March 15, 2023
By Jack Oller, Digital Editor
When it comes to scopes for AR-15 carbines, the low-powered variable optic (LPVO) is king. An LPVO generally has a lowest magnification of 1X and they have a top magnification of 4X, 6X, 8X and more and more 10X. There are even some 1-12X LPVOs hitting the market, but a 1-6X or 1-8X LPVO is most common.
LPVOs are lightweight, fast and easy to use, making them ideal for competitions, tactical shooting, home and self defense and general plinking. In fact, LPVOs are a growing trend among hunters, too. For mounting an LPVO to an AR, a “one-piece” or “cantilever” mount is the preferred option for their ease of mounting on ARs. Cantilever mounts usually set the scope height at about 1.5 inches over the rail, which “about right” for almost everyone. Once the scope is leveled in the mount, it’s easy to swap the cantilever between rifles since the scope won’t need to be re-leveled, especially if the mount is a quick-detach (QD) model.
With that in mind, there are many great cantilever mounts offered by many different brands. We’ve put together a short list, in no particular order, of some of our favorite one-piece cantilever mounts for LPVOs that covers the entire budget spectrum. There are a lot of similarities between cantilever mounts, but they each have their own unique features, making final selection a matter of personal preference.
LaRue Tactical LT111 OBR QD Mount
When it comes to QD optic mounts, LaRue Tactical is very hard to beat on quality and reliability. The LT111 OBR QD mount is available in 30mm or 34mm sizes, and the rings are horizontally mounted as opposed to vertically like on the SPR/M4 QD cantilever mounts. The height is set for 1.535 inches above the rail, which is compatible with most clip-on thermal or night vision accessories, and the rings are spaced 2.9 inches apart. The LT111 OBR is a QD model, so it’s ideal for those that have a favorite scope to use on several rifles. By placing the mount in the same Picatinny brackets between rifles, minimal re-zeroing will be necessary, and it’s usually off by no more than a few inches. The mount is on the expensive side, but premium metals are used in the body and screws, so you can regularly swap optics without wearing out the screws quickly.
Seekins Precision MXM Mount
Seekins Precision is making many high-quality rifles these days, but they got started with premium scope rings. The Monolithic Extended Mount (MXM) is a high-quality one-piece cantilever mount available in 30mm or 34mm with 0 MOA or 20 MOA options, and Seekins boasts that no lapping is necessary before installation. They also use an integral, flat recoil lug as opposed to a cross-bolt lug design for better fit in Picatinny rails. You’ll notice that the MXM mount, like all Seekins Precision rings, are quite thick at .8 inch, which provides a much larger clamping surface. For screws, the Seekins Precision MXM mount uses Grade 8 T-25 fasteners to prevent breakage if over-torqued.
Warne XSKEL30BU Gen 2 Extended Skeletonized 30mm MSR Mount
Warne has been known for scope rings for a long time, and they’re highly popular amongst the competition crowd for their extensive color options. The XSKEL30BU Gen 2 Extended Skeletonized 30mm MSR Mount is an ideal height for most AR-15 rifles, and they’re much more affordable than many of the mounts in this list. With numerous lightening cuts in the mount, it’s a great lightweight option at 6.7 ounces for the weight-conscience. The mount featured here is blue in color, but they have options in many different colors, and the mounts are available in 1-inch, 30mm or 34mm options. The Warne XSKEL30BU Gen 2 is a great general-purpose cantilever mount, ideal for tactical, competition or plinking fun.
Midwest Industries QD Cantilever Mount
Midwest Industries makes some of the best firearm accessories on the market. They’re famous for the replacement M-LOK rails for lever-action rifles and the new AK-style M-LOK handguards. The Midwest Industries QD scope mount is available in 1-inch, 30mm, 34mm and 35mm options, and they have aggressive offset options for each diameter offering. The Midwest Industries QD system is incredibly smooth with reliable repeatability for swapping between rifles. The mounts are position 1.5 inches above the rail, and the offset options range from 1.4 to a far-reaching 2.8 inches. The Midwest Industries QD Cantilever scope mounts are built from high-quality aluminum for durability, and they’re backed up with a Lifetime Warranty.
Geissele Super Precision Scope Mount
Geissele triggers and rifles are highly coveted for their quality, reliability and function, and Geissele scope mounts are built to the same standard. The Geissele Super Precision line is extensive with offerings in 30mm or 34mm and many different MOA bases and offset lengths. The Super Precision line is built from 7075-T6-series aluminum and is machined from a single piece of billet aluminum, making them incredibly strong and durable. The design is engineered to have the best fit across a multitude of scope brands and prevent any chance of crushing a scope’s maintube if over-torqued. Geissele’s unique nut and bolt combination has a remarkable 1,400 pounds of clamping force. One could make the case for overkill, but your scope won’t be going anywhere.
Leupold Mark AR One-Piece Scope Mount
It makes sense that a company known for its precision optics would also have a great cantilever scope mount. The Leupold Integral Mounting System (IMS) family can range in price drastically, but they’re all built from premium aluminum, and they’re backed up by Leupold’s Lifetime Guarantee. The Mark AR line is affordable and ideal for LPVOs on AR-15s. It uses a five-bolt mounting design at the base with three lugs for a secure fit on Picatinny rails. The Mark AR line is available in 1-inch, 30mm, 34mm and 35mm options, which covers just about every gambit of scope out there. For those who like more parts to match than not, the Leupold Mark AR line is especially ideal to match with a Leupold LPVO.
Aero Precision Ultralight One-Piece Mount
It shouldn’t be surprising that so many firearms manufacturers have roots in the aerospace industry. Aero Precision is a great example of bringing knowledge of that sector to improve guns and gun accessories. Aero’s rifle line is expanding rapidly, and they have a nice selection of mounts to match their guns. The Aero Precision Ultralight Cantilever Mounts are definitely the lightest option on this list at 3.36 ounces. Thanks aerospace engineering! When every ounce adds up, this is a great mount at an affordable price. Mountain hunters that like to use the AR-15 platform especially will appreciate the low weight. The rings are available in 1-inch, 30mm and 34mm diameters, of course, and they have multiple MOA bases and offset options. If you already have an Aero Precision rifle in your shopping cart, you might as well throw in the rings, but they’re a great option for general use on other rifles, too.
Primary Arms Deluxe AR-15 Scope Mount
If price is a major concern, the Primary Arms Deluxe AR-15 Scope Mount is a great budget option that is still reliable. They’re a basic design, but they get the job done well. It sits a standard 1.5 inches above the Picatinny rail, which is ideal for general use. The Deluxe mounts are available in 1 inch or 30mm options. Primary Arms also has a more premium PLX line for 34mm scopes and has more premium features. It has an MSRP of $249 and is backed by the Primary Arms Lifetime Guarantee. Regardless of your level, Primary Arms has many great options for mounting LPVOs on ARs.
The Scalarworks LEAP/08 cantilever mount is definitely the most expensive option on this list, but is it worth the price of entry? That’s up to the reader, but it does have many unique features. To start, it boasts a unique click drive for its QD function, which operates by a fluted crown that can be moved by your bare hand to securely clamp the mount onto a rail. It uses the force from a spring-loaded ball-detent to secure the mount. The rings use a hinged design instead of the common split ring design, arguably making it much easier to mount a scope. The LEAP/08 is low-profile with almost no point of contact to snag on clothing or anything else you might encounter while maneuvering your rifle. It’s built from premium aluminum, of course, and it arguably has the sleekest design in this lineup. Truly, there is a lot going on with this mount, and we’ve barely scratched the surface here. Like driving through an expensive car lot, sometimes it’s worth it to slow down and take a look.
American Rifle Company M-Brace Mount
Another cantilever mount that has a case for overkill on features is the American Rifle Company M-Brace mount, though its price is closer to the realm of affordability. It’s still just under $300, but they pack a lot of features into this design. These rings are often used for long-range, precision-rifle optics, but their features also work well with LPVOs. These rings also use the hinged design instead of a split-ring design, which is makes them quick and easy to install a scope. The M-Brace mount has seven inclination base option ranging from 0 MOA to 60 MOA. It should go without saying, but you don’t want 60 MOA for an LPVO. The O MOA option is what you’ll want with the 1.5-inch mount height. The M-Brace mount is built from premium 7075-series aluminum, and they boast an excellent return-to-zero.
Leapers UTG ACCU-SYNC Cantilever Mount
Another great affordable one-piece mount is the Leapers UTG ACCU-SYNC cantilever mount. Available in 1-inch, 30mm or 34mm options, it’s a well-built, easy-to-install mount that hits all the important features we look for in a cantilever mount. They’re built from premium aluminum, and they even have red, blue, OD green, FDE and black color options. At 5 ounces, it’s only 2 ounces shy of the lightest option in this list, and its slim design and profile won’t take away from your gun or optic and helps prevent snags. This is a great mount for general plinking ARs, especially for those who like to match colors on lower parts kits and accessories. At $65 MSRP, the Leapers UTG ACCU-SYNC is affordable for anyone, yet it’s still durable enough to hold up in the field.
Each of these mounts offers unique possibilities across price, features and design. There isn’t really a wrong answer as to which is best. It depends entirely on personal preference and how you’ve set up your AR-15. Whether is competition, defense, tactical use or plinking, it’s hard to beat an AR-15 with a good LPVO. With a winning competition like that, don’t let your failing point be the mount. Once you’ve narrowed down your exact needs, one of these mounts will fit the bill.
About the Author
Jack Oller is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the Military Police with one deployment to the Camp VI Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has extensive firearms training from military and civilian schools and is a passoniate shotgun shooter and hunter. Jack has an English degree from Illinois State Univerity, and he started his career in the outdoor industry as Associate Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. After Gun & Ammo, he worked as Brand Manager for Crimson Trace and now is the Digital Editor for Firearms News.
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