Although cartridges with more accuracy and more stopping power exist today, the classic .30-30 Winchester cartridge is still a mainstay for American hunters and target shooters, particularly those who like to use bolt action rifles.
In fact, the .30-30 Winchester was originally designed for the Winchester Model 1894, a common lever-action marksman’s rifle back in those days. But because of its exceptional design, and its versatile effective range of up to about 250 yards when paired with a proper optic, the .30-30 remains a mainstay of the hunting community.
But what optics should you pair this popular cartridge with? That’s what this guide is for. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of what to look for in a new scope for your .30-30 Winchester rifle, plus some examples of ideal scopes for a variety of needs and pricing points.
What to Consider Before Buying a Scope for .30-30 Winchester
There are lots of things to think about before buying a new scope for your .30-30 Winchester rifle. But among all the factors to consider, the below aspects are most important in our opinion.
First and foremost is scope durability. As mentioned above, the .30-30 Winchester cartridge is primarily used with hunting rifles, and for good reason; it’s a thick cartridge suitable for taking down white-tailed deer and similar species thanks to its penetrating capabilities and stopping power.
As a result, you’ll want your scope to be waterproof and weatherproof, which will allow it to work properly even in inclement weather. Scopes made with aircraft-grade aluminum and similarly durable materials are also preferred, as they will last a long time and you’ll really get your money’s worth.
You should also look for scopes that have multicoated optics. When the lenses have multiple coatings, not only will they produce better light transmission and a clearer sight picture before you take your shot, but they will also resist scratches or general wear and tear from being in the field.
For even better results, try to find scopes with lifetime warranties, which should cover any manufacturer defects or damage that comes with your purchase.
Next, consider the reticle quality that a given .30-30 Winchester scope comes with. Glass-etched reticles are particularly nice to look for, as these reticles will not shake or shudder with each pull of the trigger.
More importantly, you need to find reticles that contain holdover points so you can properly compensate for bullet drop and other factors like windage and elevation. In general, the more detailed a reticle is, the more accurate you’ll be at the upper effective range of the .30-30 Winchester cartridge.
However, you might also want a clean, minimalist reticle that doesn’t get in the way. In this case, BDC or bullet drop compensation reticles strike a good balance between offering additional aiming assistance without being too cluttered for most hunters’ comfort.
Lastly, try to target scopes for your .30-30 Winchester rifle that have enough eye relief to be safe to use. Eye relief measures the space at which you can place your eye from the ocular lens. The more eye relief a scope comes with, the safer it is to use since it’s less likely to bump into your eye socket when you pull the trigger.
Since the .30-30 Winchester cartridge does produce significant recoil, this factor is more important than if you were to use a lower recoil cartridge like 9 mm ammunition. We would recommend looking for scopes that provide eye relief of no less than 3 inches.
What Magnification Settings do the Best Scopes for 30-30 Rifles Have?
Naturally, the magnification settings that a given .30-30 Winchester scope comes with can affect whether it’s a good choice for your hunting or target shooting needs.
As mentioned above, the .30-30 Winchester cartridge has a maximum effective range of about 250 yards, although this can vary by 50 yards in either direction depending on the quality of the powder, the type of rifle the cartridge is used with, and the skill of the shooter.
To that end, most .30-30 rifle scopes don’t magnify to extreme degrees. You won’t be hitting targets out to 1000 yards with this cartridge. Instead, you’ll need magnification settings between 1x and 5x in most cases, although some skilled marksmen may want scopes that can go up to 9x or so to really push out the effective range of this cartridge.
Ultimately, the ideal magnification settings for your new .30-30 rifle scope are dependent on what you plan to use your rifle for, how far you usually are from your targets, and the magnification levels you are personally comfortable with.
The 5 Best Scopes for 30-30 Winchester
Now that you know exactly what you should try to look for in one of the best scopes for Marlin .30-30 rifles, let’s break down five top options you can and should consider for your next purchase.
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Riflescope
Leupold is first up with another quality scope in its lineup. As you can see, it can magnify between 3x and 9x, and it features a 40 mm objective lens. That makes it a little more suitable for farther range cartridges than the .30-30, although it’ll also be a great hunting scope overall.
Furthermore, the Hunt Plex reticle that comes with this optic is minimalist and easy to use. It features separate bullet drop compensation holdover points so you can compensate for your .30-30 cartridges as they decrease in elevation after leaving the barrel.
Perhaps most important is the Twilight Max Light Management System. This benefit is proprietary to Leupold and effectively translates to another few minutes of shooting light for hunters during dusk and dawn. You don’t have to use any controls or special settings to activate this feature, either. As a result, it’s one of the best hunting optics through and through.
But it’s also an excellent .30-30 scope for hunting because of its Matte finish and weatherproof construction. The matte finish won’t give away your position due to sun glares or flashes and the weatherproof functionality will ensure it continues to operate, even in inclement weather.
The only downside is the lack of etchings or marks on the windage and elevation turrets. Thus, these are not the easiest to use in the market. They do offer tactical feedback, however, so experienced shooters won’t likely get lost while using them.
- Lenses are specially coated to provide you with extra shooting light
- Very durable and suitable for hunting, even in inclement weather
- Has an excellent reticle for .30-30 hunters
- The windage and elevation turrets aren’t detailed or marked
All in all, the VX-Freedom rifle scope is a quality piece of equipment through and through, even though it is a little expensive compared to some of the more budget-friendly options on the market. We’d easily recommend it for .30-30 rifle users who need something to get the job done reliably, and that doesn’t have a ton of extra bells and whistles besides special lens coatings.
2. UTG 3-12×44 Compact Scope
UTG’s compact scope is another prime choice for combining with .30-30 cartridges. While you probably won’t use the maximum magnification settings available, it can magnify between 3x and 6x as well: ideal magnification options for .30-30 users.
But the scope is also valuable thanks to its 30 mm range estimator function. This, in conjunction with a 36-color illuminated reticle, allows you to quickly compensate for different distances between you and your targets. All these advanced controls are modified via special knobs at the top of the scope’s body. Fortunately, they are relatively flat, so you don’t need to worry about bumping them by accident as you adjust the scope before taking a shot.
Speaking of knobs, this optic comes with quality windage, elevation, and parallax adjustment turrets. All of these are marked and offer tactile and audible feedback, so you don’t need to worry about losing your adjustment position even if you aren’t looking at the turrets directly.
Also included are multi-emerald coated lenses, which offer superior light transmission and long-term durability. The scope is designed with a specialized circuitry housing, which will guarantee the reticle remains illuminated even if the scope bucks heavily thanks to the recoil of .30-30 cartridges. Since .30-30 bullets are often used with bolt-action rifles, this addition is a nice touch.
- Has super high-quality windage and elevation adjustment turrets, with zero-resetting features
- Lenses are coded for light transmission and durability
- Has a range estimating feature for hitting long-distance shots up to 300 yards
- Built to last with special materials and weatherproofing
- A bit heavier than average, at 1.45 pounds
All in all, UTG’s compact scope is a phenomenal choice for .30-30 users that need something durable, long-lasting, and technically advanced. All of its advanced controls and features will make it a popular choice for hunters that like to have as much control over their shooting results as possible.
3. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Matte Riflescope
The Vortex Diamondback rifle scope seen here is lightweight at just 14.6 ounces and can magnify between 4x and 12x. This makes it a perfect choice for those who want to push out the effective range of their .30-30 Winchester rifle as much as possible.
It features a second focal plane reticle, which doesn’t change sizes or holdover values as you swap between magnification powers. This is good for most hunters, which will typically use their .30-30 rifle at sub 300-yard ranges.
But the reticle is also valuable thanks to its dead hold BDC holdover points. These should allow you to easily compensate for bullet drop at longer distances. Eye relief is similarly excellent for the high recoil the .30-30 Winchester cartridge typically produces, as it ranges between 3.1 and 3.4 inches.
The scope overall is quite durable, being made of aircraft-grade aluminum and featuring a matte finish that won’t give away your position in direct sunlight. As with several other scopes, its big downside lies in the windage and elevation adjustment turrets, which are not accurately marked and cannot be locked. So be careful not to bump them with your elbow while getting in position for the perfect shot.
- Very affordable relative to other options
- Is durable and weatherproof
- Good weight, less than 1 pound
- Has dead hold BDC reticle
- Durable lenses
- The windage and elevation turrets aren’t marked
This affordable rifle scope is an ideal choice for .30-30 Winchester users who need a quality scope that won’t break the bank but which will still provide decent performance for years to come.
4. Burris Optics Fullfield 3-9×50 E1 Scope
If you’re looking for another affordable .30-30 scope, look no further than this model from Burris Optics. It weighs just a little over 1 pound and is primarily made of aluminum. While it doesn’t have any markings for its windage and elevation adjustment turrets, the other features are pretty good overall.
For example, this scope uses a posi-lock coil spring-assisted retractable steel post. In simpler terms, it will lock the scope into place and prevent it from shuttering or bumping around, even after enduring lots of recoil from multiple .30-30 Winchester shots.
It’s also very well designed from a weatherproofing standpoint. Each optic is purged 24 times at a minimum to ensure that no water or moisture can get into the sensitive intro components. It’s very resistant against recoil damage, as well, which is a chief concern for .30-30 Winchester users.
The optic can magnify between 3x and 9x and it features a 50 mm objective lens. This enables it to collect plenty of shooting light and provide a clear, crisp sight picture whenever you look down the ocular lens. The magnification ranges are also suitable for the typical effective ranges of .30-30 Winchester cartridges.
- Lenses are extremely durable to scratch damage
- The scope overall is super durable and very resistant to weather damage
- Has a larger than average objective lens, which improves light transmission
- Very affordable compared to other optics
- A little heavier than average
In the end, Burris’ Fullfield E1 scope isn’t the best overall on the market. But it is a quality, and budget-friendly, choice for hunters who need something that can withstand tons of wear and tear or environmental degradation for several years to come.
5. Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Riflescope
Vortex returns once again to offer one of the best .30-30 rifle scopes with its Crossfire II model. This scope magnifies between 2x and 7x: a perfect combination for the sub-300 yard effective range of the .30-30 Winchester cartridge. It also features a reasonably sized 32 mm objective lens, although this could be a bit bigger for even better performance.
Regardless, its basic V-plex reticle ensures that you don’t have a lot of complex holdover points to look through when sighting in to your target. The scope further comes with multicoated optics plus a glare-reducing sunshade, which is a nice accessory given the scope’s overall affordable asking price. The sunshade isn’t super durable overall, however.
Eye relief is also excellent, ranging between 3.9 and 4.7 inches depending on your magnification power. It’s a lightweight scope that weighs just 14.3 ounces and is made of light aircraft-grade aluminum, so it’s durable enough to resist recoil from a bolt-action rifle. Naturally, this optic is fully weatherproof and is already calibrated to compensate for parallax up to 50 yards away.
The windage and elevation turrets are tactile and easy to adjust, even if they aren’t clearly marked. But it’s still a great budget-friendly choice thanks to the capped reset function for those turrets; resetting them to zero without tools is quick and easy.
- The windage and elevation turrets offer tactile feedback and can be reset to zero
- Very affordable
- Is both lightweight and durable, as well as resistant to weather damage
- Has a good reticle
- Excellent magnification values for pairing with .30-30 Winchester cartridges
- The turrets aren’t clearly marked for their values
All in all, the Vortex Crossfire II riflescope is a great pick for .30-30 users that want an optic perfectly designed for the Winchester cartridge’s typical ranges. With this scope, you don’t pay for magnification powers you will never practically use.
As you can see, the above rifle scopes are perfect picks for combining with your .30-30 Winchester setup.
Since there are multiple optics to choose from, we recommend diving deep into each of the above scopes yourself and examining their details. Think about how easy they’ll be to mount on your rifle and whether they’ll work with your shooting preferences (i.e. do they have a first focal plane or second focal plane reticle, etc.).
Regardless, we hope the above guide was useful and that you can use this information to grab a great scope for your .30-30 Winchester rifle soon. Good hunting other!