Tactical Scopes for AR-10 308 SHTF — FAQ & More!

When things go south, you want to have your AR-10 by your side to handle the situation accordingly.  Adding a tactical scope to your AR-10 308 SHTF ensures that even far away targets can be easily neutralized to keep you and your family are safe. Tactical scopes are very versatile scopes that can be used in close and far distance engagements with relatively great accuracy.

In this article, I am going to review some of the best tactical scopes for AR10s, so that you can be protected when the proverbial hits the fan. After 14 hours of testing, I determined that Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II was the best option. Vortex did great work on this Gen II scope & it has the perfect combination of durability, performance, adjustability, and value. The Primary Arms 4-14x44mm is also a solid budget alternative for shooters looking for a cheaper option.

So, let’s get started.


Our Pick
Great Choice
Superb Selection
  • Great for short & long distances
  • Tons of adjustability options
  • True-zero stop
  • Great value
  • Increased visibility in lowlight
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent at mid-range
  • Waterproof and anti-fog
  • FFP Magnification
Our Pick
  • Great for short & long distances
  • Tons of adjustability options
  • True-zero stop
Superb Selection
Lasso Brag

Best Tactical Scopes for AR-10 308 SHTF Product Review

Below is our list of the 5 best tactical scopes for your AR-10 308 SHTF.

  1. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
  2. Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20mm
  3. Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24mm
  4. Primary Arms 4-14x44mm
  5. NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm

1) Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II

Vortex Optics has proven time and time again that they know how to make good optics. The Viper PST mark I was already a good riflescope — the second generation improves on everything to become a truly great tactical scope for AR 10s.

This scope has a 2-10×32 focal plane and is great for both short and long distances — although the reticle might be a little too small for some people at the lowest magnification. The radicals are illuminated, and you should have no problem acquiring your target when looking through the scope.

The Viper PST Gen II a great update over the first-generation scope — the second-generation scope has vastly improved turrets, as well as better glass. The glass on the first-generation scope was very unimpressive, which cannot be said about the PST Gen II.

This scope uses extra low-dispersion glass which provides more color fidelity and an increased resolution. The lens also has a protective coating that protects it from scratches and dirt.

Much like the original Razor scope (and unlike the Viper PST Gen I), the second-generation Viper PST has knobs with true zero stop. This is one of the main reasons I also rated it as one of the best Long-Range Rifle Scopes Under $300 that I’ve tested. The dials are laser-etched and allow you to control the elevation, the windage, the illumination and the parallax focus. There is also a reticle focus ring near the eyepiece, as well as a magnification adjustment ring.

Although this is a very good lens, it is also a bulky one. The Viper PST Gen II is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is very durable — but it is also heavy and cumbersome. Taking it on hunting trips can be tiring — it weighs 26 ounces.

But if you are not too worried about the weight, then don’t worry about this lens’ quality either. This is a good lens either for hunting or recreative shooting.

Does the Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II come with a sunshade?

Yes. This scope comes with a screw-on sunshade included. It also comes with optical end caps.

Can you easily see the reticle on this scope?

The size of the reticle will change depending on what magnification you have set. At the lowest magnification, the reticle will be small — although not exactly hard to see.

At the max magnification, the reticle becomes large and very easy to see.

Are the Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II radicals illuminated?

Yes. The radicals are illuminated and easy to see in low-light situations.

How is the Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II different from the Gen I?

The Gen II is an overall better scope. It not only has better glass, but there’s also less parallax in the eyepiece.

The Gen II also has a true zero stop and improved, crisper turrets over the first-generation Viper PST.

Is the lens on this scope hydrophobic?

Although the lenses have anti-glare coatings, they are not hydrophobic. The lens is waterproof and fog proof, though.

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2) Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20mm

Leupold is another optics manufacturer that rarely lets its customers down. The VX-Freedom line offers the most popular magnification ranges at relatively affordable prices — the best part is that despite its price, these scopes are still a high-quality product.

The entire VX-Freedom line has a 3:1 zoom ratio. Switching between modes of observation is easy and the many dials of this scope allow you to compensate for wind, elevation and even bullet drop.

The optical quality of the scope is good enough — the VX-Freedom line doesn’t have the best-in-class glass, but lenses are still given the “Leupold optical treatment”. The glass is multi-coated and there aren’t any major optical aberrations — the image is clear and bright.

Leupold uses a technology called “Twilight Light Management” on its glass. This special coating increases visibility, as the name implies, during twilight. Visibility is good even when there is little light, which makes this a great scope if you want to hunt game that is more active when the sun is rising or setting.

VX-Freedom scopes use SFP reticles. Which is probably why I also rated it as one of the best Scopes for CMP Service Rifle that I’ve used. The size of the reticle will always be the same regardless of the magnification that you are using. This particular model uses a Duplex reticle — a classic and minimalistic approach that is suitable for every scenario. The only problem is that these reticles do not have illuminated radicals — although it is possible to purchase models that do.

But there’s no need for illuminated radicals to use this scope in low-light situations — mainly due to the aforementioned Twilight Light Management system.

Although this AR 10 tactical scope has a few turret dials, there is no parallax adjustment dial. Parallax is fixed — but I haven’t found that to be a problem. If you like to fiddle with the parallax then this scope is probably not the right one for you.

This lens is relatively light, weighing at 13 ounces. Its build is sturdy enough, but this isn’t a rugged optic — for the price, you’re getting glass with a great coating and that’s basically it.

If you are in the market for a budget tactical scope for an AR 10, the Leupold VX-Freedom is an easy recommendation to make. You probably won’t be disappointed.

Are the radicals on this scope illuminated?

This specific model does not have illuminated radicals. If you want illuminated radicals, you should look for a scope with the “fire dot” description.

Is this Leupold VX-Freedom made in China?

No. This scope is made in the United States. Leupold has a factory in Beaverton, Oregon.

Does this scope only work in AR10s?

No. This scope should work with most guns, assuming they have the proper mountings. This scope does not have a specific caliber — worst case scenario, you won’t have any bullet drop compensation.

How is the low-light visibility of this scope? Can you see the reticle?

Even though this particular model does not have an illuminated reticle, the reticle is still visible in low-light situations. It’s easy to acquire a target even in poorly illuminated areas.

3) Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24mm

Let’s get straight to the point: the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 is an expensive scope. But, as you probably would expect, this scope is one of the best tactical scopes for AR 10s 308 SHTF.

The 1-6 magnification makes this a great scope for both civilians and military personnel. Civilians can use this scope to shoot both far and near targets, while deployed marines will appreciate the ability to quickly acquire extremely close targets and targets that are further away.

This US DoD[1] thinks so too — 1-6s are quickly becoming standard across the battlefield.

You shouldn’t be fooled by the seemingly straightforward build of the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 — this scope is made from 7075 aluminum and is very robust. There is a screw-mount system on the base that attaches to the rifle’s rail and quick-detach systems can also be used — there are no scope rings.

This scope has good glass and requires a lithium battery to illuminate the radicals. Other Types of Scopes don’t have this feature. It can be used in both dry and wet conditions — the Trijicon VCOG is waterproof up to 20 meters and has anti-fog technology.

The glass uses FFP magnification — the reticle enlarges as you increase your magnification and allows for quicker and more accurate shooting over SFP optics. The drawback is that this particular crosshair is larger than one would expect when zoomed all the way in. At the max magnification level, small targets can be next to impossible to see.


That shouldn’t exactly be a deterrent, though. This scope excels at close to medium engagements and shouldn’t be used to hit 600-meters + targets. It is doable, of course, but not ideal.

However, despite the problematic crosshair at max magnification levels (which one can get used to), the optical elements are very good. The glass is as clear as it gets and, even though it doesn’t have a fancy-named technology like Leupold, twilight visibility is good. Light is enhanced at both dawn and dusk.

Another possible hindrance (besides the expensive price tag) is the weight. It doesn’t weigh as much as the Vortex Viper PST, but it still weighs 23.2 ounces. So, if you want to pack light, you should think twice about the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24.

Can this scope also be used with AR 15s?

Yes, it can. This scope should work with most rifles — but you might need to adjust the sights depending on the type of bullet grain that you use.

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4) Primary Arms 4-14x44mm

The Primary Arms[2] SLX ACSS Orion is a relatively cheap versatile hunting scope. Although it doesn’t particularly excel at any situation, this scope is an acceptable allrounder and a very respectable buy for the money.

The first impression is that this isn’t a very rugged scope. This is not to say that it feels like a toy — it doesn’t — but it lacks the aggressive character that some of the other scopes have. The scope still feels relatively sturdy, but some of its components leave something to be desired — the lens covers are made of flimsy plastic and you will break them unless you are extremely careful. Of course, this is not a deal breaker — lens covers are easy to find, especially sturdier ones.

The glass is clear and is adequate for most uses. It doesn’t let large amounts of light in, so this scope isn’t exactly indicated for dawn and dusk shooting. Closer objects do suffer from large amounts of distortion (although not as bad as in the SLX 1-8x), but that should not be a problem either — you don’t want to use this scope with close targets anyway.

Now that we got the bad stuff out of the way, let’s focus on the good stuff and on why this is a great bang for your buck.
Although it isn’t rugged this scope can take a beating. Which is why I also rated it as one of the best Low Light Scopes Under $500 that I’ve tested. Even after dropping it multiple times, the scope still holds zero perfectly. Submerging it in water has no effect on its accuracy either — and no water got in the optics. If you’re one to fumble with your optics, then this is an inexpensive buy that will last you for a long time.

But the best thing about the Primary Arms SLX ACSS Orion, and what makes it one of the best tactical scopes for AR 10, is the reticle. The patented hunting reticle has an excellent design that allows you to quickly and accurately pick up on any target, regardless of its distance.
Remember that for such a low price you are getting a FFP optic. The reticle changes its size depending on the zoom level, which gives you extra accuracy. The reticle is calibrated out of the box for a variety of calibers, including 5.56, 6.5 and 7.62.

Despite its drawbacks (honestly to be expected on such an unexpensive piece of equipment), the Primary Arms SLX ACSS Orion is a very versatile and accurate scope, capable of competing with far more expensive scopes. Sure, it might not have all the technology and fancy knobs that other scopes have, but it is still an excellent and very affordable FFP scope, easy to recommend to anyone.

Does the Primary Arms 4-14x44mm come with a sunshade?

Unfortunately, it does not. However, there are compatible sunshades available from Primary Arms itself.

Is the reticle of this scope illuminated?

This particular model does not have an illuminated scope. If you like this scope but would like to have an illuminated reticle, Primary Arms also sells an SLX model with illumination.

Does this scope come with scope rings?

No. This scope does not come with any mounting accessories, you will need to buy them separately. This scope uses 30mm scope rings.

Is there a parallax adjustment knob?


Can you zero the turrets?

Although you don’t need to zero the turrets (the Orion reticle takes care of it), you can zero the turrets by removing the Allen screws that fix them into place.

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5) NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm

NightForce claims that you will never forget the first image that you see through this scope, and maybe they are not far from the truth. Although I can’t promise I will remember it forever, the truth is that the image through the scope is almost as bright and as clear as the real thing.

Tactical Scopes for AR 10 308 SHTF

The glass is very impressive, but then again you get what you pay for. This optic lets in plenty of light and offers a very defined view of the target. Without a sunshade the optic is prone to halos, but there is no reason not to use the provided sunshades.

The NightForce ATACR F1 is the first focal plane scope. The reticle is easy to see at every magnification level — unlike some other scopes it doesn’t obstruct the target at any level. The radicals are illuminated, and it is possible to change the reticle color from black to green or red.

The reticle might be hard to get used to at first. Although it is easy to see, the grid might be too complicated the first few times you use it at a lower magnification level. Still, once you get used to it you will love it. There’s a reason why the US Army uses this type of reticle.

Visibility is also great during twilight hours. It is easy to acquire a target during a low-light situation due to the light gathering of the optical elements and the illuminated radicals.

This is one of the best tactical scopes for AR 10[3], and one of the best tactical scopes out there, period. Its main drawback is the price tag — not everyone can justify splurging for a 5-25x scope. Still, if you do, rest assured that you are getting the best of the best.

The build quality is also very good — but this is a very heavy scope. Quality comes with a price, and apparently with a heavy weight as well. This 15.37” scope weighs 38 ounces. It will be a noticeable weight on your rifle, and it can get tiring — you will have to figure out if the weight is worth the best tactical scope for AR 10 out there.

The turrets of the ATACR have a crisp feel to them and there’s a zero-stop function. You can shoot at any distance you wish without having to worry — returning to your zero is only a button press away.

It doesn’t matter how far away your target is. As long as you’ve got the skill to back it up, the NightForce ATACR will let you hone-in on the target with top-level accuracy.

Is this a FFP or a SFP scope?

The name “F1” indicates that this is a FFP scope.

Does the NightForce ATACR F1 include a sunshade?

Yes. This scope comes with compatible sunshades.

Is the reticle easy to see?

Yes, you should have no problem seeing the reticle at any magnification level. However, at lower magnification levels, it might be complicated to properly read the reticle. You will need to learn it first, but, after that, it will be a breeze.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Tactical scopes need to be reliable and accurate. When SHTF you don’t want to be holding an average scope that will risk your and your family’s safety. You need a scope that’s precise when it truly matters.

All of these scopes are great choices and won’t let you down. However, you need to look at them closely and figure out what you value the most. The NightForce ATACR and the Trijicon VCOG are undoubtedly the best scopes on this list, yet they serve different purposes. You have to decide which of the scopes you value the most — and then you will need to decide whether they are worth the price or not.

If you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on the best of the best, there are also reliable alternatives that will serve you well. Sure, the Primary Arms SLX ACSS Orion doesn’t have an illuminated reticle and other fancy frills, but it is accurate and very cheap.

Which scope are you going to use? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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