We will talk about AR-10 scopes. What is an AR-10? Think of it as the AR-15’s cousin who doesn’t get that much attention at a family gathering. Except in this case, the attention is negative press, so I guess not getting that attention is a blessing rather than a curse.

In terms of performance, the AR-10 does a better job as a long-range precision rifle that packs more punch. Maybe that was an understatement considering that the military issued modified AR-10s and called them sniper rifles. That is the level of power and precision the AR-10 can deliver here. If the military uses the AR-10 as sniper rifles and it works for them, you know for sure it’ll work for you as well.

Even without a sight, you can still hit your target out at 200 yards with ease. If you get the right scope, you can hit things beyond 1,000 yards. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Many people aren’t going to shoot things from that distance. Although shootings at that range does not matter, getting the right scope still does and range matters when you are considering which scope to get. More specifically, you should get a scope with the right magnification power for your preferred shooting distance.

To simplify, I’ll throw in some numbers to help you narrow down your options. If you are shooting at anything closer than 200 yards, that is considered close range and you just need a scope with 1x-4x magnification power. Medium range is anywhere between 200-400 yards, and you want a scope that delivers 5x-9x power. Long range covers everything beyond 400 yards, and you should only consider going for scopes that deliver more than 9x magnification power.

“Hold up,” You might say, “What if I want to spice things up and shoot from other ranges than what I’m usually comfortable with? Do I have to get a new scope?” No, absolutely not. You just need to get the right scope the first time. So, just plan ahead and ask yourself whether you want to change things up. If you fancy shooting at various ranges, I recommend you get a variable power scope, which I will get to in a minute.

Choosing the right magnification power really matters. Not only will it save you money when you get the right one for your preferred shooting distance, but the wrong scope can also hamper your performance in various ways. The scope is one of the many pitfalls in the gun world that you really do not want to fall into. Considering that there are countless scopes out there, there is a good chance that you could be wasting a lot of money before landing on the right scope. The gun and other equipment can be pricey enough for many people, you certainly don’t want to waste your money on scopes if you can help it.

But worry not, I am here to help. In addition to helping you narrow down your options, I will give you my top 5 personal recommendations for AR-10 scopes. Hopefully, by the end of all this, you should have some idea of what kind of scope you want.

1. Primary Arms Silver Series 4-14×44

If I have to choose only one AR-10 scope that does a good job at pretty much everything you throw at it, I would go for this one. It is a versatile scope that is just effective in virtually any application you can think of. Let me explain.

The glass on the scope is excellent. It is crystal clear. The reticle is even better. It pulls double duty as a red dot and a bullet drop compensator at the same time. This means that the scope works just as well as a red dot when you need fast target acquisition at short ranges. The BDC does not lack behind, either. It is designed for accurate long-range shots specifically for the .308 and .223, which are the most used ammo for the AR-10.

The reticle adjusts based on the magnification power as well, so you don’t have to deal with the clutter at short-range shooting but can make use of the estimations when you shoot at farther distances.  Better still, the reticle is etched into the glass, mitigating the need for battery unless you need an illuminated reticle. For this, you have 6 brightness settings to choose from.

This brings us to the magnification. As the name suggests, it goes from 4x-14x. The eye relief isn’t generous at 3.2 inches, but it isn’t the worst I’ve seen either. Though I must hasten to point out that both the eye box and eye relief become a bit tighter when you go up to 11x and beyond. For that, you might need to get some practice in and some more hardware for your AR-10 to compensate.

Primary Arms did not lie when they say that this scope is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof. You can consider this to be the holy trinity of scope durability. A good scope has to have all three of them. Never settle for anything less. These durability features come at a price in the weight department as the scope comes in at 1 pound and 7 ounces, but a lightweight mount should alleviate this problem somewhat.

Parallax should not be a problem for you whether you’re at 4x, 14x, and anywhere in-between. However, even if you have problems with it, there’s a handy knob for that. Speaking of knobs, they used the MRAD adjustment system, which is common in competitive shooting. The turrets are .10 MIL for precise adjustment and produce audible clicks. Zeroing in and holding the zero is no problem for this scope. Another neat feature here is that there is the zero-reset feature so you can jump back to zero in a snap.

In addition to the lightweight mount, consider getting a flip-open eyepiece scope cover. The lens is durable, but if you spend a little bit more, it goes a long way in keeping your glass in pristine conditions for a long, long time.

2. UTG 3-12×44

If you are a bit short on cash or don’t care about all the extra knick-knacks and just want a scope that does its job well without murdering your wallet, you cannot go wrong with this one. It is a decent scope and I am willing to go as far as to say that this is one of the best budget/entry-level scopes out there. Since it is a budget scope, it is not going to score A+ in all departments. Still, it is actually pretty good at its price point, which is why this scope is on the list.

Starting with the glass, I’ll say that it is good enough. The glass quality from Primary Arms Series eclipses that from UTG, but they couldn’t beat that low, low price. The glass on this scope is not the best in the world, but it works just fine.

The reticle is a basic Mil-Dot, which is easy to use and still helpful for long-range shooting. What surprised me is that UTG decided to include not one, not two, but 36 color options for your reticle. So you have that little personalization option right there. Whether or not this is useful, you’ll be the judge.

Personally, I feel like they should have allocated the budget for the RGB reticle into making this scope better in other departments. Or better yet, they could just give us two colors to work with and they can drive the price lower. Let us know what you think and write a comment down below.  

The UTG is built like a tank. It is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. The biggest downside to this scope is the weight, coming in at 25.6oz. And that’s not all. The scope is quite large as well. It is like slapping a Pringles can on your gun. For this reason, you should only use it to shoot at the range. Hurling it around when you’re out hunting is not ideal.

The magnification goes from 3x-12x. It is largely parallax-free, but things do get a bit fuzzy when you’re at 12x. Also, the eye box becomes a bit tight when you’re zoomed all the way in. The eye relief comes at 3.3 inches, which is enough for AR-10. The assorted knobs for magnification, windage, and elevations are rather stiff when brand new, but they get better after a while.

You get medium profile rings, lens caps, and a lifetime warranty right out the box. So, you just set it up and you are good to go, so long as you don’t mind the extra weight.

3. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40

The AR-10 works pretty well as a hunting rifle. For that, you also need a hunting scope, and this one fits the bill.

Although the glass on this scope is clear, it is still no Primary Arms glass. Still, the scope works well even in low-light conditions. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle helps you nail your long-range shots by just zeroing at 100 yards and using the hash marks.

The clarity holds up pretty well between 4x and 12x. Although at 12x the image gets a bit fuzzy, you won’t experience any parallax problem from 100 yards and beyond. Not by a lot, but you will notice it. The eye relief at 3.1 inches is adequate and you won’t have problems with the eye box until you are at 12x when it gets a bit tight. This can be solved with a bit of hardware and practice.

When it comes to durability, it has all 3 resistances I’ve mentioned earlier. It is shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. All of this and the scope only weighs in at 14.6oz, making it an ideal hunting scope.

The various knobs make an audible click when you turn them and they feel incredible. Zeroing in is a breeze and it holds its zero like a champ. When you are out hunting, weight should be at the forefront of your thought, then durability. The scope is light enough but you should get a light yet sturdy mount for it as well. For durability, the glass is solid enough, but there’s no harm in shelling out another 10 bucks or so on a flip cap to extend its lifetime.

4. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 4-24×50

Though pricey, this scope is effective regardless of range, making it a solid option for competitive shooting, hunting, and long-range shooting.

The lens is multi-coated for the best light transmission and image quality, even in low light conditions. The magnification power goes from 4x-24x but you will notice a slight distortion at the edges when you’re zoomed all the way in. You shouldn’t run into problems with parallax, but if you do, there’s a little parallax knob for that.

The reticle is EBR-4 MOA set in the second focal plane so that it is the same no matter what zoom level you are in. The reticle itself comes with various estimations for holdover, range, windage, etc. Plus, it is illuminated with 11 brightness settings. The battery life is pretty solid.

The scope is nitrogen purged, O-ring sealed, and built using aluminum used for aircraft. In other words, it takes a lot to break this thing. This also means that the scope is pretty heavy, at 1.6 pounds.

The turrets feel a bit stiff at first, but it gets better with use. They produce audible clicks when you are dialing in. They are zero resettable, which is handy when you need to make quick adjustments.

Since the scope is pretty heavy, you pretty much have to invest in a lightweight mount. The glass is already good, but you should get a flip-cap. It’s cheap and keeps your glass pristine for a long time.

5. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50

This scope specializes in long-range shots and can compete with high-end, expensive scopes despite its rather low price tag.

The extra-low dispersion glass and multi-coated lens allow for maximum light transmission, giving you a crystal clear image even when it’s dark outside. The EBR-2C reticle is designed specifically for long-range shots and it is set in the first focal plane, meaning that the reticle changes with magnification. Also, the reticle is illuminated with 10 brightness settings. The battery life is pretty solid, but I advise you to bring a few spare batteries just in case.

The magnification goes from 5x-25x, so you can really hit those super long-range shots with relative ease. Parallax isn’t a problem, but you might experience clarity problems in bad weather. The scope picks up all the details such as snow or raindrops. It’s not that big a deal, but it’s worth mentioning in case you want to get this scope.

Speaking of magnification, the eye relief is at 3.4”, pretty generous. The same can also be said for the eyebox. Neither the eye relief nor the eyebox tightens when you zoom all the way in.

When it comes to turrets, they are excellent. They are textured so you can adjust easily even when wearing gloves and they produce audible clicks. Zeroing is not an issue and it holds zero very well. The scope also comes with a zero stop feature, which is sorely needed for long-range shots when you need to make a lot of adjustments quickly.

The durability is also excellent. In addition to the holy trinity of durability, this scope does one better. Actually, two, as it is also snow proof and fireproof. The glass is also exceptional as it is dirt, scratch, and oil-proof thanks to the ArmorTek coating. Even if your scope somehow breaks, you also get a lifetime VIP warranty.

That said, all these features mean a heavier weight. The PST weighs in at 2 pounds. It’s quite heavy, but it won’t be a problem if you use it for extreme-range precision shooting as you won’t be moving around much anyway.

I recommend getting a lightweight and sturdy mount for the scope and a flip-up cap to protect the glass. Again, I know that the glass holds up well in various conditions, I advise against unnecessarily exposing it to damage.

And there you have it. I’m certain that one of these scopes would suit your needs. At the very least, you should have an idea of what kind of scope you want.

Leave a comment