Are you looking for a budget scope option for your AR-15? Well here’s some good news. There are plenty of great options available for under $100. We’ll go through some of the various choices to try and help you pick the best AR-15 scope under $100 for your particular needs. Let’s get started!
Comparison of the Best AR-15 Scopes Under $100
UTG 3-9X32 1" BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Ring
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CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm & 11mm Mount
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Tacticon Armament Predator V1 Red Dot Sight
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UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
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Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
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Are Scopes Under $100 Reliable?
Of course, there is definitely a difference between products that cost $90 and ones that cost $1000. However, products under $100 are reliable and can serve your accuracy needs well enough if you need something cost effective immediately.
The overall quality of the lens and magnification factors will likely be about the same as those for higher-priced options. This is because the making of rifle scopes doesn’t change very much between manufacturers and materials. Instead, higher-priced models often come with extra features or more settings and customization options to justify their higher cost point.
Therefore, products under $100 are great for budget shooters or hunters or if you just need a simple device for moderate to light use in a variety of situations. More specialized users or situations will need a more sophisticated and feature-heavy option.
Cautious Considerations Before Buying
However, there are a few things to watch out for when you're browsing products for your AR-15. Since these are cheaper models, manufacturers might try to pass off sub-par features to offset their cost.
Some rifle models will advertise extremely high magnification levels, usually in excess of 30x. Avoid these models, as scopes around $100 usually do not have the right kind of lens or glass construction to make clear sight pictures for targets up to that range. Most people choose more magnification than they need, anyway.
Avoid products that have eye-relief, or the area for the eye to rest away from the scope’s end, of less than three inches or so. Anything lower can cause damage to your eye as your rifle bucks from recoil.
Some models have over-complicated or crowded reticles to entice inexperienced buyers. Avoid messy reticles; the best models have clear, clean crosshairs that make aiming easy.
Review of the Best AR-15 Scopes Under $100
Now let’s dig into some of the best scopes for AR-15s on the market. We’ll look at each product’s pros and cons and explain what kind of shooter they best fit.
The BugBuster offering is a great budget optic for your AR-15 due to its emerald lens, which is coated with a special material that improves light transmission. This makes colors pop more vividly as you look through the reticle and makes target acquisition easier if your target is in front of a crowded or monochrome background.
The item is durable, made from high-quality materials, and is totally weatherproof, another bonus if you plan to use this scope in the elements often. Its adjustment knobs can be turned and clicked into new positions with just ¼ of an inch turn. Some of the knobs are a little big for our taste, but it’s not much of a flaw.
The reticle can be illuminated with a red or green light, allowing use in any kind of environment and many hunting scenarios. It’s a simple, precise reticle model. A flip-open lens cap protects the lens when not in use. The device also comes with a two-inch sunshade to protect your eyes during sighting on sunny days.
This is a good pick if you’ve got a larger rifle and you enjoy hunting in dense foliage. The illuminated reticle and bright sight picture will let you spot your target more easily, even in dense foliage. The lens can be protected with a cap and the rest of the scope is built to last.
CVLIFE’s product is another that boasts a reticle which can be illuminated in either red or green light. This reticle, which is simple and precise, can be toggled between five different variations of brightness intensity. This allows you to utilize the illuminated reticle in daytime or nighttime conditions without harming your eye.
A targeting and distancing laser is mounted on the side of this device. This is a fantastic feature that makes this a good choice for shooting at distant targets. The magnification levels allow for full use of this laser, alternating between 2x to 10x magnification. Adjustment of the laser and other elements such as windage and elevation are controlled via easy-access knobs on the side of the chassis.
The chassis is very durable and made from aircraft-grade aluminum, although the lens is a little fragile and might break if dropped. However, given how affordable this product is altogether, this can hardly be considered much of a disappointment.
The field of view is quite generous and its eye relief is reasonable. Its relatively compact shape makes it capable of fitting onto smaller rifles as well as larger models without difficulty.
This is a great budget pick if you need a quick option that can serve you well without breaking the bank. Its optics are decent and the fact that it comes with a distancing laser is an amazing addition that’s hard to find even on more expensive offerings. The reticle and its illumination levels are perfect for use in any ambient light condition.
The Predator is a great choice for close-range, fast-paced engagements of a tactical nature. If you plan to use your weapon for shooting at smaller distances, consider this option because of its sight and ability to combine with a backup iron sight.
The reticle is a red or green dot and its intensity can be adjusted via a small dial on the side of the chassis. Its mount is very easy to slide onto the rack of an AR-15 or similar rifle and can be combined with an iron sight at the front, allowing you to quickly switch between the sights as your situation evolves. The reticle was made specifically to work alongside iron sights, in fact, and you can get iron sights from the same manufacturer.
This device is incredibly durable, totally weatherproof, and is made from sturdy materials that can withstand some damage before showing signs of distress. Elevation and windage adjustments are easy via dials at the sides and tops.
The mount is built-in and does not need any special tools to install on your AR-15, but which does make it a bit bulky. However, since this is the intended use, its inability to attach to other weapons isn’t that much of a problem in our eyes.
An extra battery and a lens cleaner are both included when you buy this product.
The Predator is a close-range scope built to be combined with iron sights and used in tandem with them. The red or green dot reticle can be adjusted for brighter or dimmer luminance depending on your situation and the dials along the side make for easy tuning of measurement variables. The mount is built into the scope and is easy to install.
This small option is great for rapid fire. Its reticle and settings are firm and precise at all times thanks to its steady turret that maintains stability even as your rifle fires many rounds in quick succession. The device is totally weatherproof and built to last for a long time. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, should you run into an unfortunate accident.
The lens is the big selling point here. It’s emerald and coated for scratch-resistance and has a better light distribution than many competitor’s products, giving you a crystal-clear sight picture no matter the environment.
The reticle can change between 36 different colors at just the press of a button, letting you maintain an easy-to-see reticle in any background. This is ideal for forest hunting when many of the surrounding colors can blur together.
The circuits that allow for the illumination of the reticle are housed in a special case to prevent them from flickering or going out during heavy recoil. This ensures constant sight assistance even during the heaviest use you might imagine putting your AR-15 through.
The UTG’s reticle is as customizable as they come, which is interesting as cheaper products usually don’t allow for that kind of personalization. Its lens is clear and coated to prevent scratching and the circuitry and turret ensure consistent performance of all aspects even under heavy stress from recoil.
Best Red Dot Scope:
Bushnell Trophy Red Dot Riflescope
The Bushnell Trophy Riflescope is a great pick due to its size, price, and low power draw. Its battery will last for quite a long time since it relies on much less power than many larger, competitor riflescopes. The entire chassis is small, durable, and weatherproof and its size makes it a perfect fit for the top of an AR-15. Also, its knobs aren’t too large or hard to see over, either.
The reticle is a crisp, 3 MOA red dot that benefits from multi-coated optics. The lens is optimized to provide a high-contrast sight that should allow you to focus more easily between objects down the scope. This will make acquiring a target in a hurry much easier.
However, the red dot can become fuzzy or blurry depending on the ambient light level. If you set the illumination too high while indoors, for example, you may find that the device over-compensates and makes the sight blurry as a result. To that end, try to find a good setting for illumination with indoor light before you start using it for tactical practice.
The eye relief is unlimited, so you can press your eye as close as you like to the scope without suffering from distortion. The elevation and windage adjusters are easy to modify and click with precise increments.
The Bushnell Riflescope is a top pick since it’s so affordable and packs so much use into its small shell. Its red dot sight is capable and sharp and can be used either indoors or outdoors, although in certain indoor environments it can turn a little blurry if you fiddle with the brightness settings the wrong way.
As you can see, there are plenty of excellent rifle scopes for your AR-15 that are also under $100. You don’t really have to sacrifice quality to find one that’s usable and durable without breaking the bank or emptying your wallet. Hopefully, this guide has helped you find the perfect one for your needs or given you the tools you need to find another.