- Using the .300 Win Mag
- TOP 10 Best Scope for .300 Win Mag On The Market 2020
- TOP 10 Best Scope for .300 Win Mag Reviews 2020
Released in 1963 by the Winchester Repeating Arms company it is derived from the .338 Winchester Magnum cartridge, released just five years earlier in 1958. The .338 Win Mag is not comparable to the modern .338 Lapua Magnum, although it still packs a punch, and was released along with two other Winchester cartridges; the .264 Win Mag and .458 Win Mag cartridges. All three were based on the .375 H&H cartridge but the absence of a .30 calibre round was keenly felt and almost the instant these three cartridges were released wild-catters started creating .30 cal variants.
Among these .30 calibre variants were the .30-338 Winchester and the .308 Norma Magnum, although second one was actually based on Weatherby Magnum brass. While the .300 Win Mag may be one of the most common and popular magnum rifle cartridges on the market it was not the first. There were magnum rifle cartridges on the market a full 50 years before the .300 Win Mag including the .30 Newton in 1913 and the .300 H&H Magnum in 1925 as well as plenty of other magnum cartridges in calibres other than .30 cal. Many of these were originally intended for large or dangerous game but their military application became obvious quite quickly.
During the first world war when German Snipers were wreaking havoc on the Western front from behind armoured shields there was not a lot that the British marksmen armed with the capable but inadequately powerful .303 Lee Enfield could do to counter them. It wasn’t until the British Army started using the .333 Jeffery and other guns intended for dangerous game that Major Hesketh Hesketh-Pritchard, a major contributor to the practice of sniping in the British Army, recorded that they were able to pierce these plates like butter. While the .333 Jeffery doesn’t bare the badge ‘magnum’ it filled a similar role that the .300 Win Mag has performed for the military more recently. While it may have been developed in 1909 for plains game when it reached the battle field it provided a harder hitting round than standard service rifles and marksmans rifles were able to fire and while it was employed specifically for it’s extra penetrative ability rather than specifically for increased range the principal is the same as employed by modern Western snipers who use rifles chambered in .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Magnum and the massive .50 cal to give extra range or stopping power over standard service rifles, designated marksman rifles and even typical sniper weapons chambered in the 7.62x51 NATO cartridge.
Using the .300 Win Mag
Originally released for use in the Winchester model 70 and 700 rifles the .300 Win Mag was primarily intended for hunting, and it is a fantastic round for that application, particularly popular for the largest of deer species up to and including moose and elk. It is very popular for African plains game and can even be used on bear and other dangerous game. One of my favourite .300 Win Mag hunting rifles is the Browning X-bolt battue model. This rifle features a relatively short manoeuvrable barrel, for a hunting rifle, and express sights and is perfect for shooting running game and for fast snap shooting, qualities that are ideal in a rifle that might be used on dangerous game which might charge you.
Hunting applications and target/sniping applications are very different and will require different optics but despite it’s release just a few years before the start of the Vietnam war and the US militaries renewed interest in sniping the .300 Win Mag wasn’t seriously considered as a sniping tool until the 80’s. When the US Marine Corps adopted the target/varmint version of the Remington 700 as it’s sniper rifle in 1966 during the Vietnam war and designated it the M40 they purchased the short action version chambered in the 7.62x51 NATO cartridge and used it to good effect but when the US Army adopted a similar rifle which they named the M24 in 1988 they opted for the long action version of the Remington 700 as the weapon systems base. This means that while it is typically chambered in 7.62x51 it can be re-barrelled for the .300 Win Mag. The original intention was for it to be compatible with the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, which despite its’s eighty year pedigree (in 1988) is still an effective long range cartridge. The .30-06 option was never adopted but the .300 Win Mag has been very popular and used to great effect.
Figure 1; M24E1 chambered in .300 Win Mag
It was the US Navy that pioneered the use of the .300 Win Mag for sniping duties when they were looking for a new round not only for sniping but for use by their competition target teams. The M24 in .308 and .300 Win Mag has been an incredibly successful sniper rifle and was used perhaps most famously by Chris Kyle throughout his deployments in Iraq, although he did also use an Accuracy International rifle in the same calibre as well as the even more powerful .338 Lapua Magnum.
For sniping and target shooting application scopes offering adjustable magnification, target turrets, good light gathering qualities and reticles with subtensions for making range calculations and adjustments are going to be your best options while a lot of those features won’t be required on a scope for hunting. Whether you intend to hunt, shoot long range targets or use your .300 Win Mag for military applications one requirement which you will always have, whatever type of scope you select is that your scope be able to handle heavy recoil. The .300 Win Mag recoils significantly more powerfully than a 7.62x51 (.308) cartridge, even when the weight of a heavy target rifle soaks up some of that recoil you will want a very robust optic.
TOP 10 Best Scope for .300 Win Mag On The Market 2020
FFP or SFP
Yes (elevation only)
Target/precision or hunting.
Dependant on model (featured scope is a high power version with 5-45 power magnification)
Dependant on model (featured scope features a 56mm objective)
Target and military
Dependant on model, both are available.
Dependant on options and model
50-56 dependant on model
Target and hunting.
Target and hunting
TOP 10 Best Scope for .300 Win Mag Reviews 2020
Picking Your Scope
You will find ten options for your .300 Win Mag scope here, some will focus on a solution for your hunting rifle and others for long range precision shooting weather that is military sniping or competition shooting.
1 Athlon Optics Ares
Athlon make some very competitively priced optics for the target shooting market. They aren’t the cheapest on the market but they are a lot more affordable than some of their competitors, particularly European manufacturers who have been producing world class mil-spec optics for a very long time. This particular model offers a few added extras in the form of a spirit level and throw lever for the magnification as well as it’s impressive array of standard features which includes an illuminated reticle and tactical turrets.
While this scope probably wouldn’t meet the requirements for military service it will certainly do everything you need it to for precision target shooting and isn’t so large and overbuilt that it couldn’t be used for hunting too. It offers a first focal plane reticle, something I would consider essential in a scope for target shooting. It also features a Christmas tree style reticle for making rapid aiming calculations and adjustments. While these features are not strictly necessary for your average hunting situation especially given the .300 Win Mag’s flat shooting characteristics over typical hunting ranges they don’t hurt and give you the flexibility to use a single rifle for multiple shooting disciplines.
Despite being one of the more affordable scopes on this list Athlon offers a fantastic lifetime warranty on their products.
First Focal vs Second Focal plane reticles
You will see the term first and second focal plane throughout this list and it’s worth defining those terms now. Reticles in the first focal plane place the reticle in front of the scopes magnifying lenses so that when you adjust the magnification of your scope the reticle is magnified too so it stays in proportion to the target meaning that and subtensions in your scope remain accurate at any power setting. Importantly this also means that adjustments you make using the turrets always match the scale of the reticle.
Second focal plane scopes place the reticle behind the magnification lenses so the reticle remains constant whatever the magnification but does not maintain its scale compared to the target, this means that at all but one magnification settings subtensions are not strictly accurate. For this reason I tend to avoid second focal plane scopes, I would certainly always use a first focal plane scope for serious target shooting and tend to prefer fixed power scopes for hunting so second focal plane optics tend not to be something that I ever shop for. In a fixed power scope it doesn’t matter where the reticle is as it’s scale will always remain constant. If a second focal plane scope with adjustable magnification doesn’t have a complex reticle with mil-dots, hashes or other complex subtensions it is still perfectly useable and even some very high end tactical scopes feature send focal plane reticles so they offer something to suit every preference but they do take a bit more thought to operate and you must know on which setting you can rely on your subtensions.
I will make it clear for each option in this list whether the scope features a first or second focal plane reticle.
2 Meopta MeoPro Optica6
Meopta produce some fantastic optics for both hunting and target shooting, like the Athlon scopes they are not neccesarily produced to the same rigorous standards of ruggedness that a mil-spec scope might need to be but they are perfectly acceptable for target shooting even of powerful, harsh recoiling rifles, like the .300 Win Mag.
This scope features an illuminated reticle and tactical turrets, it’s 30mm tube does make it a little smaller than some of the beefier models in this lineup, most feature 34mm tubes which have become fairly standard on target scopes, or even 40mm on some of the top spec IOR offerings. This larger scope tube does give a little more adjustment than your average 1” diameter scope tube that is the norm on hunting scopes. These larger scope tubes can offer a few more Mil’s of elevation and windage compared to smaller scope tubes which can make the difference between needing a higher picatinny rail on your rifle or not.
While a lot of it’s features are aimed at target shooting it would also be perfect for hunting and it’s 500mm objective, illuminated BDC reticle and relatively simple turrets make it perfect for us in the field without adding too much complexity.
3 Schmidt & Bender PM II
The Schmidt & Bender PM II family were designed to meet the requirements of US SOCOM and have been a staple on military and precision target shooting rifles for many years now. They do come at a premium and there are some scopes now by manufacturers such as IOR and Vortex which offer more affordable options. You are unlikely though to find many scopes with the pedigree or reputation of the Schmidt & Bender though. It comes in a massive range of options including first and second focal plane, various reticle styles, magnification ranges, turret options and finishes probably gives more options in terms of models on the market than any alternative. All that doesn’t even touch on the supreme quality and optical clarity of these scopes so if money were no object this would be an exceptional choice for your .300 Win Mag rifle for precision target or tactical application. The high magnification and weight might make it a less ideal choice for hunting though when you want maximum mobility.
4 IOR Raider
I’m currently using an IOR scope on my target rifle and I am very impressed with it, I shoot a 6.5 creedmoor as my primary long range rifle so the recoil it produces doesn’t compare to the kick of the .300 Win Mag but IOR scopes are more than robust enough to use don magnum calibres and I know of a few mounted on .338 Lap Mag rifles which are shot competitively with great success. This particular IOR offers massive finger adjustable tactical turrets with zero stops a first focal plain ‘Christmas Tree’ style Mil/Mil illuminated reticle and a massive 35mm scope tube for strength and to add space for adjustments. While it will perform on a hunting rifle there is no doubt it is optimised for long range shooting.
5 Kahles K525i
This scope boasts a range of features from one of the worlds most respected optics manufacturers. It is marketed as a competition scope for professionals and offers a range of options on the reticle style to suit your particular shooting needs as well as one of the most innovative windage adjustment features on the market. This patented ‘Twist Guard’ mechanism gives the shooter easy access to make adjustments without having to unlock a turret but protects from accidentally knocking it. This scope also features the option to have a left or right handed windage turret for the shooters convenience.
The Kahles company has been operating since 1898 and have been manufacturing ground breaking optics and rifle scopes since 1900, their first scopes were popular with hunters and their binoculars and astronomical telescopes were also of excellent quality. An ever increasing range of products and innovations followed throughout the early 20th century used by hunters as well as the German military. In 1949 the Kahles company produced one of the very first variable magnification rifle scopes and later in the 1960’s they produces the first waterproof scope sealed with patented ‘O’ rings and are also responsible for some of the most ground breaking innovations in lens coatings. With a list of achievements like that you can’t go wrong with a scope by this company.
6 Vortex Razor
Vortex Optics produce such a range of scopes nowadays that there almost isn’t a single shooting discipline that they don’t produce a scope for. They produce the Golden Eagle for bench rest and F-class shooting but the Razor give a bit more versatility for engaging targets a various ranges and so would be the better option to realise the full potential of the .300 Win Mag cartridge. They also produce scopes that would suit the .300 Win Mag in it’s role as a hunting cartridge for large and semi-dangerous game. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
As is common with many of the scopes here the razor features target turrets, illuminated reticle and a range of reticle, magnification and objective lens options to suit your particular needs and taste. It is a wonderfully robust scope and packed full of features that make you question some other scopes $4-5000 dollar price tags.
7 Hensoldt ZF
Featuring probably the largest objective lens on the market the Hensoldt scope has a 72mm objective lens for maximum light gathering and field of view.
As well as it’s gigantic proportions it also features a large magnification range, easily adjusted windage and elevation turrets and illumination. It isn’t cheap but not as expensive as some of the Schmidt & Bender options. You will need a seriously high set of scope mounts to accommodate this scope though and to match that massive objective lens probably a cheek raiser for your rifle to get a good position behind the scope.
8 Nikon M-Tactical
Much more affordable at under $300 than most of the other options in this list, many scopes of this price wouldn’t be robust enough for the .300 Win Mag but this product by Nikon will do the trick. It features a smaller objective lens than most of the other scopes but that does mean you can take a lower shooting position and get a lower profile behind your rifle. It might not offer quite the same optical quality as some of these other products but it will be the ideal scope to fit to a budget rifle. Bearing in mind that you can pick up rifles by Weatherby, Howa and Remington, among other, chambered in .300 Win Mag for just a few hundred dollars this might be the perfect scope to match to those budget rifles and would be suitable for target shooting at moderate ranges and hunting.
9 Leupold 5 HD
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one leupold scope and the 5HD range features a huge array of options for every shooter. Offering tactical turrets, a range of magnification options and reticles this would be suitable for serious target shooting as well as being fairly compact and light weight for hunters.
10 Vortex Strike Eagle
While the .300 Win Mag is often associated in popular media as a cartridge primarily for long range target shooting, although it is being fairly rapidly superseded by calibres such as the .338 Lap Mag. Before that popularity though it was a hunting cartridge and is still excellent in that role for large and even semi-dangerous game. In this role it is a perennial favourite amongst hunters of African plains game as well as large deer species including moose and elk. Scopes for traditional hunting are plentiful but it is worth considering a scope such as this offering from Vortex which will perform when taking shots at static quarry but also give you the option to shoot both eyes open at running game, for example if you were hunting driven boar or should you need to take a follow up shot on a wounded animal or in extremis drop something that has charged you. These scopes with smaller objective lenses are very versatile in this role and this offering from vortex would not be out of place on a hunting rifle and would offer distinct advantages over larger scopes in certain circumstances.
As with any article on scopes this is not an exhaustive list and there are many scopes which would perform exceptionally well on your .300 Win Mag that haven’t made this list, Nightforce is a brand conspicuous by it’s absence which have a tremendous reputation and produce excellent products suitable for use on heavy recoiling magnum cartridges like the .300 Win Mag.
Any of these scopes though would be suitable but there isn’t a single ‘one size fits all’ options you’re your .300 Win Mag. It is such a versatile cartridge that you will have to choose the right scope dependant on whether target shooting, tactical applications, traditional stalking or static hunting or driven hunting is you plan.
Any of these scopes though will perform well for you in one or other capacity, pick one and get out to do some shooting.