The 4 Best AR-15 Scope Mounts [2021 Update]

*Scopes Field is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission.*

Not sure what mount to get for your AR-15?

Look no further.

I’ve tested ALL the best AR-15 scope mounts on the market. By the end of this guide, you’ll find the perfect mount for your AR.

Let’s get started!

How to Choose the Best Scope Mount for AR15

A house is only as strong as the foundation it’s built on.

You can spend hundreds of dollars on expensive rifles and high-end scopes, but a proper scope mount is the heart of rifle accuracy.

In fact, every time I’m at the range and see someone having problems zeroing their rifle, the issue can always be traced back to the mounting process or the mount itself.

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to waste a thousand bullets to figure out why. This article will go over what you need to know about choosing the best scope mount for your AR-15.

Let’s dive in!


Different Types of Mounts

There are unlimited mount options on the market.

Choosing the best mount for your scope/rifle can depend on personal preference, rifle setup, or what you’re trying to shoot.

Let’s start by talking about the two standard designs: one-piece mounts vs. two-piece scope rings.


One-piece Mounts vs. Two-piece Scope Rings

One-piece mounts are the most popular mounting systems for rifles.

They have a single base with two rings and are very rugged and robust. You don’t need to worry about the alignment between the two rings since the connection is permanent.

This traditional design works well with any high recoil gun or semi-automatic rifle. They allow you to move your scope forward, which allows it to be positioned farther away from your eye.

On the flip side, one-piece mounts sit above a rifle’s action, making it hard to load and unload bolt action rifles. They also tend to be heavier, so if keeping weight down is crucial for you, you’ll need to get two-piece scope rings.

Two-piece scope rings are simply two individual rings that attach your scope to your rifle. They’re inexpensive yet lightweight. Unlike one-piece mounts, these work perfectly for bolt action AR-10s like my Uintah Precision UPR-10 in 6.5 Creedmoor.

Scope rings are relatively simple to use, but require realignment every time you put them on another rifle. But if you own more than one firearm, your two-piece mount may work on both, saving you money.


High-quality Mounts

Now that we’ve run over the two main types, let’s go over a few factors to keep in mind when picking the best scope mounts for AR-15s.

If you’re running short on time, I have a list of the best AR-15 scopes with mounting recommendations.


Durability and Weight

The material used to make the mount defines its quality.

Cheap mounts are usually made from pot metal and low-quality aluminum alloy.

Find models that are constructed from hard coat anodized aluminum, preferably 6061 aluminum.

Additionally, a lightweight, sturdy, and rugged design is always a better option as it can be comfortably used in the field.


Diameter

Make sure your clamping system matches your scope tube’s diameter. For example, if you have a scope with a 30mm tube, make sure you have a 30mm mounting system. This may seem remarkably obvious, but still noteworthy.


Mounting Interface

Purchase a mounting system that works for your specific rifle.

With an AR-15, Picatinny rings won’t always work. Since the receiver and handguard are separate pieces, you typically want to go with a cantilever mount.

These one-piece mounts keep all the hardware on the rifle’s receiver itself, making it more reliable and solid.


Eye Relief

For whichever mounting system you go with, make sure you can achieve the necessary eye relief when you shoulder your rifle. Of course, this also depends on your specific optic.

If you can’t get the proper eye relief the first time your scope is mounted, try to move the mount forward or backward on the rail until you get a full, clear image.


Scope Height

The rule of thumb is to mount your scope as low as possible without obstructing other parts of your gun.

A majority of AR-15s, or any other rifles with flat tops, have a low comb or cheek rest. If the scope is mounted too high, you’ll need to lift your head off the cheek rest, making it uncomfortable.

When you mount a scope, I recommend experimenting a little to find a comfortable scope height with your rifle and preferred shooting stance. Ensure you get a good cheek rest on the rifle and that you can look through your optic with ease and accuracy.

You can choose from low, medium, and high ring heights when you’re out buying. If you can’t go low, go medium; if you can’t go medium, you have to go high.

Also, riser mounts are another option for you to adjust your scope height.


Final Words

Scope mounts are the crucial link between firearms and scopes.

Even the most advanced and high-end scopes are practically useless if not appropriately mounted on the rifle. It could completely throw your aim off, resulting in a miss, and cause unnecessary frustration.

I hope that our discussion can help you choose the best scope mount for your AR-15. Which leads us to the next question…


How To Mount A Scope On Your AR-15

The only way to truly tap into the potential of a gun is with a quality scope.

Getting a scope onto your AR-15 can be a daunting task. Believe it or not, buying the scope can be one of the easiest parts of the process.

Until the scope arrives at your door, handling it is someone else’s problem. However, once it comes time to mount it, the responsibility of proper handling and attachment becomes yours.

This doesn’t have to be a scary task, but knowing exactly what tools you need and a step by step process can help ease any worries. I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you get your scope mounted without any hassle or concern.

Let’s get started!


The Tools You Need

I’m afraid that just your two hands and a spare wrench from your garage aren’t going to do the job. It’s critical that your scope gets mounted properly, or the risk of it failing grows significantly.

There are specialized tools that are made to mount scopes. You can use normal tools, but they risk damaging the scope if misused. I highly recommend purchasing these tools if you don’t already have them.

  1. The Bubble Level is imperative if you want any accuracy from your scope. The optic has to be completely level during installation or else it’s not going to be able to do its job properly. I recommend using two, so that you can make sure the alignment of the rifle and the scope are matching.
  2. A bit driver with proper gunsmithing bits is crucial to avoid damaging the scope. Normal bits may not fit as well with the screws and can make it difficult to achieve proper tightening. Otherwise, you risk them being too loose and the scope slipping or being too tight or stripping the screws.
  3. A torque wrench is essential for actually securing the mount to your AR-15. Using this keeps everything tight, so that nothing gets accidentally adjusted during the mounting process.
  4. The Blue Loctite is essential for any gun owner to keep really important screws snug and secure. While strong, it’s easy to break by hand, so switching scopes is a simple process. Future you will thank you.
  5. Some sort of vice or clamp is necessary to keep your gun secure during the mounting process. Keeping your gun upright and flat is essential to allow your scope to work properly. You can manage without and only use the bubble levels to ensure flatness, but I don’t recommend that.
  6. Rubbing alcohol and cleaning patches are important for the early stages of mounting. Keeping everything clean is essential to properly mount your scope.

Step-By-Step Guide

The biggest thing to keep in mind while mounting a scope on your AR-15, especially if it’s your first time, is to be patient. Take each step as slowly as you need to, and get it right on the first try. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a guide on how to take it apart.

One-piece mounts and ring mounts have similar steps. Ring mounts will just require a second base to be mounted, which doesn’t require anything different from the first. Just follow the instructions below and your scope will be mounted before you know it!


Prepare Your Rifle

As with anytime you handle your gun, safety is the number one priority. Before you do anything, make sure that the magazine has been removed and that the chamber is empty of any ammo.

In this stage you’ll also want to go ahead and secure the rifle with the vice (if you’re using one), and use the bubble level to make sure that it’s at the proper level.


Deep Clean

Cleaning everything before mounting is a critical step. It only takes a little bit of dirt or extra grease to throw things out of whack.

Take your rubbing alcohol and cleaning patches and go over the screws, the mount, and the rail. Make sure there’s no excess oil, smudges, or loose particles that may cause problems further down the road.


Attach The Scope Mount

Take the scope mount and place it on top of your AR-15. As you tighten it into place with the screws, make sure that you make it stable, but not too tight. Overtightening beyond the suggested torque level can result in a spoiled mount.

Use your bubble level to make sure that the mount is level horizontally and vertically. If it’s not, just tinker with the tightness of the screws until it levels out.

This is also a good time to check your scope’s eye relief. Place your scope on the mount and shoulder your rifle. If you can’t achieve eye relief, then now is the time to adjust your mount.


Attach Your Scope

Now you can finally have the satisfaction of placing your scope on the rifle.

When you place your optic on the mount, make sure that the rings are sitting flat. You will then bring the top portion of the rings over your scope to secure it in place.

You now have to tighten the rings, but this step is very important. When tightening the rings, you want to do it in an “X” pattern and not in a square pattern. This gives much more stability and prevents you from over tightening one side.

Once you’re done, there should be a small gap that lets you slightly move the optic. This is also a good time to double check your eye relief again.


Level It Out

Now that your scope is attached with a bit of wiggle room, it’s time to pull out the bubble levels again.

If you’re using a vice, then your rifle should still be leveled. Regardless, it’s always better to double check just in case.

You’ll then need to make sure that your reticle is aligned both horizontally and vertically. Just aim at something you’ve already verified as level with your bubble level to do this. Once you’ve done this, you can make sure that your rifle and scope are both level with each other.


Wrap It Up

The hard part is out of the way and now you’re all set. Just tighten the screws (still in an “X”) evenly so that everything is nice and secure.

Afterwards, I recommend letting your setup sit for around 24 hours so that the Loctite has time to cure. After this time, you’re ready to take your gun to the range!


Conclusion

While this isn’t the most fun or exciting task, it’s definitely essential if you want to get the most from your gun.

The most important things are leveling and safety. I recommend checking with your bubble levels any chance you get, as even being slightly off can lead to every shot missing. Ensuring that there’s no way you can accidentally fire your gun during the mounting process is a step that should never be skipped.

Now that you’ve read the guide and mounted your scope, you’re well on your way to becoming a master. Future scope mountings should be a breeze. Just be safe rather than sorry and make sure that you follow each step carefully and precisely.


The 4 Best AR-15 Scope Mounts

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best scope mounts for AR-15:

  1. American Defense AD-RECON: Best Scope Mount for AR-15
  2. Aero Precision Ultralight: Best Lightweight Mount
  3. Vortex Pro: Best for the Budget
  4. Burris P.E.P.R: Best AR Scope Mount Under $100

1. American Defense AD-RECON: Best Scope Mount for AR-15

The American Defense AD-RECON is the best mount for an AR-15.

In fact:

I’ve rotated through at least 3 different scopes in one range day with this mount.

Here’s why…


Mount Quality

The American Defense AD-RECON is a high-quality, American made mount for AR type rifles with a lot of great tech.

It features the patented QD Auto Lock Lever system which I’ll cover later and a cantilever to throw the scope out front to get you the right eye relief.

At 8.4 oz. without a scope, it’s not especially light however it’s not heavy enough to make you use sand bags every time you go to the range.

American Defense makes som quality stuff and this mount is definitely on par with company’s like LaRue Tactical, but with a more affordable price tag.

It’s well worth the investment over the typical lower quality, featureless mounts in the sub-$100 range.

Here’s why:

The American Defense AD-RECON not only comes with top of the line features, it’s also built to handle serious firepower.

The precision machined 6061 T6 aluminum body is finished in hard coated T3 Mil-Spec anodize, meaning that this mount is durable and scratch resistant. Not to mention that it matches my FN AR-15 perfectly.


Installation

When it comes to installation, the American Defense AD-Recon is quick, easy, and forgiving.

When mounted on my AR, it sights high enough to clear the rear BUIS and forward enough for good eye relief.

American Defense makes a variety of other options, so make sure that you shop around to determine the proper clearance height. Also, measure again for the optics you intend to use as well.

The QD Auto Lock Lever system accommodates both in spec and out of spec rail systems. It allows for complete variation in scope and rail tolerances and repeatable mounting.

The entire design is meant to provide a versatile, budge free mount.

The quick-detach levers are spring loaded so removal and reinstallation is a speedy process, plus it won’t chew up your rails like some other mounts do. The locking system is easy to use and secure with well designed levers.

The floating rings tighten at the base and top for even distribution, so no more fiddling to find that perfect balance. The entire mount holds zero, even after I took it off and put it back on the rifle.

When installing, I suggest leaving the top screws loose and tightening the bottom screws first, this will help you get a clean mount.

I also suggest a dab of Loctite to ensure that everything stays in place during use and the screws won’t rattle.

Loctite Heavy Duty Threadlocker, 0.2 oz, Blue 242, Single
  • Advanced formula prevents loosening of metal fasteners caused by vibrations
  • Protective design protects threads from rusting and corroding
  • Medium-strength allows nuts and bolts to be removed with hand tools

No tools are needed for adjustment. Instead, all you have to do is release the lever and turn the back nut slowly until you get the tightness you want.

The tension adjustments are fast and easy, allowing 8 positions per revolution. Out of the box, my rear lever was pretty tight and difficult to turn, but it’s loosened up over time.

This was the easiest mount to level my scope. It only took one try and my Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 was ready to roll.


Is the American Defense AD-RECON for you?

The AD-RECON is a rock-solid, versatile mount for any AR type rifle.

It’s a great addition for any shooter who wants to run with multiple optics on one platform.

Here are some of its top features:

  • Hardcoat anodized finish
  • Quick detach lever system
  • Machined from 6061-T6 aluminum
  • Cantilever design for optimal eye relief

In summary, this mount is worth way more than you’re paying, and it will last a lot longer.

The easy removal and reinstallation process is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this particular mount for all of my AR type rifles.

If you’re wondering if the American Defense AD-RECON is the mount for you, I say pull the trigger. You won’t be disappointed.

Sale
American Defense AD-RECON 30 STD Riflescope Optic Mount, Black
  • Does not require proprietary tools for adjustment
  • Can be adjusted with your finger or a flat blade screwdriver
  • Lever can be configured to lock to the front or the rear

2. Aero Precision Ultralight: Best Lightweight Mount

Want a well designed, American made scope mount?

Look no further than the Aero Precision Ultralight mount.

Aero Precision is very proud of the engineering that goes into their production process. They have taken the low-tolerance lessons learned from aircraft machining and applied them to their processes for scope mount and receiver production.

The result is a super lightweight, super durable AR rifle scope mount.

Let’s check it out…


Mount Quality

This mount is mind-blowingly light.

Weighing just over 3 ounces, it is half the weight of its competitors. The Ultralight mount is made from aircraft grade aluminum and I noticed that it doesn’t have any unnecessary parts. It’s build is very straight forward.

The Ultralight scope mount is clean-cut and very rigid.

I found that the hard-coat anodized finish is hard to scratch and scuff up.

The extended mounting rings pushed my scope forward two inches, significantly improving sight with a scope that has a long eye relief.

Aero Precision demands high quality control of their products. They have designed their entire production system themselves and every step of the tooling and machining are done in-house, not outsourced.

The result is a high-quality, American made scope mount that is manufactured at a relatively low-cost.

This scope mount works best on AR platforms with picatinny rails. It will not work well on bolt-action rifles because your scope will sit too high to maintain a solid cheek weld.


Installation

Now, the Ultralight scope mount is a ring and base system. This one piece mount has everything you need to attach your favorite scope to a 1913 picatinny rail.

I’ll be honest with you, installation is tricky with this one. It is hard to get the scope level because the screws are positioned vertically, not horizontally like you may be used to from other brands.

As I tightened the screws, my scope rotated to the right. I had to offset it to the left to compensate for the rotation. I used buble levels to help me visualize how I needed to adjust my scope to compensate for the turning. And to make sure my scope was truly level when I was finished.

Overall, the mounting process was kind of rough going and I struggled for several tries before finally getting my scope truly level.

I also noticed that the torque wasn’t listed clearly in the material that came with the mount. After a little bit of digging through reviews on Amazon, I found that the screws should be torqued to 15 in/lbs.

Be mindful that you don’t over tighten, or the rings can break.

If you don’t already have a torque wrench, I suggest getting this one by Wheeler Firearms.

Sale
Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench with Inch/Pounds Measurement, Bits and Storage Case for Scope Mounting, Gunsmithing and Maintenance
  • Accuracy: +/- 2 inch/pounds up to 40 inch/pounds; 40 – 65 is +/- 5%
  • Ease of use: Apply, repeatable, accurate torque settings to scope rings, guard screws, windage screws and base screws, which aids in accuracy and decreases the opportunity for problems in the field
  • Reliable: Torque adjustment range from 10 inch/pounds to 65 inch/pounds

The rings might not break right away with improper installation. They could shear after a few uses while out in the field. Be extra careful you don’t over-tighten the screws.

Aero Precision does stand behind their product should it fail– even due to improper installation. If you have problems, reach out to them and they will send you a new one.


Is the Aero Precision Ultralight the Right Mount for You?

Aero Precision Ultralight Scope mounts will run you about $100, making them two to three times cheaper than their competition.

Aero Precision Ultralight 30MM Scope Mount, SPR
  • Mounting rings are pushed forward 2" for better eye relief
  • Designed for mil-spec upper receivers with 1913 Picatinny rail
  • 6061 T6 extruded aluminum construction

The Aero Precision Ultralight scope mount is:

  • American made
  • Extra lightweight
  • Ridged, clean-cut design
  • Engineered with “razor thin tolerance levels”

If you want a forward-mounted scope on your AR and don’t mind doing a bit of extra work to save money and cut weight, this scope mount would be a very good option for you.

Are you in the market for a thermal scope, or coyote hunting lights? I have reviews for those.

Look here for reviews of the best scopes for Ruger 10/22 rifles.


3. Vortex Pro: Best for the Budget

If you’re looking for mount rings for your riflescope that are great quality and won’t break the bank, the Vortex Pro are the answer.

Not only do they fit both weaver and picatinny rails, they also come in multiple sizes and heights.

I used these rings to mount my Vortex Viper scope and it was very easy to get the scope mounted correctly.

Want to know more about the Vortex Pro? Keep reading…


Mount Quality

These rings are very lightweight without skimping on quality.

The black matte anodized rings look great and are made with high quality machining, which makes them incredibly strong and durable.

Not only that, but they are very precise and require no lapping!

It also has an integrated recoil lug, which is great because it prevents any movement or stress against the screws.

I’ve now shot over 2000 rounds and haven’t noticed even a hint of movement. These rings are rock solid.


Installation

Installation is quick and easy with the Vortex Pro rings.

You’ll get the two rings, a T-25 torque-style wrench, and screws. They even give you an extra two screws just in case you have any problems.

The T-25 torx cap screws hold up better than the socket cap screws or smaller torx screws I’ve used in the past on other mounts. They don’t strip out as easily as those others.

A couple things you need to keep in mind are that you need to buy the right size and height for your setup.

Luckily, these come in 30mm or 1”, so they’ll fit most rifle scopes, including night vision scopes. They also have low, medium, or high rings, so you can get the ones that work best for your rifle and scope.

One of the things that I really love about these rings is that they have the torque setting engraved on them. This prevents any confusion when mounting, which then prevents crushed optic tubes.

I do have some buddies who think the engraved torque settings spoil the look of the rifle, but it doesn’t bother me at all.


Is the Vortex Pro for you?

I’ve used a lot of mounts and rings over the years and can confidently say that the Vortex Pro easily compares in quality to rings that are twice the price.

The perks:

  • Easy installation
  • Strong and durable
  • Matte black anodized
  • Size and height options
  • Engraved torque settings
  • T-25 torx screws, with extras

If you want to get more bang for your buck, give the Vortex Optics Pro rings a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Vortex Optics Pro Series Riflescope Rings
  • The finishing touch to your rifle and optic combination. Pro Series rings combine rock-solid reliability and strength with high quality machining to ensure ultimate accuracy and consistency.
  • Streamlined, lightweight and durable, these rings use four T-25 Torx-style socket cap screws for secure mounting.
  • Fits Weaver and Picatinny Rails.

4. Burris P.E.P.R: Best AR Scope Mount Under $100

I’ve never been a fan of buying the best, biggest, most expensive things on the market just to say I could.

If there’s another option that does the same job and it’s way cheaper that’s the one I usually go with.

Having said that, at times there’s definitely a reason to spend the extra because the quality is just that much better.

The Burris Optics P.E.P.R mount is one of those times.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hunting hogs or doing long-range target practice.

This fits any 30mm scope perfectly and keeps it secure so you don’t have to worry about it.

Keep reading and I’ll tell you why you need this scope for all your rifles.


Mount Quality

The Burris P.E.P.R is one of the sturdiest monsters of a mount that I’ve ever seen.

It’s hefty for a mount at 9oz, but that just makes it even more durable.

Made with a hard-coat anodized finish,

Once this thing is locked down neither it nor your scope is gonna budge until you want it to.

It’s got 3 bolts on either side to tighten it down and it helps keep my sight perfectly at zero.

I’ve banged it on trees, against rocks, and the ground while scrambling up a hill and not once has this mount ever moved.

Since it’s a raised mount, it gives you incredible eye relief with a full field of view.

It keeps your scope at the perfect height for any AR rifles.

One of my favorite features is that it gives you 2” of forward scope positioning on your platform, which makes the eye relief fantastic.


Installation

To be honest, I really thought this thing was going to be a bear to mount.

It looks daunting with the six bolts, and I thought it would be a nightmare to try to get the threads to line up and get everything evenly tightened.

I’m pleased to say that I was wrong.

This was one of the most user-friendly ring mounts I’ve ever used.

It comes with both smooth scope ring tops and Picatinny tops, and the Picatinny rails can be used for mounting other accessories.

I love it when I’m hunting varmints because I can mount a flashlight to it. It’s not necessary, but it sure is handy.


Is The Burris P.E.P.R For You?

No question about it, this is the mount you need if you’ve got an AR or any rifle.

Let’s review the highlights:

  • Easy to mount
  • Incredible durability
  • Holds any 30mm sight securely
  • Comes with multiple mounting options
  • Provides optimum eye relief and full FOV

Besides all that it’s also backed by the incredible Burris Forever warranty.

No matter who owns your mount in the future, whether it’s your kids, grandkids, or your neighbor next door, Burris has them covered.

Don’t just take my word for it though, go check out the Burris P.E.P.R for yourself.

Burris Optics P.E.P.R. Scope Mount, Includes Both Smooth and Picatinny Ring Tops, 30mm, Standard Attach, BLACK (410341)
  • The Burris P. E. P. R. mount is perfect for mounting your scope forward on your personal protection rifle.
  • The Proper Eye Position Ready (P.E.P.R.) mount provides 2" of forward scope positioning room which will allow you to obtain proper eye relief and maintain a proper shooting position.
  • Provides optimum eye relief and full field of view helping to improve your accuracy

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best AR-15 scope mounts guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which mount will you pick for your AR-15?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

Leave a Comment