best m4 scope

Best M4 Scope (Top 5 Review)

The M4 carbine is the preferred choice of the United States Military and is the close cousin of the civilian-friendly AR-15. Built for a combination of range, accuracy, and versatility, the M4 is the latest in the evolution of the M16 which has been a military staple for decades. 

As far as improving the accuracy of your M4, you’ll want to add a scope that meets your needs and preferences. He is a great list to help you search for the best M4 scope. 

What to Look For In A M4 Scope

When shopping for a scope for your M4, there are a few things to keep in mind. The ideal scope may vary from a traditional rifle scope since carbine rifles feature shorter barrels and are more compact than their full-length counterparts. 

Weight Consideration – With a compact rifle you’ll want to find a lightweight scope that is under 16 ounces to avoid adding unnecessary extra weight. Some models are down to as low as 9 ounces but that trade-off can come with lighter materials that may not hold up over time as well as fewer extra features. 

Size Consideration – You probably won’t be shooting long-range with your M4, it’s primarily a tactical weapon, so typically you’re looking for a shorter size compact scope. These options are limited in magnification but are great for tactical situations where point-and-shoot is expected and you’re not spending a lot of time lining up a target. 

best m4 scope

Intended Use of Your M4

While size and weight are always considerations, it also depends heavily on how you plan to use your M4. This can help you narrow down a search and determine which features are most important to you. 

For tactical situations, such as home defense, you don’t need high magnification but having illumination might help in low-light situations. You’ll also want something that is compact for tight spaces. A scope which has intuitive, easy-to-find and easy-to-use controls is also imperative in a tactical situation where seconds count. 

On the other hand, if the intended use is hunting or target shooting, you may be less concerned with how the scope functions at very low light levels or whether it has illumination. You may want to find a slightly higher level of magnification in a compact profile. This will largely depend on what your intended target is. 

Desired Features

Scopes come in such a variety today that the features and options can vary greatly from brand to brand. Whether it’s a particular reticle style, illumination options, low-light performance, or overall craftsmanship, there are plenty of choices to suit your needs and preferences. Most of these specs dovetail with how you plan to use your carbine so you’ll want to answer that question first.

There is also a balance between price and features that most shoppers will be aware of. Sometimes you can find high-end features on a value-priced scope but it’s worth asking what trade-off was made by the manufacturer to stuff in some extra features without raising the price point. 

A well-built scope with minimal features will pay dividends for years to come when compared to a lower-end model that likely won’t hold up well over time. 

Reticle Style

There are many reticle patterns on the market today, each with their own set of advantages. Some of it simply comes down to your preference, but this is an area where manufacturers try to differentiate themselves from the herd. 

The most standard is known as the duplex reticle which is characterized by a crosshair which is thin in the center and tapers larger toward the edges. This is the most common among all scope-makers and something that has been universally used for decades. 

Another option is the Mil-dot reticle which has particular features that help with accounting for wind and elevation thanks to a series of dots in the middle of the crosshair on the horizontal and vertical access. The dots, set at specific intervals, allow you to determine a target’s distance assuming you know the target’s size. 

There is another common style called the Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) reticle. This style is intended to allow for accurate shooting on long-range targets without making adjustments to the scope’s elevation setting. 

Our 5 Picks for the Best M4 Scope

Now that you have some background and pointers to look for when examining scope options for your M4, here is a list to get you started. 

Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope

Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope - EBR-556B Reticle...
  • The Spitfire 3x Prism Scope excels in close to medium range shooting applications where fast target acquisition and speed is of the essence
  • Fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings offer bright views even in low light conditions. A selectable red/green illuminated reticle features five intensity levels to match the...
  • The reticle is etched directly on the prism ensuring shooters have an effective point of aim at all times regardless of illumination. A fast focus eyepiece adjusts the reticle into sharp focus
  • A multi-height mount system allows for 30mm and 40mm mounting heights. Dual picatinny rails mounted on the Spitfire allow the optic to be paired with an offset auxiliary reflex sight
  • With shockproof construction, the Spitfire withstands recoil and impact while nitrogen purging and o-ring seals ensure fogproof and waterproof performance.

The Vortex Spitfire series of scopes are meant to pack a large list of features into a compact yet rugged package. Intended for close-range to medium-range shooting, this model is made for quick target acquisition when speed counts. 

It features fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings for bright views in low-light environments. It also includes an illuminated red or green reticle with five levels of brightness to match whatever lighting condition you’re shooting in. 

Another benefit is that the reticle is etched directly on the prism which means you have an effective point of aim at all times whether or not you’re using the illumination feature. 

Vortex also includes a system for mounting this scope at different heights depending on your style of weapon or preference. It also comes with a mounted Picatinny rail feature for quick and easy installation on your M4. 

Vortex scopes aways include a rugged exterior, made to be weatherproof, and feature the industry standard O-ring seal for maximum antifog protection. 

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Illuminated reticle with red or green option
  • Vortex custom Enhanced Battle Reticle
  • High quality, crisp image
  • Lifetime warranty

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Some users report reticle is not etched straight
  • Illumination may not be bright enough for full sun

Nikon P-223 3x9 Matte BDC Carbine

Nikon P-223 3-9x40 Mate BDC 600
  • Generous, Consistent Eye Relief-Keeps your brow safe-even with the heaviest recoiling cartridges, lightweight rifles, and severe shooting angles.
  • BDC 600 Reticle-Developed specifically for the trajectory of the .223 Rem /5.56 NATO round with 55-grain polymer tip bullet, the BDC 600 reticle offers shooters unique open circle aiming points and...
  • Precise, 1/4-MOA Hand-turn Tactical-Style, Zero-Reset Turrets-Positive click reticle adjustments get you zeroed in quicker and maintain your setting-even withrepeated recoil.
  • 100-yard Parallax Setting-Eliminates parallax for precise shooting.
  • Waterproof/Fogproof-Nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed

Nikon is known for making the highest quality optics for cameras, scopes, and just about every industry they make a product for. The P-223 model is designed specifically for carbine rifles and includes a Nikon precision BDC reticle. 

While this scope is not as compact as others on the list, there are some benefits to ignoring size constraints and choosing a longer body scope for your M4. For starters, this scope offers up to 98% light transmission to cover you dawn to dusk. 

The reticle, which is the BDC style, is specifically engineered for .223/5.56 rounds which provides a 200-yard crosshair with hash marks at 400 and 600 yards. As we noted above, the BDC reticle allows you to account for elevation without adjusting the knobs on your scope. 

This scope also features fairly generous eye relief, between 4 to 6 inches according to most users, which is perfect for high-powered rounds creating a lot of recoil.

Despite being a little larger, the P-223 is still considered “compact” since it is shorter and sports a lower profile than most standard size scopes. 

The turrets for windage and elevation also have the “zero-reset” feature so they can be locked back to “zero” once the scope is sighted in. This makes future adjustments much easier since it keeps your prior point of reference. 

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Superior Nikon optics
  • BDC reticle made for .223/5.56 rounds
  • ½ MOA adjustment for precise tuning
  • Lifetime warranty

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Some users report broken crosshair after a small number of rounds
  • Issues holding zero despite adjustments

Trijicon ACOG 4 X 32 Scope

Trijicon ACOG 4 X 32 Scope Dual Illuminated Chevron .223...
  • BATTERY-FREE ILLUMINATION: Features a tritium/fiber optic illuminated reticle that automatically adjusts the brightness based on available light
  • RUGGED ALUMINUM-ALLOY HOUSING: Forged 7075-T6 aircraft-aluminum-alloy housing provides for a nearly indestructible sighting system
  • "BOTH EYES OPEN" DESIGN: The ACOG can be used as a CQB sight when shooting "both eyes open," utilizing the Bindon Aiming Concept. The ranging reticle is calibrated for 5.56(.223 cal) flattop rifles...
  • COMBAT PROVEN: No other magnifed optic has been used more in combat than the ACOG. Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H): 8.25 x 6.62 x 3.62 Inches
  • BULLET DROP COMPENSATING & RANGING RETICLES: The red Chevron ranging reticle allows for bullet drop compensation out to 800 meters for 5.56 (.223 cal)

Trijicon has been making scopes since 1981 so they have had decades to perfect their product offering and create some unique models with desirable features. You’ll notice ACOG in the model name which stands for “Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight.” This scope is a serious contender for one of the best pairings with your M4. 

With features such as battery-free illumination powered by fiber optics for daylight, and Tritium, which is a beta-emitting radioactive isotope, for lowlight. This Trijicon model sits at a higher price point but you’re getting amazing cutting-edge technology as a result. 

Since you’re probably asking this question, the self-illuminating Tritium sights last approximately 12 years which means there is somewhat of a shelf life on this scope. Not that you’ll probably be using any scope for that long, but it’s not as simple as swapping a battery and having full-powered illumination again. 

The reticle itself, aside from being self-illuminating, is bullet drop compensating out to 800+ yards for a .223/5.56 round. The reticle is also engineered to allow aiming with both eyes open, another hallmark of a high-end tactical scope. 

Other high-end features include extremely durable aircraft-aluminum-alloy housing which Trijicon calls “nearly indestructible.” The ACOG is also battle-tested, having been specifically designed for the U.S. Army’s M4 carbine. 

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Amazing technology
  • Durable design, nearly indestructible
  • High-end features for front-line combat
  • Self-illumination is a feature you rarely find
  • Lifetime warranty

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • The price point will turn off some buyers

Bushnell Optics Drop Zone-223 Reticle Riflescope

Sale
Bushnell Optics Drop Zone-223 Reticle Riflescope with Target...
  • 30mm tube dia
  • Drop zone 22
  • Fully multicoated optics
  • Fast-focus Eyepiece
  • Outstanding close-quarters accuracy, with a Drop Zone-223 BDC reticle for mid-range precision

Bushnell makes some fine quality scopes at various price points. This model offers steady performance at a decent price with some important features and not much extra. With 4x magnification, this scope is built for mostly short-range tactical situations and is designed with carbine rifles in mind. 

The reticle is BDC-style and calibrated for 55-62 grain 223/5.56 rounds with aiming points out to 500 yards. Weight is a little heavier, at over 16 ounces, but you’re getting a well-built scope designed to stand the test of time. 

It’s designed to be zeroed at 100 yards, with aiming points out to 500 which covers a good distance for short to medium range shooting. 

It offers fully multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission and a generous brightness level. A nitrogen-purged, fog-proof interior and weatherproof O-ring completes the package and provides an all-around good option as a basic scope. 

What you won’t be getting is illumination as it simply is not included on this model which is fine for a scope designed to be used during daylight hours. 

Users report clear optics and an overall good value for the money which is what the Bushnell brand is known for. 

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Good eye relief
  • BDC reticle tuned for .223/5.56 rounds
  • Good image quality at this price point
  • Lifetime warranty

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Thicker crosshairs than some
  • Poor shock quality

Burris Fastfire M3

Burris 300238 T.M.P.R.-Fastfire M3 with Mount, 3 MOA Dot,...
  • Larger field of view than ar-332 or ar-536
  • Extremely long Eye relief
  • Improved quick Detach base

Burris was founded in 1971 and began making scopes in 1975 so this is a company with decades of experience in quality firearms accessories. The AR-332 model is the culmination of years of development and is geared toward law enforcement, military, and competitive shooting use. 

It comes with an illuminated reticle using Burris’ patented Ballistic CQ designed to match any lighting condition. This design features holdover dots out to 600 yards which is a longer than average target distance for a scope this compact. 

You have the option of red or green with illumination or a clear solid black which still works great even if your batteries are running low. The eyepiece is specifically engineered to provide quick target acquisition, as most short-range scopes do, but it also goes beyond expectations to offer accuracy at greater ranges than other models in this category. 

In short, this is scope is designed with serious hunters and shooters in mind looking for top-notch performance coupled with quality. 

Users tend to rave over the features, some calling it the best optic available in this price range. The quality level stands up over time and this model is often praised for great image clarity in every light condition. 

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Engineered for quick acquisition and longer range
  • Burris reticle designed for .225/5.56
  • Built for professionals in mind like military and law enforcement
  • Lifetime warranty

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • The reticle style may be distracting to some users
  • Eye relief on the lower side

Commonly Asked Questions

What are the drawbacks of compact scopes? – When choosing a smaller size as a requirement, there must be something you’re giving up. In the case of a compact scope, which is physically smaller and usually lighter than a full-size scope, you may lose some distance in eye relief and see lower light transmission. Compact scopes can also sometimes cause image distortion depending on the quality of the optics but this generally isn’t a dealbreaker unless it bothers you or adversely affects accuracy. 

Do I need illumination? – The answer to this can be found by asking how you want to use it. If you’re only using it during the day, you might be just fine without illumination. Some shooters find it distracting or prefer not to rely on it since if the batteries die it won’t always be available. Your best bet is to try different options and see if an illuminated reticle improves your experience or becomes a hindrance. 

Conclusion

The M4 is a powerful gun and saddling the right scope on it creates a powerful package for any tactical situation. Once you determine how you want to use your M4, and what you’re expecting from a scope, you’ll be able to narrow down the options and find the one that suits your needs. This guide to the best M4 scope will hopefully prove helpful in that endeavor.