Best AR-15 Carry Handle Scopes: Top 5 Picks Reviewed

The AR-15 platform has become one of the most popular rifle styles among shooters.   Styles have changed over the years, with most new AR-15’s having a flat top style.  Still, there is much to be said for the venerable carry handle upper receiver style.  Finding a scope that will mount on an AR-15 carry handle is challenging.  Here are our picks for the best AR-15 carry handle scopes.

Best AR-15 Carry Handle Scopes

Our Picks for the Best AR-15 Mounted Scopes

  • Trijicon ACOG 4X32
  • EOTech 512 A65 Holographic scope
  • Vortex Optics Sparc Optic
  • Barska 4X20 Scope
  • AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Sight

Our list offers a wide variety of scope styles and designs.  Choosing a carry handle scope is about finding the optic that best fits your shooting situation’s needs.  No scope will fit every shooter’s needs.  Finding the right combination of features makes it extremely important to know what you expect from your optic before purchasing and mounting a scope on your rifle.

What I Look for in a Carry Handle Mount Scope

First, I look for all the other things that I would want in a rifle optic. That doesn’t change when discussing types of mounts.  In general, the most important things to look for in any scope include:

  • The glass – I want the highest quality glass I can find in the scope.  The optics will only perform as good as the glass.   Poor glass can distort images, cause problems with focus, and fail to transmit and gather light properly.
  • Quality construction – The quality of the construction will affect every aspect of the performance of the scope.  Poor construction will cause the scope to fail, problems with fogging and moisture, and poor optical performance.
  • Reticle selection – Reticle selection is a more personal choice.  Whether you prefer a traditional reticle, a red dot, or a mil-dot style, the reticle should be clear and precise.  If possible, on optical scopes, select a scope with a second or first focal plane reticle etched on the glass.

  • Nitrogen filled to eliminate fogging.
  • No batteries to change or fail.
  • Field of view in feet – 36.8 feet at 100 yards.
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  • Twenty daylight illumination settings for any sunlight conditions.
  • The auto-shutoff feature saves batteries.
  • Easy mount options for AR-15 carry handle.
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  • Incredibly clear optics for a sight in this price range.
  • Parallax free shooting.
  • Vortex Optics no question asked lifetime warranty.
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The Very Best AR-15 Carry Handle Scope – Trijicon ACOG 4X32

Trijicon ACOG 4X32

If you ask a combat veteran or a law enforcement officer which scope they want on an AR-15 and the answer is a Trijicon ACOG, almost without fail.  Experience worldwide among combat veterans and law enforcement tells the tale of the durability and the dependability of the Trijicon ACOG line of scopes.

It should come as no surprise that the Trijicon ACOG 4X32 scope is on our list of the best AR-15 carry handle rile scopes.  The ACOG scope is as tough as nails and delivers crystal clear vision rain or shine.  The ACOG 4X32 scope fits nicely on the carry handle of an AR-15 and brings the full complement of Trijicon features to the table.

Features and Specifications of the Trijicon ACOG 4X32 Scope

  • Always on Always Ready battery-free reticle illumination
  • Automatic light adjustment on the reticle
  • Both eyes open shooting design
  • Exceptional clarity
  • Multi-coated lenses increase light gathering
  • Zero distortion
  • Bullet drop compensation available for the most popular calibers
  • Several reticle styles to fit your shooting needs
  • Combat proven and military accepted optics
  • Shock-resistant design for rugged dependability
  • Waterproof
  • Nitrogen filled to eliminate fogging
  • Length – 5.8 inches
  • Height – 2.3 inches
  • Weight – 9.9 ounces
  • Magnification – 4X
  • Eye relief – 1.5 inches
  • Field of view in degrees – 7
  • Field of view in feet – 36.8 feet at 100 yards
  • Mount M16/AR-15 Carry Handle

Ask users about the Trijicon ACOG and you will hear the reasons this scope makes our list.


  • Combat proven and tested
  • No batteries to change or fail. 
  • Tough and durable construction.  No worries about this scope taking the abuse some situations dish out.
  • Reliable and easy to use adjustments make zeroing this scope a breeze
  • Secure and quick to install carry handle mount


  • The cost which is often more than the rifle

  • Nitrogen filled to eliminate fogging.
  • No batteries to change or fail.
  • Field of view in feet – 36.8 feet at 100 yards.
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Our Verdict

The Trijicon ACOG 4X32 may be out of the range of the average shooter.  However, it makes our list by being, in our opinion, the best carry handle rifle scope on the market.  For most civilian shooters, the Trijicon ACOG 4X32 is overkill.  Most civilian shooters will never encounter a situation that will put the Trijicon ACOG to the test.  On the other hand, you never know what you may face, and the knowledge that your rifle scope can handle whatever comes can be comforting.

The Best Holographic Carry Handle Rifle Scope – EOTech 512 A65

EOTech 512 A65

Holographic sights bring a new dimension, literally, into the world of rifle shooting.  EOTech pioneered the concept of holographic sight and has maintained a position of leadership in the optics world.  Many shooters say that once you experience a holographic sight, it is hard to go back to standard optics, especially for close-quarters shooting.

EOTech Holographic sights make target acquisition extremely quick and allow shooters to maintain peripheral vision by keeping both eyes open.  The small size and lightweight of the EOTech holographic sights make them perfect for mounting on an AR-15 carry handle.  EOTech’s range of options and features with these holographic sights makes them a clear choice for our list.

Features and Specifications

  • Razor-sharp focus and clarity
  • Wide rectangular window provides a clear target view and exceptional peripheral vision
  • Non-reflective window coatings reduce glare
  • Holographic reticle is visible only to the shooter
  • Dependable operation even if the window is broken or shattered
  • Night vision compatible system can function even in complete darkness
  • Multiple reticle options for more shooting versatility
  • Uses standard AA batteries
  • Easy to use controls and adjustments
  • Easy mount options for AR-15 carry handle
  • Length – 5.6 inches
  • Height – 2.5 inches
  • Weight 11.5 ounces
  • Waterproof to 10 feet
  • Twenty daylight illumination settings for any sunlight conditions
  • Battery – two 1.5V AA batteries
  • Battery life – Lithium battery will give 2,500 hours at an illumination setting of 12
  • Made in the USA


  • The EOTech is the best sight I have used for close quarters shooting
  • Multiple illumination settings make the EOTech sight very versatile
  • The auto-shutoff feature saves batteries
  • The rugged construction has held up well no matter where I go or what conditions I am in


  • No night vision compatibility with the EOTech holographic sight

  • Twenty daylight illumination settings for any sunlight conditions.
  • The auto-shutoff feature saves batteries.
  • Easy mount options for AR-15 carry handle.
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Our Take on the EOTech 512 Optic

Holographic sights may not be for everyone, but if a holographic sight meets your needs and expectations, the EOTech 512 A65 is, we believe, the best holographic sight to mount on the carry handle of your AR-15.

The Best Red Dot Carry Handle Mount Optic – Vortex Optics Sparc II

Vortex Optics Sparc II

I am a huge fan of Vortex Optics.  I think Vortex builds some of the best rifle optics available for the price.  If you want a reasonably priced red dot optic to mount on the carry handle of your AR-15, the Vortex Optics Sparc red dot is my top choice.

I try to adhere to the KISS principle, especially in shooting or survival gear.  The Vortex Optics Sparc fits into that requirement very well.   The Vortex Sparc is a small, simple, and rugged red dot sight with exceptional performance in such a small package.  The price is reasonable enough to be in the budget for almost any shooter and you can’t argue with Vortex Optics features.

Features and Specifications

  • Ultra-compact design
  • Lightweight for easy carrying
  • Rear-facing controls for easy operation
  • Multi-height mounting options for the perfect fit on your rifle
  • O-ring sealed single-piece body
  • Waterproof
  • Fogproof
  • 2 MOA red dot
  • Length – 3.1 inches
  • Height – 1.1 inches
  • Weight – 5.9 ounces
  • Magnification – 1X
  • Objective lens – 22mm
  • Dot color – red
  • Eye relief – unlimited
  • Adjustment per click – 1 MOA
  • Maximum elevation adjustment – 90 MOA
  • Maximum windage adjustment – 90 MOA
  • Parallax free design
  • Vortex Optics no question asked lifetime warranty
  • Battery – one CR2032 battery
  • Battery life – Up to 300 hours on the highest setting or 6,000 hours on the lowest


  • Incredibly clear optics for a sight in this price range
  • Easy to adjust light intensity settings
  • Quick and easy to manipulate controls
  • Parallax free shooting
  • Well-built and dependable.  Simple to use.


  • The red dot is not as crisp as other scopes

  • Incredibly clear optics for a sight in this price range.
  • Parallax free shooting.
  • Vortex Optics no question asked lifetime warranty.
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My Choice

The Vortex Optics Sparc red dot sight is my choice to mount on an AR-15 platform with a carry handle.  I like its simple design, straightforward controls, and rugged construction.  For the price, the Vortex Optics Sparc red dot sight features and operation are unparalleled, in my opinion.

The Best Budget AR-15 Carry Handle Scope – Barska 4X20 Electro Sight Scope

Barska 4x20 Electro Sight Carry Handle Scope Mil Dot Reticle (AC11608)

If you are on a budget but want a tremendous scope to mount on the carry handle of your AR-15, the Barska Electro Sight scope is a natural choice.  Some AR-15 flat top rifle owners add a carry handle to their rifle to mount this scope.

Barska designed this scope specifically for carry handle mounting.  When mounted on an integral carry handle on an AR-15, this scope becomes part of the rifle.  Barska’s reputation for quality and dependability adds to the attraction of this scope.  Barska doesn’t skimp on features or quality even at the low price this scope affords shooters.

Features and Specifications

  • Built-in bullet drop compensation calibrated to 500 yards in 100-yard increments
  • Integrated base designed specifically to mount on AR-15 carry handles
  • Mount design allows the peep sight on AR-15 carry handles to be used when the scope is mounted
  • Fully coated optics for crisp, clear vision
  • 4X magnification
  • 20mm Objective lens
  • BDC Bullet drop compensation turret
  • Waterproof
  • Fogproof
  • Eye relief – 2.7 inches
  • Field of view – 22 feet – 7.3 feet at 100 yards
  • Second focal plane reticle
  • Weighs 13.4 ounces
  • Length – 6.9 inches


  • Low cost and made for carry handle mount
  • Despite the cost, the Barska scope has crisp, clear coated optics
  • Bullet drop compensation reticle with mil-dot markings is versatile and easy to use
  • Simple and clean design
  • Easy to manipulate turrets


  • No illuminated reticle

  • Eye relief – 2.7 inches.
  • Low cost and made for carry handle mount.
  • Bullet drop compensation reticle with mil-dot markings.
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For the casual shooter who uses their AR-15 for target shooting and plinking, the Barska Electro Scope is a great choice.  You get great quality, clear glass, and bullet drop compensation in a package that won’t break the bank.  The Barska Electro Scope is a perfect entry-level scope to mount on the carry handle of your AR-15

The Best Budget Red Dot Sight for Carry Handle Mounting – AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Sight

AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Sight

Many AR-15 shooters prefer a red dot sight to mount on the carry handle of their rifle.  If budget considerations have kept you from mounting a red dot sight, your problem has a solution with the AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Sight.  At less than $100, the AT3 RD-50 sight is functional, affordable, and dependable.

The AT3 RD-50 is not a no-frills optic.  AT3 has filled out the features list on this tiny red dot optic with features you would expect only from a much more expensive rifle scope.

Features and Specifications

  • Multi-coated lenses with scratch-resistant protection
  • 2 MOA dot for easy and quick both eyes open shooting
  • Parallax free design
  • 11 red dot intensity settings for the best view under any conditions
  • Integrated lends caps
  • RD-ARMOR features a rubberized coating to protect the optic
  • Rubber gaskets on turrets and battery cover for extra environmental protection
  • Nitrogen purged manufacturing to prevent fogging
  • Shockproof and tough
  • UP to 50,000 hours of battery life at the lowest setting

Uses a CR 203 battery

  • AT# Lifetime warranty
  • Weight – 3.6 ounces
  • Length – 2.4 inches
  • Adjustments per click – 1 MOA
  • Windage and Elevation adjustment range – 70 MOA
  • Unlimited field of view


  • Quality construction
  • Rugged and Durable
  • Parallax free design
  • Crips and Clear 2 MOA red dot
  • Small and lightweight


  • Some of the controls are not as crisp as they could be
  • Requires an adapter for carry handle mount
  • AT# Lifetime warranty.
  • Parallax free design.
  • Crips and Clear 2 MOA red dot.
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The AT3 RD-50 Micro Reflex red dot sight is our choice as the best entry-level red dot sight available for your carry handle mount for the price.  You will need to find an adapter to convert this little red dot sight to a carry handle mount.  Finding a mount adapter is a small inconvenience compared to this optic’s quality and features versus the price.

AR-15 Carry Handle Scopes FAQs

How High Should a Scope be mounted on an AR-15?

The ideal scope height on an AR-15 is 1.40 inches above the receiver.  This is the height of the iron sights on an AR-15. Mounting a scope with the bore axis at the same height allows the reticle on the scope to co-witness with the iron sights.

One problem with mounting a scope on the carry handle of an AR-15 is finding a scope and mount that keeps the scope’s axis at the proper height.  Too often, a scope mounted on an AR-15 carry handle is too tall and makes shooting the rifle accurately nearly impossible.

Many carry handle scope mounts also make using a bore sighter or other tool to sight your scope a challenge.  The bore sighters are just not designed for the extra height that the carry handle can add to the scope mount.

Can you put a scope on a carry handle?

Yes, you can mount a scope on an AR-15 carry handle, however, the scope must have a low profile.

Mounting a scope onto a carry handle will make it too high and you’ll need a huge cheek pad to achieve a good cheek weld but even then you’d find it difficult to see the sights anyway. Mounting a scope onto a carry handle is also not as good as mounting it onto a flat top but it will still work and yield good accuracy.

Mounting the scope directly onto the receiver instead of the carry handle will make the firearm compact, lightweight and there is a longer max point black range.

There are also fewer parts to come loose which will not negatively impact your shooting accuracy.

What scope does the military use on AR 15?

The M68 CCO (or known as the Comp M2) is the standard sight for the US Army and the Airforce and is also used by other NATO countries around the world in their militaries.

It’s favored for military use because of its compatibility with night vision devices and can be used both day and night without having to change parts.

When it comes to red dot sights, the elite US military uses and the US navy commonly uses Aimpoint or EOTech red dot sights, some of which notably being the Aimpoint Comp M2 & the EOTech 553 Holographic Sights.

These brands are favored by military personnel because of their long-lasting battery life and their almost bomb-proof durability.

The military often also use the M4 Carbine during training and warfare, so any scopes they use are primarily specialized for that weapon such as the ACOG scope, however, these can also be used on AR-15’s.

How high should a scope be mounted on an AR?

1.4- 1.5 inches is pretty standard for the height of mounting of scopes on ARs, however, it will all depend on your AR. You should try to use the same height for your scope as your sight as lifting your head up will be uncomfortable and will affect your shooting accuracy.

The scope should be mounted as low as possible without the scope touching the barrel or any point of the AR, this will make it more comfortable for shooters as well as you’ll be able to easily use the cheek rest when shooting.

My Overall Feelings

I must be honest.  I don’t own an AR-15 with a carry handle.  I have opted to build all my AR-15 platforms with flat-top receivers.   I won’t say that I will never have an AR-15 with a carry handle.  I like the traditional look and there is a nostalgia factor in having an AR015 patterned after an M16A1.

When I build an AR-15 with a carry handle, my choice will be the Vortex Sparc red dot optic to mount on the rifle.  I am an unabashed fan of Vortex Optics products.  The quality and features for the price are, for me, tips the scale in favor of Vortex Optics.

Whatever optic your choose, make sure that it fits your needs and meets your expectations.  Shop carefully and consider all the possibilities and the options.  If you have opinions, experiences, or suggestions, please use the comments section below to respond.  We love to hear from our readers.  In the meantime, have fun and shoot safely.

Written by Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here. Read more of Dennis's articles.