In this Guide
The .308 is a classic all-around hunting cartridge. It can be fired from lots of different rifles, from ARs to military tactical rifles, to your old fashioned wood-barreled hunting rifle!
Its advantages include low recoil, low powder consumption, and extended barrel life. We love it because it’s easy to reload, doesn’t produce a lot of recoil, and is generally very accurate within 250-300 yards.
Since .308 caliber rifles are so varied, it can be hard to find the right scope for both your cartridge and your gun. There are hundreds of scopes available online, and only a few have been designed for the .308. They’re hard to find, and between shopping and comparing, you’ll be wasting a lot of time online when you could be out on the range!
We’ve got you covered. We did research specifically to find the best scopes for the .308 cartridge, so you can spend more time shooting!
We looked for .308-specific features and adjustments, strong build quality, and solid warranty coverage.
Below, you can read our full, in-depth reviews of our 3 favorite scopes for the .308. We’ve also put together a list of pointers to think about while you’re comparing scopes.
Before you get started, here’s a glance at our choices:
|Best Value||Nikon M-308|
|Best Quality||Leupold VX-2|
|Best Seller||Leupold Mark AR MOD|
Best Scope for 308 Reviews
The .308 platform is old-school in a lot of ways. So, it makes a lot of sense that one of the best scopes for the cartridge is old-school as well! This 3-9 magnification eyepiece has absolutely superb build quality, and the glass is the best you can do without going up to something like a Swarovski, which would be overkill for a .308 to put things mildly. It’s crisp, reliable, and rugged as you could want!
One of the key features that makes the Leupold stand out from the pack from the first glance is its bright, clear glass. This is simply a fantastic set of lenses! They’re computer-engineered to be absolutely flawless, and it’s hard to tell the difference between this and scopes twice as expensive. The quality is especially apparent around the edges, where less well-engineered glass has distortion. The Leupold stays clear as a bell right to the edges of your field of vision!
The glass pairing, with a 3-9x4omm spec, is a classic hunting range. You can easily clover leaf at 100 yards in low-light conditions, sub-MOA at 300 yards, and MOA at 400. We’d recommend this one for as far as 500 yards, although most of us don’t shoot .308’s at those distances. It’s absolutely ideal for the .308’s range!
The objective lens is the real star of the show when it comes to the Leupold’s glass. It provides a wide field of view and lets a surprising amount of light in. You wouldn’t expect a scope at this price to be so good in low-light conditions, but the VX-2 is outstanding at the start and end of the day.
The secret to the Leupold’s great light transmission and color clarity is the index-matching system the company use. They test and compare different lens profiles to pair lenses with the minutest similarities, so you can get as close to flawless as possible. Both lenses also have blackened edges to reduce glare and diffusion.
Inside, there’s a simple duplex reticle which is all we think you really need on a hunting rifle like a .308. It’s a second focal plane model, so it’ll stay the same size no matter what you do with the magnification.
The adjustment knobs have finger-click stops for tweaking windage and elevation. They feel great for the price, even if they’re not quite as good as the ultra high-end Leupold knobs. We don’t think .308 hunters are going to have any complaints!
The reticle is proprietary, and combines some of the best aspects of mil-dot, BDC and other technical sights. (Read more on the latest gun specs!) There’s a special marking system for windage adjustments, and the black mil-dot crosshairs are visible in even low lighting.
The VX-2’s eye relief is generous, and this one has Leupold’s signature eyebox. It makes for flexible mounting, and gives you instant target acquisition from multiple positions.
It’s rugged, but it’s also super light! The tube is aircraft-grade aluminum, and it’s a standard 1″ diameter. It’s shock and waterproofed inside with an argon and krypton gas mixture. The large molecules reduce gas diffusion even better than nitrogen-purge techniques. Plus, they take the risk of thermal shock almost entirely out of the picture.
It looks fantastic in a matte finish, which is what we’re recommending here. You can also find the VX-2 in gloss coating, and with different reticle options like BDC’s. We think duplex and matte tend to be the best pairing for .308 hunting, but you can also suit your individual preferences.
The VX-2, like most Leupold’s, is very low-maintenance and holds zero flawlessly.
It’s made in the USA, and if you can find a single case of something going wrong with one of these, we’d be shocked. This one holds up to recoil unbelievably well, and has an impeccable durability record.
Like all Leupold’s, it’s covered with a transferable lifetime warrant and is backed by fantastic customer service.
This is significantly less expensive than our other recommendations, but as long as you’re within its range, it can absolutely hold its own against those models.
The only quibble we have with the VX-2 itself is that it’s a two-piece tube. They’re inherently less rugged than one-piece tubes, since you have an additional seam that could go south. However, we haven’t seen any reports of issues with this one, and if you should run into trouble, the folks at Leupold have the best reputation for service in the business.
You should also know that this is a much simpler scope than either the Burris or the Vortex. If you like lots of adjustments and extra features, you might find that it’s worth the extra money to go for one of them. There’s no advantage in terms of build quality or clarity, though.
2. Nikon M-308
This scope is specifically calibrated for the .308 cartridge (one of very few that are) and it’s recommended by several magazines for .308 rifles. It has a slightly higher range than the Leupold, at 4-16X magnification, and has a higher price tag to match. Previous buyers say it’s unexpectedly crisp and bright, with very good technical accuracy. It’s a good choice for people who want a wider range and more technical tweaks than the Leupold offers without paying top dollar!
At 4-16X magnification, it provides the wide field of vision you want from a lower power scope, with the long-distance abilities of a high-power model. The objective lens is slightly oversized, at 42mm. That makes it perfect for heavy caliber shooting like a .308.
The quick-focus eyepiece makes it easy to get sighted on your target at any zoom level.
Both lenses are fully multi-coated, with scratch resistance and glare reduction. Many previous buyers agreed that Nikon’s glass was particularly bright and clear.
The 1” body tube is sealed for shock-, water-, and fog-proofing. It’s made from high-grade aluminum, and is engineered in one piece for better durability. Inside, there’s pressurized nitrogen gas, kept in by rubber O-rings.
The turrets have a tactical design, with 1/4MOA adjustments. Previous buyers said they provide nice, solid clicks, and feel very reassuring. They also have a quick-reset feature, so you can return to zero between shots.
The Nikon turrets also have built-in spring resistance for better repeat shots. The springs cushion the knobs from recoil as well as drops and bumps. We love these spring systems, especially for hunting in the woods or in scrub. It really makes a difference between shots, since you don’t have to worry about constantly re-focusing.
Because it’s designed specifically for .308s, the Nikon has a few nice design touches that make it better-suited than other mid-range scopes. The M-308 has specially spaced-out mount ring points, for better fit on .308 rifles. There’s also a 4” eye relief, which is better than most other scopes (which are about 3.5”). That’s particularly important when shooting high-caliber ammo.
Nikon covers this scope with a lifetime warranty, and previous buyers had only glowing feedback with regard to durability.
The reticle is a simple duplex, which isn’t ideal for long-range shooting. You won’t be able to calculate long-range bullet drop with the reticle itself. However, .308 guns aren’t generally effective at long ranges anyway.
While the side focus knob locks, the quick-focus eyepiece doesn’t. That’s not a deal-breaker for us, but that does mean it could be knocked out of focus by accident.
Leupold’s Mark AR MOD 1 is technically intended for AR rifles, some of which fire .308 ammo. Regardless, we think it makes an ideal companion for any .308 gun you care to shoot! It’s a more technical, sophisticated option with the same magnification range as the VX-2. Get this if you want the most premium .308 option with maximum finesse!
The Mark AR has the same magnification range as the VX-2 (3-9X), neatly rounding out the majority of the .308’s usable range. It’s a good all-purpose scope for both hunting and target practice.
This one’s better than the VX-2 at the top end of its range, though. Not only is the glass slightly improved, with better light transmission and clarity, but the reticle and adjustment knobs offer much more finesse. Where the VX-2 has a simple duplex reticle and basic adjustments, the Mark AR has a technical pedigree.
It comes with a tactical milling reticle etched into the second focal plane. That gives you much more precision than any duplex! And because it’s on the second focal plane, it doesn’t change size on you as you zoom. It’s paired with 1/2 MOA adjustment turrets so you can really dial in your target.
Having much finer adjustments makes this a superior choice for folks who shoot at the furthest reaches of a .308’s practical range. The Mark AR is likewise a better option if you like to shoot technically with a rifle firing .308 ammo.
As well as being more precise than the VX-2, the Mark AR is more enjoyable to use. In large part, that’s down to Leupold’s Firedot illuminated reticle feature. Your target shows up with a point of green light on the lens, which you can adjust to be either larger or finer.
The Firedot feature certainly makes this feel more deluxe, but it also has some quite practical advantages. We’ve found that it’s very helpful in low-light conditions, especially when you’re shooting at a sizeable distance.
It’s easy to customize the illumination feature, too. There are 5 levels of brightness to choose from. You make all your adjustments using a single control button, which keeps things from getting cluttered. We also like that a motion sensor turns it on automatically (you can switch it to manual if you want to be more conservative with your battery).
As with the VX-2, the Mark AR sports impeccable build quality. There’s the latest multicoat 4 on all lenses, 2nd gen. argon/krypton gas purging, and a single-piece aluminum tube. It’s waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, covered by Leupold’s lifetime warranty. Construction doesn’t get better than this!
The tactical turrets are exposed, which means they’re vulnerable to being knocked out of place when you’re out hunting in the field. That’s one downside of going technical with your .308. If you don’t need this much finesse and prefer a simpler approach, stick with the VX-2.
While it’s very precise, it has a relatively low range. You won’t be able to make long shots much over 500 yards with this scope. That’s reasonable for a .308, but we know some people like to push out further.
Which .308 scope is right for you?
If you primarily hunt at close range, in the woods or scrub, we strongly recommend the VX-2 for you. It’s also impressively precise at close range, with a simple reticle and adjustment turrets. You’ll be able to make all the adjustments you could want within 500 yards. It’s ideally suited for the .308’s range, and is very reasonably priced.
The Nikon is a good choice for all-around shooters who want a bit more range than the VX-2. It’s priced similarly to the Leupold, but adds some upper range power. You’ll be able to maintain a wide field of vision, while making shots out to 600+ yards.
Most .308 shooters don’t need to spend so much for a specialized scope like the Leupold Mark AR, though it offers tremendous precision and versatility to anyone who wants to invest. The Leupold offers a range of magnification that covers all a .308 usually does, and it’s a superb eyepiece. None of the more expensive options made for the .308 can best the Leupold for build quality or glass clarity, and the illumination feature is fantastic. It’s hands-down our top pick for dedicated .308 hunters!
How to Shop for a Scope for a .308 Rifle
Look for low end magnification power, for the 100-300 yard range.
The .308 cartridge really isn’t ideal for a long range weapon. People have misconceptions about that from its military/uniformed services use, but it’s really a low-to-midrange cartridge. We recommend you find a scope that accepts and complements its functional parameters.
It’s a poor choice for long shots for several reasons:
It’s a shorter, less aerodynamic cartridge than the .300 Winchester Magnum or other .30 caliber cartridges. It has a very poor wind bucking ability, and is very susceptible to windage at longer distances. A rainbow-shaped trajectory means there’s a fair amount of bullet drop over 300 yards. It also has relatively low energy and velocity.
That all means that you really don’t need magnification power over 9X, or the 600 yard line. Your scope will outstrip your cartridge in terms of accuracy.
Look for specific, positive adjustment turrets:
Since the .308 is susceptible to windage, you’ll want specific adjustments for that. The more latitude, the better. Likewise, you’ll want BDC or other technical reticles to account for bullet drop. You don’t need a lot of spring-padding, since there’s much less kickback.
Check out our other recommendations for the best rifle scopes. Find out which are the best .22 scopes, the best night vision scopes. and more.