The 3 Best AR-15 Carry Handle Scopes [2020 Update]

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Today I’m going to show you the best AR-15 carry handle scopes.

In fact:

I’ve hand- tested over 10 scopes alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best scopes for ar 15 with carry handle, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

The 3 Best AR-15 Carry Handle Scopes

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best AR-15 carry handle scopes:

  1. Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm Compact: Best Overall
  2. Holosun HS510C: Best for Holographics
  3. Sig Sauer Romeo Zero: Best for Budget

1. Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm Compact: Best Overall

Trijicon ACOGs are great scopes in general and the 3x24mm compact is by far the best of them.

The compact, lightweight design makes it the best optic for carry handle on your AR-15 or AK-47.

Trijicon ACOGs are combat tested and are favored by military and law enforcement.

Want to know more? Read on…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Trijicon ACOGs are pricey, but they’re well worth it because the glass is exceptionally clear.

Not only is the glass clarity top notch, but the ACOG uses tritium and fiber optics for illumination. This means that you’ll be able to see your reticle both day and night. It also adjusts the illumination for you by gauging the ambient light.

Plus, it’s completely battery free, so you’ll never have to worry about it failing when you need it the most.

The reticle itself is a green crosshair 223/55 grain ballistic reticle. The green crosshairs are a little harder to see in the daylight than red, but I like it because it’s not as harsh on the eyes either. And the green is perfectly bright and easy to see at night.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Here’s the one downside to the Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm compact: the eye relief is only 1.4”.

It’s a little forgiving though and is actually pretty good for a standard AK stock. Plus, as long as you keep a good cheek weld, it’s not a huge problem for AR-15s either.

Another perk to the ACOG is that it uses the Bindon Aiming Concept, which utilizes a both eyes open concept. Having the use of both eyes has multiple perks that all make it an exceptional choice for combat or tactical situations.

You get the full use of your peripheral vision for maximum situational awareness. And using both eyes saves time and allows you to acquire your target fast. It’s almost as fast as what you get using a red dot sight.


Durability

When you’re looking for the best scope for your AR-15, you want to know that you’re getting something durable and reliable.

The Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm compact exceeds all expectations in that area. It is rugged and almost indestructible. It’s housed in aircraft quality aluminum that can take a beating and not show a scratch.

On top of that, this scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. And, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty too.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage knobs are easy to adjust.

You won’t need any tools for these turrets because they adjust externally. And the caps come attached to a lanyard, so you won’t lose them while you’re making your adjustments.

Zeroing is done just like any other scope and I had mine zeroed in under 10 shots. I was able to get nice, tight groups at 100 yards quickly and easily.

I’m hard on my scopes and this one has taken a beating. I’ve thrown it in the back of my truck and dropped it in a rocky stream. It’s still holding zero to this day.


Parallax & Magnification

With this Trijicon ACOG you get a fixed magnification of 3x.

I’ve found this to be pretty perfect 75-150 yards, which is where I do most of my hunting. I can make really accurate shots out to 300 yards easily though. For a fixed magnification, it seems to have all the range that I need.

Parallax is completely non-existent vertically with all ACOGs. I can get a little parallax moving side to side, but a good cheek well solves that problem. And it’s barely noticeable anyway. I only noticed it because I was trying to find it.


Mounting & Rings

Unfortunately, this scope doesn’t come with a mount, so you’ll need to purchase one separately.

I chose the Trijicon RM54 mount

Sale
Trijicon RM54 RMR Mount, 3x24mm/3x30mm Compact ACOG with Bosses, 3.5x35mm LED ACOG, Black
  • Trijicon RMR Mount for 3x30 ACOG with bosses
  • Made of 7075-T6 aluminum
  • RM54 allows you to mount any RMR to a 3x30 ACOG with integrated mounting bosses

because the scope has mounting bosses integrated into the housing so that you can add on a Trijicon RMR red dot sight if you want to.

What you do get with this scope is a scopecoat, lenspen, the elevation and windage caps with lanyard, a logo sticker, and the manual and warranty card.


Is the Trijicon ACOG 3×24 mm compact worth it?

This scope has everything you could want for your rifle and more.

It has:

  • Clear glass
  • Dual illumination
  • Rugged and durable
  • Fast target acquisition
  • Green crosshair reticle
  • Low height body design

If you’re looking for the best overall scope for your rifle, try the Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm compact. You’ll be happy that you did.

Trijicon ACOG 3x24mm Compact Low Height Scope Dual Illuminated Green Crosshair .223/55 Grains Ballistic Reticle, Black
  • Magnification: 3x, Objective Size: 24mm
  • Illumination Source: Fiber Optics & Tritium
  • Reticle Pattern: Crosshair .223 / 55 gr.

2. Holosun HS510C: Best for Holographics

I recently stumbled on the Holosun Hs510C while looking for an optic for my B&T GHM9 carbine.

What I found was uncompromising quality for a reasonable price, something you don’t see often. I don’t recommend an optic unless I have used and abused it enough to know how it will perform at a critical moment.

Want to know what I found out about the Holosun HS510C? Well…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Holosun has the best quality glass out there.

Multiple coatings on each layer of the glass create an optic that reflects as much light as possible. This level of glass quality allows for total visibility, even in lowlight conditions.

What impressed me most was the reticle.

The Holosun HS510C has a red circle dot reticle with a 2MOA dot and a 65 MOA circle. The reticle has 12 brightness settings, which automatically adjust to your light level. The reticle is solar-powered most of the time, with 50k hours of backup battery life for nighttime use.

The best feature of all, however, is the shake-awake feature. No button fumbling and no wasted battery. Just on when I need it and off when I don’t. The shut-off time is adjustable, and the shake-awake is VERY sensitive, so you won’t ever have to turn it on yourself.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Holosun HS510C has unlimited eye relief and a large eye box.

When handing a self-defense carbine, fast target acquisition is a life or death matter. Thanks to the large eye box, which co-witnesses perfectly with iron sights, you’ll find center mass as fast as you can raise your weapon.


Durability

The Holosun HS510C is one of the most rugged scopes I’ve ever had the pleasure of operating.

A scope like this has to go through my custom torture test before I entrust my life to it. Let me tell you, I beat the devil out of it, and it held zero like a champ. Drop it, kick it, knock someone over the head with it–it WILL hold.

Made with grade 5 titanium, this is a solid piece of equipment. The only downside is, it’s nearly five pounds.

Of course, if you are mounting it on a Scorpion or other 9mm carbine, that shouldn’t be a problem. If you are looking for something lighter, try one of these incredible prism scopes.


Elevation & Windage Buttons

The rubber buttons are .5 MOA per click.

No more listening for clicks and freezing your fingers trying to work a turret knob. Just easy adjustment with a button press. Welcome to the digital age!


Parallax & Magnification

The Holosun HS510C is a 1X magnification optic, as close to iron sights as you can get with a reticle.

1X magnification means objects seen through the glass are nearly the same as the naked eye. This optic is great for shooting with both eyes open and shooting at close range.

Because let’s be honest. You can play with your toys on the range, but in a self-defense situation, if you can’t aim with iron sights, you can’t aim, period. The only thing better than iron sights on a 9mm is a 1X circle-dot like this one.

Because the Holosun is a fixed magnification, there is no parallax.


Mounting & Rings

Ready for good news?

A quick detach sling mount is included! Nothing annoys me more than having to shop for all the add-ons I need for my new optic. For once, it was all in the box.

I installed it myself with the included screw tool, and it was a perfect co-witness with my GHM9’s iron sights.


Is the Holosun SH510C worth it?

The Holosun is a premium optic at a budget price.

I admit, when I saw the price tag, I was expecting a merely adequate scope. What I got was…

  • A titanium frame
  • Perfect co-witness
  • A shake-awake reticle
  • An included sling mount
  • A perfect zero that stays zeroed

All of that, at a FRACTION of the cost of an Eotech scope. To be honest, I’ve seen this before. Here is my report on Eotech affordable alternatives.

If you are looking for something more than iron sights on your carbine, look no farther. The Holosun Hs510C is the best holographic on the market right now.

Holosun HS510C 2 MOA Dot Or A 65 MOA Ring Open Reflex Circle Dot Solar Power Holographic Red Dot Sight
  • The Holosun HS510C New advanced technology LED allows up to 50,000 hours of operation on one CR2032 battery
  • 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA ring, Dot only, Ring only, or Dot and Ring reticle combinations
  • Unlimited field of view, Titanium-alloyed, shock resistant hood

3. Sig Sauer Romeo Zero: Best for Budget

If you want a crisp, reflexive micro red dot that won’t ding your wallet you need to check out this new sight from Sig Sauer.

The Sig Sauer Romeo Zero is a novel optic with many innovative features you won’t see in any other optic on the market right now.

Sig built this from the ground up specifically to accompany its P365XL conceal carry handgun. But it would make a nice addition to almost any slim, compact, carry gun–including many 1911s.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The lens on the Sig Sauer Romeo Zero is a SpectraCoat HD polymer Lens. You read that right, this optic doesn’t have any actual glass. Sig developed the polymer lens and it is supposed to be 10 times more impact resistant than glass.

That said, the dot picture in this optic is top notch. There is no smudging or blurring of the red dot. It’s exceptionally crisp and easy to see. In use, I couldn’t tell that the lens wasn’t glass.

Even in bright daylight, using the brightest dot settings, the dot didn’t blossom or grow. The light increased in intensity without spreading. I found this to be fantastic. There are other red dots on the market that struggle with blooming.

You have your choice of a 6 MOA or 3 MOA dot. I used the 3 and really liked it. It wasn’t overbearing and covered my target, but it wasn’t so tiny it was hard to read either.

If you’re someone who has astigmatism, I’m not sure if you would have problems with this sight. Here’s a list of optics that do work well for people with eye conditions.


Sight Picture

Sig was very forward thinking in their design of the Sig Sauer Romeo Zero. When I installed this on my handgun, I had to remove my stock rear sights. I noticed that the Romeo Zero has rear sights built in.

This not only simplifies co-witnessing the red dot with my iron sights, but aids in sighting efficiency.

When I drew my gun to fire, I didn’t have to “search” for the dot. I lined up my eyes with the rear sight posts when my gun came into ready position, and the dot was there.

Including the rear sights in the design helped me shoot more intuitively; increasing my accuracy and speed. These are features that I want in a concealed carry optic that I will be using under duress.


Battery LIfe

The Sig Romeo Zero has MOTAC technology. Meaning the red dot is motion activated. When it’s sitting in my safe, my night stand, or I get a chance to sit still, the sight will deactivate. As soon as I am on the go and in motion, the sight will turn itself on.

What’s fantastic about this feature is that when I need to draw my gun in a hurry for a high-stress defensive situation, I don’t need to fumble to turn the optic on.

The downside is that this always on feature can really chew through batteries. Sig claims that the battery life is at least 20,000 hours. If you keep your handgun in constant motion, thus keeping the dot perpetually activated, the battery should last 2 years. Not bad.


Durability

This optic is made entirely out of polymer–plastic. Sig Sauer says that the optic housing is made of “Weapons-Grade Ultralite Polymer,” another Sig innovation.

I liked how the lightweight didn’t disturb the balance of my pistol throughout all phases of firing a shot.

My concealed carry system has been tossed around a bit since installing this sight, and it has this held up really well. I am curious how well this special polymer housing will hold up to a serious bashing.

Sig makes fantastic products. I don’t think they will make an exception with this one.


Is the Sig Sauer Romeo Zero worth it?

For an innovative reflexive optic that is straightforward to use, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Sig Sauer Romeo Zero.

Sig Sauer Romeo Zero Micro Reflex SGT 6MOA
  • Proofs: impact resistant
  • Reticle: 6 MOA dot
  • Series: reflex sight

To recap its top features:

  • Motion activated reticle
  • Super bright, crisp red dot
  • Extra-durable SpectraCoat lens
  • Weapons Grade polymer housing

Get the accuracy and sight picture of more expensive reflexive sights for a fraction of the price.

Interested in holographic reflexive dot sights? I have a list of the best ones.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best AR-15 carry handle scopes guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which carry handle scope will you pick for your firearm?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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