Best M4 Scopes and Optics: Top 6 Picks From Expert Marksman

Technically, the M4 doesn’t exist in the civilian world.  The M4 is a variant on the M16 and is not available to civilian purchasers.  The basis of a true M4 is the M16A4.  The M4 utilizes a 14.5-inch barrel and usually offers full automatic fire capability. 

Best M4 Scopes & Optics

So, in truth, civilian shooters aren’t shooting a true M4.  At best, legal shooters are running an AR-15 platform with a short barrel NFA tax stamp.  This platform is, by legal necessity, a semi-automatic firearm.  So, you must realize that very few people are shopping for a scope for an M4. 

However, you can get an AR-15 platform that mirrors the functionality of an M4.  Short, compact, and quick are the hallmarks of an M4. Consequently, the scope or optic you chose for your M4 look-alike should mirror those characteristics.


Best M4 Scopes: My Picks

The Best of the Best M4 Scopes – Trijicon 4x32 ACOG 

Trijicon 4x32 ACOG

There should be no question in anyone’s mind about the best of the best optic for an M4-style rifle.  The Trijicon ACOG is world-renowned as a combat optic.  The Trijicon Acog features the “Bindon Aiming Concept.  With a 4X magnification and ultimate close-range capability, the ACOG is a proven combat quality weapon. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Trijicon ACOG, it is worth looking at the features available on this optic.

  • Battery-free illuminated optics
  • Designed for both eyes open aiming
  • Proven combat track record
  • Shock-resistant and waterproof
  • Bullet drop compensating reticle
  • 4X magnification
  • Medium range scope effective to 600 yards
  • Eye relief – 1. 5 inches
  • Field of View – 36.8 feet at 100 yards
  • The reticle types available: Chevron, Crosshair, Horseshoe Dot
  • Two available reticle colors: red and green
  • Drop compensating reticles available for .223/5.56 or .300 Blackout

Trijicon now offers the 4×32 ACOG with an LED illuminated reticle that allows adjustable intensity and over 12,000 hours of battery life on a single AA battery.

Pros

  • Approved for military use
  • Battery-free
  • Accurate and durable
  • Reliable

Cons

  • The Price

If you want to build an M4 style rifle that emulates the role the M4 plays with the military, then a Trijicon ACOG certainly makes sense.  To get a rifle close to a true M4, you will probably spend enough on the rifle to justify a Trijicon ACOG cost.

However, some scopes and optics offer a more reasonable price and almost the same quality and features as a Trijicon ACOG. 

Trijicon ACOG 4 X 32 Scope Dual Illuminated Chevron .223 Ballistic Reticle,...
  • BATTERY-FREE ILLUMINATION: Features a tritium/fiber optic illuminated reticle that automatically...
  • RUGGED ALUMINUM-ALLOY HOUSING: Forged 7075-T6 aircraft-aluminum-alloy housing provides for a nearly...

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 12:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best M4 Scope for an M4-Style Rifle – Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2 Red Dot Sight

Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2 Red Dot Sight

Number one on my list of scopes suitable for an M4-style rifle is the Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2 Red Dot Sight.  If you haven’t gathered from my other posts and reviews, I am a Vortex Optics fan.  I don’t think you can do much better than a Vortex Optic for features, clarity, and quality.

The Vortex StrikeFire is the optic that chose to mount on my M4-style rifle.  My rifle is a 10.5 inch suppressed .300 Blackout.  (Yes.  I have tax stamps on both the rifle and the suppressor.)  This little gun is accurate and quick.  I wanted an optic that matched those characteristics.

The Vortex Optics StrikeFire 2 fits that bill.  Feature-wise it is at the top of the combat-style optics.  Price-wise, the StrikeFire is within the budget of almost any shooter. 

  • Mount type – Cantilevered ring mount with lower 1/3 co-witness
  • Magnification – 1x
  • Objective lens diameter – 30mm
  • Dot size – 4 MOA
  • Eye relief – unlimited
  • Adjustment per click – ½ MOA
  • Travel per turret rotation – 25 MOA
  • Maximum elevation adjustment – 100 MOA
  • Maximum windage elevation – 100 MOA
  • Parallax Free
  • Weight 7.2 ounces
  • Length overall – 5.8 inches
  • What you get in the box
    • One StrikeFire 2 optic
    • One cantilever scope mount
    • One T-15 Torx wrench
    • One CR2 battery
    • Flip Cap Optic Covers
  • Battery life – 80,000 hours at setting 6
  • Red or Green dot options
  • Fully coated optics of maximum light transmission

Pros

  • Great scope for a reasonable price
  • Easy to zero and holds true
  • Adjustments are easy to make
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No magnification
  • A bit on the heavy side

The Vortex StrikeFire 2 comes complete with a cantilever mount, and lens covers speak well of Vortex Optics customer service focus.  The best reflection of their attitude is the Lifetime no questions asked warranty.

Sale
Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight - 4 MOA Red/Green Dot, Small
  • The Strikefire II Red/Green Dot is a rugged, reliable red dot sight that is at home in a variety of...
  • Fully multi-coated lenses provide a clean and bright, unobscured point of view. Unlimited eye relief...

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 10:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Runner-Up – Best Scope for an M4-Style Rifle – Aimpoint PRO

Aimpoint PRO

Second, on my list of the best scopes for your M4-style rifle is the Aimpoint PRO optic.  The Aimpoint Pro is another red dot entry to the list.  Aimpoint builds great optics and has a reputation for high-quality optics built to withstand extreme use. 

The one thing that consistently keeps the Aimpoint out of the top spot on my optics lists is the price.  At twice the Vortex StrikeFire optic price, I don’t think Aimpoint is that much better.  However, some disagree.   You can make your judgment based on the features of the Aimpoint PRO optic.

  • Up to three years of use on a single battery
  • 2 MOA red dot
  • In-service date and battery change date reminders
  • Quick and accurate target acquisition
  • Night vision compatible
  • Magnifier compatible
  • Waterproof to 150 feet
  • Threaded front lens opening for use with ARD
  • Front and rear flip covers included
  • Transparent rear flip cover allows both eyes-open uses even with the front cover closed
  • All caps come with retainer straps
  • Modular mount system for use with various styles of rifles
  • Magnification – 1X
  • Fully coated optics
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Battery – 3v lithium type 2L76
  • Length overall – 4.5 inches
  • Weight 7.8 ounces

Pros

  • Military-grade optic
  • Great battery life
  • Clarity and light transmission unsurpassed
  • Sharp edges on the 2 MOA dot

Cons

  • Price
  • On the heavier side

The Aimpoint doesn’t miss a feature.  The clear rear flip cap is unique, and the idea of using the scope with both eyes open, even with the front cap in place, is novel.  I don’t know how useable the feature is, but it offers a different aiming concept.  Aimpoint builds quality equipment, and if you want the best optic for your M4-style rifle and your budget has some stretch, this might be the optic for you.

Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight with QRP2 Mount and Spacer - 2 MOA -...
  • Designed to deliver premium performance under harsh conditions
  • 2 MOA dot with 4 Night and 6 Daylight brightness settings

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 10:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best Reticle Scope for M4-Style Rifles – Vortex Optics Spitfire

Vortex Optics Spitfire

Some shooters prefer a more conventional style reticle.  Red dots are great for close in and medium-range shooting, but an etched reticle is the ticket if you want to go out further.  Vortex builds a scope that is as quick as any red dot scope and can take you out to further distances. 

Most scopes with a traditional style reticle are the length needed to make the whole system work properly.  Vortex has designed the Spitfire scope using prism technology to overcome this length problem.  The Vortex Spitfire scope gives all the performance and features of a more traditional scope in a package, often half the size.

The small size and lightweight make the Vortex Spitfire a great pairing with an M4-style rifle.  The Spitfire scope doesn’t lack any of the features offered on other Vortex scopes

  • Custom BDC bullet drop compensation reticle
  • Range to 500 yards
  • Glass etched reticle on the prism for unmatched clarity and ruggedness
  • Illuminated for best reticle vision or use without illumination
  • Multi-mount capable
  • 3X magnification
  • Red or Green Dot options
  • Eye relief – 2.8 inches
  • Field of view – 31.5 feet at 100 yards
  • Adjustment per click – ½ MOA
  • Maximum windage adjustment – 120 MOA
  • Maximum elevation adjustment – 120 MOA
  • Parallax setting – 100 yards
  • Overall length – 5.5 inches
  • Weight – 15.4 ounces
  • Battery – CR 2032
  •  3,000-hour battery life at the lowest setting
  • What comes in the box?
    • 0ne Vortex Spitfire Optic
    • Two (2) Picatinny rails
    • One t-20 Torx wrench
    • One 2mm hex wrench
    • CR 2032 battery
    • Flip Caps

Pros

  • Crisp images and clear glass
  • Great CQB scope
  • The illuminated reticle is great and useable even if the battery dies
  • Best features and optics for the price

Cons

  1. Heavy
  2. Not compatible with some magnifiers
  3. Not Military grade

If you prefer a reticle over a red dot, the Vortex Spitfire is a perfect optic to add to your M4-style rifle.  IT meets all the requirements and then some.  Small and compact with great optics and a conventional style reticle make a package with a price that almost any shooter can fit into their budget.

Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope - EBR-556B Reticle (MOA)
  • The Spitfire 3x Prism Scope excels in close to medium range shooting applications where fast target...
  • Fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings offer bright views even in low light...

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 11:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best Holographic Sight for Your M4-Style Rifle – EOTech HWS EXPS3

EOTech HWS EXPS3

The military M4 is meant for close quarters combat.  The short length, lighter weight, and quicker handling allow maneuvering in tight situations such as the interior of houses or other small and tight quarters.   If you anticipate this kind of action with your M4-style rifle, then the other types of scopes and optics may not fit your application.

The EOTech HWS EXPS3 came off the drawing board with these types of situations in mind.  Both eyes open is the method most holographic sight users prefer.  The EOTech holographic sight allows both eyes open shooting while delivering fast and accurate target acquisition.   

The features of the EOTECH ESPS3 certainly attest to its background as a tested and respected combat and military-approved weapons sight.

  • Length – 3.8 inches
  • Weight – 11.2 ounces
  • Water-resistant to 33 feet
  • Mount – Weaver or Mil-Std 1913 rail
  • Illumination – 20 daylight settings and ten additional NVG settings
  • Battery – 1 CR123 battery
  • Battery life – 1,000 continuous hours at setting 12
  • Made in the USA
  • Ten year limited warranty
  • Three reticle options 1 Dot reticle, two dot reticle, and four dot reticle

Pros

  • Quick connect lever action for easy assembly and disassembly
  • Quick target acquisition and co-witness sights
  • Great battery life and performance
  • Night vision compatible
  • Military accepted optic

Cons

  • Some problems with glare on the lens

Holographic sights are different animals from any other scope or optic.  Some people have trouble adjusting to using a holographic sight.  There is also the cost factor.  EOTech sights are not the least expensive sights on the market.  Technology is expensive and EOTech tends to be technology-driven.

EOTECH EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
  • EOTECH EXPS3-2 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68MOA ring & (2) 1 MOA dot reticle
  • Night Vision Compatible - Works with all Gen 1-3 night vision devices

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 10:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Reflex Sight for Your M4-Style Rifle – Vortex Venom

Vortex Venom

The cheaper alternative to a holographic sight is a reflex sight.  Rather than project a hologram with the aiming point or reticle like a holographic sight, a reflex sight projects the reticle’s image onto a glass lens.   Using a reflex sight is like using a holographic sight and offers some of the same benefits at less cost.

Vortex again gets my nod as the best reflex sight for your M4-style rifle.  The Vortex Venom sight is small, lightweight, and tough.  I mount a Vortex Venom on my AR-15 pistol for these very reasons.  My AR-15 pistol rides in my truck behind the seat and takes its fair share of abuse.  The Vortex Venom sight has never let me down.

For close-in shooting in confined spaces, a reflex sight offers the same advantages as a holographic sight.  You get quick target acquisition with both eyes open shooting styles.  Plus, the low profile and small size make operating in tight quarters much easier. 

  • Overall Length – 1.9 inches
  • Height – 1.02 inches
  • Weight – 1.1 ounce
  • Mount – Weaver or Picatinny
  • Magnification – 1X
  • Dot – Red 3 MOA
  • Eye Relief – unlimited
  • Adjustment per click – 1 MOA
  • Maximum elevation adjustment – 130 MOA
  • Maximum windage adjustment – 100 MOA
  • Parallax free
  • Battery life – up to 30,000 hours on the lower settings
  • Included in the box
    • Vortex Venom Optic
    • Weaver/Picatinny mount
    • T-15 Torx wrench
    • Rain Cover
    • Lens Cloth
    • Mounting screws
    • CR 1632 Battery
    • Screwdriver
  • Vortex Optics No Questions Asked Warranty

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Sharp, bright red dot
  • Auto brightness settings for ease of use
  • Battery changes don’t require dismounting the sight

Cons

  • Not the most rugged sight you can mount on a rifle

If you need to keep your M4-style rifle low profile and sleek and you don’t anticipate shooting at extreme ranges, the Vortex Venom red dot may be your answer.  For an M4-style platform or an AR pistol configuration, the Vortex Venom is an ideal choice.

Sale
Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight - 3 MOA Dot
  • The Venom Red Dot Sight-3 MOA promotes rapid target acquisition while providing a precise point of...
  • High quality, fully multi-coated lenses offer a clean, wide field of view. Power and dot intensity...

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 12:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


To Wrap Things Up

To conclude this look at the best rifle scopes for an M4-style rifle, I have to say that my choice is the Vortex StrikeFire 2.  The StrikeFire 2 offers the flexibility to work in close or to take your rifle out to moderate to long-range with confidence. 

Shooting my .300 Blackout SBR with custom loads, I keep my rifle zeroed at 50 yards and at 100 yards.  The ballistics of the round I shoot passes center target at both distances.  I think you can see the advantages of this kind of scope and bullet performance.

I hope this look at my choices for your M4 rifle’s best scopes has helped you better understand the options for mounting an optic on your rifle.  If you have questions, experiences, or suggestions, please use the comments section below.  We love to hear from our readers.  Good shooting and be safe.



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.

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