Best AR-15 Scopes For Hunting – 2020 Complete Buyer’s Guide

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If you’re planning to take down a deer with your AR-15 in the next hunting season, you might want to buy an appropriate scope. Choosing an apt scope for hunting is a tedious task.

A lot of factors such as position, range, weather, and terrain come into play while you aim at a musky deer sitting 100 yards away.

Today we’re going to take a look at how to choose the best AR-15 scope for hunting. We will also classify some of the best AR-15 scopes for deer hunting available on the market. So here we go.

Comparison of the Best Hunting Scopes for AR-15 Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Objective measured at 42mm.
  • Made from high-quality materials.
  • Magnification levels ranging from 3 to 15 times.
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  • One inch tube
  • Multi-coated lenses
  • Made from aluminum
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  • Compatible with .223 AR-15 rifles.
  • Magnification levels of 3 to 9 times.
  • BDC reticle included for accurate and precise shooting.
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  • Objective measured at 50mm.
  • Magnification power ranges from 3 to 9 times.
  • TrueZero adjustments for windage and elevation.
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What to Look For in a Scope For Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is probably the most common hunting session in open seasons, at least in America. The deer we are talking about here refers to smaller species like the whitetail and mule deer. Deer hunting is done at quite close ranges, usually within 200 meters. Many deer hunters say they haven’t bagged one beyond 100 yards. All those factors have to come into play when choosing a scope.

Some very prominent factors to look for when choosing an AR scope for hunting are:

Resolution

Resolution, also termed sharpness, is the ability of a lens to differentiate between two close images and show them as separate entities. In layman terms, higher resolution means sharper images. That means you’ll get to see the target as perfectly as with your naked eye. A clear image of the target lets you make a perfect target picture for a precise shot.

Objective Lens Size

The size of the objective lens determines the amount of light that enters the scope. Lenses with a large objective size allow more light to pass through, which in turn produces a brighter image. While you’re out with your AR-15 to hunt a game, lens size really comes into play at dawn and dusk, which are often the best times to find deer in the open. At these times between light and dark, you’ll want a scope that can pull in as much light as possible.

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Magnification

Magnification is the amount of enlargement your scope can provide for an image. For example, a scope with 3.5-9x magnifications means you can view an object 3.5 to 9 times closer than you can with your naked eye. Magnification is often a topic for debate among deer hunters. We’ll discuss it later as to how magnification matters when you’re shooting a deer only 100 yards away.

Sturdiness

It’s not very likely that you’re going to find a whitetail lingering around in your backyard - or at least you’re not going to shoot it there. You have to carry your equipment and rifle into the woods across uneven terrain and facing tough weather conditions.

A good scope must also hold zero in all conditions. You should make sure that the scope of your AR-15 is quite sturdy as well as being waterproof and fog proof. A sturdy scope is quite effective and no doubt goes a long way.

Quick Take - The Best AR-15 Scopes For Hunting

These are our recommendations for the best AR-15 hunting scopes:

  1. SWFA SS 3-15x42 Tactical Rifle Scope
  2. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223
  3. Simmons 8 Point 3-9x50mm Scope

Review of the Best AR-15 Scopes For Hunting

Now that we know what to look for, let’s take a look at some of the finer scopes available.

SWFA SS 3-15x42 Tactical Rifle Scope FFP Mil Quad Reticle 1/10 Mil Adjustments SS315X42MQ

Pros

  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Large eye relief of 4.2 - 3.8cms
  • Wide field of view 2.4m - 10.6m
  • Wide 3x -15x range of magnification
  • Precise adjustment knobs

Cons

  • No illumination
  • Doesn’t have locking turrets
  • Best value for the money but still has a high price

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of buyers for this scope were quite satisfied and for a few good reasons. First off, they were able to look through the scope and see the high-quality images. They also reported that it helped boost their AR-15 accuracy considerably. One user said that this scope allowed him to reach out and touch his target from about 1000 yards out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle was built for long-range hunting. Even better, you’ll be able to reach these distances consistently with the use of a rifle like a Creedmoor 6.5 or a similar AR-15 rifle that can go the distance. Plus, the scope is made from high-quality aluminum that protects the scope from the inside out. So if you’re looking for a scope that gets the job done and keeps the zero settings intact through a few hundred rounds, this scope will be worth the investment.

With a large 42mm objective lens and 3x-15x zoom, the SWFA tactical rifle scope tops our list. The wide 3x - 15x magnification power makes it adaptable to long as well as short-range sighting of targets. The 6m side parallax adjustment lets the shooter change and spot a moving target.

This is an amazing scope for the money because of its wide range of features. The scope also features a first focal plane which enlarges the size of the ‘mil-quad’ reticle while you zoom in on your target. The scope has a beautiful black matte finish which complements the appearance of any rifle. It is 100% waterproof, shockproof and fog proof so you can use it under harsh weather conditions.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be an excellent scope for deer hunters that will utilize a high-powered, long-distance rifle. Nothing is more exciting than the thrill of bagging your trophy-sized target from an excellent distance. How far you can go is entirely up to you, but if you want to achieve a feat that most of your fellow hunters may not be able to do, this scope will give you a hand with that.

Bottom Line

The SWFA SS 3-15x42 Tactical Rifle Scope is the must-have scope for the long-range hunter. If you’re one of those who want to go as far as possible with an AR-15 out in the field, you might need a scope like this to make sure that you’re hitting your targets consistently. 

Bushnell Optics, Drop Zone BDC Reticle Riflescope with Target Turrets and Side Parallax, Matte Black, 3-9x/40mm

Pros

  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Drop zone 223 BDC reticle
  • Target turrets for quick adjustments
  • Durable and lightweight aluminum casing
  • Holds zero very well

Cons

  • Second focal plane
  • A bit heavier than its counterparts

What Recent Buyers Report 

This scope is insanely accurate, according to most users. They were quite impressed with the BDC reticle allowing them to shoot accurate and precise shots from as far out as 500 yards out. Aside from the accuracy, they were also happy with the image quality being high-definition even at some magnification levels. Most of these users were deer and varmint hunters that were looking for a scope that allowed for consistently accurate shooting.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Bushnell is one of the major names that most hunters have long trusted when it comes to riflescopes. They are probably one of the most reliable names on the market. This scope lives up to the Bushnell name by providing excellent image quality, sharp and accurate shooting, and easy adjustments for windage and elevation. Simply put, it is the hunting scope that sets the standards that some others will fall short on.

Bushnell is a revered manufacturer of optics and has no doubt found a place on our list. The Drop Zone .223 AR15 rifle scope features a drop-zone reticle with a magnification of 3-9x. The objective lens diameter is 40mm which allows a good amount of light to pass through, providing a clear image. The scope has target turrets for precise adjustments. The drop-zone reticle allows you to take long-distance shots without making any adjustments. The fully multicoated optics provide maximum accuracy and reliability. The quick side focus parallax adjustment lets you aim precisely over a non-stable target.

Who Will Use This Most

This rifle will reach as far out as 500 yards, but it can be a useful hunting scope regardless of what kind of game you’re targeting. If you want something that is reliable and lives up to its reputation of being a true hunting scope for an AR-15, the Bushnell AR Optic Drop Zone BDC Reticle riflescope will certainly exceed your standards every time you use it.

Bottom Line

If you want a scope that will work with many AR-15 rifles and stand out as one of the most reliable and dependable scopes for any hunting application, this Bushnell scope might just be right up your alley. Once installed, you’ll probably never want anything different from this scope. 

Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope with Truplex Reticle

Pros

  • Weatherproof
  • Lightweight (13.2oz)
  • Perfect for an AR-15
  • Multi-coated optics
  • Large objective lens

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with scope rings for mounting
  • Short eye relief (not for powerful rifles like Mosin Nagant)

What Recent Buyers Report

There were a few good reasons why the buyers of this scope were happy. One of the major things that they liked was the TrueZero adjustments. They were able to make easy adjustments and were still able to use the scope knowing that the resets to zero were easy without ever having to sight the scope in again. One user said it was “set it and forget it”. Accuracy wise, the distance that most shooters were able to hit their targets was as far out as 400 to 500 yards. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

It’s an easy to adjust scope that will take a few minutes to sight in. Once it’s ready to go, you’ll be able to use it for hunting varmint, small game, and even big game like whitetail deer. On top of the ease of use, it’s one of the more affordable AR-15 hunting scopes on the market. Like with most high-quality scopes, it’s durable and can withstand a good amount of shock and bad weather. 

This Simmons 8 Point scope will be light on your pocket while serving all the features of a good deer-hunting scope for your AR-15 rifle. The scope has a 3-9x magnification with a 50mm objective lens diameter which is more than you need for obtaining a crisp and clear target image. The precise eyepiece allows quick target acquisition even at magnified distances.

The sure grip audible target turret adjustments let you hear the MOA clicks. The truplex reticle is apt for shooting whitetails and mule deer at short distances. The 3-9x magnification is good for dense forests and bush stalking.

A matte-black finish enhances the looks of the scope and the sturdy aluminum body keeps the components compact and safe.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be used for general hunting purposes. It may be best used for deer hunting the most since it can help you reach out and touch targets from quite a ways away. Besides, bigger targets at long range are a lot easier to hit than smaller targets. If you want something that will give you good clean (and accurate) shooting from a good distance, you’d be hard-pressed to find a scope like this.

Bottom Line

The Simmons 8-Point Scope is a simple AR-15 rifle scope that has its uses. If you’re looking for a hunting scope with an impressive reticle that will deliver precise shooting and easy to adjust settings that will stay in place for a long time, you might just consider this your scope of choice for the long term. 

Pros

  • Easy to sight in
  • Adjustments are quite easy
  • Super durable construction
  • Offers precise and accurate shooting
  • Great for hunting and target shooting
  • Large objective lens
  • Sturdy and weatherproof
  • Long eye relief (3.7” - 4.2”)
  • Lightweight (11.2 oz or 0.7 pounds)
  • Lockable eyepiece for precise target acquisition

Cons

  • Second Focal Plane
  • No illumination for shooting at night

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new users were quite satisfied with this scope. They installed the scope in just a few minutes and used this for hunting and target shooting purposes. One user said that his zero settings stayed the same after more than 300 rounds.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Leupold scope is known for being really durable. Not to mention, it’s considered one of the more higher-end brands. The image clarity is quite sharp. So you have a combination of sturdiness and clarity in one scope.

Leupold scopes are used by a wide range of people ranging from hunters to law enforcement services. The 6061 T6 aluminum body is lightweight and completely waterproof and fog proof. This Leupold scope features a multi-coated 4-lens system which provides a cleaner and brighter image of the target.

It also has a duplex reticle for easy and precise aiming at the target. The 3x - 9x magnification is perfect for hunting at short ranges. The scope is backed up by a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will likely be a scope that will be heavily favored by hunters and casual target shooters. No matter what you use this for, you’ll have a scope that will definitely give you an excellent accuracy boost with whatever rifle you use.

Bottom Line

The Leupold VX2 is the kind of scope that is strong, reliable, and quite accurate. If you want a scope that will be as tough as nails and clear as a bell in image quality, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Multi-coated lenses
  • Aluminum turret caps
  • Non-magnifying plex reticle
  • Waterproof and shockproof

Cons

  • Doesn’t have illumination
  • No resettable turret, turrets can't be re-set to zero

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new buyers were reporting that this scope has some really good image quality. Plus, they were quite intrigued by the European-style design. One user said that he had to try it out because of the unique design. As it turned out, he liked it much better than one of this high profile hunting scopes. Accuracy wise, shooters were able to consistently hit targets from 300 to 400 yards out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The scope’s design looks a little unique compared to your average hunting scopes. The body is a lot slimmer and the objective is a lot wider. So, it stands out as intriguing, to say the least. However, the scope is sturdy and keeps zero settings intact after so many rounds. Plus, the finish is aesthetically sharp. If you want a scope that looks good, performs like a champ, and can be reliable in hitting targets standing out at impressive distances, you might just consider this scope your new best hunting buddy.

This amazing rifle scope from terra features a European design complemented by a non-magnifying plex reticle and a matte anodized waterproof and shockproof body. The plex reticle with bolded edges lets you zero in on animals of any size. The large 42mm objective lens gives a brighter image and the multi-coated lenses prevent any flash from reflected sunlight.

The scope also has a long eye relief of up to 9mm for easy acquisition of targets. The 3x - 9x magnification is perfect for hunting deer from bushes to densely wooded forests.

Who Will Use This Most

The scope will likely be used for varmint hunting. Since it can reach distances of 300 to 400 yards, it will serve as a really good hunting scope for those small game targets. It can be good for big game hunting as well. However, smaller targets may be harder to hit the farther out they are, but if you want a scope that can cover mid-range distances, this may be the one to go with.

Bottom Line

If you want a reliable scope with an interesting design that will turn the heads of your fellow AR-15 hunters, the Zeiss Terra Rifle Scope might be a scope that’s worth a closer look. Don’t be surprised if it turns out is just as durable and accurate as most hunting scopes.

Bigger is Better, Right?

You don’t have to shed your heart out of your pocket to buy a good scope for deer hunting. Bigger is not always better. There are certain factors which will let you decide about how to choose a good scope.

Some people might suggest that high magnification scopes are always good, but that’s not really the case with deer hunting. You’re probably never going to shoot a deer far more than 200 yards, and scopes with more than 12x magnification are useless in that respect.

Moreover, you are probably not going to find deer on wide stretches of land. Deer hunting generally happens in wooded areas or other “broken up” terrain. You’re not often shooting across the wide Savannah. A high magnification scope would show you nothing more than zoomed tree trunks. You should probably stick with 3-9x scopes for hunting deer, as they will help you acquire a target picture instantly, especially if you are stalking your target in the bush.

Another important aspect to note here is the objective lens size. As we know that a larger size means a larger image, but there are a couple of contradictions in using it while deer hunting. Most deer hunting is done in daylight. While you might be out at dusk or dawn, you might not need a huge objective lens - “just enough” should do.  On top of that, larger objective lenses may reflect sunlight and the flash might scare away your target. Plus a larger objective lens is heavier and will add to the weight of your gear.

Apart from all these mentioned features, some other basic things to look for in a scope are eye relief, reticles, and minutes of angles for correcting your shooting.

Conclusion

Hunting deer is not a very long range activity (unless you are very fond of doing so). A deer hunting scope should have a modest magnification range, probably up to 12x.

The objective lens doesn’t make a huge difference but make sure the lenses of the scope are multi-coated. Mounting these scopes on your AR-15 is not a problem and it adds to your accuracy for sure. Always make sure you buy a weatherproof and durable scope for deer hunting so it doesn’t succumb to the harsh conditions.

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!