BDC Dots

The BDC dots on the reticle have said to be a little large at max range for small targets like prairie dogs. If you’re hunting large game, the BDC dots will do the job, but they will most likely obscure small targets when you’ve cranked up the zoom at beyond 400 yards or so.

Unfortunately, Bushnell doesn’t provide any MOA sizes for the dots. You could assume that they’re about 1 MOA in size. 

For the most part, there isn’t much complaint about the reticle, but if you’re hunting big game or hitting steel at long-range, the BDC dot size should be of little consequence.  

Popular Questions

How Close can you Adjust the Parallax Down on the Bushnell AR Optics Scope?

The side focus can be adjusted down to 10 yards at its closest distance. It can be focused for 10 yards to infinity.

What is the Tube Size of the AR Optics 4.5-18x40 Scope?

The tube size of the Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40 rifle scope is 1”. You will need 1” rings, and ring height will vary depending on your setup and preferences.

Are the BDC Multi-Turrets Included with the Bushnell AR Optics Scope?

The AR Optics 4.5-18x40 scope is the standard model that comes with the Drop Zone-223 reticle and standard mil turrets. It does not include the extra BDC multi-turrets.

To acquire the extra .308 Win, .224 Valkyrie, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .223 Rem turrets, you would need to purchase the AR Optics 4.5-18x40 Multi-Turret version.

Can the Bushnell AR 4.5-18x40 be Used with an AR-10?

The scope can be used with almost any rifle as far as recoil goes, and it can be used with any rifle regardless of the calibrated .223 reticle.

Holdovers will be different for your caliber, but this can be worked around if you want to use the AR Optics scope with your AR 10 in 7.62mm or .308, or any other rifle.

What Type of Warranty does the Bushnell AR Optics Rifle Scope Have?

The AR Optics rifle scope is covered under Bushnell’s Ironclad Warranty. You do not need to provide proof of purchase or register the scope to claim coverage. It is fully transferable and lasts for a lifetime, which in Bushnell’s terms means product lifetime of 30 years.


The AR Optics 4.5-18x40 DZ-223 is not a marksman’s scope, but it is a scope that allows you to get some distance, adjust for parallax, and go hunting big game or hitting steel at the range.

Its extra features such as exposed turrets, mil adjustments, and side focus gives it value and feature-packed performance. While there are many who would love to own a more expensive scope, the cheaper ones often do better because it’s a realistic price point for what a real shooter will pay.

The AR Optics scope should be at the top of your shortlist if you’re on a budget, want brand-name gear, and performance that outdoes its price point.  

Further Reading

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Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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2 thoughts on “Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40 Riflescope Review (Drop Zone 223 Reticle)”

    • Hi Trevor. I haven't handled these in person but I found some info for you. I believe these have a 1.848" diameter objective bell. You'd need the Butler Creek size #25/26/27 (32527). For the eyepiece, it's 1.779", so you'd need size #19/20 (21920). These are the Butler Creek MultiFlex Flip-Open covers. I'd recommend measuring the objective & ocular bells before ordering first though. Tina.


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