G&A Basics: How to Mount AR Optics

G&A Basics: How to Mount AR Optics

Modular rifle platforms like the AR-15 make it a breeze to quickly attach optics and accessories. It's generally easy to mount a rifle scope or red dot sight to an AR-15, but knowing the right tips and tricks will result in correct installation and staying on target when it counts.

A variety of optic choices on the market today offer slightly different mounting systems, though knowing the basics of their installation will allow you to mount nearly any optic under the sun to your AR-15. Installing optics in the correct and leveled rail position with the right tools will greatly increase your chances of success.

Learn how to properly mount AR-15 optics with Kyle Lamb and Craig Boddington on this episode of Guns & Ammo TV, airing Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the Sportsman Channel.


Simmons Predator Quest 4.5-18x44mm

We're starting to see more AR-15's set up for long-range varmint and predator hunting. If your rifle is a truck gun for taking shots at coyotes across the pasture, or a .204 that you run hot over prairie dog towns, the Simmons Predator Quest 4.5-18x44mm will serve you well without maxing out your credit card. This optic has a vast magnification range, a generous objective lens and a 30mm main tube, allowing it to transmit plenty of light. With turret adjustments for windage and elevation, and side-focus for parallax, this scope offers all the tools to make precision shots.

Price: $152.95

Redfield CounterStrike Red Dot/Laser Optic

This unique sight from Redfield uses both a visible laser and a traditional illuminated dot optic to provide fast target acquisition at short to medium ranges. Zero magnification dot sights and lasers are without question the fastest sights available, and have been used extensively over the past decade by military special operations forces and SWAT teams. The CounterStrike gives operators the choice of a red or green 4 MOA dot with 11 different intensity settings for every lighting condition. It features ½ MOA adjustments, is waterproof/fogproof/shockproof and has a 5,000-hour battery life.

Price: $179.99

Bushnell 1-4x24mm AR Optics

As the name implies, Bushnell's AR Optics line is designed from the ground up with black rifles in mind. The 1-4x24mm model offers a great deal of flexibility for distances ranging from a few feet to a few hundred yards. The Drop Zone-223 reticle provides precise aiming points designed to match the trajectory of the .223 Remington out to 500 yards. This is an ideal scope for a general use AR-15, and can be upgraded with an illuminated reticle for an additional $100.

Price: $199.99

Leupold Mark AR 3-9x40mm

There's a reason why the most popular hunting scopes in America are 3-9x — it's a really useful power range. Leupold's Mark AR MOD 1 3-9x40mm is ideal when shots aren't expected to come at extremely close range, and a bit more magnification is needed at the top end. This would be a perfect optic for hunting deer or hogs, or even punching paper and steel at medium ranges. It's hard to beat Leupold's quality and outstanding customer service. Mil-dot and illuminated reticles are available at an additional cost.

Price: $374.99

Nikon 4-16x42mm M-223 BDC 600

Just because the AR-15 wasn't designed to be a long-range rifle doesn't mean it hasn't evolved into one. Modern free-floated and fast-twist match barrels are capable of reaching way out there. The Nikon 4-16x42mm M-223 BDC 600 will help maximize that accuracy potential with a generous magnification range and side-focus parallax adjustment. This model features Nikon's BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) reticle, which gives the shooter points of aim out to 600 yards. Clear, bright optics and ¼ MOA target-style adjustment knobs make this is a lot of glass for the money.

Price: $499.95

Aimpoint Micro H-1

Aimpoint essentially owns the red dot marketplace for military, police and hunting use. The Swedish firm has produced hundreds of thousands of sights — which have been tested over and over in harsh combat conditions — for the U.S. military. The Micro H-1 is the smallest offering in the Aimpoint lineup and is a tremendous sight in a tiny package. Its 2 MOA dot offers more precision than most red dot sights, and does so without creating the tunnel vision effect of many optics. The Micro can be used with both eyes open to maximize the shooter's field of view, and is an outstanding choice for the fast action of self-defense and close range hunting situations.

Price: $653.00

Zeiss 2.5-10x50mm Victory Diarange

Laser rangefinders have changed the world when it comes to long-range shooting, but unless you have a spotter, you need to come off the riflescope to dope the range — not so with the Zeiss 2.5-10x50mm Victory Diarange. This high-quality German optic has a laser rangefinder built in so you can range the target, dial your elevation and fire the shot without taking your eye off the target. With range information displayed in just a half-second, it's hard to imagine a faster optic for long-range shooting. The standard BDC dial provides for shots out to 600 yards, and custom dials can be ordered if longer shots are expected. To top it off, you get the crystal-clear European glass that has made Zeiss famous for decades.

Price: $3,519.95

Leupold Mark 8 1.1-8x24mm CQBSS

Designed with input from America's most elite units looking for one scope to do it all, the Leupold Mark 8 1.1-8x24mm CQBSS is the epitome of what today's optical technology is capable of. At 1.1x, this scope gives the user enough field of view to clear a building, yet allows the operator the ability to crank-up to 8x for long-range shots. This is a big, tough scope designed for the rigors of combat. If price is no object, this is the ideal scope for a fighting rifle.

Price: $4,999.99

Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24mm

Though Trijicon's Accupoint scopes are both versatile and effective, the VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight) is the company's first low-range, variable-power optic designed specifically for military and tactical use. Available with a variety of LED-illuminated first focal plane reticle styles, this heavy-duty scope gives other high-end scopes a run for their money. Unlike most of its competitors, the VCOG features a rugged integral mount for attachment to Picatinny rails.

Price: gallery=327,270.00

Leupold Mark 4 HAMR

When close- to mid-range targets require rapid engagement, operators rely on a sighting system with quick and clear acquisition. The Leupold Mark 4 High Accuracy Multi-Range Riflescope (HAMR) delivers in those tactical CQB and mid-range scenarios. When combined with a Leupold DeltaPoint reflex sight, the HAMR gives operators the ability to quickly transition between targets of varying distance.

Price: [imo-slideshow gallery=327],939.99 (with DeltaPoint)

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