springfield m14 m1a scope

The 4 Best Scopes For M1A and M14

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The M14 and the semi-automatic variant currently sold by Springfield Armory under the name M1A have long had a popular following in the United States. Because of the long-range, hard-hitting potential of this rifle, there has also been a fifty-plus-year quest to find the best scope for the M1A rifle. Of course, the answer ranges from mild to wild, and practical to tactical. While the M14 rifle was initially designed as an infantry rifle, and as an upgrade to the venerable M1 Garand, it didn’t take long for a sniper variant to be developed.

Best Scopes for M1A and M14:

Top Pick
Red Win HD 1-6x24 30mm
  • Body is made from aluminum alloy
  • Has advanced ‘Nous’ optical system
  • 6-level red illumination
  • Can be a bit heavy
$198 Shop NowClick to read my review
Vortex Viper
  • Excellent long range optic
  • Reasonably priced
  • High quality, use it nearly anywhere construction
  • Large size could be awkward out in the field
  • 50mm objective lens requires special rings
$499 Shop NowClick to read my review
Nikon P-308
  • Reasonably priced- usually well under $250
  • BDC reticle allows for rapid target acquisition and range compensation
  • Built for nearly all common shooting tasks
  • May not be suitable for very long range shooting
  • Not built for extreme duty/tactical environments
$249 Shop NowClick to read my review
Leupold VX-3i
  • Leupold quality and warranty
  • Suitable for all but the most extreme shooting tasks
  • Extremely affordable for the type and design
  • Large objective lens may not suit all shooters
  • Magnification may be too low for longest distance shots
$299 Shop NowClick to read my review
GGD M14, M1A Scope Mount
  • No gunsmithing install
  • Body is made from aluminum alloy
  • Allows use of iron sights too
  • Side screw does not fit
  • Scope can be a little high
$29 Shop NowClick to read my review

Famous Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock carried a scoped M14 in Vietnam, and specially designated marksman rifles have been built on the M14 platform for the current military. It is clear that the combination of a 7.62 NATO/.308 semi-auto rifle, with a scope is a winning combination, but how do you choose what scope to put on your M1A or M14 rifle? For that matter, what is the practical difference between the two guns, and does it affect your choice of optics. The short answer to the first question is that it is complicated, and the second is that we’ll answer that at the end of the article. Now let’s take a look at the scopes in detail.

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Red Win HD 1-6×24 30 mm Monotube Rifle Scope

An ideal mounting system secures your optical device to your firearm as low as comfortably possible. The Red Win HD 1-6×24 30 mm Monotube Rifle Scope is a perfect example. Why? Well, it is by far the best 1x-6x scopes with its advanced ‘Nous’ optical system. The advanced ‘Nous’ optical system was originally designed in the USA. It is accomplished for a super-wide field of view. Its lenses are fully coated with multi-layer broadband anti-reflective coatings. These ensure the greatest light transmission and exceptional clarity.

A bright and sharp image will build your confidence in poor light conditions from dawn to dusk. When it comes to lighting, it has a 6-level red illumination with a continuous power-off function, and the red dot is visible even in sunlight. Its body is made of aluminum alloy sealed with an O-ring. This means it is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. It also has a scratch-resistant matte black surface preventing scrapes. Still having hesitations about buying this one? Then I’ll highlight that it has a turret lock system that will make you have no worries of unexpected movement. It will hold zero.

Pros
  • Body is made from aluminum alloy
  • Has advanced ‘Nous’ optical system
  • 6-level red illumination
Cons
  • Can be a bit heavy
 
Vortex Viper

Vortex Viper

The .308 has some serious reach out and touch something ability, so if you are looking to scope your M1A rifle, you need a scope that can also reach out. The Vortex Viper is just such a scope. With a huge, light gathering 50mm objective lens, the impressive variable 6.5-20 power magnification, and bullet proof construction, this is a long range optic for a long range rifle. There are of course downsides to such an optic. At the extreme end of magnification, the sight picture can grow fuzzy and unstable, while the 50mm objective lens requires extra tall mounting rings.

It’s a bit of an ungainly optic to carry in the woods hunting, so it’s most suitable for benchrest shooting and such. But within that realm, it is pretty hard to beat without spending two times the price. Which brings us to the other fine point about the Vortex Viper- it’s affordable. At a bit under $500, it isn’t cheap, but it is a great way to get into the long distance shooting game without spending as much or more as your rifle.

Pros
  • Excellent long range optic
  • Reasonably priced
  • High quality, use it nearly anywhere construction
Cons
  • Not ideal for casual shooting or common hunting tasks
  • Large size could be awkward out in the field
  • 50mm objective lens requires special rings
 

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Nikon P-308

Nikon P-308

Now here is a slick scope for your M14 or M1A. The Nikon P-308 is built around a special ballistic drop compensation reticle that is calibrated for a 168 grain .308 or 7.62 NATO bullet moving at a bit over 2600 feet per second. This BDC reticle allows you to quickly adjust your aim for known distances. While BDC reticles work best with the ammo and barrel length they were calibrated for, they can be made to work with most any rifle as long as you take the time to figure out where your shots land.

One might say a BDC scope is as much an art as a science… At any rate, BDC reticle aside, this is a great M1A scope, simply because it is a Nikon product. Built to be water, fog, and shockproof, the P-308 features high-quality glass treated with a unique optical coating which allows for increased light transmission and greater image clarity. The 4-12 power magnification is ideal for anything other than the longest range target shooting, while the 40mm objective lens is a standard size that again, works for almost anything outside of extreme distances. This is a scope built for the most common shooting tasks a person might use their M14/M1A for, and it does a marvelous job at it.

Pros
  • Reasonably priced- usually well under $250
  • BDC reticle allows for rapid target acquisition and range compensation
  • Built for nearly all common shooting tasks
Cons
  • BDC reticle works best with rifles and ammo similar to that which it was calibrated for
  • May not be suitable for very long range shooting
  • Not built for extreme duty/tactical environments
 
Leupold VX-3i

Leupold VX-3i

There are lots of “best scope for the M14” out there. In fact, there are probably hundreds of them. Some are extremely expensive, and some are quietly affordable for what they are. The Leupold VX-3i is one of them. This scope was chosen because it offered the perfect blend of long-range potential, American craftsmanship, and affordable price. With 3.5-10 power magnification, you can use this for almost any shooting task you might have for your M1A or M14, and the large 50mm objective lens gives you a brilliant, large sight picture. And because it’s a Leupold, you know it is built to hunt or shoot anywhere you might want to go.

Unless I was looking for a strictly benchrest optic, this might be the ideal all-purpose M1A/M14 optic. It has enough magnification to really work the limits of most .308 rounds, while still being suitable for sub-hundred-yard deer hunting. Clocking in at under $500, it’s a fairly affordable scope as well. A classic American rifle deserves a classic American scope, and the Leupold VX-3i is just that scope.

Pros
  • Leupold quality and warranty
  • Suitable for all but the most extreme shooting tasks
  • Extremely affordable for the type and design
Cons
  • Large objective lens may not suit all shooters
  • May be too expensive for a budget build
  • Magnification may be too low for longest distance shots
 

Gun Gear Depot Tactical M-14, M-1A Scope Mount

Since the introduction of the M14 rifle, people have tried to find an ideal solution to mounting a scope on it. Since it is based off the M1 Garand design, it is a fact that scope mounting was an afterthought, and various schemes of differing success have been tried throughout the years. Fortunately, that twin genius of capitalism and American ingenuity has given us several fine scope mounts for the M14/M1A. 

The Gun Gear Depot mount draws inspiration from one of the most successful designs, refines it a bit, and then offers it in lightweight aluminum. By their own admission, this makes it unsuitable for the most demanding combat uses, but the intended market is literally everyone else, so that puts it squarely in the realm of “best M14/M1A scope mount” in my book. If you need a combat-capable steel mount, you probably already know where to find one- or the government is going to buy it for you anyway. For everyone else, Gun Gear Depot has you covered.

Pros
  • No gunsmithing install
  • Body is made from aluminum alloy
  • Allows use of iron sights too
Cons
  • Side screw does not fit
  • Scope can be a little high
 

M14, M1A, What’s the Difference?

Well, not much. Properly speaking, the M14 is the military issue, select-fire 7.62 NATO rifle which was used in the early part of the Vietnam War, and remains in use today as Designated Marksman rifles. Because of the traditional look, and powerful 7.62 NATO round, the M14 has something of a cult following, which has spawned many successful commercial imitators. In some cases, those rifles were also sold or casually referred to as M14’s, but Springfield Armory’s successful semi-auto rifles have made a name for themselves under the trade name M1A. So in short the M1A is Springfield Armory’s line of civilian M14 variants.

Conclusion

The M14 and various civilian derivatives have been popular with American soldiers, hunters, target shooters, and law enforcement since 1959. This venerable design will still be going strong in 2059, and you owe it to your rifle, yourself, and your children and grandchildren to select a scope that will also be going strong then as well. Our top pick is the Red Win HD 1-6×24 30 mm Monotube Rifle Scope. It is sturdy, fog-proof and gives you the magnification you need for less than half the price of the Vortex Viper with very few tradeoffs.

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