The AR-15 is a versatile weapon that offers endless opportunities for customization. For many AR-15 enthusiasts who want to upgrade their weapons, one of the first items they look for is a scope mount.
For some people, finding the right scope mount for their AR-15 can be tricky because there are so many factors to consider. If you’re looking for a scope mount, read on to find our top picks for this popular accessory.
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Nowadays, scope mounts are considered a near-universal accessory for many rifle owners.
Even if a newly-purchased rifle or handgun doesn’t come with a scope or scope mount when it rolls off the assembly line, most rifles and handguns come with pre-drilled holes or pre-fabricated rails on the bore for mounting a scope later on.
A sturdy scope mount, appropriately installed and centered, is essential for AR-15 enthusiasts who use their rifles for hunting. Many hunters hire a gunsmith to install and center their scope mounts properly, but it’s not that difficult to do it yourself.
The rule of thumb for hunters who plan on using a scope mount is to mount your scope as low as possible.
Ensure that you have adequate eye relief; when a scope is mounted correctly, there should be three to four inches of clearance between the scope and your eye, any closer, and there’s a risk of injury.
Whether you’re going into the backcountry with your friends and family or you’re shooting professionally in competitions, the right scope mount for your AR-15 is integral for accuracy and variable magnification.
Target practice with a scope mount thrown in the mix also provides valuable experience for the in’s and out’s of using your AR-15. You’ll get training with skills such as adequately zeroing your scope, loading and unloading, and proper gun care and maintenance.
Whether it’s for hunting certain kinds of big game or as part of a sharp-shooting or sniper competition, if you want pinpoint accuracy at 600 yards or 700 yards, a stable scope mount is necessary.
Long-range shooting with an AR-15 is a science all its own. If you’re interested in going after targets at 600 yards or even further, check out this cool page from our friends over at Pew Pew Tactical that discusses long-range shooting with the AR-15.
Are AR Scope Mounts Universal?
No, they are not. There are close to a dozen different types of scope mounts available in a wide variety of materials, with aluminum and stainless steel scope mounts being the most popular.
Stainless steel scope mounts offer the best long-term durability, while aluminum scope mounts offer greater resistance to moisture and the elements. We’ve included links to some of the most common types of scope mounts below.
When you’re looking for a scope mount for your AR-15, you’ve got three different factors to consider: construction material, diameter, and rail type.
Scope mounts are aluminum or stainless steel. Both are durable, and with the proper maintenance, can last a lifetime.
Stainless steel mounts are the heavier of the two. Aluminum mounts are lighter, but they’re not quite as durable.
The other trade-off here is that an aluminum mount will do a much better job of standing up to moisture and the elements without rust or corrosion.
One-piece scope mounts add height to your scope while still allowing the scope to sit comfortably on the AR bore. For a recoil-heavy weapon like the AR-15, one-piece mounts are much more robust but also much heavier.
However, one-piece scope mounts can also create misfire and chamber clearance issues, especially in scenarios where you have a heavier scope mounted on a lighter weapon.
For AR-15 enthusiasts concerned with price, two-piece mounts are cheaper. They’re also lighter but will require alignment once mounted onto the bore. Two-piece rings also make for easier access to the chamber, a big plus for shooters who want to unload quickly.
As noted earlier, virtually all AR-15’s that roll off the assembly lines nowadays come equipped with either pre-drilled holes or prefabricated rail systems that allow you to fit your rifle with a scope mount.
However, in much the same way that scope mounts aren’t universal, neither are the various rail systems designed for the AR-15. While the different types of rail systems on an AR-15 will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the Picatinny rail system is the most popular.
Your scope mount and the rail system on your AR-15 need to be compatible in terms of type. If your AR-15 comes equipped with a Weaver rail system, for example, you need to pick a scope mount that is compatible with a Weaver rail system.
After testing nearly every available scope mount on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the best ones we found. Read on to see which scope mounts performed the strongest.
Like we said earlier, the AR-15 is a versatile weapon, and the list we’ve put together reflects that. Whether you’re a more casual AR-15 enthusiast or you’re a card-carrying special operator working in a hostile overseas battlespace, there’s something here for you.
This is one of the better scope mounts on the market, from one of the business’s most trusted names. Many recent buyers say they were surprised to get such a high-quality scope mount for such a reasonable price.
This scope mount stood out during our research because of the sheer number of overwhelmingly positive reviews.
The folks at American Defense have put a great deal of thought into designing and building a scope mount that is easy to install. Many of the customer testimonials we came across emphasized that this was a scope mount that was reliable and stayed locked firmly in place even under adverse conditions and in recoil-heavy environments.
We put this scope mount at the top of our list because it is durable, easy to install, and reasonably priced.
If you’re in the market for a new scope mount, you could do a lot worse. This is a scope mount that hits the sweet spot between durability and ease-of-use.
This was another scope mount where the majority of the reviews were positive. Customer testimonials say this is a sturdy, reliable scope mount available at a reasonable price. Many reviews say that the Vortex stands up to the elements and recoil over the long term, with minimal damage or maintenance required.
This one stood out to us by its durability. We were struck by how many reviews said that this scope mount would keep your scope locked in place no matter what you threw at it, even after months or a year of use.
The quick and easy installation was the other thing that stood out to us. This was a scope mount that locked onto a Picatinny rail system in under a minute.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced scope mount that will stay locked in place over the long term, this is your best bet. The flexibility you have in terms of scope size and offsets is also a huge plus.
Customer testimonials indicate that this is an affordable scope mount that is easy to install and easy to use. Users liked the manufacturer warranty and the wide variety of colors available. Many users also liked the “automatic zero” feature when installing and removing this scope mount.
We liked the fact that Warne seems to have such a rabid and devoted fan base. Many reviewers often expressed surprise or disbelief that more gun enthusiasts didn’t use Warne’s scope mounts.
Unlike many of the scope mounts out there, Warne has designed a durable product that is also lightweight.
Warne’s contribution to this list is simple to install, and the generous warranty makes for a quick replacement in the unlikely event that you receive a defective product. Warne has made a name for itself with its excellent customer service and devoted fanbase.
If you’re looking for a scope mount that’s easy to install and cheap without being flimsy, Warne’s got you covered. The ease-of-installation makes this an excellent option for novices.
Most recent buyers are impressed that Burris has managed to make a lighter scope mount that doesn’t sacrifice durability, like so many others. The twelve Torx screws fight back successfully against even extreme recoil. Many buyers thought this was a high-quality scope mount at a reasonable price.
We liked the high number of Torx screws that help to hold your scope in place. Despite the high number of screws, the installation was still a breeze.
We were also impressed by how the design of this scope mount prevented “walk-out.” Since there’s no “walk-out,” we didn’t have to spend any additional time making sure we centered our scope correctly.
We also liked having options in terms of size and rail system.
Burris has made an affordable scope mount that is lightweight and durable and can still hold your scope snugly in place even during extreme recoil. This is a high-quality scope mount from one of the most trusted names in the business.
Most of the reviews we found were positive. Nikon is another brand that’s built a lot of brand loyalty over the years, with many recent users saying that they only use Nikon for all of their optics needs.
We were struck by how clear this scope was, even when we stretched it out to 400 yards and 600 yards.
We liked the heavy-duty aluminum construction, and while aesthetic concerns are secondary for many AR-15 enthusiasts, we had to admit that this scope looked beautiful mounted on our AR-15.
This is a scope that really will take whatever you can throw at it. We also liked the fact that we never had to re-zero the scope.
This is yet another high-quality product from an established name in optics and photography. Nokia might force some AR-15 enthusiasts to sacrifice flexibility, but if you’re a hunter or a sharpshooter who’s concerned with clarity over great distances, this scope is for you.
All of the scope mounts that made our list are high-quality products from respected manufacturers. While each of these products has its pros and cons, they all deliver some pretty consistent benefits.
Taking the time to equip your AR-15 with a scope mount gives you the option of using a scope when and if you need to. If you’re just out at the shooting range and you don’t need to use your scope, remove it and put it aside for safekeeping.
When you equip your AR-15 with a scope mount, you’re opening up a new world of possibilities in terms of situational awareness. With a properly mounted scope, you’ll have the ability to magnify and zoom in on distant objects and landscapes.
A stable and clearly-defined set of reticles (crosshairs) allows for pinpoint accuracy, even from great distances and in inclement weather.
Except for the Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9×40 Matte BDC600, all of the scope mounts here can be retrofitted to work with other rifles and semiautomatic weapons. Many of the scope mounts we’ve covered today also give you the option of purchasing a 1-inch or 30-millimeter sizes.
A high-quality scope mount for your AR-15 should be durable and easy to install. A good scope mount should give you the means to detach and reattach your scope quickly and easily. A good scope mount should be able to stand up to the elements and handle extreme recoil.
Finally, we’ve taken the time here at the very end to deal with the most commonly asked questions about AR-15 scope mounts. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly or contact a licensed firearms dealer.
For the AR-15 and its immediate predecessor, the M-16, the traditional iron sights were 1.40 inches in height. Use this benchmark when mounting a scope on your AR-15.
Yes, it does. When mounting a scope on an AR-15, accuracy increases as your scope’s centerline gets closer to the bore’s centerline.