The .308 caliber is a very versatile caliber that can be chambered in either semi-auto or bolt action rifles. It is suitable for many different tasks from the tactical to the extreme range. It is a very accurate caliber that is at home on the shooting range or in the field as a hunting rifle.
What that means is you are spoiled for choice when it comes to optics. It can make selection challenging, even for experienced shooters. To make it a little easier, we have a solid guide on one of my favorite calibers and a few good choice of the best scopes for .308 for you to peruse.
Table of Contents
- Selecting a .308 Scope
- Best Scope for .308 on the Market Review
- Best .308 Scopes – Long Range Shooting
- 1 Vortex Razor HD Gen II
- 2 Leupold VX-3i
- 3 Nikon Black X1000
- 4 Athlon Argos BTR
- Best .308 Rifle Scopes – Hunting
- 5 Vortex VX-Freedom
- 6 Nikon Prostaff 5
- 7 Burris Scout
- 8 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
- Best Tactical Scopes for .308
- 9 Trijicon ACOG
- 10 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic
- 11 EOTech 512
- 12 Vortex Crossfire II Scout Model
- Understanding Red Dots
Selecting a .308 Scope
Much of what will benefit you most in scope will depend on what type of rifle you have and how you plan to use it. The natural place to start is a brief look at the types of scopes available to you and what they are best used for.
Types of Scopes
While there are no natural divisions in optics, you can break down uses into hunting, long range shooting, and tactical uses. There is some overlap between these types and that is fine. Most of us don’t use our rifles for a single purpose anyway.
308 hunting scopes in general will have a moderate level of magnification usually between 8x and 14x. This provides additional range and accuracy without being so powerful that they make locating a target difficult. As you move into the higher magnifications you lose field of view and shots become slower. This has made low magnification scopes and even red dots more popular.
Long range scopes like those used in competition will start at moderate magnification around 10x for the .308 win caliber and go up to the 20x range. Since many shots with the .308 can be anywhere from 600 yards to 1000 yards, high magnification can be helpful though they are less versatile on anything but a pure target rifle like a Remington 700.
Tactical scopes are the lowest magnification made to be usable for CQB out to modest ranges around 300 yards in the most extreme cases. This is the realm of red dots, holo sights, and compact scout scopes. Magnification can be anywhere from none at all up to about 8x but 6x is a more common maximum. These scopes are decent for hunting and some of the more powerful ones can make shots out to 500 yards with little difficulty.
For simplicity you can divide reticles into three distinct categories that will match up somewhat with the above types of scopes. These are standard crosshairs, BDC reticles, and shaped reticles.
Crosshairs are the classic option that are simple crossed lines with no additional markings. These are used mostly for hunting scopes though can be found on some scout models as well. There is a subset of the crosshair called a duplex reticle that simply has two different line thicknesses. This makes the crosshair easier to see in poor lighting or against low-contrast backgrounds.
BDC reticles or Bullet Drop Compensation reticles can have a few elevation markings below the center or have full markings on all axes of the reticle. These can be custom designed for specific calibers and loads but usually are in either MOA or Mil markings. For most shooters, the MOA or Mil markings are best. If you have a preference go with that. If you are new to the world of long-range shooting, MOA tends to be a little easier to learn on.
Shaped reticles can be as simple as a dot or more complicated circles, diamonds, and chevrons. Usually these are on red dots but can be on scout and hunting scopes as well. Generally, these are best used at ranges less than 100 yards though some have small dots that can be accurate a little farther. This is especially true with magnified optics like the ACOG.
Usually shaped reticles will be illuminated but any of the other reticles can be partially or fully illuminated. Most shooters will never need this feature but for those who hunt or shoot in dim conditions can benefit from it. Some shooters also see an increase in target acquisition speed from illuminated scopes.
Additionally, magnified scopes may have the reticle displayed on the first or second focal plane often written as either FFP or SFP. For long range shooting FFP is often preferred and is a common trait on sniper rifles. On the first plane, the reticle will increase in magnification with the scope. This allows you to maintain a way to measure target size at a distance. On the second focal plane, the reticle will always be the same size making it more difficult to measure bullet drop or determine range.
Scopes can have one of two types of adjustments. These can be capped adjustments that are covered and protected after the scope is zeroed. Or they can be turret style adjustments that can be adjusted on the fly to fine-tune your point of impact from your original zero. Each of these types have situations where they are a better choice.
Capped adjustments are commonly found hunting scopes and scout scopes but can also appear on some red dot sights. They are best used when shooting long distance where you don’t have to account for much in the way of bullet drop or windage. This makes it most applicable to hunting but some lower powered scout scopes for home defense or short range target shooting.
For long range shooting, you want the turret style adjustments. These allow you to account for bullet drop mathematically rather than relying on luck or estimation. With an appropriately set up rifle system and proper homework you can get a perfect adjustment for range. You can also account for wind in the same way though it will still require a little bit of guesswork.
Turret style adjustments can also be found on some hunting scopes. This is something that should be used with caution. If you hunt wide open terrain that is fine but consider deer hunting the eastern woods. The overgrown brush can knock your scope out of zero. If you don’t notice this, it could completely ruin your shot.
Occasionally you will find some red dots and holo sights that use adjustments more akin to iron sights than a scope. Usually these type of adjustments are inset into the sight so they are protected. Even if they are not, they are usually low profile. In most instances where a red dot sight would be applicable, you won’t need to worry about adjustments.
Best Scope for .308 on the Market Review
Best .308 Scopes – Long Range Shooting
1 Vortex Razor HD Gen II
If you are looking for the absolute best scope for the money, it doesn’t get much better than Vortex. The Razor is from their highest end line featuring some of the best production methods, quality control, and materials available. These are made in Japan at the same factory as Nightforce. This facility has become known as among the best optical production houses in the world.
There are a variety of options available for this scope but for a .308, we like the 3-18x with an MOA reticle. This is plenty of power to get to the max effective range of the caliber and even a little past that. This is the scope I use on my Bergara and love it! I wouldn’t replace it with any other scope in production today.
Along with perfect APO glass and all the necessary features, this is a scope you will never have to worry about taking into the field. It is fully water, fog, and shockproof. It uses O-ring seals and is argon purged so you will never have an issue. I have had this scope for years and anticipate that it will last for a lifetime. If it doesn’t, I can count on the Vortex VIP warranty to take care of it.
2 Leupold VX-3i
Leupold is legendary and one of the best scope manufacturers worldwide. For many years these optics were a hallmark of the pro shooting circuit and still make a showing at any the major competitions. They have a number of more expensive models in the VX line but when it comes to an amazing optic that is somewhat budget-friendly, you can’t beat the 3i.
The VX-3i has a few different reticle patterns, all of which are in an 8.5-25x magnification. We like the T-MOA for its ease of use but if you prefer Mils the TMR is an exceptional reticle. All of these are glass etched on some of the finest lenses to be crafted in the U.S. or anywhere else. Most people consider Leupold’s optical quality to be the lower on the scale than many European makers but you will never tell the difference.
One of the reasons that Leupold is well loved is their near heirloom quality. Meaning that if you purchase this scope today, with a little care you are going to be passing it along to your kids and likely grandkids. There are rock solid, waterproof, and fog proof.
3 Nikon Black X1000
Nikon has always been well regarded for optical quality. This was best displayed in their Monarch series but with the change toward more tactical setups, they had to change the recipe. The outcome was the Black and it is a damn fine scope, especially for the price. If you are looking to get into long range shooting in an affordable way, this is how you do it.
You can get the Black in a variety of powers and a couple of reticle patterns. We prefer the 6-24x with an illuminated MOA reticle but they have the same in Mils if you like. These are glass etched on some of the best lenses Nikon has ever produced. The base of the lenses is likely what they have used in their high-powered spotting scopes with are among the best around.
One of the major sticking points for the Monarch series was its lack of true durability features. This has been corrected with the Black. This is a combat ready optic that is as tough as just about any scope on the market and probably tougher than any in its price range. Their warranty may not be as good as Leupold or Vortex but they have never failed to take care of an issue that I have heard. I have one of these on a Ruger Precision that will put one bullet on top of another at 500 yards.
4 Athlon Argos BTR
Scopes, especially long-range ones, can be very expensive. To that end, we wanted to include a scope that could fit most peoples budgets and still provide them with 500 to 800-yard performance. To do that, Athlon is a perfect fit. This company started out making telescopes so they know what it takes to get it right.
I have shot a variety of these scopes but if you want distance, the 6-24x model is a great one. For the newer shooter, I also recommend the MOA reticle. This comes illuminated which is a nice if unnecessary addition in most cases. This setup, for this price is almost unheard of and well worth getting one. They are a great option on cheaper rifles for a solid budget setup.
The amazing thing about Athlon is the features you get for the price. This is an FFP scope that is fully multicoated and argon purged. It's waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. While they advertise this as a world-class optic, I am doubtful. What I don’t doubt is that this is a truly amazing optic that will do the job for most newer shooters. You can upgrade later and sell this for almost as much as you pay for it.
Best .308 Rifle Scopes – Hunting
5 Vortex VX-Freedom
I had the benefit of starting my hunting career with a Leopold scope and I have been spoiled on them since. With rare exception, they can see better in low light and get a clearer picture than most other scope brands, especially for this price. If you have wanted a Leupold but had trouble with the price, now you can have one for well under $500.00.
The power on this scope is low enough to work in the eastern woodlands or high enough for the western prairies. At 4-12x this is the perfect range for a hunting scope. Though all Leupolds have great optics that will allow you to hunt in dim conditions, this one is even better! It has a twilight management system that can keep you out even longer no matter the time or weather.
Generally, I prefer simple reticles on hunting scopes but the Tri-MOA isn’t a bad choice. The markings are small enough not to get away but can be useful if you need to take a shot a little farther than normal. I can forgive this because this scope is tough, light, and compact making it a gem of a hunting scope otherwise.
6 Nikon Prostaff 5
The Nikon Prostaff has been a staple of the hunting world for decades. It has gotten better with age and the current demands of the optics market. I have hunted with dozens of these over the years and never had a single issue with one. If the current production is as good as they have always been, this is a great scope at a solid price.
At 3.5-14x this is a powerful hunting scope, probably more than you need. It has a lot of features that are a real bonus without causing difficulties. The reticle is a BDC reticle but one that is very simple to use and will never get in the way of a clear shot. It also has zero reset turrets so you can always track what adjustments you need but they are capped to protect them from getting moved accidentally.
Durability on these scopes is what I would consider to be ‘enough.’ They aren’t built like a tank but they are tough enough to stand time in the field. I wouldn’t want to abuse a Prostaff but I would never fear to use it and trust it. Just take proper care and you should be fine.
7 Burris Scout
Burris was once among the best-known scope manufacturers in the U.S. but they have fallen by the wayside in recent years. This is a shame as they are every bit as good as the more popular Nikon or Bushnell. In some cases, they are even better. Several of their scope lines make great hunting scopes but our preference is for their scout line.
One of our favorite features of this scope is the long eye-relief making a natural choice for rifles like an AR-15, AR-10 style rifle. At 2-7x it is a little low on magnification and has very much in common with tactical styled scout scopes but the ballistic-plex reticle and overall setup are much better suited to the woods.
Burris are fairly tough scopes though the tube tends to be a little thin. While they are water and fog proof, you may want to avoid situations where they could be knocked around. Otherwise, you will find these to be an incredibly fast scope when you are trying to sight in on a deer. The fact that you can actually use this scope with both eyes open really add a dimension to your hunting.
8 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
I can say with every bit of belief that more deer have been shot through a Bushnell scope than any other brand on the market. Of all their scopes, it’s the Trophy and Banner lines that make up the majority of their shares. While much of their popularity is due to a lower price, less than $300 in most cases, there is sufficient quality to make your money well spent.
In the case of the Banner series, you can get the Dusk & Dawn model for well under $100.00. This is for a standard 3-9x model with a circle-x reticle that is extremely fast. The main reason we like this scope is the coating used on the lenses that allow it to filter light for a much clearer view when conditions are imperfect. Optically this isn’t an exceptional scope but it is a very good scope, especially for the price.
While all Bushnell scopes are water and fog proof, they aren’t the most durable. This is not a lifetime scope but one that will serve you well for a couple of seasons. You wouldn’t want it on a big magnum caliber but it seems to do ok on smaller rounds like the .308 and 5.56. You also want to be careful with letting it get knocked around which is the usual killer of this scope.
Best Tactical Scopes for .308
9 Trijicon ACOG
If you ask me, the ACOG is the king of rifle scopes. It has been cloned many times by other companies but no one can do it like Trijicon. For one, the illumination will last for decades and is auto adjusting thanks to a combination of tritium and fiber optic. That alone makes this among the best buys in a tactical scope.
There are dozens of models of ACOGs with different setups and reticles. Make sure you get one calibrated to the .308 caliber, we prefer the horseshoe/dot reticle which has ranging out to 1200 yards though don’t expect to hit a target at that range. Since this has a little bit of magnification, 3.5x, it is great for keeping close up shooting fast but adding some additional range. I use it on an FN SCAR 308 and it has been a dream.
Of all the optics on this list, this is the only one that is actually military combat proven. They are beyond tough and beyond accurate. For smaller calibers this isn’t my first pick but with something like the .308 that has the opportunity for some real range, this is my go-to every time. It also works great for hunting if you have it on a rifle that meets your state's regulations.
10 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic
I have switched all of my smaller caliber CQB rifles over to the PRO with rare exception (mentioned below). The value of this red dot combined with features that it seems only Aimpoint can pull off makes it a shoo-in for the best reflex sight around. There are military versions of this sight available but for the price difference, the one designed for Law Enforcement is a much better buy.
One of the best features of the PRO is battery life. It stays on constantly with no off switch and can burn for over 30,000 hours. That is more than 3 years on a single battery. It even has a warning to tell you when to change the batteries or you can do what I do and simply change them every January so you always know they are good. The batteries aren’t that expensive.
While the Comp M3 and Comp M4 Aimpoint models are far more durable, I have never broken a PRO and I have had my oldest one for about 6 years now. These are made to ride in the trunk of police cruisers so they aren’t exactly fragile. My recommendation is to try one of these before you invest more in a sight. They are amazing on any CQB weapon!
11 EOTech 512
The few tactical rifles I have that don’t have an Aimpoint have an EOTECH. I do have two different models but I tend to prefer the classic 512 which seems to be a little more durable than the newer models. I have had the same 512 for close to 20 years now and it still works perfectly. I can’t imagine any other electronic scope ever surpassing this.
EOTech owns the holo sight patent and made the only true holo sights until very recently. This has but the lightyears ahead of any other company in experience alone. With the 512 you get their standard fast target circle with a small 1 MOA dot for getting accuracy at range. This is a perfect combination for those who want to take a standard home defense rifle and make it do just a little bit more.
Battery life on the EOTECH is nowhere near what it is on the Aimpoint but you still get months off one set of batteries and you can turn this one off. Unless you are using it constantly you can expect a year or more with perfect performance. When it comes to fast target acquisition on demand, this is the sight I go to and my preferred optic for 3 gun competitions.
12 Vortex Crossfire II Scout Model
You should always have a good scout option. I like these because they are the most versatile for all of the tasks above. You can shoot reasonably at moderate range targets, they excel at hunting, and are rather quick for a tactical scope, especially if you have a little range between you and the target.
The Crossfire by Vortex is one of the best and most affordable options and comes as a 1-4x so it can go with no magnification if you are using it for CQB. The optics are quite good and it has exceptional eye-relief so you can mount it a little farther forward and keep both eyes open. I personally use this on the new DPMS 308 Oracle and have hit targets out to 500 yards with relative ease.
For a scope that weighs mere ounces, you will be surprised about how tough this scope is. Vortex uses the same tried and true setup for all of their rifle scopes so the Crossfire is water, fog, and shockproof. It's sealed and purged so nothing can get in. It is even backed by a lifetime warranty, no questions asked. This is the only scope with an electronic reticle that is backed in that way to the best of my knowledge.
Understanding Red Dots
For the sake of sharing information, a special note should be added for red dot sights. Most people fail to fully understand the term fully and what red dot actually means. It goes much farther than just a non-magnified optic that uses a dot as the reticle. Red dot is actually a term used to describe a family of sights, each of which works in a different way.
The first type of red dot sight is the reflex sight, the most common sight that people think of when talking about red dot sights. These sights have no magnification, unlimited eye relief, and use an illuminated dot as a reticle. It can be either red or green.
The second type of red dot sight is the holo sight. This is commonly seen as identical to the red dot sight but they function somewhat differently. The actual mechanics aren’t important but the effect it can have is. A holo sight is unmagnified and has unlimited eye relief but the reticle can be anywhere from a dot to a complex shape. Usually the circle/dot pattern is used but there could be chevrons or anything else.
The often misunderstood red dot is the prism scope. These are scopes with a low level of magnification. Rather than using lenses for this, the magnification happens at the prism, hence the name. Because they are magnified, they do have a set limit of eye relief. A prism scope can also use shaped reticles or dots.
One main difference between these types is battery life. Some reflex sights can run constantly for years without replacing the battery. Holo sights are somewhat less, usually a few months. Depending on the way the prism scope is illuminated, it may have a battery or rely on tritium. With batteries, you can get years of use. With tritium, it could be a decade or more.
What is not to love about the .308? For years I have pushed this caliber above the more popular 5.56 as a great all-around option. It can perform CQB tasks well and still hit targets well into the hundreds of yards. When you combine it with the appropriate style of scope it will excel at any job it needs to do. This is one caliber where just one rifle is never enough so plan ahead for your next scope while you are at it.