Review: Burris AR-536 AR-15 Optic
Major Pandemic 02.24.15
According to the US Army Laboratory Command (Small Arms Technology Assessment: Individual Infantryman’s Weapon, Volume I, March 1990 – to be specific), 98% of all targets across all terrain are engaged at less than 600 meters, 90% less than 400 meters, and in urban terrain 90% less than 50 meters. With this in mind, we need the ability to be able to reach out to targets beyond the 15-25 yard lines, but it is unlikely we will ever shoot out beyond 600 meters in a defensive or even hunting situation.
Adding even a marginally magnified optic to your long gun enables more precision, faster target acquisition, and gives you all you need to place hits quickly even way out there when yards adds up. More than a few serviceman and Designated Marksman know that the 4X Trijicon ACOG transformed hit ratios within all ranges of combat engagement out to the 600 yard line, but it also comes with a steep $1,400 price tag.
Burris to the rescue with a great, low-priced option (the $399 Burris AR-536 5X optic), which is build like a brick house.
Burris AR-536 5X Prismatic Optic
Burris is famous for building rugged optics, and the AR-536 is a mil-spec brute of an optic that has stayed compact with a prismatic design. The design is a really nice crossover optic for CQB and scout rifle distances in a durable fixed power optic.
Essentially the AR-536 is an ACOG but for 60% less money, plus it includes a dual red/green illuminated BDC reticle. According to Burris they have been selling truckloads of these along with their 3X AR-332 model with the explosion of AR15 sales. Based on my experience, this is for good reason. I loved the 3X AR-332, and the AR-536 5X model delivers a great value when you want to reach out a bit further.
Fit, Feel, Finish, and Features
Like all Burris optics, the AR-536 is excellent quality, with fog and weather proof construction through the very clear optics. At first I was wondering what I had committed to with the AR-536, but after a couple range visits I am sold on the design. The donut reticle definitely grows on you, and in my opinion it is way faster up close and allows more precision than a duplex reticle at varied distances.
There is a significant amount of refinements and extras on this scope. The Burris AR-536 comes ready to mount right out of the box with a picatinny base included ($50-$100 extra on other scopes here), scope caps that flip open all the way out of field of view, and wire retained windage/elevation caps.
If you have an A2 AR15 with a carry handle, the AR-536 will work right out of the box after your unscrew the included picatinny base. On top of those features, the AR-536 is a very clear optic with an etched reticle visible as a black reticle after the illumination is turned off or even without a battery. The runtime is expected into the months range, but even when the standard CR2032 battery is dead, you still have 100% of the reticle to work with.
The illuminated reticle works and is easily bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight, and of course the shooter has the option to swap between a battery-less black etched reticle or red or green reticles.
The donut reticle is very fast on target even at distances well under 25 yards. Dedicated points from 100-600 yards can make this a bit more precise than optics with just a red-dot optic when the yards add up. Burris also includes picatinny accessory rails around the optic to bolt on things like red dots, lights, lasers, and tactical espresso machines. The circle hold marks for 200+ yards work great and allow tiny distant targets to be centered quickly.
The eye relief needs to be a bit more forgiving as it does not have a wide workable range compared to others here. Plan on mounting the AR-536 at the rearmost position. My stock position is always one detent in, but for longer armed shooters, you may have to displace your rear back up sight and mount it farther back.
Burris needs to add a super low night vision setting for the illumination as even the lowest setting of the 10 for either red or green, the illumination still shows just a bit too glare after the lights go out. The reticle is still perfect for CQB ranges at night but a little annoying for shooting night dwelling critters in the pitch black. For those situations I swapped out to old half dead CR2032 batteries for dimmer illumination. Critter hunting with the AR-536 is great way to kill off all those old CR2032 batteries.
With a variety of Hornady and Winchester 5.56 Nato and .223 Remington rounds, I found the Burris delivered all shots on 12” steels all the way out to 600 yards, but point of impact did vary based on each round. As with all BDC reticles, the aiming points will get you within a few inches, but each round’s ballistics are different and your performance will vary.
And odd observation: We all get older, and usually with that comes deteriorating eyesight. I have been incredibly lucky that I still have better than 20/20 vision, but I am starting to do that trombone move to focus in on the small print up close. The point is that magnification and sighting aids help ageing eyes.
A few of my buddies clearly need magnification, and this is where even just a little 3X magnification can make all the difference between making a shot and frustration at the hunt or at the range. The AR-536 5x boosts that magnification just a bit further. If you are older, I recommend strongly taking a look at what these low power optics can provide you and your AR platform.
CQB tip: For those optics with illuminated reticles, a tip to use them in a CQB environment is to cover or close the front scope cover and shoot with both eyes open like you would with a red dot. With the scope objective cover in place, your eyes and brain will figure it out and make the illuminated reticle appear as an 1X lit reticle regardless of the magnification, even if it is a 32X power scope shooting a target 2 feet away.
Designed for a 100 yard zero with BDC index points for 100-600 yards, this is a fixed power optic that is actually exceptionally good at CQB work thanks to that glowing donut.
The Burris AR-536 is a great, all purpose optic for an AR owner to extend the range of their AR to allow confident placement out to 500 yards. That big glowing dot provides a great aiming point even at room clearing distances. The more I use this optic, the more I like it as a combat defensive scout optic covering the US Small Arms study ranges.
- Item Number: 300210
- Magnification: 5x
- Clear Objective Lens Diameter: 36 mm
- Reticles: Ballistic CQ™
- Reticle Color(s): Black, Green, Red
- Finish: Matte
- Field of View: 20 ft. @ 100 yds (300210)
- 20 ft. @ 100 yds.
- Mount: Picatinny Rail Base
- Eye Relief: 2.5 – 3.5 in.
- Click Value: 1/3 MOA
- Elevation Adjustment, Total Capability: 60 MOA
- Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA from center.
- Windage Adjustment: 60 MOA
- Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA in any direction from center.
- Parallax/Focus: –
- Length: 5.8 in. (without sunshade or flip-up covers)
- Weight: 18.8 oz.
- 20.25 oz.
- Illumination Control: Rotary dial
- Illumination Settings: 5 red settings; 5 green settings; off is black
- Battery: CR2032
- Street $399.99
- Circular center provides ultra-fast engagement at close distances
- The smaller reticle dots provide trajectory compensation out to 600 yds. for 5.56 and 7.62 cartridges
- 3 reticle color settings: red, green, and black
- Illuminated reticle: 5 red and 5 green illuminated settings
- The illuminated reticle reduces time to get on target in any lighting condition and dramatically increases accuracy in darkness
- Rotary illumination control dials between 10 settings to easily match any lighting condition
- Reticle’s black color setting is available even without battery power
- Fixed 5x magnification
- 36 mm objective delivers bright, crisp images
- Index-matched, Hi-Lume® multicoating aids in low-light performance and glare elimination; makes more shots possible and increases your success rate
- Rugged construction withstands recoil, abuse, and all types of weather
- Integrated lens covers for extra protection
- Adjustable diopter allows shooter to control focus for crisp images
- 3 Picatinny rail mounting points provide stable, secure accessories mounting
- With the bottom rail mount removed, the optic can be mounted to an AR charging handle
- Windage and elevation caps are tethered to prevent loss
- Nitrogen-filled body tubes prevent internal fogging in the cold and rain
- Precision-gauged, hand-fitted internal assemblies maintain a consistent point of impact throughout magnification range, regardless of shock and vibration
- Comes with Burris Forever Warranty