The AR-10 is one of the most popular rifles around for the big game and varmint hunting, long-range shooting, and even defense. But to get the most out of this awesome platform, you need a good riflescope.
There are a million options out there on Amazon, from Athlon to Zeiss, so choosing can be difficult. Fortunately, we’ve collected all the best AR-10 scopes right here in one place.
The AR-10 is an extremely versatile platform. It’s equally happy topped with a red dot or holosight as it is with a high-magnification optic for long-distance work.
Because of this, there are a huge variety of options available depending on what you’re looking to do with your rifle. The ones we’ve chosen here are a good cross-section of what’s out there, so there should be something here for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for more of a tactical rifle scope or you want a hunting scope, you have plenty of choices.
What Are The Different Types Of Scopes For AR-10 Rifles?
Instead of breaking this down by categories like hunting, target shooting, and defense, we’re instead going to break everything down into the following categories:
Unmagnified optics such as red dots and holo sights are a great option for close-range hunting or defense. Hog hunters in particular like these optics for close-in shooting in heavy brush.
Low-Powered Variable Optics
LPVOs are a great tactical or hunting choice as they 1x magnification on the low end, with the option to ramp up to higher magnification in the 6-9x range.
These are good multipurpose options that work for many types of shooters. If you want to truly reach out to the upper range limits of the AR-10 platform, you’ll need something a little bit more. Something like this next option:
The AR-10 can easily reach out to 1,500+ yards. So, if you’re looking to hit those distant targets, you’re going to need a powerful scope with a higher magnification range, with good glass and an MOA-dot or mil-dot reticle or bullet-drop compensation reticle of some kind.
A basic crosshair or duplex reticle isn’t going to do it for those true long-range shots. A tactical or BDC reticle lets you compensate for windage and elevation easily. You can also go with a fixed-magnification option like the Trijicon VCOG if you’re mostly interested in tactical use but need a little more magnification.
How Do Scopes For AR-10 Rifles Work?
For short-range shooting, red dots and holo sights allow you to keep both eyes open and acquire targets quickly. This faster target acquisition is great for defensive purposes because most threats are likely to be close (otherwise, they probably aren’t much of a threat) and you need to get your sight picture quickly.
The same goes for close-range hunting. Many people hog hunt with AR-10s, and when you’re walking through the brush and have to take a shot quickly, that close-range capability and speed are very important, especially with dangerous game.
If you’re going to use a night vision or thermal monocular for hog hunting, make sure you go with a red dot or holo sight with brightness settings for these kinds of addons if that’s something you’re looking to use your AR-10 for.
For mid-range shooting, an LPVO is a great choice. On the low end, you have a 1x option for close-range work, or you can switch to higher magnification power for longer ranges.
Good scope in this category will also typically have an illuminated reticle, which gives you many of the same benefits of a red dot or holo, but also the ability to take longer shots. All you sacrifice is the wide field of view you’d otherwise have with a red dot.
This versatility is why LPVOs are so popular with competitors and tactical shooters.
Finally, the tactical-style scopes are great for PRS shooters and long-range hunters, or just anyone that wants to try and hit targets at 600 yards or more. These scopes feature higher magnification to give you a clear view of your target, and dialable windage and elevation adjustments so you don’t have to make do with simple holdover.
What Do You Look For In The Best Scopes For AR-10 Rifles?
First and foremost, cheap and poorly-built scopes aren’t going to cut it here. The AR-10 has a significant amount of recoil, so airsoft-grade optics need not apply. They will be incapable of holding zero for more than a shot or two.
A high-quality red dot that can handle the heavy recoil is perfect for close-range shooters. For longer ranges, a quality scope, made of rugged materials like aircraft-grade aluminum, with argon or nitrogen-filled tube to eliminate condensation is the way to go. A good scope will remain spot-on even with the heavy recoil.
The gas-purging plus quality o-rings keep your optic waterproof and fog proof in all kinds of conditions. You also want something that is fairly shockproof to handle the recoil.
For magnified scopes, you want something with good light transmission for shooting in low light conditions (like when you’re hunting and that trophy buck walks out ten minutes before the end of legal shooting hours).
Good glass will be clear, with extra-low dispersion and no visual distortion or aberration at higher zoom levels.
A larger objective lens helps here too as it will bring in more light. Something to keep in mind.
The Right Magnification
If you’re using an AR-10 for CQB/home defense, do you need a 6-25x scope? Nope. If you’re looking to compete in Precision Rifle Series matches or other long-range target competition, is a red dot going to be the best option? Also nope.
Be sure to match your magnification for the type of shooting you’re going to be doing.
A Suitable Reticle
Most AR-10 scopes will have a first focal plane reticle, rather than a second focal plane reticle. An FFP scope has a reticle that stays the same relative size, no matter the magnification. A second focal plane will change in size, which means you won’t be able to use your BDC or mil-dots except at the highest magnification.
If you’re going with a BDC option, make sure it is calibrated to your specific caliber and load. Something like the Primary Arms ACSS or the BDC 800 reticle on the Nikon M-308 \ only works if you’re using the right ammo.
Best Scopes For AR-10 Rifles Reviewed
1. Vortex Razor HD Gen II (Our Top Pick)
The Vortex Razor HD Gen II is on the upper end of most people’s price range, but if you’re looking for the best overall performance out of your AR-10, then this is an excellent value.
The glass is crystal clear, and you have the choice of both MOA and MRAD reticles depending on your preference. It has a parallax adjustment, a fast-focus eyepiece, and enough eye relief that you don’t have to worry about scope bite.
It also comes with a 4″ sunshade.
Excellent value for the price
Some of the best glass in the industry
Tactical reticle for precision long-range shooting
Speaking of Vortex, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-14×44 Tactical is another great option. This one has a smaller 30mm tube, but it is still an excellent choice. As you might have guessed, it’s the first focal plane riflescope.
The mil-dot reticle is perfect for competition or long-range hunting. The scope has a side focus adjustment for quickly dialing in a clear picture at any range. You can also get Vortex’s patented Dead-Hold BDC Reticle if you want easy drop compensation at longer ranges.
It comes with lens covers. And, like the Vortex Optics Viper and other Vortex products, it also comes with a lifetime warranty.
FFP Reticle is great for longer-ranges
Clearest glass in this price range
FFP Reticle can obscure much of the target at longer ranges
Target turrets aren’t as high-quality as some other options
The Nightforce ATACR is well-loved by military and law enforcement, including SWAT units. This ultra-rugged optic carries an expensive price tag, but it is well worth it if you want the ultimate performance.
The 5-25x magnification on this is great for competition or other long-range shooting. The “Christmas tree” style reticle allows for windage and elevation adjustment on the fly, which is perfect for PRS shooting.
And on top of all that, this is one of the most rugged and dependable scopes currently made. The only drawback is the price, but the durable construction means you’ll get a lot out of it.
For closer-ranges, a holo sight is your best option, and the EOTech EXPS3 is the best holo sight for the AR-10.
This holo sight features multiple brightness settings for use with night vision devices, making it a perfect choice for hog hunters. It also has a small 2 MOA dot for precision shooting and a large 68 MOA circle around that dot for quick shots up close.
And of course, it’s an EOTech so it’s also super rugged and durable. It is waterproof to 3 meters, so anything short of falling to the bottom of a lake with it won’t bother it at all.
Extra-wide field of view is great for close-range shooting.
Holographic sight design makes for the fastest possible target acquisition.
Last up, we have one for the hunters. The Leupold VX-3i is one of the most popular hunting scopes around, and with good reason. Unlike a lot of hunting scopes with SFP reticles, this first focal plane scope is perfect for longer range shooting.
It has an excellent light transmission, which makes it perfect for most big game hunters, and it has a fine enough reticle to make it a great pick for varmint hunting as well.
The glass is very clear and the large objective lens draws in extra light for those late-afternoon shots. It is also nitrogen-purged so it will stay fog-proof even in changing temperatures.
The AR-10 is a great rifle that deserves a great scope. All the options presented here have been tested and have proven themselves on the AR-10 platform time and time again. If you’re looking for an AR-10 scope, whether you need one for thinning the local hog herds or you’re trying to ping steel at 1000 yards, these scopes will get the job done.