Unlike the smaller AR-15 and its short chamber length, the larger AR-10 is a rifle that has many variants as far as both civilian and military applications are concerned. This rifle is the AR with the long chamber and, as such, it can handle far bigger cartridges than its predecessor.
This model has come to be known as the carrier system for everything from the 22-250 Remington, 308 Winchester, and all the way up to the massive 300 Win Mag. With size comes increased performance abilities, which also means bigger, better optics that drive accuracy forward.
When the subject turns to optics for the AR-10, the shooter needs to consider the cartridge being selected for use on the platform. This is because the game has jumped up a notch in terms of effective range by way of the larger round types being applied.
Primary Arms SLX
Primary Arms SLX
Leupold VX Series
Leupold VX Series
Nikon FX 1000
Nikon FX 1000
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
Athlon Optics, Argos BTR Rifle Scope
The 14 Best Scopes For AR-10
Here is a quick list. Read on to see our more comprehensive reviews of each scope.
- Leupold VX 3-9X40mm - Best AR-10 Scope
- Primary Arms SLX 4-14X44mm - Best All Around Scope
- Nikon M-308 SF 4-16X42mm
- Nikon Prostaff 4-12X40
- Leupold VX Series
- Vortex Optics 6-24X50 - Best for Long Range
- Trijicon VCOG
- Nikon FX 1000
- TRACT TEKOA 4-15X44
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40 - Best For Hunting
- UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope - Best Budget Scope
- Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-24X50 FFP
- Athlon Optics, Argos BTR Rifle Scope
- TRACT TORIC 2-10X42
1. Leupold VX 3-9X40mm - Best AR10 Scope
In my opinion, Leupold makes some of the best scopes in America today. As an American scope manufacturer, this company uses design applications that are not found in any other mainstream optical system, and that includes some very super high priced models as well.
When talking with the Weatherby Rifle folks at 2020 Shot Show this year, the Leupold was endorsed well above all others on the market today. Weatherby rifles are not junk, and as a Wyoming-based company, they are very close to home, and one of my primary choices in ultra fine rifles.
If it's good enough for Weatherby, it's already in my gun vault.
This scope uses a “Duplex Reticle”, and that means faster target acquisition with wide crosshairs on the ends, coupled with thin ones in the center for fine sight application on distance targets.
The scope retains the Leupold Twilight Management system, which allows for more gunning time early in the morning and late in the evening. The adjustments for elevation and windage are set up in ¼ MOA clicks for accurate, dead on zero adjusting as well.
The scope is made of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum and has been tested for a shooter's lifetime use. It carries MilSpec standards in terms of glass construction and quality, and is manufactured and installed to fight off high recoiling cartridges that are found in the AR-10 platform.
2. Primary Arms SLX 4-14X44mm
As a final offering here, the subject turns to a scope built by Primary Arms, and the SLX 4-14X44 rifle scope.
This scope comes in a mil dot configuration regarding sub-tensions.That means holdover is workable to normal ranges with a simple holdover off the reticle zero point. This FFP optic also has open turret adjustments for fast advance range or wind bullet impact calculations.
The side adjustment for parallax and focus adjustment makes the task easy and allows the shooter to keep eyes front and in the sights while adjusting for these fine optical tuning elements. The scope cuts to 1/10 MOA adjustments for very fine tuning as in target shooting or taking small targets at longer distances.
This scope carries a 17.5 mil adjustment limit . This is not massive and not suggested for very far applications. The use of a 20 or 40 MOA rail is suggested in the event the shooter wants to stretch the effective elevation limits of the scope.
However, observing glass quality, as in sighting for longer distance work, is advised by this researcher. I have found lower proceed glass to fall away quickly in clarity and focus ability much beyond 400 yards, if that. Buyer beware in this case.
3. Nikon M-308 SF 4-16X42mm
The Nikon M-308 is designed specifically for the AR-10 platform and for rounds like the 308 Winchester or 7.62 NATO. This scope is large and returns strong magnification at full 16 power on the high end.
Nikon uses the “Nikoplex“ reticle on this scope. This means that the turret settings for elevation are up to 40 MOA, and that also says that the scope will produce extended range calculations (MOA clicks) in bullet drop to 100 yards.
The manufacturer also offers this scope in a BDC reticle. This reticle gives the shooter a number of options in the ranging and sighting area of this glass optic design.
With a 4-inch eye relief, the scope is built to handle excessive recoil. I shoot this basic model on a 300 Win Mag turn bolt sniper rifle with great results.
When you add on the “Second Zero' by TACOMHQ, the whole system becomes a deadly accurate ultra-long-range system to more than 1500 yards.
This scope features fully multi-coated optics. This coating provides outstanding light transmission and returns maximum brightness in lower light situations as well as on bright sunny days. It retains 4X zoom technology that allows the shooter to obtain a wider low to high magnification range in the field.
Built for the AR-10 rifle, this scope is caliber-specific. The Nikon M-Series rifle scopes integrate reticles and adjustment systems for specific cartridges. It is engineered for use with the 168 grain 7.62X51 NATO (308 Winchester) boat tail match bullets right out of the box.
Water- and fog-proof, these are proven field tools for tough back country big game hunting or other speciality shooting. The scope's open turret adjustment with zero stop technology ensures a dead-on zero without any correction when taking a fast shot on a suddenly emerging target.
The turret adjustment is ¼ MOA. The bell size forward lens is 49.33 mm.
4. Nikon Prostaff 4-12X40
If you are searching for a scope that is a perfect fit for the AR-10, this glass provides a good balance when the targets are whitetail in cover or in open country.
We shoot three different variations of AR-10 in our little group of deer hunters each Fall. This scope is among them because it secures its covered turret with threaded caps. It is a tough unit in the rough Dakota winter weather conditions that can hit 20 below zero, with 40 mph winds at times.
The scope is not upper crust in pricing. Its construction features a poly aluminum main tube. The fully multi-coated lens offers 98% light retention. The turret settings have a zero reset with spring-loaded adjustment knobs.
This scope maintains 3.7 inches of eye relief. It is set up for high power centerfire cartridges on the AR-10 platform. It is nitrogen-filled, makes use of sealed O rings, and is fog- and water-proof. The reticle design in the main tube (sub tensions) is the Nikon BDC system.
5. Leupold VX Series - Best AR10 Scope
The Leupold VX series includes scopes designed primarily for hunting. The illustrated scope is on the upper end of this line. I have used VX on several rifles and have two mounted currently on turn bolt models.
These are effective, high-quality glass sights that gather light well, and stay on zero even when tested using the “box” method of repeatable elevation and windage adjustment.
Built from 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, the main tubes are strong and durable in the field. The color is black. The lenses are treated with DiamondCoat 3. The focus eyepiece is lockable and fast adjusting.
The 1" tube diameter is serviceable for a whitetail deer-hunting model. The scope is also available with a 30mm tube in a slightly different model.
The objective lens bell housing is 50mm in size, which will pull in light during use toward the early morning hours or end of the day. (Just about the time whitetail move.) When used on an AR-10's longer receiver, the scope is a good fit. It is very workable for all normal big game range limits.
6. Vortex Optics 6-24X50
The Vortex 6-24X50 first focal plane rifle scope is a move toward better optics for long-distance shooting that can also serve well on the steel target range or even as a police sniper's equipment. The first focal plane scope means that the image will get larger, as will the sub-tensions, when power is increased.
Target shooters and snipers like this because it enhances their ability to verify target ID and increases target acquisition. At the same time, they have an increased reticle size to match the magnification level.
I liked this rifle scope very much when I shot some high mountain long-distance steel events offered by Hornady and Smith & Wesson firearms. Shooting up to 1000 yards on elk targets across the water, ridge-lines, and straight down cuts, I was able to illustrate the effectiveness of these glass sight systems on an AR-10 (M&P 10).
The Diamondback Tactical houses a large 50mm bell that pulls light well in all shooting conditions. This effect is developed with Vortex's extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses.
The optical quality of this product is very good. Vortex has been on the march toward achieving notoriety as one of the better grade scope sight suppliers in the U.S.
Sub-tensions on this scope as well as target turret adjustments are spot on due to the way it is designed to re-spring within the turret housing. This is a 30mm tube design, making it workable for the AR-10 platform on all models of the rifle.
7. Trijicon VCOG
The Trijicon VCOG 1-6X24 rifle scope is a tube version of the renowned ACOG in many ways. This optic is designed for the 175 grain 308 round, because this is the "go to" round used by Mother Army for U.S. military forces around the globe.
When using the 168 grain Sierra in the 308 Win/7.62 NATO, it did some strange things in flight past 800 yards. Thus, the decision was made by the ballistics type shooters to turn to a heavier bullet.
Enter the 175 grain Sierra MK. The VCOG is a match for this round and retains the correct elevation needed to get bullets on target when used on the U.S. Army M-10 platform.
The scope features the red segmented circle reticle with a centered crosshair that calibrates exactly with the 175 grain Sierra bullet. Built in the first focal plane, the target size increases, as do the sub-tensions viewed by the shooter.
This scope also features a larger target field of view and larger reticle size. This is a typical military design.
You would likely see medium-range snipers deploying this weapons system in combat. During the writing of my second book for Gun Digest, I interviewed U.S. Army Rangers who used this system with night vision assist in the sniper role with very positive results.
The power system on this scope is good for a 700-hour run, even when left on all the time. This generates energy for full-time use of 4 to 6 power settings. The lithium AA batteries are used in the scope's power system.
The scope is waterproof, shockproof, and submersible to 66 feet. All of the electronics on this sight are fully Mil-Spec grade in design and construction. This is a war fighter's scope, period. End of story.
Special operators, police, and civilian shooters can use this system whether in the gunfighter field or among three gun and steel target challenge shooters.
The scope includes a full 90 MOA of windage and elevation and is built in ½ MOA clicks at 100 yards. It is not a budget model scope. However, ask yourself, what is the price of your life worth? Surely you want a NO FAIL option when in combat.
8. Nikon FX 1000
This scope is my last selection in terms of serviceable scopes that can send the mail to 100 yards or 1 mile if required. Today, many shooters are taking on steel targets to 1000 yards-plus and also hunting varmints and big game with the very same rifle.
The Nikon FX 1000 is a budget-priced scope that has been doing very well among high power rifle shooters. A bit large, but it is still workable on the AR-10 platform. This scope makes use of the 4-16X MOA through 6-24X50 reticle FX MRAD or MOA.
I shoot MRAD sub-tensions because my scope is used for both hunting ranges and long-range steel targets (over 1 mile).
With glass etched sub-tensions based on the first focal plane (FFP), this scope is pre-designed for both ultra-long-range target work and general hunting assignments. It retains side-mounted elimination controls and parallax adjustments for 50 yards through infinity.
The main body tube is 30mm, with turrets that carry some solid elevation and windage clicks when needed for that ultra-distant steel target down range.
There is a return zero stop feature on the turrets. These turret systems have a high-speed design and click into each setting with a solid snap.
I have been shooting this scope for a year. I've used it for 1-mile steel target courses, military-based targets as in cardboard bad guys installed in vehicles (junk cars) 3/4 mile away, and hunting Dakota prairie grass rats. The results have been nothing but outstanding.
When designed by Nikon, I was on a waiting list for almost a year prior to getting the scope in here at Ballistics Research & Development for testing. That is the level of the detailed review made by the manufacturer before releasing this very effective long-range glass sight.
9. TRACT TEKOA 4-15X44
This TRACT scope can be considered about twice the value it shows in terms of retail pricing. This is quite an optical masterpiece to my way of thinking. It is my top choice for everyday guys who get everyday paychecks.
This scope is in an affordable price range and has all that a deer hunter, hog killer, or even coyote hunter requires. The TRACT HD optics are next to none. It features fully coated optics with high transmission light-gathering ability. The scope is crystal clear when conditions are not the best for making long-range shots.
The glass in this scope utilizes the etched glass system instead of set crosshairs. This glass optic is as tough as you're ever going to find in any sub-tension used in scope sighting designs.
The sub-tension design in this scope is special in that TRACT used the T-Plex reticle that is cleaned up for the game hunter but still offers very positive and fast alignment of both standing long-range targets and closer range running game as well.
You can find the dead center of your reticle quickly when pulling up on a running mule or whitetail deer.
The scope makes use of the basic 1” tube, includes a sealed O-ring, and is purged with Argon gas that makes it totally waterproof and fog proof. The windage and elevation clicks are ¼ MOA, with a sharp clear audible sound return.
Why is this important? When you need to turn sight adjustments in low-light conditions, just count the clicks while keeping an eye on your target.
This scope can be customized with zero stop as well as high or low profile custom turrets. Just ask TRACT and you will get a straightforward answer. It offers a full lifetime warranty. There are no time limits and no paperwork. You have a good, reliable company providing awesome customer service to their buyers.
10. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40
This is an example of a solid working hunting scope . I have indicated a “hunting” scope because it makes use of capped turret adjustments and those adjustments are notch-activated with coin-style turns and, therefore, not very suitable when turning up elevation or windage on longer-range targets.
This scope makes use of the BDC reticle in MOA graduations. This allows the easy use of sub-tension adjustments directly through the scope's crosshair system. It allows fast and accurate sighting on targets beyond 200 yards, being the end of the dead hold zero point.
Lens areas are coated and the one-piece scope tube is gas purged as well. The system is waterproof, and sealed in case of nasty weather field applications. The Vortex scope uses metal-on-metal precision turret adjustments and has a positive zero return when making changes from the turret adjustments.
I shoot three different Vortex scopes and as I tend to turn turret adjustments all the time, never giving the turret system a rest at all, I can say that the scope holds up to some radical zero changes and sight adjustment use.
Built with a 40mm bell housing, this optic pulls light well when applied to a good solid general purpose hunting scope. It will take on a 308 Winchester, a 243 Winchester, and even oddball 22-250s chambered in the AR-10 receiver system. I have shot all three of these cartridges in “10’s” extensively.
11. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
This UTG 3 is an entry level scope for the shooter that is not going to push the limits of the optical system to any major degree. In general, the AR-10 makes use of full-size big rifle glass. But in this case, the tube size measures 30mm and the bell housing is a 44mm configuration.
This means for the most part better light transmission and heavier internal parts in the turret housing.
The scope has some nice features in that the reticle carries MOA rings that make extended range estimation and bullet impact points easier to maintain.
The illumination system makes this rifle scope workable in low-light situations. The turret retains a zero resetting (zero stop) system, so the shooter can return to his or her correct zero points after adjusting for elevation, for example.
Priced at $123.80 from Amazon, I would not expect this scope to retain the best glass as well as some of the materials found on high quality scopes. Again, a low-cost starter system that could last the shooter far longer then some would expect.
An example I have is a very basic, old Bushnell mounted on a 12-gauge turkey shotgun that has never been touched regarding a new zero, and has been shooting very heavy recoiling slugs, and 3” magnum turkey loads for about 30 years to date. How many rounds?
It has been a bench-rest test gun regarding new loads here at Ballistics Research for all that time And I don’t have any idea as to the total number of rounds. So, lets just say it's somewhere in the thousands. Go figure.
12. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-24X50 FFP
Now we turn to the big boys in the playpen, but even this at almost $1000.00 is nowhere near the end of the line in terms of cost per unit.
This Viper, however, is a good start toward high end, and I shoot this glass on an AR-15 chambered in the hot new .224 Valkyrie, which pushes accurate down range results to 800 through 1200 yards all day long. As for the AR-10, it's a nice fit for the big rounds as well, to be sure.
The Viper PST is a total tactical scope that will perform against targets at close-range. It will also quickly change up to a long-range system with the flip of a turret knob. Designed for fast accurate ranging adjustments regarding bullet drop, the scope has Vortex RZR zero stop features.
The reticle has 10 intensity levels on the lighting system, and with better glass and a wide 50mm bell, this is a light gathering and controlled environmental masterpiece, at a budget price considering what it retains in the performance department.
The scope is water- and fog-proof, built in a one-piece tube construction designed for hard field use, and available in MRAD (military) EBR-7C MOAm or EBR 7-C MRAD sub-tensions. The scope is flexible and range-ready for any of the optics listed here.
The scope also has side focus adjustments that make for easy field applications when changing target range on the fly.
13. Athlon Optics, Argos BTR Rifle Scope 6-24X50
Athlon has taken on the long-range rifle scope for those that match the needs of AR-10 308 shooters by introducing a scope that carries the features of the high end brands, but at a much more affordable price.
Within the past several years, the cost of a long-range scope has gone up massively because of the requirements associated with gaining performance from this type of optic.
Long-distance scopes require high magnification, the ability to filter light and garbage in the air leading to a longer-range target, and also retain enough elevation and windage adjustment to allow the shooter to properly get the bullet to a distant target accurately.
This BTR from Athlon has a lens installed in the first focal plane. This means the shooter zeroes his or her magnified target with the sub-tension system magnified as well through the lens. Long-range shooters like this because they do not lose the crosshairs when trying to pick up a target at, say, 1200 through 1760 yards.
The lens on this scope is multi-coated for brightness and light-control. Target fade is common with lower end glass.
I cannot say what the effective range is for this scope as I have not tested it in-house on a real time range. However, based on the cost of the scope, I would say that it most likely built for shooting well under 1000 yards.
Again, as to an exact range that the scope will perform within, I cannot say.
This scope uses an etched reticle. This was developed by Horus Vision Systems years ago and mocked as no good. That was because Horus designed it, used it, and was kicking the tails off the competition with the etched system.
A point of fact is that the method used for installing the reticle is a straightforward, simple process and, in most cases, cost-effective as well. You will never have an etched reticle drop out of the lens viewer due to damage or recoil.
Material used in the main 30mm scope tube body is 6061T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, and that tube is argon-purged for total water-safe use and thermal stability in the field.
In terms of very low-light use, the scope has an illuminated reticle and is designed with an easy-turn magnification adjuster at the rear of the scope tube. Parallax adjustments are initiated with the left side adjustment knob pictured on the scope.
These adjustments are almost always matched to the exact range that the lens clears for shooting.
Scope dimensions: 17X5X4 inches. Weight: 15.8 ounces. battery system uses one Lithium metal battery (Included).
Information I do not have regarding this scope is the exact number of clicks that the elevation turret retains. This is critical and needs to be researched prior to buying this optical system.
Remember, however, that additional elevation can be obtained by mounting the scope in an MOA scope rail. These run from 20 through 40 MOA and can give the shooter a great deal of additional elevation adjustment options depending on the given rifle cartridge being considered for target or long-range work.
14. TRACT TORIC 2-10X42
This is another scope that I have indicated will get the job done for the hunter. I have this scope mounted on some long-range equipment. I have it on a 22 Creedmoor (Wildcat) by Satterlee Arms in Dead Wood, South Dakota, and also on Montana Rifles using the 1999 338 Lapua cartridge.
Both of these rifles are dead serious shooting systems and are in the commercial custom class of both hunting and military application distance rifles. Remember, the AR-10 now has cartridge development all the way to the 300 Win Mag with a few Wildcat rounds also in the mix.
With rifles that cost more than I even want to list here, the glass needs to be good. TRACT has hit the mark dead center in this case. This scope makes use of the TRACT UHD technology and features superior quality SCHOTT HT glass offered for gun sights.
Low-light dispersion, ED objective lens, and etched glass lens (sub-tensions), which is standard with this company, make this one of the best AR-10 scopes.
The turret design includes zero stop, 4” eye relief through the total magnification range, and a high profile turret kit. This scope makes use of the TRACT “Impact Ballistics Program.” Sub-tensions can be traced back to the company through that program.
Custom ballistic solutions (DOPE ) can be generated for the bullet you select to use in the field.
The scope has about 44 inches of MOA adjustment. When you tack on a Second Zero and put the scope on a 20-40 MOA rail, you're talking about a system that can send the 300 Win Mag several miles with pinpoint accuracy. Now that's flexible no matter how you cut it.
Buying Guide For AR-10 Scopes
When moving from the AR-15 to the larger AR-10 rifle, there is a consideration to be made regarding sighting systems. As the AR-10 is a much larger rifle and requires larger cartridges to make use of the long platform design, the glass required to get the best results needs to be upgraded and increased in size.
In truth, the AR-10 was generally developed well ahead of the AR-15. But because of the use in military operations with 5.56 rounds (223 Rem), the smaller rifle got all the ink and the AR-10 went on the back burner for years.
Then the US Army decided to adapt the M-110 (AR-10 basically) as a longer-distance squad-level and special-ops sniper and sharpshooter field weapon.
Assuming you have purchased your AR-10, and goes by several names within the industry and various manufacturers, the sights you select will make or break the weapon's system in terms of it being a rifle that will be flexible under many field conditions.
In military police terms, the M4 Leupold is a perfect match for this rifle because it is not as long as some, meets the demands of even the 1000-yard shooter, but can still be turned down in power for closer range work as well.
There is only one problem here, and that is that scope is currently classified as military only. No civilian use whatsoever. Now, that means only one thing folks. It is darn good at what it is designed to handle.
Based on the M-4, however, I tend to follow the guidelines associated with that glass sight when searching out scopes that can meet the needs of the AR-10 shooter. Also based on the 308 Winchester, being the king of the cartridge selection as applied to the AR-10, just keep those ballistics in mind.
And know that being a dead on 800 yard cartridge with some extended shooting to 1000 yards in perfect conditions, and altitude presenting itself as being high enough, the bullet will stay supersonic longer, with less drop too.
Basically, the scope needs to have a bell size of a least 40mm. This scope will gather light, retains a good wide field of view at even close-range in most cases, and that means it is operational even under early morning or late evening conditions in the field.
With the 308 round used as a baseline, the scope also needs to retain an abundance of extra elevation adjustment in MRADS or MOA clicks. This also needs to be referenced in the sub-tensions of the scope as well.
Fast shooting requires the use of mil dots and hash-marks pre-calculated for the correct elevation requirement when holding over or dialing the longer-distance shot.
Scope tube size is also critical. The newer 30mm tubes that were almost all military for years have moved into the sporting market at a rapid pace. Why? Because they work and work well.
The larger tube body allows for more elevation adjustment, heavier internal parts that won’t fail when you're counting on them, and also having better light control than smaller tube designs.
Because the AR-10 retains a full receiver rail, it can accommodate the larger 30mm rings and bases with the aid of an elevator kit almost always required on the AR platform. Tack this into a single package and the sighting component of operating the AR-10 becomes almost child's-play in terms of effort.
As a suggestion, when buying a scope that is classic perfection when applied to the AR-10, I would consider the MK-5 by Leupold, and the new Toric series by TRACT if your budget is smaller but you still want to get the most out of your rifle. Both of these products can be found on Amazon.
Because the 308, 243, and even the 300 Win Mag are all available in the AR-10 platform, that glass sight is going to be critical. Can you do with less? Without a doubt, but don’t expect more from that scope of lesser quality in the process.
In general, as with most things, you're going to get what you're willing to pay for in a good rifle scope. Also as a final note here. If you spot a good Leupold M-4 out there someplace in a yard sale, or wherever, grab it fast. I have mine and it is not going anyplace but down-range with me.
When selecting that rifle scope for your AR-10, be mindful of how and where that rifle is to be used. The AR-10 is very workable to 1000 yards and more. I have shot commercial events with this rifle to 1200 yards, and observed an industry professional take targets to 1500 yards with the 7.62 NATO using heavy bullets.
When possible try and get a hands-on look at the scope you're about to buy for your rifle. Don’t look through it at the store counter, but request to view through it outside in a more natural environment. When the scope is mounted and paid for is not the time to find that it is not what you wanted in the first place.
Largely due to the military based information covering the past 19 years of constant war, the AR-10/M-10 has advanced significantly. Even while other weapons systems are being considered for the future, this workhorse is still sending deadly mail centered on the 308 Winchester round (7.62 NATO).
By turning to big glass and any number of fine weapons system, you will make a wise decision when you go with the AR-15 and the modern glass of the day attached