My do-it-all bolt action hunting rifle has worn a Leupold VX-II for as long as I’ve had the disposable funds to buy something with a gold ring on the objective. Like the old adage about IBM, nobody ever got fired for mounting a Leupold on their rifle. Recently though, I’ve had the opportunity to check out some of the competition, and I’ll admit that the VX-II is getting rather long in the tooth. With the level of accuracy that I’m seeing out of today’s budget rifles, and the quality of match grade hunting ammo, there are fewer and fewer reasons to not reach out and touch something. Leupold agrees and has reworked their very popular VX-3 line, rebranding it as the VX-3i to help hunters achiever their goals . . .
The new “i” model is not just a small rebranding with bold new graphics. Leupold appears to have gone back to the table to look at how the human eye perceives light to bump up the perceived clarity of their line of optics.
Leupold’s innovation in light management, the Twilight Max light management system, enhances brightness, color and clarity, especially in low-light conditions. By balancing the available light across the entire spectrum, the VX-3i allows for enhanced target acquisition, identification and shot placement in diminished light. From the end of the day, to heavy overcast to deep canyons, the Twilight Max light management system will let hunters see, identify and deliver a precise shot on game animals in low-light settings.
“Light transmission is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor that matters in optics,” Lesser said. “The VX-3i has excellent light transmission, but we’ve looked at managing light for optimized performance. You can transmit 99.99% of available light, but if it’s not managed and properly balanced you won’t have the performance. In fact, the new VX-3i has the highest average light transmission across the visible spectrum, but its true performance lies in the management of that light.”
All that is well and good, and looking through their scopes on the SHOT show floor, I can’t deny that the glass is crisp. What has me very excited is the configuration above in 4.5-14 x 50 mm. The floor model featured a slightly oversized magnification ring with a side focusing knob. Most pleasing is the exposed elevation turret and capped windage turret. This is my preferred method of running a scope for long range shooting as I prefer to use the turrets to adjust for elevation and the reticle to hold for wind.
And speaking of reticles, the floor model featured Leupold’s new Wind-Plex reticle that has a solid vertical crosshair with a graduated horizontal for wind holds. At 4.5X on the low end and 14x on the high end, this is about perfect for most of the hunting situations I encounter, and would be perfect for everything except for the very longest shots on very small game.
The VX-3i starts at a MSRP of $519 for the 1.5-5x20mm and 2.5-8x36mm with prices going up to nearly $1300 for the 6.5-20x50mm model. If you don’t see a factory option that delights you, all of the VX-3i scopes can be custom built by the Leupold Custom Shop. Our guy at Leupold indicates that one of the VX-3i models is earmarked for TTAG upon our return from TTAG. Expect a review soon.