The fixed front sight of an AR-15 provides an accurate way of acquiring a target. However, it is not as practical as using an aftermarket scope. The problem is that due to the size of the front sight post of the AR-15, sometimes it isn’t possible to use a scope without removing it.
The good news is that it is definitely possible to use a scope without removing your AR-15 front sight — there is a large number of variable and low-powered optics that either co-witness perfectly with the fixed front sights or ignore it completely, providing a much more comfortable way of acquiring your targets.
In this article, I am going to talk you through a few of what I consider to be the best scopes for AR-15s with fixed front sights. We will be looking at some different scopes, from ACOGshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Combat_Optical_Gunsight to holographic sights, with a few things in between. After extensive testing, I quickly realized that Trijicon ACOG was the premium scope.
If you are unsure on which type of scope is best for your AR-15 with a fixed front sight, then read on. I am sure my advice will be helpful to you.
Best Scopes for AR-15 with Fixed Front Sight Product Review
Vortex Optics Spitfire
Vortex Optics does it time and time again — the price tag on their scopes ranges from entry level to some of the most expensive, yet there is one thing that is constant throughout its line-up: the quality. The Spitfire Prism Scope proves that there are barely any exceptions to the maxim.
The body of the Vortex Optics Spitfire is made from an aluminum alloy. This makes it resistant, but the scope is slightly heavier than you probably would expect: the Spitfire weighs 11.2 ounces. It has a hard anodized matte finish, which gives a sleek and weather-resistant look. You can drop it, you can bang it, you can throw it around — the Spitfire will survive.
The reticle on this prism scope has two etched circles, that can be illuminated in an orange or green light. The reticle is easy to see and provides a fast way to acquire a target. Visibility is great throughout the day without the need for any illumination, but the 5 brightness levels come in handy when it starts getting darker.
The brightness and color controls are easy to reach and placed in a user-faced position. Settings can easily be changed while using the scope — there is no need to stop and fiddle with the controls.
The price on the Vortex Optics Spitfire makes it a very attractive purchase for users who are looking for a red dot sight, but don’t want to hurt their wallet too much. If you are like me and don’t have a huge budget, this might be the best optic for AR15 rifles. This scope made it easy for me to recommend.
How many colors does the ring have?
You can alternate the ring color between orange and green or turn off the illumination.
Can you remove the base of the Vortex Optics Spitfire Prism Scope?
No. While there is a model with a removable base, the base on this model is not removable. The battery compartment is housed in the base of the mount and you can’t remove it.
Does the reticle on this scope have a starburst effect?
The good thing about etched reticles is that they never blur for users with astigmatism. Unlike a red dot, which can have a starburst effect because of the way our eyes process light, etched reticles stay visible without any light dispersion.
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Holographic sights are a type of red dot scope that are very versatile and easy to see, and when it comes to holographic sights it is difficult to beat Eotech.
When comparing the EXPS vs XPS series, the EXPS2 stands out for several things, but the first thing you will probably notice when you pick it up is the fact that this sight is extremely lightweight. Not only that, but the EXPS2 is also considerably small, which can be useful if you are trying to save some precious rail space.
Still, despite its small size, the EXPS2 is very rugged and able to handle the direst scenarios. Besides being compact and very resistant, the reticle on the EXPS2 will continue working even if the glass window gets shattered or obstructed by any type of debris, like dirt or mud. Sure, you might need to re-zero the sight (so the dot is away from the debris), but you will still be able to use your sights.
The green reticle is really a sight to behold. Thanks to its 20 brightness levels you can set it to your preferred setting and increase or decrease the brightness as the sun begins to shift its position. Regardless of the weather condition, it is basically impossible not to see the reticle, something tactical operators will surely appreciate.
Although it is also available in other versions, the model I tested featured a reticle with a 68 MOA ring and a 1 MOA green dot. I did not get to test the red versions nor the versions without the outer ring, but I am sure they are just as good, but possibly less bright — as you probably know, green dots can be 6 times easier to see than red dots.
This is an excellent holographic sight for your AR-15, but it is somewhat expensive. In my opinion, if you are looking for a holographic sight, then the EXPS2 is definitely worth the price. However, you need to ask yourself whether this is exactly what you are looking for — there are options in a more considerable price range that, while not as good, might be closer to your actual needs.
Is the EOTECH EXPS2 only available with a green dot?
No. Eotech sells the EXPS2 in a green or red dot variant. The optics are the exact same, it is just the color of the dot that changes. Remember that green dots are easier to see in every weather and luminosity condition.
Can you use a cantilever mount with the EOTECH EXPS2?
As long as the cantilever mount has a picatinny rail, the Eotech EXPS2 will fit perfectly. You can use any type of mount, as long as it is picatinny.
Does this sight have an auto-off feature?
Yes. This sight has an auto-off feature with two possible settings: 8 or 4 hours. After the allotted time has passed without any user input the sight will turn itself off to conserve batteries.
Read More: Types of Scopes.
Burris AR-536 Prism
Tactical operators prefer optics that excel at close quarters combat. The Burris AR-536 Prism neatly bridges close quarters and medium distances with its 5x magnification level — which makes it possible to acquire targets at a distance of 600 yards.
The Burris AR-536 has an aluminum body that is sturdy and extremely resistant to impacts. It is coated in a matte black finish that doesn’t reflect light, which prevents shooters from being spotted at a distance.
While the build quality is good and the scope feels relatively premium, one can’t help but complain about its weight. Sure, good quality materials are rarely light, but at almost 19 ounces, the weight of the Burris AR-536 can feel slightly excessive.
Still, once you get used to its weight, what you get is a great prism sight. The sight comes with a picatinny mount which attaches to any picatinny rail and does not need any type of rings.
The glass on this scope is clear and provides a crisp image. Regardless of whether you are shooting during the day or at night, there is no blurriness whatsoever and the colors are vivid and true to life.
The first few times you use this scope, the reticle will probably seem strange. The Ballistic CQ Reticle will most likely be appreciated by tactical operators, but common users will certainly find it distracting until they get used to it. Once you get used to the etched reticle, target acquisition will be swift and allow for accurate shots.
The reticle can be illuminated with a green light. There are 10 brightness levels which are controlled by the dials on the top of the scope, which aren’t exactly practical, but that one gets used to.
Although this is slightly more expensive than the Vortex Optics Spitfire, I found it to be worth the extra money. I don’t think that any of them will disappoint, and, sure enough, they serve a different purpose — don’t forget that the Burris AR-536 has a 5x magnification level, unlike the Spitfire. But if magnification is irrelevant to you and you’re just looking for the best of the two, my vote goes to the Burris scope.
Does this scope come with flip caps?
Yes. The Burris AR-536 comes with flip caps.
Can you use this scope with a Scar?
As long as the weapon has a picatinny rail, you can use this scope without any issues. This is a well-built scope that can withstand even the heaviest calibers.
Read Next: How to mount a scope on AR 15 with front sight.
Trijicon ACOG 4x32 Dual Illuminated Chevron
I like to get straight into the objection most people will raise when considering the Trijicon ACOG 4x32: the price. Yes, this is an extremely expensive scope. Is it worth the money? It dependshttps://www.trijicon.com/our-story/trijicon-history.
For me, I will say that it is absolutely worth it. The Trijicon ACOG is made from premium materials and has some of the best features you will find on these types of sights. For you, however… Well, you will need to consider whether all the fancy stuff on the Trijicon ACOG is worth its weight in gold.
Let’s start with the build. The Trijicon ACOG is made from forged T6 aircraft-grade aluminum and is nearly indestructible. I’m pretty sure a rocket could fall straight into it and this scope would come out unharmed. You immediately feel the quality once you pick it up, but you barely feel its weight — the Trijicon ACOG weighs some comfortable 9 ounces, which is really surprising given its quality.
This scope is instantly recognizable by its red and white stripe at the top. This is not a decorative strip — instead, it houses the fiber optics that power the illuminated reticle. During the day, the fiber optic strip illuminates the reticle perfectly, but, as you probably know, it is not very useful when there is no light — fiber optics enhance and amplify the available light in order to light up the reticle.
That’s why there is also a tritium lamp on the Trijicon ACOG. Yes, you read it right — this scope has both fiber optics and tritium lamps. You will always be able to see the reticle, regardless of the available light.
The reticle is the combat proven Chevron reticle, which allows users to account for bullet drop and accurately estimate the range they’re shooting at. This is an absurdly useful feature, which most users will probably disregard — unless they are in the military, where it is seen as a lifesaver.
Because, you see, this scope is so good that it is actually used by the US Military Forces. Maybe the price starts making a little bit more sense when you think about it that way… Now, will you make use of the features of the Trijicon ACOG?
Even if you won’t, and you have the money to spend, I’d say go for it. For the money, Trijicon is the best optic for AR15 Rifles. The Trijicon ACOG is definitely one of the best scopes you can get for your AR15 with a fixed front sight.
If you are not willing to shell out north of one thousand dollars for a scope such as the Trijicon ACOG, there are budget alternatives that might not do the exact same thing but will get the job done either way. The Bushnell AR Optics Riflescope 1-4x24mm falls exactly into that category.
This is a cheap scope, but you might not exactly realize it by looking at it. The Bushnell 1-4x24mm has rugged design which gives it somewhat of a premium look. However, once you pick it up, you realize that it is not the fact. This scope is made from cheap, lightweight aluminum. While it is sure to survive a few drops (and maybe even some harsher stuff), it weighs just a bit more than one pound.
The glass on this scope is nothing to write home about, but it is not bad either. It is exactly what you would expect from a scope at this price point. The image is not super clear nor crisp, but you can see your target just fine.
The reticle is not illuminated, and it has a “Drop Zone” design. This design allows users to accurately estimate their target distance and to account for bullet drop. It is easy to use and easy to get used to — it honestly is a great reticle for your AR-15 with a fixed front sight.
While this is not really a scope to get excited about, it is not a scope you should dismiss either. The Bushnell AR Optics Riflescope 1-4x24mm is very capable and completely worth the money. Of course, if you can spend a little bit more, you can go for a more expensive scope and you will be better served. However, for the price, I don’t really think you can complain about what Bushnell offers, and that is why I recommend this scope.
Best Scopes for AR-15 with Fixed Front Sight Buyer’s Guide
How to choose a scope for an AR-15?
Choosing a scope for an AR-15 will depend mainly on two things: your needs and your budget. I would like to be able to point out a single scope and claim that it is the best one for you, but as you are probably aware what is best for me might not be the best for you.
The best I can do is shine some light into a few different scopes and help you make up your mind. As you could probably see, in this list there are some wildly different scopes, some with more features than the others. Of course, the ones with more features are usually pricier. Whether the extra money is worth it, it will depend on your particular use casehttps://www.cga.ct.gov/asaferconnecticut/tmy/0128/Michael%20Faucher%20-%20Putnam%20CT%202.pdf.
Make a list of the things you want your AR-15 scope to have. Do you want it to have an illuminated reticle? Variable magnification levels? Do you want a classic red dot sight, or would you prefer a holographic sight? Do you want a short-range or long-range scope?
All of these are questions only you can answer and that will help you determine which AR-15 scope to buy. My list covers most use cases, but not every one — it is possible you might not find the right scope for you here, but I advise you to give them a try.
What height should the scope rings of an AR-15 be?
The height of the scope rings of an AR-15 will depend on two things: your rifle and your scope. While there is no set answer to this question, when we talk about fixed front sight AR15s the answer is usually somewhere between medium and high scope rings.
Remember, because of the fixed front sight, you will need the scope to clear the sight. To do that, you might need to elevate it even further than what the manufacturer recommends. High scope rings are the safe answer, but not exactly the right one — it will depend.
If you are trying to get the scope as low as possible, it is possible you might be able to do it with medium rings. But, again, it will depend. Consult the manuals of your scope and your rifle and do the math — otherwise, go with the safest answer high rings.
There is no single best scope for AR15s with fixed front sights. There are many that are great purchases and definitely worth the money, whether they are the best… Well, that is a different story.
If you are looking for the best money can buy, then my advice would be the Trijicon ACOG. This scope is used by the US Military and has been field-tested time and time again. Just remember that it is a very expensive scope.
If you are looking for something a little more budget-conscious, then the Burris AR-536 Prism is a scope worth considering. This prism scope has an etched reticle and 10 brightness levels, so it becomes impossible to miss.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a holographic sight, the EOTECH EXPS2 is a worthwhile purchase — albeit not a cheap one.
The right scope for you and your AR15 will depend on your needs. Which one do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments below.