Before trying to decide which is the best Scope for 308 rifles it is important to understand these rifles first. There aren’t many long range rifles on the market that are as popular and accurate as the .308, though that is a rather general statement. After all, there are various manufacturers and models of .308. However, this is a 30 caliber firearm that is designed for accuracy at a distance. The best of these rifles have a flat trajectory, which makes them accurate at shorter distances as well.
It should be noted that since we are talking about a .308 rifle here, more emphasis is being put on the actual firearm than on the ammunition. This can be a little confusing to people who have only recently become acquainted with shooting. The .308 designation refers to the diameter of the bullet and thus to the rifle bore. However, a .308 rifle is designed to hold and use a specific cartridge, so not every rifle that uses a .308 bullet is a .308 rifle.
For example, a .30-30 Winchester Model 94 also uses a bullet that is .308 inches in diameter. This is not a .308 rifle, though. A .30-30 isn’t known for long distance shots and the cartridge is different than that of a .308 rifle. This is important when it comes to selecting the best scope for a .308, because the scope should allow for short, intermediate and long range shooting.
The .308 is one of the most commonly used tactical rifles. The best scopes will also usually have tactical qualities and some of the top of the line scopes for the .308 are commonly known as sniper scopes. This part shouldn’t at all be confusing because a good sniper scope doesn’t need to have a military application. It can be used exclusively for hunting big game animals such as elk and deer.
3 Best Scopes for .308 Rifles
Nikon M-308 4-16x42
Long distance and hunting
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42 Mil Dot Reticle
Leupold 115390 Mark AR Mod 1 3-9x40
Value for the money
What to Look For in the Best .308 Scope
The most important things to consider when looking for a scope for your 308 are distance capability and clarity, durability, ease of use, and cost. Let's take a closer look at each of these.
Distance capability and clarity
Since a .308 rifle is designed for distance shooting, a scope for this rifle should be made for shots of 300 to 500 yards or more. If the scope is only accurate to 200 yards, but lacks clarity at high magnification, the rifle isn’t going to have the best use over long distances, regardless of the circumstances.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some excellent short to intermediate range scopes that will work great on a .308, because there are. It simply means that the scopes are probably not going to be the best, over-all, for a .308 rifle, even if a particular .308 is never used for long range.
It should be understood that when we are talking about clarity, the reference is to a scope that doesn’t show a distorted view at long range magnification and which gives a clear image under both bright light and low light conditions.
Like other scopes, the best .308 scope is going to be one that stands up to reasonable use. A .308 isn’t a brush gun, so it is less likely to be subjected to use in tight quarters where branches and limbs might be a constant issue. However, the lenses need to be treated to make them scratch resistant.
The tube should also have solid construction and needs to be a sealed unit, normally filled with nitrogen or argon to make the scope fog resistant. Being sealed and filled with gas makes the scope more durable by protecting the interior parts of the scope. Consideration should be given to what the scope is made out of, because you want something that isn’t going to be easily damaged. Being shock resistant is also important because a .308 can have a hard recoil. Further, many .308 rifles are bolt action, so the best .308 scope for bolt action needs to be able to withstand the jolt of the bolt being locked into place.
Naturally, this means that the scope is likely to have a greater weight if the construction material is strong, so a balance needs to be found between the weight and the use for which you are going to put the .308. If you are going to be making primarily short or medium distance shots, the scope can be more compact, which would mean that it probably isn’t going to weigh as much as a scope that is used for greater distance.
Investing in a quality scope means that it should be a long time before another scope is needed for the same .308, assuming that reasonable care is given to the scope. Since this is the case, the scope needs to be constructed in such a way that it isn’t going to be necessary to replace it after just a few uses. Thus, it needs to be durable and well built. Naturally, there isn’t a way to know how likely it is that a scope will prove to be durable just by looking at it. There are still some indicators that it is more likely that the scope will hold up over time.
Ease of Use
Good rifle scopes should be easy to use, simple to increase or decrease magnification and it shouldn’t take a lot of time to sight them in. Once they are sighted in, they should hold the bead so it isn’t necessary to sight the scope in again after only a small number of rounds have been fired through the rifle. This is true of all rifle scopes and not just those for a .308. However, this can be arguably more important for a long-range scope. At 500 yards, if the scope doesn’t stay sighted in, even being slightly out of alignment can mean that a target can be missed entirely.
This also means that the dials need to be easy to read and to adjust. It additionally means that the reticle should be clear and the eye relief should be comfortable. If the eye relief isn’t right or the reticle isn’t clear, the scope isn’t easy to use.
The diameter of the objective lens is also important. A larger diameter increases the field of view. Having a large field of view makes it easier to find and track your target. If you have difficulty with target acquisition, the scope isn’t particularly easy to use.
There can be a substantial difference between the cost of a high end .308 scope and an inexpensive one. As a rule, very high quality usually has a large price attached. The problem is that this isn’t always true in all circumstances. A great deal has to do with the intended use of the scope and rifle.
For example, there are compact tactical scopes that are of good quality for less than $50. However, these are usually light-weight, they normally lack variable magnification and the objective lens is probably going to be about 32 mm. These scopes are also often less eight inches long. The scopes, while good, aren’t really designed for long distance hunting shots at a moving deer or elk. They might still work for a hunter who is more likely to be shooting at game that is within 100 yards, though.
At the other end of the price range, there are .308 scopes that may cost well over $1000. As one might imagine, the more expensive scope usually has more features, as well as high-end quality components. This is to say that before purchasing the scope, it is a very good idea to carefully consider what the scope is going to be used for. A person should also understand that ‘cheap’ can mean poorly made, but doesn’t always mean this. Likewise, just because a scope is very expensive doesn’t mean that it is the best scope for a .308. Price is often an important factor, but it certainly isn’t the only important one that needs to be considered. The general range in price for the best .308 scope is probably going to be between $350 - $1000.
With all that in mind, let’s look at the best scope for a .308.
308 Scope Reviews
There are many options available when looking for the best scope for a 308 rifle, so to make things easier here are our reviews of the top 3.
Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Riflescope
The Nikon M-308 is specifically designed for high caliber long range rifles like a .308. With a 42 mm objective lens, this scope has a nice field of view at a little over 25 feet at top magnification. Though it has a sturdy build and a one inch tube, it also weighs just over a pound, which is quite reasonable for a .308. The scope is also a little over a foot long, which is great for a .308, especially if the use is going to be deer and elk hunting.
The scope is both waterproof and fog proof, making it a good scope for any sort of weather. The light transmission is about 95 percent, so it can also be used in both bright and dim lighting. This scope has an adjustment of .25 inch, making it easy to adjust for accuracy at long and short range.
The M-308 is 13.5 inches long and it has about a four inch eye relief. This makes the scope comfortable to use. With the sturdy build, this also makes this the best scope for a 308 AR. While this is the best scope for an AR 10, it is also superb for a .308 used for big game and even long distance target shooting.
This rifle scope also has a BDC 800 reticle, which is made so you can adjust for the trajectory of your rifle. BDC 800 was specifically developed for the .308 to give 100 yard zero on the crosshairs, with representative points from 200 to 800 yards. BDC means “bullet drop compensator”, which is just another phrase for the adjustment for the trajectory of the bullet due to the affect of gravity. This is important to sighting in the scope and shooting it. This video shows you how to zero in a BDC scope:
This scope also features a side focus, spot on custom turrets and a parallax adjustment.
The price for this scope is somewhat less than $500, depending on where it is purchased, and it can sometimes be more than this at specialty stores. However, even at $500, the scope is worth it.
The downside of this scope is that it doesn’t always come with mounts. It is a good idea to purchase quality mounts anyway, so this isn’t a major issue. This scope isn’t inexpensive, as already mentioned, but with reasonable care, it should last for a long time, so it isn't especially expensive when thought about the cost spread out over years of use.
This is the best .308 scope for long distance and also the best .308 scope for hunting.
NIKON M-308 4-16X42 RATINGS
Clarity & Optics
Ease of Use
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42mm Mil Dot Reticle
Bushnell is a name that is often associated with high-quality scopes and the Elite 6500 is superb for use with a .308. This scope is solidly made and it puts many other scopes to shame. Once sighted in, the Elite 6500 handles the recoil of a .308 with ease. It is also great for use with bolt action .308 rifles.
The Elite 6500 has exceptionally and consistently clear optics that are coated multiple times to make the lenses durable under use in the field. The scope is nitrogen filled and is waterproof, shockproof and fog proof. Moisture beads up into tiny little drops, to keep the focus clear.
This scope has push and pull turrets and it is zero resettable to make sighting in something that is quick and easy. This scope is ¼ MOA and both the windage and elevation adjustment is resettable. The Elite 6500 has a side focus and a sun shade.
The mil dot reticle greatly increases accuracy, especially at large distances. This is one of the reasons the mil dot reticle has become the standard for the best tactical rifle scopes, for both the military and law enforcement agencies. A possible down side, though, is that the scope needs to be properly mounted so the tube is level with the barrel. Otherwise, it can be slightly off target. This shouldn’t present a problem for a gun pro and there are many gunsmiths that can mount this scope without issues.
The field of view, clarity, ease of sighting and adjustments and durability of this scope are top notch. It is great for a .308, whether the average distance of the shots is going to be 100-200 yards or 300-600 yards. The cost is around $700, depending on where it is purchased, which isn’t bad for a good tactical scope, but could be a little expensive for a beginner.
Certainly, the Busnell Elite 6500 would be the best .308 tactical scope.
BUSHNELL ELITE 6500 2.5-16X42 RATINGS
Clarity & Optics
Ease of Use
Leupold 115390 Mark AR Mod 1 3-9x40mm
Although the Leupold 115390 Mark AR is reasonably priced at under $350, the Leupold name speaks of high-quality rifle scopes and this one isn’t a disappointment. This scope also has a Mil Dot reticle for better accuracy and it is the best Leupold scope for .308 .
The Mark AR weighs around a pound and it is somewhat more than a foot in length. The eye relief is between three and a half and four and a half inches, making it a comfortable scope to shoot. The scope is filled with Argon and Krypton to make it fogproof, even when it is moved from the warm interior of a vehicle to cold outside temperatures. The lenses are multi-coated for waterproofing and the Mark AR is also shockproof. This scope is designed to withstand the heavy recoil of a .308.
If you want clarity of view and good, vivid color transmission, this scope is for you. It is exceptional in both. Although the mil dot reticle makes the Mark AR Mod 1 suitable for tactical use, it is great even for the beginner. The mil dot has both horizontal and vertical scadia. To make it somewhat easier for the .308 owner, Leupold also offers turrets that are specifically for the .308 rifle. The turrets are zero resettable, too.
Because of the excellent optics of the Mark AR Mod 1, this scope is exceptionally easy to use. It is quite easy to acquire the target and once sighted in, the mil dot reticle makes it easy to estimate distances for the shot. The scope comes with instructions for sighting in the mil dot reticle, as well. It should be understood that the turrets are in 1/10 mil adjustments. A mil adjustment is a military standard that isn’t difficult to master once the rifle owner understands what it is.
It should be noted that although the magnification is listed as 3-9 variable, the maximum magnification is actually 8.6. This is a drawback, but a minor one and the difference is close to negligible under use. Because this is such a minor issue, the Mark AR Mod 1 isn’t graded down for this here. In fact, it is easily compensated by the fact that this scope is made in the USA.
This scope also isn’t lit, however it is so clear and the light transmission is so good that the scope functions well even in low-light situations.
This is the best .308 riflescope for the money, due to the reasonable cost. It is marked down for ease of use only because using mil dot reticles takes a little knowledge and practice.
LEUPOLD 115390 MARK AR MOD 1 3-9X40 RATINGS
Clarity & Optics
Ease of Use
Best 308 Scope Conclusion:
Selecting the best riflescope for a .308 is a little easier than people might think. The .308 is one of the best tactical rifles, but it doesn’t need to necessarily be only for a sniper. This is also an excellent rifle for hunting, particularly medium and large game. Knowing this does enter into the selection of the best scope.
The price can vary between modest and expensive, depending on the use for which the rifle will be put. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the same thing could be said about any scope and any rifle. The .308 is simply a rifle that is designed to deliver a bullet to a long-range target. Even this isn’t as descriptive as some people might think, because a .308 is also useful at short-range. This means that ultimately, when you are in the market for the best scope for a .308, one of the first questions you should answer is, “What am I going to use this rifle for?” The three scopes listed should give you the very best results, depending on how you answer the question.
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