Optic Rifle Scopes have become a necessity for modern shooters. Choosing a scope for your AR-15 depends upon several factors with the most important being the range of your rifle.
The most basic type of variable rifle scopes available in the market is the 1-4x scope. Here we’ll be talking about these scopes and their effective use with your AR-15 platform. We’ll also take a look at some of the best 1x-4x scopes available on the market.
Quick Comparison Table of the Best 1-4x Scopes
Leupold VX-2 1-4×20
Nikon M-223 1-4×20
Trijicon Accupoint TR24 1-4×24
Vortex Crossfire II 1-4×24
Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24mm
What Is A 1-4x Scope?
What are these numbers and what do they mean? If you are a novice with optic scopes, these numbers define the magnifying power of a scope. Magnification refers to the number of times an object can be viewed closer or enlarged. A 1x scope provides one times the magnifying power, a 2x provides two times the magnifying power and so on. This means that with a 2x scope, you can view an object that appears to be two times closer than its present position.
Scopes can have fixed or variable magnifying power. With fixed power scopes, you can attain only a fixed magnifying power while viewing through them. A variable scope offers a wide range of magnifying powers. For example, in a 1x-4x scope, you can attain magnification of 1x, 1.5x, 2x, 2.3x, so on and so forth to a maximum of 4x magnification. Variable scopes are good for taking shots at different distances and for different target sizes.
Another important aspect of an optic scope is the objective lens diameter. For example, if a scope is marked as 1-4 x 24mm, then 24 is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. The objective lens is in the front and is the aperture where the light enters the scope. A larger objective lens means more light will enter the scope, which in turn will generate a brighter and clearer image.
Other important factors are the reticles and the focal plane of a scope. A reticle was simply known as a ‘crosshair’ some decades ago, until the advent of the latest, more technically-advanced crosshairs known as reticles. Ranging from Duplex and BDC to mil-dots and illuminated ones, there are numerous reticle types available in the market.
Another important aspect is the focal plane. There are FFP(First Focal Plane) and SFP(Second Focal Plane) scopes available in the market. The basic difference among these is that, while you zoom over the target, the reticle size increases respective to the target in an SFP scope, whereas in an FFP, it does not. SFP scopes are without a doubt amazing for long-range shooting.
One very minor and often overlooked factor to check for in a scope are the target turrets. These turrets have knobs to make adjustments for windage and elevation for long-range shooting. Before buying a scope, you must ensure that target turrets are accurate, easy to use and audible (if that’s available in your price range).
Why Use A 1-4x Scope?
Since we are talking about adding 1-4x scopes to the AR-15, let’s look at some of the reasons this combination makes sense.
Teach The Basics
When a novice learns shooting, the trainer has to explain the fundamentals and basic techniques. A 1x-4x scope is an appropriate choice for teaching anyone about long-range shooting. Of course, here we just mean “longer range than you can handle with the naked eye”.
The AR-15 proves to be an excellent rifle for teaching people to shoot with centerfire rifles. A 1-4x scope ensures that proper basics of shooting through scopes are learned without letting them get bogged down in the more complex adjustments of higher-range scopes
Range Of The Rifle
According to the instruction manual, the effective range of an AR-15 rifle is 550 meters (600 yards). Remember, this is the effective range. If you are shooting heavier subsonic rounds or using bull barrels, you can achieve another 100 - 200 meters, but that’s when you are an expert shooter. A 1-4x scope is quite effective in the normal range, giving you a clear shot at different distances.
Hunting In The Woods
The AR-15 rifles are among the most-loved rifles for hunting in North America. The silent recoil, weight, powerful ammo and easy operation make it a great tool for hunting. If you’ve been on hunting trips (especially for whitetails and mule deer), you might be aware that high magnification scopes are next to useless in dense woods. That’s because once you try higher magnification, all you’ll see will be magnified tree trunks with beetles on them.
1-4x optic scopes offer optimum magnification for quick acquisition of targets over varied distances. Scopes with higher magnifying powers are quite difficult to adjust and you have to struggle to create a perfect sight-picture at short distances. 1-4x scopes offer quick adjustments in line with the range of your AR-15 rifle.
More power means larger lenses, more components and thus a heavier scope. A 1-4x optic scope has a comparatively smaller objective lens, small main tube, and fewer components. This helps reduce its weight, meanwhile keeping it effective at the shorter distances you’ll probably be shooting with your AR-15.
Reviews Of The Best 1-4x Scopes For The AR-15
Let’s take a quick look at some of the best low magnification scopes that’ll mount on your AR-15.
The Leupold VX-2 scope has a variable magnification of 1x - 4x. The 20mm objective lens is large enough to let a good amount of light enter the scope at ranges respective to the scope’s power.
The index-matched lens system and lead-free glass offer a brighter image. A custom dial system lets you adjust the ¼ MOA windage and elevation easily with your fingers. The scope is fully waterproof and the tube is filled with argon/krypton to make it shockproof and durable. The click adjustments let you keep track of the windage and elevation without removing your eye from the ergonomic aperture.
The scope weighs only 8.1 ounces and has a long eye relief of 3.7 - 4.2 inches. This Leupold VX2 scope also features a Second Focal Plane Duplex reticle to let you take precise shots over a long distance.
- Second Focal Plane Duplex Reticle
- Fogproof, Waterproof and Shockproof
- Click adjustments
- Leupold Lifetime Guarantee
- Doesn’t have a zero stop
- No holdover reticle
- No Sunshade
A masterpiece from Nikon, the M223 has been specifically designed to fit your AR-15. The 1-4x scope features a 20mm objective lens which creates bright images for the effective range of an AR-15. The wide field of view and point-blank reticle provide quick and effortless target acquisition. The patented ultra-clear-coat optical system provides an incredibly flat sight picture and maximum light transmission.
The elevated target turrets offer precise ½ MOA adjustment for windage and elevation. Nikon’s eye box technology offers a constant 4” eye relief. The single-piece main body construction is nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed. The scope is waterproof, shock-proof and fog-proof.
- Enhanced ring mount spacing. Can be attached to any rifle including magnums
- Eye box technology with a constant 4” eye relief
- Point Blank Reticle
- Single Piece durable main body
- Weighs 13 ounces, which is a bit more than its counterparts
The Trijicon Accupoint TR24 optical rifle scope has a 1-4x magnification with a large 24mm objective lens. The scope features a tri-dot illuminated reticle which does not require batteries to operate. The fiber-optic technology automatically adjusts the illumination of the reticle (this is available with a manual override option).
The tritium phosphor lamp illuminates the reticle in low to no light. The illuminated reticle does not project any light through the front objective lens. Sealed in a high-grade aluminum casing, the multi-coated lenses provide superior clarity with zero distortion.
- Illuminated Triangle Reticle with SFP
- Battery-free Operation due to tritium phosphor lamp
- Auto-adjustment of the illumination with manual override as well
- Aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Zero Forward Emission
- A bit heavier than its counterparts(14 ounces)
The Vortex Crossfire II riflescope features multicoated lenses for acquiring a clean and clear target image. The scope has been sealed with inert gases to keep it fog-proof, shock-proof and waterproof under harsh weather conditions. The anodized aircraft-grade aluminum body makes the scope durable and apt for hunting trips.
The fast-focus eyepiece, complemented by an illuminated center-dot reticle. allows quick and easy target acquisition. The elevated target turrets allow re-indexing of the turret to zero after sighting in the riflescope. The scope is backed by an unlimited lifetime warranty by Vortex. Exceptional for 3-gun competitions.
- Illuminated Reticle
- Dot reticle with Duplex Crosshairs
- Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
- Fast-focus eyepiece and long eye relief
- Backed by an unlimited lifetime warranty
- Heavy (16 ounces)
- Effective with live batteries only
As the name suggests, this scope from Bushnell has been designed exclusively for the AR-15. Fully multi-coated optics provide incredible brightness to the sight picture. The Drop Zone 223 BDC reticle has caliber-specific markings and aiming points out to 500 yards to shoot every bullet with pinpoint accuracy.
- Quality Construction
- Multi-coated optics
- BDC 223 Ballistic Reticle
- Excellent eye-relief
- Best value for the money
- Comparatively Heavy
- Reticles not illuminated
Relative to the range of an AR-15, 1-4x scopes are an apt choice for taking short, mid- and long-range shots. Factors such as magnification, objective lens size, focal plane and reticles affect the effectiveness of a scope.
1-4x scopes have a wide field of view (FOV) and are easily adjustable, making them great for hunting and 3 gun competitions. Illuminated reticles may or may not be a concern while choosing 1-4x scopes because of your hunting habits and law regulations. By far, 1-4x scopes are perfect for your AR-15 if you’re not really looking to go sniping.