PhotoBrandRatingOur ChoiceWhere To Buy
Nikon4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Vortex Optics 4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Vortex Optics 4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Leupold5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Bushnell3.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Burris3.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon

Best Scopes For the .308

Choosing the right scope for your .308 is more complicated than just picking one off of the shelf and hoping that everything works out according to plan. It would be nice if this were the case, It's a matter of doing your research and making sure that you get one that will meet your needs and provide you with many years of quality shooting. After all, everyone out there shooting today has different requirements that are unique to the person looking through the glass and squeezing the trigger.

More on the nitty gritty details of that later...

Selling yourself short and merely choosing one off of the shelf just because it's there when you need it, or cheap, can result in a scope that is not only unreliable but downright troublesome and will likely require you to purchase another to get the accuracy and dependability that you are looking for.

In this article, we give you a few things that you need to consider when picking out a new scope for your .308, as well as reviewing a few of the scopes that we found to be the better of those out there on the market today.

Doing a little research for yourself and hopefully getting to use a few of them will let you make a smart choice on where to spend your hard earned money to give you the quality and performance that you demand for years to come.

Find a Scope to Fit Your Needs

Choosing the right rifle scope largely depends on what it is that you are using it for. That is because each situation is unique and demands different requirements and attributes to make it as efficient as possible.

Sure, you could use many different scopes in all situations, but is there likely to be a better solution out there? Yes, there most certainly is. But let's face it; the casual shooter is not going to have a bunch of different scopes of the time needed to sight them in as the variables change.

No, the average shooter is going to have one solid, go to option designed to fit their particular needs for that firearm.

While the .308 is traditionally a military round used for long range shooting and sniper applications, its popularity in the hunting world cannot be denied. This is especially true when it comes to big game such as moose, elk, bear, and many other exotic species of animal.

Know your needs, and choose a scope to fit that need the majority of the time. Often a high-quality scope will make up for any shortfalls that it may have when used in other applications such as target shooting or long-range applications.

However, a poorly loaded round will result in trying to pattern bullet dispersion and make accurately zeroing your scope impossible.

With more people than ever becoming involved in the sport, manufacturers are coming out with quality optics to fill the need.

According to the National Hunting Day Organization, “More Americans Hunt and Shoot Than Play Baseball.” That is a significant number of individuals no matter how you look at it.

Understanding the .308 Ballistically

While we are not here to break down the .308  to its barest form and examine every trait that makes a particular scope applicable to this caliber of rifle, having a fundamental understanding of the round is essential to creating a smart choice when shopping for a new scope.

A quick look at the .308 from Pew Pew Tactical examines some of the characteristics of the round and shows you the full range of variables that you are looking at when trying to zero any rifle scope accurately.

These numbers are significant because varying just one can affect the validity of the zero on your scope and make it necessary to re-zero before hunting or shooting competitively again.:

Translating that from the bench to the range, the following charts from http://gundata.org gives you some insight into the ballistics of a typical .308 caliber round; specifically the 150 grain 308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO), American Eagle (Federal) Full Metal Jacket Boat-Tail.

It is important to note that there are several manufacturers, compositions, weights, and other variables that make each round unique. While ballistically similar, it is important to note that these subtle changes will affect trajectory, velocity, and several other variables that must be accounted for when it comes to accurate marksmanship.

.308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO), American Eagle (Federal) Full Metal Jacket Boat-Tail, 150 gr

Range In Yards

Drop (inches)       

Velocity       Energy         

Wind Drift (inches)

Time (milliseconds)
AAAAA
0-1.4936282026480.00000
50-0.1498270724400.000055
1000.0075259822480.0000111
150-1.1241249120660.0000170
200-3.6576238718970.0000232
250-7.7183228517390.0000296
300-13.4456218515900.0000363
350-20.9951208814520.0000433
400-30.5401199313230.0000507
450-42.2743190112030.0000584
500-56.4146181210930.0000665

There are a couple of key takeaways from these charts when it comes to choosing a scope to fit your needs. The first of these is projected bullet drop based on the top chart.

Looking at the data, it's easy to see that at ranges of over 300 yards, with a drop of -13.4456 inches, predicting follow-on rounds with a traditional scope reticle can be quite problematic due to a substantial decrease in velocity and energy.

Shooting at Distance

When it comes to choosing a scope, knowing the distances that you are likely to be shooting is a major determining factor as to what type of reticle, magnification, and quality you are likely to choose to go with it.

For competitive marksmen, they already know what ranges they are likely to be shooting based off of pre-existing competition format that is unlikely to change at a moment's notice. Hunters, on the other hand, have the disadvantage of changing conditions, animal movement, and habitat. This is especially true if you are the type of person that likes to travel to hunt around the globe.

After All, the typical shot at a deer in Minnesota is likely to be less than 50 yards, as opposed to a pronghorn antelope in Wyoming and ranges often exceeding 300 yards. Again, while it is impossible to know for most people what type of ranges you will be shooting in the absolute, an educated guess based off of your traditional hunting area is likely good enough to get you in the right area when it comes to the distances you can expect to shoot.

Don't Overlook Your Reticle

The reticle, or the “crosshairs” that you see when looking through your scope play a significant part in how efficient and accurate your shot is. After All, the jist of a scope is that where you aim on that reticle, is where you shot should hit.

Poorly made or mounted scopes are notorious for having reticles that are also of poor quality. In some cases, the reticle itself has been known to detach from inside of its mounting and move independently of your gun.

It would be easy to say that a particular type is better than the others, it mostly depends on what you are using it for. Many companies, such as Leupold produce over 70 different styles of reticle based off of use. A few of the more popular types follow:

While the style and thickness of the reticle matter, it is a matter of preference when it comes to choosing which reticle fits your needs. In addition to these few, each manufacturer has produced reticles with their unique spin, to include illuminated as well as un-illuminated options.

Once you find a manufacturer and a model that you are interested in, check out the reticle options and see if they are in line with your needs as well. If not, it may be as simple as switching to a different model to get what you need. Don't overlook the reticle; you may severely regret it down the road.

First Focal Plane(FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane(SFP)

The discussion about reticle design goes much further beyond the available options in a debate about focal planes.

Whether you are hunting or target shooting, knowing the difference between these two can make a significant difference in performance and functionality when mounted on your rifle.

The big difference between the two is that with the FPP optics, the tick marks are valid at any magnification resulting in increased accuracy at extended ranges while shooting. The SFP scopes, by comparison, are only good at a specific magnification.

This chart from the Precision Rifle Blog shows a great example of what this means for those visual learners out there.

Clarity and Quality of Glass

When it comes to the clarity and quality of glass that you get from just any old scope, products, and their abilities vary greatly.

The average person that just likes to spend a day at the range shooting may not care about light harvesting, fog control, and anti-reflective compounds, hunters, and competitive shooters sure do. When choosing the right scope for your particular application, make sure that the one that you have your eye on meets your needs.

A proper quality scope will have ED glass or Extra Low Dispersion, that will harvest the ambient light and give you a good clear image at sunrise and sunset. The majority of the additional attributes come courtesy of glass coatings that reduce glare and amplify the light waves entering the optic.

Quality of Construction

There can not be enough side about the quality of construction when it comes to the scope that you put on your rifle. A good quality scope will withstand weather, bumps, and thumps, and countless rounds being shot before needing a touch up at the range.

Many people tend to err on the side of affordability, the shooter looking to get years of quality life out of his scope will spend the extra money and get something that is likely to last for many years, rather than a single season. In many cases, rifle optics included, you get what you pay for.

There are several good options out there that are affordable; you will have to put in the effort to search them out in many cases.

A quality scope will often be machined out of a single piece of aluminum that will result in fewer areas that are prone to failure from connecting multiple pieces of metal. Waterproofing or resistance will help ensure that no matter how punishing the weather may be, you are always ready to get off that all important shot.

Fixed Versus Variable Power

For some people, having a variable zoom is a luxury; for others, it is a must-have. A fixed magnification, or power, the scope does not afford you the opportunity to adjust the zoom power. Thus, you are stuck with whatever that may be.

Although it is easy to try and right-off these types of scopes, it is essential to know that they have a place in advanced marksmanship. Several significant manufacturers offer fixed power scopes that give you a simple way to get the magnification that you need. Best of all, these scopes are robust, simple, and last for years.

Not all are made for standard rifle construction, however. With the popularity of the AR-10 and the AR-15 platforms, the advent of CCOs and other fixed optics have gained in popularity as well.

By comparison, the advent of the variable power rifle scope in late 1940 offered up the ability to adjust the amount of zoom needed to make an accurate and timely shot.

While there are more moving parts to this optic, the ability only to use the amount of magnification and reduce the size of the reticle when aiming make the variable power scope a trendy choice for hunters and competition shooters alike.

The All Important Run Down

Now that you have a basic understanding of your .308 from a ballistic perspective, and what constitutes a quality rifle scope, now we can get down to it and talk about some of the scopes out there on the market today that are worthy of standing up and taking notice of.

While there are undoubtedly many different manufacturers and models to choose from in various price brackets, these are some of the more popular ones due to their relative affordability and out of the box quality.

While this is a review, it is recommended that you do your research to ensure that you are getting exactly what it is you need out of your optic. Spending a little time and energy can save a lot of headache down the road when it comes to choosing a good quality optic for your .308.

Nikon BUCKMASTERS II 4-12x40 BDC

High quality yet highly affordable scope from a reputable manufacturer that has been producing quality optics for generations.

The Nikon Buckmaster Is an excellent option when it comes to hitting the woods, prairie, or mounting while hunting with your .308. Whether you are making a shot at 30 yards or 300, you can do it with this scope mounted to your rifle.

Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 4-16x42 Riflescope

High-quality optics with a higher than average price tag to go with it. While you are paying more for this rifle scope, you are getting a quality product in return.

The use of XD glass in addition to the external coatings provide you with a quality scope that is sure to hold its value and clarity for years to come. If you are looking for a rifle scope to pass down to your kids someday, this is the one.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6 - 18x44mm AO Riflescope

The little brother of the Vortex Optics Diamondback, the Crossfire give you a quality scope at a slightly less than average price. The Crossfire offers up many of the same great features that make the entire line of Vortex optics desireable; the affordable price tag makes good quality optics within anyone's reach. If you are looking to get a great scope for your .308 and not break the bank, this one will provide you with many years of great shooting.

Leupold VX-2 3-9X40Mm Duplex Matte

Leupold has built a reputation for producing quality optics over the years; the VX-2 is no different. This outstanding addition to the Leupold line gives you a plethora of choices when it comes to the reticle that you prefer to shoot with. Whether you are looking to spend time at the range or in the field, the VX-2 will not leave you high and dry when you need it.

While the slightly higher price tag may deter some people, the shooter that knows what they want out of their optics will find that this scope is a great place to invest their money for years of quality shooting.

Bushnell Engage Rifle Scope 3-9x 40mm

A solid contender among affordable rifle scopes. Multiple coatings and Exo Barrier coating makes an excellent option for the budget minded hunter. Regardless of weather conditions, this scope can handle it all. While not as robust as some of the more expensive options, the Bushnell still produces clear sight pictures and reliable performance.

Burris Droptine Riflescope with Ballistic Plex Reticle

With the factory price point being where it is at, it may lead you to think that the Burris Droptine will match up against some of the more reputable brands of scopes, this particular model appears to fall short regarding durability and the consistency at which the zero remains accurate.

Many users reported issues with not only the turrets but the main tube itself. The simplicity and ease of use had many shooters impressed, while an equal number found themselves disappointed over some of the durability issues associated with the scope.

While this is just an observation for this model, some of the higher end Burris scopes fare considerably better when it comes to testing.

What Does It All Mean?

Concerning performance, there are a lot of similarities between different manufacturers regarding performance, but it is in the subtleties where the real leaders differentiate themselves. All of the models tested appeared to have similar quality of site picture and clarity of view in the optics, but it was in price and durability were a few of the more higher performing options stood out.

While this is only a snapshot at a few options out there: as there are certainly plenty out there to choose from, we hope that it will aid you in making an educated decision on what you decide to purchase for your rifle. Everyone has different needs and makes use of their optics in a specific manner.

Whether you choose the Nikon, Burris, Bushnell, or Leupold, you are getting a high-quality optic that is sure to last years. After all, each of these excellent examples would be perfectly at home on your .308 whether you are in the woods or at the range.

Summing it All Up

While there are indeed plenty of options out there to choose from when it comes to what optics you mount on your rifle, selecting the right one is no accident. Invest wisely, and you will see a drastic return in the quality and predictability of the shots that you are sending downrange.

Investment in a good quality scope and quality rounds will go a long way toward giving you the results that you are looking for.  Whether you are a competitive shooter or a casual hunter, noticing the difference that quality optics make it easy.

When it comes to the products available on the marketplace, we hope that this has taken some of the guesswork out of it for you by providing you with some great information and some excellent optics to check out.

Spend some time thinking over your needs, your budget, and the ballistics of not only your rifle but your ammunition as well, and the answer will come to you. Spend some time at the range and get to know your rifle, your particular shooting habits, and some of the scopes that would best fit those needs.

Great optics are out there, find yours and get the return on investment that you are looking for behind the stock of your .308 and perform better at the range or in the field.

PhotoBrandRatingOur ChoiceWhere To Buy
Nikon4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Vortex Optics 4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Vortex Optics 4.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Leupold5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Bushnell3.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
Burris3.5 Star RatingBuy on Amazon
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