Right off I need to take a little time here and discuss the elements involved when viewing the 30-30 Winchester cartridge. This is because the 30-30 has limitation well beyond many other more modern cartridges. The 170-grain round nosed bullet used in the cartridge is designed to run into a tube magazine and the bullet tip will rest against the cartridge ahead of it Obvious recoil could possibly detonate the front or leading round in the magazine. Not a good day in the field at all if that should happen.
Now, not only is the bullet a bit heavy and blunt, but the rifle itself when offered in carbine length lever guns ( Winchester Model 94 ) as well as Marlin 336, and Henry X Model lever-action rifles are designed along the lines of the original old west Model 94’s. Again save for the fact that the Marlin and Henry rifles use a side ejection versus the Winchester Model 94’s top ejection system as it turns out this ejection design element makes for some very different approaches to using a scope sight at all on a 30-30 Winchester chambered rifle.
Scope selection in terms of the 30-30 cartridge and paired rifles can be reduced to a short range glass sight. The 30-30 cartridge is not designed for long or even medium range. The max range with a scope is about 200 yards, and in most cases with buckhorn iron sights and light-duty scopes the effective range is confined to well inside 150 yards.
Best 30-30 Scopes
CVLIFE 4×32 Compact
This first offering in a compact scope comes from CVLIFE and is a budget glass, but at the same time, it carries much of what a brush or woodlands hunter is looking for in a scope designed for rifles like the 30-30, model 94 Winchester, or the Marlin models in a lever-action rifle chambered in 30-30 Winchester.
This scope is set at a single 4X power and makes use of a small 32mm objective bell. The scope comes with Weaver rings and bases that lick onto a pre-installed rail system on the rifle’s receiver. This means the scope is best suited for use with the setup as it stands, but removing this set of mounts and installed rings and a special Winchester Model 94 side mount would being this glass sight right into view for the hunter.
I shoot a straight 4X Bushnell on my Model 94 Winchester using the side mounted feature. No issues, great accuracy, and dead deer for camp meat and even the wall to 100 yards in timber country.
This illustrated CVLIFE 4X32 makes use of an all-aluminum one-piece primary tube, carries a field of view of 23 feet at 100 yards, has an eye relief of 4.13 inches, and carries an MOA click value of ¼ inch per click.
The lens system is dioptric, which provides the shooter with both near and farsightedness equal sighting value.
Due to the fact that the 30-30 has little recoil, this is a workable glass sight at a budget price. Information I have found suggests that it is a good value for the money and seems to be holding up well on a varied number and types of rifles I reviewed.
UUQ Tactical 4X32
Here is still another ultra-light small compact scope in again a 4X fixed power setting 32MM objective that can be mounted to the side of a Winchester Model 94, or atop a Marlin or Henry carbine 30-30.
This is a 4 power scope with a one-inch main tube size. The Weight of the little glass sight is 7.7 ounces and measures 8x2x2 inches. This is a nice size for the side plate mounting on the Model 94.
Milled using one solid piece of aircraft-grade aluminum the scope will withstand normal field conditions in warm and cold climates. Fog proof and water-resistant the scope is field ready right out of the box.
A set of special rigs and a Winchester Model 94 side mount is required in this case. Standard rings and fitted mount is used on the other lever-action rifles if the scope applied to them.
While not critical as applied to the 30-30 cartridge the sub tensions on this scope retain a rang finding system built into the crosshairs. The ring mounts sent with the scope will fit a weaver 20mm mount as standard.
The term “Tactical” has been given to this glass sight but I would not take that as fact any time soon. Tactical is a world apart from this little scope best applied o sport shooting and light big game hunting. Turrets are capped and the graduations are ¼ MOA in adjustment levels.
In the UUQ sight, we have a combination of elements that make it a sold option for timber or brush country closer range hunting. Often in timber, the light conditions are nasty and this scope makes use of three color settings as a part of the sub tension design. Red Green and Blue colors can be selected so as to illuminate the crosshairs under low light conditions. Atop the scope housing which is a one-piece construction, the unit retains a pistol style fully adjustable open sight. This partridge style rear sight and fiber optic front sight make for super-fast handling and target acquisition system in brush or timber.
The sight has a Weaver slotted base and that makes it workable on lever-action 30-30 that retains side ejection versus the Model 94 style top ejection receiver system.
Click values ¼ MOA, 3/8dove tail rail mounts, and coated glass for positive light transmission.
IN terms of tough working glass sights the Truglo system is hard to beat. I have these scopes mounted on crossbows, shotguns, and rifles currently. The lighted reticle system makes for easy use in low light situations and also easy on older eyes that are not exactly what they once were.
The scope is offered with a duplex style crosshair, long eye relief, built water and fog-resistant, and is field ready right out of the box.
The turrets in this model are capped, and clock adjustments are ¼ MOA. The main one-piece tube size is 1 inch and fits standard mounts. Weaver claw mounts are available from, Truglo as applied to this scope, but can be switched out with ease for other systems if desired.
The lens system on this scope is coated for light control, and the eyepiece focus control is soft rubber for sure gripping when making changes to this element of the scope mechanical function.
Scratch-resistant, flat black in color making it non-reflective this is a hunter’s glass sight. Best applied for timber and brush country hunting That stated it is right at home with the 30-30 Winchester cartridge.
Bushnell Drop Zone
Now for the hunter that wants a bit more power but still not carry around a three pound piece of pipe on the rifle comes the Bushnell Drop Zone glass sight.
30-30 rifles like the Marlin 336C now being built by Ruger under new ownership is a prime example of a rifle that can handle this scope well being receiver mounted or locked down just ahead of the point that the barrel reaches the receiver.
This scope is built on a 30mm tube which is large than standard, but it is chopped off at the forward bell, then compressed into a shorter system when used as a 1-4X power system. The scope has open turret adjustments for additional range elevation if required, and will view 90 feet at 100 yards using the 4x magnification level.
This scope has a BDC reticle set up for the .223 Rem, but any shooter with an understanding of his cartridge ballistics can re-dope this to match his 170 grain 30-30 cartridge bullet. The point here being many different AR-15 class scopes are also workable on the carbine sized 30-30 lever-action rifle.
Scope size 13.5×3.9×3.1 inches. The weight of this scope is 1.6 pounds. Even side mounted I believe it is too large for the Winchester Model 94.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a workable fit for the larger lever-action rifles when top mounted. This scope is 1-4X24 model that uses the 30mm main tube, an advanced V-Brite reticle, the v-plax format, with battery-powered electronics regarding illumination.
The sub tension offered a view of a red dot at the crosshairs center point, carries an extra long eye relief with a very user forgiving eye box, and is a good choice for low light shooting. Fast to the point in terms of picking up a moving target in cover, is small enough to not offset the balances for the fast handling Marlin or Henry rifle, and with capped turrets is able to take rough handling in the field.
This scope is constructed from a single piece of aluminum and is sealed for nasty weather as well as being built combat tank sight tough.
This final scope illustrated here is again a chopped bell AR-15 class scope sight with many features that the hunter trying to push the bullet in a 30-30 could very well appreciate. This scope retains a 1X4x magnification and is designed for shooting from muzzle to 300 yards. Pushing the 30-30 that far is workable, but the shooter had better know his rifle well for that to happen with any degree of effectiveness.
The scope retains open turrets for fast bullet impact changes, and is starting to move into the world of the long range shooter, but is still workable on the shorter range 30-30 Winchester cartridge.
The scope makes use of a dial controlled illumination system that will increase or decrease sub tension displays when low light shooting is encountered.
This glass on this scope sight is housed on a larger 30 mm main tube that is one-pieces and built from better grade aircraft aluminum materials.
Built in the FFP, first focal plane and using a BDC reticle this is a turn toward military versus plane Jane standard scope glass. With the advanced suppressor systems being used on lever guns currently and even the extended rail systems for add on stuff ( lights etc), the upgraded glass has someplace in the mix to be sure.
Regardless of the selected glass sight, remember to keep the size in mind as the rifle receiver is not all that long or wide. Low power magnifications are all that is required for almost all 30-30 applications, and the glass quality needs to be the world class material used on long range rifle scopes. In the area of pricing these scopes are not off the charts and in most cases very affordable, So much so that if an issue after some years these can be regarded as throw away units versus paying for any type of rebuilding. That stated I can say for a solid fact that I have been running many of these lighter duty glass sighting system for as many as 10 to 25 years and they are still sending the mail downrange just fine. Why would a professional writer and reviewer use budget glass? Because when you’re putting scopes on upwards of 8 to 12 rifles and handguns a year price is everything.
The 30-30 cartridge and its paired lever-action rifles has piled up more game as in winter meat, sport hunting, and general open range use than any other cartridge across America. I say this because the 7.62X39 Russian Short could be a contender for the most rounds and results down range today in Europe. I want to keep the story as straight as possible here. The primary rifle I would never sell from my stable of working rifles is my 30-30 Winchester as set up with a straight 4X glass sight. Lightweight, ample rounds in the magazine, fast sighting, and a system that has produced outstanding performance high country timber keeps this package right at my side during many days afield.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of 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. Web site www.metrogun.com.