What’s the Best Scope for AR-10 Rifles? [UPDATED 2018]

When the topic of “big, scary guns” is brought up on the news, you’re likely seeing a picture of the AR-10.

Although it is a powerful rifle, it’s not dangerous in a pair of trained hands. In fact, it outperforms its cousin, the AR-15 in accuracy, precision, and power.

However, despite the power, its recoil is not overwhelming for beginners. On the other hand, the AR-10 is a totally new experience even if you have a stash of rifles already. Unlike the AK-47 or AR-7, it has a steep learning curve to overcome on your path to mastery.

Once you get past some of the initial frustrations, you’ll have a new favorite rifle.

Let’s take a closer look:

AR-10 Specs

These specs cover a basic, out-of-the-box AR-10. While many rifles have after-market options to customize various features, the AR-10 is most popular with DIY riflemen and women.

So where did it come from?

The Story

Contrary to some claims, the “AR” does not stand for “automatic rifle” – it actually represents the manufacturer: ArmaLite. At last minute, they entered 4 prototypes in military rifle trials in hopes of becoming their next supplier.

Although the AR-10 was never US military issue, it was spread through Sudan, Portugal, Guatemala, Burma, Italy, and Cuba through the 1950’s. When they failed to gain favor with the US military a second time, they sold out to Colt.

Today, there are several manufacturers that sell AR-10-style rifles to hunters, shooters, and collectors all over the world.

Now you have one yourself and want a little bit more oomph in your game. We have the answer.

What’s a Rifle Without a Scope?

Since mastering the AR-10 involves a difficult learning curve, it never hurts to ask for help.

Would you take a long road trip without GPS or eat cake without utensils? Of course, you CAN do it, but it’s a lot easier with assistance. When you think of your rifle this way, it makes sense to use the best scope for AR-10 shooting.

While it boasts a very long range without a scope, imagine how much farther you can go with one.

Which one of these AR10 scopes will take you the extra mile?

Best for Mid-to-Long RangeNikon M-308 4-16x42mm BDC 800
Best for Close-to-Mid RangeVortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm Dead-Hold BDC
Best for Variety ShootersUTG 3-12x44mm Compact
Best for Varmint and Big Game HuntingLeupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Compact
Best for Extra-Long RangeVortex Viper 6.5-20x50mm

1. Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Riflescope BDC 800

Nikon M-308 4-16X42 Riflescope BDC 800 Reticle, Matte 16463

Magnification: Variable | Dimensions: 13.5-in Length | Weight: 1.2-lb | MOA Adjustment Clicks: ¼

  • Comes with accessories
  • Tactical, Quick-Reset Turrets
  • Built-In 20 MOA Slope

  • Eye relief uncomfortable after 12x power
  • Very Expensive


Going the distance just got a little bit easier. When you want long-range out of your AR-10, Nikon has your back with their Monarch series scope.

Although it uses a 42mm lens, there won’t be restrictions on your range of elevation thanks to the 20 MOA slope. On the other hand, you could use the BDC hold-over marks rather than dial elevation. Either way works, no matter your preference.

If you decide to dial in with the tactical, rapid action turrets, resetting back to zero happens in a snap – literally. Pull the knob up, crank it back to zero, and get back to business. For the tactical shooters, the side focus parallax knob is a good bonus too!

Despite how far you want to go, the eye relief is very forgiving…until you get around 12x power. Unfortunately, the last few magnification settings are uncomfortable for most shooters.

Otherwise, the only downside to this scope is the price. While you’ll pay more for it, you get excellent features, 95% light transmission, and a few accessories. These include a flip-up lens cap, microfiber cleaning cloth, and a one-piece mount.

Is It the One for You?

Nikon delivers the best AR10 scope for mid-to-long range, with configuration options for different users. Either let the BDC hold-over guide your way or dial in the bullseye. Regardless, the quick-reset zero and 95% light transmission, let’s you knock out targets from dawn to dusk like a pro.


2. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Dead-Hold BDC

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Dead-Hold BDC

Magnification: Variable Dimensions: 8-in Length | Weight: 1-lb | MOA Adjustment Clicks: ¼

  • Precision-Glide Erector System
  • No Windage and Elevation Guesswork
  • Resistant to Heavy Recoil

  • Parallax not great after 50 yards
  • Sun glare sometimes an issue


Similar to our previous scope, Vortex offers an option between dialing in elevation/windage or using the BDC holdover. So what’s the difference? While there are a few, the main one lies in the distance you’re shooting.

This is the best AR-10 scope for close-to-mid range shots.

While its 91% light transmission is not excellent, it’s still acceptable, particularly for its price range. Unlike other scopes of this quality, you can actually afford this one!

With a 40mm objective lens, there is one thing you’ll have to be wary of: sun glare giving away your position. However, this is not a fault on Vortex – it’s just something you can’t avoid with larger lenses despite the manufacturer.

Otherwise, the reticle is easy to focus thanks to the fast focus eyepiece. Then after the initial focus, finding your zero again is effortless. The precision glide erector system maintains the accuracy of your zero shot after shot. Since it’s shockproof, the heavy recoil from repetitive shooting won’t jar it in the slightest.

While it comes with a couple of minor downfalls, you can’t ask for anything better in this price range. From the clear view to precise controls, it’s worth every single penny.

Is It the One for You?

If you want to hunt big game on a budget, look no further. Despite the price, you’re still getting Vortex quality optics that help you hunt near and far. No fox, possum, or coyote will be safe…but your wallet will be just fine!


3. UTG 3-12x44 30mm Compact ScopeUTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope

Magnification: Variable | Dimensions5-in Length | Weight: 2-lb | MOA Adjustment Clicks: ¼

  • EZ Tap Illumination system
  • Zero locking turrets
  • Parallax free 10-yd to Infinity

  • Side focus knob is tight
  • Heavy weight


Do you ever seem to know what to expect when you go out in the field? One day it’s bright and humid, then dark and cloudy the next. If you travel for competitions or recreational weekends, it’s even more of an issue.

That’s why the Illumination Enhancement (IE) reticle will be your next best friend.

With a single tap, you can switch seamlessly through 36 illumination styles that compliment multi-emerald coated lenses. When you find the design you need that day, simply lock it in and come back to it in a moment’s notice.

The same can be said for the target turrets too. After you find that sweet spot, the turrets will lock on zero and reset quickly. However, the side focus knob is a little tight, but it’s nothing critical to overall performance.

Otherwise, the only issue with handling this scope will be practicing with extra weight. At 2-lb, it’s heavier than other scopes and will take some time to adjust. However, at such a low price, it’s worth finding room for the extra pound.

Is It the One for You?

No matter how often your shooting style and environments change, you can rely on this scope to get you through them. You won’t find anything else at this price with an IE reticle or parallax free from 10 yards to infinity. With that extra pound of weight, it might save you a few trips to the gym!


4. Leupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Compact Riflescope with Duplex Reticle

Leupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Compact Riflescope with Duplex Reticle

Magnification: Variable | Dimensions: 3-in Length | Weight: 7-lb | MOA Adjustment clicks: ¼

  • Diamond Coat lens
  • 9-in eye relief
  • Lightweight

  • Only 4.9-in mounting surface on main tube


There are a lot of compact AR10 scopes, but nothing like Leupold. Setting a comfortable path between its economy and premium models, the VX-2 is just right.

As always, they impress us with a stunning view only made possibly by high quality glass. For the VX2, layers of lead-free precision ground glass gets their unique DiamondCoat coating. While providing an excellent 94% light transmission, the darkened edges ensure there’s never too much light.

Like we said…just right.

Then they took it a step further with the above-average eye relief. While many scopes offer 3.6 to 4 inches, you almost get a full 5 inches of eye relief here. So while you comfortably sight in past 25 yards, parallax will never be an issue either.

You’re covered from 25 yards to infinity!

The only complaint we can place is with the lack of mounting surface on the main tube. Otherwise, it works exactly the way we want!

Is It the One for You?

Lightweight, affordable, and effective? Yes, yes, and yes!

Perfect for varmint and big game hunting, this super-light scope can go anywhere your target roams. If you’re a self-proclaimed handyman, you’ll have fun finding the best way to mount it too!


5. Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50mm BDC

Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20x50 PA Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Magnification: Variable | Dimensions: 4-in Length | Weight: 4-lb | MOA Adjustment clicks: ¼

  • XD Lens
  • MAG bar
  • MIL Dot reticle

  • Doesn’t hold zero well
  • Uncomfortable eye relief at highest powers


Do you miss the days of spiky bleached tips, JNCO jeans, and rad tunes? You can feel extreme again with this beast of a machine.

As the best scope for AR-10 extreme long-range shooting, it’s exactly what you need.

With a quick focus eyepiece and sharp adjustment controls, you won’t second guess your shot. Fortunately, the turrets are zero-reset too because this scope does not hold the zero very well. Although they have fixed the tension of the spring system, there are still complaints of wandering zeroes.

Otherwise, the AR10 optics surpass even the highest quality glass from Vortex. They save their premium XD glass for their most premium scopes. It gives you sharpness from edge-to-edge so you can clearly see all of the fine details.

When you zoom in to see those details, you’ll never have to take your eyes off the target. The MAG bar is perfect for moments when every second counts. It pairs well with the MIL dot reticle to eliminate almost any guesswork.

Other than the price, the only other inconvenience is uncomfortable eye relief at high magnifications. Then again, is it really “extreme” if you don’t push the limits a little bit?

Is It the One for You?

This isn’t just a good scope for AR10 enthusiasts, it’s the best for extreme long-range tactical shots. While the price is a little steep, it doesn’t compare to the experience you’ll have blasting bullseyes from hundreds of yards.

Wide open fields and deserts are calling your name. Mount this scope today and see what you’ve been missing!


That’s NOT All, Folks!

Only the most powerful scopes are suitable for a powerful rifle like the AR-10. Despite your style, there’s something here for everyone.

We’ve done the tedious research to bring you the top quality optics you want. Whether you’re competing, feeding your family, or just playing with backyard targets, there’s one for you. Even if you’re low on money, there’s even a couple of budget-friendly options.

Are you looking for something a little bit different? Check out more reviews on the best rifle scopes!

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