Because .308 is a highly practical, general-purpose round. Sure, it may not be the most powerful round out there. It may not have the lowest recoil or flattest trajectory. If you’re looking for a rifle that’s optimized for a specific purpose, .308 probably isn’t the round for you.
But if you’re looking for a round that does it all pretty darn well, it’s hard to top .308.
Of course, the fact that .308 is a general-purpose round doesn’t mean you can’t ensure that you’re getting the most out of it. A high-quality scope is a great way to do just that.
And to help you find a great scope for .308, we’ve assembled a list of the best .308 Winchester scopes. We’ll get to the reviews of each scope in a moment, but first, let’s go over some background information.
If you’re the impatient type, don’t worry. You can go ahead and take a peek at our list below.
What Are Scopes for .308?
General-purpose ammo needs a general-purpose scope. Here are some things to look for to make sure your scope is suitable for everything your .308 rifle is:
Large Magnification Range
A good scope for .308 should also have a large magnification range.
A .308 scope doesn’t need to be an ultra-precise long-range scope. That said, .308 does have a maximum effective range of about 1,000 yards. A .308 scope’s higher magnification settings should be powerful enough to help with that.
If you’re interested in long-distance shooting, you’ll want a high magnification of around 10x for hunting and 16x for target shooting. Higher magnification is definitely better if you want to be able to shoot smaller targets (including game) at that range.
For close range shooting, around 200 to 400 yards, you really only need about 4x to 6x magnification. That’s around where the lower end of your .308 scope’s magnification range should be.
It can be tempting to ignore the importance of lower magnification levels. However, magnification that’s too powerful for the distance wrecks your field of view (FOV).
For the uninitiated, field of view is the real world width in feet of the area in your scope picture at 100 yards. If your field of view is too small, it can be easy to lose your target or to miss important things because they’re outside your sight picture.
This is less of a problem while target shooting. It can make a big difference when hunting, though, since your targets move and interact with the world around them.
A BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticle is another huge advantage for .308 scopes.
BDC reticles have hash marks at fixed intervals below the center of the crosshair. Each one represents a specific amount of MOA or MILS.
This allows shooters to quickly determine and apply holdover (the amount of correction needed to counter bullet drop).
A mil-dot reticle is a similar concept, but it uses dots instead of hash marks. It also doesn’t just mark below the center of the crosshair, but also above it and to each side. This allows you to make even more on the fly elevation adjustments than a BDC reticle.
We think it’s kind of overkill for most .308 purposes, though. They also can cause a lot of visual clutter. In addition, it can be somewhat overwhelming for shooters that aren’t used to them.
There are also plenty of .308 scopes available with duplex reticles. While we prefer the utility of the BDC reticle, some people like the classic simplicity of the duplex.
If you plan on only making shots at consistent distances, like with target shooting, you can just use your actual elevation adjustment turret instead. Plus, then you don’t have to make the correction with each shot.
If you don’t mind doing some proportions in your head, you can still use a duplex reticle to estimate holdover. It just won’t be as easy or as accurate as with a BDC reticle.
With that in mind, we have recommended one scope with a duplex reticle in our recs below.
An illuminated reticle, whether BDC or duplex, is also an advantage. It’s not essential, though, just nice to have. Illumination makes the reticle more visible, especially in low light conditions.
Have you ever looked through a scope and noticed the reticle moving relative to the target when you move your head? That’s called parallax and it can really hurt your accuracy.
Scopes correct for parallax, but many have fixed parallax correction. That means the scope is focused to be parallax-free at a particular distance, but you can’t control that distance. The farther from the scope’s parallax setting, the more of an effect parallax has.
You can get away with the 100-yard parallax setting of most scopes with .308. It’s a generalist, after all, not a high precision round. A setting closer to .308’s mid-range is better, though. Adjustable parallax is best.
Parallax adjustment allows you to change the distance at which a scope is parallax-free just like you can adjust for windage and elevation. .308 is effective from close range to long-range. Parallax adjustment allows you to ensure you’re parallax-free at whatever range you’re shooting from at the moment.
What Are The Different Types of Scopes for .308?
.308 is a jack-of-all-trades round, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have something you use it for most. The scope you select should be designed for that purpose.
A .308 scope can be used as tactical scope for home defense. It is, after all, the civilian cousin to 7.62 NATO. However, it will be most frequently be used for hunting or target shooting.
Want to primarily use your .308 scope with your hunting rifle?
A hunting scope can get away with much weaker magnification than a target scope. You just don’t need the same ultra-high magnification levels, especially if you’re not small game hunting. Of course, the scope’s magnification should be powerful enough for you to sight your quarry at your farthest preferred distance.
While you could use .308 for competition shooting, it’s really more of a recreational target shooting round.
Still, .308 target scopes will generally have more powerful magnification than hunting scopes. A large field of view is less important at the shooting range than when hunting. More powerful magnification allows you to get the closest possible view for high precision shots.
How Do Scopes for .308 Work?
Scopes for .308 work pretty much the same as any other scope. Let’s take a second to talk about that and give you a crash course in scope anatomy.
The objective lens is at the front of the scope (the end towards the muzzle). It allows light to enter the scope and focuses that light so it can travel through the other lenses. A larger objective lens allows more light to enter the scope. More light transmission allows for a brighter image and lets you shoot in lower light conditions. On the other hand, it can also cause glare.
Next, the light enters the erector system. The erector system contains the reticle and magnification lens. The lens moves towards the front of the scope as you increase magnification and vice versa.
If the reticle is in front of the magnification lens, it’s a front or first focal plane scope (FFP). This positioning causes the reticle grow or shrink as you adjust magnification so it stays the same size relative to the target.
The lens closest to your eye is the ocular lens. It magnifies the light back out, giving you your sight picture.
What Do You Look For In The Best Scopes for .308?
We already talked about features that make a scope especially well-suited for .308. There are a couple of other features that are important for scopes in general. Be sure to keep these in mind when choosing a scope.
All the magnification and adjustability in the world don’t mean anything if your scope doesn’t provide a clear image.
To achieve a clear image, lenses should be warp-free and allow ample light transmission. They will also typically have lens coating to protect from scratches and prevent glare.
A multi-purpose scope needs to be able to stand up to all sorts of situations.
The body should be made out of a durable material like aircraft-grade aluminum. The scope should also be shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. That way it can stand up to all kinds of abuse, from drops to wet weather conditions.
Your scope is, after all, something of an investment. It should protect itself.
Best Scopes for .308 Reviewed
Now that you’ve got some background information, let’s move on to the scopes themselves.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24×50 AO Riflescope (Our Top Pick)
Our favorite .308 riflescope is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II.
It has an aircraft-grade aluminum body and a fast-focus eyepiece. It’s waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof with a multicoated lens.
With a magnification range of 6x to 24x, this scope offers excellent magnification for all shooting distances. The second focal plane dead-hold BDC reticle makes quick adjustments easy. The 50mm objective lens lets in plenty of light for a nice, bright sight picture.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback is proof you don’t have to spend a ton to get a great scope.
The Diamondback gets its name because it’s highly durable. The one-piece, aircraft-grade aluminum alloy body stands up to drops and even magnum recoil. The scope is argon purged for water and fog proofing.
Like our top pick, this budget scope has an SFP dead-hold BDC reticle and a fast focus eyepiece.
If you’re new to rifle scopes or just prefer a duplex reticle, this is a great scope for you.
Leupold designed the VX-3i to be a hunting scope, but it does just fine at the range, too.
It has a rear focal plane duplex reticle to minimize visual clutter and avoid obscuring your target. It’s super lightweight, so you’ll be perfectly happy toting it in the field. Speaking of which, the waterproof, fog proof design helps this scope stand up to wet weather.
Not everyone wants to use their .308 for long-range shooting and that’s just fine. The Burris Scout Riflescope is great for short to mid-range shooting. Burris also gives you plenty of advantages to make up for the shorter range capabilities.
For one, the 9.2 to 12” eye relief blows everyone else on this list out of the water, so you can mount it much farther down your rifle.
The multicoated lenses offer a crisp bright sight picture. They allow for up to 95 percent light transmission while also cutting glare.