The Best AR-15 Scopes Under $200 – Find the Best Budget Scope

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 to 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 Comparison Chart of Best AR-15 Scopes Under $200

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Vortex Optics Strikefire 2

  • Best overall AR-15 scope.
  • Red/green illuminated reticle.
  • Max Windage and Elevation Adjustment of 100 MOA.
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Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223

  • Magnification of 3 to 9 times.
  • Fit for .223 caliber AR-15 rifles.
  • Drop-zone BDC reticle included.
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Simmons 8 Point 3-9x50 Scope

  • Includes a 50mm objective.
  • The magnification power of 3 to 9 times.
  • Multi-coated lens for better light gathering in low-light conditions.
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Nikon P-223 3-9x40 Scope

  • 40mm objective.
  • Compatible with .223 rifles.
  • The magnification power of 3 to 9 times.
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UTG 3-9x32 Bugbuster Scope

  • 32mm objective.
  • Parallax setting of 3 yards to infinity.
  • The magnification power of 3 to 9 times.
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Can I Really Get a Good Scope Under $200

The answer is yes! Exorbitant price is not always a prerequisite for finding a good rifle scope. 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 rifle scope. 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:

Complexity

You really don’t need a very complex scope for taking down deer at a range of less than 150 yards. Complex scopes tend to be a bit less durable. Moreover, they require special attention and extra care.

Magnifying Power

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

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 due 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. 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.

Quick Take - The Best AR-15 Scopes Under $200

These are our recommendations for the best scopes under $200 for the AR-15:

  1. Vortex Optics Strikefire 2
  2. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223
  3. Simmons 8 Point 3-9x50 Scope

Reviews of the Best AR-15 Scopes Under $200

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.

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight - 4 MOA Red/Green Dot

Pros

  • Adjustments Are Easy To Use
  • Easy To Install On Most AR-15 Rifles
  • Compact in Size, It Doesn’t Take Up Too Much Room
  • Super Accurate in Both Daytime and Low-Light Conditions
  • Super Durable Construction, It Can Hold Zero Even After Multiple Amounts Of Gunfire

Cons

  • The Scope May Not Stay in Place For Some Users
  • Green Dot May Be a Little Weaker in Visibility At Times
  • Dot Might Be a Little Larger Than Expected, May Obscure Targets

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were happy with the scope. They were able to accurately shoot at targets with both color reticles. Most of them preferred red while another handful said the green reticle stood out the best. Either way, the scope allowed them to easily hit their targets from quite a ways away.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The scope is made from rugged materials to help house the scope and protect the zero settings from shock. Most of the unreliable and flimsy rifle scopes won’t even handle all that firepower multiple times. As a result, that scope’s zero setting is history. So you have the frustrating task of having to reset it again and again. With this scope, it’s zero it in and you’re good for a long time.

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This scope will have its uses among hunters and casual target shooters. Since the reticle has two colors, one of them will be effective with one light setting while another will do extremely well with little to no light period. Either way, this scope will work hard around the clock to give you reliable and accurate shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why 

The green dot can be a little brighter. Even in the brightest day time conditions, it should be bright enough for you to see it so you can continue making precisely accurate shots at any point from the target. If the lights are a little too bright, that green dot will fade or even not show up at all.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Optics Strikefire II will likely be the scope to go with if you’re planning on using it for hunting or target shooting (casual or competitive). A scope like this will never forsake you or disappoint you no matter what the time of day is.

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

Pros

  • Excellent Image Quality
  • Great For Hunting Applications
  • Excellent For Long-Range Shooting
  • Turret Adjustments Are Precise and Easy To Use
  • Super Durable, It Can Take a Lot Of Impact and Shock From Recoil

Cons

  • A Challenge To Install For Some
  • May Not Hold Zero For Some Users
  • Might Be Top-Heavy On Some AR-15 Rifles

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a good number of buyers were happy with this scope. They were looking for something that would fit perfectly with most .223 chambered AR-15 rifles. The scope was able to allow shooters to reach 300 yards and beyond. Aside from that, they were able to make adjustments rather easily for windage and elevation.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Bushnell brand is one of the more reliable names out there when it comes to scopes. But we didn’t choose it because of the name. This scope has proved it’s worth by not only being durable from the inside and out, but also proved itself to be a reliable scope in the situations where you need it the most. The reticle and crosshairs hold up pretty well and will almost guarantee you to land your shot exactly where you want it.

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will definitely be a popular choice among hunters. Especially those who are looking to bag their next deer or elk. It’s a big game scope that can provide many years of dedicated service if you take good care of it. In fact, more hunters tend to trust Bushnell more than any other scope brand on the market.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The scope can be better off with a little less weight. It can be done without having to sacrifice any quality or shock protection. After all, it is a tough scope that’s built for heavy-hitting rifles like the AR-15.

Bottom Line

If you own a .223 caliber AR-15 pistol, you’ll need a scope that will make its presence known in the hunting field. The Bushnell Drop Zone BDC Scope will be the hunting buddy you’ve been looking for. This scope is a big game hunter’s dream since it can reach some pretty impressive distances.

Best for the Money:
 Simmons 8 Point 3-9x50 Scope

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

Pros

  • Affordable For Most Budgets
  • Excellent For Most Applications
  • Sets and Holds Zero Quite Easily
  • Easy To Adjust For Windage and Elevation
  • A Very Wide Field Of View Allows For Quick Target Acquisition

Cons

  • May Not Hold Zero For Some Users
  • Adjustment Knobs Might Be Difficult To Turn For Some Users
  • The Highest Magnification Power Can Leave Image Quality Fuzzy

What Recent Buyers Report

The new users of this scope were able to find this to be not only affordable but quite usable across many applications. Most of the users were hunters, while others were using it for tactical and competition shooting applications. One user said he was able to go through about 100 rounds and still was able to hold zero. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The scope has a really large objective. Typically these scopes are reserved for long-range shooting rifles. Yes, there are some in the AR family that can go the distance. Even if you don’t have a long-range rifle, this scope definitely gives you a wide field of view with just enough real estate to see what’s in front of you. You can literally see a target from the corner of your eye.

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 8 Point 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 for its price.

Who Will Use This Most 

Hunters and competitive shooters will more likely be able to use this scope. That’s because they want something that will give them accurate shooting and allow them to reach distances that are quite impressive for these applications (specifically 200 to 400 yards at best). If you want a scope that has a decent range like that, this would be the one to go after.

What Could Be Improved and Why

While there really aren’t any improvements we can think of, we can make a suggestion about what else should be included. One thing to include with this scope should be a protective dust cover. While it is dust proof, it’s a worthy addition to have on hand so you can keep the scope nice and clean after every use.

Bottom Line

The Simmons 8 Point Scope has a wide objective but can cover quite a bit of ground in terms of field of view and distance. No matter the application, you have a scope that can reach out and touch something from a good distance, and you can quickly acquire a target like nothing else.

Pros

  • Super Clear Optics
  • Waterproof and Fog Proof
  • Eye Relief is Constant and Generous
  • Wide Field Of View, Makes Target Acquisition Quick and Easy
  • Super Durable Construction, It Can Take On the Impact and Abuse

Cons

  • Some Magnification Levels Are a Bit Fuzzy
  • Adjustment Knobs Might Be a Little Stiff At First
  • Screws May Need To Be Extra Tight Upon Installation

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected with Nikon scopes, a lot of new users were very happy with the image quality. It’s crystal clear and in high-definition. One user even said that the definition of this scope was way better than his previous scope. Furthermore, he added that the zero was much easier to set and held after 200 rounds fired.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Nikon is known for their photography products, but they’re better known to many gun owners as having the best image quality of any scope on the market. Aside from that, the scope itself is super durable thanks to the high-quality aluminum body. So it’s the perfect scope for any AR-15 owner. It shines the brightest when it’s attached to a .223 rifle.

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

Expect this to be a popular scope used by hunters, but don’t count it out as useless for all other applications. This is the scope you’re going to need if durability, high-quality optics, and accuracy matter to you the most. If anything, this might be one of the best scopes that can take the top spot at some point in the future.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Make it easier to tighten the scope during installation. This means shortening the screws so it can easily be secured. Some have had issues keeping the screws in place when they thought they have properly installed the scope entirely. 

Bottom Line

If crystal clear optics and excellent accuracy are what you want in a scope, the Nikon P-223 will be the scope that will make your .223 rifle stand out the best. No other scope will ever touch this when it comes to high definition optics.

UTG 3-9X32 1' BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings

Pros

  • Super Durable Construction
  • Excellent For Many Applications
  • Adjustments Are Nice and Smooth
  • It Can Reach 500+ Yards Effectively
  • The Field Of View is Pretty Wide; Quick Target Acquisition is Possible

Cons

  • Eye Relief May Not Be the Best
  • Crosshairs Might Be Slightly Crooked
  • May Not Hold Zero For Very Long

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users were looking for a scope that could deliver the goods from long-range. Sure enough, this was the scope to do it. Most users were able to hit their targets from 500 yards out or more. One user said that he uses his AR-15 for some long-range hunting​, and even he was impressed when he could hit a deer from what seemed to be an impossible distance.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This scope is a decent sized scope, but don’t let it fool you. Once you get this sucker zeroed in, you’ll be quite impressed with every shot you take. The scope will be easy to set and hold zero for a long time. Also, the scope body is durable enough to absorb a good amount of shock as well. Other than that, if your shot seems off you can always make easy adjustments on the fly.

You can get a good price on a quality scope. Again, it’s not going to be top of the line, but for many uses, a lower-end scope will suffice.  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.

Who Will Use This Most 

Since this is a long-range scope, hunters and target shooters (causal and competitive) will benefit the most from this. Once you have it zeroed in, you can expect this to be as reliable as possible for a long time. Even after nearly 1000 rounds, don’t be shocked if you see the zero settings still in place.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The eye relief can be a little bit more generous. Especially if you’re using this scope for some heavy-hitting rifles. The AR-15 does pack a punch, and if you’re not careful, you could get a serious case of scope eye. While the eye relief is satisfactory, it can be better.

Bottom Line

The UTG Bugbusters can allow your shots to go far. If you want to make a statement by landing a shot at a big game target from a long way away or if you want to get an edge on your competition in the next shooting contest, this scope will be right up your alley. 

Will I Have to Settle for a Low-end Scope?

You can get a good price on a quality scope. Again, it’s not going to be top of the line, but for many uses, a lower-end scope will suffice.

The AR 15 is one of the most versatile rifles today and can be used for shooting from a few yards to 1000+ feet. Your needs in a scope are going to depend on what you’re aiming and where it lies within that broad range.

With a budget of $200, you’ll obviously have to give up on some advanced features and high magnification. Let’s get an outline of what these features will be:

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.

Focal Plane

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.

Magnification

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.

Advanced Reticles

There are many different types of reticles available on 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.

Weight

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.

Conclusion

With a plethora of good rifle scopes available on 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.