Despite having one of the best platforms for mounting a scope, finding the best scope for AR-10 is always tricky.
It happens to be one of the most versatile firearms in the world that enjoys unprecedented popularity amongst both casual shooters and hunters.
Therein lies the problem.
The best scope for AR 10 for varmint hunting might be the worst one for long range shooting. Similarly, an excellent scope for benchrest shooting might be too clunky on the shoulder during a hunt.
How then does one find the best of both worlds for use with the Armalite? That’s where we step in. We have used the AR 10 for elk hunting with the .308 Winchester, for range shooting beyond 600 yards, for hunting hogs as well as for plinking.
The fact is, clubbed with the right ammo (the DPMS AR 10 accepts 308, 7.62 x 51 mm NATO, DPMS, and SR-25) and the best scope for AR-10, the rifle performs flawlessly in any scenario.
The 5 Best Scopes for AR-10
Today, we are sharing our favorite scopes for AR-10 for use in different possible scenarios. We have picked one for long range shooting, one for varmint hunting in the 100-200 yard range, a couple of tactical use scopes and a value for money pick for the ones of you on a budget.
Irrespective of how you use your AR 10, you can find a reliable scope for it on this list.
1. Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Riflescope
It goes without saying that the .308 remains one of the most popular cartridges used with the AR-10 for game hunting. So, we figured that the caliber specific Nikon M-308 riflescope would be a perfect #1 pick on this list.
This all-weather scope with its quick focus eyepiece gives you clear and sharp pictures in the outdoors. Come rain or fog, it focuses in the blink of an eye and may be just the glass you need to give you an edge while taking down an intruder or shooting an elk from a long range with the AR-10.
The Nikon M-308 features a one-piece anodized aluminum body that is nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed. It weighs a pleasant 1.76 lbs. which is just about perfect for off-bench use with the AR10. More importantly, the M-308 comes with a custom mount that allows a perfect cheek weld and the generous 4-inch eye relief will prevent you from getting too close.
The optics are borrowed from Nikon’s popular Monarch line-up of scopes and multi-coated glass allows for almost 95% light transmission even in low light situations.
The 42mm objective and 16x magnification on the higher side is more than sufficient when looking to shoot the .308 to the end of its downrange limit. Translated into a real-life scenario, the magnification and the optical quality make this the best scope for AR 10 for big game hunting inside of 650 to 700 yards. Anything beyond that would be a stretch and you’d be better off with the last scope on our list.
Accuracy and ease of use
We love the BDC reticle with dots, hashes, and circles. It makes it so easy to zero in on your targets within the 600-yard range. While the subtension settings are calibrated for the Hollow Point Boat Tail ammunition, you can use Nikon’s ‘Spot On’ mobile application to get the right configuration for the .308 or for any other ammo.
If you are not comfortable with a BDC reticle or are just looking to hit cans in the backyard, you can always use the standard NikoPlex reticle with the rapid action turrets for fast and accurate zeroing in.
The features we liked the most
- Single tube body
- Multicoated Optics
- 95% light transmission guaranteed
- Constant 4-inch eye relief
- BDC reticle
- Rapid action turrets
The M-308 is one of the best riflescopes for the AR-10 at this price point. It caters to both, dial-in as well as holdover shooters with its rapid action turrets and BDC reticle. Clubbed with the high magnification, this should be the scope you reach out for, in a long range hunting or tactical application. This scope would be an excellent M1a optic as well.
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40
We like to call the Vortex Optics Diamondback, the elk hunters’ scope because of its high magnification and 40mm objective lens which makes it just the perfect scope for the 100-400 yard range.
Oh, almost forgot to ask. Hunting varmint anybody?
Naysayers might say that it’s nearly not sufficient for elk hunting. But having lived our lives in Colorado, we know that most of the action happens in the 150-yard range. Coming back to the Diamondback, this is hands down the best scope for AR 10 priced under $200.
For a scope with an entry-level pricing, the Vortex Diamondback is built like a rock. Single piece aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, O-ring sealed, argon-purged and surprisingly lightweight at .96 lbs. , this one can take a beating.
The optical quality rivals much higher priced scopes. It is multicoated with anti-reflective coatings that provide crisp and clear visuals even on a windy or foggy day. There is minimum blurring or distortion at the edges even at max magnification, which is quite incredible for an entry level scope.
Now, we have owned $100 scopes and we know that there will be sacrifices at that price point. But the Vortex Diamondback provides you with much better quality images than what you’d typically expect. We were surprised for sure.
Accurate, fast focus
A quick focus system gives you meticulous precision both on crosshair as well as at longer ranges. It features Vortex’s Deadhold BDC reticle which allows you to compensate for BDC at different shooting ranges.
All said and done, it does have a few minor design flaws.
One of them is the rigidity in the parallax at shorter distances. If you are shooting at a target closer than 25 yards, the scope becomes a tad difficult to use.
But if you are looking for a reasonably priced all-around scope for general shooting or varmint hunting with the AR 10, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pick.
The features that we liked the most
- Single piece aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Dead-Hold BDC reticle
- Easy reset turrets with ¼ MOA adjustments
- Multicoated optics
- Weather resistant
- Priced under $200
The Vortex Diamondback is packed with features that make it a great scope for shooting in the 100-300 yard range. If you are strapped for cash and not looking to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars for a reliable set of glass for the AR-10, you’ve just found it. Would also be a good 6.5 Creedmoor scope.
3. Leupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Rifle Scope
The Leupold VX-2 is our go-to scope in timber terrain. It is light, the glass is excellent and it gives us razor-sharp, clear images in dull contrast, which is typically the norm in such conditions. If you looking to bang hogs, whitetail, pronghorn and the occasional zombie that ventures too close to your property, this is the set of eyes you need on that AR10.
Solid construction, adjustable objective and multiple reticle options, the VX-2 performs consistently across terrains and applications.
It is crafted from a one-piece 6061-T6 aluminum tube and is available in matt and silver finishes. If you pick the silver, you have an option of choosing the Fine Duplex reticle over the standard one. But if you pick the matte black, you can choose from German 4, Fine Duplex, Mil-Dot or Leupold Dot reticles.
Windage and elevation are finger adjustable at increments of 1/4 MOA and the clicks are tactile and audible. Leupold throws in aluminum caps which can be screwed on to the turrets to protect them from accidentally changing in the outdoors.
The weight is one of the key variables in a hunting set up unless you travel with a gun porter. At 0.81 lbs or 13 ounces, this is one of the lightest scopes that you can find for the AR 10. Hiking a few miles with this snapped on, won’t make you sweat too much.
To add to it, the minimum eye relief is 3.7 and the maximum is a generous 4.2.
Optical quality is flawless. Leupold VF-2 features the index matched lead-free lenses that offer up to 94 % light transmission. This clubbed with the blackened edges offers excellent clarity and contrast in the outdoors. We have snapped it on the AR in high sagebrush terrain and haven’t missed one shot to date.
The only nit that we could pick in this otherwise near-perfect package is the small mounting surface area which can make it a tad difficult while mounting on certain rifles. That’s not a bone of contention when used with the AR 10 though.
Tip: Use an adjustable Magpul stock on the AR and you have a winning combination on your hands.
The features we liked the most
- Multiple finishes and reticle choices
- Leupold’s lifetime guarantee
- Lightweight at 13 ounces
- Adjustable objective for parallax from 25 yards to infinity
- Solid construction
- Multi-coated, edge-blackened glass
- 94% light transmission
With all of its features, the Leupold VX-2 rates among the best AR-10 scopes that we have on our list.
4. SWFA SS 10×42 Tactical Riflescope
10x power, 42 mm objective, it can’t get simpler than this! There’s this general consensus that fixed power scopes beyond 4x are too difficult to handle or that 10x magnification is way too much for normal shooting applications.
We tend to differ. Unless you like sticking to the tried and tested 400-yard range for shooting paper, a 10x scope should be a great buy for your AR 10. Less moving parts, lighter than variables and extremely accurate at longer ranges. This will help you stretch the max effective range of the AR 10.
Old timers would probably recall the original Tasco Super Sniper scope (before Tasco hit a lean patch and tried to reinvent themselves as a ‘budget’ scope manufacturer) which was built like a tank and had good quality optics for a reasonable price.
It’s now rechristened as the SWFA SS. No marks for guessing what SS stands for. Rather than trying to fiddle with what was, an excellent design, SWFA restores most of the features of the old scope and throws in a few extras, which make it, a ‘value for money’ addition to this list.
The SS 10X42 is quintessentially tactical fixed power scope. Single piece aluminum tube construction, black matte finish, integrated 30mm sunshade, large eyepiece and large knobs for easy grips while you are locked on to your target.
The 42mm objective lens with the 10x magnification provides excellent reliability over the long range. With all due respect to variable power scopes, hunting with a fixed power scope is addictive. If your targets are beyond the 300 yards range, then the SS 10X42 might give you the precision that you seek while hunting large game.
You have the option to pick from a side focus ring or a rear focus one. Personally, we prefer the side focus ring because it’s easier to reach.
Large tactical turrets make it easy to adjust windage and elevation. The tactile response keeps you informed even if you are using protection for the ears.
There is 4 inches of eye relief to minimize the risk of scope kisses even in recoil heavy rifles like the AR 10.
Parallax adjustment starts with an extremely close 10M range and goes out to infinity. If you ever wanted to test out the scope at a closer range, then this helps you do just that. Oh, the parallax adjustment knob is positioned in place of a magnification ring in conventional scopes.
The features we liked the most
- Lightweight, single tube construction
- Black matte finish
- Large tactical turrets
- Parallax adjustment from 10M to infinity
- Large eye box
- 4 inches of eye relief
The SWFA SS 10X42 zeroes in fast and holds true. The fixed power gives it better optical quality and the simple Mili dot reticle is one of your best bets for long range shooting with the AR10. If this were a variable magnification scope, it would easily cost thrice as much.
5. Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24x50mm Riflescope
Does that sound strange? Well, we were able to hit a couple of prairie dogs at 800 yards the other day with this scope. Those were single shot hits. A day later, we engaged a prairie dog at 1200 yards and were able to hit him twice. Missed the third shot by a bit!
That’s what the Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24X50 can do!
This is the top of the line scope from their HS-T range. HS-T stands for Hunting Shooting Tactical.
It is an excellent tactical scope that can help you up your game during a hunt. When clubbed with the AR 10, it brings to the table, the reliability and precision at long ranges with crystal clear, distortion-free visuals.
The HS-T 6-24x50mm is a solidly constructed scope. It is single piece aircraft grade aluminum with a 30mm diameter with a black matte anodized finish. O-ring sealed and argon gas purged, it can tackle extreme weather conditions with ease.
With a 50mm objective lens, you’d expect the scope to be bulky. Well, Vortex doesn’t disappoint. This one is a brute. It is 15.5 inches long and weighs 22.6 ounces. If you are looking to hunt coyotes or just punch paper in the field, then that won’t bother you much. But if you like to lug your scope over long distances, this is going to test you.
The exposed tactical turrets with its textured finish allow easy and precise adjustments while the MRAD reticle (you can choose an MOA one too) with the matching turret adjustments (MIL/MIL) makes it a breeze to adjust on-the-fly.
Vortex’s extra-low dispersion glass with the proprietary anti-reflective coating allows maximum light transmission. You’d appreciate the extra sharpness and clarity while aiming for targets in less-than-ideal light.
Features we liked the most
- Solid single-piece aluminum construction
- 50mm objective lens
- 4 inches of eye relief at 6x and 3 inches at 24x
- Exposed tactical turrets with textured finish
- MRAD or MOA reticle
- MIL/MIL matching turrets
- Extra-low dispersion glass
- Reasonably priced
Barring an illuminated reticle, there’s very little difference in the Vortex Viper HS-T 6-26X50mm scope, which is priced under $700 and the Viper PST which is priced above $1000. If you were looking for an excellent all-around AR 10 Scope, then this might be one of the best options you have.
Wrapping up our Best Ar-10 Scope Guide
These five scopes have their own advantages and limitations. Matching these with your individual shooting requirements will help you pick the best AR 10 scope. As always, we have tried to keep the list diverse by including scopes at different price points that are suited for varied shooting applications.
Irrespective of whether you are ringing steel or hunting elk with your .308 carbine, you are sure to find a decent set of glass on this list. If you are a fan of powerful rifles check Scar 17 scopes and ak-47 scopes.