Finding an AR 15 scope for under 200 dollars can be tough. It’s a balancing act finding a scope under 200 that has decent glass quality, repeatable adjustments, a decent warranty and fits the intended use of your particular AR 15. Let us help.
Recently the market has been flooded with cheap no-name Chinese made scopes from manufactures that seem to pop up overnight. Some say its impossible to get a quality scope for an AR 15 under 200 bucks. Lucky for us, a couple manufactures have stepped up and brought decent budget scopes to the market. Below we have made a list of what we believe are the best scopes under 200 for the AR 15.
Find out why the Bushnell FFP BTR 1-4x24mm won our Editor’s Choice along with how the other 5 excellent budget AR15 scopes line up.
Best AR15 Scopes Under 200:
- Bushnell FFP BTR 1-4x24mm
- Nikon P-223 3x32mm
- Nikon P-223 3-9×40 BDC
- Leupold VX-1
- Bushnell Dropzone 4.5-18x
- Vortex Diamondback 4-12x
Jump to section:
- Best 1-4x AR 15 Scope Under 200
- Best Mid-Range AR 15 Scope Under 200
- Best Long Range AR 15 Scope Under 200
What to Look for in the Best AR 15 Scope Under 200
- Durability: Nothing is more frustrating than going out with your new scope only to have it not function properly. You spent all that ammunition, time and gas money getting it zeroed in only to have the zero wander on you your next trip out. Scopes at any price point will have duds but you especially have to be careful when looking in the sub 200 range.
- Versatility: Most people scope shopping for their ar 15 are looking for an optic that can excel at more than one thing. Whether that is home defense and some general range work or coyote hunting mixed with paper punching its important to choose a scope in the correct power range for your intended use.
- Tube Size: Most reading this are probably aware already but its worth mentioning. Optics in this list will have either a 1″ tube or a 30mm tube. Please be aware of what size the tube is on the scope you buy as it will dictate the mount you need.
- Warranty: Outside of durability this is probably the most important category for any scope let alone scopes under 200 dollars. I’ve seen scopes from Vortex Crossfires to Schmidt and Benders go down. Without a solid manufactures warranty you could be left with a paper weight.
- FFP: We’ve come a long way to start having the choice of FFP (First Focal Plane) or SFP (Second Focal Plane) in scopes under 200 bucks. With FFP scopes the reticle stays the same size throughout the power range. It will appear to grow or shrink when you zoom the scope in/out but in reality those sub tensions are keeping their true measurements. The benefits of this are the sub tensions on your reticle will always equal “1 mil” or “1 moa” no matter what power.
- SFP: With SFP scopes your reticle’s sub tensions typically only measure true when on max power. You will notice when zooming in or out that the reticle looks to stay the same size. In reality, as soon as you leave max power that “1 mil” has on your reticle no longer equals “1 mil”. The benefit of SFP is that the reticles are fairly thin and don’t get as thick like on an FFP optic.
Best 1-4x AR 15 Scope Under 200
1-4x scopes on the ar 15 platform are typically used for either 3 gun competition of tight quarters hunting. When on 1x power they are not quite as quick as a red dot for target acquisition but they are very close. Obviously their benefit when compared to a red dot is they can be zoomed into 4x for further targets.
Bushnell Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 1-4x24mm
The Bushnell Optics FFP Illuminated BTR-1 1-4x24mm made a pretty big splash when it first arrived back in 2013. Its one of the only scopes in the sub 200 dollar range that features matching mil reticle and mil adjustments (sometimes referred to as mil/mil). While one typically does not dial elevation or windage with a 1-4x optic, the exposed turrets on the Bushnell give you that option.
It was clear when Bushnell released their BTR-1 1-4x24mm scope that they were targeting folks that are looking at getting into 3 gun. A quick throw lever is a common accessory added to rifle scopes when used in shooting competitions. They allow the user to quickly switch to different power ranges. The fact that the Bushnell comes with a collapsable quick throw lever makes it an even better value.
When compared to its main competitor, the Burris MTAC 1-4x24mm, the Bushnell has better stats on paper. The key differences in these scopes however is that the Burris is an SFP scope while the Bushnell is FFP. The Burris does have an upper hand in build quality but whether thats worth another 100 bucks is very subjective.
Bushnell’s warranty department has proven to be very good.
- Great scope for the money
- Best optic value
- Five stars
- Very good optical clarity
Nikon P-223 3×32 Matte BDC Carbine
The Nikon P-223 3×32 Matte BDC Carbine is such a great value it would be a mistake to not put it on this list. I know it’s not a 1-4x scope but at fixed 3x it is still versatile because of its very generous eye box and decent field of view.
This scope also has exposed turrets but instead uses 1/2 moa adjustments as opposed to the Bushnell’s .1 mil adjustments. You most likely will not be using the turrets after zeroing the scope as this scopes reticle is matched up to the typical drop of a 55gr 223 round.
Nikon’s warranty department is very good and at the time of this posting the price on this scope is almost unbeatable.
- Great value in an optic
- Fantastic eye box
- Far better than expected
- Pretty good short range scope
Best Mid-Range AR 15 Scope Under 200
Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600
The Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600 is probably the oldest scope on this list but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent value. The 3x-9x range is a classic magnification range as its low enough for some close range hunting and high enough for paper punching at 100 yards.
As with most scopes in this list, the reticle has BDC sub tensions in it to help with bullet drop out to 600 yards. Something to be aware of with this optic, the BDC sub tensions are small circles. Some love it and some hate it. I personally am not bothered by them but just something to consider before purchasing.
This scope is very compact and has a very generous eye box, especially at 3x. If you are building a light weight AR 15 that needs midrange capabilities this scope would be a solid choice.
- Clarity exceeded expectations
- Definitely worth the money
- Performs like a champ
- Great scope from a trusted name
Leupold VX-1 3-9×40
The Leupold VX-1 3-9×40 isn’t going to have the AR specific markings and special reticle like the other scopes in this list but what it does have may pull enough weight for some people to forget about the other features. This is the only optic on this list, or in this price range, that can claim to be designed, machined and assembled in the USA.
This optic is going to be top of its class for durability with maybe slightly better glass quality than its Nikon counterpart. Turrets are covered and typically only used to zero the scope, not to dial in dope. The reticle is a basic duplex reticle which leaves a very nice uncluttered sight picture. The downside is you do not have sub tensions for extended ranges.
Leupold is known for the superb warranty and service. If you need a rock solid no frills ar 15 scope under 200 dollars look no further than the Leupold VX-1 3-9×40.
- Made in the USA
- Great hunting optic
- Can’t be beat in this price range
- Very bright glass
Best Long Range AR 15 Scope Under 200
Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223 4.5-18x 40mm
The Bushnell Optics Drop Zone 223 4.5-18x 40mm is a solid choice for those wanting more magnification out of their AR 15 optic. This is a multi-use optic with a low end of 4.5x and a high end of 18x.
This optic also has a BDC style reticle with sub tensions on the reticle that line up with most 55gr 223 loads. Just to be clear, just because the scope says 223 does not mean the sub tensions cannot be used for other calibers. It just means other rounds or bullet weights may not match up perfectly at 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards.
This scope has exposed turrets with moa adjustments. The turrets have an easy one screw zero system.
With only a 40mm objective and a top end of 18x, best results will be had during bright daylight. If staying in the lower powers the scope will be fine in low light scenarios.
- Very nice accuracy for the price
- Great eye relief on low settings
- Good glass for the money
- Very reasonable price
Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope
Squeezing in under the 200 mark is the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope. The diamondback line from Vortex is a step above their budget tier Crossfire II line and its worth the upgrade. The glass quality and build quality is noticeable over its lower end brother making it a new brainer if you are able to spend up to 200 bucks.
Similar to the Leupold VX-1 3-9×40, the Vortex is mostly a no frills scope. You have covered turrets and a mostly unmarked optic with little in the way of branding. Vortex does however throw in a nice BDC reticle. I really like the way Vortex has setup the reticle on this scope because you can use it not only for drop but also for wind holds.
If you don’t need exposed turrets this scope will suit you very well for paper punching, slapping steel or varmint hunting. Also worth noting, the Vortex VIP Warranty is among the best in the industry and even covers accidental damage.
- Great scope thats without competition
- Fantastic for the money
- Very clear and crisp
- Absolutely number 1