best scope for m1a

Love it or hate it, the M1A is a classic rifle from an age that is starting to tướng pass us by.

The last American standard issue rifle made with walnut and steel, the M1A is still a good platform today if you’re interested in old school tinkering and upgrades.

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Springfield Armory M1As
Springfield Armory M1As

With that in mind, you may be interested in putting a scope on the ‘ol girl! For hunting, target precision shooting, or as a battle rifle, we’ll take a look at the best scopes for your M1A!

The Rifle

Maybe you don’t have an M1A yet, well just sánh you’re on the same page as the rest of us — while there are other civilian versions of the M14, “M1A” specifically refers to tướng the M14 platform manufactured by Springfield Armory starting in 1974.


at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

The M1A is the most popular civilian version of the M14, and the differences between the M1A and M14, beyond what’s required to tướng make the M1A civilian legal, are relatively minor.

These days, the Springfield Armory M1A is a popular choice for long range shooters, including hunting, recreational shooting, and competition shooting.

M1A Socom16 with Leupold Scout Scope
M1A Socom16 with Leupold Scout Scope

Basically, it shoots a powerful round, 7.62 NATO/.308 Win., a very long way. 

Which brings mạ to tướng why we’re here. The M1A’s range of up to tướng 1,000 yards (though it’s best around 600 yards) is awesome and all, but it’s pretty useless if you can’t actually see what you’re aiming at from that far away.

So if you’ve got one, bởi yourself a favor and grab a scope to tướng use with it.

Any of these will bởi you nicely.

Long Range Optics

1. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP

Let’s kick things off with a more high-end long range rifle scope from Vortex Optics.

Vortex is known for excellent scopes and the Viper PST Gen II is one of their best with all of the features that you could want from a long range scope.

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x
Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50

It’s a first focal plane (FFP) scope, which means that the reticle grows as you adjust to tướng greater magnification, sánh the space between each hash mark always indicates the same distance in the real world. 

The reticle is also illuminated, which helps keep the reticle visible at low magnification levels and when shooting in low light conditions.

In addition, the scope has a 50mm objective lens for a large, bright picture, sánh this scope is ideal for shooting in the shadows or at the dawn and dusk hours.

Vortex Viper PST II 25x
Vortex Viper PST II at 25x

Speaking of the lens, the glass clarity is top of the line. While the eye relief is advertised as 3.4 inches, that clarity makes it feel longer. 

All of this combines for a rifle scope that makes 800 yard shots easy, but you could also shoot much farther without too much trouble, too. 

The PST Gen II also features parallax adjustment with numbers to tướng make adjustment easy, especially with the smooth movement of the adjustment knob.

Vortex Viper PST II 5x
Vortex Viper PST II at 5x

Windage and elevation knobs, on the other hand, are tactile with crisp, audible clicks, exactly how you want them to tướng be.

They have just the right amount of resistance sánh there’s no risk of accidentally turning them but they also aren’t unruly to tướng manipulate as needed. 


at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

And to tướng protect the scope and keep all these features operating just sánh, the PST Gen II is also waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof with a hard anodized finish on the metal surfaces and an ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating on the exterior lenses. 

2. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Scope

All of those features that the Vortex Viper has are awesome, but they come with a pretty hefty price tag, sánh for our next pick we’re going to tướng go with a much more affordable alternative.

In fact, it’s less kêu ca half the price. 

broke meme

The Leupold VX-3i is a traditional-style scope from a company with an excellent reputation for quality. It’s waterproof and fogproof with a DiamondCoat 2 lens coating for scratch and abrasion protection as well as superior light transmission.

Like the Viper, the VX-3i is great for low light conditions thanks to tướng the large 50mm lens and Leupold’s Twilight Max Light Management System.

Which Leupold says adds up to tướng đôi mươi minutes of shooting light by offering excellent lens clarity from edge to tướng edge and eliminating 85 percent more glare kêu ca other scopes. 

In other words, the scope is designed to tướng admit a whole lot of light but also filters it to tướng eliminate the glare that turns the light from an advantage to tướng a hinderance. 

On the other hand, the VX-3i doesn’t have the magnification strength of the PST Gen II, sánh you still won’t be able to tướng make quite the same distance of shots.

Still, the VX-3i is more kêu ca enough for most shooters. Hunters in particular will seldom get the opportunity to tướng use the full range of the Viper anyway. 

The VX-3i has a traditional rear focal plane duplex (RFP) reticle, which is something of a mixed bag.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Riflescope Reticle
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Reticle

With an FFP reticle, it’s great to tướng have the holdover points stay consistent as you adjust magnification, but the reticle can be thin and difficult to tướng see at low magnification and overly thick, covering your target, at high settings. 

If you mostly shoot in the mid-range of the scope’s magnification anyway, the VX-3i’s RFP reticle is probably fine. 


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

If you frequently use one of the extremes, however, such as adjusting for close range while hunting or relying on stronger magnification to tướng hit farther targets at the range, you may want to tướng opt for my next pick instead. 

3. Primary Arms SLx 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope – 308/223 

The Primary Arms SLx 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope is another step down in terms of budget with a price for a first focal plane that is very hard to tướng beat. I wouldn’t Hotline it a cheap scope though. 

Sure, it doesn’t have the same performance and feel as the Vortex Viper, but it’s still not a bad scope and especially not for the price. So let’s go with terms lượt thích “inexpensive,” “affordable,” and “budget-friendly” instead of “cheap.”

Primary Arms 1-6x and 4-14x with Mounts
(center) Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 and (bottom) Slx 1-6x

The optic’s main point of praise is the PA ACSS HUD DMR reticle. That mouthful of letters makes mạ glad this is written and not a podcast, but basically just means that the scope uses Primary Arms’ proprietary ballistic reticle with markings to tướng help you with windage and elevation holdover.

This can be really useful but those marks are really only accurate with certain .308 loads.

ACSS 308 reticle
ACSS .308 reticle

While Primary Arms has ensured that it works with the most popular .308 loads, if you’re looking to tướng use different loads or want a scope that you can also use with another non-.308 rifle, this ain’t it. 

On the other hand, if one of those compatible loads is what you’re using anyway or you’re at least fine with making the switch, this reticle invaluable, though there is a bit of a learning curve to tướng get used to tướng it.

.308 (168gr vs 208gr)
.308 (168gr vs 208gr) can have very different ballistic trajectories.

Primary Arms also makes a version of this same scope for 5.56 NATO, sánh if you bởi opt for this scope, make sure you’re getting the right one before you buy.

Take a look at the scope’s manual for a list of compatible loads and more info on how the reticle works. The Clip below also gives you a primer on how to tướng use the reticle.

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That’s almost enough about the reticle, but before we move on, I want to tướng go ahead and note that it’s illuminated and has six brightness settings. 

Now I’m tired of talking about the reticle and you’re probably tired of reading about it, sánh let’s lập cập through some other features of the scope real quick. 

It’s got stronger magnification kêu ca the Leupold, though it still doesn’t match the Vortex. The image clarity is fine. Not great, not bad, just fine. 

For hunting, it’ll cover you for shots up to tướng about 500 or 600 yards, but realistically very few hunters often need to tướng make shots farther kêu ca that.

Target shooters who aren’t shooting something that moves and don’t have to tướng worry about ethically taking down a living creature will have an easier time and could swing longer distances.

It would be nice if the eye relief was a bit larger, but it’s not a huge problem. The tactile turrets are precise and easy to tướng adjust, but the clicks aren’t as crisp as would be ideal. 


at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

The scope is waterproof as well as shock and fog-resistant, and Primary Arms offers a three-year full warranty though you’re unlikely to tướng need it.

4. Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 Gen 2

If you’re interested in something almost exactly lượt thích the Vortex PST II but coming in at a little cheaper and maybe a little better, you need to tướng kiểm tra out the Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 Gen 2.

Bergara B-14 HMR and Athlon Ares BTR Gen 2
Bergara B-14 HMR and Athlon Ares BTR Gen 2

In our opinion, this is the most direct competitor for the PST II on the market and to tướng some of us, the Ares is better.

Durable construction, wonderfully clear glass, easy adjustments, and best in class turrets — there is a lot to tướng love with the Ares.

Athlon Ares Gen 2 zoom out
Athlon Ares Gen 2 at 4.5x

Depending on what your goals are, hunting or target shooting, you have several great reticles to tướng choose from with all of the Ares options being FFP and illuminated.

Athlon Ares Gen 1 zoom in
Athlon Ares at 27x

While Athlon doesn’t have the name recognition of Vortex, that’s only because they are newer. Think of Vortex in 2010, still as good as the Vortex we have today — but a lot less market share.

Athlon also boasts a lifetime unlimited warranty, sánh on every count you’re covered.


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

If you’re interested in more, and you should be, take a look at our complete review of the Athlon Ares Gen 2 on a Bergara B-14 HMR.

Now let’s move onto Scout Scopes…

The M1A is often looked at as a long range rifle, but it also makes a good scout rifle and, in fact, Springfield actually makes a Scout Squad model specifically for this purpose.

Scoped M1A and Beard Problems
Shooting the M1A with a Leuplold Scout Scope

Using it as a scout rifle necessitates different things from a scope, though.

In general, you want a lower power scope that’s light in both weight and bulk, with long eye relief, and the ability to tướng shoot with both eyes open (the Bindon Aiming concept).

These final few scopes all fit that criteria and are just solid all around scopes, but for more scout scope recommendations, give our list of the best scout scopes a read.

Triple Scout Scopes
(top to tướng bottom) Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32, Burris 2-7×32 Scout, and Leupold VX Freedom Scout 1.5-4×28

While that list isn’t intended to tướng be M1A specific, the scopes listed were tested using an M1A, sánh it will be especially helpful to tướng M1A shooters.

5. Burris Optics Scout Scope 2-7x32mm

Like with our section on long range scopes, we’re starting our scout scopes recs with a more high-end option.

Optics buyers often overlook Burris, but you definitely should pay attention to tướng the Burris 2-7×32 Scout. It may be a bit pricey for a scout scope, but you certainly get a lot for your money.

Burris Scout Scope, 7x
Burris Scout Scope at 7x

The glass is multi-coated to tướng prevent glare and the scope is nitrogen coated to tướng prevent fogging.

It offers excellent picture quality and the entire scope is shockproof, waterproof and fog proof. It also comes with the Burris Forever lifetime warranty.

Burris Scout Scope, 2x
Burris Scout Scope at 2x

It has a Ballistic Plex reticle, which is a simple, minimalist reticle with trajectory compensation out to tướng 500 yards. I would have liked for it to tướng also be illuminated, but that’s a relatively minor complaint compared with the advantages.

It has nice long eye relief with a range of 9.2 to tướng 12 inches and it’s slim with low mounting options for a low profile, sánh it’s comfortable to tướng shoot and you don’t have to tướng worry about visual fatigue.

4. Burris 2-7x Scout Scope
Burris 2-7x Scout Scope

It’s also designed to tướng sit forward on your rifle sánh that the entire range of eye relief is actually usable, unlike some other scopes.

It’s a lightweight 13 ounces and is 9.7 inches long.

The turrets are crisp and make audible, satisfying clicks sánh it’s clear when you’ve made changes to tướng your settings.


at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

Likewise, the magnification adjustment is nice and smooth, sánh it’s easy to tướng adjust magnification without moving the sight off your target.

6. Leupold VX Freedom Scout 1.5-4×28

Another Leupold! Still with all of the features of it’s bigger brother, but this time in a scout configuration and with much lower power glass. Perfect for keeping your eyes open and aware of your surroundings!

Equipped with just 1.5-4x, this is really a short range scope designed to tướng be fast and accurate. Lightweight, easy, and good. It’s our favorite scout scope.

Leupold VX Freedom Scout Scope, 4x
Leupold VX Freedom Scout Scope, 4x

It’s about the same price as the Burris but has a smaller range of magnification.

Since it’s a scout scope I think 4x is perfectly serviceable for the range and tốc độ a scout rifle brings.

Leupold VX Freedom Scout Scope, 1.5x
Leupold VX Freedom Scout Scope, 1.5x

If I had to tướng choose only one scout scope, and didn’t need the 7x magnification of the Burris, I’d go with the Leupold.


at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 25% off all OAKLEY products - OAKLEY25

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Parting Shots

As always, we’ve linked to tướng where you can buy any of these scopes, but if you want to tướng bởi some browsing, be sure to tướng kiểm tra out our list of the best places to tướng buy rifle scopes online to tướng help you make sure you’re choosing an online cửa hàng that will treat you right. 

9 Tested Long Range Scopes
Oh yes…we love optics!

Still totally lost about what you should be looking for in a scope in the first place? Don’t worry, we have a guide for that, too, that will give you a crash course in rifle scope basics. 

Did one of these scopes catch your eye? If you’ve already been using a scope with your M1A, which one? Are you looking to tướng make a switch or just browsing other options? Let mạ know or ask any questions of your own in the comments!