To save you time, we recommend the Nikon P-223 as the best 223 scope overall. It is tailor made for the 223.
The .223 Remington is a popular rifle cartridge that shares almost the same external size dimensions with the 5.56x45mm NATO round. It comes in different weights depending on the manufacturer, with options ranging from 40 to 90 grains.
Bullets weighing 38-55gr (2.5 to 3.6g) are mostly used with bolt-action varmint rifles that offer a 1-in-12 rate of twist. Heavier .223 Remington rounds of up to 69gr are mostly used on law enforcement or home defense semi-automatic rifles such as the Ruger Mini-14 and AR-15s, which are commonly found to have twist rates of 1-in-7, 1-in-8, or 1-in-9.
Generally, the small and fragile .223 Remington rounds splinter on impact, allowing almost no penetration through the target. While this fragmentation and lack of penetration is a desirable trait when looking to incapacitate a target, it calls for precise shot placement.
The concern for insufficient penetration also leaves almost no room for error. Additionally, nothing increases accuracy when firing .223 Remington ammunition more than a good riflescope.
Long Range Shooting
If you’re looking to outfit a .223 caliber rifle with a scope, then you need to find one that can take full advantage of this round’s effective range.
The .223 Remington has a maximum effective range of up to 600 yards on a calm day. However, its progressive loss of velocity, and the effects of wind, greatly compromise its accuracy and effectiveness at such long distances.
When used within fairly short distances of 100-300 yards, this round can deliver lethal terminal ballistics with a greater level of accuracy.
With these facts in mind, it becomes easier to match your .223 Remington rifle with a scope that will provide ample magnification. However, there’s still a lot more to consider when selecting the best scope for 223 caliber rifles.
For instance, any good riflescope will need to be durable, versatile, and provide excellent light transmission as well as optical clarity. The following are three of the best .223 scopes that match these criteria while giving you a good range of price points from which to choose.
- Features the BDC 600 Reticle with open circle aiming points and hash marks from 100 to 600 yards
- Make quick hand-turn ¼-inch @ 100 yard adjustments with Rapid Action Turrets
- Made with Nikon's fully multicoated optics for maximum brightness and light transmission
- Adjustments are made easy with Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets
- Optimized for use with Nikon's Spot On Ballistic Match Technology
Nikon produces riflescopes designed for specific calibers in their P series line. As the name implies, the Nikon 4-12x40mm P-223 (Review) was precisely designed for the .223 Rem round. This feature-rich model packs a lot of value for a 223 BDC scope priced in the mid-range section.
For starters, its bullet drop compensator was developed while keeping in mind the trajectory of 55-grain .223/5.56 NATO rounds with polymer tips. The BDC reticle is remarkably easy to use and provides precise 1/4 MOA reticle adjustments. It also offers shooters a unique open circle aiming point with hash marks ranging from 100 to 600 yards.
If you’re using heavy recoiling .223 rounds, a lightweight rifle or shooting from tight angles, this scope offers a generous eye relief to protect your eyebrow from bumps. What’s more, it comes with a fixed parallax setting to eliminate errors at 100 yards.
In spite of being a budget scope, the Nikon P223 doesn’t lack anything when it comes to ruggedness. Its o-ring sealed nitrogen filled housing is resistant to fog, water, or hard knocks.
Bushnell AR Optics Drop Zone 223
- Rifle scope 3 9x40mm
- Fully multi coated optics with 3 9 x magnification
- Compatitble with a wide variety of hunting rifles
- Drop Zone-223 BDC Ballistic Reticle is calibrated for 55-62 grain, 223 REM/5.556 loads with aiming points out to 500 yards
- Side focus parallax adjustment for adjustable long-range accuracy and a fast-focus eyepiece
The Bushnell AR Optics with Drop Zone 223 BDC Reticle is versatile. Its multi-coated glass produce bright, clear images. Along with its 3-9x variable magnification, you should easily make precise shots at your .223’s maximum effective range.
Fine-tune your accuracy with the target turrets 1/4 MOA click value and fast-focus eyepiece. The side-mount turret is fully adjustable to eliminate parallax for long-range accuracy.
You don’t have to worry about defects. This scope is covered by Bushnell’s Ironclad Warranty. This lifetime warranty is completely transferable. You don’t even have to show proof of purchase.
Bushnell’s high quality optics are second only to their impressive build quality. The scope is made of anodized-finished, rust-proof aluminum alloy which was sealed with an O-ring and nitrogen purged to keep the internals clean and dry. This thing is tough and will take a beating.
Primary Arms 5X Prism Scope
- ACSS reticle has BDC and ranging out to 800 yards with 5.56 NATO, .223 Remington, 5.45x39mm, and .308 Winchester
- Partially illuminated reticle is visible even in bright daylight with red or green illumination
- Removable M1913 picatinny top rail for accessories or piggy-backed red dot sights
- Tough prism scope is waterproof, fog resistant, and shockproof
- Protected by a lifetime warranty
Fans of simple, fixed magnification scopes will love the second generation Primary Arms 5x Prism Scope with ACSS Reticle. It is very easy to use.
Available models come with either .308 Win or .223 Rem reticles. The 223 scope with bullet drop compensator features what Primary Arms calls auto range technology, for fast target acquisition.
You have 5 red and 5 green brightness settings, which are illuminated by a CR2032 battery. It sports a fast focal plane reticle as well for easy aiming of moving targets. Thanks to the ACSS 5-10 mph wind holds, you can also account for bullet drift with this riflescope.
One place the this scope falls short is the warranty. Unlike the other scopes on our list with lifetime warranties. Primary Arms only offers a 3-year warranty.
When it comes to build quality, the Primary Arms ACSS does not disappoint. No worries about recoil or extreme weather. This scope is durable, featuring a shock, water, and fog proof housing that will hold up to the rigors of field use.
Remember that the best scope for 223 rifles is one that will allow you to zoom in on targets over a range of distances, built to last, and provides high quality optics. There are many other riflescopes that support .223 caliber rifles on the market besides those mentioned above. However, these three suggestions provide good choices for comparison if you don’t know where to start.