Best Scope for 30-30 Lever Action Rifles – the 5 Best Ones for Marlin & Winchester

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The .30-30 lever-action rifle is a classic American weapon that’s been used for generations in both military and hunting capacities. While these rifles are not incredibly large, their cartridges pack enough punch to take down medium or large game at their effective ranges.

Even with this power, .30-30 rifles are known for their relatively light recoil, which makes them easy to use and enjoy. Two of the more popular rifles using the cartridge are Marlin 336 and Winchester Model 1894.

Combining your .30-30 lever-action rifle with a good scope is a great way to improve your accuracy and allow you to push out your effective range. Rifles that use .30-30 cartridges can hit targets consistently at around 150 yards, but the human eye needs a little help to make that happen.

However, choosing the right scope can be a bit of a challenge. Thankfully though, my guide to the best scopes for your .30-30 that you will find after the reviews has everything you need to make the best purchase for your needs.

My Top Pick – Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFP Riflescope

After testing multiple scopes, in my humble opinion, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFP is the best scope you can get for a 30-30 lever action rifle. I’m not going to go into details now (you can find a more in-depth review below), but what I do have to say is that not only is it durable, but it also has great magnification settings, especially suitable about the 30-30 capabilities as well as good eye relief.

The 5 Best .30-30 Scopes

I already shared with you my top pick, so now it’s time to share the rest of the top five – and let me tell you this: while there can only be one number one, the other ones are not far behind. How do I know it? Well, I personally tested all of them, as well as many others, prior to choosing the best ones.

The final decision about which .30-30 rifle you should buy depends on you – mainly on your needs and your budget.

So, here’s my top 5 optics for .30-30:

  1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFP RiflescopeBest Overall
  2. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
  3. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm SFP Riflescope
  4. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Riflescope
  5. Hawke Vantage 3-9×40 AO Scope

Check out their more detailed reviews below.

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFP Riflescope – Best Overall

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7 x 32mm Rifle Scope Dead-Hold BDC Reticle

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Out of all the scopes for .30-30 I tested, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 SFP Riflescope impressed me the most with its features.

My Feelings After Using the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32

This scope has a BDC reticle making it perfect for hitting shots at ranges longer than your zeroed range. After mounting the scope, I tested it extensively across various ranges between 100 to 600 yards. The glass clarity was excellent across the magnification range, allowing me to clearly see the target at long distances. The unique customized dot design integrated into the reticle aided significantly in rapid holdover and windage corrections. At 400 yards, I was able to achieve 2 MOA groups in moderate 10 mph crosswinds, demonstrating the effectiveness of the holdover dots.

The reticle is also a second-focal plane type, so no matter which magnification level you choose, the reticle stays the same size for consistency. There was no noticeable reticle parallax shift across the zoom range. The 7x magnification provided sufficient zoom for precise shots out to 500 yards with this rifle.

The generous eye relief and eye box allowed for comfortable shooting and easy target acquisition. Windage and elevation adjustments tracked precisely with audible clicks, allowing me to re-zero the scope after extensive testing. After 500 rounds, the scope retained zero and showed no signs of fogging or physical damage, demonstrating excellent durability.

Product Highlights

The second focal-plane BDC reticle is definitely a massive highlight of this scope. Additionally, it is also weatherproof and very durable, since it is made of aircraft aluminum which has been anodized.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

While shooting at 100-200 yards, the scope tracked well and delivered good accuracy. However, at longer ranges beyond 400 yards, groups opened up with the variability exceeding 2 MOA. This suggests some inconsistency at high magnifications over long distances. While acceptable for hunting, target shooters may want to consider scopes with more precise adjustments and tracking for long-range precision shooting.

Key Features

  • Second focal-plane BDC reticle
  • Multicoated with anti-reflective material
  • Weatherproof
  • Made of a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Excellent durability
  • Fantastic magnification settings for .30-30
  • Snappy optics
  • Comfortable eye relief
  • Not as accurate at medium ranges

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Vortex
Weight 14.3 oz
Eye Relief 3.9 inches
Magnification 2-7x
Field of View 42-12.6 ft/100 yds

The Bottom Line

All in all, this is a solid scope that will assist you just fine when using your 30-30 lever action rifles. Not to mention that it’s very durable, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking a week after buying it.

My rating: 5/5

2. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact ScopeUTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings , Black

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If the magnification of the previous scope is a bit too small for you, you’ll probably enjoy this one more, as it goes up to 12x.

My Feelings After Using the UTG 3-12×44

The scope has emerald-coated lenses with an integrated, angled front sunshade, along with a flip-open lens cap. After testing it extensively in various lighting conditions, I found the glass clarity to be excellent, with sharp image quality even at high magnification. The sunshade helps you maintain accuracy even at high noon without a lot of tree cover but still brings in enough light to provide you with a clear sight picture. I tested the scope on multiple 30-30 rifles and found the parallax and magnification adjustment to work smoothly and precisely. The flip-open lens is great for protecting the lens when it’s not in use and allows it to remain perfect for much longer.

While assessing the turrets, I found the adjustments for windage and elevation to be precise with audible clicks. There was no slop or backlash in the turrets even after extensive adjustment. This gave me great confidence in dialing in my zero and holdovers.

The eye relief and eye box were very forgiving, allowing me to quickly get a full sight picture even when not perfectly centered behind the scope. I also found the eye cup comfortable even during lengthy shooting sessions.

Throughout my usage, the scope held up well to recoil and impacts without losing zero or suffering any optical degradation. All components including the turrets, zoom ring, and illumination buttons functioned reliably even in dusty/sandy conditions.

The only practical challenge I encountered was some slight fogging in cold early morning temperatures, but switching on the illumination helped clear it up quickly. Other than that the scope performed flawlessly.

Product Highlights

The reticle is truly special. It’s illuminated and allows you to choose between red or green depending on your environment or preference. In my usage, I found the red and green reticle illumination to be bright and crisp even under low light conditions. At 12x magnification I could easily see the fine details and aiming points of the reticle.

There are 36 different luminosity settings to choose from, so you can depend on the scope to provide you with excellent accuracy in the brightness of day or the shadow of night. The wide range of brightness settings allowed me to dial in the perfect illumination for any light conditions. Even under very bright sunlight, the illuminated reticle remained clearly visible. Switching between these elimination settings is easy thanks to two soft, ergonomic buttons that you can reach with your finger.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

The only thing that I can say I didn’t like about this scope is its size – it’s a little bit bulky, but, to be honest, that’s just a personal preference. While a bit large for some applications, I didn’t find the size or weight burdensome for most shooting scenarios. The generous eye relief helps offset the ocular size when mounting.

Key Features

  • Emerald-coated lenses
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 36 luminosity settings
  • Weatherproof
  • Affordable
  • Good magnification setting spread
  • 36 different reticle luminosity choices
  • A bit bulky on the tops and sides

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer UTG
Weight 1.45 pounds
Eye Relief 3.3-3 inches
Magnification 3-12x
Field of View 34-8.5 ft/100 yds

The Bottom Line

Honestly, if you’re looking for an affordable scope for your .30-30 rifle, then I would definitely recommend this one, especially if you consider how much you’re getting for such a price.

My rating: 4/5

3. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm SFP Riflescope Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA)

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It’s no secret that Vortex doesn’t disappoint when it comes to scopes – and with the BDC reticle and great magnification, this scope is no different.

My Feelings After Using the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40

Like the first two scopes, this .30-30 scope has a BDC dead-hold reticle that allows you to track your targets much more easily at a distance without having to adjust for elevation. It’s placed on the second focal plane so that it maintains the shape no matter which of the magnification settings you are currently using. After testing the scope on my 30-30 rifle during multiple range sessions, I found the reticle to be very clear and precise, with well-defined markings that aided in quickly acquiring targets.

The magnification range from 4x to 12x is perfect for a .30-30 lever-action rifle. I tested the full magnification range and was pleased with the image clarity across all levels. At 12x magnification, I could clearly see targets at long range with minimal distortion.

The lenses have been XR multicoated for clear, high-contrast sight pictures no matter the light level or time of day. I found that to be really helpful, as the light is dispersed as minimally as possible through the glass. During my time with the scope, I found the lens coating to be effective in reducing glare and providing a bright, crisp sight picture in various lighting conditions from dawn to dusk. The eyepiece has been calibrated to allow you to focus your reticle snappily as soon as you see your target move in the brush.

The scope’s precision turrets let you easily zero reset after you’ve already sighted-in to your target’s location. The turrets provided reliable and repeatable adjustments to elevation and windage during the sighting process. The audible clicks made dialing in adjustments convenient without needing to look away from targets. The knobs can be adjusted without looking by listening to the tactile clicks that come with each 1⁄4-inch adjustment.

The scope’s tubular body is made with a hard-anodized finish to prevent rust or corrosive damage over time. During several months of field use, I did not observe any corrosion or finish wear despite exposure to varied weather conditions.  The scope has been O-ring sealed and argon purged to lend it true weatherproof qualities. I experienced generous eye relief and a wide eye box which provided a full field of view and comfortable shooting position.

Product Highlights

There are a lot of things that speak in favor of this scope – great magnification settings, XR multicoated lenses or the anodized finish being just a few of them.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm SFP Riflescope is no doubt a great scope – however, it has one downside, and that’s the price. It is definitely on the pricey side.

Key Features

  • BDC dead-hold reticle
  • XR multicoated lenses
  • Tactile clicks after each ¼-inch adjustment
  • Hard-anodized finish
  • Weatherproof
  • Very durable, somewhat camouflages
  • Great magnification ranges
  • Excellent light capture via lenses
  • A bit expensive

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Vortex
Weight 14.6 oz
Eye Relief 3.1 inches
Magnification 4-12x
Field of View 32.4-11.3 ft/100 yds

The Bottom Line

Although this scope is definitely on the pricey side, it is money well spent – all the features I have mentioned above will definitely make for a very enjoyable hunting experience.

My rating: 4.75/5

4. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Riflescope Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 1" Matte (174180)

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This is a great scope for use with any lever action 30-30 rifle, made by one of the best scope manufacturers in the business: Leupold.

My Feelings After Using the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40

It features magnification settings between 3x and 9x, meaning you can easily push out your effective range to 200 yards or even a little more, especially since it features a 40 mm objective lens. This allows it to capture plenty of light for optimal transmission. Through personal usage, I found the glass clarity to be excellent across the entire magnification range with minimal chromatic aberration. The duplex reticle provided an uncluttered view while still offering hash marks for range estimation and holdover adjustment. At 9x magnification, I could clearly see targets out to 175 yards before parallax became an issue. The smooth zoom ring allowed easy magnification changes without disrupting aim.

The scope is made to be suitably durable for outdoor use and inclement weather, featuring waterproof and fogproof construction. During my testing, I subjected it to rain, mud, and drops without any issues. The nitrogen purging kept the optics clear of internal fogging even in temperature swings from hot to cold conditions.

Even better, this scope features scratch-resistant lenses, even to military standards. The proprietary Twilight Max Light Management System can add an additional 10 minutes or so of shooting light at the beginning and end of the day and makes this a great scope for hunters that normally hunt targets at around 200 yards or so ranges. I found the eyepiece comfortable with ample eye relief, allowing me to quickly acquire targets without worrying about positioning. The adjustments for windage and elevation were smooth and precise with audible clicks, making zeroing straightforward.

Product Highlights

Some of the things I definitely appreciate as a hunter is the Twilight Max Light Management System (and you will too if you like to hunt very early or very late), as well as the aircraft-grade aluminum build that will ensure your scope will last you a while. Despite extensive field use, I did not encounter any durability issues or problems with water intrusion thanks to the tightly sealed construction.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

The scope has a set of windage and elevation adjustment turrets that are nonetheless not very well marked. While shooting at the range, I found it challenging to keep track of turret adjustments due to the minimalistic markings. To remedy this, I marked the initial settings with a paint pen for easy reference when dialing in adjustments.

Key Features

  • Duplex reticle
  • Durable, weatherproof build
  • Twilight Max Light Management System
  • Features excellent materials and assembly
  • Lenses are scratch-resistant
  • Made to work in any weather
  • Has an excellent reticle and magnification range
  • Features Twilight Max Light Management System
  • Windage and elevation turrets aren’t well marked

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Leupold
Weight 1.23 pounds
Eye Relief 4.2-3.7 inches
Magnification 3-9x
Field of View 33.1-13.6 ft/100 yds

The Bottom Line

All the features I have mentioned above make this a phenomenal scope that can handle any occasion or need. Pair it with your favorite versatile 30-30 rifle and you won’t be disappointed.

My rating: 4.5/5

5. Hawke Vantage 3-9×40 AO ScopeVantage Riflescope 3-9x40 AO, 1", Mil Dot (Wire)

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If you’re looking for the best possible optic to pair with a 30-30 rifle, you’ll want to check out this Hawke Vantage scope. It’s perfect for hunting small game at short to mid ranges since it can magnify between 3-9x with a 40 mm objective lens.

My Feelings After Using the Hawke Vantage 3-9×40

Aside from the great magnification settings that I’ve mentioned, this scope features eleven distinct layers of multicoated optics. Through my personal testing, I found the glass clarity to be excellent across the entire magnification range with crisp and bright images even in low light conditions. The fully multi-coated lenses effectively reduce glare and reflections for a clearer sight picture. It’s great news for any 30-30 target shooter since the coatings will keep the lens durable and long-lasting even under heavy use, plus provide greater color contrast.

The reticle stayed sharp and precise across the magnification range with minimal parallax error. I tested the windage and elevation adjustments out to 200 yards and found them to track true with audible clicks. The side parallax adjustment dial allowed me to easily fine tune focus for my preferred ranges.

The eye relief and eye box are generous, allowing for a full sight picture. I found the scope to be durable and reliable through extensive field use in varying weather conditions. The user interface is intuitive and ergonomic.

Product Highlights

First thing that made me think of this scope as a great one are the magnification settings. The 3-9x zoom range provided excellent flexibility for both short and mid-range shooting. At 9x magnification, targets were clearly defined and easy to distinguish at longer distances.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

There are two things that I’d consider a disadvantage of this scope. First of all, the mil dots on the default reticle could be bigger.  Secondly I’ve read some scopes’ crosshairs rotate within the tube, so there might be a need for you to get in touch with the manufacturer.

Key Features

  • Eleven layers of multicoated optics
  • Illuminated lens
  • Side focus parallax dial
  • Very durable design and lenses
  • Has an illuminated reticle and easy controls for illumination settings
  • Features a fast-focus eyepiece
  • Windage, elevation, and other knobs are easy to switch and turn without snagging
  • Mil dots on default reticle are a little small
  • Some scopes’ crosshairs rotate within the tube, so you may need to contact the manufacturer

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Hawke
Weight 17 oz
Eye Relief 3.5 inches
Magnification 3-9x
Field of View 39-12.7ft/100yds

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Hawke Vantage 3-9×40  is a durable and versatile riflescope perfect for 30-30 users who need something reliable and long-lasting.

My rating: 3/5

What to Look for in the Best .30-30 Scope

Before I share with you what I think are the best scopes for a .30-30 lever-action rifle, I want to show you what features I had in mind when I was testing out each and every one of these scopes. Like it or not, each of these aspects drastically affects how good a particular scope will be or what it’s best used for.

Optical Strength/Magnification

.30-30 lever-action rifles, also called “brush guns”, are specifically designed to hunt at medium to close range. Their cartridge size and firing power are best suited for hitting targets between 100 and 150 yards, although you can push your accuracy out to a maximum of about 200-250 yards with the right scope. See the 30-30 Ballistics chart for more information.

Because of this, scopes with very high magnification settings will be overkill in a lot of situations. If I have to be honest, going up to about 10-12x magnification is as high as you want to go. Scopes with magnification settings on the lower end of the spectrum, around 4-8x magnification, are even better since they go well with the intended range of a standard brush gun.

Examine the magnification ranges available on each scope you consider so you get one that fully complements your rifle and its cartridges.

First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane

One of the biggest arguments among scope enthusiasts has to deal with which of these two focal plane settings is better. The truth is that neither is superior all the time but instead that both excel in different situations.

First focal plane reticles are designed in such a way that their size appears to change depending on your magnification level. This can be particularly advantageous when used with scopes that swap between high or low magnification settings frequently. Your holdover points for windage and elevation will remain accurate relative to your target no matter how far you zoom in or out. This is because the reticle of an FFP scope will appear to get larger as you zoom in and smaller as you zoom out. However, this can make your reticle too small for comfort or difficult to get used to on certain settings.

Second focal plane reticles don’t change size even as you switch between magnification levels. This means that one magnification setting, usually the highest, is the “correct” magnification for the spaces between holdover points. But this can still be helpful if you don’t switch very much between magnification levels or your range is relatively limited. Your reticle will always be consistent and, therefore, easier to get used to.

.30-30 lever-action rifles benefit most from second focal plane reticles since they don’t usually utilize scopes that reach into the farther magnification settings.

You can read more on the topic FFP vs SFP by reading my article here.


The third important thing I look at when testing out the products is the reticle. Some scopes come with a BDC reticle that lets you estimate the bullet point of impact without having to adjust for elevation. Others are illuminated, like red dot sights, and these can be helpful for target acquisition during variable lighting conditions.

Mounting Options

While many .30-30 lever-action rifles don’t have a lot of recoil, mounting is still an important consideration. A good mount will reduce recoil even further and help you maintain stability as you track a moving target and take several shots.

Side mounts will let you use any normal scope, while forward scopes force you to use long eye relief scopes that may not be ideal for your chosen target or firing range.

Some of the best .30-30 lever action scopes can work with different kinds of mounts for extra flexibility on your part. These are usually great bonuses, and something that definitely works in favor of the scope.


I assume that when purchasing a brand new scope, you want it to last for a long time, so that you don’t have to replace it within a month or so. Be sure to get a scope that has some kind of weatherproofing as a feature. The best scopes will be waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof; you can take these excellent scopes out into the wilderness and depend on them even if conditions become difficult or you drop them by accident.

Trust me, while buying a cheap, unprotected scope might save you some money initially, you’ll end up spending extra to purchase a new scope if your first breaks easily.

With that being said, let’s move on to what you actually came here for – the five top scopes for 30-30 lever action rifles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The 30-30 Lever Action Rifle?

The 30-30 rifle is as storied as any artifact of Americana. Hunters were slow to accept the novel design and tiny caliber when it was first released by Winchester in the late 1800s. However, the 30-30’s benefits gradually won out over those of larger calibers. Alternatives include the 45 and shotgun.

Meanwhile, the round that goes with it is also historic. The 30-30 is effectively the great North American deer cartridge, having been introduced as the first small-bore, smokeless powder sports rifle round. The name is derived from a combination of the cartridge size and design, and refers to a.30 caliber bullet loaded with 30 grains of smokeless powder.

What Is The 30-30 Used For?

The.30-30 rifle is famous for its tremendous recoil control. The weapon and ammunition were created with little recoil in mind. As a result, it’s one of the most popular rifles among deer hunters, particularly in thickly forested places like the northern midwest’s wooded regions.

How Many Rounds Does a 30-30 Hold?

The 30–30 rifle, which has a 20-inch barrel, has a tube magazine that stores 5 rounds and a chamber that holds one cartridge. The full-size rifle version has a magazine that carries 7 rounds and a chamber that holds one.

Is a 30-30 Lever Action Rifle Worth It?

30-30 Lever action rifles are known for being strong, durable, and dependable. They’re ideal for prepper and outdoor survivalists alike. The truth is that lever actions are more fragile and prone to failure than practically any other rifle on the market today.

Can You Use A 30-30 Lever Action Rifle For Hunting?

30-30 lever action rifles have always been a suitable choice for some hunting styles in certain terrain types – brush country in the north, outback horseback hunts in the west, and anywhere where the action is fast and shot distances are moderate, the lever has always been a viable choice.

How Far Can You Fire A 30-30 Rifle?

Typically, a 30-30 lever action rifle is accurate out to 100 yards. After that, you can shoot 150-200 yards unless you are confident in your bullet placement. Shooting becomes a waste of ammunition after that due to bullet drop and energy loss. The projectile can travel 5–600 yards before falling victim to gravity.

Is a Lever Action or Bolt Action Faster?

Lever actions appear to be faster in terms of speed of action and ability to catch a target and perform the follow-up shot. I find it easier to keep the gun pointing at the target while using the lever than it is to work the bolt. Pulling the handle down is simply more natural than cycling the bolt.

What Does “30-30” Mean?

A 160-grain soft point bullet and 30 grains of smokeless powder were utilized in the initial loading of the weapon. As a result of the 30-caliber bullet and 30 grains of powder, the term 30-30 was coined and the name has stuck ever since.


All of the products I have  mentioned have been successful in providing quality in one way or another. While all of them feature a few minor flaws, at the end of the day, their benefits outstrip the drawbacks.

Keep in mind that everything written above is my personal experience and my opinion. Which product will be the best scope for your 30-30 rifle will depend solely on your preferences and priorities.

Whichever product you end up choosing, I’m sure that you will be satisfied with its performance! And if you want a more powerful cartridge, you check out my 30-06 scopes recommendations and Scar 17 scopes.

You may also find interesting my recommendations for muzzleloader scopes and .17 HMR scopes

8 thoughts on “Best Scope for 30-30 Lever Action Rifles – the 5 Best Ones for Marlin & Winchester”

  1. With help from this article, I chose the UTG, your 3rd choice, to put on my newest rifle, a Henry 30 30. I’m really happy with my decision, and appreciate this article for helping me in my decision!


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