How to choose the best M1A Scope

February 14, 2009 by  
Filed under M1A Rifle Scopes

Don’t forget to browse our rifle scope listings in the marketplace.

leupoldmark435-10x40mmm2ilThere are many choices when it comes to scopes for a M1A rifle and the only homework you would need to do is to figure out what suits you best and what are your needs. When it comes to scopes, there are several things that you need to consider from its eye piece, to the eye bell, to the elevation adjustment to the objective lens. All these things, and many more need to be according to what you want and how you would like your scopes to be like.

Rifle scopes are important as they magnify an image and put your eye on the same optical filed as the image you are viewing. With scopes, and image is magnified through a series of lenses within the scope. Generally, lower powered scopes are typically shorter with smaller lenses than high powered scopes.

When choosing a M1A scope, consider these two items- the field of view (FOV) and the magnification of the M1A rifle scope. With the FOV, it is basically what you see through the scope when you look through it. The wider the FOV, the better you see.

When it comes to magnification, some have variable power while some have fixed power. If its fixed power, the label on the scope will read ‘4x’ meaning that the scopes magnifies an image by four times. On a variable scope, you would find ‘3.9x, 50mm’ which means the scope enlarges the image between 3 to 9 times more, with an objective lens of 50mm in diameter. For M1A scopes, having one that is variable is nice. It allows you to adjust the magnification of an image to the situation you are in- whether in the morning where you need less power of in the afternoon where you need more power.

The disadvantage of the M1A rifle scope that is variable is that they are generally more expensive than their fixed versions and fixed versions require more frequent sighting in. Anyways, if you can afford a variable M1A rifle scope, then get one.

Apart from the magnification and the FOV, you should also consider if the M1A rifle scope is sealed, water and fog proof. A good quality scope can withstand water and fog for a longer period. Lens coating also is a very important aspect of your scope. Make sure that the scope you buy has coated lens to protect them from scratching, reduce glare and improve resolution.

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45 Responses to “How to choose the best M1A Scope”
  1. tongyun says:

    These are definitely nice tips on buying a scope for your M1A or any rifle for that matter. Never having purchased a scope before, it was really informative to know how to read the difference between a variable or fixed magnification. Since I wear glasses, I concur with the advice to make sure your scope handles moisture and won’t fog up on you.

  2. nick craft says:

    i own the socom 2 and am looking for the best brand of scout scope .i did not get the extended rail version of the socom and am bummed but at same time still completely enthralled with it as well.shoots and handeles like dream.heavy when stand shooting but that helps keep accurate for me.any suggestions on good scout scopes

  3. Postman says:

    I never know that there a lot of things that should be consider if you are going to buy a scope.

    I remember using a rifle when I was younger. Back then I am only using an air gun. It doesn’t have any scope on it so I am just setting my eye on the tip of the gun and the target.

  4. Bob says:

    Good info. I just bought a scope for my “loaded” M1A today online. I decided on a 4-24x50mm. Magnification of 4x allows close-in work while the 24x is for range. I would suggest that if you get a scope that goes 3-9 magnification (very typical) that you get an aperture of at least 40mm. The aperture (lens) collects the light. The larger the lens, the more light (photons) you capture and the better the picture. I selected a 50mm since the magnification goes to 24x. Concemtrating on a smaller picture requires gathering more light. You should also be careful of the mount you choose. Aluminum mounts often loosen up since the steel on the weapon expands and contracts at different rates. Using a steel mount eliminates a lot of this problem. Problems with the scope becoming loose can also be minimized by using Lock-Tite on the screws used in the rings. Be sure to use only the Semi-Permanent type, you may want to remove it someday. And don’t apply the Lock-Tite until you have determined that the boresite id close. You’d hate to lock it all down just to find that boresite is out of range of the adjusting screws. I have found that a laser boresighter (available for less than $50 and useable on all your weapons) can “get you on the paper” before you actually go to the range for live fire.

  5. tongyun says:

    Bob, you bring up some really good points when buying a scope. A scope is no different from a camera in that it needs light to really magnify an object if it is some distance away. I think you are right on with a 50mm aperture for a scope has a 24x magnification.

  6. Jerry says:


    Awesome info! Thanks for the contribution.

  7. attagirl says:

    As with most things you buy, unless you are familiar with a product then it is best to read up on something and do some comparisons. For those who are new to buying scopes this articles should be of big help. Some of the points you brought up which are mentioned in other comments such as the light of the object are very important. In any case you cannot forget the field of view when choosing this and bringing up this point and others is the key to letting people know how to choose a scope that is right for them and will be useful.

  8. Fardreamer says:

    Was this scope designed during the M1’s active service lifetime during the 1940s, or is this a civilian-developed add-on feature? I’m a big World War II buff and would like to know more about small arms used by American forces during the war.

  9. Aries Wren says:

    I never knew that on the 3.9x thing, I actually thought that it would only magnify it 3.9 times. It’s like my friend saying he lifts 20×4 dumbbells and I was thinking “Why not just get an 8lbs dumbbell?”.

    Guess I know which kind of scope to get now.

  10. the45b says:

    As a small arms repairer for the army the standard m1a setup I see the most of is a leupold Mark4 in a fixed 10x but I’ve seen variables yes in the mark4 series, by all means dont drop a cheap scope on a m1 putting some cheap optics on then expect to make perfect shots and its still in active service. The thing with the receiver mounts is there’s the occasional shell that gets ejected directly into the scope and if said user is not useing quality rings/mount/tactical grade scope and loctite you lose zero fast. Also the scopes tend to ride high so a cheek rest is a good investment unless you wanna crane your neck. Personally I have a m1a scout and have a 3x magnifier from aimpoint teamed with a comp4 which is fine for hitting out at 300 yards.

  11. admin says:

    Awesome contribution! Thanks for the great info!

  12. Bradley says:

    i just bought a m1a …………….. im cumming

  13. m1arifles says:

    Nice! What kind? Match, Scout?

  14. VETTOM says:

    After looking and reading a LOT of comments, I narrowed it down and finally decided on a Konus M30 8×32 IR mil-dot on my M1A with a EBR Mark 14 Mod 0 stock. It is a large scope and I used higher rings to be able to use my iron sights. I am off to the range to sandbag the heavy one and see what it will do. I simply can spend $1500+++ for a Leo scope, S&B, or any of those others OT. great for those who can!!

  15. James says:

    I’m in Kalifornia and do most of my shooting on indoor ranges using small silohettes and other targets. I have a blast using an EOtech. A couple buddies of mine loved the set up while in towns in Iraq.

  16. Stan says:

    I’ve got my eyes set on an M1A National Match. Here in the People’s Socialist Republic of California, even to find an M1A is a trick, I found a guy who is selling a National match, a Scout and a Loaded. So I’ve settled on the National Match. It has a GI trigger, I can’t wait to pick it up. My question is this: I’m looking for a variable scope, something I can use at 100 yds. and reach out to 800 or so yards. What do you guys recommend, also what is the military using now on a similar weapons? And the best place to locate said scope, hopefully without breaking the bank *smile* Thanks in advance for any advice.

  17. m1arifles says:

    I would say go with a Nikon buckmasters 4.5-14×40 SF rifle scope. Its a good scope and it has a nice price tag that wont break the bank.

    Also, we used Leupold mark 4 LR/T rifle scopes on our M14’s in Iraq.

    Hope this helps!

  18. SgtWaggoner says:

    I have just put a Leupold VX-I 3-9X40 Rifleman on my M1A Socom 16. Am very happy with it, I really like the S&K mount which saved me a bundle and fits like Springfield made it for the rifle themselves, just not $300, only $100.

    So I invested in a $260 scope and feel now I could hit anything from 50 yards to 1000 yards.

    Absolutely the Greatest Rifle (All of the M14/M1A variants) in the World!!!

    M/Sgt. Waggoner
    US Army Retired

  19. David says:

    I just bought M1A after looking at it for 2 years~ Bought super match, oak finish. 5 more sleepless night until DROS wraps up. Any opinion on Springfield Gen2 scope vs Gen 3 scope? Also Mark 4 too. I will probably not going to shoot 1000 yard range in Southern california but want 300-500 accurately.
    Any ideas / opinions will be greatly appreciated.

  20. VETTOM says:

    I bought a Konus M30 8.5×32. I have only tried it at a 100yds on my M1A and so far, It works great, I like the clarity and power. It is a large scope.

  21. Troy says:

    Another important consideration when selecting a scope is the reputation/reviews that the scope has received. The Leupold Mk IV is certainly a quality rifle scope, but not one that everyone can afford. SWFA line of Super Sniper scopes is highly regarded amongst professional shooters (Police, military) and has a reputation for quality and durability at a fraction of the cost of Leupolds, S&Bs, etc. You certainly get what you pay for, but in some cases you get more, and you should take into account the law of diminishing return. Paying $1200 for a Leupold vs. $400 for a SS won’t make you a better shot if you don’t have a grasp of the fundamentals of long range marksmanship, and even then, I would venture to guess there are plenty of SS mounted rifles out their out-shooting their more costly counterparts. Just sayin’…

  22. Mike Brigham says:

    Troy – I have a 16X Super Sniper on my 6th month old loaded M1a . I’m not a great shooter myself , but get around 1.5″ at 100 yds. Others at my rifle club with this combo can shoot mine down to .75″ at 100 yds – Our longest range is 100 yds. This is all done with Privi-Partizen 150 Gr. Ammo. Not any special Bench loads- this is shot off of a Caldwell front bag rest and no rear rest. The scope is actually made by Tasco for SWFA and under SWFA’s supervision and inspection. Works really well and holds zero with a Leapers 4th Gen Aluminium mount held on with Blue Lock-Tite after being zero’ed. That’s a cheap mount ,costing about $45.00 Not to expensive and works good. Don’t know how well it would hold zero with bouncing around in the field though.

  23. guido says:

    according to me the best sniping solution for a m14 (springfield armory)it’ll be a photonic idf scope 6x42mm with a 168grn-bullets drop.
    you can use it all for sniping without problems till the 800 mt. distance…..

  24. Geary says:

    A lot of great comments in this thread. I would also add to be careful with the cheaper scope solutions. Scopes are delicate instruments, but to survive an M1/M14 they need to be designed to handle its hi-power recoil.

  25. Roger says:

    Guys, thanks to all of you that gave advice on scopes. I trained with an M-14 in basic, then was given an M-16 when we got to Nam (65). It was great, half of us would fire while the other half cleared their jammed rifle. Then we traded places. I haven’t hunted nor owned a weapon since I returned. My brother took me rabbit hunting this summer and I decided I’d like to hunt again. Yesterday I got the nerve to order an M1A1 and will put a scope on it. Old eyes aren’t as good as they once were. I’m glad there are people like all of you! Thanks again for all the advice!!

  26. I’ve been shooting all my life and have gone through a lot of scopes. What I need to know is what scope best handles the punishment the M1A dishes out. Nikon,Simmons,can’t do it ,Leatherwood is made in China now so their out of the question my last hope is the Leopold Mk4LR/T. If you know of a super tuff scope let me know. I’ve beaten everything else to death.

  27. m1arifles says:

    We used the Lupolde Mark 4 LR/T rifle scpoes in Iraq. They were mounted on our M14’s. They took so much beating and held up just fine. Hope that helps.

  28. chip separk says:

    Any thoughts on the counter sniper line of scopes? which might be best for a NM 22″bbl. M1A

  29. Stan says:

    Hi Doc,
    I recently purchased an M1A, and I’ve been shopping around for scopes myself. I’ve learned that the Leopold mark 4 is really expensive, if you have really deep pockets and you shoot all the time, I guess that would justify that purchase. Also I suppose if you were a subcontractor for the military a scope like that would be “required equipment” But then there are us “civilians” who target shoot, hunt, etc. I’ve been doing my research and I’ve learned a lot about Super Sniper’s products and their optics. I’ve learned that the military tested and tried out their equipment, and many soldiers are using it. Many police SWAT units are using it, and swear by it. I’ve been reading that a lot of guys actually prefer the SS system. The best part, it is rugged, comes back to zero every time, and can handle recoil more than the .308 M1A/M14 can dish out. We are talking .50 caliber. Then here is the really good part, SS optical systems cost half of what the Mark 4 costs. That’s gonna be my next purchase. Check out and to do your own personal research. Enjoy!

  30. LeonardB says:

    Have a new Springfield M1A. Have the Springfield armory 3rd generation scope mount. What size Leupold scope rings are needed for the Leupold Mark 4 series with either the 40 or 50mm objective lens. I would like to get the 50mm objective but might have to get the 40mm objective to save a little cash.

  31. m1arifles says:

    I believe some high 30mm scope rings should do the trick

  32. Chris says:

    I just found this website, and what a disappointment. This article doesn’t have anything to do with the M1a as it relates to choosing a scope. There are specific issues, like the scout or SOCOM models may require scout-type scopes with much longer eye relief. Or what about the challenge of mounting a scope (Stock M1A’s don’t come with scope mounts), or the cheek weld issue wehn usng a standard scope with the factory stock? Is this the kind of generic lame info I can expect to xontinue to receive if I hang around here?

  33. m1arifles says:

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for your input. I’m currently working on restructuring the website and that would include content.

    Do you currently own a M1A?

  34. CJGarvin says:

    I’ve always been told by old salts, and I believe them, that a rifle scope should cost as much as your rifle or at least half. If you have an expensive rifle but are chinsing on scopes, you’re cheating yourself and the rifle. If your M1A cost $1700, you have to at least mount an $800.00 rig including rings and rails. If you put a Tasco on your M1A, you look like an amateur. Go Leopold, Trijicon, Schmitt & Bender, or other German scopes or use the iron sights until you can afford one. Getting good on open sights is an extreme advantage. It’s really the Zen of the M14.

  35. CJGarvin says:

    Hey Chris,

    On my Socom 16, I mounted a Trijicon Tri-Power on the forward rail. I used and ARMS 18 throw rail specifically designed for the scope. I can just pop it off and on if I want to use the tritium iron sights. The scope is similar to an Aimpoint, but Trijicon has a tritium powered red triangle inside that won’t burn out for 12 to 15 years. It’s backed up by batteries to intensify the light for sighting out from a dark place to extreme sunlight. It also has a fiber optic circle on top for light gathering that really works. I rarely have to use the batteries. The cheek weld takes a little getting used to. I’m considering getting a cheek pad to help snap my head into position for faster shots. It cost me $700.00 for the scope. $120 for the ARMS rings and rails. I mounted the scope on the scout rail to the extreme forward position to keep the ocular glass away from the chamber when firing.

  36. CJGarvin says:

    All in all it shoots pretty well. It’s going to make about a 1 second difference acquiring the target compared to shooting with iron sights alone. 1 second in a combat situation is a lifetime–literally. That’s all a red dot does for you–gets you on target, it has no magnification. I don’t worry about 1 inch groups and all that for a battle field rifle. A 16 inch barrel is only meant for one thing–close in fighting. Wish I had a bayonet lug–ha ha!

  37. I’d say that it would be hard to beat the Leupold MK IV or Trijicon ACOG – the biggest thing is what kind of zoom you want in the scope….

  38. guysade says:

    the best riflescope is actually the photonic idf 6x42mm with bullet drop 168grn and bullet sierra 168grn hpbt with imr 3031 44grn ,brass federal,cci lr ……
    i love it for elk hunting in Italy .

  39. Ted says:

    I’m going to be picking up a Socom II soon and plan to use an extended eye relief scope. Top on my list is the Leupold FX-II 2.5x28mm IER Scout with the quick release LaRue Tactical SPR-S Mount LT-158. Just my two cents.

  40. m1arifles says:

    Nice, Show us some pics when you get it.

  41. Ben says:

    Can anyone give me advice on sighting in my m1a national match! I appreciate it!

  42. Real Sniper says:

    Done some reading of the info on this site. I’ve always liked Leupold and I’m leaning towards the VX3 3.5×10 40mm with CDS. Online I’ve found a few places where I can get them at just under $500.00 incl shipping. Also thought about the Mk 4, but really can’t see the advantage in it that warrants another $500 bucks. Am I wrong? If so somebody please educate me.

    I ordered a Bassett low mount. Had one on an M1A NM I had a few years back. The steel lugs that lock into the receiver groves keeps it from losing the zero. Went through many other mounts before I found the Bassett. I also ordered the Leatherman CR6000 cheek pad. You can attach it permanently or temporarily without modifying the stock.

  43. Forest Ranger says:

    Nightforce 3.5-15 X 50 or a Leupold MK4 if your shooting to kill. If your just punching holes in paper use a Nikon. I literally drove a nail at 275 yards using a Nightforce and Springfield M1A loaded firing a 175 grain Federal match. The round went in the boars right ear opening and out the left. It was the dhot I took, not the hot I got.

  44. Jeffrey nolast name says:

    Leatherwoods made in china now that just sank my boat…FMR!

  45. Ckgator says:

    Very helpful commentary Bob!

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