Gun Mann

Precision is Key: Best Scopes for the M1A

Scopes are an expensive, but very significant, addition to a firearm. Regardless of whether you are a competitive shooter, a law enforcement officer, hunter, or a field-shooting practitioner and enthusiast, a scope will dramatically improve your accuracy and performance, as well as help you perfect yourself in the discipline.

We will introduce you to the world of scopes and its nomenclature with zeal and patience to every inherent detail, and help you make an informed, well-thought-out choice of the best scope for your fast M1A rifle.

Comparison of the Best Scopes For M1A 

  • Best FFP scope for the M1A rifle
  • ACSS HUD DMR .308 reticle works great for shooting moving targets
  • High magnifying power of 4x-14x and 6 illumination settings for reticle
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  • Steel on steel adjustment system with audible clicks for reference
  • Allows ultra-fast target acquisition with both eyes open
  • Retains zero in all conditions and great for practice and varmint hunting
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Range: How Far Away is Your Target?

This civilian semi-automatic M1A with a .308 caliber is an advanced upgrade from its predecessors and is very popular among all types of shooters because of its versatility and usefulness of the entirety of its features.

A standard M1A has a barrel of 16 to 22 inches. For an aspiring shooter, the longer the barrel and the more he/she can magnify, the further a user can aim with this rifle. So, we could say that the M1A shoots with admirable accuracy and ease at 200 yards, with a less than 1 MOA (Minute of Angle). (1 MOA spreads about 1″ per 100 yards)

Springfield Armory M1A (Source)

However, with enough practice and the right scope on this rifle, you can have a clean kill or a dead-on-target shot at 500 yards and more. What you need to know is that at a long range (>350 yards), you need a magnification of 10x and higher on your scope to achieve ideal accuracy.

For the most appealing mid-range distances (150 - 350 yds), you need a 6-9x magnification and for a small range of up to 150 yards, you need a rather insignificant power magnification of 1-5x on your scope. You can aspire for longer distances and success with this gun, all depending on the speed of the wind, individual skills, quality of the scope, ammunition, angle, etc.

With persistence and regular practice, you can achieve accurate shooting at even 1500 yards! So, don’t be afraid to reach for the farthest of aims with any of the scopes that we present here and be inspired to shoot for better and more accurate activities with your M1A.

How to Choose a Rifle Scope for the M1A

Prior to purchasing a scope, you need to define your purpose. Whether you are preparing yourself for an in intense close-up "ambush", or a challenging long range set-up, you need to feel comfortable and excited to adjust and work with, your new scope.

There are several factors that contribute to this mindset and one of them is becoming familiar with the most significant aspects and attributes of a scope, such as:


Magnification is the power of the scope that grants you a more precise aiming by enlarging the size of the target through the scope. Commonly, a riflescope's specifications will be indicated in numbers such as  3.5-10x50 or 4x32 (power-power x objective lens diameter).

The first number (3.5-10) indicates the range of possible multiplication of the scope and how your target's size and distance modify in the reticle. The higher the magnification properties of a scope, the larger the objective lens will be, and the more useful it will be in diverse light conditions. It is also preferable that the crosshairs (reticle) are not too thick and consequently obscure the image.

A fixed scope doesn't allow variations in magnification and is considered more reliable, and since it doesn't have multiple lenses, it produces a clearer, brighter image. However, a variable scope, that allows you to adjust the magnification properties, is more suitable for shooters that practice outside of the usual singular circumstances and targets.

In addition, the more expensive the scope is, the higher its power of magnification typically is.

Scope Image Quality 

A well-known brand can guarantee an impeccable design and material, but perhaps a peripheral, mid-priced manufacturer can also use the same components to make a less expensive, but equally productive scope.

Leupold 110797 VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope,Duplex Reticle, Matte Black

Among the most famous scope manufacturers is Leupold, one of the available optics authorities today, alongside Zeiss and Swarovski. The rest of the most renowned companies are Vortex and Nikon, and they all have proved themselves through the use of excellent overall materials and ruggedness, offering a wide variety of rifle scopes for all types of shooters and intentions, and maintain an outstanding reputation.

These tried-and-true optical systems can range from $200 to $3000 per scope, but they rarely disappoint no matter the cost of the optics. Only the myriad of features differs - the more details, the more complex and performant the scope will be.

Build Quality & Durability

Scopes are usually single-piece constructions, preferably made of durable and compact material (usually aluminum) with an attractive film and matte finish. Most of them are in absolute waterproof integrity so they can handle tough situations and the lenses are coated in single or multiple layers. Coatings ensure reduction of glare, better light transmission, and sharper contrast, as well as zero scratching.

The windage and elevation tactical knobs are situated in the middle of the scope tube and serve to adjust the reticle according to the MOA instructions and allow users to listen to the audible clicks to measure precisely. The target turrets are taller knobs with the same function and are better protected with removable caps.

The Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) is another way to predict the projectile’s trajectory through its ballistic coefficient, the temperature, barrel length, or elevation. It prohibits any aberrations of the bullet and it is a great tactic and tool for target acquisition.  

An important segment of gun-handling and comfort with a scope is having a rather static and constant cheek weld on the "comb" of the stock, for improved accuracy and shooting. With the forgiving eye relief most scopes offer, you can properly adjust the cheek weld and can have confidence while assuming any position. A scope that successfully holds at zero in unexpected situations, also speaks about the prolonged life of the scope and ensures a satisfied client. 

Some elements go into a high-grade scope, making it durable and of unquestionable quality.  The elements on this list are the ones you should be aware of when purchasing a scope.


The mounting hardware of a rifle-scope includes high, medium, and/or low rings and rails that help you elevate and/or move the scope on your rifle back and forth, according to your desires and preferences. Sometimes they are included with the scope, while other times you have to purchase them separately.

M1A with mounted scope (Source)

Adding weight to a firearm with a scope can help reduce the recoil and hence the potential damage of a heavy rifle, especially if that rifle is being used frequently. So, the mounting is important, not only because a proper mounting guarantees security, but because it can also sharpen the shot. For optimum accuracy, you want it as close to the barrel as possible.

 So, that said, we suggest that you always mount your scope so you don't have to move your head for optimal field of view. Move the scope to your eye, not your eye to the scope, they say.

Review of the Best M1A Scopes 

We are happily reviewing our top five picks of scopes for your M1A rifle. We hope that you will like our choice, save lots of your precious time, ponder quickly and make a definite choice based on these reviews.

1. Nikon M-308 4-16X42 Riflescope BDC 800 Reticle

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This variable Nikon scope is a caliber-specific (.308, like the M1A) i.e. designed for heavy caliber rifles and provides 4x magnification power. The immaculately, multi-coated optical lenses will protect the scope from all shock, fog, and water, while the overall construction is destined for long-range shooting.

A four-inch eye relief ensures safe recoil for the shooter and a full field of view. It comes with a BDC 800 reticle, designed for a 100-yard zero on the crosshair - with marks representing all ranges from 200 to 800 yards, making it very useful and helpful. Adjustments on the spot are as easy as can be with the Zero-Reset Turrets and their positive audible "clicks".

It also features a built-in 20 MOA slope and with the Spot On app by Nikon, that is meant to calibrate the scope to fit the ammunition you are using. It also comes with flip-up lens covers to protect the clear glass.


  • BDC 800 Reticle
  • Holds Zero (Sighting In)
  • Multi-Coated Optical Lenses
  • Easy View of Targets at Even 1300 Yards
  • Designed for Use with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology


  • Eye Relief Doesn't Work on Maximum Magnification
  • Size of Reticle Stays the Same When You Zoom (Needs to Zero Every Time)

Bottom Line 

Nikon backs their products with a lifetime warranty, and there is a big reason why. They don't save on material and adjustment technology, so you could undoubtedly say the price of this scope is definitely unbeatable.

This is recommended for any weapons platform, especially the AR10. It has an outstanding reputation and works just as advertised!

2. Leupold 110797 VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope

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This reputable second focal plane (SFP) scope by Leupold has the reticle fall on the second focal plane, near the eyepiece/ocular lens. The reticle in the SFP always appears to be the same size, regardless of the zoom.

With its DiamondCoat protective lens overlay, this scope affirms improved resolution, contrast, and successfully avoids excessive light beams that hinder the ideal target acquisition. It is better to see through the scope in low-light conditions than with a naked eye.

It ensures maximum light transmission/catching and features 1/4 MOA Custom Dial System (CDS) with finger-adjustable clicks of the elevation knobs that allow quick, dependable, and continuous repeated accommodation to the ballistic potential of the bullet.

The knobs come with rubber caps to keep them protected from any damage. It reliably aims and ensures a clean kill or a bullseye at a distance of up to 500 yards.


  • Great Shockproof Capabilities
  • Hold Zero After Repeated Muzzle Blasts
  • Ultimate Abrasion-Resistant for Lifelong, Extreme Use
  • Designed for Use in All Lighting and Natural Conditions
  • Amazing Brightness and Sharp Resolution in the Entire Field of View


  • The Reticle Doesn't Have a Locking Ring

Bottom Line

This scope suits all hunting applications, has crystal clear optics, and has impressed us greatly! It ensures a solid performance and fits perfectly on the M1A, from an aesthetic to a practical point of view. It's an excellent quality for the price and we highly recommend it.

3. Primary Arms 4-14 X 44 FFP Scope ACSS HUD .308 BDC Reticle

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This is a first focal plane optic, which means the reticle and image change in size with every switch of magnification and can manage holdovers easily. So, the patented ACSS HUD/DMR reticle this scope houses remains 'true' throughout the entire magnification range and hence opens plenty of possibilities for hunters, marksmen, and competitors everywhere.

It has impressed many users, together with its illuminating capacity and common CR2032 3V Lithium coin battery. Its tight and compact design, along with the impressive ACSS reticle, amazes hundreds of buyers who didn't expect such exceptional performance by this scope. They undoubtedly remain loyal to Primary Arms, with its top-notch products and supportive team.


  • Variable Magnification From 4-14x
  • Six Levels or Brightness/Illumination Technique
  • Fully Warranty for Three Years by Primary Arms
  • Made of Excellent Aircraft-Grade Aluminium, Waterproof, Shock and Fog Resistant, Clean of Nitrogen


  • Non-Compatible Night Vision
  • Magnification Ring is a Little Bit too Stiff to Handle

Bottom Line 

This clean, intuitive design is an exception on the market because we rarely find FFP optics for the price this scope boasts. PA hasn't failed in pleasing the great majority of their customers and we are certain you can't go wrong choosing this scope over another.

4. Vortex Optics Viper PST Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

This Vortex model is a fantastic scope for close to medium range shooting. With easy eye relief, you don't wait for the reticle to line up, you can shoot as soon as you position yourself and immediately place the reticle on the target. The optimum pleasurable optical clarity and sharpness, together with the robust construction, manage to guarantee lasting ranging and reliable evaluation of impact.

The parallax and magnification knobs are solid enough and the multi-coated lenses pull in a lot of light. The reticle is accurate at a multitude of magnification settings. It tracks true and maintains zero surprisingly well for a scope at this price point.

The cost of this scope is unparallel in comparison to other more expensive scopes featuring the same or similar components.


  • Audible Tactile Click
  • Helpful Customer Service and Superior Warranty
  • Tactical Milling Close Quarter, 65 MOA Etched Reticle
  • Aircraft-Grade Aluminium and Water and Fog-Proof Tube
  • High, Crisp and Vivid Illumination Control for Any Eyesight and Need


  • Quite Heavy
  • Magnification Rings Are Too Stiff (Needs a Throw Lever)

Bottom Line 

Vortex is popular for quality at an affordable price, and this scope is no exception to that rule. It easily earns trust from all of its clients and keeps them coming back over and over again. We have confirmed that this scope merits a close check-up and a green light for ambitious shooters.

5. Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm

This is posi-lock and ballistic-plex system ensures the reticle stays zeroed if the firearm drops or in any other situation until it is disengaged. This is mainly for hunting purposes, and although the springs on a Burris are strong enough, the posi-lock is a nice, helpful feature anyhow.

Its coil-spring assisted steel complements and the scope itself is filled at least 24 times with a high-quality dry Nitrogen that allows it to remain moisture-free and recoil-resistant. It is a variable scope with high light transmission and its multi-coated optical lenses are fog and water-proof along with the objective bell and eyepiece.


  • Multi-Coated Lens Overlay
  • Steel on Steel and Audible Adjustment Mechanism
  • Long Eye Relief (10-12 inches) and Comfortable Shooting With Both Eyes Open
  • Greater Diameter of Objective Lens (32mm) for Undeniably Clear Images and Accuracy


  • No Illumination
  • No Factory Lens Caps  

Bottom Line 

The Burris Scout Scopes undoubtedly set the norm for optical quality, durability, and low mounting capabilities. Although this scope might seem too pricey, it is well worth the cost.

Its overall solid and quality construction won’t disappoint. Burris also gives a lifetime warranty, prompt delivery, and guarantees the excellent performance of the scope with scout rifles.


Choosing a scope for your M1A is not as easy as it may look. You need to have all the specs in mind, as well as the reasons behind your goals for future endeavors. What do you want to achieve and how much do you plan to progress? With this in-depth inspection and the overall reviews, we hope to have relieved some of your concerns on what to be looking for in a scope and where to find it. So stay tuned, and good luck!

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