The .243 Winchester is a marvel among calibers. Released in 1955, this is one of the most versatile rounds out there, capable of handling everything from varmints to mid-sized game such as deer. For anyone pursuing the unicorn of an all-purpose rifle, this is a top contender. All you need is the right scope.
Comparison of the Best .243 Rifle Scopes
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How Accurate is a .243 Winchester?
Like all cartridges in the 6mm neighborhood, the .243 is inherently accurate. It is very popular among the long-distance target shooting crowd. Incredible accuracy, if not kill-shots, can be achieved right out to 1000 yards.
Of course, accuracy depends on a lot more than the caliber used. Different loadings, both factory and reloaded, use different bullet weights and different powder loads.
Quality factory ammo or finely tuned reloads help a lot, but the most crucial determinant of accuracy is the barrel. Fortunately, due to its popularity in long-range target shooting, plenty of top-notch barrel options are available from practically every recreational firearm manufacturer. Each barrel, even of the same model, will have its own harmonics.
You will need to experiment with factory loads or reloading to get the most accuracy out of your rifle. When testing, remember that the first shot of a five-shot group will often be a flyer as the cold barrel will shoot differently than the later shots.
Aspects to Consider Before Buying .243 Scope
One major consideration in selecting a scope is finding the correct magnification range for your needs. The major determining factor here is the environment you expect to be hunting in. A brush gun for use in the thick woods of the Pacific Northwest where shots rarely surpass 150 yards, for example, is best served with a low-power scope, such as the 1-4x.
If you live on the prairies and expect to be shooting at coyotes or pronghorn at 350 yards away or more, you need 9x and higher. If you shoot in a moderately wooded environment, something like a 5-9x will serve you well.
Light absorption and clarity are the two other main selling points in scopes. Light absorption is determined by the diameter of the objective lens. Forty millimeters is ample for most applications. Clarity is determined by the quality of the lenses and lens coatings used in manufacture.
Build quality is crucial for allowing your scope to withstand recoil and other abuse and still hold zero. A lifetime warranty is an excellent indication of solid build quality. Most crucial design features come standard, such as capped turrets and parallax correction.
Review of the Best .243 Scopes
There are thousands of scopes on the market and the specifications of each can be hard for the new shooter to decipher. Pairing the ideal scope to a given rifle can also seem like an impossible challenge. Fear not, below is our list of the best scopes for a .243 rifle.
Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle Riflescope (6-24x50-mm)
Bushnell is a household name in the optics world, and not without reason. In shooting, tactical applications and varmint applications enjoy a huge amount of overlap in suitable equipment.
Long-range varmint hunting is probably the most demanding activity to which you can subject your rifle and scope combo, and this Bushnell Elite Tactical is ideal for the job. The 6-24x magnification means that you will be able to pick which of the gopher's whiskers to blow off at well over 400m.
The ultra-wide 50mm objective lens admits an extremely high amount of light, making this scope ideal for those perfect hunting conditions around dawn and dusk. Bushnell has designed this scope with a designated marksman-rated, first focal plane, reticle mil-hash marked for windage correction, ranging, and holdover. One necessity for the best long-range accuracy is parallax adjustment and the Elite Tactical has this in a very fine, 0.1 mil-click, value side focus knob.
The build quality of this scope is excellent. It features a single-piece, argon-purged tube with a three-inch sunshade. The lens coatings are also top-notch, ultra-wide for brightness in low light conditions and including a special Rainguard HD coating for adverse weather conditions.
Bushnell has a solid reputation. The warranty, reticle, magnification range, and brightness are the top reasons that this is the best overall .243 scope.
Vortex Optics Razor HD LH Second Focal Plane Riflescope
Vortex is shaking up their image as a newcomer and underdog in rifle optics. The main selling point of the Razor HD LH is the excellent lens technology and coatings used while keeping the price and weight down.
Vortex definitely punches above its weight with extra-low dispersion, high-density glass. They employ a whole slew of advanced lens coatings to keep the sight picture bright and clear, edge to edge, in any conditions.
The eye box is very forgiving, allowing a full sight picture to be acquired from a relatively wide range of eye placement. There are no big surprises or gimmicks with this scope, just great attention to detail.
The build quality is everything you would expect, backed up by an unconditional, unlimited lifetime warranty. The body is a single-piece, hard anodized tube, which is argon-purged and sealed with strong O-rings to prevent fogging. This scope comes with a popular MOA reticle.
Vortex is a rising star in the riflescope field. This is especially due to their focus on top-notch lens quality and coatings. Vortex gives you plenty of magnification range options, although we recommend the 3-15x42 for the utmost in versatility and long-range accuracy. The build quality and design features will not disappoint. The exceptional warranty means that you can buy a Vortex with total peace of mind.
Best Nikon .243 Scope:
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm
Nikon is a giant in the optics industry, not just for rifle scopes but in most other consumer and professional applications as well. The Buckmaster II is designed specifically for mid-range deer hunting, though of course, it does provide great versatility.
With a 3-9x magnification range, this scope can reach out far without making it difficult to pick up a target at close range. For most shooters, this is a great compromise that will take care of almost any task you throw at it.
The Buckmaster II is another scope with no frills or needless gimmicks, just top-quality glass and coatings from one of the world's most reputable manufacturers. The eye relief is generous, keeping the scope from getting hung up on hats or shooting glasses. The BDC reticle includes aim points for various ranges, allowing you to hold dead-on targeting at extreme ranges.
The main selling points of this scope are Nikon's reputation for optics, the warranty, and the BDC reticle. Shooters appreciate the positive action on the turrets. This is an excellent no-nonsense deer-hunting scope trusted by legions of hunters. It is definitely one of the best scopes on the market at this price point.
Best Scope for .243 Savage:
Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle
Savage is known for producing ridiculously accurate rifles for incredibly low prices. If you want to take 1000-yard shots but don't want to spend a lot of money, a Savage is the rifle for you. Bushnell and Savage belong to the same company and focus on a similar target market, so it makes sense to keep it all in the family.
Bushnell is a very popular American scope maker. This scope is a stiff competitor for the Nikon. Optimized for larger game, like the Nikon, it features a great mid-range, all-purpose magnification range at 3-9x and a wide 40m objective lens for optimum light absorption and brightness.
The reticle is a no-nonsense Bushnell Multi-X giving you an uncluttered sight picture. Lens quality and construction quality are nothing to scoff at. The scope features a one-piece, nitrogen-filled tube, and multi-coated optics.
The perfect scope depends on your desired purpose and usual shooting conditions. If you are shooting a Savage, it means you value long-range accuracy at a low price. This scope definitely provides the latter, while offering great versatility with a focus on the most typical hunting scenarios. Given the short eye relief, you wouldn't mount this on a Magnum rifle, but it is perfect for a .243.
Best Scope for .243 Win:
CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope 6-24x50 With Free Mount
The .243 caliber was originally developed by Winchester in the 50s, making the caliber and rifle a classic pair. Let's say grandpa's venerable old Winchester Model 70 been handed down to you and you want to upgrade from irons to a scope without dropping a lot of cash.
Not only is the CVLife a jaw-dropping deal for a pretty sold scope, but it's also even illuminated. You get five levels of brightness in both the red and green illumination options.
CVLIFE may be an absolute newcomer to the rifle scope game, but it is gaining traction fast. Shooters appreciate the outstanding value for money. With 6-24x magnification, this is definitely a scope for long-range varmint shooting in open country.
The 50mm objective lens will allow for optimum brightness. Luckily, CVLIFE saves you the trouble of finding an appropriate scope mount by including one with the scope.
If you want to experiment with a long-range illuminated scope to bring an old Winchester back to life for little money, this is it. CVLIFE may be an unknown entity, but so far shooter feedback has been exceptional. As a little added bonus, CVLIFE ships this scope with a nice package of added extras including the scope mount, mounting wrench, lens cover, and a cleaning cloth.
Best Leupold Scope for .243:
Leupold VX-1 3-9x50 Rifle Scope, Duplex Reticle
Few scope makers enjoy the reputation of America's own Leupold. Nothing inspires confidence and peace of mind in the field like that famous gold ring. This scope is perhaps the ideal all-rounder for average shooting conditions and mixed terrain.
With a mid-range 3-9x magnification range, you may not be choosing which toenail to shoot off a gopher at a 1000-yards, but it will handle almost any realistic task. This is especially true given the extra-wide 50mm objective lens which gives you the greatest possible brightness.
You will be thankful for this in those perfect hunting conditions around dusk and dawn. Of course, with Leupold, the build quality and turret operation are precise and beyond reproach. The company is known to offer longer than average eye relief, although this is probably not crucial on a .243.
Nevertheless, you can be sure that this scope will stand up to abuse and hold zero as well as any. Leupold's duplex reticle is a classic uncluttered design, aiding in quick target acquisition.
Buy once, cry once is a good rule to live by. With this Leupold, you may not even shed a tear given its great price point. The greatest advantage of this scope is its versatility. It can handle pretty much any realistic shooting task you throw at it. There is a good chance that it will out-live any rifle you mount it on.
Types of .243 Scopes
The types of scopes practical for a .243 rifle are divided into categories based on their practical range. No one in their right mind would put a scope on their rifle that arbitrarily limits its range. Rather, the range is determined by the terrain you expect to be shooting in. If you are shooting very small game you may opt to raise the magnification range a bit.
If your shooting environment is mostly obstructed by thick brush, you will be putting together a brush gun, and probably don't need a scope with a magnification range greater than 1-4x.
Most .243 shooters are probably looking at shooting a variety of small to mid-sized game in a terrain of mixed brush and open field. This is where scopes in the range of 3-9x magnification come in. These serve as your classic all-rounders.
The .243 is also an outstanding long-range target and varmint round. If you plan to shoot out past 400 yards, particularly at small targets like rodents, consider something like a 4-16x or 6-24x. In wide open spaces, you'll probably never be able to sneak up to within a few hundred yards of any game, so the high base-level magnification won't be a problem.
The .243 is an excellent all-around cartridge for everything except large game. It is also a classic long-range target caliber. The right scope for you depends on your shooting environment and intended target. Whatever your shooting style and budget, there is a scope on the list above for you.