Since the AR-15 platform is a medium-effect ballistic package, selecting a top-notch structure in the optics department offers some real advantages. However, this rifle changes like the weather from year to year.
The platform size and the functional rounds that it accepts allows you to use a scope that retains the mid-size power range of 1X8. This scope is quite workable for most shooting situations.
This guide will provide details to help you select from several of the best 1-8X scopes.
Vortex Strike Eagle
Vortex Strike Eagle
Primary Arms SFP
Primary Arms SFP
Bushnell AR Optic
Primary Arms Platinum Series
Primary Arms Platinum Series
Burris XTR II
Burris XTR II
1. Vortex Strike Eagle - Best 1-8 Scope
In terms of quality for a combat or sport optic, this Strike Eagle 1-8 X 24mm from Vortex is a top-notch option. The scope screams of versatility and solid function when mounted on a squad-level weapon. It is useful within a police department or in the hands of a three-gun competition shooter.
Dropping to the single 1-power setting gives the shooter a real edge on close-range, moving targets that are coming in fast.
Move to the 8-power setting and you're ready to take on more precision-style shots at longer ranges. In effect, this is a combat-level optic as it stands. Any other use is fine, but the glass was born to fight bad guys.
The scope retains fully coated lens surfaces and maintains sharp images with the etched glass reticle in the second focal plane. This optic system also makes use of a fully lighted reticle for low or no light shooting in dark alleys or entry-level combat shooting.
How do I know all this? Because I trained day and night for 23 years in the service of a Class A city police department. In this case, my circumstances were own the night or die. This manufacturer is a solid start to that goal.
The tube diameter is 30mm. This makes it ready for combat or competition due to its outstanding construction.
The objective lens diameter is 24mm with an AR-BDC2 reticle. It also features elimination LED lighting with the color red displayed.
The eye relief on this scope is 3.5 inches. The turret adjustments all have MOA graduations. The click value for zero or elevation change is 0.5 MOA. The field of view at 100 yards is 111.6 ft. Range focus covers 100 yards to infinity.
The scope is waterproof and carries a hard anodized finish on the aircraft grade aluminum body. Vortex includes cantilever mount for the 30 mm tube size with a 2” offset.
Vortex Strike Eagle
The price of Vortex Strike Eagle varies, so check the latest price at
You may also want to know about the Best Scope Mounts in 2020.
2. Trijicon Accupower 1-8x - Best For The Money
As you know, if you have been reading my reviews, I favor Trijicon optics, and for good reason. This product is special operator, military, and police directed in terms of product quality.
The scopes are designed to stay together, whether it is the dead of winter in Alaska or the hot, dusty sandbox over in Indian country.
The RS27c is a scope that carries a 34mm main tube with a mil segmented circle crosshair reticle. The scope makes use of a red LED reticle at 1-8x28mm.
Built in the first focal plane, the scope's bullet impact points will not vary regardless of power setting. The field of view set in degrees is 20-2.5. The total field of view is 109.2 13.1 ft @ 100 yards.
Dimensions of this scope are 10.8X3/125X2.7 inches. The carry weight of the optic is 25 ounces. This scope uses battery power and will run for 31 hours at the highest of eleven brightness settings.
Coated optics produce ultra fine clear images. I shoot two of these optical systems built by this manufacturer. The first one is the ACOG (Military Mother US Army). The second one is a long range scope with a lighted forever mil dot in the crosshair center.
I have never had an issue with either of these scopes and do not expect any in the future. The case finish on this optic is hard anodized. It is built to take a pounding and stay on zero.
While not our bargain basement standard, this scope is a high-quality, professional optic. If your job demands that you get the job done the first time and every time, this is money well spent in terms of product capability in the field.
Trijicon Accupower 1-8
The price of Trijicon Accupower 1-8 varies, so check the latest price at
3. Primary Arms 1-8X24 SFP
Coming back into the $400 price range, we take a look at the Primary Arms 1-8X24 SFP.
This scope makes use of an illuminated ACSS reticle--the ACSS Griffin MIL multi-coated reticle. The reticle features automatic ranging out to 600 yards, moving target lead correction through the sight, and a 5X5 matrix for deadly precision aiming.
This sight will not change crosshair size with variations in power magnification ranges. The reticle is illuminated with an 11-position brightness setting and makes use of a CR2032 battery.
The tube is constructed from 6063 aluminum. The surface is black anodized. The scope is water- and fog proof, and built as a nitrogen purged system. The crosshair reticle (sub-tensions) on this scope is the color red.
This scope is built for the serious shooter who is taking on competition events using steel targets. There are other professional uses for the AR-15 class weapon when scoped in this fashion.
Primary Arms SFP
The price of Primary Arms SFP varies, so check the latest price at
4. Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-8 X 24mm
When it comes to AR optics, this manufacturer has come forward with their idea of a well-rounded optical system for this weapon: the Bushnell 1-8 X 24mm. As indicated this is one of the best ar scopes built exclusively for AR-15/M-16 style rifles.
The Bushnell is offered with an illuminated reticle (BTR-2). The objective lens size is 24mm with an optical coating making it waterproof, durable, and fog proof in the field.
This rifle scope retains the “Throw Down“ PCL lever that can be set up for different scopes sold by this company. In effect, this lever system allows the scope to be set at two different heights on the rifle's flat-top receiver.
With the very low profile of the AR-15 flat-top rifle, this scope positioning problem can be an issue for some shooters.
This scope's BDC reticle offers different positions when using different ammunition down-range.
Bushnell Elite Tactical
The price of Bushnell Elite Tactical varies, so check the latest price at
5. UTG 1-8x28 30mm - Best Under $200
This UTG scope is an affordable option for the first time AR-15 owner. The quality is reasonable for the price. The features are up to date and advanced.
Remember this, scope buyers. The scope you buy today, even at a bargain price point, carries features that were only dreamed of less than a decade ago. Like everything in the shooting sport, research and development have moved the whole industry into a very different perspective from what was present in the old days.
This UTG scope retains what is called “T8“ optics. This means the scope has an 8X-zoom feature on the 30mm tube. It utilizes coated lens surfaces for maximum light gathering control. Whether in low light or on a bright sunny day, the scope can handle the transitions involved with these optical settings.
The scope is flexible. It offers the shooter the ability to make the transition from close-range to long-range with ease. While the manufacturer suggests that this is a combat-related optical system, I do not agree.
You cannot get that lifeline in materials from any fighting glass sights costing under $400. As a recreational starter sight, general small game hunting optic, or something you are not putting your life on the line for, this scope is a good choice as a general use sighting tool.
The scope makes use of what the manufacturer calls “RZ-TAP illumination Enhancing (IE) Systems". The color mode on this scope totals 36 in multicolor presentations.
I like that the scope makes use of an etched glass mil-dot reticle. Etched was thought of as a crazy idea about seven years ago when the folks at Horus Optics invented it. Today, it is the cat's whiskers in terms of being spot on with a system that will not distort or fall out of line under heavy use.
This is a real advantage when it comes to optics. In this case, it is a high mark for this budget-rated scope.
The turret system retains a zero lock and features re-settable windage and elevation adjustments.
This mount's size is 13 X 2.7 X 2.7 inches. The carry weight is 1.8 pounds. As far as power, one lithium battery is required and is included with the scope.
UTG 1-8x28 30mm
The price of UTG 1-8x28 30mm varies, so check the latest price at
6. Primary Arms Platinum Series 1-8 x 24
The price of almost all scopes indicates the product's quality. However, I have run some very budget minded glass for many years and over time the glass and tubes have held their own. I guess the deal here is never say never in this business.
At any rate, this scope has been added because, like several other top brands, the folks at Primary Arms have not left the high-end glass on the back burner. Enter this top-end optic as an example of this level of sighting systems.
This is a sniper's dream in a FFP system. It is accurate at any setting desired down-range.
Since you do not have to estimate bullet impact points with power changes, you spend less time making quick target acquisition.
This scope uses exposed turret settings. This means speed when adjusting or making any changes to your settings. The illumination color is red.
The scope is waterproof and fog resistant. It is also shockproof in terms of fighting capabilities. The lens system is multi-coated for protection and positive light quality control.
Primary Arms Platinum Series
The price of Primary Arms Platinum Series varies, so check the latest price at
7. Burris 1-8 X 24 XTR II
This scope by Burris has been set up for the three-gun competition market and is doing quite well. It has a clear glass at the 1-8X power settings. There are no distortion or parallax issues, even when shooting with both eyes open.
The scope is available in either focal plane optic setting. This is a first to my knowledge in terms of custom offerings in rifle glass. The FFP allows the shooter to pull in the target to a large image and at the same time increase the size of the sub-tensions.
The second focal plane increases the target size with magnification levels, but not the size of the sub-tensions being viewed by the shooter. The choice is often the first focal plane among snipers.
The fast-acting shots as in three-gun make the second focal plane a solid option. Combat shooters generally opt for this one, based on what I have learned and observed within police agency situations.
This scope uses a ballistic circle and a single red dot. The turret retains the MAD knobs system to set up this scope easily using capped knobs or open settings for major changes in DOPE requirements.
This scope retains 11 illuminated brightness settings that span night and day shooting requirements. The system also makes use of a battery-save position on the controls.
Burris XTR II
The price of Burris XTR II varies, so check the latest price at
8. Leupold Mark 1 – 8 x 24mm
This optic is designed as a first focal plane scope and is built for close-quarter shooting as well as long-distance applications. This scope is built for the military, law enforcement, and civilian competition.
In effect, most sniper work well back into World War II was accomplished by power settings of about 1-6x scope.Even today many sharpshooters and snipers prefer a scope setting of 8- to 10-power for actual field applications. This scope is built for taking the police or combat-related long shots if required.
This scope retains eight brightness settings for adapting to different lighting conditions. All the light settings are compatible with night vision devices. This is unique among combat designed optics within this class. This scope has an off position between each of these settings that lengthens battery life.
The scope uses quick-change BDC reticle adjustments for differences in bullet drop characteristics. And it retains more than 40 milliradians of elevation change. The click adjustments are 1/10 mil. These provide very precise target acquisition abilities on the long shots.
The price of Leupold Mark varies, so check the latest price at
As you can well see, there are some vast differences in the 1-8X24mm tactical AR-15 scopes. Knowing your needs will make a big difference in determining what you need to spend which can range from thousands to a few hundred bucks.
How far can you shoot with a 8X scope?
When thinking about power settings on rifle-scopes, buying into a scope with a power range not exceeding 8X is workable in terms of a wide variety of situations.
First of all, keep in mind that most military snipers tend to work in a range from about 7-10 power. That means the 8-power magnification fits right into the pattern of workable performance.
For many years, Leupold has offered the 2-7 in their hunting scopes. This power range is very effective to all practical ranges when game is being hunted. I have run selective target sightings at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards, and I've been successful when applying this range of scope magnification.
Sight picture quality will depend on the quality of glass that is installed in the rifle-scope you're selecting in the 8-power range. By this I mean scope price is going to be a valid consideration at this point.
Just this past week I took in a new German Zeiss Conquest V6 for testing. Right off I locked the new scope into the 8-power setting and ranged it across a wide valley below my mountain home against stock water tanks, large boulders, and at 1 mile an old single-width house trailer.
The result was outstanding, and I could have delivered a bullet at will on any one of those test targets. The German glass was totally magnificent. Less quality in the glass, less ability to scope out hits at an 8-power setting.
Which is better, FFP or SFP?
In the area of focal planes, the scope using a first focal plane turret design will allow the shooter to bring up the crosshair size right along with the 8-power setting. For the most part, this is not necessary, and is often applied to ultra long-range work in the field.
Either setting will get the job done to most normal ranges a rifle can be used within.
What is ACSS?
There has been a question posed to Hunt Net regarding the term ACSS. This element has nothing to do with the basic use of the 8-power setting on a rifle scope. This is about reticle design, and using elevation and windage marks within the sight itself while staying away from turret knobs.
We call this area of the scope the “sub-tension” setup, and in most cases long-distance, military, and sniper glass carry this reticle design.
How much scope magnification do I need?
In the area of critical amounts of magnification, you can hunt anyplace in the world using a 2-7 power scope. As most shooting is by way of 10X or less in power ranges, the need for massive magnification is toned down a great deal in the real world of shooting.
I even find myself dropping to 6-power most of the time after sighting my target and setting up for the shot. If you're going to move into the long-distance club then yes, more magnification is always better. I have two scopes set up for 2000 yards+ work that use 30-power in one, and 50-power in the second.
Even the new Zeiss currently being tested makes use of a high magnification level of 18-power. This scope is set up much like the military variant M4, as offered by Leupold. In this case, high power can return good target ID at times. In war and even police business, you don’t ever want to shoot at the wrong target.
In terms of a fixed power scope, in or at 8-power, I can tell you for a fact that when I was just starting out in the 1950s and shooting a home-built 30-06 for just about everything, I shot a fixed power 10X offered by Herters at the time.
That scope did it all, and in time was transferred to my very first hot varmint rifle chambered in 22-250 Remington. Fixed power was the only game in town in terms of my rifles for a good decade. Deer, wood chucks, fox and coyote were all victims that fell prey to my 10X scoped rifle.