Best Scope for 30-06 Rifle: Top 7 Picks

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By Dennis Howard •  24 min read

The 30-06 Springfield remains one of the most popular rifle calibers in the United States for hunting. Despite being over 100 years old, the ballistic characteristics of this cartridge continue to prove its worth and value in the field. Pairing a good .30-06 rifle with the proper scope is essential for maximum performance from this cartridge and rifle combination. Join me to find the best rifle scopes for the 30-06 cartridge.

Best Scope for 30-06

Pairing a rifle scope with the 30-06 cartridge requires:

In this article, our goal will be to find the right combination of features in a quality scope to fit your needs.

Finding the Right .30-06 Scope

Finding that perfect rifle scope to put on your .30-06 rifle requires understanding the caliber and your hunting styles and expectations. Selecting a rifle scope is like finding your next new pair of boots. They should fit just right and be designed for the conditions you expect to encounter while wearing them. A scope must fit the characteristics of your rifle and your expected hunting situations.

How Far Do You Need to See?

Distance is a big factor in mating a rifle and a scope. You must know the capabilities and limitations of the caliber and rifle you intend to shoot. The .30-06 has some good ballistic characteristics that have made it a popular hunting cartridge. This cartridge also has its limitations. A ballistics chart for a standard .30-05 rifle gives an idea of the ranges where this cartridge performs reliably.

The data in this chart is based on Remington’s 166 AccuTip Boat Tailed Bullet. This Remington factory cartridge is a popular load with hunters who shoot the .30-06 and gives a good look at the typical ballistics.

Ballistics chart for .30-06 showing that this cartirdge is no really meant for long range shooting

When the numbers are presented clearly, it is easy to see that the .30-06 was never meant to be a 1000-yard rifle. In truth, medium-range hunting on anything larger than deer or antelope is chancy at best. For most North American hunters, whose hunts occur between 200 and 300 yards, the .30-06 performs well. Beyond 400 yards, the bullet’s trajectory requires such extreme holdovers that accuracy is compromised for most shooters.

Let the Ballistics Call the Shots on Scope Selection

These ballistic characteristics of the .30-06 cartridge shed light on the specifications for any scope that you mount on your rifle. There is no need for an extreme magnification range on a scope for a .30-06 rifle. For hunting between 200 and 400 yards, a magnification range of 4x – 9x is more than adequate to ensure a clean takedown of your target.

At ranges below 200 yards, the .30-06 shoots flat, and you can aim for a dead-on bullseye on your target. Some medium-range scopes have a true 1x magnification setting handy for these short-range shots that might occur on some varmints or feral hogs.


Our List of the Best .30-06 Scopes

When compiling scope lists, we always look for certain things in each scope. We look for these things to qualify for a listing on our best of scope list:

With those things in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best scopes on the market that meet the requirements of a .30-06 rifle:

1. Best Overall Scope for Hunting with the .30-06 – Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Second Focal Plane Riflescope

If you are looking for the best return for your dollar when buying a general-purpose rifle scope for your .30-06, I don’t think you can do much better than the Vortex Optics Diamondback line of riflescopes. Vortex Optics’ reputation for delivering high-quality scopes at a fair price is unrivaled in my book.

Vortex Optics features extra low dispersion glass that are o-ring sealed

The Diamondback Tactical Second focal plane scope delivers on all the items that I look for in a scope. These are rugged and dependable scopes that should deliver years of reliable service. If the unforeseen happens, Vortex Optics has one of the best warranties in the industry and is usually quick and responsive when a claim is needed.

From the standpoint of features, the Vortex Optics Diamondback line offers a complete feature list that is impressive in its own right.

Features

Other features come standard on the Diamondback line of scopes, such as capped turrets. Vortex optics diamondback scopes offer features that you don’t often find in other scopes in this price category. Very often, you can source these scopes for under $300.

o ring sealed construction and positive responce capped turrets are great features of the Vortex rifle scope

Specifications

Vortex Dead Hold BDC reticle on the second focal plane for deer hunting and target shooting

The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Diamondback 3-9×40 Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons

My Thoughts on the Vortex Optics Diamondback 3-9×40 Tactical Rifle Scope

I don’t think you will get more bang for your buck with any other scope. You can pay more for a scope with marginally better glass and optics. You won’t find another scope at this price that performs as well as the Vortex Optics Diamondback.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - V-Plex...
  • The Diamondback 4-12x40 riflescope is one of multiple configurations in the Diamondback lineup and...
  • V-Plex reticle is a popular all-purpose hunting reticle intended for a wide variety of hunting...

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2. Runner-up Best Overall .30-06 Scope -Athlon Optics Talos 3-12×40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

Athlon Optics is an often overlooked brand name, in my opinion. Athlon is quietly building a solid reputation for delivering excellent optical characteristics in a moderately priced package. For the average hunter, especially those shooting a .30-06 rifle, the 3-12×40 Talos scope is good for your rifle.

Athlon Optics Talos scopes use multi-coated optics to enhance light transmission

From the standpoint of what I look for in a riflescope, Athlon meets most of the checkboxes I set. I will state upfront that most of the scopes in the Athlon Optics line are made in China. However, Athlon maintains a rigorous quality control operation to ensure that only the best possible products are allowed into their fulfillment stream.

You won’t be disappointed in the features you get when you purchase an Athlon Optics scope:

Features

I have found that many shooters either ignore or are unaware of Athlon Optics. If you are looking for a hunting or target scope for your annual hunt or some weekend range time, you won’t come up short with an Athlon Scope on your rifle.

For medium range shooting this Athlon rifle scope for .30-06 is a great choice

Specifications

The Pros and Cons of the Athlon Optics Talos 3-12X40mm Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons
Athalon optics Mil-dot reticle offers excellent quick target acquisition in a reliable scope

My Thoughts on the Athlon Optics Talos 3-12x40mm Scope

I have several Athalon scopes on rifles in my gun safe. They are used for both hunting and target shooting. These scopes have served me well with very few problems. I think Athlon is an underappreciated brand, especially if you are looking for above-average performance at a reasonable price. This may be the best scope you can buy for under $200.

VX-3HD 3.5-10x40 (1 inch) CDS-ZL Duplex
  • Model #180617 - VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope with a Duplex CDS-ZL reticle and a Matte finish
  • Duplex reticle - Defined by heavy posts, stands out against cover in low light, most popular reticle...

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3. Best Long Distance Scope for .30-06 – Leupold VX-3HD 3.5 – 10x 40mm Rifle Scope

If you are one of those shooters who delights in pushing the limits of themselves and their rifle, distance is always the ultimate challenge. To expect to push the .30-06 cartridge to its limits requires the ability to see targets at those distances. This requires a scope with the clarity and quality of optics to make those distant images recognizable and targetable.

For longer range shooting and crystal clear images, the Leupold VX-3HD delivers

Leupold has long been known for the quality of its optical scopes. Leupold doesn’t skimp anywhere. The quality of their optical glass to the materials and techniques used to manufacture their scopes is of the highest quality. If long-range shots are your goal, mounting the best possible long-range shooting scope is a basic requirement.

A Leupold rifle scope is expected to have features that aren’t normally associated with lower-cost scopes. You should expect features such as these with your Leupold scope:

Features

Leupold scopes have been the go-to optics for both amateur and professional shooters. You can enjoy the same quality scope on your .30-06 rifle.

When shooting long range, bright images and higher magnification is essential to success

Specifications

The Pros and Cons of the Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×40 CDS-ZL Riflescope

Pros
Cons
For long range accuracy, the Leupold Duplex reticle offers incredible and incredible sight picture

My Take on the Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10X40 Rifle Scope

If you are set on taking that trophy white-tail at 700 yards, you will need a rifle scope that can deliver the images that allow you to spot your shots precisely. Leupold has long been known as a Tier 1 rifle optic. A great scope such as a Leupold can be the difference between a trophy hunt and a disappointing miss. If distance is your goal, the Leupold VX-3HD can be one missing puzzle piece.

VX-3HD 3.5-10x40 (1 inch) CDS-ZL Duplex
  • Model #180617 - VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope with a Duplex CDS-ZL reticle and a Matte finish
  • Duplex reticle - Defined by heavy posts, stands out against cover in low light, most popular reticle...

Last update on 2022-07-04 at 03:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Ultimate Optical Scope for .30.06 – Swarovski Z5 3.5-18×44 Ballistic Turret Plex Reticle Riflescope

Spending as much or more for your traditional optic has been the norm for many hunters for years. The notion that any rifle is only as good as the glass that sits on it has long been taken for gospel. In some ways, this is a true statement. If you believe that you need to best of the best scope for your .30-06 rifle, Swarovski should be your first stop.

The Swarovski Z5 excels at long range hunting

Many of us involved in the shooting sports agree that Swarovski is at the top of the tier when it comes to optical scopes. If you want to use what those who go big game hunting use, then a Swarovski Z5 riflescope is in your future. There is no arguing the quality of the manufacturing, design, or finished products.

The price is steep for this kind of quality scope, but you get features that no other scopes can offer. For example, the Swarovski Z5 scope includes these features:

Features

ballistic turret adjustment knobs offer quick and accurate changes for windage and elevation in the field.  The side focus parallax adjustment  keeps the reticle in focus

If you are both a precision and a distance shooter, a Swarovski scope can help you raise your level of performance. For long-range shooting, you won’t find a better choice on the market than the Swarovski Z5 BT 3.5-18×44 Turret Plex rifle scope.

Specifications

The Pros and Cons of the Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 Ballistic Turret Plex Reticle Riflescope

Pros
Cons
Swarovksi's 4W reticle provides the perfect sight picture for longer range shots

My Take on the Swarovski Z5 3.5-18×44 BT Rifle Scope

You won’t find a better rifle scope to mount on your .30-06 rifle. That being said, you are also going to pay a hefty price to get into this class of scope. I am not sure that my skills justify this kind of investment, but for some shooters in the long-range field, this kind of scope quality can produce some accuracy performance. For most hunters in the U.S. using a .30-06 rifle, I think the Swarovski scope may be a bit of overkill.

Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44 Ballistic Turret Plex Reticle Riflescope
  • Light, handy and reliable scope of exquisite quality typical for Swarovski products.
  • 3.5-18x zoom with adjustable parallax and elevation for supreme precision at any range in any...

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5. Best Illuminated Reticle for .30-06 – Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN II

Technology keeps bringing new innovations to shooting sports and to optics in general. Illuminated reticles are not new, but technology has brought the cost into the realm that almost any shooter can afford. A perfect example is the Athlon Optics Argos BTR Gen II riflescope. Without any appreciable weight addition, this scope produces excellent reticle clarity when light conditions are less than optimal.

Athlon Argos Gen 2 scopes feature a first focal plane reticle, multi-coated lens, and an illuminated reticle

Athlon Optics are assembled in the US from imported parts. The company maintains the strictest tolerances and uses the best materials with an eye to keeping prices within the budgets of most hunters. The Athlon Optics Argos BTR features some of the best scope values on the market today. Considering the features that Athlon incorporates on these scopes, you may be amazed at the price.

Features

Don’t be confused by some of the rifle scopes advertising illuminated reticles. Athlon builds illuminated reticle scopes with the same quality and attention to detail as their traditional riflescopes.

MK Machining sells Athlon Argo’s scopes with additional features and options that make these scopes even more attractive. MK Machining includes an extended throw level that attaches to the magnification ring and a scope level to assist you in making the best and most accurate shot.

Athlon ARgos 6-24x50 Mil-Dot reticle for deer hunting provides a great sight picture on a scope for 30 06

Specifications

The Pros and Cons of the Athlon Optics Argos BTR Gen II 6-21×50 FFP IR Riflescope

Pros
Cons
Optics Argos BTR riflescope showing exposed tactical turrets and the large objective lens

My Take on the Athlon Argos 6-24×50 FFP IR Rifle Scope

Reticle illumination is one of those things that is a very personal choice. Some hunters find it a valuable tool in the kit, while others avoid it like the plague as just one more thing to break or fail at the wrong time. If an illuminated reticle is on your pick list, then the Athlon Argos 6-24×50 BTR is a great investment.

MK Machining Athlon Optics - Argos BTR GEN II 6-24x50 AMPR FFP MIL w...
  • MADE IN USA - Pro Series Throw Lever & Rail Mounted Level Included
  • FULLY MULTI-COADED GLASS - For increased target visibility.

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6. Best Digital Day/Night Scope for .30-06 – ATN X-Sight-4K, 3-14x Pro Edition Smart Day/Night Hunting Rifle Scope

If a night vision scope is on your wish list for your .30-06 rifle, then you should definitely be considering the ATN X-Sight4 K riflescope. If you like night hunting, but need to operate during daylight hours as well, this digital scope from ATN should fill your needs exactly.

Unlike other night vision scope technologies, which are ultra-sensitive to bright light, these digital scopes make use of electronics to give you both sunlight and nighttime capabilities. Quick and easy transitions from the darkest night hunts to bright sunshine day hunts are the hallmark of the ATN X-sight 4K scope.

scope suitable for day or night hunting at close range or longe range

The use of advanced electronics also offers you a whole new array of features that traditional optics just can’t deliver.

Features

Using a digital rifle scope is a different way to hunt. You can get all the clarity and brightness associated with the best optical scopes and enjoy the convenience of advanced technology to give you features that no optical scope can match.

Specifications

ATN X Sight reticle at 3x and 14x magnification is the best scope that offers both daytime optics and nightvision optics

The Pros and Cons of the ATN X-Sight 4 K Digital Day/Night Scope

Pros
Cons
That ATN X-Sight ranks as one of the best scopes for hunting or target shooting with day and night capabilities

My Take on the ATN X-Sight Digital Say/Night 3-14X Rifle Scope

If you aren’t afraid of going high-tech with your rifle scope, the ATN X-Sight offers superb functions and features that can take your hunting experience to a new level. This scope is among the best scopes in this category that I have seen. For those who want both daytime and nighttime optical capabilities, this scope is the choice.

Last update on 2022-07-04 at 03:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Best Budget Scope for .30-06 – UTG 3-9X40 1″ Hunter Scope

Budget is always a concern when making choices for shooting equipment. Not many of us can routinely lay down the kind of money that tier 1 optics demand. However, there are alternatives that can ease the financial burden of putting the best scope possible on your .30-06 rifle. Among those are the UTG 3-9X40 riflescope.

UTG 3-9X rifle scope with 40mm objective lens

Leaper’s UTG scopes are often overlooked. We admit that these scopes are, for the most part, made in China and suffer from some of the same quality control issues that plague many imported scopes. However, Leapers offers great customer service and responds promptly to issues.

As long as you are aware of what you are buying, the UTG 3.9×40 scope offers an excellent value and a rich set of features. If you are an occasional hunter or target shooter and can’t afford to invest hundreds of dollars in a scope for your .30-06, the Leapers UTG scopes can provide everything you need feature-wise at an easy price.

Features

The Leapers UTG 3-9X40 scope is a great choice for mounting on your .30-06 rifle if you are budget-minded. You won’t find another scope in this price range that offers these features.

UTG illuminated reticle makes close range shooting possible when light conditions are marginal

Specifications

The Pros and Cons of the UTG 3-9×40 IR Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons
The UTG illumination controls are easy to access

My Take on the UTG 3-9X40 IR Rifle Scope

I am a fan of UTG optics. I won’t deny that a bit. I have sold, installed, and used UTG scopes for many years, and I think they are one of the most underrated companies on the market today. If you are cost-conscious, I urge you to look at the UTG line of scopes and the 3-9X40 model for your .30-06 rifle.

UTG 3-9X40 1" Hunter Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, w/ Rings
  • Emerald Lens Coatings, Built on True Strength Platform, Completely Sealed and Nitrogen Filled,...
  • Premium Zero Locking and Zero Resetting Target Turrets with Most Consistent and Precise 1/4 MOA per...

Last update on 2022-07-04 at 03:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


My Last Thoughts on Scopes for .30-06 Rifles

If there is one bit of advice that I would leave with you as you begin choosing a scope for your .30-06 rifle is to make sure the scope you choose fits the caliber and your shooting style. Far to often I see shooters with a .30-06 that is overscoped. A 50mm or 56mm objective lens is overkill for the .30.06 round in my opinion. So is having magnification ranges above 20. Not many average hunters can take the .30-06 to those kinds of ranges. Understand what you are shooting and how you hunt to match your scopes to your capabilities and your rifle’s performance.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.