Ruger released their take on the popular AR-15 platform in 2009. Since then, the Ruger AR-556 has become one of the company’s top-selling firearms. Incredibly durable and refreshingly affordable, the AR-556 is an AR built for the average American.
In this article, we’re going to help you find the best Ruger AR-556 scopes on the market today.
If you don't have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated Ruger AR-556 Scopes:
- 1Vortex Optics Strike Eagle
- 2Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm
- 3Nikon P-Tactical .223 3x32 BDC Carbine
- 4Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm
- 5Sig Sauer Bravo 3 Battle Sight
- 6Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm
- 7Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Red Dot Scope for Ruger AR-556
- 8Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm - - Best Night Vision Scope for Ruger AR-556
- 9ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope - Best Thermal Scope for Ruger AR-556
Table of Contents
- Choosing a Scope for Your Ruger AR-556
- A Note About Price
- Best Ruger AR-556 Scopes on the Market Reviews
- 1 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle
- 2 Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm
- 3 Nikon P-Tactical .223 3x32 BDC Carbine
- 4 Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm
- 5 Sig Sauer Bravo 3 Battle Sight
- 6 Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm
- 7 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Red Dot Scope for Ruger AR-556
- 8 Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm - - Best Night Vision Scope for Ruger AR-556
- 9 ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope - Best Thermal Scope for Ruger AR-556
- Final Thoughts
Choosing a Scope for Your Ruger AR-556
Although the AR-556 comes equipped with a rapid-deploying folding rear sight, the right optic will increase this weapon’s accuracy and performance. The type of optic you need mostly depends on the type of shooting you do.
However, it’s important to remember both the limitations and capabilities of your weapon when choosing an optic. The Ruger AR-556 is a lightweight, easily maneuverable, lightning fast rifle. These compact carbines aren’t long-range heroes.
The .223/5.56 cartridges that the AR-556 shoots are most effective on targets from point-blank range to around 300 yards. This means you don’t need a high power optic on your rifle. In fact, the bulk and weight of a scope with serious magnification will unbalance your weapon and limit its maneuverability.
Ultimately, you want a compact, lightweight optic to match your compact, lightweight rifle.
Here are a few suggestions for picking a scope to match both your rifle and your shooting application.
The AR-556 is a great entry level rifle for 3 gun competition. If you want to compete in the factory division, you’ll need a red dot or holo sight. These sights are non-magnified (making them perfect for the factory division) but will still help you get on target faster than traditional iron sights.
Other divisions may allow shooters to use an LPVO. Topping your AR-556 with a no-to-low power variable scope (like 1-6x) delivers the ultimate in shooting versatility. You can choose 1x magnification for close range targets or zoom in on distant targets for precision shooting.
A prism scope is also a popular option for 3-gun, and these compact, lightweight optics also work well for tactical applications. Prism scopes bridge the gap between red dots and magnified scopes. They offer the quick target acquisition of a red dot and pair it with a more complex reticle design. Prism scopes are highly versatile and work well for close to medium range targets.
If you plan to hunt with your AR-556, you’ll need a scope with moderate magnification. Look for optics with a wide field of view to help you spot moving game. One that features a BDC reticle will help you hit small vital areas on distant game.
For feral hogs and predators, a thermal or night vision scope will increase your odds after the sun goes down.
The short barrel and lightweight design make the AR-556 easy to maneuver in tight areas. For this reason, some shooters choose the AR-556 as a home defense weapon.
In a home defense scenario, you’ll be engaging close range targets. A red dot or holographic sight makes the perfect addition to your home defense rifle.
A Note About Price
One of the best things about the Ruger AR-556 is its price. These rifles come fully assembled and ready to shoot for well under $1000. Because the rifle is so inexpensive, it’s tempting to slap a cheap scope on it and call it a day.
However, when it comes to optics, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is completely true. If you want a quality optic, you’re going to need to invest some money.
That being said, we’ve included some very affordable options on our list of top picks. We’ve tried to include something to fit every budget. Just don’t expect a budget scope to perform like a top-of-the-line model.
Best Ruger AR-556 Scopes on the Market Reviews
There are a ton of optics on the market perfect for the AR-556. However, the sheer number of options can make finding the right one feel like an impossible task. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out this list of our top picks.
1 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle
The Vortex Strike Eagle really shines when it comes to speed and versatility, making this a great option for 3 Gun competition.
The Strike Eagle has tons to offer in durability and optical quality, which makes it hard to believe this is considered a “budget” optic. With tons of performance for the money, this scope easily has the best value of any optic on our list.
Featuring fully multi-coated lenses and extra low dispersion (XD) glass, the Vortex Strike Eagle has incredible image quality for an optic in this price category. The scope also features an illuminated glass-etched reticle, versatile magnification, and a durable aircraft-grade aluminum housing.
The SFP reticle has eleven brightness settings, so you can easily adjust visibility for nearly any lighting condition.
2 Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm
The Drop Zone riflescope from Bushnell is an excellent scope for any modern sporting rifle. However, the shockingly affordable price tag makes it the perfect pairing for the Ruger AR-556.
This scope features Bushnell’s Drop Zone BDC reticle. This SFP reticle is calibrated specifically for .223 Remington cartridges topped with bullets weighing 55 to 62 grains. The reticle has easy-to-read hash marks to help compensate for natural bullet drop on targets out to 500 yards.
The Drop Zone also features fully multi-coated lenses, side focus parallax adjustment, target-style turrets, and a fast focus eyepiece. Built for rough tactical use, the Drop Zone is rustproof, scratchproof, and waterproof. It is also o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for true fogproof performance.
3 Nikon P-Tactical .223 3x32 BDC Carbine
Nikon is most famous for its camera and photography equipment. They also produce some topnotch riflescopes, and this one is perfectly priced for the budget-conscious shooter.
The Nikon P-Tactical features a rugged housing made from durable aircraft-grade aluminum. The housing is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, so you can count on it to be 100 percent waterproof and fogproof, even in the wettest conditions.
This version also features Nikon’s BDC Carbine reticle. This unique reticle is designed to match the ballistics of standard .223 Remington ammo, so you can accurately shoot targets out to 600 yards.
The Nikon P-Tactical also features fully multi-coated lenses, 3x fixed magnification, spring-loaded zero-reset turrets, and plenty of eye relief.
4 Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm
The Leupold VX-Freedom riflescope is a perfect complement to your Ruger AR-556, especially if you plan to use it for hunting. This high-quality scope features Leupold’s patented Twilight Management System. The system uses unique lens coatings to enhance light transmission, reduce glare, and improve image resolution. The Twilight Management System provides enough brightness and clarity to add up to ten extra minutes of shooting time around dawn and dusk.
The VX-Freedom is impact tested and guaranteed waterproof. Built to handle the roughest hunting conditions, this scope also performs reliably in extreme temperatures ranging from -40º to 160º Fehrenheit. O-ring sealed and filled with a special blend of gases, the VX-Freedom is completely fogproof and submersible to 33 feet.
5 Sig Sauer Bravo 3 Battle Sight
Sig Sauer is one of Germany’s oldest and most respected weapons manufacturers. Although the company is best known for their high-quality pistols, they also do an impressive job with their optics.
The Bravo 3 is Sig’s 3x prism scope. Compact and lightweight, this optic compliments the AR-556’s design. It also won’t take up a ton of rail space.
Specially designed to provide a flat, distortion-free image, the Bravo 3 features aspherical lenses and extra low dispersion (XD) glass for incredible edge-to-edge clarity. The lenses on the Bravo 3 are also coated with Sig’s patented Lensarmor abrasion-resistant coatings for extra protection in rough shooting environments.
We also love the Bravo 3’s easy-to-use illuminated horseshoe dot reticle. This glass-etched reticle features BDC hash marks calibrated for standard 5.56 NATO loads.
6 Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm
Although the Ruger AR-556 isn’t exactly the perfect tool for extreme distance shooting, this Steiner scope will help you milk every ounce of long range accuracy you can out of your rifle. Although you shouldn’t expect sniper-like feats of accuracy, the Steiner Model 5221 P4Xi can certainly help you put lead on targets out beyond 500 yards.
The 5221 P4Xi features a unique Special Competition Reticle (SCR). This illuminated, glass-etched FFP reticle provides 2/10-mil windage, 1/2-mil holdover lines, and 1/10-mil ranging brackets. This highly detailed reticle helps you achieve the best precision shooting you and your rifle are capable of dishing out.
Steiner also built this scope to endure rough handling and extreme conditions. It is milled from a single piece of solid, high-grade aluminum stock. It is completely fogproof and waterproof. It even survives being completely submerged to a depth of 33 feet.
7 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Red Dot Scope for Ruger AR-556
A red dot optic is the perfect partner for your AR-556. These easy-to-use optics are perfect for rapid target acquisition, especially on close to mid-range moving targets.
The Aimpoint PRO is one of the best-selling red dots on the market, and it's easy to see why. Literally bombproof, this optic was built for the battlefield. Made with a hard anodized aluminum alloy housing, this is one of the toughest optics we’ve ever seen.
It is waterproof up to 150 feet and has a reliable operating range of -49 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it’s perfect for tactical applications, it also works well for hunting as well as 3 gun competition.
Weighing in at a mere 7.8 ounces, the Aimpoint PRO is incredibly lightweight. It also measures only 5 inches long, so it doesn’t take up much space on your rail.
The Aimpoint PRO is night vision compatible and has a clear 2 MOA dot. It also has an incredible battery life of nearly 30,000 hours.
8 Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm - - Best Night Vision Scope for Ruger AR-556
If you want to use your AR-556 after the sun goes down, you’re going to need a good night vision scope. The Pulsar Phantom is the perfect option for nighttime hog hunting. It also works well for after-dark tactical applications. Just be prepared to make a major monetary investment. Night vision scopes of this quality definitely don't come cheap.
The Phantom uses Gen 3 night vision technology, which provides the brightest images, the longest viewing ranges, and the best resolution available to the modern nighttime shooter.
In addition to its impressive night vision capabilities, the Phantom is packed with a ton of other high-end features. It comes with a red-on-green or green-on-green mil-dot reticle, intuitive controls, a generous FOV, and a weaver rail so you can add a digital camera adapter.
9 ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope - Best Thermal Scope for Ruger AR-556
The Ruger AR-556 is a favorite of hog hunters across the country. When it’s topped with this high-quality thermal optic from ATN, the pigs won’t even know what hit ‘em. Not only is the Thor LT perfect for nighttime hog hunting, it’s also easy to install and has a surprisingly affordable price tag.
Hunters can use this digital thermal scope to pop wild hogs in broad daylight as well as after the sun goes down. The scope picks up and displays body heat, so you can even spot pigs through dense vegetation and thick fog. It effectively detects heat signatures out to an impressive 475 yards.
The American-made Ruger AR-556 is an affordable, entry-level modern sporting rifle. If you want to get the most out of this capable weapon, you’ll need to pair it with a quality optic.
However, even the best Ruger AR-556 scopes are no substitute for good old-fashioned practice. The best way to improve your shooting is to spend some time with your new rifle/scope combo. You also want to make sure you send plenty of lead downrange.