How to Choose the Best Scope for M1A – Reviews & Buying Tips

best scope for m1a

The Ar-15 has a lot going for it. It’s light, it’s easy to mount an optic to, and the standard guns fire a cheap cartridge. So many people get an Ar-15 for their first rifle and go on to buy the best scope mount for an Ar-15 they can get and mate up good scope and call it a day!

However, you’re going to long for power. Meet, the m1a! It fires a full-size cartridge that can travel over three times the effective distance than the 5.56, and is a huge step up from a standard Ar-15 that is so popular.​

Seasoned shooters know that the m1a is in many ways a superior full sized battle rifle and do the righteous chore of mounting a scope and stretching the rifle’s legs.

If you’re going to upgrade your m1a with a scope, you need to know a few things and you need to keep a few quirks about the m1a in mind.

Chiefly being the obstacle of the open action that ejects brass pretty much upward. The m1a was designed in a time when individual soldiers didn’t get optics unless they had a special duty. That means there’s just not a great way to mount an optic on an m1a unless you get creative.

​There are mounts available for the m1a that raises the optic far enough to allow brass to be ejected from the receiver, but it also makes it impossible to have a cheek weld with the factory stock. You’ll either need a slip-on pad or shoot with a “chin weld.”

Of course, this mount style allows you to use a standard scope though, your other option is to mount the best scope for m1a further forward.

Scout Rifle Mount​

​Much like a scout rifle, you can mount a magnified optic designed with long eye relief on the picatinny rail section that comes from the factory with Springfield Armory rifles.

The Scout Rifle Mount gives a few distinct advantages over a traditional mount, more situational awareness, zero chance of scope bite, and an easier set up to shoot both eyes open with.

The downsides of the this set up being a steep learning curve, worse weapon balance, and your optic being more exposed when firing and moving around in the field. It’s very much a love or hate option.​

Try and find a rifle with a forward mounted scope and shoot a box or two of ammunition through it before you commit to one.

Top 5 Best Scope for M1A Review

Product Name

Objective Lens

Magnification

Price

Our Rating

Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28 EER Matte with BDC

28mm

2.5-8

$$

#2

Leupold 119675 VX-R Scout Metric FireDot Scope

33mm

1.5-5

$$$

#1
​Editor's Choice

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Matte Duplex

40mm

3.5-10

$$

#3

Primary Arms Scope ACSS Orion Reticle .308

44mm

4-14

$

#5

Aimpoint Comp M4s Sight

50mm

0

$$$

#4

1. Leupold 119675 VX-R Scout Metric FireDot Scope

Leupold 119675 VX-R Scout Metric FireDot Scope, Matte, 1.5-5 x 33mm

The m1a draws its lineage from the battlefield. If you plan on continuing on this history a light and fast scope made for snap shooting with a carbine what you need.

​This is a scope from Leopold’s fire dot series. It is essentially everything you could want for a precision carbine style gun. It combines all the benefits of a red dot optic and a magnified optic, all in one.

With this model, you get a 1.5-5x power scope and a bright red dot sight as your reticle. The body of the sight is a full 30mm and the objective bell is slightly tapered to 33mm.

The scope isn’t as bright as a traditional style scope with a 40mm or 50mm objective bell, but it doesits job extremely well, even in low light. You lose a little detail compared to the larger scopes but this model makes up for it with the huge weight savings, and compact design.​

While this scope does well for just about anything, this is really tailored to people shooting within 400 yards max, regardless of the fact they have a .308. Within 400 yards you have an absolute dominator of a scope and rifle package when you mount this onto an m1a.

Pros
  • Extremely fast optic
  • Very light weight
Cons
  • Not as bright
  • Less magnification as others

​2. Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28 EER Matte with BDC

Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28 EER Matte with BDC

This is a scout style scope made for mounting on the forward picatinny rail included on the Springfield Armory m1a’s. This is an excellent optic because you don’t have to use a huge mount over the open action, and you can take advantage of the scout style set up.

Nikon is one of the best companies to get a high-quality scope for cheap. They make some of the best mid-range optics lenses that can be had, especially when it comes to mid prices scopes that are priced for value.

When you mount up this scope you get the extra-long eye relief, combined with everything you need to reach out to 500 yards or beyond, depending on when you run out of magnification.

The target style turrets and BDC reticle work together with the ultra-bright objective bell that boats over 95% light transmission to make it easier t get first round hits out to the edge this scope’s magnification range.

The only downside of this scope is that the turrets that make such a difference can get in the way. Especially as a scout mounted scope, this scope is needs to be used cautiously because it is a tad bulky with the prominent turrets.

However, if you want a scout mounted scope with target turrets, this is one of the only quality options at a reasonable price and you won’t regret buying this scope.​

Pros
  • Scout style scope
  • Target turrets
  • Exceptionally bright
Cons
  • Target turrets make the scope bulky

​3. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Matte Duplex

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Matte Duplex

If you want a traditional scope for nailing targets or hunting and don’t mind mounting it above the open action, this is an excellent option. There’s simply not a better scope out there for the money when it comes to a mid-range traditional scope.

This is the VX3i scope from Leupold. It’s an updated VX3i scope that add in one novel, and excellent feature a special coating on the scope’s lens that not only transmit huge amount f light but filters it to allow you to identify targets faster and easier.

That special coating over a 3.5-10x power scope with ultra-bright 40mm objective bell makes for an awesome, awesome scope. Just boringly reliable this is what scopes were meant to be when they were invented.

The reticle in this scope is the traditional duplex reticle. Yes, a custom dial or BDC can be had, but there’s something to be said about simplicity. This scope is no frills, all quality and excellent value.

​Not many people will ever need, or want, a higher quality scope than this. It packs everything you could need in the field, with nothing you don’t need, and it’s priced low enough it won’t hurt as much if it gets banged up or scuffed.

Pros
  • Advanced light filtering
  • Extremely simple
Cons
  • Bulkier than other options
  • Heavier than other options

​4. Aimpoint Comp M4s Sight

Aimpoint Comp M4s Sight (No Mount)

It may not be your first instinct when t comes to choosing a sight for your rifle but this is an excellent sight for your rifle because of the inherit simple operation and rugged construction.

There’s nothing similar than shooting with a red dot sight. Simply place the dot where you’d like the bullet to go and squeeze the trigger. That’s it.

No other sight or optic is that simple and while no magnification may seem like a disadvantage for you, that depends. How far do you plan on shooting with your rifle? Most people will never shoot past 300 yards.

Those people by their m1a to take advantage of the power of the .308 but not the range. For those people, the infinite eye relief, no parallax and ridiculous battery life of the comp m4 sight from Aimpoint is the best choice. You can expect over 50,000 hours of continuous run time from a single AA battery with this sight.​

There’s no better name in the business than Aimpoint and this is one of their top models. A full sized red dot that, this particular version, comes with no mount. That is important so you can get the height correct for you, the stock mount is very tall for an m1a, you’ll need an aftermarket mount.​

If you plan on using your rifle for home defense a simple, battle proven sight like this Aimpoint M4 is one of your best bets.​

Pros
  • Extreme durability
  • 50,000-hour battery life
  • Parallax free
  • Unlimited eye relief
Cons
  • No magnification

​5. Primary Arms  Scope ACSS Orion Reticle .308

Primary Arms 4-14X44 FFP Scope

Primary Arms is a newer company to the optics scene but is bringing a line of optics to the market that are significantly less expensive than just about any other offering you can find online.

This scope is an excellent model to put on top of your m1a because it brings a tactical styled scope and features, but a hunting specific BDC reticle that makes it easy to hunt out to the edge of the .308’s range.

You get a huge zoom range of 4-14 power and full sized 44mm objective bell, fully multi coated lenses, and tactile target turrets that make it easy to dial in the reticle.

That reticle, which sits in the first focal plane, includes a way to range and predict holdovers for different sized game. If you study and memorize the included diagram and practice with the reticle this is an extremely useful tool that you can depend on while hunting

They call is the ACCS Orion reticle and it is one of the better BDC reticle to come out in the past few years. It comes with a three-year warranty that you’ll probably not use. For a hunting and long range shooting optic this could certainly fit the bill.​

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Awesome BDC
  • Plenty of magnification
Cons
  • Only a 3-year warranty
  • Larger than other scopes
  • Heavy

Buying Tips for Choosing Scope for M1A

Keep it Light and Simple​

Scopes can come with a ton of features, most of which are useful. Don’t fall into the trap of paying for a scope that includes a ton of features that don’t need that make the scope much heavier and more complicated than it needs to be.

The same bulky scope that is the best for .300 win mag is not the same as a slim and trim scope for a .308 rifle.

Get it Professionally Mounted​

If you don’t know how, or lack the tools to properly mount an optic, get it done professionally. You’ll run a smaller risk of damaging the optic and enjoy greater accuracy if the scope is mounted professionally.

Practice, Practice, Practice​

Scout rifle set ups are hard to use, even harder with a BDC complicating things. Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing, you don’t want to wound an animal or lose a match because you missed due to not knowing your equipment.

Get a Good Warranty​

Make sure that if you have a problem for your scope, you have some sort of support. The American firearms and accessory manufacturers are world renown for supporting their customers. It is very rare for an optics manufacturer to not honor a warranty, get one just in case!

The Verdict​

Mounting up a scope to an m1a takes some effort but is well, well worth it. You’ll need to jump through a few hoops and commit to a type of mounting before you know how it’s going to perform before you have it mounted.

If you’re in a pickle deciding on which scope you need, you can’t go wrong with one of the five listed here. They’re the best scope for m1a of the current offerings from the optics industry.

Whatever you do, get your scope mounted up properly and make sure that you get into the field and wear that new scope out! It doesn’t do you any good in the safe!​

About the author

    Mckinley Downing

    Mckinley is a gunman & instructor. He shoots, hunts and is a patriot in the sense that he enjoys pissing off gun grabbers and anti-hunters. He writes for several online outlets on the use of guns and ammunition to solve all sorts of problems from the 'hoods to the woods.

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