In the first part of the 20th Century Winchester rifles came out with the .30 gv’t 06 caliber bullet. For over 50 years this was a standard rife cartridge in the US Army and it remains one of the most popular rounds on the market even a hundred years on.
It’s designed for shots around 1000 yards which is why a scope is necessary to get the maximum accuracy from these bullets, even though rifle technology has come a long way since their inception. This is a great round for hunting since the weight varies from just over 7g to over 14g and come in various loads and pressures for different firearms – it’s very versatile. So what do you need in a scope for a bullet like that?
There’s an old rule that says your scope should cost at least as much as your rifle, and while it may be true you don’t simply want to buy the most expensive because you think it’s the best. A good 30-06 scope costs between $150-500 for your average hunter. If you are using it for hunting purposes consider whether it has low light or illumination. You’ll also need enough power to see close to your prey and for a range of 400 yards a 3-9x scope will be fine. Lenses are very important when it comes to the best scope for 30-06 because if they’re too big it’s hard to carry around and if it’s too small you won’t have enough light in tough condition, about 40mm is enough though you can go up to 50mm if you’re comfortable.
Top 8 30 06 Scope Reviews
This is one of the most popular choices for 30-06 and it’s almost identical to the Buckmaster 3-9x above in specs. It will work well with any 30-06 rifle and the only difference between the two relates to the glass, except it’s so minimal you wouldn’t be able to tell with the naked eye.
The Prostaff has a zero-reset turret with a spring loaded knob and it’s a little more versatile since you can also use it for .22 and .308. It still has the 40mm glass and they’re slightly better coated to give 98% light transmission.
- Fog proof – nitrogen filled
- ¼ MOA
- Lens caps included
The glass is nice and bright on this scopes. This generation has a much bigger glass which allows for better eye relief and a brighter view. The eyepiece focuses quickly to allow for almost instant target acquisition and the reset capability is very convenient. This is a good scope for someone who is more of an occasional shooter and doesn’t want to spend a whole lot of money. It has the same convenient app as the Buckmaster too.
This might be a bit large for some people and it’s built like a tank. The lens also starts to distort and blur at maximum magnification. There are also some quality control issues which Nikon seems to be willing to fix under warranty where the elevation doesn’t adjust and the scope won’t zero so be sure to test asap.
Vortex has a very recognized name for quality scopes, probably why this is the most expensive of these budget scopes. This is a medium range scope that has a pretty versatile power level. As to be expected from vortex it’s a quality optic that has quite a few features like their own XR coating to improve light transmission and anti reflection. The scope is treated with Argon to prevent fogging and also has a bullet drop compensator for windage and elevation. The scope is also waterproof and shock proof and has a 4” sunshade.
- Second Focal Plane
- ¼ MOA
- 4” sunshade and lens caps
The parralax and side focus adjustments are much easier to access than the Bushnell and the lenses provide a nice, bright picture. The LRBC ballistics tool on the website is also really useful for sighting in and getting perfect accuracy to around 700 yards. The lifetime warranty is nice and the company stands behind their products. The sun shade and lens covers are also an added bonus at this price range which most companies will skip.
While Vortex produces quality sights this is very obviously at the bottom of the range. The quality control isn’t great and the accuracy can be very frustrating, especially if you’re used to a much more precise scope. Expect to spend time and ammo sighting this in once you get it.
When it comes to quality scopes Leupold is a name that will always come up. Their products are perhaps a little more expensive than Nikon but they’re generally better too and most people will tell you that that extra $50 is worth the spend. There are two good versions of the Leupold for 30-06 – the 3-9x50mm and the 2-7x33mm. The magnification is the most obvious difference between the two and really that’s a question of what you’re hunting. For longer distances the 3-9x is a better choice but we’ll look at both. The 50mm is on the larger end of what you want to look at for 30-06 and it’s slightly heavier than the 2-7x.
- ¼ MOA
- Lead-free Glass
- Fog proof – Nitrogen Filled
- lens cover
The lockable eyepiece means your focus is always solid, even with the kick you can expect from 30-06. the finger adjustable turrets make this easy to adjust since you won’t need tools and the lenses have 4 coatings for anti-glare and reflection. It has better eye relief than the Nikon scopes and clearer glass too. This scope will also work for .308 which makes it a bit more flexible and it can stand up to the abuse from higher calibers too. The 50mm is also nice for getting maximum light at dawn and dusk since there’s no illumination.
Some may find that the tube of this scope is a little short and that means your eye relief is also limited.
So what’s the difference between the Leopold VX-1 and VX-2? Side by side not a lot but the VX-2 does have slightly better clarity and a bigger price tag so when it comes to the 30-06 you can do either depending on your price range. The VX-2 has great light transmission and better clarity than Nikon as well as a much wider field of view. This is another scope that’s fairly light with a low profile and it has good magnification too so it’s easy to carry around.
- ¼ MOA
- Lens caps
- Waterproof, Shockproof, Fog proof
- 6061-T6 Aircraft Aluminum
The finger turrets make for quick and easy adjustment and the optics are very clear. It’s a good midgrade scope and Leupold has a nice name when it comes to quality. The most notable thing is that fact that it’s so lightweight and while it’s not really much different in light transmission than the Prostaff it’s close. The clicks are firm and the field of view is impressive at almost 15 feet. The eye relief is pretty forgiving and you’ll get about 4” or so.
It doesn’t have the focus lock like the VX-1 which is disappointing, and when it comes to price this is expensive compared to the almost identical older model of VX-3. The lack of a side parralax adjustment is annoying and the turrets also do not reset to zero.
A nice light scope that’s got amazing peripheral view too. The quality is great and they are easy to adjust. A dependable scope that still gives crystal clear vision even at dawn and dusk which makes it perfect for hunting. They also have a transferable warranty which is great if you buy secondhand.
- ¼ MOA
- Duplex Reticule
- 6061-T6 Aluminum
The small size of the scope means you’ll get a better cheek weld and if you’re working with a range around 300 yards this is ample and won’t weigh as much as a 50mm. This is also available in a Rimfire version that gives better close range performance and while that version isn’t the best quality glass it will do the job. The eye relief is nice and the field of view is nice for both close and magnified shots which makes it perfect for 30-06. Light transmission is impressive enough that you could shoot on a bright full moon and still get away with it thinking this was dusk.
The focus on this is gritty compared to the VX-2 but you’re also looking at a significantly lower price. The crosshair is also disappointing as it’s just a plain Jane – simple and functional but considering the other versions of the VX line this is a very obvious downside. The duplex option is minor, and considering it adds extra cost it’s not necessarily worth the $40+ price. The adjustment rings are also hard to turn with gloves and get exact which is an issue for cold weather.
As one of the more expensive scope here the Viper is a great long range option where the VX-1 2-7x is better for close range. This is quite possibly the best of the bet for 30-06 because the clarity of the 50mm lens is simply amazing and it’s solid enough to take on anything. It also has a nice 4” eye relief and a good field of view. It has a zero stop and while the dials are a little stiff it also means they won’t come loose. The red dot is nice and bright and makes it perfect for low light and night use.
- First Focal Plane
- ¼ MOA
- Sun shade
With an easy to read and clear reticule the glass on this is impressive. It’s got a quality feel and the adjustments are clean and easy to read. The illuminated reticule is nice, especially if you’re planning on hunting with limited light and it functions like a much more expensive optic. The adjustable zero stop is useful and means you won’t have to worry about going past it. There’s also 10 settings of illumination so you’ll always be able to see your target clearly. The side parallax is also well positioned so you don’t have to adjust your position to use it. The FFP also allows you to see the reticule and target together which makes adjustments much quicker.
The view gets significantly dimmer at the highest magnification giving your view a significant halo and the eye relief is almost too much. At the minimum focal range the field of view is severely restricted and it’s also rather large and cumbersome (especially if you’re moving around with it).
This is essentially the bargain basement of 30-06 scopes. It’s priced like a toy, but for someone who simply wants to see what difference a scope can make for their 30-06 it’s ideal. The options on this are amazing considering the price and it’s clearly meant to stand up to scopes 2-4 times its price. This is a generously reliable optic that is gas purged and fully coated. As an entry for 30-06 you simply can’t get better. It’s recoil proof, and has zero lock turrets and almost 4” of eye relief. Compare this to almost anything on the list and you’ll see the same thing with an added 0 on the end of the price.
- ¼ MOA
- Waterproof, shockproof, fog proof
- TrueZero adjustment system
- QTA eyepiece
The coated lenses provide a pretty clear view and the adjustment system is audible and doesn’t creep (something the more expensive Nikon often fails at). The 8 Point delivers impressive precision for something that is considered to be basic. These tolerate temperature fluctuations surprisingly well and also hold up to the recoil of a 30-06 over time without shaking loose, in fact, you’ll have to worry more about your rings than the sight.
While the max power is 9x you probably don’t want to use this past 150 yards because the quality of image gets rather fuzzy. It’s idea for short ranges however. The front bell is also quite large and you’ll need a high mount to get it on which makes it hard to hold a cheek weld.
With a nice clarity and accuracy this scope might not be considered to be “the best scope for 30-06” but it’s still a good scope. They are solidly built and since Redfield is actually owned by Leupold they’re very similar in quality if significantly less in price. Despite the fact that the original Redfield doesn’t exist anymore you can still pick up their optics. It has good eye relief, though at over 4” it might be too much for some people. The quality of optics is about average for the price and it’s easily comparable to the Leupold VX-1.
- Waterproof, Fog Proof (Nitrogen treated but not very well performing)
- Lens covers
The turrets are finger adjustable which is convenient for quick changes. There’s an optional matte or silver finish and it has a reasonable 91% light transmission. The accu-ranger reticule is designed to work with average velocities as a BDC. The lenses are fully coated for anti-glare and anti-reflection and the scope comes with a lifetime warranty.
This is not a fog proof scope, and in humidity and cold it will fog significantly hampering it’s functionality despite being nitrogen filled. The finish scratches easily which while not a function problem does make it look pretty banged up quickly. It’s not a premium scope for sure, and depending on your ammo you may have trouble getting it sighted in.
30-06 is a punchy caliber to deal with and that can literally shake your scope to pieces from the recoil if you choose something that isn’t sturdy enough. The best scope for 30-06 is the Leupold VX-2. The reason for this is that it’s sturdy enough to stand up to the caliber and provides crystal clear optics.
Obviously it outperforms the VX-1, but it has better light transmission than both the Vortex or the Nikon. The only issue with the Leupold is obviously the prohibitive price. If price really is your sticking point then you can’t do any better than the ultra-cheap Simmons 8 point. When it comes to the top end of scopes for 30-06 there’s really not a whole lot of difference between them since the quality of glass is all pretty impressive.