Ever since its inception way back in 1952, .308 Winchester has been one of the more popular cartridges among hunters and shooters in general. However, that being said, we can all agree that choosing the best scope for your .308 rifle is far from easy, despite its popularity.
Having the best scope for your needs should help you to step up your hunting game – you’re very likely going to improve your precision and improve your shooting. But considering the sheer number of choices for .308 rifles, choosing the best one can mean wading through a sea of specs and sales-y fluff.
To save you the hassle, we decided to do the research and make a short list of the eight most popular units on the market at this time, making sure there’s a little bit of something for everyone and their pocket. We hope you’ll enjoy the read!
Our Top Picks
|FSI Sniper 6-24x50||Multi-coated||Adjustable, 15 yards to infinity||1-inch Weaver/Picatinny rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Nikon ProStaff 4-12x40||Multicoated, 98% light transmission||100 yards||1-inch Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42||Multicoated||Adjustable, 10 yards to infinity||30 mm Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Leupold 115390 Mark AR 3-9x40||Multicoated, 4 layers||Adjustable||1-inch Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Vortex Viper PST 1-4x24||Multicoated||100 yards||30 mm Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Burris 200116 Eliminator 4-16x50x96||Multicoated||Adjustable, 50 yards to infinity||Picatinny/Weaver rail, integrated||Check price on Amazon|
|Nikon P-308 4-12x40||Multicoated||Not specified||1-inch Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
|Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50||Multicoated||Adjustable, 50 yards to infinity||30 mm Picatinny/Weaver rings||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
This section is intended for the absolute novice or seasoned shooters who’d like to brush up on the basics, so if you find yourself in either of these groups, enjoy the read.
If, however, you feel confident enough you’ve got the basics well covered, feel free to skip it entirely and head straight for the reviews of the 8 top rated scopes for .308 rifle. Either way, we hope you’ll find it informative.
For the sake of being beginner-friendly, we’ll keep the explanations simple. So, what is parallax?
Let’s paint a picture – say you have your rifle fixed on a stand. You’re looking through the scope with the crosshairs flush with the center of the target. Then you move your head slightly around, and the crosshairs move with you. This is parallax.
Now, although parallax does mess with your shooting, most of the time you won’t even be aware of it since the measurable effect is about an inch or less at 500 yards. For this, and the fact that most scopes come free of parallax, it isn’t an issue.
Naturally, if you really need to be precise, there are ways to compensate for this. Short of training your eye to be centered on the eyepiece, you can get a scope with parallax adjustment. There’s some basic math to using it, but nothing scarier than adjusting windage and elevation.
The issue of first focal plane reticles vs. second focal plane reticles only comes into play when we’re talking about scopes with variable power. So, which one to go for? Well, what are you shooting at? At what distance? How much are you willing to pay for a scope?
Speaking in layman’s terms, first focal plane reticles change size as magnification changes. This is great if you need flexibility and better precision taking long-range shots, but it can blot out the mark at higher magnification. Also, they’re the more expensive variant.
Conversely, second focal plane reticles will keep the same size no matter the magnifications, which is great for shooting at small targets that are far away. Also, they’re the more common and more budget-friendly type. On the flipside, they do make ranging tougher.
Magnification & Field of View
A great majority of the scopes today come with variable power, which is an important feature if you’re looking for versatility. Typically, your run-of-the-mill scope will have a 3-9x, occasionally 4-12x (which is all you need for most hunting applications, anyway).
Obviously, the more magnification, the narrower the field of view gets, so you’ll need to make a tradeoff. Consider what you’ll be using the scope for – long range shots (go for magnification), varmint hunting (ditto), or tracking highly mobile targets (more FOV for you).
The choice of reticle style will largely depend on what, where and when you’re shooting at. For example, for maximum versatility, you’ll want to go with the Duplex or any of the myriad variants (Nikoplex on Nikon scopes, Truplex on Simmons, Dual X on Weavers, etc.).
Mil-Dot, on the other hand, is great for a specific purpose, such as ranging, just as the BDC reticle (Bullet Drop Compensator), which helps you predict how much the bullet will drop at your given range.
MIL vs. MOA
If you’re choosing between a MIL system and an MOA system, you should know that neither is inherently better. The choice pretty much boils down to what you’re used to.
Granted, a 1/4 MOA is marginally more precise than a 1/10 MIL (albeit slightly more difficult to communicate), but the difference is really miniscule – around 1 inch at 1,000 yards. So, unless we’re talking about a really high power scope, the issue is non-existent.
That said, you must keep an eye (no pun intended) on whether the turrets match the reticle. At times, lower-end scopes will have Mil-Dot reticles (guess what the ”Mil” part stands for), while the turrets will be in MOA clicks.
As far as scopes are concerned, you can expect the eye relief to be about 3-3.5 inches. The longest eye relief you’ll find on a rifle scope is about 4 inches, mostly on higher-end models.
That said, your run-of-the-mill units will have anywhere between 3.0 and 3.5 inches, and if magnification is variable, you can bet the eye relief is as well. However, don’t forget that the larger the magnification on a scope, the smaller the exit pupil, so you’ll be required to position your eyes closer to the eyepiece.
Weight is directly tied to two things in shooting – portability and recoil.
As for the former, you’ll obviously want as little weight in your hands or on your back as you’re walking through the boonies (assuming you’re out hunting, not plinking in your backyard), or else you’ll get too tired before even getting a chance to take a shot.
When it comes to the latter, the math is simple – the more weight you have (gun and scope together), the more inertia you get and, in turn, the less recoil. Of course, the heavier your scope, the stronger bases and rings you’ll need to keep it from flying off your gun.
Best Products on Today’s Market
To save you the trouble, we did some legwork and shortlisted eight of the most popular scopes for .308 rifle. You can read the reviews down here.
FSI Sniper 6-24x50mm Scope
Weight: 26.2 ounces
Dimensions: 16 inches
Specific features: 6-24x magnification, 50 mm objective lens, multi-coated glass optics, front AO adjustment, adjustable parallax, Mil-Dot reticle, battery-operated (requires 1xCR2032 3V battery), 6061 T6 aluminum body, limited lifetime warranty
Best use: Long range shooting
We’ll kick off this list with the FSI Sniper 6-24x50mm Scope, which is pretty much what it reads on the tin – a highly precise piece of glass with big ole objective lens, perfect for long range shots at long range.
As noted above, the scope comes with a big multi-coated 50 mm lens, which recommends it for low lighting conditions. Moreover, the scope has an impressive magnification range, from 6x to 24x, and it’s surprisingly clear even at max.
On that note, you can choose between green and red illuminated reticle (not a night vision device), or you can just leave it non-illuminated and save the battery.
The windage and elevation knobs feature locking rings, so you’ll need to keep in mind to lock them before shooting, even when you’re sighting it in, or else they’ll deviate with every shot on a high caliber rifle.
Speaking of adjustments, the FSI features front adjustable objective (AO), which, for those of you not in the know, means it’s got an adjustable parallax (15 yards to infinity).
- Inexpensive, excellent value package
- Everything on this product is geared toward making long shots
- Illuminated reticle, great for twilight shooting
- The eye relief could stand being a bit longer
- The throw-in mount rings are adequate, at best
Related: If you want to make every shot count, you might want to invest in a stand to stabilize your FSI – the UTG Tactical OP Bipod and the CVLIFE Tactical Rifle Bipod are both nice choices in this regard. Coming at a great price, both stands are adjustable and come with a variety of settings as to maximize your shooting experience.
Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Riflescope
Weight: 19.2 ounces
Dimensions: 14.1 inches
Specific features: 4-12x magnification, 40 mm objective lens, multi-coated optics (98% light transmission), Bullet Drop Compensator Reticle, 3.7-inch eye relief, waterproof, fog proof, variable FOV (23.6-7.3 feet at 100 yards)
Best use: Close to mid-range shots
If you’re on the hunt for a nice beginner’s scope that won’t break the bank, then the Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope might just be the thing for you. Obviously, the ProStaff features the renowned Nikon optics, which is on par (at the worst) with any other brand in the niche despite being a latecomer. The objective lens has a coating that allows up to 98% of light to be transmitted, which is pretty high-end.
Another nice feature is the variable magnification which ranges from 4x to 12x, though some would argue that a 40 mm objective lens doesn’t gather enough light for a 12x magnification.
Though the above point may be debatable, it’s certain that the 3.3-inch eye relief isn’t sufficient for the highest setting.
Another feature worth pointing out is the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) reticle. For those not familiar with the term, this system allows you to predict how much the bullet trajectory will drop at any given range, and it does take some getting used to for new users.
- Excellent entry-level glass
- Reasonably priced
- Lightweight and compact
- Bright and sharp image even at maximum magnification
- Not enough eye relief on 12x
- Some might not need (or like) the BDC reticle
Related: The scope requires a single 3V CR2032 Lithium ion battery, so we recommend the Energizer 3 Volt Watch Batteries (comes in packs of 2, 4 or 6).
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16 x 42 Mil-Dot Reticle Riflescope
Weight: 17.3 ounces
Dimensions: 13.5 inches
Specific features: 2.55-16x magnification, 42 mm objective lens, multi-coated optics, Mil-Dot reticle, waterproof, shockproof, fog proof, fingertip-adjustable windage and elevation (¼ MOA per click), 3-inch sunshade
Best use: Deer hunting, varmint hunting
The Bushnell Elite 6500 Mil Dot Reticle Riflescope is a nice choice for hunters looking for a versatile piece of optics – the variable magnification and three reticle options make it suitable for a wide range of hunting scenarios, from the wide prairie to the underbrush.
Speaking of versatility, this model comes with a special layer of coating – RainGuard, which goes a long way to ensuring the lenses don’t fog up or collect streaks when the weather fouls up.
The maximum 16x magnification is perfectly fine for 1,000 yards and beyond, though you do get some whiteout on higher settings, especially in bright light, which reduces the contrast to an extent.
As for the reticles, you have a choice of Mil-Dot (great for rangefinding and all-range shots at deer or hogs, especially under 300 yards), Fine Multi X (for varmint beyond 300 yards) and DOA 600 (great out to 600 yards for all sorts of game).
- Generous eye relief (3.9 inches) allows for quick acquisition
- Side parallax adjustment is quite handy
- Fingertip adjustable windage and elevation
- Three reticle styles to choose from
- Fully weatherproof
- Somewhat pricey
- The image tends to feel a bit harsh in bright light
Related: The Nikon Lens Pen Pro Kit may be just the thing you need if you’re looking to take great care of your optics devices. Including several different cleaning cloths, the kit also comes at a pretty affordable price. One of the best parts about it may as well be the carrying case that comes with a belt loop, so you can easily take it with you on your hunting trips.
Leupold Mark AR 3-9×40-Millimeter Riflescope
Weight: 19.2 ounces
Dimensions: 12.6 inches
Specific features: 3-9x magnification, 40 mm objective lens, multi-coated optics, Mil-Dot reticle, variable field of view (33.5-14.1 feet at 100 yards), anodized aluminum housing, waterproof
Best use: Long range shooting
The Leupold Mark 3-9×40-Millimeter Riflescope is pretty much what it reads on the tin – it features a standard, one-inch main tube that most should find sufficient. The Mil-Dot variant, which we’ll be focusing here, is great if you’re planning on doing range estimation, which is somewhat crude, but useful tool. Short of getting a rangefinder, it should be more than enough. On top of that, the Mil-Dot reticle includes both horizontal and vertical scadia.
The housing of the scope is made out of anodized aluminum, which should allow for it to be extremely durable but lightweight at the same time. The 2nd generation Argon/Krypton waterproofing may come in handy as far as thermal shocks and diffusion of gases are concerned – it might even work better than standard nitrogen technologies.
Last but not least, the lens comes with a so-called Multicoat 4 technology, which should help you maximize the clarity of the picture, even when shooting in low light conditions. Topped off with a great price and a decent eye relief, this might as well prove to be a good buying choice.
- Great scope for the money
- Lightweight, yet sturdy
- Quick acquisition thanks to the generous eye relief
- Perfect for an AR
- Doesn’t come with lens covers or mounting rings
- Some could find the design slippery
Related: Seeing as the scope doesn’t come with any mounting hardware, you might want to check out the Burris 410341 AR PEPR 30-mm Scope Mount or the Leupold 110290 Mark 2 IMS 1 ” – both are lightweight and should allow for quick mounting.
Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 Riflescope
Weight: 27.2 ounces
Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.5 x 3.3 inches
Specific features: 1-4x magnification, 24 mm objective lens, 30 mm main tube, 4-inch eye relief, variable field of view (98-27.5 feet at 100 yards), Tactical CRS Zero Stop turret system, second focal plane, MRAD-based reticle
Best use: Precision shooting and tactical use (close to mid-range)
The Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 Riflescope comes with matching turrets and reticle – both measure in milliradian. Speaking of the reticle, the TMCQ is a great tool that lets you calculate range, holdover, as well as windage corrections, though it might take you some getting used to.
The second focal plane reticle is both a blessing and a curse, depending on what you’re used to. On the one hand, it shouldn’t change size as you increase magnification, so it won’t block what you’re shooting at. While this shouldn’t happen that often, you still might experience some trouble while shooting.
The eye relief is four inches, which may as well be regarded as excellent. The clarity of the picture may be described as pristine no matter the magnification you use. However, do note that the product has been designed with precision shooting at close to mid ranges only in mind and it might not work that well for longer distances.
One of the rare downsides when it comes to this product is the price – it could be steep for the average buyer. However, if you’re willing to make the investment, this might as well be a very good product to go for.
- Sharp and clear image
- Excellent eye relief (4.0 inches)
- The illuminated reticle is great for hunting in poor light
- Reasonably priced
- Apparently, this particular model has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer
- The TMCQ reticle has a bit of a learning curve
Related: Make sure to check out the Leupold Lens Pen – it should make your life easier in terms of maintaining and protecting your scope. Apart from coming at an affordable price, the pen is compact and features a retractable brush. On top of that, it’s light and small enough to be carried around.
Burris Eliminator 4-16 x 50 x 96 Scope
Weight: 26 ounces
Dimensions: 15.5 inches
Specific features: 4–16x magnification, 50 mm objective lens, X96 illuminate reticle (5 brightness settings), integrated low-mounting bases, built-in rangefinder (750 yards non-reflective, 1,200+ yards reflective), variable FOV (25-9 feet at 100 yards), 1/8 MOA per click
Best use: Long range shooting
The Burris Eliminator 4-16 x 50 x 96 Scope is by far the most expensive item on our list, but if you enjoy shooting long range, this just might be the thing for you.
The main selling point of the Eliminator is the X96 reticle, which makes pretty much all the adjustments (apart from windage) automated. All you have to do is press a button on the objective bell, and the reticle lights up giving you yardage and aiming point.
As for the power supply, this puppy takes a single CR2 3V battery. Ideally, you’ll go for lithium ion, since those bring more mAh to the table than their alkaline counterparts, though even an alkaline one should be good for a whole season.
Another great feature is the integrated mounting that comes with bases of its own, so you don’t need any mounting rings for it. If you aren’t bothered by the price and you’re thinking about improving your shooting, then this could be a great asset to have.
- Bright and clear optics
- Generous eye relief (3.5-4.0 inches)
- Does a great job of holding zero
- Perfect for long-range shots
- Comes with a battery
- Quite a bit on the expensive side
- The reticle takes some getting used to
Related: You might want to think about investing in some protection for your optics – we wholeheartedly recommend Burris’s proprietary Waterproof Scope Cover. The cover fits scopes 13 – 17 inches long and gives waterproof protection to the scope inside. Apart from being reasonably priced, the case is constructed out of breathable neoprene that should help prevent external fogging.
Nikon P-308 4-12×40 Riflescope
Weight: 17.5 ounces
Dimensions: 13.5 inches
Specific features: 4-12x magnification, 40 mm objective lens, multi-coated glass optics, BDC 800 reticle (specifically designed for the .308/7.62 trajectory)
Best use: Hunting, plinking
The Nikon P-308 4-12×40 Riflescope does a great job of building upon the Nikon reputation. Featuring a sleek, matte design, the product also comes with a lifetime warranty. As you may have already inferred from reading the name, the scope is calibrated for the velocities of the .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO rounds. That said, you can make it work with any rifle if you download Nikon’s Spot-On app and have it re-calculate all the holdovers.
The scope has been calibrated particularly for the .308, though that doesn’t mean it won’t work well with other models. However, do note that it’s mostly designed for a long range shooting in mind.
The BDC reticle might be ideal when it comes to casual shooters and beginners, though experienced hunters are very likely going to be impressed by it as well. As far as the clarity of the picture is concerned, it should offer you a superb clarity – and considering the price point, that’s not something to be taken for granted.
- Pristine picture
- Lightweight and compact
- Specifically calibrated for .308
- Zeroes under 10 shots
- Fairly generous eye relief (3.7 inches)
- Lifetime warranty
- Some might prefer a scope with lockable turrets
- No adjustable parallax
Related: As far as mounting goes, the P-308 will take any 1-inch Picatinny or Weaver rings, though your safest bet for compatibility would be the Nikon P-Series Riflescope Picatinny Mount – they’re lightweight but strong enough. The featured rings should help you adjust the height, as well as the eye relief and the forward position, no matter the rifle you’re shooting with.
Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 BDC Riflescope
Weight: 21.6 ounces
Dimensions: 14.4 inches
Specific features: 6.5-20x magnification, 50 mm objective lens, multi-coated optics, Bullet Drop Compensator reticle,
Best use: Hog hunting, varmint hunting, long range shooting
The Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Riflescope is a nice choice if you’re looking for a fairly versatile mid-range scope for your .308 rifle. The scope comes with an impressive magnification range (starts at 6.5x and ends at 20x), which really recommends it for shots well over 300 yards.
Of course, that isn’t to say it’s bad for close-range shots – in fact, it makes them extra clear. As far as light transmission goes, the multilayered coating allows 95% of the light the extra-wide objective lens “catches”. This makes it possible to hunt in the twilight, though things would be even better if the reticle were illuminated.
The DeadHold BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) reticle makes it easy on a casual hunter or a beginner to make long shots. It does have a slight learning curve to it, but nothing a dozen rounds at the range can’t fix.
One minor gripe we have with the Viper 6.5-20x 50 is the eye relief – it could stand being a bit longer than the 3.1 inches it currently stands on.
- Very rugged and stable
- Sharp and bright optics
- Tool-less turret re-indexing
- Parallax adjustment is easy to access from shooting position (left-hand side)
- Lifetime warranty
- A bit on the heavy side
- Could use a bit more eye relief
- At 20x your heartbeats will shake the image
Related: You also might also to check out the mounts available – the safest bet would be going for the Vortex Tactical 30mm TRM Riflescope Ring (medium profile), or perhaps even the Vortex Tactical 30mm TRH Riflescope Ring (high profile). Both models should prove to be pretty durable but lightweight at the same time.
There you have it – the eight best scopes for your .308 rifle. We hope that at least one of the scopes on the list piqued your interest or, that you’ve at least learned something new and can now make an informed decision on your lonesome.
So, do you have anything to add to the list? Any experiences you’d like to share with other readers, potentially involving some of the units on our list? If so, by all means, leave us a comment and share the article. Until then, happy shooting!