Best Scope for M1A - Review in 2019

From the battlefield to long-range shooting exercises, the M1A has proved to be a versatile rifle in every situation. Only a few guns have reached that standard. It is also a weapon that scouts and long-range shooters can both agree on to comply with their shooting requirements.

Due to versatility, there is always conflict when customizing it for short range and 800+ yards shooting expeditions. Either way, each user will require the best scope for M1A to match the chosen yardage for the .308 specified rifle. That means you have a decision to make before purchasing.

Whatever application you choose, the MIA will surely perform with the right magnifying scope on top. So, once you know what you want to do with the rifle, this guide will help you get the right optics for the purpose.

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10 Best Scope for M1A in Our List

Top 10 Scope for M1A 

Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50

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At medium price classification, you don’t expect scopes to do much, but Vortex Viper will prove otherwise. It’s made for those who are going to the harsh environments and want to hit further than the 800 yards the M1A is known for. The aircraft-grade aluminum housing, argon-purging, and O-ring sealing make sure of that.

The objective is a suitable light transmitter, thanks to the extra-low dispersion glass. When combined with the anti-reflective XR coating on the surfaces, you get a clear picture of the target with all colors enhanced.

While all that is done for you to get a clear view even in lower light conditions, it’s better utilized when you are shooting mid to long range. This Vortex comes with a magnification range of 6.5-20X and 50mm objective. Therefore, don’t pick it if you are shooting 350 yards and below.

While in the field, it’s easy to reset to zero by just lifting the turrets and dialing back. However, with heavy recoil, the Vortex is known to zero-reset itself –blame that points to the spring system with lesser tension. The eye relief is, however, long enough to compensate for the recoils.

Adjusting the magnification is a breeze using the MAG-Bar, and the same applies to the focus eyepiece and working with the ¼ MOA turrets. In the turrets, it also comes with a third one for the parallax.

What you will appreciate after buying the Viper is the ability to choose the reticle you want to use. It comes with mil-dot, V-Plex, and the dead-hold BDC, all in the second focal plane. In the long range, you will mostly want to use the mil-dot and BDC.

Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40

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A lesser magnification suits those who are using the M1A to shoot below 800 yards. For the Vortex Diamondback, it’s a scope performing best at 500-600 yards. If you are also going tactical, the 4-12x magnification will suit you.

To help you in clarity, it has the same features as its counterpart above. Extra-low dispersion glass for the resolution and color while the XR multi-coating makes sure you get enough light. The lenses and the 40mm objective are also housed by an aircraft-grade aluminum that has an anodized finish to minimize the glare.

More to that includes the O-ring sealing and nitrogen purging to make the scope waterproof and fog proof. At around 600 yards the clarity is excellent though you are bound to get blurred images beyond the 8x magnification. The good thing is that unlike the predecessor above, the less objective gives your rifle lesser weight.

You can adjust for both the elevation and windage since it has the turrets for that but nothing for the parallax. You get ¼ MOA increments from them. It’s possible to track the rotations using the Fiber Optic Radius feature.

It’s advisable to use low profile rings if you want to see how the turrets are lining up. There are also complaints about the hash marks not lining up, but that’s something you can fix if you know what you are doing.

Lastly, the reticle is in the second focal plane, and it’s a VMR-1 MOA type. That means it’s an ideal solution to help you determine the windage, elevation, moving leads, the range, and holdovers. Being an SFP reticle also implies getting dead-on on smaller targets.

Vortex Crossfire ii 2-7x32

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Have you heard enough of Vortex? Well, here is the Crossfire II that poses to be affordable just like the others above and great for the M1A scout rifle. The reason why another Vortex appears on our review list is that it meets the expectations of the gun in question.

For the optics view, it includes everything else specified in the other similar models, but you don’t get more eye relief here. That’s a minus in heavy recoil applications but better for those with contacts in the field. 

On the other hand, crisp images are enhanced by the extra-low dispersion glass and multi-coating on all outer surfaces of the lenses in use.

With a 32mm objective, you don’t expect higher magnification and much light gathering ability. At 2-7x, some would argue that’s enough for the objective while others would wish for everything going bigger. Well, this scope will suit those who are aiming between 300-500 yards.

To keep you on target at longer distances, the adjustments include the windage and elevation with the help of capped MOA turrets. They give you the ability to reset to zero after sighting. It’s worth noting that the turrets work with the crosshairs if you want proper adjustment.

Once you use the turrets, the dead-hold BDC reticle will guide you to avoid hold-over guesswork and compensate for the drop. Just like the above scopes, it’s also in the second focal plane, which means it will stay the same despite the magnification.

For the construction, it is waterproof and fog proof with the same housing as the other Vortex models.

Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40

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At only one pound, the first thing you will notice with the Leupold VX-3i model is that it is exceptionally light. Combined with other adorable features to make your hunting successful, that’s a good thing for the M1A rifle.

The objective is only 40mm, which is excellent for most of the average users. With an assist of the Diamond Coat 2-ion, the light transmission can never be much better. 

The manufacturer goes ahead to add the Twilight Max Light Management System to reduce the glare. That’s why it’s a great performer in low light conditions past the legal hunting hours.

While it performs well in dim light, it will underperform if you are shooting further than 600 yards. There is nothing wrong with the magnification here. It’s useful for long distances above 10x. The problem is the turrets. They will adjust the windage and elevation, but the heightdoes not move up and down as you change.

You have room for 64MoA with 15MOA per revolution, but you have to count the clicks, and there are no zero stops here. To help you zero the scope, you will need a CDS (Custom Dial System) which again switches the MOA to yardage. Getting a custom CDS means giving Leupold some information about your rifle.

Apart from the turrets shortcoming, it is rugged enough to keep going in the thick bushes. There is also plenty of eye relief to prevent a black eye event.

Nikon ProStaff 4-12x40

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Another mid to long range scope from a well-known optics company is the Nikon Prostaff 4-12x40. It comes with features that suit the hunters and tactical shooters. The black matte finishing on the scope, turret caps, and lens cap make it travel protected whenever you are on the move.

Now, as you are aiming, you need all the light that a scope can gather to view. For Nikon, they have their outer glass surfaces coated with multilayers to permit 98% light transmission. The only thing lacking here is target illumination or something similar to enhance the view.

With the magnification going all the way to 12, it will suit your mid and long-range aiming tasks with the M1A. While the field of view might be lower, at a minimum of 7.3 ft. with 12x magnification, the target will be evident even beyond 600 yards.

If you want a BDC or mil-dot reticle, this one will give you the Nikoplex type. It is, therefore, harder to use it as you compensate for the bullet. The Nikon Spot On Technology may help you though. 

You have to remove the turret caps for you to adjust the turrets. You can work on the elevation and windage with a ¼ turn MOA clicks, but there are no adjustments for the parallax.

Nikon, on the other hand, is parallax free from 100 yards and above. You can also easily set the turrets to zero after aiming. They will also withstand heavy recoil. Other specifications include O-ring sealing, nitrogen purging, generous 3.7-inch eye relief, and a quick focus on the eyepiece.

Athlon Cronus BTR 4.5-29x56

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Athlon Optics is a company that has been around for a few years now. Their collaboration with shooters and the military has given forth to one of the rifle scopes that seems to be a beast in long range shooting. Here, the Cronus BTR 4.5-29x56 that seen improvements since it’s launching and testing.

It has a 34mm tube which is considerably larger than the usual 30mm. The objective lens with extra-low dispersion glass has a 56mm diameter on it, which is more than enough to gather light and show you where the target is. 

While there are weight issues to deal with here, such specs are meant for long-range shooters only someone who is stretching further than 1000 yards.

The magnification is also something else that chases away the mid-range shooters. Having a 4.5-29x range means that you can magnify as much as possible to see the smallest objects beyond 800 yards. 

If you are going into the harsh environments, be sure that this is a scope that you can use in muddy areas, in light rain or dusty environments.

You can adjust the elevation, windage, and parallax with this scope as you listen to the clicks. Despite where you are using it and how it never loses zero, meaning that it can withstand the heavy recoils. 

The reticle is something worth noting here. It’s an APRS glass-etched illuminated reticle in the first focal plane which enables you to shoot in low light conditions.

Overall, being an optic with 56mm objective, it’s only meant for long-range purposes for those who can deal with the extra weight.

Bushnell Tactical 10X40

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Now, enter the Bushnell Tactical 10x40 which comes with a fixed magnification. That makes it suitable for midrange, but in the long range, it would be better if you had varying magnification.

At around 1.6 pounds, it’s not that heavy on the M1A rifle with only a one-inch tube. To maximize on the light transmission and image clarity, the Bushnell comes with an Ultra Wide Band Coating that for the light and fully multi-coating for the imagery.

As we said, the magnification is fixed, but the 40mm objective will still be useful that way. That’s why it’s suited for 350-600 yards, but that does not mean that you can’t stretch further. It all depends on your skills here.

The turrets work fine but with a few shortcomings. Quick dialing for the elevation and windage is possible, and you can reset to zero using an Allen key for unscrewing. The reason why they may not perform well on the M1A is that it may be harder to align with your rifle and you can accidentally turn them to zero during practice.

If you need a BDC reticle, we have the mil-dot here. While it can be used to for distant targets and holdovers, it will not be more comfortablewith calculating for the bullet drop like in the BDC. 

Also, the measurements labeling on this scope is a bit dark in the sense that the white marks are slightly camouflaged in the black color. Repainting them could be necessary after using it for a while.

Burris Eliminator 4-16x50

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When technology advances, some scopes do not like to be left behind. That is why this Burris Eliminator 4-16x50 scope comes with superb x96 reticle and a built-in range finder. However, you have to bear the cost and some weight on the M1A rifle.

While it has some features worth looking into, this is not for those who aren’t tech savvy. Another thing, too much of the range finder, the reticle with an illuminated point of impact and having to feed in the appropriate caliber loading information compromises the clarity and light gathering. So, you might enjoy what it can do, but the clarity is that of $200-$300 scopes.

The range finder is capable of ranging up to above 1200 yards, but that will work better with reflective targets. The 4-16x magnification is adjustable to suit the chosen yardage. Now, if you want to shoot downhill, you can use the inclinometer for accuracy, and it permits an incline of up to 45 degrees.

As for the reticle, it’s something else altogether. First, you can adjust for the windage, elevation, and parallax with ease and zero where necessary. After sighting in the target, you will see a bright dot representing the bullet drop and the point of impact.

The range finder can be engaged on the illuminated circle to get the holdover and range in the form of a red dot. Once you move the red dot into the illuminated circle, it’s time to pull the trigger. You can enjoy more with this scope, but the build and clarity make it feel cheap.

Nightforce Benchrest 12-42x56

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More for the long rangers is the Nightforce Benchrest which appears slim to the eye, but with a maximized objective lens. It’s a scope that has gone ahead to win records in LR competitions due to its clarity and resolution not to mention its ability to withstand heavy recoils.

The 30mm tube scope comes with a 56mm objective lens, but the outer diameter goes all the way to 69mm. while it seems there is room for expansion, it’s still debatable why all the extra width. To give you the long range ability, the magnification range is 12-42x, which can be considered very high if you want a mid-range scope.

The glasses are multi-coated for better imagery, but you are bound to get a lesser exit pupil diameter (1.4 inches) at the highest magnification. For more accuracy, the turrets have .125 MOA clicks which give you more precision than most of the scopes already reviewed. It also easy to reset to zero by just using your finger. The turrets are that narrow.

The reticle is in the second focal plane, which gives you the better advantage of you are aiming smaller targets. It’s also illuminated to provide you with better aiming. To prevent accidental zero resets (or zeroing due to recoils) the spring system uses titanium beta erector spring which is thrice what you expect in normal spring pressure.

Lastly, its water and weather resistant with a 6061-T6 Aircraft grade aluminum construction.

Primary Arms 4-14x44

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The last one on the list is the Primary Arms scope that comes with the usual hunting specifications. It’s shockproof, waterproof, and fog resistant, which are some of the features that should not miss for someone going outdoor. It’s also rugged for the tough areas.

The reason it stays last here is because of the light transmission. It excellent in broad daylight, but the same cannot be said in low light. In addition to light gathering incapability, you don’t get an illuminated reticle, and that’s something you may want when shooting small targets beyond 500 yards.

You get a 44mm objective here which is enough for the average user. The magnification also suits the diameter, but at above 10x, the image is bound to be a blur if closer. 

The turrets are easy to work on, but they tend to feel light and spongy as you work on them.The better part is that they are matched with the mil-dot reticle to give you 1/10 increments in mils.

Being a first focal plane reticle scope, the Primary is well suited for large targets that are far away and maybe moving. Despite the turrets feeling light, it will amaze you by how sturdy it is to resist the recoils. Those are some of the things that make it behave just like the $1000 scopes at less than $300.

If you choose the Primary model, the manufacturer will give you a three-year warranty on any defects or normal wear and tear. It will not give you much, but for the price, the features are enough to make your shooting a worthwhile.

Maximum Effective Range of an M1A

After going through some of the best scopes to fit on an M1A rifle, it’s essential to ask yourself how far your rifle can shoot. If you are an expert in shooting, a new MIA gun can accurately shoot at 200 yards target with not more than 1 MOA.

However, as you increase the distance, the bullet drop increases tremendously, which brings in the need to rectify that with the help of a scope. That is why we want you to arm your M1A with an optic that will make it more useful.

Now, before that is possible, should you know something about the distance? Typically, all M1As have a 16-22-inch barrel length. Therefore, we can work with 18-19 inches here as the average. For such an extent, with the .308 caliber, here is how the rifle will perform:

  • Short range: Consider 150 yards and below.
  • Medium range: 150 to 350 yards
  • Long range: Above 350 yards

The M1A has been tested for 1000 yards, and it gave in fruitful results. If you have a longer barrel, then the bullet can travel more yards. The opposite is true for the shorter ones. If you want to hit dead-on with an M1A beyond 500 yards, then you need a scope that will match the longer distance and increased bullet drop.

From the reviews, it’s clear that some scopes are suited for LR while others will work better for the average yardage. Based on the length we have discussed above, here is how you can match your rifle with the right scope.

M1A Magnification Requirements

The .308 caliber is designed to go further, but it requires some help. Moving for distant targets means deploying a larger magnification. Looking at the maximum effective range, here is how you can choose a scope based on the yard measurements:

Short Range: 150 Yards and Below

The MIA is known to shoot right on target anything close to it. That’s where you will want to start to determine how it performs. So, if you are looking to get dead on at a closer range, then a maximum of 5x the magnification power is all you need.

Medium Range: Between 150 and 350 Yards

This is regarded as the most comfortable shooting position. It’s far for you to detect the target but still close enough to hit. If there is no wind and more of holdover to tackle, it will be easier to aim at such distances with a 6-9x time magnification.

Long Range: Beyond 350 Yards

This is the last thing you will do with your rifle after testing for the closer lengths. If you want to hit the target at maybe 800 yards, then the size of the target may not matter. On the other hand, for a clear view, you will need magnification going 10x or higher. 

Some scopes will possess such magnification but prove worthless at such distances. It is, therefore, better to consider the aspect of clarity, compensating for the elevation, wind, and low light conditions.

Most of the scopes we have discussed above will suit at least two categories above. Why, because they have different magnification. For a more extended range, the higher magnification is always better.


As long as you want the best scope for M1A, there is something for you despite the range you need to shoot. If you're going to take the long shots, scope like the Vortex Viper and the Athlon will give you the desired results and maybe even more.

If you are the tactical guy with less yardage to aim at, then the scopes with lesser magnification are for you. All the optics discussed are mountable on the M1A, so the question is, what range do you want to shoot? Consider that if you want the perfect scope instead of what the expensive ones can do that, the cheap ones can’t.

Last update on 2020-05-30 at 15:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Steve Coffman

Steve is a shooter and an excellent hunter. He spend most of the times of his life with firearms and hunting. He has very good knowledge in hunting Gears and Rifles.

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