.308 is a versatile cartridge where you can hunt games, shoot long range or go tactical with. The requirements of scopes for these tasks differ greatly. Thus In order to get the best .308 scope, you first need to specify your intended use for it.
After settling the intended use, we can narrow down a number of factors to decide the best .308 scope.
For a quick answer, here’s my list of the best .308 scope.
Best .308 Scope
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 | (Budget Option)
- Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6×24 SFP, Illuminated ACSS, Gen III | (CQB Option)
- Primary Arms 4-14X44 FFP Scope ACSS HUD .308 BDC Reticle
- Athlon Ares BTR 2.5-15×50, FFP, Illuminated APLR1 MIL | (High End Option)
- Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40, Duplex Reticle | (Hunting Option)
Next, let’s discuss what we’re looking for in a .308 scope.
Table of Contents
What makes a good scope ?
The thing you should know about magnification is that, the higher the magnification, the better glass you need for the same level of clarity. That’s because light passing through curved glass gets distorted. It results in less clear sight and less light transmission. This translates to higher price tag for higher magnification
Plus field of view (FOV), or how wide you see through the lens, is also diminished. This is not a good thing for dangerous game hunting where you want to be aware of your surroundings. And this is why there are needs for 1-4x or 1-6x in CQB action.
Get enough magnification, but don’t exceed your needs.
When choosing magnification power, consider your intended use and terrain.
- Big game hunting in dense woods : 1.5-5x, 2-7x, fixed 4x
- All round hunting : 3-9x, 4-12x
- Long range shooting : 4-16x or more
- Tactical CQB : 1-4x, 1-6x, 1-8x
Objective Lens Diameter
Objective lens diameter, coupled with magnification power leads to exit pupil size. This is define by : Exit Pupil Size = Obj. Lens Diameter / Magnification Power
Too small exit pupil size leads to small sight picture through the lens. For an extreme case, imagine looking through a straw. Too large exit pupil size, meaning larger than your eye pupil by a wide margin, wasted some light as it doesn’t enter your eye. Note that normal pupil size in adults varies from 2-4 mm diameter in bright light and 4-8 mm in the dark.
Larger objective lens also give better light transmission. However, the downside of too big objective lens are higher price and heavier weight. In some case, it’s also higher mounts.
Pick larger objective lens if you use high magnification and smaller objective lens it you use low magnification.
Glass and Lens Coating
Every quality scope needs good glass and lens coating. This is especially true on high magnification scopes with wide range of zoom. Since these are the main factor contributing to image quality and light transmission. Durability is also enhanced due to waterproofing and scratch resistance coatings.
Look for things like ED glass (Extra Low Dispersion Glass), HD glass (High Density Glass) and Fully Multi Coated lens if you can afford it.
Here are some normally quoted jargons for lens coating.
- Coated: A single layer on at least one lens surface
- Fully Coated: A single layer on all air to glass surfaces
- Multicoated: Multiple layers on at least one lens surface
- Fully Multi Coated: Multiple layers on all air to glass surfaces
That said, these lens coating jargons don’t mean much in determining quality. As high quality “coated lens” can beat low quality “Fully Multi Coated lens”. Quantity doesn’t beat quality for lens coating.
Eye Relief and Eyebox
Eye relief = Space between your aiming eye and the scope for optimal sight image
Generally, bigger eye relief means that your eye is safe from recoil. However, too much eye relief might lead to uncomfortable head and eye position.
Standard eye relief is 3”-4” and should do the job for .308 Win.
Eyebox = Amount of wiggle room for your aiming eye placement
A small eyebox scope can mean less than half an inch room for optimal eye placement. When people complain about “small sweet spot”, it’s the same thing as small eyebox. This results in much slower target acquisition and frustration during field use. This issue normally magnifies itself on higher magnification scopes.
Larger tube has the advantage of added durability and larger range of internal turrets adjustments. The downside is that it’s more expensive and heavier than smaller tubes.
For long range shooting, one might need to adjust the elevation and windage a lot. So, if you intend to also shoot long range, larger tube scope is favored. For .308 scopes, a 30mm should be large enough. Don’t go for 34mm or 35mm tube.
Some people think that bigger tube size equals better light transmission. But in my opinion, it’s just the fact that manufacturer’s often put larger objective lens, better glass and better lens coating into bigger tube scopes, due to their higher price.
There are 3 main groups of reticle pattern
- Simple – Duplex, NikoPlex, V-Plex, Dot, etc.
- Mil-Dot, MOA – Crosshairs
- BDC – Bullet Drop Compensation calibrated to particular rounds
This is a matter of preference. But if you intend to also shoot long range, Simple reticles are not good enough as they provide no holdover nor distance measurement tool.
Mil-Dot and MOA type are preferred for range beyond 800 yards as most BDC reticle don’t reach beyond that range.
First Focal Plane or Second Focal Plane
First focal plane makes the reticle holdovers accurate on all magnification but is often not available no cheaper scopes. Second focal plane on the other hand, doesn’t keep up with zoom level which means the holdovers are accurate only on one magnification, mostly the highest.
First focal plane reticle is the go to choice if you intend to also shoot long range. If not pick second focal plane to save costs.
Turrets and reticle matching
If you choose Mil-dot or MOA reticle, you would want to check whether turrets markings match the reticle. For example, a Mil-Dot reticle should go along with Mil-dot turrets. Or MOA reticle and MOA turrets. That way you don’t have to do unit conversions in the field.
If you choose other reticle type or don’t care about long range shooting, this isn’t a thing to consider.
Desirable turrets are precise and repeatable. Each click must be tactile, audible and exact as shown on the markings. Turrets should be easy enough to adjust with your fingers as you will be doing that a lot if you’re into long range shooting. But must not be too loose to prevent unintentional adjustments. Furthermore, Zero resettable and zero stops features are a plus.
Hunting style turrets often are low profile and come with caps to prevent unintentional adjustment especially when out hunting. Target (shooting) style turrets are high profile without caps. This makes adjusting on the fly easier.
Parallax adjustment is necessary for long range shots. It helps reduce the need to perfectly align your eye to the scope and raise the odds for precision shots. Preferred position is the side knob for ease of use.
That said, if you don’t shoot beyond 250 yards, there’s no need for parallax adjustment.
The ability to hold zero, precise turrets adjustment over time, lens and body durability are essential for any scopes. Furthermore, the scope must be able to endure the harsh field environment, such as extreme temperature, water submersion and a healthy amount of force.
In addition, reliable manufacturer’s warranty goes a long way to ensure usability of a scope. This aspect also helps maintain reasonable price when selling the scope in second hand market.
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 | (Budget Option)
Now a major brand in rifle scopes industry, Vortex Optics has converted many big name fans to their own in just a period of less than 15 years. Most seasoned hunters cited Vortex as quality with affordable price scopes.
For budget-minded people, the Crossfire II 2-7×32 offers an affordable choice for big game hunting .308 scope. Even though glass quality and lens coating are not comparable to higher priced scopes, they’re usable and especially clear on low magnification. On 6x-7x magnification however, it is noticeably less clear and more blurry on the edges. Light transmission during low light of dawn and dusk is admittedly not that great. On the upside, the scope offers a wide field of view which is good for observing surroundings and fast target acquisition.
The optic comes with a general BDC reticle which can be used for holdovers. It can be useful if you use the Strelok app or measure each drop mark yourself. For the turrets, they are not that precise, but as is the norm with scopes on this price range. They are also finger adjustable and zero resettable which is pleasant to have.
Eye relief is generous. But eyebox is rather small as the sweet spot is particularly hard to find. It’s also durable enough to hold zero on the .308 Win. The optic is covered by reliable Vortex Lifetime warranty.
|✓ budget and value scope
|✗ Not good in low light
|✓ Clear on lower magnification
|✗ 6x-7x edges not clear and gets more blurry
|✓ Nice FOV
|✗ narrow eye box on high magnification
|✓ Reliable Vortex warranty
Price : $
2. Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6×24 SFP, Illuminated ACSS, Gen III | (CQB Option)
This is an affordable scope for .308 tactical CQB.
Glass is clear, bright, crisp and gets pretty close to true 1x. Even though its glass is not as good as higher end scopes such as the Viper PST 1-4×24, it is hard-to-beat in its price range.
One selling point of this scope is its ACSS reticle. It gives you BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) with distance measuring in one go. Furthermore the illuminated center effectively draws your eye to it, making target acquisition faster. Many people rated Primary Arms higher than the Vortex Strike Eagle due to this particular reticle.
This one I recommend is SFP to save cost. But you can drop about $100 more to get the FFP version so that when you use low power, the reticle obstruct less of your field of view.
Turrets are not perfectly trackable, but is not a big issue as you’re supposed to utilise its awesome reticle rather than dialing the turrets especially for 1-6x. Note that the scope employs low turrets with caps, a plus for CQB.
One complain is its slightly tight eyebox. But with practice, it will not be an issue for you.
This scope has Primary Arms Lifetime warranty which is comparable to Vortex’s. So rest assured that you will be taken care of.
I deemed the Primary Arms 1-6×24 as a very good deal as you basically cannot find a better 1-6x scopes at this price range. The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 is admittedly very similar in terms of quality (albeit with different reticle), but is slightly more expensive at the time of this writing.
|✓ Value for money 1-6x
|✗ Slightly tight eyebox
|✓ Good quality glass
|✗ Second focal plane
|✓ Handy reticle
|✓ Superb warranty
Price : $$$
3. Primary Arms 4-14X44 FFP Scope ACSS HUD .308 BDC Reticle
The Primary Arms 4-14×44 is designed for affordable tactical and long range shooting. The ACSS HUD BDC reticle is a combination of BDC and Mil-Dots. Plus it has an illuminated reticle which is still visible in black when battery runs out.
Magnification power of 4-14x is enough for long range shooting. And 44mm objective makes low light shooting on high magnification possible. Image quality is clear and crisp on all power.
At this price, it is very challenging to make a First Focal Plane scope. But Primary Arms does it. This optics is built on a 30mm tube, which makes it more durable. The turrets are precise and repeatable. Each click is just 0.1 Mil and have internal adjustments of 30 Mil which is quite generous. However, the clicks feel a bit mushy and could use some improvements. The turrets are also zero resettable with an Allen wrench but no zero stop function. The scope also features side parallax adjustment.
The downsides are that the Primary Arms is heavy (24 ounce) and has only 3 year warranty. Furthermore, Eye relief is a bit small at 3.14″ – 3.22″.This Primary Arms hold zero up to .308 caliber and is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.
|✓ Very nice reticle with illumination
|✗ A bit small eye relief
|✓ Good image quality on all magnification
|✓ First Focal Plane
|✗ Slightly mushy turrets
|✓ Precise, repeatable and zero resettable turrets
|✗ 3 years warranty
|✓ Wide range of 0.1 Mil turrets adjustment
|✓ Has parallax adjustment
Price : $$
4. Athlon Ares BTR 2.5-15×50, FFP, Illuminated APLR1 MIL | (High End Option)
The Athlon Ares BTR is truly the best scope for your .308 as it fits almost every possible need.
2.5x is low power enough for CQB and hunting. While 15x is adequate for long range shooting at medium to big size targets.
Glass quality and light transmission are superb. It is just slightly inferior to Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44, which costs about $200-$300 more at the time of this writing. A steal, obviously.
Turrets are precise and track perfectly. You can dial your shots as much as you want. Plus, there’s a zero stop which can help you switch back to original position no matter your revolution.
Reticle is illuminated christmas tree, perfect for long range. Plus being an FFP scope, the reticle scales along with your magnification and is reduced to non-clutter style at 2.5x for fast target acquisition.
Note that reticle and turrets unit match. I prefer MIL/MIL, but MOA/MOA option is also available.
Athlon warranty is top-notch and you can rest assured that you will be taken care of when something went wrong.
|✓ Superb glass
|✗ Higher priced
|✓ Wide magnification range
|✓ Turrets track true
|✓ Matching turrets / reticle units
|✓ FFP reticle, perfect for long and close range
|✓ Reliable warranty
Price : $$$$
5. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40, Duplex Reticle | (Hunting Option)
There are 2 reasons why Leupold VX-3i is one of the best .308 scope to hunt with.
First, the scope offers very good glass, with excellent light transmission. This is beneficial for your hunt, as game are often most active during dawn and dusk. With the VX-3i, you’d wish legal hunting hours are longer, as deer under those shadowy trees cannot escape your sight, while most other scopes would have failed.
Second, the scope is lightweight (12.6 Oz) and compact, perfect for hunting. Imagine yourself on a hunt in the hills where you have to hike a lot. Do you want to carry a lot of weight? No, no one does.
Clutter-free reticle is my recommendation as it improves with target acquisition speed. But if you want BDC reticle type, check here.
Perhaps the only complain is its slightly small field of view at high magnification, but as long as you use low power, this won’t be an issue.
|✓ Very good in low light
|✗ Not so cheap
|✓ Lightweight & Compact
|✗ Slightly small field of view at high magnification
|✓ High quality glass
|✓ Very Durable
|✓ Reliable warranty
Price : $$$