Created in 1906 by Springfield Arms for the military, the venerable .30-06 is not the oldest still-serving military round on the planet today, but it is the most common for its generation. The “cartridge, ball, caliber .30, Model of 1906" is one of the most popular hunting cartridges in the United States today.
Walk into any good hardware or sporting goods store, and you will find a wide selection of .30-06 ammo. You can find single shots, levers, pumps, bolts and auto-loaders on the racks.
Pairing your rifle with a good optical system is critical. Here is a list of the top picks for a .30-06 rifle scope.
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40mm
Athlon Optics Argos BTR
6 - 24 x
Vortex Optics Razor LH HD G4 BDC
vortex optics viper hst
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Burris Fullfield II
Simmons Point Rifle Scope
1. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40mm
For the noble .30-06, the Leupold VX-3i is simply the best of the best. Ultra-clear view, a lifetime warranty that follows the scope, and a testing process that is, well, unorthodox at times, means you are getting a scope that will not let you down no matter the field conditions. This scope has a 1-inch main tube.
The lens is coated with a “twilight” covering that improves the night gathering ability in low lighting conditions.
Be sure of when shooting hours end before you pull the trigger. Sometimes, that extra 5-10 minutes the Twilight coating gives you is the difference between success and going home empty handed again.
The VX-3i comes with a choice of three reticles. Remember, in the hands of someone who can really shoot, the .30-06 can take game at 1,000 yards. Most shooters will never need to reach those longer-ranges.
The majority of whitetails are taken under 100 yards and mule deer under 200 yards. For those shooters, the standard duplex reticle is ideal. Sight your scope in an inch to two inches high at 100 yards, and you are good to about 300 yards, putting the crosshairs in the center of the breadbasket.
For shooters who need longer shots or to allow for wind, the Wind-Plex has hash-marks on the windage line in the scope. Spend some time on the range to learn how wind affects your chosen bullet to understand how to use the Wind-Plex.
Other shooters need more range and wind is less of an issue. The Boone & Crockett crosshairs are graduated for elevation, allowing you to reach out to 500 or more yards with a minimum holdover. Just set the lower bars for distance and gently touch the trigger.
The field of view (FOV) ranges from 29.8 feet at 100 yards to 11 feet at maximum magnification. For the typical hunter, that is plenty of zoom. The scope does not have a ballistic turret, as found on tournament-grade and special purpose scopes.
The internals offer 1/4 minute of angle (MOA) adjustments to let you dial-in at 100 yards and still be on target at 500. Elevation and windage have 65 MOA of total adjustment.
These comprise the internal erector system. As Leupold explains, the internal erector system is, “the part inside the scope that controls magnification and point-of-impact [that] moves around inside the main tube. With long-range shots, the bullet drops more the farther you shoot.”
All real Leupolds (beware counterfeits from places like Wish) are sealed against water, dust and the elements. The VX-3i is purged and filled with an argon/krypton gas mix. The company says this is even better than nitrogen-filled scopes and “eliminates thermal shock”.
Thermal shock is best described as going from the warm interior of a vehicle to sub-freezing temperatures outside. Some scopes simply cannot handle that kind of shock.
2. Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24X50mm
Let’s get tactical. The Athlon comes in a 30mm tube. Adjustments are 1/4 MOA. This scope has a red light reticle. The scope is factory-tested to withstand 1000Gs of recoil, time after time, putting it in the same category as the Leupold for endurance tests.
Being a first focal plane scope (FFP), the reticle will change in size as you zoom in to or out from your target. Some shooters like this, others do not. If you are not sure, talk to friends with both and try their scopes before dropping money on a first or second focal plane scope (SFP).
This scope allows the old .30-06 to achieve its maximum range and potential
The ballistic turrets allow you to center the scope for windage and elevation and return to zero with no problem.
This scope is etched-glass. This is superior to wire because there is no wire to break. This type of eyepiece has a much higher resistance to shock damage than wire. The 30mm tube is purged and filled with argon, a superior gas to nitrogen for filling a scope.
The reticle is illuminated red. In dim shooting conditions, this can help you gain a faster sight picture. It adjusts in 1/4 MOA clicks. It has 60 MOA of adjustment in elevation and windage. Given one of the reticles available for this scope, that is far more than enough.
At maximum magnification, the BDC reticle hash-marks fill the scope view.
The scope is waterproof and fog proof.
Parallax adjustment is a side focus ring and ranges from 10 feet to infinity. There are times when parallax is going to matter and times when it does not. As with so many things in life, it is better to have and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Frankly, if you need to shoot something at less than 10 yards, just point the gun. Finding a decent sight picture through this scope at that distance is going to be extremely hard.
At 100 yards, this rifle scope ranges from 16.7 feet to an amazing 4.5 feet. At 1,000 yards, that is a 45-foot FOV, comparable to many scopes at the minimum setting for 100 yards.
3. Trijicon AccuPower 3-9X40
With six models to choose from, the Trijicon AccuPower fits the bill for nearly every shooting situation. The one-inch tube is aircraft-grade aluminum. This is a SFP scope. It is waterproof to 10 feet.
Trijicon is better known for producing glowing iron sights for the handgun market. Its foray into glass optics is solid as the company stands behind its products.
The scope offers 60 MOA total elevation and windage, plenty of room for adjustment. Given the MIL-Square reticle (see below), further through-the-scope adjustments are easy to make once you learn the system. You can easily adjust both on the turrets.
The eyepiece choices range from a mostly standard view to illuminated green or red with BDC hash-marks to a MIL-Square reticle designed by a former Marine sniper. The Mil-Square, with its additional hash-marks running down at an angle, may take a bit of getting used to.
You can expect about 30 hours of illumination with the CR2032 lithium battery.
The scope is nitrogen-purged and filled for superior fog resistance.
Parallax adjustment is 10 yards to infinity. Again, got to wonder why this comes in so close. It does not harm the scope to have a parallax adjustment that close. It is just not needed.
The FOV ranges from 35.5 feet. to 11.8 feet. at 100 yards. That works out to a bit more than 30 yards across at 100 yards on maximum magnification.
4. Vortex Optics Razor LH HD G4 BDC
Vortex says the Razor is “one scope to rule them all”. In truth, no single scope can beat every other scope on the market. However, the Vortex Razor does an excellent job of filling the needs for the shooter ranging from beginner to advanced.
The rifle scope has 1/4 MOA adjustments and a Return to Zero capability on the elevation and windage turrets. The settings are actually in Milli Radians (MRAD), not minute of angle. Precision shooters say they prefer this graduation because it makes fine-tuning easier.
The scope delivers a whopping 79 MOA adjustment plane on elevation and windage. Again, this is measured in MRAD on the dials. The average shooter will never know the difference. The experienced shooter will have a preference between MRAD and MOA but can easily work with either.
Turrets lock into place to prevent the shooter accidentally changing them.
The G4i-BDC is highly adaptable to the shooter and platform. It is equally at home on the .30-06 as a rimfire or a smoke pole. It even works well on slug shotguns.
This is a tactical scope on a single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum 30mm tube. Vortex steps up the game a bit more by adding an ultra-hard finish to the scope to resist scratching. It is filled with argon.
The Parallax adjustment is 20 feet to infinity. Again, that’s a bit close given the nature of this scope, but it is not a drawback.
The magnification is pretty much in the middle on this list of scopes. It delivers a FOV of 35.3-7.0 feet at 100 yards
5. Vortex Optics Viper HST 6-24X50
Since the old .30-06 is fully capable of crossing 10 football fields, some people want a scope that can match that capability. The Vortex Viper HST 6-24X50 delivers. With ballistic turrets for evelation and windage, you can dial in your shot with precision not available in non-tactical scopes.
This rifle scope is on a 30mm tube. It comes with a lifetime warranty and is rated shockproof.
Once you get your scope, you can customize the turrets to your caliber, bullet weight and, more importantly, the bullet drop over distance and the wind resistance.
The Vortex Viper comes with a choice of two reticles.
The VMR-1 MOA has elevation and windage hash-marks that allow an experienced shooter to make immediately needed adjustments. In rapid-fire situations, the shooter can also make shot-to-shot adjustments without touching the scope.
The VMR-1 MRAD delivers one of the largest graduated reticles in the industry. In the hands of a real shooter, the elevation adjustment through the lens and reticle is enough to adjust for most shots without touching the turrets.
The scope is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. This allows Vortex to seal and purge the tube with argon, a gas that is superior to nitrogen for rifle scopes. Argon is a noble gas.
The Vortex Viper offers parallax adjustments from 50 yards to infinity. Given the nature of this scope, 50-yard shots should be uncommon.
Inside the scope, you have 65 MOA elevation and windage. Each turn of a turret is 12 MOA click adjustment.
This high-magnification scopes offers 17.8 feet to 5.10 feet at 100 yards. That kind of magnification means a bigger animal, like a monster mule deer, will completely fill the scope at 100 yards on maximum magnification.
6. Vortex Optics Diamondback
A one-piece 1-inch tube of aircraft-grade aluminum is where the Vortex Diamondback starts. The scope does have adjustable turrets, but they are capped. This is not as efficient as practical scopes, but it will work. Still, if you need that in-field manual adjustment, you are better off with a tactical scope.
The Diamondback comes with Vortex’s lifetime warranty. It has a one-inch tube.
For hunters and shooters interested in targets at 250 yards or less, this scope will deliver everything you want. It adjusts in 1/4 MOA clicks and each turn delivers 15 MOA.
Overall, you get 60 MOA on elevation and windage through the scope. This is not as great as some tactical scopes, but it should get you on the X at 100 yards without any problem.
Vortex bills this scope as a Dead-Hold BDC reticle. The graduations are in MOA. You do need to know your ammo’s performance to make through-the-scope adjustments to make your shot. Knowing how the wind affects down-range performance and bullet drop over distance is critical here.
Spend some time burning powder and slinging lead on the range to learn what your setup will do under various conditions.
The tube is sealed, purged and filled with argon gas. This is superior to nitrogen-filled scopes as the argon is more stable than nitrogen. Under rapid temperature changes, you are less likely to have problems compared to nitrogen
Second focal plane
In this scope, the reticle is behind the magnification lens, meaning it is closer to your eye. In practical terms, it means the reticle size stays the same throughout the magnification range in the scope. Some shooters prefer this as it gives them a fixed reference point.
At 100 yards at the lowest setting, you have 32.4-foot FOV. At maximum magnification, the FOV is 11.3 feet. That kind of stretch gets you to 500 yards on a big whitetail easily.
7. Burris Fullfield II 3-9X40mm
Looking for a budget scope that still performs at levels expected from scopes considerably more expensive? The Burris Fullfield II 3-9X40mm is the one to consider. It comes in silver or black, something the others do not, and offers two reticle choices. This scope is a one-piece one-inch tube.
Adjustment values are 1/4 MOA. It has a 50 click adjustment range in elevation and windage. This is not as broad as some rifles. If more adjustment is needed, look into a scope mount that allows rough windage changes. This scope is nitrogen-filled, which is enough for nearly all shooters outside the arctic ranges.
The scope comes with a choice of reticles. It has the plain wide-to-narrow bar that is enough for the .30-06 to distances of 250 yards or so. Those needing to reach farther should choose the ballistic reticle.
The ballistic eyepiece is pre-set to work with the most common calibers and bullet weights. You do need to bust some primers on the range to get a feel for how the hash-marks line up with your chosen rounds.
Instead of the typical O-ring found on most scopes, the Burris Fullfield has quad seals at each end of the scope. This delivers superior sealing to keep out fog, dust and water.
The Fullfield uses steel-to-steel adjustments in the turrets for longer life. Aluminum is fine for some applications, but it wears out much faster than steel. If you plan to do a lot of sighting-in, windage or elevation changes, then you need steel.
The FOV ruins from 12 to 33 feet at 100 yards, giving this an average FOV at minimum magnification and on the wider end when zoomed out.
8. Simmons 3-9X50mm 8 Point Rifle Scope
For shooters who know their maximum shot is 250 yards and plan to do the majority of their shooting at under 100 yards, the Simmons 3-9X50mm 8 Point is a no-frills, basic scope that gets the job done without crushing your wallet at the same time.
This scope will hold up fine on the .30-06, but is not suited for big-bore, dangerous game calibers. It is a one-inch tube.
It has 1/4 click adjustments and 60 MOA adjustment range for windage and elevation.
The reticle is basic. Wide bars narrow as it reaches the center. No hash-marks or graduation lines. Any necessary adjustments for windage or elevation are strictly on the fly.
The scope is sealed to be waterproof, fog-proof and dust-proof.
The scope is not adjusted for parallax error. Some shooters report the sight plane gets a bit fuzzy past 100 yards. Others say they don’t experience this.