Developed as a replacement for the 30-06 Springfield cartridge, the 308 Winchester, or better known in military terms as the 7.62 NATO came into being as a sporting round just because it was at the time a military designated cartridge.
Developing a muzzle velocity just under the 30-06 but smaller and lighter weight as applied to grunts hump belts of the stuff across rough ground. The 308 Winchester has been a solid part of the US Army and other services as well as NATO for many years. Even today as applied to electric Gatling guns, fixed mounted machine guns, and assault weapons, the 308 is still in service.
When the subject turns to finding a good scope for this pared rifle and cartridge, the options are many, but being the cartridge will perform very well to 800 yards. With better BC bullets to 1000 yards, the choice in optics will largely depend on the exact purpose you are thinking about when take up the 308 Winchester as a service or sporting round.
In my experiences which includes many years of hunting with the 308 and also shooting some competitive target work with the same, I am leaning toward rifle scopes that are able to do more than put bullets into targets 200 or so yards away with accuracy. Being the 308 is a very able long-range cartridge, the better grade glass with capabilities to send bullets with accuracy to the next zip code tends to fit my thought patterns regarding the subject.
In terms of selected rifles for examples of workable tools when testing scopes for the 308 caliber rifles, my best examples currently in-house are a Kimber’s Pro Tactical, Mossberg’s new Scout series bolt gun, and a Smith & Wesson AR-10. These three rifles have shot game, target events, and have been tested base systems for new load development as they have come down the pike in the writing market over several years to date.
My Picks For .308 Scope
- Leupold VX-3i – Best For Open Country Hunting
- Burris Xtreme Tactical XTR II
- Steiner Optics GS3 Game Sensing Rifle Scope
- Bushnell Engage
- Zeiss Conquest
- Burris Fullfield II Ballisitic Plex Rifle Scope
Best Scopes For 308 – New Products Updated
1. Leupold VX-3i – Best For Open Country Hunting
In terms of price point and performance for your money, the Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14 x 50 is a unit to consider as applied to scoping the 308 Winchester rifle.
This scope retains no exposed turret adjustments, but these models can be obtained with those installed. The scope pictured here makes use of the Leupold Duplex crosshair and is not set up with sub tension adjustments as in MOA or MIL dot elevation references.
However as the 308 is a dead on hair in the scopes crosshairs cartridge to at least 350 yards using a 200-yard zero, this is not an issue when applied to most whitetail hunting situations
When optics are built to push range a good deal further is when the use of open turrets and advanced sub tensions start to come into play.
Using the large 50mm objective lens the scope pulls light well. That can be everything to a deer hunter searching out his or her target at first light or the last ray of dusk used as a background against a target. Leupold glass is first rate and handset into the main scope tube not glued like many others are. I run seven Leupold scopes with the 50mm forward bell applied to an elk rifle and others ranging from 6.5 Creedmoor rifles to my old school dead on the target Kimber-styled M-24 308 Sniper rifle.
These scopes use 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum on the one-piece main tube section, retain ¼ MOA click adjustments on the elevation and windage knobs, it also has ‘Dimond’ Coat surface protection installed on the exterior glass so as to provide scratch and pitting resistance
- Size: 14 x 3 x 2.75 inches
- Tube size / one inch medium to medium high rings. ( Need to clear the 50 mm bell. )
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
Recommended for open country hunting ( 308 Win ) where exact range is a known factor.
2. Burris Xtreme Tactical XTR II
Turning to the Burris Xtreme Tactical XTR II is a major move up in cost, but also a major move forward in terms of taking on added long-range situations.
I have tested and used this scope on a number of 308s with very positive results. The glass will not distort with increased range. No dull spots or fringe fading as well. The Armalite 300 Win that it is mounted on currently has shoot clean to 1500 yards against human illustrated sniper targets and has also been tested as an area weapons system against mortar and machine-gun nests at 3/4 mile downrange.
This scope retains a zero stop system when sub tensions are used for range extension along with turret adjustments (halfing).
This scope makes use of a 34mm main tube and as such requires detailed mounting with the correct bases and rings. Glass quality is outstanding and this is one system that I have been able to talk over with representatives of Burris that were retired snipers in the sandbox and as such indicated that optical quality was nothing less than excellent under combat field conditions. If that works for them a deer hunters should be home free when selecting this level of optical glass.
The reticle is illuminated and carries MOA graduations ( sub tensions )
This scope will produce 80 clicks per rotation. That being the elevation ability to the extreme and much more associated with the 308 Winchester cartridge.
The MOA reticle is an F Class system. Scope in FFP
Recommend 175-grain bullets in high BC for 1000 yard work. The scope will handle the task well.
3. Trijicon TARS101 3-15-50
If you have money to burn and want the very high-end rifle scope that will do anything ever needed for the 308 Winchester round, turning to the king of the glass sights Trijicon and the TARS 101 is the best game in town.
This scope is a 34 mm main tube sniper scope with a boatload of MOA adjustment for elevation and windage. Run the best bullets possible in 308 Win because this glass can handle any range in any situation and do so as a lifetime investment.
The scope uses a LED FFP system which is built of special hardened military-grade aluminum ( MilSpec ) and will return a full 30 MOA per revolution of its turret knobs. The scope retains a full 150 MOA total travel. That is over one mile in elevation as applied to several ultra long-range cartridges and it will be setting in the 30 cal 308 Win nicely to 1000 yards and ore all day long. If the bullet carries the correct BC and enough bullet rotation, this glass will carry the mail.
Length 13.9 inches lacking sunshade and a weight of 47 ounces. The scope is the best fit on a chassis rifle receiver or large conventional bolt gun. This is a big scope designed for very major downrange work. I shoot a Trijicon 3.5 x 10 on a Winchester Model 70 in 22-250 Remington and have for many years. Never an issue and never a re-zero at any time. Class act as a rifle scope.
4. Steiner Optics GS3 Game Sensing Rifle Scope
This big game and varmint scope comes in three variations. The 4-20x50mm, 2-10×42 mm, and 3-15x50mm. This scope has been hard-nosed tested in the field by me in two or three variations over a several years period in terms of special project and load development assignments.
The glass is very high quality and retains great light transmission with little if any fade or color ring dispersion at the edges of the lens
The scope uses a Plex reticle with both dots and lines so as to allow the shooter to use quick reference sub-tension adjustments through the lens versus moving to the open turret adjustments for elevation and windage. Elevation and wind range of adjustment re turrets 70 MOA.
In total, the company builds five total models that make up this series of hunting scopes. Focal plane not indicated regarding my available information. My personnel scopes ( two ) are both in FFP designs.
5. Bushnell Engage
Here we have a scope that drops in price point but still offers features found on much higher priced glass sights.
Bushnell builds them all, believe me as I shoot a very high-grade sniper scope on my 338 Lapua for one-mile target work. However, the company can bring together additional models that are less expensive and still do the job in the field. Here is a scope that retains the following aids when going afield armed with the 308 Winchester cartridge and paired rifle.
You can buy this scope in four different variants. The model in the low-priced range is the 3-12×42 and that scope still returns an additional nine different options as well. Flexibility is the key here and there is a scope built by Bushnell to fit every needs believe me on that one please.
6. Zeiss Conquest
Tailing off with the last of the heavy-hitting high dollar scopes, the Zeiss Conquest comes to the forefront as a masterpiece in quality glass, open quick adjustable turrets with zero stop controls, and built to German rifle scope standards that are in effect next to none in the industry.
Today with specialized rifles and even souped-up performance, toads in older rounds like the 308 Winchester a scope like the V6 Conquest is right in line to press forward with perfect performance standards out to 1000 yards and beyond under the correct elevation, air temperature and barometric pressure rates.
I have been shooting this scope on the 308 Winchester Mossberg Scout Rifle for over six months to date. Shooting under natural field conditions I used the scope and rifle setup for a major windage control story, as well as when testing new loads as offered by Black Hills Ammunition, Sig Arms, and others. When testing was completed I proceeded to remount the scope on the receiver of the new British 303 Courteney by Uberti.
This glass is beyond good and with some correction on some old eyes in this shooter, the optical picture corrects itself due to again very high-grade lens grinding techniques.
This scope is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum for weight reduction and field strength. The turret knobs will put 103 clicks of MOA in the bank for windage correction, and the scope owns the valley for long-range, or very precision shooting on the game at shorter ranges.
This scope is powered at 3-18 x 50 with a BDC Turret. The scope measures 338 mm, with a weight of 630g. This is a large scope but still within the fitting requirements of AR -10 and smaller receiver/action turn bolt rifles. Turret knobs are massive on the large housing, the scope also retains a focus adjustment knob on the left side of the turret.
These scopes are equipped with accurate one MOA sub-tensions, and as such are very workable for both hunting and target work. I readjust my turret settings using a DOPE card, and notes for the exact bullet I am shooting in the field based on drop tables and real-time target work. Turret settings are totally repeatable when moved off the zero mark, and there is no target fade in low or poor lighting conditions even at 600 through 1000 yards.
This scope is set up on the second focal plane SFF.
7. Burris Fullfield II Ballisitic Plex Rifle Scope
Now with a move well into the very affordable area of scope development but staying with a very well-known brand in the process. The Burris brand comes to the forefront as a very workable scope on a 308 chambered rifle that is going to see limited use at long range but a whole lot of field time in the woods, across small clearings, and if kept to a range of about 300 yards maximum will do it all for the hunter. That means that this scope will fit right in with about 75 percent of the deer hunters needs across the country.
For the price, this is a great deal of scope. Built-in 3X9X40, as well as two additional variants, ( high price with more power added ) the scope as presented here, will do the job for the average whitetail hunter just fine.
In effect, the 3-9X40 is the most popular scope size in use today because it can cover everything from close in tight shooting on running game to long-range work up to 400 yards. I have personally harvested deer at 125 with a 9 power glass and in most cases even with all the extra power of a more complicated scope, I tend to use 6X most of the time in the field.
The scope is built as a one-piece tube system just like the high priced models. The lens surfaces are coated for protection and the gas-filled tube is waterproof and fog-resistant as well.
I use a model of this very scope on a varmint rig that rides in the truck all the time, and it has never lost zero or given me the slightest amount of trouble in about eleven years to date. Here is the American west a rifle is a tool and it gets kicked around a whole lot. A scope that can survive here is well made to be sure.
What Makes A Great .308 Scope?
A .308 Winchester round is ideal for both moderate to long-range shooting because it provides an excellent range up to 1,000 yards. Belonging to the group of the medium, universal calibers, a .308 has set the parameters by which many others cartridges are judged and evaluated therefore should not be a surprise why it is the first choice for most outdoorsmen and soldiers.
Rifles in this chambering are widely preferred for hunting, tactical and long-range shooting as they are usually compact and handy with plenty of power to take down a large-size game ethically. In addition to all of the above, compared to the new fast, ultra flat-shooting cartridges, the .308 caliber neither have much recoil, nor the excessive noise and blast signature.
The .308 is a powerhouse that shoots farther than most of us are capable of doing, but coupling it with a proper riflescope becomes really necessary because you will get confidence in your abilities while it expands the range of your coverage.
Depending on your wishes and preferences, determine what you’re going to be doing with your .308 gun before you go shopping for a scope. It is a fact that with a .308 you can have literally anything you want, from holographic sights all the way up to extraordinarily specialized tactical, military-style scopes, but before purchasing optics for .308 you have to consider few essential things.
Whether you are looking for the best hunting or tactical scope for .308, first of all, is the budget that you set out for your riflescope. Though technological progress is responsible for the price drop offering more and more affordable scopes, optics is still valid a bit of a worn-out saying that you always get what you pay for. Of course, you have many low-cost models that are of decent quality, but for the proper scope, your budget is going to be strained to the limits to get the most out of it. An old rule of the thumb states that the cost of the optics should equal the cost of the gun, so you just do not forget to invest in a quality riflescope that is compatible with your .308 firearm platform.
Over the years, optics have been getting cheaper and cheaper. The once-popular four or five European brands (Zeiss, Swarovski, Schmidt & Bender, Leica, and Kahles) with overpriced models were all the rage, but, today we have several other major manufacturers like Leupold, Bushnell, and Vortex offering exceptional value priced optics, which have a purpose-made .308 Winchester riflescopes for under $600.
A great .308 scope needs to have a one-piece, solid construction body, and proper sealing of the tube able to withstand tear during hunting or other purposes. While the best scope for 308 should have a scratch-resistant lens, internal optic system, and mechanism should be shockproof and waterproof. Furthermore, to prevent lens fogging the quality .308 optics usually come with nitrogen or argon gas filling.
Under this term, we need to determine also the relative size of the objective lens we need, as these lenses control the amount of light entering the scope. It means that the difference in performance that you gain from a 56 mm over 40 mm objective lenses will allow you to see your target for up to 45 minutes longer during the hours of dawn and dusk. Of course, the monstrous objective bells aren’t necessary for most applications, since they rarely are worth the increase in weight and volume for the average shooter.
The same concept as objective lenses refers to the 1-inch main tube vs a 30 mm or vs 34mm tube but without a difference in light transmission between the different tube sizes. Actually, the larger tubes allow more adjustment for windage and elevation and a wider range of zoom, and nothing else, making them useful only if you are attempting to shoot at extreme long range.
The main objective of getting a quality riflescope for your new .308 rifle is the capability to see distant objects clearly in both bright light and low-light conditions. The clarity is a prime factor you should look for when searching for the best scope for 308 rifles. An excellent glass will be able to ensure maximum transmission of light (at least 90%), for a bright and clear enough sight image even in low light conditions at dusk/dawn.
Besides the lens material, light transmission depends on multiple layers of coatings that filter the light. These specialized and usually proprietary coatings will allow you to see better your target space in which you will be shooting at.
One thing to take note when shopping for a riflescope is that the .308 Winchester acts as a full-powered rifle with an 800-meter maximum effective range. Considering that, an appropriate .308 riflescope should have a good magnification range to provide accurate viewing at 300 yards, 400 yards, and even above 500 yards.
On the other hand, scope selection totally depends upon the kind of task you want to achieve, like will you be shooting at short-range targets or long-range targets.
If you are into casual hunting or target shooting and your shots rarely exceed two hundred yards, a medium-range magnification will go to cover both short and medium distances. In that case, a scope with classic 3X to 9X magnification will serve as the sweet spot for your .308 rifle.
If you are a gun enthusiast with a long-range affinity and want to push far, far beyond 300 yards, you’ll need .308 scopes with a zoom range up to 10X or 12X, because that would be an appropriate magnification as it will cover targets even above 350-400yards.
This topic is inevitably linked to the field of view (FOV), as the increased magnification narrows the field of view smaller. Some high-end scopes feature wider FOV even at the highest magnification compared to the budget optics.
Another vital factor that you need to figure out when choosing a rifle scope for 308 is a proper selection of crosshair or reticles. When determining the correct reticle for your .308, you need to keep your application in mind will help. Although different manufacturers are offering different reticle patterns with different names, there are three common types of reticles known as Duplex, Mildot, and BDC.
For most shooters and hunters a simple pattern duplex reticle will be quite enough, while the Bullet Drop Compensated or BDC reticle will provide a strong point of aim at multiple known ranges. A mil-dot reticle and its numerous versions are the best suited for precision shooting and will give you the edge you need to take those long shots confidently.
The eye relief is inevitably linked to this thread, though the .308 does not have a punishing recoil. While the .308 guns are enjoyable to shoot, you should look for minimum 3.5-inch eye relief to save your eye from any recoil damage. A scope with generous eye relief between 3.5″ and 4″ would make a .308 scope an efficient one, helping you as a shooter to have more accurate shots.
Red Dot Or Scope for A 308?
The red dot sight is one of the most effective and simple to use aiming systems that was recognized by many militaries. Later many competitive shooters and hunters have flocked to red dot sights for the same benefits.
Generally, the .308 is a powerhouse that deserves a 4x or better scope but if you are planning to use your .308 rifle in competition or home defense, or if you hunt in dense forest with no chance of a long shot a red dot sight might be a smart way to go.
Although the lower-powered scopes are more popular nowadays, the red dot sights are more effective inside of 100 yards because of increased speed on target when fractions of a second matter.
Using a red dot as close-quarters sights have several benefits over traditional iron sights and magnified scopes, but the red dot sights lose a lot of utility past 100 yards. At other hands, a .308 is a medium to long-range round designed to be used at further ranges where a high-powered optic will be beneficial.
How To Sight In A Rifle With A .308 Scope?
As you would sight in most centerfire rifles, a similar procedure applies for .308. Without taking into account trajectory tables, barrel length, scope heights, or any other variables, you have to shoot it with the load you want to shoot in it at the desired distance.
The first step is bore-sighting at 25 or 50 yards, where you’ll be looking through the barrel and then through the scope to align both parts into one aiming point. Actually, it means that the scope is pointed with where the barrel of the gun is pointed. The most important thing during this process is to keep your firearm in the stable rest.
Since this action isn’t perfect and it will only put you close, you have to fire 3 shots for a group and make some adjustments. After that, you need to move your target up to 100 yards as the typical distance for sighting in a .308 and shoot of 3-5 rounds to establish the point of impact. By using windage and elevation turrets, you should make the correction and adjust the point of impact (POI) with your point of view (POV). It is recommended to fire several shots after each adjustment to make sure your group is moving in the right direction.
Most of the experienced shooters suggest to sight in your .308 rifle 2 inches high at 100 yards as that will carry into point-blank aiming out to 200 yards.
How To Choose a Scope Mount For Your 308?
Scope Mount is an interface between your gun and scope that holds the whole system together. When you are preparing for outfitting your latest .308 purchase with optics, a sturdy and robust scope mount is particularly important to make you feel absolutely confident in a gun-scope combination.
There are two types of scope mounts: one-piece mounts and ring mounts (or two-piece). The best scope mounts for you depend on your firearm type and scope manufacturer recommendation, you should choose one of them.
A single-piece or one-piece scope mount is very simple for installation and won’t require any complex fitting. Many owners of modern .308 semiautomatic rifles use this type because one-piece scope mount can push your optics forward, for better fitting above certain handguards.
Two-piece rings are the best choice for .308 bolt action guns as they provide proper clearance above the action of the rifle. Many consider two-piece scope rings as an old-school scope mounts for more universal and adaptable.
The last thing to don’t forget is the height of the rings which directly is affected by the size of your scope, actually the size of your scope objective lens. The thumb of the rule is to mount your scope as low as possible. However, if you have a long-range scope with large 56mm objective lens, you are going to need high or extra high rings.
Besides these two scope mounts, there are also some specialized designs intended for different purposes. One of them is scope mount with see-through Tunnel which enables you to see your iron sights, making it handy feature in case of scope damage or other unforeseen situation.
How To Mount a Scope For a 308
Adding a scope to your 308 is a great way to increase your shooting range, but your riflescope should be correctly mounted and adjusted. One of the basic things to avoid is inconsistent in shooting with riflescope because of poorly mounted scope.
The first step is choosing of proper rings with an adequate diameter of scope main tube. As you know, currently most of the riflescopes feature 1 inch, 30mm, and 34mm diameter central tubes.
The next action is to put your rings at the scope and the whole ensemble lightly mounts on the rifle to fit the appropriate eye relief. After that, pull out the scope and tighten down the low halves of rings to the gun.
Now, put on the scope and placing a small level check the reticle is perfectly leveled when installed.
Finally, you have to mount the top half of the rings and tight the screws. It is recommended that you apply thread locker (removable, not permanent) to all screws and proper torque specs to achieve the final tightness.
Best .300 Blackout Scopes and Optics
If you’re looking for scopes to shoot .300, take a look at our article on the best .300 blackout scopes and optics.
Until now, you should have a general picture of an appropriate scope for your .308 rifle. If you’re looking for new optics whether it’s for an AR-10 or a short-barreled scout gun or your standard turn bolt action rifle, there’s an excellent riflescope out there tailor-made for your .308.
When totaled all the scopes listed here and paired with the groups of scopes that are under the same design by the manufacturers listed, will number well over 30 different offerings. All these scopes and many more can be obtained through Amazon by way of the internet. When selecting a scope for the 308 Winchester just understand that better glass will give you better results downrange. The 308 Winchester or otherwise known as the 7.62 NATO in military terms, carries a grand pedigree, a long history of performance, and it is not to be set aside by the new developments in ordnance currently so popular among hunters and shooters today.
For more, see our write up on the best short range optics we tested on the market today.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material for over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world, including Russia, and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American West and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems TM.
Or contact me at: