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AR-10 Rifle Scopes | How to Choose the Best Optic Setup

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The AR-10 is well known as the AR-15’s big brother, sharing a similar degree of popularity and adaptability. It’s well-renowned for its capabilities in both close- and long-range applications, as it’s designed to chamber powerful full-size rifle cartridges like .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor. As such, it’s common to see these rifles available or built in PRS configurations tailored for long range shooting.  

Regardless of how your rifle is set up, without a good optic, your success at punching holes in targets past 700 yards may vary. Having a high-quality optic is paramount to your success when shooting at distance, but with all the options available, choosing one can be a daunting task.  

Below, we’re looking at the AR-10 and the different optics that are a good fit for it:  

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Understanding Calibers: .308 vs. 6.5 Creedmoor 

Before we get into the weeds on the different rifle scopes available for the AR-10, it’s important to understand the difference between its two most popular chamberings: .308 and 6.5 CM. While similar in size, the ballistic performance of these cartridges is wildly different.  

.308 is the original chambering for the AR-10 and is still popular today. Its effectiveness has been proven in multiple applications, like competitive shooting, hunting, and even duty use. While it’s capable of accuracy up to 800+ yards away, it often has a lower velocity and more bullet drop over long distances. Still, it’s a great cartridge that’s versatile enough to use across multiple applications.  

A comparatively newer cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor boasts much higher velocities and flatter flight paths at farther distances. Its increased chamber pressure makes it capable of higher speeds. With an average muzzle velocity of around 2,900 feet per second, it’s able to maintain a straighter flight path with less deviation and bullet drop, making it ideal for pinpoint accuracy over vast distances. 

There is a lot to cover when discussing these two calibers. If you’re wanting to know more about the distinctions of each, our article, 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 compares both in a head-to-head comparison.  

Barrel Length and Accuracy 

The rifle’s barrel length is also an important consideration. Aside from being a path for the bullet to take, it has a significant impact on the bullet’s velocity and stability. Essentially, longer barrels allow more time for the propellant to burn, increasing the velocity and ballistic energy, while slightly decreasing the bullet’s drop over time.  

16- to 18-inch barrels offer a great amount of velocity and accuracy for both .308 and 6.5 CM, making it a great choice for general applications requiring close to medium range engagements. However, for dedicated long-range precision, a longer 20- to 22-inch barrel may serve you better. They provide ample time for the powder to burn, allowing the bullet to achieve much higher velocities and a more stable projectile flight path.  

Which Caliber Should You Use?  

You can’t go wrong with either of these calibers, but each will have its own special benefits. Even though .308 doesn’t have the same velocity or ballistic coefficient of 6.5 CM, it’s more than capable of accurately reaching out to targets beyond 750 yards. It’s also much more cost-effective, so if you’re looking for a versatile cartridge, that’s great for all purposes, a .308 rifle is a solid pick.  

6.5 CM and its higher velocity lends itself to long range applications, making it capable of accurate shots past 1,000 yards. While it’s more expensive, it’s much better refined for precision at long ranges and offers enough ballistic energy to still be useful in other applications. If you’re looking for a long-range caliber that can be used for hunting and precision shooting, 6.5 CM is the way to go.  

AR-10 Optics: What to Consider 

When it comes to optics for the AR-10, variable power scopes are an incredibly well-rounded optic choice, capable of both close- and long-range applications, depending on the configuration you choose. When it comes to choosing a variable power scope, you can either opt for a Medium/High-Power Rifle Scopes, or an LPVO. Ultimately, choosing one optic over the other comes down to personal preference, but depending on your intended use, you might find one type of optic more beneficial than another. 

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Medium/High-Power Rifle Scopes 

Medium/High power optics are often the top pick for AR-10s, as they allow you to extend your reach to get greater effect from the full-power rifle cartridge. These optics can come in wide magnification ranges, such as 3x-9x, 4x-12x, 3x-18x, and 5x-25x. Premium models can even offer much higher magnification ranges like 6x-30x. Versatile magnification like this makes them an excellent choice for medium to long-range shooting, as they offer much greater precision and positive target identification capabilities at varying distances. 

Despite their adaptability, they aren’t the most conducive to close range shooting. Typically, for medium to high-power rifle scopes, the lowest magnification they offer is around 3x to 5x magnification, though some options offer as little as 2x. While this is more than usable for close ranges, it doesn’t offer the same agility as the 1x magnification that’s typically found on LPVOs. For rapid target acquisition and engagement at close range, these optics aren’t the best choice, but for dedicated long-range applications and precision, they’re hard to beat.  

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Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs) 

Low power variable optics, or LPVOs, are incredibly popular rifle scopes due to their flexibility in close to medium-range engagements. These optics typically have magnification ranges of 1x-6x and 1x-8x magnification, with some models offering higher magnification levels. At close ranges, they offer faster target acquisition speeds and a wider field of view that’s almost on par with red dot sights. They also tend to be lighter and more compact than traditional rifle scopes.  

However, LPVOs have limited capabilities at long ranges, as they usually top out at 6x to 8x magnification. While this is great for close to medium range engagements, they’re less effective past ranges around 600+ yards. For general purpose builds and DMR style rifles, though, an LPVO is a great choice. 

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Reticle Options 

Another crucial consideration with rifle scopes is the type of reticle they use. A scope’s reticle is arguably one of its most prominent features, as it provides all the information needed to make accurate shots across long distances. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you have a reticle that best suits your purposes. For long range shooting, we recommend using optics etched reticles as they offer the most versatility, as they’re capable of housing complex reticle systems like MIL, MOA, and BDC reticles.  

MIL, MOA, and BDC are three distinct reticle families with different angular measurements designs that require different mathematical equations to use properly. Going over the intricacies of each is an involved topic that’s highlighted in our MIL vs. MOA vs. BDC article.  

To sum them up, MIL is short for Milliradian, which is an angular measurement in which 1 MIL represents 1/1000th of the distance to your target. MIL reticles often feature a MIL-grid that’s made up of an array of MIL-dots that use metric measurements when acquiring a target. 

MOA stands for “Minute of Angle”, and it represents 1/60th of a degree. MOA reticles are a smaller measurement compared to MIL. Whereas MIL reticles use metric measurements, MOA reticles use inches and yards when equating target distance. 

Lastly, BDC stands for ‘Bullet Drop Compensator’. BDC reticles are specifically tailored to different calibers, eliminating the need to memorize and formulate equations when aiming. Also, BDC reticles offer you the quickest shot, but they lack the precision that’s afforded by MIL and MOA reticles.  

Ultimately, choosing one over the other is up to personal preference. For precise accuracy, MIL and MOA reticles are the superior choice, as they can be tuned for just about any distance. If you’re more interested in quicker target acquisition, BDC reticles are tough to beat. Keep in mind that optics utilize a blend of different reticle elements, such as our rifle scopes with ACSS® reticles

AR-10 Optic Brand Recommendations 

As we hinted earlier, there’s a wide array of optics available for the AR-10. Below are some examples to help you get started on your search.  

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Primary Arms Optics 

Primary Arms Optics offers a diverse lineup of optics and is the home of the highly specialized ACSS reticle system. Variable power optics are available in the SLx®, GLx®, and PLx® rifle series, each coming with varying reticles and magnification levels. An excellent choice for the AR-10 is our GLx® 3-18×44 FFP Rifle Scope equipped with our ACSS Apollo Reticle. It’s available in both .308 and 6.5CM configurations and ranges out to 1,000 yards. As part of the GLx series, it has great glass quality, making it a smart choice for medium to long-range applications. 

We offer a variety of LPVOs as well, with our PLxC 1-8×24 FFP Rifle Scope being one of the most popular. It comes with a variety of reticle systems, including our ACSS Raptor M8 Yard 5.56/.308 and ACSS Griffin MIL M8 Reticle. Being an LPVO, it’s great for both close and medium range engagements, providing quick target acquisition and agility, while also having the ability to range out 600 yards.  

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Vortex Optics 

Vortex Optics is well known for their rifle scopes offering an assortment of high-quality optics that pair excellently with the AR-10. The Crossfire series features affordable optics with various magnification ranges and reticles, with the Dead-Hold BDC reticles being a popular pick. If you’re looking for more complex reticles, their Diamondback and Viper series optics offer enhanced glass clarity, specialized reticle systems, and finer adjustments.  

Vortex also offers several LPVOs as well, with the Strike Eagle and Razor being the most sought-after. The Strike Eagle is an affordable optic with 1x-6x or 1x-8x magnification, available with either a MIL, MOA, or BDC reticle. The Razor is one of Vortex’s premium optic lines, coming with enhanced glass clarity and reticle systems.  

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Trijicon is another incredibly well-known producer of high-quality rifle scopes. While their red dot sights and ACOG scopes are among some of their most notable offerings, optics like their Tenmile and Credo rifle scopes pair excellently with the AR-10.  

The Trijicon Tenmile HX rifle scope series is an excellent contender for long range shooting applications. Available in multiple magnification levels ranging from 3x-18x all the way to 5x-50x, it’s ideal for pinpoint accuracy across medium to long distances. It also can come with your choice of either an MIL or MOA reticle. 

If you’re more interested in an LPVO, the Credo series is a solid choice available in either a 1-6, 1-8, or even a 1-10 magnification range. The Credo 1-6×24 LPVO can come with either a BDC or MIL reticle, while the 1-8×28 and 1-10×28 both use a Segmented Circle Reticle system. Regardless of which one you choose, each choice is great for close to medium range engagements, perfect for use on all-purpose AR-10 builds. 

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Nightforce is one of the most renowned optic manufacturers, producing a vast array of rifle scopes. The NX8 2.5-20x50mm is one of the most versatile scopes they offer and pairs well with the AR-10. It comes equipped with their Mil-XT Reticle and is great for medium to long range shooting.  

Another solid option is the NX8 1-8×24 LPVO, another popular pick for the AR-10. It comes with their FC-DMX MIL reticle system and is illuminated for quicker target acquisition. 

Though Nightforce optics aren’t always the most budget-friendly option, they offer incredible durability and reliability, making them a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for a solid optic.  

Scope Mounts 

All rifle scopes require a mount to be used effectively. Most AR-10s have an upper picatinny rail for mounting optics, and as such, many manufacturers have developed picatinny scope rings for rifle scopes. Numerous brands that produce optics also produce their own mounts. For instance, Primary Arms mounts can be used with multiple different optics, so long as they’re compatible. Other brands like American Defense, Reptilia Corp, and Geissele also provide high-quality mounts.  

These mounts come with varying heights and features, such as QD attachment, offset optic mounts, and varied materials. It’s up to your personal preference as to which to go with, but there are multiple options available for all preferences and needs.  


Whether your rifle build is tailored for long distance shooting, or close to medium-range engagements, having the right optic on your AR-10 can greatly enhance your shooting experience. While it can certainly be a challenge to find the best optic for your AR-10, there are dozens of excellent choices available.  

Before you make any optic purchases, it’s crucial to take your needs, preferences, and rifle build into consideration. Remember that the barrel length and caliber of your rifle also play a significant role in choosing an optic. Keeping this in mind will better help you determine which optic is best for your rifle. 

If you’re still on the fence about which optic is the best one to go with for your AR-10, check out our long-range rifle scope guide. It covers everything you’ll need to know when picking out a new optic for your rifle.