Best Ruger AR 556 Scope – Top 5 Optics in 2023

  * is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Finding the perfect scope for your Ruger AR556 can indeed be challenging, but as an experienced shooter, I can tell you it’s an exciting journey. The Ruger AR556, first introduced in 2009 as the SR556 by Sturm, Ruger & Co., has been a game-changer in the firearms landscape.

Sturm, Ruger & Co., operating since 1949 from Southport, Connecticut, has a history of crafting some of America’s favorite firearms. Ruger’s contributions to the firearms industry are globally recognized, and they remain one of America’s leading manufacturers.

The AR556 was Ruger’s competitive response to entry-level AR-15s, and it didn’t disappoint. Since its inception in 2014, the 556 has continuously improved, proving its worth time and again.

When I set out to find the right optic for my AR556, I considered factors like shooting type, distance, weight, and more. Let’s delve into these considerations, so you can confidently choose the best scope for your Ruger AR556.

Ruger AR556 Scope Buying Guide


The Ruger 556, while fun and powerful, isn’t built for any scope. This AR-style rifle isn’t designed for long-range shooting. From my experience, you’ll want the lightest, most compact scope that meets your needs.

The 556 is a quick acquisition, powerful carbine. Adding a large, heavy scope would only imbalance it, defeating its designed comfort and ease of use. Remember, you’ll be shooting a .223 cartridge, and anything above 6x magnification becomes less effective beyond 300 yards.

Red-Dot vs Magnification

Your shooting style will dictate whether you prefer a red-dot scope or one with magnification. For quick acquisition shooting or hunting, red-dots are excellent. They offer ample light transmission and a wide field of view.

If you opt for a scope with magnification, keep in mind that anything over 6x probably isn’t worth the extra cost.


As a seasoned shooter, I’ve learned that robust, weather-resistant materials are essential for a scope. If you’re frequently out in the rain, you need a scope that won’t rust. For humid conditions, a nitrogen-purged scope to prevent fog build-up is advisable.

The Ruger AR556 is designed to withstand rigorous use and even a bit of abuse. Therefore, your scope should match its resilience. A premium metal casing offers the best protection against accidental drops or other transit damages.

The 5 Best Scopes For Ruger AR 556

Following is a list of scopes that I found mate best with the Ruger Ar 556.

1. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x/24mm Drop Zone ReticleBushnell AR Optics, Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope with Target Turrets, Matte Black, 1-4x/24mm

Buy on Amazon Check Price on OpticsPlanet

As I searched for the best Ruger AR556 scopes, I found the Bushnell 1-4×24 scope to be a solid choice thanks to its major attributes and quality of design.

My Feeling After Using This Product

The scope comes from one of the most well-known manufacturers in the industry, and this particular offering comes with weatherproof construction and nitrogen purging. As a result, you can use it in any weather environment without worrying about dirt, debris, fog, or other elements compromising the scope’s interior.

But I also found the scope to be a solid pick for pairing with your Ruger AR556, as it magnifies up to 4x: perfect for short to mid-range target shooting and varmint hunting. The matte black finish adds an element of stealth to the mix, and the lenses benefit from multiple coatings to optimize target acquisition, color contrast, and clarity.

The windage and elevation turrets are more than functional. In my testing, I found that they were tactile, providing audible feedback and offering visible markers so you never lose your place. They can be locked and zero reset with the touch of a button, offering even more ease of use.

Product Highlights

However, I really liked the titular drop zone reticle. In a nutshell, this simplistic yet effective reticle has several aiming points on the lower post. When sighted and calibrated properly, you can potentially shoot up to 500 yards away with your .223 rifle, ensuring a consistent hunting experience. I found the reticle to be a powerful addition to the optic overall.

However, you won’t really need to shoot very far with your AR556. Thus, this is a cool and fun inclusion, but it’s definitely not necessary to the scope overall.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

On the downside, the Bushnell scope’s price leaves something to be desired, as it can be a bit pricey for more budget-minded hunters. That all said, I’d still recommend it for AR556 fans who want a quality optic that provides good results all the time, and who don’t mind paying a little extra to ensure that quality.

Key Features

  • 1-4x magnification
  • 24mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Excellent reticle
  • Great sight picture
  • The construction
  • Fantastic windage and elevation turrets


  • A little pricey

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Bushnell
Weight 18 oz
Eye Relief 3.5”
Magnification 1-4x
Field of View 23’-90’

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Bushnell Drop Zone Reticle Scope is a top-tier piece of equipment and a perfect partner for your Ruger AR556.

My rating: 4.9/5

2. BARSKA 6.5-20×50 Varmint Mil-Dot Riflescope

Barska AC10048 Varmint 6.5-20x50 Rifle Scope Target Dot Reticle Adjustable Objective

Buy on Amazon Check Price on OpticsPlanet

BARSKA’s scope has a lot to like, especially for shooters in the market for something budget-friendly yet effective.

My Feeling After Using This Product

As noted above, the riflescope is very affordable, making it a great entry scope or optic for a beginner taking their AR556 out for the first time. This is a lightweight and very easy-to-use scope, offering magnification ranges of between 6.5 and 20x. Admittedly, this is a bit further out than you really need for a .223 carbine like the AR556.

Even so, I found the scope to be well-designed and durable to the max, featuring special coatings and weatherproof functionality. You can use the scope in any weather environment, which is a big plus, given the price.

On top of that, the finger-adjustable windage and elevation turrets are very precise and easy to use. The eye relief is excellent at 3.6 inches, and the scope even comes with a separate turret that allows you to compensate for parallax. That added versatility makes it a quality optic in my eyes.

Product Highlights

The Barska riflescope’s lenses were the highlight of the scope for me, personally. They’re thoroughly coated with light transmission and durability-boosting materials, ensuring optimal color contrast and clarity at all times. The built-in target dot reticle makes for very easy target acquisition – I found it to be fantastic for hunting small, fast-moving targets.

These lens coatings also do a great job of limiting scratches, glares, smudges, and other negative developments that could compromise a shot against a target.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

Like I mentioned above, the scope’s upper magnification settings aren’t really needed for the AR556, given its effective range. In addition, it’s a little heavy, clocking in at about 22.3 ounces. That may make it a less-than-stellar partner for your AR556, which usually works better with lighter optics that don’t offset its balance too much. A bit of practice could help you overcome this flaw, though.

Key Features

  • 6.5-20x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Excellent optics
  • Good windage and elevation turrets
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Durable construction and matte black coating


  • A little heavier than optimal
  • Magnification settings are a little too high

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Barska
Weight 22.3 oz
Eye Relief 3.6”
Magnification 6.5-20x
Field of View 5.7’-16’

The Bottom Line

All in all, the BARSKA Varmint Riflescope is a solid, budget-minded scope ideal if you want to push out the effective range of your AR556 as much as possible.

My rating: 4.7/5

You can also check my guide on the best prism scopes.

3. Bushnell 3-9×40 Riflescope with DZ 223 ReticleBushnell 3-9x40 Riflescope with DZ 223 Reticle , Black

Buy on Amazon

I found Bushnell to offer another of the best Ruger AR556 scopes in this model, and for a variety of compelling reasons.

My Feeling After Using This Product

This versatile, effective optic has a very reasonably sized 40 mm objective lens, plus a good set of magnification ranges for use with your Ruger AR556. The multicoated optics boost light transmission and guarantee very high color contrast, which is always a good thing. The addition of a BDC or ballistic drop compensation reticle makes things even better, as it enables you to compensate for bullet drop at long distances.

The side focus parallax turret combines with windage and elevation turrets, all of which are marked and finger adjustable. These offer tactile and audible feedback in equal measure, and they can be locked and reset to zero at a moment’s notice. Thus, they’re very useful and very easy to take full advantage of.

Naturally, the scope has a very durable construction in the body. It’s weatherproof and even shockproof (though that won’t be a major concern with your Ruger AR556). That does mean it’s a bit heavy at 19 ounces, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying out the Bushnell 3-9×40 Riflescope.

Product Highlights

During my tests, I especially liked the adjustable length throw lever. This is mounted on the magnification ring, and it lets you swap through different zoom values with a fast-moving lever instead of having to twist a ring around the scope’s body.

Since it’s adjustable length, it can also be modified so it doesn’t get in your way when you’re setting up or lying down. In my opinion, it’s a fantastic feature that really maximizes the usability of the Bushnell 3-9×40 Riflescope.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

As noted earlier, the Bushnell 3-9×40 Riflescope is a little heavier than you would prefer for an AR556. However, you can practice regularly with the scope to get used to the new balance of your rifle. Note that you’ll probably need to do the same thing for the magnification throw lever. If you’ve never used a lever like this before, it could make the optic feel clunky and a little unfamiliar.

Key Features

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Lets you swap magnification settings quickly
  • Great lenses and color contrast
  • Solid construction
  • Top-tier windage, elevation, and parallax turrets


  • A little heavier than most would like

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Bushnell
Weight 19 oz
Eye Relief 3.5”
Magnification 3.9x
Field of View 11’-29’

The Bottom Line

In the end, the Bushnell 3-9×40 Riflescope is a top choice for Ruger AR556 fans thanks to its magnification settings, excellent lenses, and overall usability.

My rating: 4.8/5

You can also see which are the best scopes for shotguns and .450 Bushmaster.

4. BSA Optics Sweet 223 AO 4-12×40 ScopeBSA Optics Sweet 223 AO 4-12X40, Black

Buy on Amazon Check Price on OpticsPlanet

BSA Optics might not be one of the most well-known manufacturers in the optic business, but the Sweet 223 AO Scope impressed me in more ways than one.

My Feeling After Using This Product

As its name suggests, the Sweet 223 AO Scope is specially tailored for .223 rifles, like the Ruger AR556. It features good magnification settings for this caliber as well, 4-12x. The lenses are fully multicoated, boosting light transmission and ensuring long-term durability and resilience against weather and general dirt and debris.

I liked that the Sweet 223 AO Scope came with mounting rings, which makes it very easy to attach it to your rifle on the go and out of the box. The rifle scope is designed for waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof functionality for even more value for money and long-term durability: a major benefit given the extremely affordable asking price.

The 30/30 Duplex reticle is streamlined and simplistic. Depending on what you want from a reticle, this will be a good or less-than-ideal thing. I found it to be great for those times when you don’t want a lot of holdover points or hash marks cluttering up your sight picture.

Product Highlights

However, what impressed me the most with the BSA scope were the ballistic recalibrated turrets for windage and elevation. Depending on the exact cartridges you like to use, these turrets can be calibrated for 40gr, 55gr, and 62gr rounds. That’s amazing.

In essence, it ensures that the scope comes partially calibrated for your AR556 right away. It also ensures your windage and elevation adjustments will be that much more accurate and effective. The turrets themselves are tactile, responsive, and easy to use.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

If there’s any downside here, it’s the longevity of the lenses. They can degrade after just a little while, which is perhaps unsurprising given the scope’s asking price. Still, you can’t beat the value here for such an affordable price tag. In my opinion, you can treat this scope as an affordable investment; even if it stops working properly, you won’t be out very much money. Consider using it as a practice or beginner scope.

Key Features

  • 4-12x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Turrets are designed and calibrated for common grain levels
  • Optimized for .223 cartridges
  • Comes with mounting rings
  • Works in any weather


  • Long-term lens quality is questionable

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer BSA
Weight 22.3 oz
Eye Relief 3”
Magnification 4-12x
Field of View 10’-40’

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Sweet 223 AO Scope is a stellar pick if you’re in the market for an affordable Ruger AR556 scope. Its turrets and built-in mounting rings are icing on the proverbial cake.

My rating: 4.2/5

5. Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight - 4 MOA Red/Green Dot with Vortex Hat

Buy on Amazon Check Price on OpticsPlanet

Last up isn’t a traditional scope at all, but a red dot sight from Vortex Optics: one of the best and most well-reviewed manufacturers in the industry. This amazing red dot optic is also budget-friendly, so let me show you what I liked.

My Feeling After Using This Product

The Strikefire II Red Dot Sight is built to work with all AR-style rifles, and it offers a very large red dot target. As a result, it’s a little larger and heavier than you might expect, weighing in at 7.2 ounces. That’s partially because it is crafted from premium aircraft-grade aluminum and other metals, plus finished with a matte black coating to boost stealth.

This durable and rugged red dot optic doesn’t magnify your sight picture, but it does enable quick target acquisition and, more importantly, fun. I found it to be engaging and effective for tactical practice and target shooting when I didn’t need to zoom in. Remember, since it’s a red dot sight, it doesn’t limit your field of view or eye relief. You’ll never miss what’s happening in your peripheral vision.

To make things even better, the Strikefire II Red Dot Sight fits with practically any AR-style rifle since it fits on both Weaver and Picatinny rails. Its modifiable mount makes it easy to attach to your firearm for the first time and to adjust on the fly if you find that you need to change its exact position or elevation.

Product Highlights

I was particularly impressed with the brightness and adjustability of the red dot optic. It’s a 4 MOA reticle that shines bright red even in broad daylight. More importantly, there are 10 different illumination settings, and the two lowest settings are compatible with night vision equipment.

I also liked that the battery life lasts for up to 400 hours, even on the highest setting. More often, you’ll get several thousand hours of use out of the optic before you need to replace the battery, which can easily be done via a side hatch containing the power cell.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

The only real downside here is the lack of zoom factor, which may or may not be a flaw at all, depending on what you need. In addition, remember that the Strikefire II Red Dot is a little heavier than you may expect from a red dot optic, but it’s certainly not so heavy that you can’t compensate for it.

Key Features

  • Red dot optic
  • Compatible with Weaver and Picatinny mounting systems


  • Very bright optic
  • 10 illumination settings
  • High battery life
  • Very durable construction


  • Somewhat heavier than you may expect from a red dot optic

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Vortex Optics
Weight 7.2 oz
Eye Relief N/A
Magnification N/A
Field of View N/A

The Bottom Line

The Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight is a stellar tactical sight with unlimited field of view and eye relief. Choose this if you want your Ruger AR556 to feel as tactical and fun as possible or when zooming in isn’t necessary.

My rating: 4.7/5

You may also be interested in what are the best scopes for Ruger 10/22 and 22-250.

If you are interested in a fixed scope, check 1-4x scopes.

For something more powerful, check my long-range optics article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Ruger 556 the same as an AR-15?

Ruger actually pitched the AR 556 as a pistol. A corporate product manager gushed in a promotional film for the Ruger AR-556, claiming that the weapon, which is legally classified as a pistol but looks more like an AR-15 rifle in design, offers far more than a regular handgun.

Where is the Ruger AR-556 made?

According to Ruger President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Killoy, the AR-556 is the first firearm designed and constructed in Ruger’s Mayodan, North Carolina factory.

Is Ruger AR 556 good for home defense?

The Ruger AR-556 is as dependable as the day is long when it comes to self-defense. For the first time, many Americans are considering acquiring a self-defense firearm. When compared to some of the greatest rifles on the market, the Ruger AR-556 is one of the most reliable rifles built in America today.

How far will a Ruger AR-556 shoot?

The Ruger AR-556’s typical best and truest maximum effective range is around 200 to 250 meters (218- 273 yards).

What ammo is recommended for Ruger AR-556?

The AR-556 is available for 5.56 x 45 mm NATO and.223 Remington calibers. Winchester 5.56 NATO 55-grain complete metal jacket rounds are recommended because they produced the best single grouping in most tests.

Does the Ruger 556 have a threaded barrel?

Yes. Standard muzzle accessories can be mounted thanks to the threaded barrel. The cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel with ultra-precise rifling offers remarkable accuracy, durability, and cleaning ease.

How many rounds does a Ruger AR-556 hold?

A Ruger AR-556 is known to hold a 30-round.

Where is Ruger made?

Ruger, or U.S. Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., is an American firearms manufacturer headquartered in Southport, Connecticut, with manufacturing sites in Newport, New Hampshire, Mayodan, North Carolina, and Prescott, Arizona.

What is Ruger known for?

The gun company Ruger now makes rifles, shotguns, and pistols, but its single and double action revolvers are among their most well-known products. Sturm, Ruger & Co. is currently the United States’ fourth largest gun maker.

What does Ruger mean?

Ruger is generally a masculine English name that means “renown-spear.” Roger is an English surname that is a variant of the given name Roger. The name comes from the word “Hrodgari,” which means “Renowned-spear.”

Who created Ruger?

Sturm, Ruger & Company was founded by William B. Ruger, an American gun designer.

What was the first gun Ruger made?

The Ruger Standard was Sturm, Ruger’s first pistol, released in 1949 and advertised as a low-cost option. 22 caliber rimfire is ideal for target shooting, plinking, and enjoyment.

What is the difference between a AR-15 and a AR-556?

The barrels on AR-15-style pistols are substantially shorter than those on standard rifles. Ruger’s AR-556 handgun variants, for example, have barrel lengths ranging from 9.5 to 10.5 inches, or nearly half a foot shorter than their rifle cousins. The muzzle velocity will be reduced with a shorter barrel.

Leave a Comment