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The .30-30 is one of the most popular centerfire rifle cartridges of all time, so it’s no wonder you see shooters asking about scopes for .30-30 rifles. It’s nice to see, in today’s world where new cartridges are popping up year after year, that the venerable .30-30 is continuing to hold its own after more than 125 years. It has stuck around far longer than a lot of the other rounds that were supposed to dethrone it, and I think it’s safe to say that it’ll be around long after the next batch of cartridges falls to the wayside.
While the .30-30 is a great cartridge with optimal performance for most uses in North America and beyond, it really shines when you can optimize its performance by the optic it is paired with. There’s no shame in adding a scope to your .30-30 rifle to ensure that you’re really getting the best out of it, but how do you find the right one? Join me as I go over the best scopes for your .30-30.
- Best Overall: Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40
- Best Fixed Power: Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5×20
- Best Budget: Bushnell Trophy 3-9×40
- Best Value: Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 with V-Brite Reticle
- Best for Deer Hunting: Barska 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro
How I Picked the Best Scopes for 30-30 Rifles
I own a few different rifles chambered for the .30-30 cartridge, and they’ve all got different scopes on them. That’s because I use them for different purposes and they also have different mounting requirements (I’m looking at you, Winchester.) When it comes down to making my slections, I evaluate .30-30 rifle scopes using the following criteria:
- Build Quality: A scope is only as good as the glass that’s in it, and not all glass is created equal. The rest of the scope is important, too. You want to make sure that the body is durable and that the adjustment turrets are solid as well.
- Going the Distance: How powerful is this scope in terms of magnification and is it going to be able to live up to the expectations I have for a specific cartridge and rifle combination?
- Features: Are the features on a given scope adequate for what I’ll be doing with it? Conversely, are there more bells and whistles than necessary just so the manufacturer can charge more?
- Cost: Does this scope provide enough features and benefits to justify the amount of money it costs? Or is there another option out there that’s similar in price but offers more bang for the buck?
Best Scopes for .30-30 Rifles: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40
Why It Made the Cut: The Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40 completely changes the rules when it comes to “you get what you pay for.”
- Argon gas purged
- Capped reset turrets
- Hard anodized finish
- Tube length allows for optimal eye relief adjustments
- Available with different reticles
- Performance-to-price ratio is hard to beat
- Some complaints regarding 9x in low-light conditions
If you’re in the market for a high-quality riflescope for your .30-30 rifle, look no further than the Diamondback 3-9×40. The 3-9x magnification is perfect for the .30-30 and its waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof design will withstand anything you can throw at it. Once you’re sighted in, you can quickly re-index your turrets with no tools needed. It’s a quality rifle scope that offers different configurations at a price that will leave you with plenty of money left over for ammo. Oh, and of course, it’s backed by the Vortex VIP lifetime warranty.
Best Fixed Power: Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5×20
Why It Made the Cut: When you don’t need all the magnification in the world, the Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5×20 fixed power scope offers optimum performance from a trusted name.
- Weighs just 6.5 ounces
- Waterproof and fogproof
- Made in the USA
- Small but mighty, it withstands all the tests Leupold puts its bigger scopes up to
- 2.5x fixed power is plenty for a wide variety of applications
- May not be enough mounting space on some rifles due to its incredibly compact size
When every ounce counts, the Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5×20 scope lends itself to more applications, on more rifles, than any other scope in the line. It does this all at a power level that is more suited to most applications than people would have you believe. It is built around Leupold’s Advanced Optical System, which offers tried and true light transmission, best in class glare reduction in harsh light, and the resolution and clarity that shooters demand. And like all Leupold rifle scopes, it’s designed, machined, and assembled in the USA. And it’s guaranteed to perform for life.
Best Budget Scope: Bushnell Trophy 3-9×40
Why It Made the Cut: The Bushnell Trophy 3-9×40 rifle scope combines quality and features from a name you know at a price that won’t break the bank.
- Waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof
- Fast focus eyepiece
- Low profile turret caps won’t snag in the field
- Classic look, perfect for pairing with a .30-30 rifle
- Weighs just 14 ounces
- This scope will perform as you’d expect, but don’t expect luxury quality or features
- Available only in 1-inch tube diameter
The Bushnell Trophy 3-9×40 rifle scope offers classic scope styling with modern performance at an affordable price point. Equipped with the Multi-X reticle, this scope has multi-coated optics with 91% light transmission and is 100% waterproof and shockproof. The scope is also dry nitrogen filled, which helps prevent internal fogging. Built on a one-piece tube with an integrated saddle, it features ¼ MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments and a fast-focus eyepiece. Despite the low price point, it delivers excellent light transmission for all day sits and impressive edge to edge clarity so you can follow that buck through the thickest brush.
Best Value: Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 with V-Brite Reticle
Why It Made the Cut: Value is different from budget, and the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 with the V-Brite reticle delivers unrivaled performance and value for a price that you wouldn’t expect.
- Illuminated center dot
- Hard anodized finish
- Second focal plane reticle
- One of many versions of the Crossfire II if this exact configuration isn’t what you need
- Waterproof, fogproof, shockproof, and nitrogen-filled for optimum performance
- Long eye relief is perfect for lever action rifles
- Available only in 1-inch tube diameter
The Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 scope with V-Brite reticle exists at the intersection of high performance and economy. Not coincidentally, that’s also where you’ll find value resides. Clear, tough, and bright are three of the best ways to describe this scope. The V-Brite reticle features an illuminated center dot for optimum performance—in those low-light periods when deer and other game are on the move, you’ll have a clear sight picture and clearly visible reticle to get the job done. To round out the value found here, this scope is backed by the Vortex VIP lifetime warranty, which is unmatched in the industry.
Best for Deer Hunting: Barska 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro
Why It Made the Cut: With extra magnification, a larger lens, and an illuminated reticle, the Barska 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro is ready for any challenge you face during deer season.
- Illuminated reticle
- Fast-focus eye bell
- Multi-coated optics
- Reticle brightness can be adjusted for lighting conditions
- 12x magnification offers a bit more distance if you need it
- Large 50mm objective lens lets in plenty of light
- Weighs 20 ounces, or 1 ¼ pounds
- 12x magnification won’t be quite as sharp
If we’re talking quality hunting scopes, then the Barska 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro is one to seriously consider. This scope’s large objective lenses provide maximum light transmission, and they’re multi-coated to increase viewing quality in low light conditions. Plus, the 3-12x magnification can give you a bit more viewing distance if you really need to push the .30-30 cartridge to its limits to bag the animal of a lifetime. The large diameter of the 50mm objective lens makes the best of available light, providing an excellent sight picture even on cloudy or overcast days.
What to Consider When Choosing a Scope for a .30-30
Since scoped .30-30 rifles have been around for generations, it’s not uncommon to see guns that have been handed down from one person to the next. Often, the scope that was put on the gun a generation or two ago remains. If it was good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me, many people will say.
That’s all well and good, but times change and technology improves. If your relative were purchasing a new rifle today, you can bet that they’d be putting the best scope money can buy today on it—not something from a half-century or more ago. As a result, you might be pondering a new scope for that beloved old rifle, and there are a ton of options from which to choose.
Or perhaps you’ve got a brand new .30-30 and you’re looking for the latest and greatest glass. Again, there are a lot of choices out there!
Obviously, the final decision is up to you, but if you decide that your next gun-related purchase is going to be a scope for your .30-30, then here are some of the things you should think about before parting with your hard-earned money:
Are you going to use this rifle and scope combo for hunting? If so, what are you hunting, where are you hunting, and what is your longest realistic shot? Do you need variable magnification, or is a fixed power scope the right way to go?
Some guns, like the Winchester Model 1894, cannot have scopes mounted on the top and must use a side mount. Make sure the scope you choose has mounting options that will work with your gun.
Most everyone’s got a budget. Sure, it’d be nice to not look at price tags, but that’s not the world most of us live in. Figure out your budget and then see what options there in that price range and what features they offer. You might be surprised by the high-quality options that are available for relatively little money. Because you don’t need to spend a mint to pick up one of the best scopes for a .30-30.
You can find more information on how to choose the best riflescope in our article on the subject. In it, you’ll find everything you need to make the right selection for your long-range scope needs. You can also review our picks for the best budget scopes if you want to outfit your rifle without breaking the bank.
If you’re looking for more information about getting the most out of your .30-30, Field & Stream has you covered. You can read up on all the best .30-30 Winchester hunting loads and the best lever action rifles.
Not sure if .30-30 is the right round for you? Check out our comparisons of the .45-70 vs .30-30 and the .30-30 Winchester vs .35 Remington to see which ballistics are more suited to your hunting scenarios.
Q: What is the best .30-30 lever-action rifle?
Determining the best .30-30 lever-action rifle is an incredibly subjective thing to do, but I think there are three brands that could all take the title of being the best: Winchester, Marlin, and Henry. Winchester’s Model 1894 is, of course, the most iconic. Marlin’s Model 336 is a close second, and Henry offers a variety of models in .30-30 that are all great choices.
Q: Can you use a .30-30 lever-action rifle for hunting?
Yes, you can absolutely use a .30-30 lever-action rifle for hunting. In fact, I’d venture to say that more animals have been harvested with a .30-30 lever-action rifle than any other rifle and cartridge combo on earth.
Q: Can you put a scope on a Winchester .30-30?
Yes, you can put a scope on a Winchester .30-30, which I am going to assume is the Model 1894. To do so, however, will require a side mount because spent cartridge cases eject out of the top of the receiver. Many older Winchesters have already been drilled and tapped for side mounts in the past. However if yours hasn’t, you’ll need to do that first before you will be able to mount a scope on your Winchester .30-30.
Final Thoughts on the Best Scopes for 30-30 Rifles
People have been putting scopes on .30-30 rifles for well over 100 years. In that time, there’s one thing that we know for sure: There really is no one best scope for the .30-30 cartridge. Because of its incredible versatility and performance, this round is used for a bunch of different purposes. As a result, these different guns with their varying barrel lengths or other possible modifications benefit from different types of scopes. Choose from the selections above to ensure you get one of the best scopes for .30-30 rifle.
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