Designed way back in 1906, and becoming the gold standard for all modern rifle cartridges the 30-06 has withstood the test of time. When John Browning designed the BAR.
Browning automatic rifle, as well as the 50 BMG, that was also designed around the 30-06 basic cartridge design, the massive 50 was upscaled, but still in effect a dead even replica to the 30-06 Springfield. Why was all this taking place, because modern ballistics was coming into the big picture and the “ 06” was generated as the cartridge of the day and in effect, it was at the top of the performance food chain.
Riflemen like SGT York, during the first world war, and Carlos Hathcock ( White Feather), during the Viet Nam era made the cartridge famous, and to date still never matched at the ultra long range 30 cal level in terms of effectiveness on the battlefield. Why was all this possible? Because glass sights had advanced to a point that the shooters could now make the best use of the outstanding cartridge both in combat operations( snipers), and on the competition target range.
Move to the world of hunting rifles and the “06” was again a front runner in terms of advancing cartridge development. After hunting with three different hand-built 03-A Springfields, an M1 -A1, and a lifelong Winchester Model 70 Featherweight pre-1964, I have the credentials to make judgments regarding this cartridge and the sights that drive the bullet accurately home downrange.
Right off I will state that I have shot this cartridge and paired scope sight as in the Leupold Gold Ring 3-9X40 for over 50 years to date. I believe few rifles anyplace have done more work in the field than this rifle and scope. In my opinion, the 3-9X40 in a quality glass system is perfect as a fit when selecting a rifle chambered in 30-06 Springfield. The following are some examples of good glass that will bring home the meat for the table, or defend the fort if need be.
Best 30-06 Scopes
1. Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14×50
Built many years after the first 3-9×40 Gold Ring this scope is the new gold standard when it comes to taking up the Leupold glass and bolting it onto the 30-06 Springfield rifle. This scope retains a “ duplex hunting style reticle, but it is offered in three other variants as well. Diamond coat glass treatment means very positive light transmission, and the ability of the scope’s reticle to reduce target fade completely.
The one-inch or 30mm tube (buyers choice) retains aircraft grade aluminum as well as low profile capped turrets so as to keep the surface strong and clean when taken into the field being rough mountains, or deep woodland cover.
Waterproof and fog-resistant as well the Leupold is built to last a lifetime, and the company backs the product exactly that far ahead. Buy one a forget the rest is my motto covering Leupold glass sights.
Don’t see the exact model you are searching for? Leupold offers five different models of the VX series in hunting scopes.
All Leupold scopes are pre-tested to 5000 drop impact strikes that establish the same impact due to recoil of the 308 Winchester. Each scope also is tested from -40 F to 160 F for seals and temperature resistance.
I know that the glass in the Leupold is not only very good quality but handset to precision levels, versus glued in mass like others.
The only thing I don’t like about Leupold scopes is that I don’t own more than seven of them currently, and that’s right down to heavy handgun hunting models as well.
Here at Ballistics Research & Development we test and test hard. Scopes can’t fail during use and return incorrect information from downrange. No time here for errors.
2. Bushnell Trophy 6-18x50mm
Getting price point down to a working guys level and out of the professional ranks the Bushnell Trophy 6-18x50mm with MultiX reticle is a good example of a working scope that will not break the family’s bank account.
Bushnell is known for building a good scope for the hunters that is not in the field every day as a professional or requires some additional advance design development due to the task required of the glass sight.
Bushnell offers this scope with good glass, darn solid construction that will not fail the shooter over many years of use, and retains capped turrets for field protection. The scope retains the side focus adjustment at the left side of the turret and is parallax adjustable. The main tube is a one-inch unit and that means an easy fit to many standard mounting systems offered today.
I have found that these scopes will take recoil ponding even from heavy one-ounce 12 gauge slug guns over many years of service. This scope is still another in the standard go-to models we use here at BR&D.
In terms of the 30-06 rifle cartridge, the scope will clearly maintain function well out to the ranging point that the bullet starts to go transonic. The 30-06 is relevant as a long range cartridge to about 1200 yards with match grade high performance bullets ( ELD Hornady by example).
3. NightForce SHV C520
Here we have a NightForce scope that retains an MSR price figure of $1000. That is about as low as you can go for anything in this brand, and is still a good choice applied to the “06” cartridge.
Power settings at 4-14 with a 56mm objective lens makes the light gathering ability of this scope adequate for use with the old school 30 caliber cartridge.
Built-in the SFF this is a good hunters glass sight, and the 30mm tube is built to retain strong larger internals with ample elevation and windage selection offerings.
The capped turrets again are hunter-designed for field applications, and the glass quality in this scope will reduce target fade at longer ranges.
A side parallax adjustment allows for fast accurate focus adjustments on the fly, and the turret settings are ll in M.O.A graduations.
Weight 2.8 pounds, and built of aluminum aircraft grade.
4. Burris Fullfield E1 Hunting
The Fullfield E1 Hunting Riflescope is a Burris product and as a scope brand, it is a great fit for the “06” cartridge. In this scope the setup is all about hunting rifles and this is a great whitetail glass sight in that it is a good size for a turn bolt, or AR-10 platform rifle, will not pull the rear end of the rifle out of balance, and it carries all the good stuff in terms of proper glass, manufacturing techniques, and materials quality down to the turret caps.
Available with four different longer range reticles using dots in the MOA setting, the scope is a quick fit for both jump shooting timber, and taking the adjusted long range polk when that trophy mule deer walks out at 400 yards.
With power settings a 4-14, with a 42mm objective lens this is a scope that is right on the correct balance point as a big game glass sight.
I shoot a Burris on a wildcat 3 ½ inch 20 gauge big game slug rifle that generates the recoil of a 459 Winchester. As a buffalo rifle, it has been used on commercial hunts and shoots one shot dead on their feet buffalo all day long. Never a flicker of error with the special slug/bullets impact using the product even when hunting blizzards on open prairie at 15 below zero. On these shoots, the USDA officer is standing by observing, and if a buff is wounded it is not allowed into commercial market order. That means when shooting commercial buff for contract work you need to be darn sure of your weapon and sights. Burris has passed my test, and if lost a wounded animal can mean thousands of dollars on the hoof cash lost.
Burris sub tensions allow for a clear sight picture and also give the shooter a fast elevation adjustment when range is extended. This is a hunters reticle with a great well thought out design.
5. Vortex Optics Viper Parallax Adjustable SFF
In this scope, we have the “Dead-Hold BDC” reticle, and as such it gives the shooter the ability to adjust for elevation or windage on the fly when viewing the target through the lens. As previously indicated the 30-06 Springfield round in the 175 or 180-grain bullet is very workable to1200 yards. The range of this cartridge was sorely missed by snipers as well as your average grunt when the US Army adapted the 7.62×51 as a replacement round.
Built as a 6.5-20×44 objective this is a longer range setup and in some cases shooters taking up the 30-06 are just that long range experts. Old school hunters and target shooters know well that the “ 06” can deliver the mail downrange and this scope is a step ahead of the general purpose level glass sight and is included here just for the long range shooters in the gun subjects reading public.
The scope retains capped turrets after making zeroed MOA settings, side knob parallax adjustable, and O-ring argon purges for complete waterproofing for field use.
Glass quality is good to better, and target fade to 1000 yards in minimal to zero. The scope controls light well and gives the longer range shoot the power edge of the basic 3X9 etc.
6. Monstrum Alpha Series 4-16×44
Monstrum 4-16 series scopes are again set up to fit the shooter that wants command of his or her own elevation and windage adjustments. This scope will fit the requires of the 30-06 shooter without question. Turret designs are in MOA clicks, and the turret knobs are the open adjustable type.
Parallax control and fast focus adjustments also make this very workable as a static position long range hunting optic.
Built-in the second focal plane SFP, this scope is hunter directed in this area of its design. The sub-tension on the objective end of the glass sight is set up to being in hash marks larger at 20X versus the lower end of the scale at which closer range shooting would be the order of the day. Hash marks imprinted on the objective lens are all at ¼ MOA regardless of power magnification.
The scope’s length is 14.5 inches with a weight of 1 lb 5 oz. The tube diameter is at 30mm, and the tube is gas-filled and totally waterproof as well as fog resistant as well.
Priced at a very reasonable level this is a very good overall scope for the general purpose shooter and the paired 30-06 rifle/cartridge.
7. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40
Ending with the best overall balanced rifle scope for the “06” as a hunting weapon I rest my case on the Leupold Freedom 3-9X40 once again. This model of Leupold retains the Ultimate GrandSlam reticle that is designed for big game hunting, is built of 60612-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, and is guaranteed for a lifetime of performance ( just like the one I have owned for over 60 years to date ).
Twilight light management system glass for outstanding low light shooting control, edge reduction in rainbow effect, and target fade at the center point of the reticle, with a good target image return even at longer range limits. The turret adjustments on capped turrets are in ¼ MOA graduations, and the system is installed with a common style zero return.
Built-in the USA by craftsmen, and using handset lenses, this is an outstanding buy in the medium low-end price bracket.
For the most part, the rifle scope as applied to the 30-06 Springfield round can be very flexible in that the cartridge itself is just that. From the heavy timber country of northern Minnesota to the mountain ranges of the western states Rocky‘s I have hunted this scope for more hours than anything else in glass sights that I have ever owned. This is my number one choice in rifle glass as applied to this cartridge rifle combination.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM.