Ruger is well known as a leading manufacturer of sporting rifles. They make some the finest bolt action and semi-automatic rimfire rifles you could buy. In the past few years they’ve been making more and more tactical rifles. Including a few forays into AR 15 pattern platforms, with a rifle dubbed the Ruger 556. These are excellent rifles by all accounts.
It’s hard to come out with a truly groundbreaking AR 15 pattern rifle but Ruger has done a good job at bringing a high level of quality with a few refinements that make the rifle more usable in the field.
All of the Ruger 556 rifles are being shipped with the ability to add an optic, adding a scope or optic is a great way to increase your effectiveness with a rifle by simplifying the mounting process.
That doesn’t mean just any old optic will do however, you need to take some time and think about what style of the optic is going to be best for your shooting preferences and find out which is for you. Here are our picks for the best scope for Ruger AR 556.
Table of Contents
- Range & Ballistics
- Best Scope for Ruger AR 556 on the Market Review
- Warranty & Ruggedness
- Final Verdict
Range & Ballistics
With such a high end rifle like the Ruger 556 you may be tempted to strap on an optic with a big objective lens, high magnification and target turrets to make your rifle into a “real” rifle.
This is a mistake, the best thing you can do for your Ruger 556 is to get the smallest scope that will meet your specifications. The AR 15 is a lightning fast carbine and putting a huge scope on it only ruins the handling, and makes it hard and cumbersome to carry around in the field for hunting or target shooting.
That combined with the fact that you’re still shooting a .223 cartridge means you won’t need more than 6x power, because the cartridge has no power past 300 yards. Unless you plan on using your rifle for varmint hunting.
Varmint hunting requires more magnification because the targets are smaller even though you are hunting at the same ranges. In that case you should still try to get the smallest scope possible so that you don’t ruin the handling of the rifle.
Also remember, the AR-15 suffers from having a pretty high bore axis and if you mount a scope that has a large objective bell, your rifle will be very susceptible to canting during shooting, not to mention making it harder to get a good cheek weld during shooting.
Best Scope for Ruger AR 556 on the Market Review
1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scope
Vortex Optics makes some of the most rugged and reliable scopes on the market today. They’re the most innovative and customer service oriented optics manufacturer that you can buy from. Once you get their products in the field, you can instantly tell that each and every one of them was designed by people who hunt and shoot with them.
This is one of the best optics for AR 15’s, like the Ruger 556, on the market today. It is a lightweight very capable scope with medium magnification and a small objective bell that can be mounted close to the bore axis and stays out of the way when you are carrying the rifle.
It has a 30mm tube, 1 – 6X magnification and 24mm objective lens. These are the right sizes and specifications to fully take advantage of all ballistics that an AR 15 provides. Any more magnification and you’ll simply be carrying around dead weight because the .223 cartridge isn’t good past 300 yards where you don’t need high magnification.
While this optic is slightly heavier than others in the same price range with similar specifications, it is much more rugged and dependable than most optics on the market. Especially on a light and fast carbine like an AR 15 where will take the abuse you should invest in optic like this that can shrug off some dents and dings while still holding zero.
This is a model of what an effective AR 15 scope looks like and if it’s within your budget one of the best you could gets your hands on.
2. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone-223 Reticle Riflescope
Bushnell makes a ton of different scopes that can be found virtually anywhere people shoot guns. In every country, they sell optics that are loved, and for good reason, they provide cost-effective high-quality equipment for people who need high quality tools to get their job done.
This is a purpose made optic for the AR 15 that incorporates the high-quality glass that Bushnell is known for with specialized features like a BDC reticle made for the .223 cartridge and target turrets for you to quickly dial in holdovers and adjustments to hit targets at long-range.
This is a lightweight and compact scope that offers plenty of magnification and field-of-view for you to quickly make shots with an AR 15. If you are looking to do long-range shooting, past 500 yards, with your AR 15 this may not be the best option for you. Simply because it doesn’t offer as much magnification as other scopes and it limits your field-of-view.
However, if you are going to be doing general shooting and plinking or casual hunting with your AR 15, this is an excellent purpose designed scope for that. You won’t be disappointed if you use this scope within its intended parameters.
3. Nikon 8496 P-223 3x32 Matte BDC Carbine
Nikon makes some of the best and most cost-effective scopes you can buy for sporting purposes. They have an entire lineup of P-223 scopes designed to be mounted onto AR 15’s to get the maximum accuracy and ballistic potential out of those rifles.
This is one of their best models which combines a simple fixed power optic, with target turrets and a specifically designed BDC reticle to get fast shots on target or at the game without the worry of having to wrangle with 1 million different features and get confused and bogged down in all the options.
This may be a fixed power optic but the addition of target turrets and a BDC reticle specifically designed for AR 15’s mean that you can quickly dial in holdovers and corrections for windage and adjustment without having to mess with magnification. This is a huge bonus if you are going to be hunting because many shots while hunting are made within 100 yards and you’ll rarely be using more than 3x power anyway.
If you use the scope within the intended purpose of a lightweight and fast optic to be mounted on a carbine that's shooting a relatively close range, you’ll be extremely happy with the build quality and optical quality of the scope. It is a great option for the vast majority of people who will be shooting AR 15’s.
4. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
There’s no denying that red dots are the most popular optic for AR 15’s. They offer a ton of advantages over scopes because they are so simple, light, compact and easy to use. All you have to do is paint the target with the red dot and squeeze the trigger.
There’s no magnification, parallax, or adjustment errors to worry about. They are some of the best optics to train new shooters with, but they do have one downfall, they can get extremely expensive.
Bushnell has fixed that with this red dot that has become extremely popular with hunters, because it is low cost but provides all of the infield performance of models costing as much as 5 times more. The greatest thing about this red dot is that is one of the smallest on the market. It is about the size of a deck of cards and weighs about as much.
There’s not really any downsides to this scope, it’s bright, dependable and easy to use and set up. It comes with an integrated mount that you don’t have to buy separately and the only thing to look out for is the specialized batteries that you should stock up on. It is a coin cell that is not commonly carried in big-box stores.
This is one of the best value red dot sights and performs well in the field if you are looking for bare-bones simple sights to put on your Ruger 556, this is an excellent model.
5. Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2 Red/Green Dot Sight
If you would prefer a full-sized red dot, Vortex has this model that has been taking the industry by storm. It offers many features that are normally reserved for optics costing 3 to 4 times as much and provides a level of quality and ruggedness that’s hard to beat.
It is a full-sized red dot that is parallax free and has no adjustments other than being able to dial up the brightness of the dot and change it from red to green. This is an excellent product that performs well in the field because the electronics inside are rugged and dependable, the mount is integrated into the body, it comes with lens caps, and uses a common battery.
All these features come together to bring the total cost of ownership of this sight well below almost all others in the full-sized red dot market. Once you get this out of the box you can clearly tell that the people who designed it aur shooters themselves.
Everything is where it needs to be and the build quality and features are well thought out and well executed. You can’t go wrong with this sight.
Warranty & Ruggedness
In a lightweight carbine like a Ruger 556 look for a scope that comes with a good warranty. Chances are you are going to be hard on your equipment in the field, especially a gun like an AR 15 that is going to get carried and shot a lot.
Most of the major manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty, stay away from any company that doesn’t offer at least a year or so of protection. If you have a high-end rifle like a Ruger 556, it makes little sense to bootstrap it with a low quality imported optic that is going to break immediately.
There are a ton of optics on the market, like the five listed here, that come with outstanding warranties and the American firearms industry is known for taking good care of their customers. You’ll almost never run into a problem getting a company to honor their warranty. After all, if a company won’t stand by their product, why would you?
Ruger is continuing to innovate, improve, and refine their firearms and now that they’ve entered the world of AR 15’s they are improving them as well. One of the best improvements you can make to the rifle is mounting an optic to make you more effective while shooting and overall you can count on these rifles to last a long time.
Get the best scope for Ruger AR 556 that is just as reliable, mount it up and sight it in, there are few firearms that are as fun to shoot as the Ruger 556!