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5 Best M1A Scope for the Money – Our Top Choices for 2023

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Confused about which scopes to get for your M1A rifle so you can take it for hunting and competitions? You are in the right place. Buying a scope isn’t like buying fruits, you can just pick any. 

Scopes are judged based on build, optics quality, water-resistant, ease of use, etc. which requires testing. Well, we did just that. After trying out over 29 scopes from various brands, we picked out the 5 Best M1A Scopes so you get the best value for your money.

In case you want to skip reading all the details and make a quick purchase, here’s a summary of my favorite scopes.

  1. Vortex Viper PST Gen IIOur Top Pick
  2. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Scope (Budget M1A Scope)
  3. Primary Arms SLX 3-18x50mm FFP Rifle Scope
  4. Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 Gen 2
  5. Burris Optics Scout Scope 2-7x32mm (Best Scout Scope for M1A Rifles)

You can also read the comparisons below if you need a brief description of the products.

Vortex Viper PST Gen IIVortex Viper• Get HD quality visuals even at full magnification
• Reticle gives holdover, elevation corrections, etc. for 10% accuracy
• Excellent durability. It is water and fog proof
View Price
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm ScopeLeupold VX• Rigorously tested by Leupold with punisher simulation
• Lens has DiamondCut 2 coating for better dispersion and protection
• Good visuals up to 10x magnification
View Price
Primary Arms SLX 3-18x50mm FFP Rifle ScopePrimary Arms• Comes with a clear magnification of up to 18x
• Nitrogen purging prevents fog build-up
• The flip cover keeps the lens protected from dust and dirt
View Price
Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 Gen 2Athlon Ares BTR• XPL coating protects the lens from dust, dirt, etc.
• Get magnification up to 27x for longer distances
• Illuminated reticle with 6 brightness levels for low light
View Price
Burris Optics Scout Scope 2-7x32mmBurris Optics• The reticle provides trajectory compensation
• Quick-release rings make mounting/detaching a breeze
• 9-12” eye relief allows usage with both eyes open
View Price

But if you are a scope nerd and love reading the details, this is the section for you.

Best M1A Scopes for 2023  Reviewed

1. Vortex Viper PST Gen II

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 3-15x44 First Focal Plane Riflescope - EBR-7C Reticle (MRAD)Check Latest Price on Amazon

If budget isn’t a constraint and you are looking for a premium scope, it hardly gets any better than the Vortex Viper. It is an absolute beast and here’s why we think so.

While the 15x magnification sounds a good range, the question is, does the optic clarity support it? 

Well, absolutely. Not only does Vortex use a superior quality 50 mm objective lens but the lens has multiple layers of anti-reflective coating that disperses light better so you get HD quality visuals whether at 1x or 15x. 

And it works just as well in low light. Furthermore, the reticle is illuminated with 10 brightness levels to choose from so you get a clear view of it whether you are hunting at dusk or dawn or using the scope at 1x magnification 

These in tandem mean the scope allows you to take shots up to a whopping 1000 yards (there’s not a prey you’d lose sight of with this bad boy).

To top it all, the scope has also been tried and tested to maintain its quality performance in sub-zero temperatures and when submerged underwater. This mainly comes down to the rock-solid aircraft-grade aluminum build that ensures your scope can take a beating.

Then there are the sealed o-rings as well that prevents water from seeping in. And irrespective of whether it is raining or foggy, the lens remains fog-free thanks to the argon purge (so you won’t have to wipe the lens clean every 5-10 minutes).

Plus, the lens has a special ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating which means all the dust and dirt that it gets exposed to in the wild have no bearing on the durability and it will easily last you 5+ years.

And even if you do face any issues, you will be glad to know you won’t have to pay a dime for the repairs and replacements as backing all Vortex scopes is a lifetime warranty.

While great optics and durability are important, you also want the scope to improve accuracy, right? Equipped with a reticle that gives Bullet Drop, Holdover, and Windage corrections, the Viper will ensure you don’t waste any ammo again and nail your target with 100% accuracy 

Oh, and that’s true even if they are on the move as it has a decent 3.5” eye-relief and quick-focus eyepiece that allows you to lock onto targets in a jiffy.

As for the turrets, I love the fact that they come with numbers that are readable and make adjusting the windage, elevation, etc. easier by eliminating guesswork (just the kind of thing a newbie needs).

They are also perfectly tactile and have the right amount of crispness and audibility which means you need minimal effort to make changes and it takes only mere seconds. And though smooth, they hold positions for years irrespective of how many times you mount/dismount the scope.

The only downside here is its price as it can cost you around $900 to $1000+ but if you are serious about hunting and need a top of the line scope for your M1A, this is a no brainer.


  • Comes with an easy to adjust 15x magnification
  • HD quality visuals at any magnification and low light
  • The illuminated reticle remains clear and bright in low light 
  • Decent battery life
  • Waterproof and weatherproof 
  • Packs a punch in the durability department with aircraft-grade build
  • Reticle displays holdover, BDC, etc. for accuracy
  • Turrets are numbered and eliminate guesswork
  • They are smooth and grippy for quick adjustments
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Scope works at a distance of about 1000 yards


  • On the expensive side

Check Latest Price on Amazon

2. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Scope (Budget M1A Scope)

Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm RiflescopeCheck Latest Price on Amazon

Are you looking for something on a lower budget? Say hello to the Leupold VX-3i  that perfectly combines affordability with functionality and durability to give the best value.

Leupold has been commended for its durable scopes for years now lives up to its reputation with the VX-3i that costs almost half as compared to the Vortex Viper.

Not only does the scope have an aluminum build that allows it to handle all the abuse that comes with hunting in the wild but Leupold takes it up a notch making it my favorite in this price range. How?

Their lens comes with a DiamondCoat 2 coating that not only keeps away scratches but also ensures better light dispersion while making the lens waterproof and weatherproof.

Yes, there’s the nitrogen purging to keep the lens crystal clear irrespective of the weather and even though cheaper, you can leave it submerged in water for hours. Heck, you can even drop it and it won’t crack or scratch (trust me, did it a couple of times myself).

But you still don’t have to take my word. Note that all Leupold scopes are punisher-tested which is a grueling test designed by experts at Leupold. And if you still face any issues, no problem. Just take it to the nearest store and it will be repaired or replaced for no cost as it also has a lifetime warranty.

Even with a strong build, the scope remains pretty light at 16 oz so carrying it should be hassle-free while mounting and detaching it also takes relatively lesser time.

Talking about the optics, I was pleasantly surprised as it gave clean visuals to up to 10x magnification in low light, and even at 14x, the blurring was minimal which means you can shoot up to a good 600-700 yards.

It is also equipped with the Max Light Management System that gives you 20 minutes of additional shooting light. Wait, what? In simpler terms, it reduces glare by 80-85% for a brief period giving you excellent clarity at dusk and dawn.

The reticle is a Rear Focal Plane reticle that has its pros and cons. While it is amazing that the reticle gives you details about holdover, bullet drop, for more accurate aims, it works best only when using it at mid-range magnification i.e. about 7-10x.

That is because at higher magnification it becomes really big and at a lower range, it is too small and thus difficult to spot and might even get lost in the background at times.


  • Ideal M1A scope for budget buyers
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty
  • Clear visuals up to 10x magnification
  • Reticle gives holdover, bullet drop, etc. details for accurate aim
  • Get 20 minutes of additional light with Max Light Management System
  • All Leupold scopes undergo rigorous testing 
  • Waterproof and weatherproof
  • Won’t break or crack even if dropped
  • The lens is protected from scratches by the DiamondCut 2 coating
  • Lightweight and easy to mount


  • Slight blurring at full magnification
  • The reticle isn’t ideal to use at extreme magnifications.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

3. Primary Arms SLX 3-18x50mm FFP Rifle Scope

No products found.Check Latest Price on Amazon

If you are looking for something even cheaper than the Leupold scope mentioned above, this is for you. Cheap doesn’t always mean low quality and Primary Arms proves it.

Yes, it doesn’t match the performance level of the Viper but considering it doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket either, there’s plenty to like about it.

For example, even though it is cheaper, I love the fact that it comes with numbers on the turrets as most low-priced scopes do not have it. This, in tandem with the smooth operation, means you can make adjustments on the go. 

Oh, and it maintains zero for years making it a set it, forget it scope like those mentioned above it.

I was also impressed by the ACSS APOLLO 6.5CM reticle, a proprietary ballistic reticle that gives you details like holdover, bullet drop, etc. for accurate aims without having to do complicated maths.

But here’s the problem.

It only works well with .308 loads but in case you intended on using it with other types of rifles, well, that’s going to be tricky which makes it the least versatile scope on the list. But as long as you stick to your M1A, you’ll love every moment with it.

And it works pretty well in low light as well thanks to the illuminated reticle with 6 brightness settings that you can easily adjust in seconds without having to change positions. 

Plus, you can aim at distances equal to the Leupold as the scope has a higher magnification level than the Leupold at 18x. 

Though again, at higher magnification, the visuals start to blur as a hunter, you rarely are shooting at distances higher than that, especially if you want to kill your targets humanely (something every hunter should consider).

The durability of the scope is top-notch. I have been using it for over 6 months and not even a scratch so far and it easily passed the water submersion test where I left it submerged in water for about 5-8 minutes.  

The lens remains clear in any weather thanks to the nitrogen purging while the flip covers on either end prevent scratches and dust, dirt, and oil from playing spoilsport with the lens and magnification glass.

And once again, you have the backing of a lifetime warranty which means it is a no-risk purchase as a problem means free repairs or replacement.

I would have preferred a bit more eye relief but that’s a personal preference, it might work just fine for you.


  • Ideal for distances of 500-600 yards
  • Good magnification range considering the price
  • Visuals are good to about 12x-14x magnification
  • Proprietary reticle gives holdover, bullet drop readings
  • Turrets are numbered and smooth to adjust
  • They also maintain the position for years
  • Excellent durability and is waterproof
  • Flip-up covers protect the glasses from dust and dirt
  • Nitrogen purging prevents fog build-up on the lens


  • A bit more eye relief would be better
  • The reticle isn’t ideal for non .308 loads
  • Blurring at full magnification

Check Latest Price on Amazon

4. Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 Gen 2

Athlon Optics Ares BTR GEN2 HD 4.5-27x50 First Focal Plane RiflescopesCheck Latest Price on Amazon

Athlon is another very popular brand that is well-known for its mid-range to premium scopes and their Ares BTR goes toe to toe with the Vortex Viper in terms of durability and performance while costing a tad lesser.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

Let’s begin with the optics. Simply put, the Leupold and Primary Arms scopes are no match for their quality. With a premium quality lens and a higher-grade anti-reflection coating, you get HD quality images in almost any lighting conditions that are almost at par with the Vortex.

But isn’t limited to just that.

It further has an additional XPL Coat which keeps the lens protected from dust, dirt, scratches, and oil.

Talking about durability, I have no complaints. The scope both looks and feels premium and is waterproof and weatherproof. So whether it is snowing, raining, or is so hot, you’re starting to feel like the meal being baked, the scope has no trouble withstanding any sort of abuse.

Then there is the nitrogen purge as well keeping your view crystal clear throughout the day irrespective of the change in weather or light.

Even the reticle is illuminated and thus complements the lens quality as it remains bright and clear allowing you to take shots with 100% accuracy even in dusk and dawn. Plus, you can choose between 6 brightness levels and even turn it off if needed.

The reticle is an FFP reticle so you get important details like holdover, bullet drop, elevation corrections, etc. thus helping you aim accurately up to 1000 yards. And though an FFP reticle, at low or high magnifications, doesn’t become too small or too big.

Playing a supporting role to the reticle is the forgiving eye-relief and quick-focus eyepiece.

In case you haven’t already guessed it, I like the turrets numbered as making precise adjustments on the go in high-pressure situations is easy peasy. 

Though I found them to be slightly more resistant than the ones on the Vortex that’s good in a way since they won’t accidentally change irrespective of how you use or store the scope.

And lastly, providing the icing on the cake is the lifetime warranty so you are well-covered in every aspect.


  • XPL coating protects the lens from dust, dirt, and scratches
  • Excellent magnification range of 27x
  • Good clarity at all magnification levels and in low light
  • Ideal for distances up to 1000 yards
  • Turrets are numbered for precise adjustments
  • Excellent durability and water resistance
  • Weatherproof and no fogging on the lens
  • Reticle gives details of holdover, elevation corrections, etc.
  • The illuminated reticle has 6 brightness levels


  • Costs on the higher side
  • Turrets could have been slightly looser

Check Latest Price on Amazon

5. Burris Optics Scout Scope 2-7x32mm (Best Scout Scope for M1A Rifles)

Burris Ballistic Plex Hunting Riflescope, 2.75X-20mm , BlackCheck Latest Price on Amazon

Need a scout scope for your M1A rifle? Burris has you covered. Slightly pricier than other scout scopes but well worth the money and here’s why.

Simply put, it comes with a few bells and whistles you’d not find in ordinary scout scopes. For example, it’s Ballistic Plex Reticle. While not illuminated, the trajectory compensation sure does set it apart and allows you to scout at greater distances of 400-500 yards.

I also love the long eye relief that ranges from 9.2 to 12-inches allowing you to take shots with both eyes open as well as scout a larger area and aim in a jiffy. And since it sits quite ahead on the rifle, every inch of the eye-relief can be used. (tired eyes? Not anymore).

Mounting and removing the scopes is the quickest of the lot. That’s not only because of its compact size and lightweight build (weighs a mere 9.7 oz) but also the quick release rings that you get with it. 

Turrets aren’t numbered and I wish they were slightly taller for an easier grip but they are smooth so it takes minimal effort to adjust them. They have the right amount of clickety-clack so you know exactly when the changes happen.

Durability is also top-notch. The scope, just like the ones above, is built to last through thick and thin thanks to its aluminum build. Plus, it is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about it falling in a puddle of water or using it in the rain.

Plus, the lens won’t fog up either as it has nitrogen purging. 

It has a good 7x magnification and the premium quality lens with multiple layers of the anti-reflective coating means you get clear pictures 500 yards away even in low light. Shock resistance is another strong suit of the scope.


  • Allows you to aim with both eyes open
  • The lens does not fog up 
  • Good clarity at 7x magnification
  • The reticle has trajectory compensation for accuracy
  • Turrets are smooth and have good audibility
  • Excellent durability
  • Waterproof and good shock-resistance
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Quick-release rings make mounting and detaching a breeze
  • Ideal for distances of about 400-500 yards


  • Costs higher than most scout scopes
  • The reticle isn’t illuminated
  • Turrets aren’t numbered

Check Latest Price on Amazon


If you own an M1A rifle finding the right scope will make hunting a breeze. All of these scopes have been reviewed based on important factors like durability, ease of use, visual clarity, etc. 

In case you have any questions about the scopes mentioned here or any other scope that you are considering, feel free to drop in in the comments below. You can even message me via the contact page.

Also, don’t forget to share your experience with a scope and I will be happy to include it in the review.

About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.