Optics set up for AR-15


February 7, 2009, 11:45 AM

Can anyone please provide me with some additional information including brand names of optics, required accessories and where to buy?

I am looking for a set up that allows both medium to longer range capability plus CQB.

I saw a set up on one of the gun shows that looked like a traditional long range optic (maybe a Leupold or Trijicon scope 3X9). However the shooter than canted the rifle to the side and used what appeared to be a non-magnified red dot (reflex) optic for up close work. This second optic was really small.

I think this is what I am interested in to cover all ranges from 25 yrds to 300 plus.

Any input would be appreciated greatly. Be easy on me as I am new to


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February 7, 2009, 02:48 PM

February 7, 2009, 03:48 PM
Leupold Mk 4 CQT $900 + mount
Millet Designated Marksmen Scope $300 + mount
Eotech with flip up magnifier $400 + $350 + mount

These are all 0-300yd setups on a single footprint. A lot of competitors use a high power scope along with a Burris Fastfire or a Docter red dot. In Multigun, that setup is only legal for Open class. I use the Leupold and I am covered from 5 yds to 300 yds without changing zero. It is expensive, especially when you are going to pay $160+ for a solid mount, but I like it. It is clear and brutally strong.

green country shooter
February 8, 2009, 09:57 AM
Common setup is a magnified scope on top and a doctor small red dot above it or on the side. A few years ago the hot thing was to have iron sights mounted at a 45 degree angle on the right side of the forearm.

I find that with an eotech i can make good hits out to 200 yards. It's not magnified. I've discovered in some matches that at really close ranges it's faster to just shoot over the top of the gun, so i'm thinking of trying the acog with iron sights on top for that scenario.

February 8, 2009, 07:15 PM
ACOG or an aimpoint with small-ish dot.

Hitting 8-10 inch plates out to 300 is very doable with a dot scope as long as you mave a 2-4 MOA dot.

February 9, 2009, 09:23 PM
Any kind of 1.5 x 4 adjustable on a riser or a low mount handle mount, if you have a handle. I use a CAA triple rail on the handguard for a small red dot like a Burris Fast Fire or Tasco Optima. Is better to have it more forward than mounted under or next to the scope on 45 degree weaver adapter rails. Other choice would be a small red dot JPoint sight attached on top of an ACOG. It makes for an expensive setup though.

February 11, 2009, 07:52 AM

Any reason not to go with 3X9 for the main optic? I was thinking about a Trijicon Accupoint? Is that overkill?


February 11, 2009, 08:50 AM
It was probably a Dr Optic, J-Point, or Burris Fastfire like reflex sight. Aimpoint Micro will work as well. Not as small but getting there and it has to be more robust.

What kind of AR do you have?

Reflex can be forward mounted on a rail on the rifle forearm or an offset mount added to the scope tube and reflex mounted to that.

Having said all that, it looks cool, but for most of us it just means more weight. Good glass is 1#-1.5#. Add rings, additional mount, reflex, battery, rail, etc. and your light carbine turns into something else.

Get a 2moa reflex/red dot and be done. Down side is that if you're shooting paper, hit at 300 are difficult (impossible) to see without a spotting scope so you're going to drag that around anyway.

February 11, 2009, 09:05 AM
If I might jump in with a quick question...

will Weaver style rings fit a flat-top upper? Or are there specific rings for the picatinny rails?


February 11, 2009, 09:50 AM

AR is a Stag 3L in .223. I just ordered the weapon yesterday and was told I should have it within 3 months. Since it is a left handed model the lead time was less. (good thing I shoot rifles lefty) Right handed AR's are taking 6 months plus from Stag. I was going to buy the gun in parts and assemble myself, however stripped upper and lower assemblies are at least an 8 month wait.

From the factory the AR comes with a flat top and 16 inch barrel chambered for .223/5.56 Nato. Since I am in NJ, the weapon has to be configured in a post ban configuration.

My plan to take the rifle and than upgrade it for USPSA / Three gun games.

I am thinking about:

1) Magpul PRS buttstock (might be too heavy, see my other post)
2) 18 inch match barrel in .223 from White Oak Armory (not sure on mid- length or rifle length gas system)
3) Viking tactical free float hand guard
4) Troy BUIS
5) Optics as suggested above

Your feedback is appreciated!


February 11, 2009, 11:31 AM
Don't dick with BUIS if you're going to mount a scope on it AND a reflex. If you must have all three (which IMO is overkill) get one of these and mount it on the forearm just in case or do away with the reflex all together and just use it for CQB/BUIS duty: http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=191788 There are other similar options that you can use.

Or for your reflex, use the Leupold prismatic (don't think that it's a true reflex though, not sure). Don't have to worry about dead batteries because it still has the etched reticle.

ETA just saw 3-gun. Ya, don't need Troy BUIS (or any that are in front and behind the scope) - they will only add weight and you won't have a chance to use them as they are too slow (remove scope, flip up BUIS, etc.) Better off "sighting down the barrel" if that's all ya got. Low magnification and a small reflex should do it, and a BUIS like above if compelled. Find a light stock and float tube. Composite should be the trick if you're serious and want to drop as much unnecessary weight as possible. PRS is arguably not a optimal stock for 3-gun. Ace makes some light and functional stocks, but have had issues for some. A1 and A2 are good still.

Where's Zak Smith? Search for some of his posts here and then ignore mine.

Also, you will spend a ton just figuring out what you like, so it's best to be honest about what you NEED vs. what you want. BTDT. I have an Eotech for sale...

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 11, 2009, 02:11 PM
What's the budget?

You're describing an "all-purpose" rifle - you said medium and long range and CQB, so....

Low budget: A 1.5-6x40mm scope in extra-high rings on the flattop. Simple as that. Maybe a 1.5-4x24 or 1-4x20 scope or similar would work too, such as the Millett DMR, Accupoint 1.25-4x24, or Leupold Mark 4 CQ/T, but the 1.5-6x40 is the best choice. They are available from a variety of manufacturers

Medium budget: Used ACOG of some flavor (fixed low-power magnif), with a cover so you can use it as an OEG for CQB. This is arguably the best choice period, and is a very very good setup. Of course, you can buy a new ACOG too if the budget allows it.

High-Very high budget: Several options here, including an Eotech or Aimpoint with swing-out magnifier, Elcan Specter DR. Another choice in this range is take the 1.5-6x40 scope from the first option above, and bump up the brand choice to Zeiss, Swarovski, etc.

Bottom line, in my opinion, you're probably better off building TWO separate rifle. Get a 16" m4 type light rifle with a 1x optic such as Eotech or Aimpoint, and then build a second one with an 18-22" bbl (20" typically), and a higher power optic such as an ACOG, or better yet, a higher magnification optic such as the Trijicon Accupoint 3-9x40 you mention!

Then you've got your CQB rifle and your medium & long range rifle. Better idea than trying to make one rifle do all things not-very-well.

February 11, 2009, 03:21 PM
Another option would be a red dot and a 3x or 4x multiplier in front of it.

February 11, 2009, 03:37 PM
Any of the true 1-4 or so scopes. So far the best actually available for purchase is the meopta 1-4 with illuminated k-dot reticle. It is $700+ unless you can find someone to wholesale it to you.

Viable mounts ofr it are the SPR-E mount form larue, or the ranger recon-x mount from american defense manufacturing which is cheaper, but still a very nice mount. The larue is $215, the american defense is $185.

The millet DMS-1 is also a pretty usable scope for the price but nowhere near as nice as the meopta. It runs between $199 and $249 depending on who you buy from and if you catch a sale or not.

An aklternate cheap mount is the YHM 6" rail extension plus warn quick detach mounts or warne standard mounts. Total runs between $90 and $110 for the right setup.

Im currently using the DMS-1 and the american defense mount and I'm quite happy.

If youw ant a red dot for close up work and a more run of the mill scope, I'd suggest getting a ring that mounts to your scope tube that has rails on it and mounting a jpoitn or fastfire red dot. For close up shots wher eyou are moving, it is much like a carry handle sight for position while being a red dot.

February 14, 2009, 06:21 PM
Okay everyone I have taken suggestions into account. I am tailoring this build towards a short to medium range rifle.

Here are the list of aftermarket items I ended up with to put on my Stag 3L thus far.

1) 18 inch White Oak Armament SPR Barrel with mid length gas tube and low profile gas block
2) JP Enterprises .750 Outside diameter compensator
3) JP Enterprises 3 lb trigger kit with anti-walk pins
4) JP Enterprises Reversible safety selector
5) Yankee Hill Vectre length free float handguard
6) Ergo ambidextrous overmolded black rubber grip
7) Ace skeleton stock

For optics I think I am leaning towards a Trijicon Accupoint in 1X4 and than a JP Point red dot with the Matt Burkett mount. I haven't purchased this yet.

Does anyone see a reason why the Matt Burkett mount (45 degree angle) would not work in a left handed set up????


Joe D
February 14, 2009, 09:47 PM
Guess I tend to do things a little on the less expensive path. I have had a $79 Bushnell 1x4 Circle Plex on my flattop for several years. It does what it is supposed to do - clear, crisp optics and holds zero. It is a true 1X. The FOV is plenty large.
I recently changed powders so I had to recheck my zero. I was able to put 5 rounds well under .750" at 100 yds with this scope. I use a 200 yd zero. The bottom of the circle is my 300 yd zero.
I do get a chuckle when I see ARs with scopes that cost twice as much as the gun. Even better are those with every optical device know to man hung on them. I guess there is nothing like having a 20 lb. AR.
All of that being said the AR that I bet my life on has plain old iron sights - KISS.

February 14, 2009, 10:19 PM
Thanks Joe:evil:

February 15, 2009, 05:00 AM
All looks good. Not sure what that particular JP brake looks like. I use a Michulek brake. Loud as heck but works great. AND was about $28 at Brownells ,which it that JP brake is like my JP cannon brake it costs alot more than $28.

February 15, 2009, 09:05 AM
It sounds like you plan to shoot in "open" division, which is the only division that two opics are allowed.

If that is the case, I would strongly suggest a scope with more power. With a secondary sight, you don't need a scope that goes down to really low power.

Even though with the right targets/background, I can make hits on 2" targets with open sights, I've been to matches that have had targets in the shadows/weeds at 200 yards and had a bitch of a time finding them with a Leupold 1-4.

February 15, 2009, 12:33 PM
Even though with the right targets/background, I can make hits on 2" targets with open sights, I've been to matches that have had targets in the shadows/weeds at 200 yards and had a bitch of a time finding them with a Leupold 1-4.

Thats where expensive optics or more power come into play.

February 15, 2009, 12:37 PM
1) 18 inch White Oak Armament SPR Barrel with mid length gas tube and low profile gas block

Kind of a heavy coutour barrel for 3-gun. And match barrels really are required. Although Wilson barrels are not at the top of the heap in the match barrel world, they are still a very good barrel.

If you add a secondary optic you will be competing in Open division. Not bad, not good. If that is the goal, dont forget to add a bi-pod to the list.

February 15, 2009, 05:42 PM

The White Oak Armament SPR is a match grade stainless .223 barrel. It is 18 inches and has a 1-7 twist for shooting heavier bullets. It is a little heavier than a 16 inch barrel, but still comes in a 41 ounces. Is this really a poor choice? I can still change!


I am rethinking the optics AGAIN.

I definitely do not want to start off in open division. Maybe the better choice is an ACOG. I like the horseshoe reticle. Looking at the TA33H (3X) or the TA31H (4X). I think I like the reticle picture better on the TA33H (not sure) and I am also torn due to the magnification choice.

Can't imagine I be engaging targets much beyond 300 yards based on the local matches I have seen.

What are your thoughts?

I appreciate everyone's input here!


February 15, 2009, 08:39 PM
I run multi EO techs on my NFA stuff, as for long range SPR the Leopold Mk4 works well. I cant comment ont he EO Tech Magnifiers, good idea if they work, I assume that they do enlarge the recticle as well though.

February 15, 2009, 10:49 PM
If you are going to be limited to one optic, you'l want something that goes down as close to a true 1 power as possible.

I've been kind of looking around for a lightly used, IOR 1.5-8, or, a Swarvoski 1-6.

February 15, 2009, 11:59 PM
I wouldn't change your rifle set up, you've got all the bases covered.

18" bbl is a good choice. I'd make sure you specify the rifle length gas system, it shoots a bit softer/flatter and give the brake a little less work to do. Lots of very good shooters go with 20 in, I don't think you can say that there is a clear winner there.

Personally, I don't think weight in the stock is a terrible thing for the game. Recon matches where you haul gear alot would point me elsewhere but I just don't think it's that bad for the typical 3 gun match. Took my vltor off in favor of the better mount I felt I got with the std A2 stock. I've thought about the PRS stock too, just haven't got around to trying it yet.

No better trigger for the game than the JP.

But, for optics, I'm a firm believer in a 1-4x scope. I like the KDOT. Years ago Benny hill was running the $100 simmons prodiamond (1.5 - 5x) with great success so I did too. I followed him over to the meopta to check out the glass everyone was raving about and have never looked back.

Swarovski makes a 1-6x if 2K is in your budget, and I've heard a 1-8x variable is on the drawing board. If I was starting out, I might put a cheap optic on the rifle and plan on upgrading if I couldn't afford it out of the gate. Also, I think that there are others planning on copying these scopes for less $$$.

BTW, if you go with a variable scope, they make an aftermarket attachment (cat tail?) that allows for very speedy magnification changes.


oh, and forget about the buis unless you are using the games to get more familiar with your serioius rifle.

February 16, 2009, 10:27 AM
It is a little heavier than a 16 inch barrel, but still comes in a 41 ounces. Is this really a poor choice? I can still change!

I think the SPR contour is a little heavy for 3-gun. The 18 inch length is fine. I like an A2 or even an A1 contour under the handguards. JP sells them all ready to go.

February 16, 2009, 05:55 PM

I contacted JP Rifles. Unfortunately they are not selling any major components at this time as they are saving them for their own complete rifles.:banghead: Also this is a left hand build.

Do you think I should try and have the barrel fluted?

What are your thoughts on amount of necessary magnification? Again matches I have in my area do not seem to exceed 300 hundred yards and most were much closer.

I am still struggling with an optics choice. I have looked at ACOG's, Eotechs, Aimpoints, Trijicon Accupoint, etc, etc. Is variable power a waste of time? Current thought is Eotech with co-witnessed BUIS, but this is no magnification????? I just feel like I need something for more distant targets.

Figure I could always get a magnifier down the road. Again, I want to started in limited division NOT open.

Thanks for all the help and patience everyone!!!!!!

February 17, 2009, 08:37 AM
this is a hard choice. I am in the market am have no clue at this point.

February 23, 2009, 02:11 PM
I'm looking at my options also and ran across this on another site regarding the Millett Zoom Dot. Thought it might add to the discussion.

I got this list of reasons the Zoom Dot is better than the Aimpoint from opticstalk.com. I haven't had a chance to research all of the items in this list, but thought I would post it for you to check out.

1. ZD has no wires to break, AP has small wires that break under use.

2. ZD has No glued LED, AP has a LED that is glued in. can come lose

3. ZD has no inter tube to reduce your vision, come lose or lose zero

4. ZD is tested to 2000+ g, it will hold up after being run over by a truck.

5. ZD can go to 300 under water for extended time and not leak, the lenses are made like a rolex watch more pressure the tighter they get.

6. ZR has no rheostat to adjust the brighness, it does it automatically to match the light conditions. If you go from bright to dim it will adjust to match the light. Note the smooth lines and no knobs sticking out of the sides of the unit.

7. the ZD will hold zero, due to the design it cant change zero due to impact less than destruction.

8. ZD will work from the range of the battery, -40 to 150+ f

9. ZD is manufactured in Huntington Beach CA. by an American company. AP is not.

10. There is no perceived parallax in the ZD, AP has visible parallax.

11. ZD can be repaired in the field if electronics ever fails, less than a min. you can replace the electronics, AP got to send it back.

12, If you want the latest in design ZD, if you want 25 yr old tec AP.

Zak Smith
February 23, 2009, 03:10 PM
These cover it

article | Evolution of the 3-Gun Practical Rifle http://demigodllc.com/icon/extwh3.png (http://demigodllc.com/articles/evolution-of-the-3-gun-practical-rifle)

article | Fighting Carbine Optics http://demigodllc.com/icon/extwh3.png (http://demigodllc.com/articles/fighting-carbine-optics-for-the-ar-15)

February 23, 2009, 03:30 PM
Give me A2 sights on an AR15 any day.

Zak Smith
February 23, 2009, 03:33 PM
A2 sights are great until you need to shoot fast on the move, the target contrast is low, there is low light, you need to shoot from a poor position, or weak-handed, or the target is smaller than your front sight, or your windage knob gets bumped off zero, or you can't ID or make out the target because it's too far away. Optics are a force-multiplier for rifles.


February 24, 2009, 10:58 PM
Down and dirty, within 25 yds, on open targets- I think that irons are just as fast as optics. But head shots at 40 yds or engaging 8" plates at 300 yds with A2 sights isn't easy for most- Bennie Cooley notwithstanding. I'll stick to optics.

Zak Smith
February 24, 2009, 11:04 PM
The great thing is that theories are easy to test. Set up the course and fire up your shot timer...

February 24, 2009, 11:37 PM
he great thing is that theories are easy to test. Set up the course and fire up your shot timer...

Yeah Zak- I've done that. It is pretty much a wash with close up, open targets. But inside of 25 yds, I'm pretty much relying on index and just using any sight for verification. When the targets get smaller, optics are much faster- like 4-5 seconds on a 20 second COF.

February 24, 2009, 11:57 PM
so... you're not really saying irons are as fast as red dots up close... you're saying you're point shooting and not using either sight up close

if you actually took a sight picture before pressing the trigger, at any range, wouldn't you agree a red dot is faster?

March 27, 2009, 06:33 PM
I just mounted my EoTech 3x Magnifier with my Eotech 512 (and YHM BUIS).

Haven't played with it at the range yet, but the 3x is nice and clear. It's nice to flip it to the side when you just want the "normal" hologram for CQB.




April 8, 2009, 09:29 PM
I use a 2 moa Aimpoint with a 16" pencil barrel and bulk PMC FMJBT out to 300 yds. It shot 200 yds on 12" steel fine last year, offhand. It was DRILLING them prone/kneeling. The rifle holds about 2 moa out to 200 yds, maybe more with that ammo. It would work fine on silhouettes to 300 yds, maybe more. Practice is much more important than price of equipment.

Afterthoughts: Aimpoint batteries last 7 years, on the middle setting. They don't require you to change magnification during a match. And, MANY have been carried overseas in combat zones (personal experience: they are MUCH more reliable than EOTechs). No war intended, just MO.

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