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Finding the best scope for a certain cartridge is always tricky because it depends on a lot of factors: whether you’re hunting or target shooting, how far out your targets are, and what your budget for a scope is. There are so many different use cases and scope options that narrowing it down can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together these reviews of the best scopes for .308.
We have selected a “best overall” but unlike most of our lists we’ve also awarded each scope a “best for something” designation to give you a quick way to look through our recommendations and find the one that fits what you’re looking for. We’re keeping things in a sub-$500 price range, so even though there are many more premium options, we’re keeping those off of this list.
|Best Scope for 308 Bolt Action Rifle||UTG 3-12X44 30mm Scope||
|Best Value||CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope||
|Best LPVO For .308||Monstrum G2 FFP Rifle Scope||
|Best for Multi-Use||BARSKA Varmint Mil-Dot Riflescope||
|Best For Long Distance||Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope||
There are a few things that make this UTG scope the best scope for .308 overall. First, it’s got the right magnification range from 3x–12x. This can take you reasonably well out to 600 yards and still open up wide enough to use at close range. The UTG also has good image clarity, light transmission, and it’s built on UTG’s True Strength Platform which keeps the fragile glass elements safe even during heavy recoil.
Its O-ring is sealed to be rainproof, nitrogen-purged to be fog-proof, and built to be shockproof. The mil-dot reticle is basic but serviceable. It’s got a second focal plane, which means if you want to adjust for bullet drop using the reticle, you’ll either need to be at 12x or learn what distances the dots cover at different magnifications for your cartridge.
It comes with parallax adjustment and reticle illumination in 36 different colors, which makes it ready for just about any hunting or target shooting scenario you may come up against.
This is a good long-range option with a magnification range of 6x–24x, which should be powerful enough to take it out as far as 1000 yards. It’s a popular scope that comes with reticle illumination and an adjustable objective for parallax. This scope is designed with a long range in mind. The adjustment clicks on the windage and elevation turrets are ⅛ MOA, which is even more precise than the ¼ MOA that most scopes have.
The 50 mm objective lens diameter lets in plenty of light and keeps the exit pupil as large as possible throughout the range. The reticle has a rangefinder that can help you estimate distance and holdovers at long ranges. The reticle has a second focal plane, so you’ll have to be all the way to 24x to take full advantage of it.
The rings that come with the scope are designed to allow you to keep your iron sights as a backup, but the objective is so big that it still blocks your vision anyway, so it’s recommended to purchase rings separately for the 1-inch tube. We believe this is the best scope for 308 bolt action rifles for the money available this year.
The Monstrum isn’t the cheapest on this list, but it’s not the most expensive either. The G2 is a 1-4×24 First Focal Plane scope. Yes, you read that correctly; it’s a first focal plane with 1x– 4x magnification at a low price point. Confused? It actually comes together really well. The BDC reticle comes in either MOA or mil-dot, so it’s not calibrated specifically for .308, but it’s also still functional for different loads.
So why the first focal plane? Monstrum most likely had 3-gun competitions in mind when they designed this scope because some divisions don’t allow magnification on the rifle portion, so having a scope that has an accurate BDC at 1x can be handy, but at the same time, you still want it to be accurate at 4x. This scope even has parallax adjustment via an adjustable objective and zero-resettable turrets.
If you’re wanting to take advantage of the roughly 800-yard effective range of the .308 Winchester, the Monstrum probably won’t do it for you, but if you’re sticking to 200 yards and below, it’s remarkably flexible.
The Barska has a 4x– 16x magnification, which puts it right in the range of a work-horse, particularly for hunting predators or pest control around the farm. You won’t always be using a .308 for that, so the Barska is also designed to handle the reverse recoil that comes from airguns, which are commonly used for those types of situations.
You probably won’t be switching which rifle the scope is on very often since you have to re-zero every time, but it can live on your .308 for a while and do a great job, then transfer over to your air rifle for as long as you want. The Barska does come in different flavors with different magnification ranges and reticle options, and they are all remarkably affordable.
The reticle is basic, does not have illumination, and is on the second focal plane, but you can adjust for parallax and the windage and elevation turrets are high profile, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on your situation.
The Argos BTR has the same magnification range as the CVLife at 6x– 24x, but it has a number of things that the CVLife does not. Most importantly it’s first focal plane, which means you can use the APMR MIL reticle effectively anywhere between 6x– 24x. This makes the scope a lot more versatile for precision shooting at distances closer than around 800 yards.
Once you learn to use it, the APMR MIL reticle is also more effective at helping you estimate holdovers and wind holds. The BTR is also argon-purged instead of nitrogen purged for even better waterproofing and fogproofing. The scope is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and the lenses are fully multi-coated. It’s more expensive than the CVLife, but still much more affordable than many of the premium brands.
You get a side focus knob for adjusting parallax and an illuminated reticle. It will work great for hunting, but most of its features are designed for long-range precision shooting.
The Leupold VX-3i does a lot of things right and is a great scope overall, but where it absolutely takes the cake is image quality. If brightness, sharpness, clarity, and vibrant colors are the most important to you, then the Leupold should be at the top of your list. That said, it lacks a lot of the nice features that increase the usability of a scope and puts a lot more of the burden on the shooter’s shoulders.
You don’t get a first focal plane or any useful information on the bare-bones duplex reticle, you don’t get parallax adjustment, and you don’t get an illuminated reticle. Granted, since the reticle is just a duplex, there is no functional difference between a first and second focal plane. Leupold has hunters more in mind here than LRP shooters.
What you do get is Leupold’s incredible light transmission and overall image quality, along with their ZeroLock CDS-ZL turrets. These are custom dials that don’t adjust a standard amount; they are calibrated to the exact load you’ll be shooting with. This makes adjustments on-the-fly much faster and more accurate.
The Simmons Whitetail line is known for doing everything, but only decently. They don’t have a lot of features; no reticle illumination, no parallax adjustment, and no BDC or rangefinder on the reticle. That said, they have good image clarity for the price point, and in that regard, you could consider them a budget Leupold. For scopes that are less than $100, it’s hard to beat the light transmission and clarity of the Simmons.
You can get different versions of the Simmons all the way from 1x–4x to 6x–24x. Our recommendation is for the 2x–7x, since it gives you enough magnification to get to some longer distance, but not so far that you start to experience a massive dip in the image brightness.
The reticle is a basic duplex, with thicker lines until it gets closer to center, at which point they quickly taper to thinner lines to make aiming easier.
Scout rifles are light, powerful, and versatile. They’re designed to be slung over a shoulder or mounted on a truck or 4-wheeler and taken out as one of the tools you use on a daily basis. The design of scout rifles also requires that the scope be forward-mounted, which means you need much longer eye relief for the scope to be functional.
This is the vision behind this Burris scope. Eye relief is between 9.2–12 inches depending on the magnification. You can shoot with both eyes open, and the low-profile turrets are great for stopping the scope from catching on things. This scope is light and short, so it doesn’t add much to the weight of the rifle, and the 2x–7x magnification gives all the flexibility that you may want out of your scout rifle.
If you don’t have and aren’t getting a scout rifle, then this scope is not something you should consider, as the eye relief will be far too long to shoot comfortably on a standard rifle.
The TRUGLO has a basic 3x–9x magnification range, which is good and flexible, but its image quality certainly lags behind many of the other options on this list. However, the reticle illumination is bright and powerful. If you are going to be doing a lot of low-light shooting at the lower end of the magnification range, then this could be a good choice.
The issue with that, though, is that the brightness doesn’t hold up very well at 6x and above. The objective lens is nice and big but the coating on the lenses leaves a lot to be desired and if you’re shooting in low-light you most likely won’t be able to see very well at the higher magnification. If you’re doing short range in low light, then this is a good choice. Otherwise, you may want to look at one of the other options.
If you want a bit wider of a magnification range than a standard 3x–9x, you can get a 2.5x–10x with the Sightmark. The reticle is illuminated and it has a BDC that is calibrated for .223 and .308 ammo, but there are some design flaws that are why the Sightmark is at the bottom of our list. The turrets stick out really far, which may not be a big deal, but they are more likely to catch on things and sustain damage than low-profile turrets.
There’s no parallax adjustment, and the reticle is on the second focal plane. This means that the BDC is only accurate at 10x. The turrets are not resettable to zero so you have to remember how many clicks you adjust for a shot in order to get back to zero afterward. Image quality is good but not great, and lags behind even some of the more affordable options on this list.
That said, the reticle is designed specifically for .308 Winchester, so if you expect to be shooting at 10x, the Sightmark can be a decent choice.
Here’s an analogy to explain FFP vs. SFP: to use a ruler to properly measure distance on a piece of paper, the ruler has to be right on top of the paper. If you try to hold up the ruler a few inches above the piece of paper and then draw a line from where the ‘0’ appears to be to where the ‘1’ appears to be, you’d have a line that was longer than 1 inch.
However, if you had a 12-inch ruler centered on the piece of paper, then the 6-inch marker in the center would mark the same spot even if you lifted it straight up. This principle is the same as the principle behind a second focal plane reticle.
The reticle is to the ruler what the target is to the piece of paper. When you zoom in all the way on the scope, it’s like the reticle is directly on top of the image, but as you zoom out, the reticle moves away so that only the center of the reticle is still in the same relative place. If you have a simple duplex, then there’s no problem here; you’re only using the center of the reticle anyway.
But when you add other markings on the reticle that are off-center, like mil-dots, a rangefinder, or a BDC ladder, they can only represent the intended distance (like markings on a ruler) at a single point in the magnification range. Most scope manufacturers calibrate their reticles to the highest magnification.
A first focal plane reticle allows the reticle to move together with the target area so that they are always the same distance apart. This means that you can use all the other markings on the reticle no matter what magnification you are at.
As we mentioned at the very beginning, .308 rifles are versatile and can be used for a lot of different purposes. Getting a scope that matches what you’re going to be using it for makes deciding which scope is best difficult.
LRP shooters need higher magnification in order to see their targets clearly. However, they also need flexibility to shoot at any magnification that makes the most sense for the distance they are shooting. For this reason, a first focal plane reticle becomes more important, as well as having a reticle that gives them proper reference points and helpful information.
How much magnification you need isn’t as good of a question as how much magnification you want. Need is fairly easy to define; all you need is to be able to see your target clearly. If you can’t see it clearly then you can’t hit it. Figuring out how much magnification you need is fairly straightforward: if you can see a target clearly at 50 yards with no magnification, you’ll need around 2x to see it clearly at 100 yards, 4x at 200 yards, etc.
You can do the same process with a target you can see clearly at 25 yards and see how much magnification you need.
How much magnification you want is a different story. Just because you can see the target doesn’t mean you feel comfortable hitting it from a long distance. You might want more than the minimum magnification to really feel comfortable hitting out that far. For the most flexibility, you’ll want a first focal plane reticle that allows you to use it effectively even if you’re not maxing out the magnification on your scope.
Of course, if you have a simple duplex reticle, then there will be no functional difference between a first focal plane and a second focal plane. More complex reticles that provide useful holdover and wind hold information will only work at either the maximum magnification on a second focal plane scope or anywhere on a first focal plane scope.
Wide field of view, fast target acquisition, and the ability to quickly compensate for windage and bullet drop are often prioritized over a slightly clearer picture or higher magnification. Image quality and magnification are important, but they only need to get to a certain point where you can properly acquire your target and then other things take priority.
A wide field of view is important because your target may be moving either slowly or quickly and you need to be able to track it properly. Unlike a fixed target that an LRP shooter might aim at, an animal may move at any time while you’re lining up your sight picture.
Other use cases like for defense, military, or law enforcement applications may have their own unique situational requirements and should be considered when selecting the right riflescope.
See Also: Red Dot vs ACOG Sights: Which Is Better?
Our pick for best overall scope for the .308 Winchester is the UTG 3-12×44 30mm Scope. It has all the features you’d expect from more expensive glass, great image quality, and solid durability. Our choice for the best .308 scope for the money is the CVLife 6-24×50 since it really punches above its weight in power and features. There are many other scopes to consider and the best for someone else may not be the best for you.
Hopefully, our reviews have given you helpful information to decide which scope is going to be the right one for you. There’s a lot of options to consider and it can get overwhelming, especially for a newcomer to the sport. Feel free to check out the options we’ve listed here and see if any of them are right for you.
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Featured Image Credit: MikeWildadventure, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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