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.
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 4 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:
- Nikon P-308 4-12x40mm Riflescope
- Leupold VX2 3-9x40mm Compact Water/Fogproof Riflescope
- Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Riflescope w/ BDC 800 Reticle
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50mm AO Riflescope
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 4 scopes are the best for the .308.
1. Nikon P-308 4-12x40mm Riflescope
Shouldn’t the best .308 scope be made specifically for that particular cartridge? The design on this 800 BDC reticle is made for a .308 Win round with 168-grain HPBT match bullet.
Within an aerospace-grade aluminum alloy scope lies the waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof interior. Inside is a multi-coated optical system with layers of reflective compounds on each glass giving a clear, bright view.
In front of the ocular lens, the zoom and focus rings have a course rubber cover. Even with thick gloves, you won’t have to deal with the guesswork of adjustment. Although the focus ring does is unspecified, it has a very ample diopter adjustment.
Speaking of adjustments, forget about parallax and say hello to another Nikon innovation.
Instant Zero-Reset Turrets
Although it doesn’t have parallax adjustment, the Instant Zero-Reset Turrets greatly compensate. These spring-loaded turrets have easy-to-grip course knurling to make your in-field easier. All you have to do is sight in, lift the knob, rotate to your zero, and re-engage. You couldn’t ask for anything easier.
The Bottom Line
This is a quality scope from a quality company for a reasonable price. After loads of research, we can’t come up with one negative aspect to tell you about. Download Nikon’s SpotOn smartphone app and try this scope today for mid-range shooting. You won’t regret putting this scope on your .308 rifle.
2. Leupold VX2 3-9x40mm Compact Riflescope
A lot of ingenuity can come from a family-owned company within 4 generations and the VX2 is its shining example. It cuts right down the middle to bring a budget scope with all the right features for close-range shooting.
Custom Dial System (CDS) elevation dials adjust elevation quickly to different sights with a custom adjustment to match your ballistics. This is a Leupold-specific feature that makes their water/fog proof, scope a true winner.
It’s parallax free to 150 yards and uses an LR Duplex reticle. It contains outer posts that stretch to half the radius with a shorter lower vertical post. Additionally, exterior lenses won’t ever suffer from scratches and abrasions with Leupold’s DiamondCoat lens technology. When you start wearing down at the end of the day, these lenses can handle the rough use.
What else could possibly make this the best Leupold scope for .308 rifles?
Leupold’s Index Matched Lens System
98% light transmission excels above the average view. We know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s possible to have that great view without washing out in harsh sunlight. How do they accomplish this?
The Leupold Index Matched Lens system hits several points in the range of colors visible to the human eye. A crisp image is made by the light that doesn’t reflect off lens surfaces. On the other hand, transmitted light will not cause glare by bouncing inside the scope. Of all the glass types, Leupold chose the exact right coating to bring you the best.
The Bottom Line
Become a part of the Leupold family with this excellent scope. All of their best technology comes right from their own hearts and minds. They give you everything you could want in the field without gouging your wallet. You won’t find anything else as reliable as this scope for your close-range shots.
3. Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm BDC 800 Reticle
Here we have the cousin of our Nikon P-308. Although they share a lot in common, there are distinct differences to consider before you choose a side.
It’s slightly heavier than the P-308, but also offers more eye relief measuring at 4 inches. Also, while the P-308 has no parallax setting, this one does.
The objective lens on this model is 2mm larger and offers extra magnification, maxing out at 16x power. Although 2mm is small measurement on paper, it really adds up to a noticeably better field of view (FOV). With this scope, you have an astounding 25 feet at 100 yards, whereas the other only offers 20 feet. That could be the one difference that makes or breaks your day in the field.
However, the extra FOV isn’t the only difference in your overall view.
It is also unique in that it uses a Nikoplex reticle while the other uses a regular BDC. What’s the difference? There is an elevation cap marked in yards and has an overall clean appearance. Rather than cluttering your view with hashes and dots, you’ll have a clear view undisturbed by fine crosshairs. It doesn’t sound like much, but for many avid users, the Nikoplex reticle makes this scope worth the extra money.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, this scope is just different enough from the P-308 to make a bigger price tag. Either way, you can rest assured that this one is made just for the .308 rifle like its P-model cousin. We believe that a serious tactical shooter or hunter will see huge results dropping the extra dough on this one. This is the best Nikon scope for long range shooting with the .308.
This scope would also be an excellent choice for an M1A.
4. 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.
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 Ballistic 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 your best choice in our opinion. Nothing can beat its high 24x magnification and large objection lens, especially for the reasonable 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!
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.