People often pay for cosmetic touches or expensive branding, so a cheap scope can often be a good scope for practical shooters. That is especially true of AR scopes since the market for them is so large. The best cheap AR scope will offer a clear picture of the target with a decent level of magnification, be fairly light, and durable enough for use in the wilderness. There are plenty of options that meet those requirements, and we built a list of the best ten based on their overall quality and their price to help you pick a good scope.
10. Hammers Compact Scope
The Compact scope from Hammers is a cheap option and a good value for its price. It offers a reasonably clear image, along with a rotating range turret that makes trajectory adjustments for up to 500 yards. It isn’t quite as precise as some other options, but it works well enough for most new shooters. Also, it is quite durable and well-constructed for its price, which helps it to resist damage from accidents. It is the best cheap AR scope for new or inexperienced shooters who aren’t sure if they want to make a bigger investment, but less than ideal for experienced users.
9. Bushnell Throw Down PCL
The Bushnell Throw Down PCL scope is copes with poor lighting at moderate ranges. It includes a lever system that allows for fairly quick adjustments to deal with changing light levels, which can be an asset when hunting in the early morning or late in the evening. The reticle is also illuminated for easier target acquisition. Hunters should consider trying this scope, but most sports shooters won’t be operating in the conditions where it shines. You can also choose from this best AR optics under 300 list.
8. Bushnell 1x MP
The Bushnell 1x MP is a simple scope with an illuminated T-dot reticle. It does not offer any magnification, but the illuminated reticle is enough to help with targeting in low-light conditions on its own. Also, it can improve accuracy for some shooters under normal conditions. It has a built-in mount for a weaver rail system, which can be convenient for shooters who aren’t used to adding accessories to their weapons. The design is reasonably durable, which reduces the need for repairs when accidents happen. Try this scope if you want lighting and a good targeting reticle without any magnification.
7. Vortex VMX-3T
The Vortex VMX 3T is a magnifying scope that is designed to work with the red dot sights from Vortex. The need to combine the two makes this a little more complex and expensive than the other options, but it is an asset for people who have a red dot system that they like and only occasionally need a scope. The magnification level is not adjustable but is it possible to remove the magnification without taking the system off of the gun. Try this if you need to stretch an existing red dot’s functionality up to the moderate range, but avoid it if you would also need a new dot.
6. Burris MTAC
The Burris MTAC is marginally more expensive than most of the other scopes on this list, but the increase in price comes with an increase in quality. This scope has excellent glass and a nitrogen-filled tube that prevents fogging, so it offers a very clear image. The eyepiece is coated with rubber for an extra layer of protection against accidents, and the design allows for plenty of eye relief to go with it. This scope maintains its position well, and is even suitable for some competitions, so shooters who are willing to invest but want to avoid breaking the bank should try it.
5. Bushnell Digital Sentry
The Bushnell Digital Sentry can function as either a scope when mounted on a weapon or as monocular when mounted on a hat. It offers relatively little magnification, but it does provide plenty of illumination in the dark and a red dot for easier aiming. Since it can work either on or off of a weapon, it isn’t quite as comfortable to use as a dedicated scope, but the added versatility does compensate for that. Try the Digital Sentry if you need heavy illumination, but avoid it if you only shoot when the light is good.
4. Leapers Bugbuster
The Bugbuster scope from Leapers is a durable and versatile pick that is appropriate for most shooters of moderate experience. It offers s huge assortment of color and light settings, along with a button to reset to the last one that was used. That makes it useful in most lighting conditions, but it can be daunting for new shooters due to all of the options. The lens offers a wide field of view with a good light transmission, and the case is fairly resistant to damage. It is the best cheap AR scope for a hunter on a budget, but new shooters should be aware of the learning curve for this scope.
3. Aim Sports Tactical Series
The Aim Tactical Series scope is remarkably cheap, but it performs well enough for most moderately shooters with experience. Moreover, it offers three inches of eye relief to ensure quick aiming and help with recoil. And the lens is treated to allow for excellent light transmission. The case is made of a single piece of aluminum, so it is sturdy enough for normal use. The downside to this model is that the magnification level is not adjustable, but the 4x magnification is appropriate for plenty of uses. This is the best cheap AR scope in terms of raw value, and the quality is such that everyone should try it.
2. Firefield Barrage
The Barrage is the best cheap AR scope for use at short to medium range. It offers good performance at every point in that spectrum, which makes it valuable for most casual shooters and wilderness hunters. It includes a drop reticle that is best for 55-grain bullets in the .223 caliber, which covers most AR platforms. Performance suffers slightly in other calibers, but it remains one of the top choices in most scenarios. Give it a try if you need a solid scope with variable magnification, but don’t need support at extreme ranges.
1. Barska Electrosight Tactical Scope
The Barska Electrosight is meant for use in close quarters, so it doesn’t provide any magnification. On the other hand, it does offer an illuminated reticle and plenty of eye relief, so it does make it much easier to aim quickly and accurately at short range. It is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, which combines with respectable battery life to make a rugged and reliable scope. It is the best cheap AR scope for anyone who doesn’t need magnification, especially those who work in very tight quarters.
Making The Right Choice
Taking the time to pick out the best cheap AR scope for your gun will ensure that you have something that works well for a fraction of the price of an expensive scope. You simply need to keep your scope’s intended usage in mind and pick one with the right qualities. If you find a good one that we missed, bring it up in the comments so other shoots can investigate it.