If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for Scope for the ruger AR 556:
- Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm – Best Overall
- Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle – Best Variable Power Scope for the AR-556
- Nikon P-Tactical .223 3×32 BDC Carbine – Best Budget Scope for the AR-556
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm – Best Hunting Scope for the AR-556
- Sig Bravo 3 Battle Sight – Best Tactical Scope for the AR-556
- Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm – Best Long-Range Scope for AR-556
- ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope – Best Thermal Scope for AR-556
- Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight – Best Red Dot Sight for the AR-556
- EOTech EXPS2 – Best Holographic Sight for the AR-556
The American-made Ruger AR-556 is one of the most affordable modern sporting rifles on the face of the planet. In the hands of a competent shooter, this rugged and popular rifle comes out of the box capable of shooting sub MOA groups. ALl you need is the right optic.
Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled this guide to help you find the best scope for AR-556 shooting applications. We even have a list of our top picks to get you started.
- What Kind of Optic Do I Need for my AR-556?
- Top 9 Best Scopes for the Ruger AR-556 with Detailed Reviews
- 1. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm – Best Overall
- 2. Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle – Best Variable Power Scope for the AR-556
- 3. Nikon P-Tactical .223 3×32 BDC Carbine – Best Budget Scope for the AR-556
- 4. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm – Best Hunting Scope for the AR-556
- 5. Sig Bravo 3 Battle Sight – Best Tactical Scope for the AR-556
- 6. Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm – Best Long-Range Scope for AR-556
- 7. ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope – Best Thermal Scope for AR-556
- 8. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight – Best Red Dot Sight for the AR-556
- 9. EOTech EXPS2 – Best Holographic Sight for the AR-556
- Summing It Up
What Kind of Optic Do I Need for my AR-556?
While the Ruger AR-556 is a capable, easy-handling, lightning fast rifle, it isn’t a superhero. The AR-556 is limited by the .223/5.56 cartridges it shoots.
Although these cartridges are incredibly versatile, they aren’t exactly known for their long-range accuracy. Any rifle chambered for these cartridges will be most effective on targets from close quarters to around 300 yards.
Obviously, you will want a scope that matches the rifle’s capabilities. A high power optic is mostly a waste on the AR-556, and the size required for extreme magnification can seriously detract from the AR-556’s lightweight maneuverability (which is honestly one of the rifle’s best qualities).
How you plan to use your rifle is the biggest factor in determining which optic will work best. Here is a brief explanation of the types of optics available for the AR-556 and what those optics do best.
Red Dots and Holo Sights
Some of the best optics for the Ruger AR-556 aren’t actually scopes at all. Red dots and holographic sights are perfect for fast target acquisition and provide a solid aiming point for targets within the capabilities of standard .223/5.56 ammunition.
These sights are a favorite choice for many competition shooters. Perfect for many 3-gun divisions where magnified optics are not allowed, holo and red dot sights help you get on target faster and more reliably than iron sights.
Low Power Variable Optics (LPVO)
LPVOs are a popular choice for modern sporting rifles like the Ruger AR-556. Since you won’t be making 1000-yard sniper shots with your AR-556, a scope within the 1x to 8x magnification range hits the sweet spot for the rifle’s effective range.
An LPVO is a perfect addition to your AR hunting set-up, allowing you to make precision shots to the smallest vital areas. If you plan to use your rifle for hunting varmints, hogs, or predators like coyotes, an LPVO is well-suited for the job.
Prism scopes (sometimes called prismatic scopes) use glass prisms in place of traditional lenses to focus and magnify an image. The design makes them much more compact than a traditional riflescope, so they only take up minimal space on your rail.
Prism scopes are typically limited to lower magnifications, so you’ll usually only find them in the 1x to 5x range, which is a perfect match for the AR-556’s range capabilities.
A great option for tactical shooting, prism scopes provide the magnification of a larger, traditional scope combined with the quicker target acquisition of a reflex sight. They also provide more detailed reticles than the average red dot sight.
Top 9 Best Scopes for the Ruger AR-556 with Detailed Reviews
Here are some of our favorite optics for the Ruger AR-556. We’ve tried to include something for everyone, so in addition to traditional scopes, you’ll also find some awesome red dots, holo sights, and thermal optics.
1. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone .223 3-9x40mm – Best Overall
The Bushnell Drop Zone .223 will always be a great optic for the modern sporting rifle, and this one is perfectly priced for the Ruger AR-556. Designed specifically for the AR platform, the Bushnell Drop Zone features a highly rugged design, fully multi-coated optics, and a fast focus eyepiece.
Nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed, the Drop Zone is constructed to keep out damaging dust and moisture. This riflescope is fogproof, rustproof, scratchproof, and virtually indestructible.
The Drop Zone BDC reticle is calibrated for 55-62 grain, .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO loads. Located on the second focal plane, the reticle has aiming points to help you compensate for bullet drop out to 500 yards.
The scope is designed with a side focus parallax adjustment dial and easy-to-read target turrets (1/4 MOA tactile click value) that lets you milk your AR-556 for every ounce of long-range accuracy it has in it.
2. Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle – Best Variable Power Scope for the AR-556
The Vortex Strike Eagle excels in the areas of speed and versatility. An awesome option for a 3 gun optic, this one also works well for hunting.
The Strike Eagle features fully multi-coated lenses, and the 6x zoom function allows you to effectively engage targets from point-blank to the extreme edge of the AR-556’s effective range.
It also comes with an illuminated, glass-etched second focal plane (SFP) reticle with BDC marks that subtend with 5.56 Nato cartridges. The reticle also features a centered halo designed to help you get on target fast.
Rugged and ready for action, the Strike Eagle is 100 percent waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
3. Nikon P-Tactical .223 3×32 BDC Carbine – Best Budget Scope for the AR-556
Although Nikon is best known for producing high-quality cameras, their riflescopes are also top-notch.
This first-class scope features fully multi-coated optics for crystal clear images. Housed in a rugged housing made from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Nikon’s P-Tactical works seamlessly with the Ruger AR-556.
The optic is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof, fogproof, and resistant to thermal shock.
Other notable features include a quick focus eyepiece, spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets, and generous eye relief. The 3x magnification is a great option for engaging mid-range targets.
Plus, this version of the P-Tactical features a BDC Carbine reticle that features a 200-yard center crosshair and marks at 400 yards and 600 yards perfectly calibrated for .223 Remington to compensate for bullet drop.
4. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm – Best Hunting Scope for the AR-556
Leupold is a legend when it comes to producing high quality optics, and their VX-Freedom is a great example of their work. The company even stands by their products with a lifetime warranty.
We particularly love Leupold’s optics on our hunting rifles. Their patented Twilight Max Management System is a major asset in a hunting optic. Featuring glass and coatings that maximize light transmission, reduce glare, and improve image contrast and resolution, Twilight Max adds up to ten extra minutes of shooting time at dawn and dusk, when game are generally most active.
Leupold’s riflescopes are o-ring sealed for reliable fogproof performance in any weather condition. They also feature mil-spec scratch-resistant lenses that are well-suited to the rough conditions hunters often experience in the field.
5. Sig Bravo 3 Battle Sight – Best Tactical Scope for the AR-556
Made by one of Germany’s oldest weapons manufacturers, the Sig Sauer Bravo 3 prism scope features 3x magnification, crystal clear glass, and an absolutely massive field of view.
All lenses are coated with Sig’s proprietary Lensarmor abrasion-resistant coatings, so you can rest assured the images viewed through your scope will remain sharp, bright, and clear for the life of the optic.
Engineered to produce a flat, distortion-free image, the Bravo 3 is made with unique aspherical lenses to produce exceptional edge-to-edge clarity.
The optic’s easy-to-use illuminated horseshoe dot reticle has BDC hash marks for 5.56 NATO loads, making it perfect for your Ruger AR-556.
6. Steiner 5221 P4Xi 4-16x56mm – Best Long-Range Scope for AR-556
One of the best things about the Ruger AR-556 is there are so many aftermarket upgrades. If you plan to optimize your AR-556 for long-range shooting, there is no better optic than the Steiner Model 5221 P4Xi.
Don’t forget that “long range” for the AR-556 isn’t the same as “long range” for a .308 bolt action. Although you shouldn’t expect sniper-like long-range precision, with the right upgrades, you can still ping steel targets with your AR-556 out beyond 500 yards.
With unmatched clarity and accuracy, this scope features an illuminated etched glass Special Competition Reticle (SCR). Located on the first focal plane (FFP), this unique reticle provides 2/10-mil windage, 1/2-mil holdover lines, and 1/10-mil ranging brackets for the most precise distance shooting your weapon and ammo are capable of delivering.
This first-class optic is milled from a single piece of solid, high-grade aluminum stock. With no welds or seams in the housing, you get unprecedented strength and durability. It is also completely fogproof and submersible up to 33 feet, so you know this optic can take whatever conditions you encounter in the field.
7. ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope – Best Thermal Scope for AR-556
The Ruger AR-556 is a popular weapon for hog hunters, and when it’s topped with this thermal scope from ATN, you’re almost guaranteed to bring home the bacon. The ATN Thor LT is surprisingly affordable, easy to install, and perfect for nighttime hog hunting.
This digital thermal optic is built to provide accurate and precise shots in both bright sunshine and after-dark lighting conditions. Using cutting-edge technology, the optic detects and displays animal body heat, even through thick crops, dense fog, and pitch darkness.
More than just a riflescope, the Thor LT is jam packed with extra features, including an e-compass, geolocation, video recording, and Wi-Fi streaming. If you want a truly modern weapon, the ATN Thor LT is the way to go.
8. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight – Best Red Dot Sight for the AR-556
If you’re looking for a low-cost, bare bones optic for your AR-556, this red dot from Bushnell definitely fits the bill. Lightweight, compact, and simple to use, red dot sights are some of the most popular options for AR-15s.
This one makes a fantastic reflex sight with unlimited eye relief perfect for “both eyes open” shooting. You can also fine-tune the dot brightness to achieve the best visibility for almost any lighting condition.
Featuring a durable metal housing, the TRS-25 is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof, shockproof, fogproof, and nearly indestructible. The TRS-25 is also incredibly easy to mount and works with most Picatinny rail systems.
9. EOTech EXPS2 – Best Holographic Sight for the AR-556
It may seem like overkill to mount an expensive holo sight on a relatively inexpensive rifle like the Ruger AR-556. However, the AR-556 is capable of some pretty impressive feats of accuracy for an economy weapon, and this top-of-the-line sight from EOTech lets you take full advantage of the rifle’s capabilities.
This is one of EOTech’s smallest and lightest models. It takes up only minimal rail space, so you can easily add a magnifier to increase your effective range.
The holo sight features a 68MOA ring and one MOA dot reticle with 20 different brightness settings for dawn-to-dusk shooting.
One of the most durable reflex sights on the market, the EOTech EXPS2 functions even if the glass is partially shattered. And it does it without sacrificing precision, so you can trust your optic to stay in the fight no matter what you encounter.
Summing It Up
The Ruger AR-556 busted onto the modern sporting rifle scene in 2009. Today, it is one of the best-selling AR-15 style semi-autos available in the United States. With its affordable price tag, rugged durability, and a plethora of customization options, it’s easy to understand why.
No matter which scope you choose, be sure to spend some time at the range learning how your weapon and your optic work together. There are no magic optics solutions to all your shooting problems. Ultimately, practice is the best way to improve your shooting skills, no matter what you have mounted on your rifle.
If you want to maximize the potential of this awesome entry level AR, you first need a high-quality optic. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from, so finding the best scope for Ruger AR-556 is largely a matter of matching your optic to your shooting application.
Alice Jones Webb is a writer, life-long hunter, experienced shooter, and mother of 4 up-and-coming shooting and outdoor enthusiasts. She grew up flinging arrows and bullets at Virginia whitetails, turkey, and game birds, but her favorite hunting experience is chasing bull elk in the Colorado backcountry.
Never one to sit still and look pretty, Alice is also a self-defense instructor and competitive archer. She currently resides in rural North Carolina with her children, non-hunting husband, and a well-stocked chest freezer.