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Best Scope for .223 Remington – The Top 5 Optics in 2020

The 223 Remington is a hugely popular round. First developed in 1957, the ammo was initially for the ArmaLite AR-15. However, in 1964, just before the Vietnam war, the ArmaLite AR-15 became the United States Army’s weapon of choice, but the name changed to the M16. With that change, the ammo had to change too. Before we get into the changes that occurred, we should look at what requirements were requested. Then, in this article, we will look at the best scopes for the 223 Remington, and why they are.

First of all, the goal of the 223 Remington was to match the rifle requirements that came from the U.S. Continental Army Command (CONARC). They had some pretty specific requirements for the rifle. We do not need to go into the full requirements of the rifle here, if you would like to know them, you can see them in this article.  However, we will look at the requirements that were the deciding factors of the ammo. They were:

  • .22 caliber
  • A bullet that exceeds supersonic at 500 yards
  • Single side penetration of a U.S. Army steel helmet at 500 yards
  • Penetration of 0.135″ steel plate at the same distance
  • Accuracy and ballistics equal to the M2 ball ammo from the M1 Garand. 

It was not long after that that the ammo was updated to create the 5.56 NATO round that we all know. The 223 is still available, and there are some subtle differences between the 223 and the NATO round.  While we could go into the differences in cartridge wall thickness differences, and bullet weights, etc. there is not much need, as the 5.56 ammo is primarily for military use.

What Magnification Do You Need?

Again, as with all ammo to scope comparisons, you need to know the capabilities of the round that you use. Of course, as with all ammo, rifles, and distances, the rifling of the barrel will make a huge difference. Until recently, the twist ratio used in many 223 sporting rifles was 1:12, meaning that the range of the round was not at its maximum capability. However, more recently, manufacturers began to include rifling twists of up to 1:9, giving a higher twist rate, thus better accuracy over longer distances.

If you are hunting varmint, you may well be able to get 300 yards out of the ammo. However, if you are hunting larger game, then you probably do not want to go much further than 300 yards. Going much further than that will decrease the killing efficiency of the round unless you use the FMJ variant.

Again though, if you start using hollow points, or less aerodynamic rounds, you will get more tumble, more drop, and less accuracy. Keep those points in mind when you are choosing your scope as they will all have some dramatic impact on which scope you buy.

Will you need much more than a 9x scope? Probably not. Will it help you in the field to see camouflaged animals by using a higher magnification? Yes, it probably will. You will see why we have chosen our selection as we have.

The 5 Best Scopes for .223 Remington

Check our top 5 recommendations below:

1. Nikon P-223 3-9x40mm
2. Bushnell AR Optics 3-9x40mm
3. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm
4. Burris MSR 3-9x40mm
5. Nikon M-223 3-12x42mm

1. Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600 ScopeNikon P-223 3-9x40 Mate BDC 600

We start our list of the best scopes for the .223 with the Nikon P-233. What makes this a good pick is accuracy and efficiency in its usage.

Why It’s Awesome

A BDC 600 reticle is used in the making of the Nikon P-223. The reason behind this is to compensate for the trajectory of the rifle. It was developed for the likes of the .223 Remington round.

The circles of the BDC 600 reticle range from 100 to 600 yards. Besides that, it’s got hash marks inside the circles to make for several hold points. This all culminates in a scope that offers precise load and ammunition. This also gives you the ability to zero in the target with no loss of settings and with great speed and precision.

One major complaint from both professionals and beginners is the parallax. The parallax is the error associated with the potential movement of the objects in your field of view in relation to the scope’s reticle. To fix this and provide more accuracy, the P-233 integrates a 100-yard parallax setting.

For light transmission, the P-223 comes with a 40mm objective lens and a fully-multicoated optical system. Tot op all of that, you get 98% light transmission out of this thing, so low-light environment won’t be much of a problem.

Designed for Ballistic Match Technology, it provides better aiming and loading. Accuracy is the key feature here.

If you’re out in the field, you don’t want to waste your time with field adjustments. To relieve you from this, Nikon has implemented a Zero-Reset feature in the scope.

Pros

  • Wide magnification range
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Good eye relief distance
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Markings aren’t big enough
  • Absence of flip caps

The Bottom Line

With countless features and characteristics that give it high precision and reliability, you’d really have to start nitpicking to find something wrong with it. The P-223 is a no brainer choice.

2. Bushnell AR Optics 3-9x40mm ScopeBushnell Optics, Drop Zone BDC Reticle Riflescope with Target Turrets and Side Parallax, Matte Black, 3-9x/40mm

Another great long-range .233 scope thanks to the high magnification and large objective lens.

Why It’s Awesome

The main attraction here is accuracy and precision. Pinpoint adjustments are possible due to the ¼ click value. In combination with the fast-focus eyepiece, no other shooter will be faster than you.

You can also put any parallax issues behind you as the Bushnell AR optics come with a side focus parallax adjustment for high precision at long ranges.

While the reticle isn’t illuminated (might be problematic at night), it is placed in the second focal plane so that it would maintain a consistent size for the target and allow for more accessibility for shots.

You get 3.7 inches of eye relief to keep your eye away from recoil and 11 to 30 feet of field of view at 100 yards to provide you with some space to get the target in the crosshairs.

And as you might expect, it’s shock, dust, and fog proof as well as water-resistant.

Pros

  • Good price
  • Acquiring the target isn’t difficult
  • Good eye relief
  • Clear image

Cons

  • A little bit heavy
  • No illumination for the reticle

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best .233 scopes, then this is definitely one hell of a contender. Target turrets and the fast-focus eyepiece are top-notch. And from 3X to 9X of magnification, the parallax adjustment will make sure that you get all the accuracy you need in the best scope 223.

Related guides:

The 5 Best scopes for Marlin 336
The 5 Best scopes for Remington 700
The 5 Best 1000 Yard Scopes

3. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm RiflescopeBushnell AR Optics, Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope with Target Turrets, Matte Black, 1-4x/24mm

Considering the really, really low price of this scope, it’s hard to imagine that it can be a candidate for the title of the best 223 scope, but it does!

Why It’s Awesome

The Bushnell AR Optics scope boasts a compact, lightweight design that makes it extremely easy to move around and use, no matter how fast you’re going. As for the construction, the scope is made of high-quality aluminum alloy, which means that it will last for years on end as part of your hunting arsenal.

For optimal accuracy, this scope features target turrets with 0.1 mil click value for precise adjustments as well as a .223 caliber-specific reticle so that your round can hit the target every single time.

Other features to like in the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x 24mm include the fully multi-coated optics that guarantee maximum brightness while you’re aiming at your targets as well as a fast-focus eyepiece that contributes to making the scope even more accurate.

Of course, you need to keep in mind that this is a short-to-medium-range scope. Zeroing will be effortless at 100 to 500 yards, but beyond that, using this scope won’t be as easy. Also, the reticle isn’t illuminated, which can be a turn-off for some hunters.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Target turrets with 0.1 mil click value
  • Durable construction with anodized finish

Cons

  • The reticle isn’t illuminated

The Bottom Line

Simply put, you couldn’t do better than this scope without paying more, which is why we’re giving it the title of the best 223 scope within the cheap range of the spectrum.

4. Burris MSR Riflescope, 3-9x40mm – .223 ScopeBurris MSR Riflescope, 3-9x 40mm-.223

This is not a Low Power Variable Optic, but the magnification range that it offers is enough to make it a worthy piece of equipment. This is a scope made by Burris for the Modern Sporting Rifle and its long-range shooting characteristics.

Why It’s Awesome

Here’s what you need to know about this scope: It’s made by Burris, so there’s no doubt in its quality. If we’re going to look for complaints about it, all that we’re going to find are nitpicks. It’s mostly the lack of certain accessories from the sold package that’s considered a downside. The scope is made with clear and bright glass and Hi-Lume index-matched multi-coatings.

Do you know what a sign of a good scope is? 

It’s when the MSR optic of a full-size 40mm is only as heavy as 13 ounces and only as big in size as 12.2 inches. What also makes a good scope for the .223 Remington is a compensating Ballistic Plex reticle with a range of 500 yards. 

To top that off, it also comes with a lifetime warranty. You read that right. A. Lifetime. Warranty.

Pros

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Calibrated for the .223 Remington
  • Ballistic Plex Reticle
  • Short to long-distance range
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • No lens caps

The Bottom Line

Just to hammer home the idea, the reasons that would deter you from getting this scope of it fits your needs are very minimal. It’s an excellent cope with an affordable price and a significant number of great features, making it yet another great candidate for the title of the best scope 223.

5. Nikon M-223 3-12x42mm Riflescope ScopeNikon M-223 3-12x42mm Riflescope, SF Matte, Nikoplex Reticle

We now come to the last pick in our list of the five best scopes for the .223 Remington. The M-233 BDC 600 3-12X42SF is another great product from the Nikon brand.

Why It’s Awesome

Although it’s a little bit more expensive than the P series, this scope comes with several extra features. This includes the interfacing between the lightweight mount and a Picatinny rail system, which includes a 20-MOA gradient. This helps a lot in long-range shooting. The backup iron sights cannot be used in the normal sighting plane, unfortunately. But if you need to, you can set up a backup red dot, backup irons, or a reflex sight on a side rail.

We recommend that you lap the rings of the mount before installing the scope if you ever choose to get it since the rifle actions aren’t perfectly square, even though they might look like it. You can do this by using a lapping bar and compound. This will increase the accuracy and also prevent any ring marks from being left on the body.

The M-223 comes with lens caps and has a 42mm objective that allows a lot of light to pass through. From the other side of the scope, you get a 4-inch eye relief and an adjustable eyepiece for quick focus.

Nikon’s own Zero-Reset technology was used to build the windage and elevation adjustment knobs. To perform an adjustment, all you have to do is twist and click to make ¼ minute of angle change. On top of that, the scope comes with a zero-reset capability.

The M-223 was made with a BDC that was calibrated for the .223 Remington.

The scope works with the mobile app “Spot-On” that tells you how to your settings depending on your preferred load.

There is a series of circles on the lower half of the vertical reticle wire that represent aiming points at various distances. All you have to do is superimpose a certain circle over a target and take the shot. You get 5 of these circles with this scope, each being a 100-yard marker. There are also hash marks between the different circles representing 50 yards increments. This feature allows you to fire at a distance of 600 yards.

Pros

  • Fully multicoated optics
  • 4x magnification ratio
  • Quick focus Eyepiece
  • Spring-loaded zero-reset turrets

Cons

  • The backup iron sights cannot be used in the normal sighting plane

The Bottom Line

This is a great pick for anyone looking for great accuracy during their hunting trip. We can’t forget to mention the side knob parallax adjustment that tops everything to make a scope for professional hunters and shooters. The scope simply screams “NIKON QUALITY”, so make sure to consider it when looking for the best 223 scope.

Final Verdict

Picking the best 223 scope may seem hard at first, but it couldn’t be easier if you read our buying guide thoroughly and choose one of the above recommendations, which were hand-picked for you and your 223.

What are you still doing here? Get your new scope and start hunting!

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