Looking for a scope for your .243 rifle?
With so many different options available, each claiming to be the best for the price, choosing a .243 Winchester scope can be a hassle. How do you know which scopes are actually good and which aren’t?
Everyone’s needs are a little bit different, so there’s no single best scope for everyone. Instead of just telling you what scope to buy, this guide will start out by explaining some basics about what makes a scope good for .243 and go into more detail about how to choose a .243 scope that fits your particular needs.
Then, we're going to be discussing the following scopes to help you decide on the perfect one for your rifle.
Bushnell Banner Riflescope
Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II
Sightron SIH Series
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Basically, we want to help you find the right scope for your rifle, instead of just telling you the ones that we think are good scopes in general.
Once that’s done, we'll discuss all of the .243 scopes above in detail to help you narrow down your options. Each scope will also provide a link to where you can buy the scope on either Amazon or OpticsPlanet to make buying as easy as possible.
Now let’s get to it.
Some Important Background on the .243, and How to Choose a Scope for It
.243 was first produced in 1955 by Winchester for their Model 70 bolt-action and Model 88 lever-action rifles and immediately became popular with hunters.
It was originally designed for target shooting and varmint hunting, but rounds with heavier bullets, 90 grains and larger, are also good for deer hunting. Its big game applications are limited, though, and it’s best reserved for hunting game the size of mule deer and smaller.
These days, .243 Winchester is popular for hunting, target shooting, and metallic silhouette shooting due to its high accuracy and low recoil. It’s generally considered a close range to medium range round, with a maximum hunting range around 300 yards.
However, it’s also become popular for long range shooting. For example, John Widden has used .243 Win. to win the NRA High Power Long Range National Championships multiple times.
That level of long-distance accuracy, however, generally requires a handloaded round and a great deal of skill.
.243 scopes, therefore, tend to be either hunting scopes or target scopes, though there are also plenty of scopes that can be used for both. In this next section, we’ll talk about the differences between these two types of scopes, and how to find the best scope for your own rifle.
How Do You Choose the Best Scope for .243?
Now let’s talk about what makes a high-quality scope for .243 and how to choose a scope that fits your needs.
When it comes to selecting scope magnification, it’s easy to think higher is better, but sing magnification that’s too high can blur your sight picture and means every little movement can move your reticle far from your target.
This is especially problematic for hunting, where too high of a magnification and the corresponding smaller field of view can make it hard to track a moving target, make it difficult to tell where on the animal you’re aiming to allow for an ethical shot, and limit your awareness of what’s around the animal that might affect its movement.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, high power optics tend to come with high price tags as well.
You can get the best of high and low magnification with a variable optic with a large zoom ratio, but that versatility comes at the price of weight and, well, price. For most people, it’s better to choose a magnification range that’s tailored to what they’ll be using the scope for.
For hunting, you want a minimum magnification between 2 and 3.5x, but you can go a little higher for target scopes.
Maximum magnification for short range hunting should be around 9x, while for medium range hunting it should be around 12 to 14x. For longer range hunting, I suggest going with at least 14x, though 15 to 18x is better. Finally, for long range target shooting or varmint hunting, you’ll want to go even higher.
For decades, crosshair and duplex reticles have been the reticles of choice for hunters. The simple designs of these reticles allows for fast, easy sighting without distractions. The duplex reticle, in particular, has lines that thicken away from the center to keep the reticle more visible without obstructing your view of your target.
More recently, however, BDC (bullet drop compensation) and mil-dot reticles have become more and more popular among hunters. BDC and mil-dot reticles were originally intended for tactical and long range target shooting, and they’re still great for both of those purposes.
They have marks along the crosshairs to help shooters with ranging and making windage and elevation adjustments, particularly over extended ranges. Some BDC and mil-dot reticles are even specifically designed to match the ballistics of particular rounds.
The downside is that these more complex reticle styles can be somewhat distracting as well as difficult to see against a busy background like the woods.
BDC and mil-dot reticles are great for long range shooting, but you don’t really need the marks for shorter ranges. Crosshair and duplex reticles, on the other hand, are great for short ranges but are more difficult to use for the windage and elevation correction necessary for extended ranges.
Similar to reticles, there is a windage and elevation turret style that’s traditionally used for hunting, but target style turrets have become increasingly popular among hunters.
Capped turrets are the most popular style of turrets for hunting. They’re covered with, you guessed it, caps to prevent accidental adjustments from bumps and to protect the turrets. The caps have to be removed to adjust your windage and elevation settings, but hunters seldom mess with their settings in the field once the scope has been zeroed.
Target turrets are exposed, meaning that there’s no cap, and tend to be pretty tall. This combination makes target turrets much easier to adjust in the field.
To prevent accidental adjustments, some target turrets require a tool for adjustment, but many are fingertip adjustable. For the same reason, some fingertip adjustable turrets feature a locking mechanism that when deployed stops the turrets from moving.
Target turrets are better for long range shooting with a duplex or crosshair reticle, a situation where it’s more difficult to eyeball your windage and elevation adjustments.
Sight Picture & Light Transmission
Finally, regardless of the other qualities a scope has, if it doesn’t have a good sight picture, it’s a bad scope.
To ensure a good sight picture, a scope’s lenses should be made out of high quality glass without good clarity and no distortion.
Lenses should also be fully multicoated. This means that they should have multiple layers of lens coatings across the entire surface of the lens. High quality lens coatings ensure a crisp, bright sight picture with good color fidelity and light transmission.
For hunting, light transmission is especially important. Hunters often find themselves in the low-light conditions of dawn and dusk. If you’re tucked in a valley, under a tree canopy, or worse, both, there’s even less light.
It’s therefore essential that your scope has good light gathering and light transmission capabilities to allow the scope to make the most out of the available light.
Those multicoated lenses that we just talked about will help with this, as will a large objective lens. A large exit pupil can also be indicative of a scopes light transmission.
Now that you know what to look for from a .243 scope, let’s move on to the recommendations.
1. Bushnell Banner Riflescope
Let’s kick off our scope recommendations off with the Bushnell Banner 3-9X40 Riflescope. This hunting scope was designed for mid to long range shooting and is a great budget-friendly choice if you have a limited price range.
This scope features a Multi-X reticle, which is Bushnell’s version of the duplex reticle. It’s in the second focal plane, which means that the reticle will always appear the same size regardless of which magnification setting you use.
The lenses are fully multicoated for good light transmission and contrast. Those coats include Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn coatings which are designed for maximum visibility in the dark hours of early morning and twilight.
The generous 6 inch long eye relief allows for more comfortable shooting.
The Bushnell Banner scope is o-ring sealed to make it waterproof and argon purged to make it fog proof. It’s 12 incheslong and weighs just 13 ounces, making it one of the more lightweight scopes on this list.
On the 1 inch main body tube are MOA-based capped, non-locking windage and elevation turrets. Windage and elevation each have a 60 MOA (16.5 MIL) maximum adjustment range.
2. Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II Riflescope
Our next pick is a high end scope designed for long range precision shooting, which makes it great for extending your rifle’s accuracy over longer ranges.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II Riflescope is available in Black, Gunmetal Gray, and Flat Dark Earth finishes. The Black is available with a Bushnell G3 reticle, Horus H59 reticle, or a Horus Tremor3 reticle. The Gunmetal Gray has an illuminated G3 reticle while the Flat Dark Earth has a non-illuminated G3 reticle.
Each of these reticles is mil-dot style and in the first focal plane. This means that the size of the reticle appears to grow and shrink in proportion to the sight picture as you change magnification. This allows holdover points to represent a consistent distance regardless of magnification power.
The Elite Tactical XRS II features ED Prime Glass lenses. This glass minimizes color fringing, an effect where the lens doesn’t bend colors correctly, causing the image to blur and colors to appear incorrectly, particularly around highlights and dark areas.
The lenses also feature Ultra WideBand Coatings for optimal light transmission and minimal lens flare, while the large 50mm objective lens lets in tons of light. EXO Barrier Protection on lenses repels dust, debris, oil, and water, keeping your lenses clear and scratch-free.
The scope is IPX7 waterproof and argon purged for fog proofing. It’s also backed by the Bushnell Ironclad Warranty.
75 yard to infinity parallax adjustment allows for better accuracy across the scope’s entire range. The removable throw lever on the power ring makes magnification adjustments quick and easy.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II has a RevLimiter Zero Stop elevation turret, which makes returning to zero after you’ve made adjustments easy, and a locking windage turret. Both turrets are exposed and MIL-based.
The 34mm body tube is thicker than either of our other two Bushnell picks, but that makes the scope more durable and allows it to have a larger windage and elevation adjustment range. Elevation can be adjusted up to 30 MIL and windage can be adjusted up to 20 MIL.
The scope is 14.5 inches long and weighs 37 ounces, so it’s quite heavy, but that comes with the large zoom ratio, thicker body tube, and high maximum magnification.
3. Bushnell Trophy Riflescope
The Bushnell Trophy 3-9X40 Riflescope is another Bushnell scope designed with hunters in mind. Since both are designed for hunters and have 3-9x magnification and a 40mm objective lens, let’s use the Bushnell Banner scope as a point of comparison.
The Bushnell Trophy features a second focal plane Multi-X reticle, just like the Bushnell Banner. It has fully multi coated lenses with 91% light transmission to improve picture brightness even in low light conditions. This reticle is very similar to the reticle in the popular Nikon Buckmasters II scopes, if you’ve ever seen those.
Also like the Bushnell Banner, the Bushnell Trophy has a 1 inch body tube and capped, MOA-based windage and elevation turrets with a 60 MOA maximum adjustment range each. The turrets are also fingertip adjustable.
The scope is dry nitrogen filled and has o-ring seals to keep moisture out. It also has a one piece tube with an integrated saddle for durability. These features combine to make the scope 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof to stand up to a variety of weather conditions.
The Bushnell Trophy provides shorter eye relief than the Banner, but at 4 inches, it’s still nothing to sneeze at. The Bushnell Trophy also boasts a fast focus eyepiece for quick target acquisition that the Banner does not.
Both scopes are 12 inches long, but the Bushnell Trophy weighs 14.3 ounces, so it’s a bit heavier than the Banner.
4. Leupold VX-3i
Now let’s move away from Bushnell and turn our attention to another great scope manufacturer, Leupold. Leupold’s VX-3i line of hunting scopes is incredibly popular, and the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope is one of the most popular of the line.
The duplex reticle was actually originally designed by Leupold, and this scope features one in the rear focal plane.
Another great Leupold feature is the Twilight Max Light Management System. It adds up to 20 extra minutes of shooting light and, according to Leupold, eliminates 85% more glare-producing light compared to competitors.
The Leupold VX-3i has fully multicoated lenses with DiamondCoat 2 ion-assist lens coating for light transmission and abrasion resistance. The lenses are also military-standard scratch resistant.
The scope itself is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. The scope body is made from 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum with a matte black finish. The scope comes with a bikini style lens cover to keep the lenses protected when you’re not using the scope.
The scope has a 1 inch tube and is 12.6 inches long, but weighs just 12.6 ounces.
5. Leupold VX-Freedom
The VX-Freedom 3-9x40 is another popular Leupold scope and another great option for hunters.
The VX-Freedom 3-9x40 is another popular Leupold scope and another great option for hunters.
The scope comes in three reticle patterns. You can choose a Tri-MOA reticle, Duplex CDS reticle, or illuminated FireDot Tri-MOA reticle with push button illumination, all in the rear focal plane.
It uses Leupold’s Finger Click Dial System for the turrets, meaning they’re fingertip adjustable and have precise ¼ MOA click values. The power selector is also easy to grip for quick magnification changes.
Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System adds up to 10 extra minutes of shooting light and, according to Leupold, eliminates 80% more glare-producing light compared to competitors.
The scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and it has scratch resistant lenses.
At 12.2 ounces and 12.39 inches long, the VX-Freedom is just a bit smaller than the VX-3i.
6. Sightron SIH Series
The Sightron SIH Series 3-9X40 Riflescope is another budget friendly option.
Like the VX-Freedom, this second focal plane reticle riflescope is available in three different reticle options, a duplex reticle, mil-dot reticle, or SIH Hunter Holdover (BDC style) reticle.
The low profile capped hunting turrets have positive audible clicks with ¼ MOA click values. Both turrets have a maximum adjustment range of 70 MOA. The main body tube has a one inch diameter.
The scope boasts a fast focus eyebell for quick, easy adjustments with 3.0 to 3.9 inch eye relief. Despite the scope’s affordability, it has a large 37.3-11.7 foot field of view at 100 yards.
Lenses are fully multicoated on both sides
The SIH scope is 100% sealed and nitrogen filled so waterproof and fogproof. It’s also shockproof and is covered by the Sightron Lifetime Warranty. It comes with a lens cover.
The scope is just a touch under a foot long and weighs 15 ounces.
7. Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Finishing up our list are a couple picks from Vortex Optics. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is another budget friendly option, about the same price as our last pick. It’s also one of my most frequently recommended scopes.
The Crossfire II 3-9X40 is available in Dead-Hold BDC, V-Brite, and V-Plex reticle options. V-Plex is Vortex’s version of the duplex reticle and the V-Brite is the illuminated version of the V-Plex reticle. All of these reticles are in the second focal plane. The fast focus eyepiece allows for quick, easy reticle focusing.
Fully multi-coated lenses use proprietary coatings, including multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces.
The scope’s single piece main tube has a one inch diameter and is made from a single block of aircraft-grade aluminum for rigidity and durability. The scope housing has a low-glare matte black hard-coat anodized finish.
Durable construction means that the scope is shockproof. The Crossfire II also features o-ring seals and is nitrogen purged for water and fog proofing.
The capped reset turrets allow for tooless indexing. They have ¼ MOA click values and 60 max adjustment ranges.
The Vortex Crossfire II is 11.86 inches long and weighs 15 ounces. It comes with a lens cloth and removable lens covers.
8. Vortex Optics Diamondback
The Vortex Optics Diamondback is yet another budget friendly option, though it’s a bit more expensive than our last two picks.
This second focal plane riflescope has a Dead-Hold BDC reticle and a fast focus eyepiece. The lenses are fully multi-coated with the same proprietary coatings used on the Vortex Crossfire II.
It’s 12 inches long and weighs 14.6 ounces, making it a bit longer than the Crossfire II, but also a bit lighter. Both scopes have a 1 inch diameter main tube.
Also like the Crossfire II, the Vortex Diamondback has a durably constructed, shockproof single piece tube made from aircraft-grade aluminum with a matte black hard-coat anodized finish. The Vortex Diamondback also has the same o-ring seals and nitrogen purging for water and fog proofing.
The capped reset turrets are a step up from the Crossfire II’s, with tooless indexing, but also metal on metal construction for durability and precision.
Speaking of which, the Diamondback also has Vortex’s Precision-Glide Erector System for smooth transition between magnification settings.
My only real complaint is the 3.1 inch eye relief, which feels cramped in comparison to the longer eye relief of the other scopes I recommend here.
Hopefully by now you’ve gotten an idea of which .243 scope you want to add to your target or hunting rifle. While it would sure be nice if we could just tell you what scope to get, only you can decide which one is best for you. At least you can rest assured that each of the scopes that we’ve recommended here is a high-quality option that does its job well.
Has one of these .243 scopes caught your eye? What do you plan on using your .243 scope for? Is there a great .243 scope that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below!