Buying good-quality scopes for your AR15 doesn’t mean that you have to burn a hole in your pocket. Expensive is not always the best, nor is it always the most suitable.
Scopes are generally used for long-range shooting and hunting. The essence of this article is to explain you the factors of choosing an appropriate scope for your AR15. We’ll also talk about the best AR 15 scopes within the price range of 200 dollars. So let’s begin.
Quick Take: Top 3 AR-15 Scopes Under $200
Here are our top 3 recommendations for the top AR-15 scopes under $200
Keep reading the article for a more in-depth look at these scopes as well as our review on them.
Can I Really Get A Good Scope Under $200
The answer is yes! Exorbitant price is not always a prerequisite for finding a good riflescope. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be the finest on the market, but it will do the job.
There are many factors to consider before buying a suitable riflescope. It is true that high-quality products are priced high, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find a decent product at a lower price.
Since you are reading this article, chances are that you need a good AR scope for hunting. Let’s take a look at some factors which make a scope expensive and if they’re worth it for your needs:
You really don’t need a very complex scope for taking down deer at a range of probably less than 150 yards. Complex scopes tend to be a bit less durable. Moreover, they require special attention and extra care.
Scopes with higher magnification - once you get around 12x - are likely to cost much more. For scopes selling below $200, you’ll have to compromise the upper range of the magnification power.
However, this depends on your needs. For deer hunting at a couple hundred yards, you really don’t need a scope with power more than 10x for hunting deer. Sure, your optics will set you back more if you’re hoping to target smaller animals or targets at a longer range.
Reticles or crosshairs are an important consideration when purchasing a scope. So obviously they don’t fit in this budget range. While reticles can provide a lot of help for shooting, you can make do with the basics.
Features like thermal imaging or night vision can cost you an arm and a leg. That’s going to be out of your budget. And while night shooting can bring its own thrills, it’s not an area you’ll be able to get a discount price for.
Apart from all this, there are several other factors to be considered before buying a scope. But you can rest assured because there are basic scopes that won’t cost that much, and will still get the job done.
Will I Have To Settle For A Low-end Scope?
Objective Lens Size
To meet your budget, you’ll have to compromise on the objective lens size. A large lens lets in more light which in turn produces a brighter and sharper image. It also carries a heftier price tag.
First focal plane scopes are a bit costlier than second focal plane scopes. In FFP scopes the reticle grows along with the increasing magnification of the scope. But in an SFP scope, the reticle stays the same in size irrespective of the magnification. FFP scopes are more costly than SFP. So this means you’ll almost certainly be looking at second focal plane scopes in this price range.
As already discussed, you will have to settle for the magnifying power of your scope. You cannot expect to get a good 12x plus scope with a price cap of $200
There are many different types of reticles available in the market. They range from illuminated reticles, AOC, red dot, MARS, BDC, Duplex, Mil dots and more. Reticles are generally made from thin wires but some are etched on glass in some scopes. Those tend to be more expensive. With a $200 scope, you’re not going to get tritium illumination and rangefinding, either.
Pros of Cheaper Scopes
It’s clear that there are certain things you just have to sacrifice at this price level. But to make it more palatable, let’s look at some positives of scopes within this range.
A small tube diameter means smaller components and a less bulky scope. Expensive scopes tend to have larger components and more functions which adds to their weight. It’s not universally applicable, but it’s a general principle, at least.
Wider Field of View
Lower magnification means a wider field of view. This means you can aim over your target substantially over long ranges with precision.
Quick Comparison Chart of Best AR-15 Scopes Under $200
Vortex Optics Strikefire 2
Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223
Simmons 8 Point 3-9x50 Scope
Nikon P-223 3-9x40 Scope
UTG 3-9x32 Bugbuster Scope
Reviews of the Best Scopes Under $200 for the AR-15
Now that we’ve given guidance on what you can get, let’s get down to the specifics about some of the best rifle scopes under $200.
This is probably the most feature-packed rifle scope for your AR-15 within the price range of $200. The scope has a red/green dot sight reticle with a 12-hour auto-shutdown feature to maximize battery life. The battery life can range from 300 - 6000 hours at max and minimum brightness settings, respectively.
The non-critical eye relief provides quick target acquisition. The scope is somewhat night vision compatible, complementary to several settings. The scope comes with a ⅓ co-witness cantilever mount for concurrent use of iron sights. The illuminated 4 MOA dot holds zero under the most rigorous use. If you need the best AR 15 scope for the money, this should be your first choice.
Bushnell doesn’t need an introduction when it comes to optics. This scope, as the name suggests, features a Drop Zone 223 reticle calibrated for 55-62 grain 5.56NATO & .223 REM with aiming points out to 500 yards.
The scope has a 3-9x magnification with a 40mm objective lens with fully multi-coated optics for a brighter image. The scope also has a wide field of view which lets you track and aim at your target and surroundings precisely.
The target turrets let you adjust the windage, elevation and MOA(¼) with acute measurements. The drop zone reticle prevents repetitive adjustments of the MOA values so you don’t have to readjust the turret every now and then. This is one of our top three choices among the best AR 15 scopes under $200 outlined here.
A masterpiece from Simmons, this scope is an amazing choice for the money. The large 50mm objective lens lets more light into the scope, creating a brighter high-contrast image of the target.
The QTA eyepiece allows quick acquisition of the target. The 8Point truplex reticle helps in quick and precise aiming. The ¼ MOA audible click target turret adjustment stays locked tight to zero under the most strenuous shooting conditions. The scope is waterproof, fog-proof and recoil-proof with a long eye relief of 3.75 inches. The Simmons 8 Point rifle scope has an amazing set of features contrary to its price.
The Nikon P-223 features a BDC-600 reticle designed specifically keeping in mind the trajectory of the .223 and 5.56 cartridges. The 100-yard parallax setting removes parallax for precise long-range shooting.
The 3-9x magnification is optimum for shooting up to 500 yards. The scope is weather-proof. It’s sealed with O-rings after being filled with nitrogen so the setup is completely shockproof. The tactical-style zero reset turrets help in zeroing in on the target quickly. It is also capable of maintaining zero, even with repeated heavy recoils.
Manufactured with high-grade polymer, the scope is sturdy enough. On top of that, the price of the Nikon P-223 scope makes it an apt choice for your AR 15 rifle.
The UTG Bugbuster scope features a 3-9x magnification range with a 32mm objective lens. This scope has a mil-dot reticle adjustment with 21 points to help you estimate the windage and elevation for the appropriate range without the need to use the turret adjustments.
It offers a parallax-free view from 3 yards to infinity. The scope has an RG(red-green) illumination feature for the reticle which can be used by turning the side focus-adjustment knob. That’s quite a rare feature in this price range.
The Bugbuster also has 2” sunshade flip-open lens caps and detachable rings for quick and easy mounting. The UTG scope has an emerald coating for maximum light transmission thus providing a brighter image. The scope is waterproof, fog proof and shock proof.
With a plethora of good rifle scopes available in the market, you have a wide variety of competitively priced scopes to choose from. $200 is not a sufficient budget if you are looking for the best and most advanced scopes for your AR-15. But there are still a lot of options for that price which will get the job done.