There’s more to your grandpa’s old hunting rifle than you think. Hunters around the world from Africa to Europe sing of its praises. It’s the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge and it’s made right here in the USA.
For over 70 years, Winchester continues to proudly deliver the power of the battlefield to your hands. The same rifle that won WWI battles now brings dinner to your table and wins bets at the shooting range.
Civilians, military, police, and even NATO all love the .308 because:
- It’s effective within its parameters
- Aerodynamic shooting
- Economic powder consumption
- Utilizes all but the heaviest .308” bullets
- Hefty, comfortable weight
- Multi-use capabilities in several settings
Over time it has evolved into models with lighter recoil and improved downrange energy, making it applicable to metallic silhouette shooting. There’s absolutely nothing it can’t do and is all around is a machine that gets the job done.
It’s the rifle that every other rifle strives to be. In fact, it has been the inspiration for other popular hunting rifles. Although they are great in their own right, they aren’t even close to the same level.
Let’s look closer at what it can really do in a pair of trained and willing hands.
Going the Distance: Maximize your Shooting Range
Out-of-the-box, a .308 Winchester can shoot accurately up to 200 yards with less than 1 MOA. (Source: sierabullets.com)
After 200 yards, bullet drop increases and velocity decreases quickly. Many .308 users try to push the limitations of its range, expecting more than it can deliver alone. If you want to make that a reality, a .308 scope is a necessity in order to raise the bar. The .308 can shoot up to 800 yards and even further with the right scope and enough training and practice.
A Quick Guide to Distance: How Far will Your Bullet Go?
For an out-of-the-box 308 with a 28-in barrel, keep these rough measurements in mind:
- Long Range: 350 yards and above
- Medium Range: 150 – 349 yards
- Close Range: Under 150 yards
When you hunt or go to target practice, how far away are your targets? Are you an up close and personal shot or do you get a thrill from stalking at long-distance? Since it will make a difference in the type of scope that you buy, you should pay attention to magnification.
Having the best scope for 308 rifles with the appropriate power will make all the difference.
What magnification do you need?
The .308 is a powerhouse that shoots farther than many other rifles can even think about shooting. However, just because you have a .308 doesn’t mean that you are required to do long-distance shooting.
If you do, longer shots will require higher magnification. What is magnification and what does it mean? Check out our quick guide here to understand how lens measurements and magnifications work.
Which one of these works best for your normal situation?
- Long Range (350 yards and above)
This is where you’ll really put the power of your rifle to the test. When you want to push far, far beyond these 350 yards, you’ll need .308 optics to get you there. If you’re ready to go for the long haul, we suggest 10x magnification and above. The smaller the target, the more magnification you will need.
- Medium Range (150 – 350 yards)
Since the .308 rifle is made to take down medium-to-large size game, this is your ideal distance. Why? Shooting from too far away can result in painful injury to the animal instead of a quick, clean kill. Also, a stressful death will only taint the flavor of the meat, negating your efforts. If you want to retain your position as an ethical hunter, you’ll want between 6 – 9x magnifications.
- Close Range (Up to 150 yards)
Higher magnification at close range will only blur your vision. If you want an accurate shot under 150 yards, you’ll use a lower magnification. We suggest 1 – 6x power.
The best scope for 308 rifles will always be one that compliments your shooting style. If you’re proud of your long-range skills, show them off with a scope that has high magnification. Otherwise, you might want to invest in a wide variable range to quickly adjust up and down.
Either way, your scope should match your personality. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The 5 Best Scopes for 308
Do you want to prove the .308 naysayers wrong? Pick up the best scope for .308 rifles and you’re nearly guaranteed to do so.
Fortunately, it won’t require feeling out of place in tight-knit forums and performing an exhaustive reading. We’ve done it all for you already!
Here is a sneak peek of your future in the field:
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50mm AO Riflescope
- Athlon Optics, Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24x50mm
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm SFP
- Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
- UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
As you can already see, we’ve chosen from the brands you love and trust. All of the scopes also fit the .308 specifications perfectly. You won’t find anything more reliable and affordable for your favorite hunting rifle.
Finding Your Next Scope
Read on to find out why we think these 5 scopes are the best for the .308.
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50mm
When loyal Vortex fans compare this budget scope to its $1000 counterpart, you know you’re getting the best quality. With a magnification range maxing out at 24x power, you can shoot well up to 1000 yard or more. Several factors make it an ideal medium to long-range scope for hunting or tactical shooting for your .308.
Anti-reflective coatings on its glass surfaces increase light transmission to near perfect. Glare is minimal in harsh sun and you can still see clearly in low light environments. It offers an above-average eye relief of 4 inches and a fast-focus eyepiece to keep you moving. For even greater agility in the field, the resettable MOA turrets have your back in high-intensity situations.
Dead-Hold BDC Reticle
The infamous Dead-Hold reticle takes the guesswork away from hold-over and windage. In this particular scope, it’s dead-on accurate up to 18x magnification. It uses the second focal plane design that maintains an ideal size through each adjustment. That means all you have to do is line up your shot and pull. It’s even easier with Vortex’s Long Range Ballistics Calculator (LRBC) which allows you to custom match yardage to drop hash marks.
The Bottom Line
If close range isn’t your scene, this is a great choice in our opinion. You will be hard-pressed to find a better scope for .308 at that price. It’s as close as you can get to a tournament-quality scope without paying tournament-quality money. Although we tried to find some negative aspects for a fair review, this scope just brings nothing but good news!
2. Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope 6-24×50 Gen 2
From the maker of affordable yet high-quality binoculars and riflescopes, we have the Argos BTR 6-24 x 50 scope. If you’re looking for a long-range riflescope, the Argos BTR must be on your shopping list. What makes this riflescope stand out is the excellent optics, which comes at a very affordable price! The Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lens produces crisp and clear images even under dimly lit or foggy conditions.
When it comes to the build quality, this riflescope passes the test with flying colors. It’s crafted out of 6061T6 aircraft grade aluminum. And that makes it one of the most durable scopes for the price.
But great build quality and durability don’t define a great riflescope. So, how good is the accuracy over long distances? Well, when you pair up the excellent optics with the 6x to 24x zoom, you have a deadly accurate long-range scope. You can even manage 1000-yard shots reliably with the Argos BTR.
However, not everything is sunshine and rainbows with this product. One of the biggest drawbacks is the relatively shorter eye relief of 3.3 inches.
This is surely one of the most underrated features of the Argos BTR. The illuminated reticle makes it so much easier to take accurate shots in dimly lit situations. And when you couple that with the crisp and clear optics, this riflescope performs admirably under dark conditions.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for an affordable long-range riflescope, which does everything almost as good as the more premium competitors, then the Argos BTR should surely be on your radar. Just don’t expect it to outperform the high-end scopes costing 4 figures.
You might also read our full Athlon scopes review.
3. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40mm SFP
This Vortex riflescope can switch between 4x and 12x zoom levels. The scope has a 40 mm objective lens that’s wide enough to give you a good field of view no matter which magnification power you’re currently on. It’s not big enough to ruin the balance of your rifle, too, or require extra mounting options due to size.
In fact, switching between magnification settings is easier than ever, thanks to the precision glide erector system. This system helps ensure that every time you switch magnification powers is smooth and perfect without jamming.
As you can tell from the name, this Vortex scope has a reticle located on the second focal plane. It’s a dead-hold BDC variety. This means that the reticle comes equipped with hash marks under its vertical line. You can use these hash marks to estimate your bullet drop across distances. This effectively helps you be more accurate at long ranges, even with elevation differences between you and your target.
Estimating windage holdover is also a breeze since there are hash marks on the horizontal plane, as well. Since this is a second focal plane reticle, it won’t change sizes no matter which magnification setting you decide on.
The lenses are fully multicoated to give you bright sight pictures and high color contrast images, even in low-light conditions. The scope is also equipped with a fast-focus eyepiece that helps you focus on the reticle quickly.
The scope makes use of precision adjustment turrets. These turrets are made of metal for extra durability and consistency. As far as durability goes, the scope is made of a single piece of aluminum and has a hard-anodized finish. This anodized finish prevents the scope from glaring in sunlight, possibly preserving your hidden location during a hunt. It also resists rust damage over time.
The Bottom Line
This scope is excellent for making snappy shots at all sorts of ranges. Switching between zoom levels is quick, and you can make use of the fast-focus eyepiece to land shots at a moment’s notice.
4. NIGHTFORCE SHV 5-20x56mm Zeroset .250 MOA Scope MOAR/Forceplex Reticle
NightForce offers this pricy but powerful riflescope for .308 rifle users. The SHV Riflescope can magnify between 5 and 20x and is bolstered by a large, 56 mm objective lens. The size of the objective lens allows the scope to capture plenty of shooting light and help you hit distances well out to 1000 yards or even further depending on the rest of your setup and your experience.
The scope is also designed for long-distance accuracy because of its elevation modifications. It can adjust up to 80 MOA and features both a side parallax adjustment turret and a pair of windage and elevation adjustment turrets. All of these features work very well with the various reticles you can choose, which range from non-illuminated MOAR reticles to center illuminated reticles depending on your preferences. Illuminated reticles may be better for shooting in high light or low light environments.
Regardless of the exact model you choose, you’ll benefit from excellent lens quality. The scope’s lenses are created with multiple coatings to boost light transmission and reduce scratch or debris damage over time. You can further keep the scope in high-quality condition thanks to the included rubber lens covers and cleaning cloth that come with the purchase.
Top Tier Windage and Elevation Turrets
The SHV Scope is equipped with zero resettable windage and elevation turrets that feature clear markings, as well as tactile and audible feedback with each movement you make. The resulting turrets are easy to adjust even if you are looking through your scope while you move them around. Since you can lock them in the place, this lowers the likelihood of you accidentally bumping the turrets and throwing off your shot.
The Bottom Line
In the end, the SHV Riflescope is an expensive but ultimately worthwhile optic for long-range hunters and fans of .308 rifles. After getting used to its bulk, you’ll likely find it to be an invaluable tool for improving your accuracy at long distances. The fact that you can choose the ideal reticle for your needs or preferences is icing on the cake.
5. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
One great scope for combining with .308 Winchester rifles is UTG’s compact model, which is set to offer magnification settings between 3-12x. This makes it a perfect compact scope choice for the maximum end of the Winchester’s range, which hovers at about 200 to 250 yards.
The scope also comes with a 44 mm objective lens despite its small size. So it’ll collect plenty of light and provide good resolution in detail when you sight in through the optic. Even better, it comes with multicoated emerald lenses, which provide better glass durability and even more vibrant colors.
The scope overall is quite durable, having been made with a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. It’s also designed for weatherproof functionality, as it’s O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged.
Want to really try to hit long-distance shots with your rifle? You can do that by compensating for windage and elevation with this optic’s premium zero-locking and resetting adjustment turrets. The turrets can’t easily be bumped by accident and can quickly be reset to zero for fast changes. The scope also comes with a lifetime warranty for even greater value for money.
The illuminated reticle deserves special mention, as it can swap between 36 different colors. The colors are controlled via a dedicated side dial, so it’s easy to adjust your reticle color and brightness for shooting either during the bright light of high noon or the darkness of night.
The optic is designed with a special housing and dedicated circuitry so the illuminated reticle never stops functioning, even if you decide to pair this compact optic with a high recoil rifle. To protect the lens, the optic comes with an integrated angled front sunshade and flip-open lens caps.
The Bottom Line
All in all, UTG’s compact scope is a quality optic for .308 Winchester rifles due to its durability, excellent versatility, and top-tier illuminated reticle. Hunters of all stripes will find a lot to like with this scope.
Concluding our Best .308 scope Guide
You’re going to see a lot of scopes touting their bells and whistles. When it comes down to it, there’s no quirky feature or hyped up promise that can beat rugged reliability. There’s a reason these trusted brands have survived decades of business.
They know what you want, what you need, and work tirelessly to bring it to you. These scopes we chose to review are all a result of continuous efforts in design, research, and testing. Unlike others that fail to meet basic standards, they are truly a treasure to have in your stash.
If you don’t believe us, try one out for yourself. Any dedicated hunter or shooter will recognize the improvement from their old scope. After your first round of target practice, you’ll never look at your .308 the same way again.
If you looking for something more powerful, you can change our best scope for 30-06 guide. The .223 is also a nice caliber to be considered for medium ranges. For night shooting, check our night vision scopes reviews.