Gear

Best Scopes for AR10 – Bigger is Better! [2022]

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The AR-10 is a phenomenal platform for long-range shooting, but even the best rifle is only as good as the scope you put on top of it. To help find the best AR-10 scopes, we pulled together all of the most popular options and put each one of them to the test.

I personally have been using this platform for a number of years, and I’ve been testing optics professionally for almost a decade, so this was a fun project for me that I also hope will help you choose the right scope for your AR-10. 

Our top pick overall was the Vortex Viper PST GEN II because of its excellent value, great glass, and industry-leading warranty, but there are a number of other options out there that might work better for you based on your particular needs, preferences, and budget. 

Here’s the full list of the top 8 scopes for your AR-10. Read on to find out why these made the cut, and how to choose the best one for your specific needs.

Also Read: 17 Best Long Range Calibers 2022

Vortex Viper PST GEN II

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First up we have our top pick, the Vortex Viper PST GEN II. This scope is a phenomenal value, especially considering the quality of the internals, and it consistently wins performance comparisons for its price bracket. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are better scopes out there, but for my money, it’s hard to argue that there’s a better value to be had in long-range optics right now.

It has a variety of glass-etched reticle options, my favorite of which is the EBR-2C “Christmas tree” style reticle for long-range precision shooting, but they also have more standard MRAD and MOA dot arrangements as well if that’s more your thing. 

Adjustments are crisp and positive, both windage and elevation knobs have fiber optic inserts to help you quickly return to zero, and the elevation knob has a resettable zero stop to allow you to quickly return to your sighted zero.

The scope also tracks extremely well, which shows off just how solid the internals are. Adjustments are precise, accurate, and most importantly, repeatable.

Finally, the magnification and parallax adjustments feel solid and easy to manipulate, even with gloves on, and parallax was accurate at all the measured ranges on the dial, making adjustments quick and easy.

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First
  • Magnification: 5-25x
  • Objective Diameter: 50mm
  • Length: 15.79”
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm

Takeaway

The Vortex Viper PST GEN II is an amazing value, and comes in enough different magnification levels and with enough different reticle options to work on just about any AR-10, whether you’re just plinking at the range, blasting hogs at close range, or doing serious long-range shooting.

It has crystal clear glass, great turrets, and a rock-solid design (not to mention a class-leading warranty). 


Vortex Razor HD GEN III

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If you’re looking to step up a bit from the Viper PST, Vortex still has you covered with their Razor HD Line. It’s a bit more expensive than the mid-level, crowd-pleasing Viper line, but you get a lot more for your money as well. 

It is available in two magnification levels, a 1-10x24mm that is one of, if not the very best LPVO on the market today, and is a perfect choice for closer range shooting, especially hunting. I have the 1-10x, and it might just be my favorite go-to scope.

For longer range work, there is the 6-36x56mm that gives you enough magnification to shoot…well, basically as far as you can shoot. The glass is incredibly clear, with no artifacts or chromatic aberration, even at the ultra-high 36 times magnification.

The adjustment turrets are some of the nicest I’ve ever used and feature a Micro Adjust Zero that allows you to set your zero between ¼ MOA adjustments for maximum precision. 

The glass-etched reticle is illuminated and has 11 different brightness settings on the lockable adjustment dial to help you get the exact center dot brightness you want, or quickly turn it off completely. 

Lastly, I have to talk about the glass. Vortex’s lens coatings have always been outstanding, but the XR Plus Fully Multi-Coated lenses here are truly something else. This scope draws in more light than almost any other optic I’ve tested in its class. 

Long-range shooters in particular will love this scope, and it is one of the best for judging mirage to make windage adjustments out of any optic that I’ve tested in the past several years.

Yes, it’s more expensive, and it may even be a bit overkill for most shooters, but for a top-of-the-line option with a stellar warranty, this is a great choice.  

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First
  • Magnification: 6-36x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 15.3”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

If you like Vortex and are looking for a top-of-the-line option that will excel in any capacity, the Razor HD GEN III has you covered. It’s pricey, but in the world of high-end optics it is still a shockingly good value, and it punches well above its price bracket. 


Nightforce Enhanced ATACR 5-25x56mm F1

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For another top-of-the-line option, the Nightforce ATACR F1 is a much-beloved scope among military and competition shooters alike. This is the spiritual successor to the scope that took a bullet intended for a US servicemember and kept working afterward

The F1, aside from being built to the same incredibly rugged standard as the NXS and all other products to ever carry the Nightforce name, is a great choice for both professional shooters and us regular folks as well. 

Like other options on this list, there are a few different reticle options available, and you have the choice between MRAD and MOA adjustments and subtensions to choose from based on your own personal shooting style and preferences.

You also have the option of a first or second focal plane reticle, and a wide variety of magnification levels as well, from an LPVO for close range, 3-Gun style shooting or hunting, all the way up to some extreme long-range options.

I’ve chosen the 5-25x version for this list, but you can also get it in a 1-8x, 4-16x, 4-20c, and a 7-35x in case you really need to reach out and touch something. Which one you go with is going to be mostly a matter of personal preference and what your overall goals for your rifle are.

Whichever one you go with, this is an awesome scope that has a stellar record on battlefields around the world. 

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First or Second (depends on model)
  • Magnification: 5-25x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 14.3”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

Nightforce is a brand with a reputation for high-quality optics that can handle whatever the world throws at them. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more reliable optic for your AR-10 than their flagship ATACR scope.


Leopold Mark 8 3.5-25x56mm

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Leopold is one of the oldest names in rifle scopes, and they have a passionate following among hunters and tactical shooters alike. The Leopold Mark 8 is just one more in a long line of excellent scopes from this legendary manufacturer, but it might just be my favorite one.

The Mark 8 that I’ve chosen for this list has one of the most versatile magnification ranges of any scope I’ve ever looked through. The 3.5x is amazing for close-range shots and is one of the lowest minimum magnification levels you’ll find on a scope that goes over 20x magnification.

At the lowest setting, the field of view is staggeringly wide, making it great for glassing a field when you’re hunting, or for locating all the targets on something like a PRS course of fire. This might be the most versatile single scope on this list. 

Light transmission is also predictably excellent as you’d expect from Leopold, as is the glass and the target-style turrets. 

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First
  • Magnification: 3.5-25x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 13.3”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

All in all, this is a great scope for hunters and target shooters alike, and it might be the best low-light scope on this list. It’s almost certainly the most versatile.


Primary Arms GLx 4-16×50

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Primary Arms has done a lot to disrupt the optics industry over the past several years by offering rugged, no-frills scopes and sights that are fairly affordable, without compromising on performance. 

Their GLx 4-16x50mm scope might just be their crowning achievement thus far.

It has a 30mm main tube made of high-strength 6061-T6 aluminum and extremely high-quality glass. It weighs in at just 23.5oz, so it won’t throw off the balance of your rifle or make it too unwieldy, making this a good choice for hunters or anyone else that has to move and shoot.

It is available with simple MIL/MOA dot reticles, as well as Primary Arms excellent BDC reticle, the ACSS. The ACSS reticle has built-in bullet drop compensation marking, but it also has left and right holds for moving targets.

Overall, this is a phenomenal choice for all kinds of shooters, but it really excels for hunters and tactical shooters who are willing to take the time to really learn the reticle. 

Also, the fact that it costs less than a sixth of what some other scopes on list this cost doesn’t exactly hurt.

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First 
  • Magnification: 4-16x
  • Objective Diameter: 50mm
  • Length: 13.8”
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm

Takeaway

The GLx series from Primary Arms has been making waves among serious shooters with an eye towards value for a while now, and the 4-16x FFP version here makes a great choice for pairing with an AR-10. 

That goes double for those looking to hunt especially mobile game animals like wild hogs or coyotes.


EOTech Vudu 5-25×50

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EOTech is most well-known for their excellent holosights, but they’ve branched out in recent years with a few other types of optics, including more traditional rifle scopes like the Vudu here. 

This is another one of my personal go-to optics that I use myself and tend to recommend to random folks who ask. Like everything EOTech makes, it’s rugged, well-designed, and you can tell it came about due to feedback from actual shooters who know their stuff.

The one I’ve chosen for this list is the 5-25x50mm version, but there are a variety of different magnification levels available depending on what exactly you’re looking to do with your AR-10.

If you’re looking to hunt or shoot something like 3Gun, I’d recommend going with the 1-10x version, which has become one of my favorite LPVO’s in recent years because of its broad magnification range.

Whichever version you go with, you have a couple of different reticle designs to choose from, and in most cases, you can get a first or second focal plane reticle too, depending on your preferences. 

You’ll also get some excellent glass that’s incredibly clear with no real distortion or chromatic aberration even at high magnification, making this a great low-light scope. You also have illuminated reticle options as well to help with those low-light shots.

These scopes are also, at least in my experience, slightly shorter and a little lighter than most scopes with similar magnification ranges from other brands, so they feel very nice on top of your rifle without throwing off the balance or adding too much bulk.

Finally, the target turrets on the 5-25x are some of the nicest I’ve tested in this price range, with excellent tactile feedback, a zero-stop, and a very innovative push-pull lock for the elevation knob that long-range precision shooters will almost certainly love.

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First 
  • Magnification: 5-25x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 11.2”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

EOTech absolutely knocked it out of the park with their Vudu line, and any one of them will serve you well on top of an AR-10. There’s a magnification level for every need, and the overall design is as solid as you could want.


Athlon Midas TAC 6-24X50mm HD

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Next, we have another personal favorite (yes, I know I’ve said that a lot, but it’s true) the Athlon Midas TAC 6-24×50 HD. Athlon is a relatively newer company out of Olathe, Kansas that was founded by engineers from other rifle optics manufacturers who wanted to go their own way.

In the years since they have earned an excellent reputation for high-quality optics at affordable prices, and the Midas TAC is one of their most popular products.

I personally have this scope on top of a Ruger Precision Rifle sitting in my gun safe right now, and it is one of my go-to rifles for teaching newer long-range shooters at the range. This is a very solid scope for beginners and is one of my most often recommended for newbies.

It has excellent glass for the price, and some frankly annoyingly nice turrets for the price bracket as well. I’m genuinely not sure why these turrets are so crisp and tactile, but they feel nicer than the turrets on scopes in my collection that cost three times as much.

The elevation turret uses a Precision Stop zero stop function that keeps you from turning the elevation down past your zero setting, which is great for quickly resetting your drop for a new distance. 

I also really like that the windage is actually capped on this. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically shoot in 50 mph winds, so I’m much more likely to just use my reticle for windage holds without dialing it. For extreme long-range, you’d want something with turreted windage though.

That means that once I set that windage turret, the last thing I want is for it to get accidentally bumped and ruin a string of fire. A push/pull lock would be better, but for the price range the simple capped turret is perfectly fine in my opinion. 

On the reticle side of things, there are a number of options available in MRAD and MOA flavors, as well as a few different designs but my favorites are the “Christmas tree” reticles that are perfect for long-range PRS-style shooting.

There’s 110 MOA of elevation adjustment built-in, so you have enough elevation adjustment to reach out to a mile pretty comfortably. The parallax is also very accurate, at least on mine, and I can just dial to my distance without any issues or extra adjustments.

Lastly, the fully-multicoated lenses make 

Overall, I’m really impressed with what I’m seeing from Athlon, and I look forward to seeing more from them like the Midas TAC.

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First 
  • Magnification: 5-25x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 15.2”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

If you’re looking to ring steel past 600 yards and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is a truly outstanding choice.


Athlon Ares ETR UHD 4.5-30×56mm

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Lastly, we have another Athlon option, this time the Ares ETR UHD in 3-18x50mm. The Ares series is their flagship line, and this particular model has been showing up quite a lot on the PRS circuit these days.

It is available with three different reticle options, and the UHD extra-low dispersion glass punches well above its price bracket. The lens coatings are, anecdotally and in my extremely unscientific testing, bright as all hell in low light. I love this scope for post-sunset shooting.

There is no real chromatic aberration even at the edges on max magnification, and overall the color fidelity is closer to true than with almost any other optic of this type. If you’re really worried about missing something because you can’t make out a color difference, this is a great choice.

Its real home is on top of a competition rifle. It utilizes the same Precision Zero Stop system as the Midas TAC option up above, so you can return to zero in under a second to adjust for a new distance, which I love. 

All variants of the ETR UHD utilize a 34mm aircraft-grade aluminum tube and come in your choice of black or brown scratch-resistant finish.  

The one and only complaint I have is that this is a bit of a chunky boy and it weighs in at over 30oz, but for the magnification range you get and the quality of glass, this is an extremely minor nit to pick. 

Key Specs:

  • Focal Plane: First 
  • Magnification: 4.5-30x
  • Objective Diameter: 56mm
  • Length: 15.3”
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm

Takeaway

Athlon has improved on their BTR scope that has been so popular with precision shooting competitors with the new and improved ETR. For overall value, this one is second only to our top choice, but it has better glass. 


How to Choose an AR-10 Scope

When choosing an AR-10 scope, or any scope really, there are some things you need to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the very best scope to meet your individual needs, and to help you reach the goals you have for your rifle. 

Choose a Scope That Compliments Your Intended Purpose

This may seem obvious, but a lot of people get so distracted by trying to find the best scope out there that they forget that what works well for someone else may not work well for them at all. 

The first thing you should always consider is your own shooting style and what you intend to do with your rifle. 

Are you going to be hunting with it? Then you probably don’t need a 25x magnification and would be better served with an LPVO-style optic, or something in the 3-10x range, unless you’re going to be hunting at very long ranges.

Even very experienced hunters don’t typically want to take a shot beyond 300 yards, so that extra magnification isn’t super necessary, and can even make things more difficult when you’re either moving through heavy brush

Or when you’re just trying to take a shot at that trophy buck that wandered right under your stand.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be doing serious long-range shooting (600yards+), especially for something like Precision Rifle Series competition, then you’re going to want at least a 16x magnification on the top end, and would probably be best off with a 25x or 36x max.

Shooting at those ranges requires some serious glass too, and you’ll probably want to shell out for something a little more high-end so that you can see heat mirage and spot your own misses as well as possible.

If you’re somewhere in between and plan to take some shots at steel inside 600 yards or so or even reach out further with nothing on the line but bragging rights at the range, then you can definitely get by with something cheaper and less powerful in terms of magnification

In the end, it all comes down to what you need, and what you’ll be doing with your scope, and this consideration should really be the guiding force behind all your other decisions.

Choose The Right Reticle

A big part of choosing the best scope for your specific needs is choosing the right reticle. There are a huge number of options out there, which can make finding the ideal one a bit difficult.

Fortunately, at the end of the day, there’s no real “wrong” choice, and most things come down to the shooter’s preference. Some reticles will simply work better in some contexts than others. 

For example, I wouldn’t recommend a classic crosshair/duplex style reticle with just two intersecting lines for long-range precision shooting, but for most hunting scenarios this will be just fine.

Similarly, busy “Christmas tree” style reticles like the ones that are used for quickly finding windage and elevation holds at longer ranges can be far too cluttered for hunting, and can end up being distracting. 

You also need to look at what focal plane your reticle is one, the first or second. You’ll typically see this abbreviated as “FFP” for first focal plane, and “SFP” for second focal plane. We’ll talk more about this in the FAQ section down below.

Parallax Adjustment

Parallax is an often-misunderstood topic and one that, in my experience, can be a big stumbling block for many shooters.

To help with this, first I want to explain what parallax is. It’s the difference between the focal plane that your target is on, and the focal plane your reticle is on. Why does this matter? 

I’ll show you. 

Take your thumb and your pointer finger and make a circle like you’re giving somebody an “OK” sign. Hold your arm out and look through that circle at something on the wall across the room like a light switch or a picture of your kids or whatever.

Now, hold your arm still and move your head from side to side.

See how that spot on the wall moves a lot? That’s because the reticle (your OK sign) is on a different focal plane than the target (that thing on the wall). When we’re shooting a rifle, this effect means that having even a slightly different cheek weld can introduce errors in our aim.

With a rifle at long distances, this difference can cause your groups to open or even cause you to miss the target entirely. The parallax adjustment on your rifle helps to correct this. It’s not a “side focus” and bringing the target into better focus isn’t actually its purpose at all.

What it really does is trick your eye into thinking that the reticle is just floating in space around whatever you’re looking at. To use the OK sign example, imagine someone else walked in and made the circle with their fingers, and just put it on top of that spot on the other side of the room.

Obviously, no matter which way you move your head, that OK sign is gonna stay on top of that spot. This is effectively what a parallax adjustment does for you, so you don’t have to have your head in exactly the same place every time to make your shots accurate.

If your scope has a high magnification (8x or more) then it’ll probably have a parallax adjustment on the side, usually the left. It’ll have yardage markings on it so that you can dial roughly to the distance you’re shooting at, which should get you pretty close, but you should always verify.

Every scope is different in my experience, not just across brands or product lines, but even among different examples of the same exact scope. Most of the time, the yardage adjustment won’t be quite perfect, so you’ll have to experiment. 

With a good scope though, the parallax adjustment will be pretty close to accurate, which makes dialing things in much easier. 

Glass Quality & Light Transmission

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly for some shooters, is the quality of the glass itself and how well it transmits light. Scopes like these are designed for longer-range shooting which requires good glass with quality lens coatings for a couple of different tasks.

The first is light transmission and color fidelity. These things are especially important for hunting scopes because without enough light or accurate color representation, seeing your target early in the morning or late in the afternoon is often vital.

Without adequate light transmission, you’ll lose that critical half-hour before sunrise and after sunset, which in my experience is generally when that big buck you’ve seen mocking you on trail cams all during the off-season is going to show himself.

Without high color fidelity, like say if your scope manufacturer uses a cheap coating that washes everything out in a cool blue tone, you may not spot that trophy buck at all because he just blends into the background brush when you glass that field or food plot you’re sitting on.

These things aren’t just important for hunters though.

If you’re a serious long-distance shooter, one of the most important things for judging wind in the field is being able to see heat mirage clearly and see which way the air currents are moving so you can make your windage adjustments. 

This is especially important during something like a PRS competition, or any situation where you don’t have windage flags to help you out like you might when you’re at an extended shooting range for fun.

Even if you only shoot at ranges with flags every 100 yards, it’s still better to be able to see that heat mirage so you can learn to use it and get better as a shooter. You won’t really pay much more for a scope that can make that mirage clear, so why not get one that can?

Overall Build Quality and Ruggedization

Lastly, we have to talk about the build quality and ruggedization features you should expect in an AR-10 scope.

Recoil is stout on the AR-10 platform, and these rifles are often used for hunting and competition where bumps, knocks, and exposure to dust and water are extremely common. To deal with this, you’re going to want something that’s properly ruggedized to handle the abuse. 

If you’re a competitor, you’re going to catch your scope on a barricade or whatever other maliciously-positioned stage prop your match director has come up with. It’s going to happen, no matter how careful you are, so get something that won’t lose zero when you do.

The construction of the tube and the finish on the outside is also important when it comes to dealing with this kind of thing as you don’t want the scope to shift any, and you don’t want 

We’ve got a scope in the safe right now that’s got a good long scratch on the top from when my husband had to shoot through a concrete culvert pipe on a PRS stage one time and dragged it along the edge when moving the rifle. 

It didn’t lose zero though. And to ensure your rifle won’t either, get something that is as drop and shock-proof as you can afford. A lot of the difference in price at a certain point is going to come down to how well your scope can take a beating.

Another thing to look for is whether or not the scope is O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged. This is done to keep water out and to prevent condensation and fogging on the lenses in changing temperatures. 

This is especially an issue if you’re moving from, say, the inside of your heated truck into the snowy woods during hunting season, but it can happen anytime with a scope that hasn’t been properly prepped to handle the changing temperature. 

Frequently Asked Questions About AR-10 Scopes

What Is the Difference Between FFP and SFP?

The practical difference comes down to how the reticle behaves under magnification. With a first focal plane reticle, the reticle will change size with magnification, and with a second focal plane, the reticle will remain the same size.

Why does that matter?

Well, if you have a first focal plane reticle, then your reticle will always be the same relative size at every magnification, meaning it will cover the same distance in MOA or milliradians, so your windage, elevation, and ballistic drop compensation markings will all work at all ranges.

The problem is, at low magnification power, the lines in an FFP scope can become very thin and hard to see, even with very good eyesight. This is why many quality FFP scopes will have an illuminated reticle to make it easier to make out.

With a second focal plane reticle, your windage, elevation, and ballistic drop compensation will only work at max magnification because the reticle will change relative size as magnification changes.

This makes SFP scopes better for scopes that have just a traditional crosshair as there’s really no reason for a scope without built-in subtensions or BDC features to be FFP, and SFP scopes are, generally, a touch cheaper.

Hunting ranges are also shorter than true long-range shooters typically deal with, so having a reticle that remains thick and very visible at low power is helpful.
That’s not to say that you can’t use an FFP scope for hunting or an SFP scope for long-range target shooting though.

Just know that your SFP scope will need to be at max magnification for any BDC or windage marks to work properly, and your FFP scope will work best with an illuminated reticle at close ranges if you decide to go this route.

Which is Better, MOA or MRAD?

For most serious shooters,  MRAD measurements are superior and are what you should learn if you aren’t already plugged into the MOA side of things. At the end of the day, it’s a question of what’s easier to work with, and for most people that means MRAD.

Sorry, my fellow Americans (and folks in Liberia) but the metric system is just a lot better for doing rapid mental calculations than Imperial is. 

Now, does that mean that if you already know the MOA system and are used to doing your adjustments in that frame of reference that you should throw everything out and learn MRAD instead? I don’t think so, no.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using MOA measurements as long as you know what you’re doing, MRAD is just easier math to do for 99% of people. At the end of the day, it comes down to preference, but definitely learn MRAD if you’re just starting out.

Final Verdict

Alright, now you should know everything you need to know about choosing the best scope for your AR-10, whether you’re hunting, shooting competitively, or just ringing steel for fun at the range.

Our top pick is still the Vortex Razor HD GEN III because of its excellent glass, variety of reticles, stellar overall value, and the industry-leading warranty Vortex supports it with. We always love seeing a company stand behind their products.

That said, all of the scopes on this list rock, and I’ve used them all to great effect over the years. They’ve worked well for me and I guarantee they’ll work well for you too.



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