Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG
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Leupold’s latest entry into the 1X sight field is the Freedom Red Dot Sight (RDS). It’s a crowded field filled with popular names like Trijicon, Aimpoint, SIG SAUER and Vortex, but the new RDS has much to recommend it — not least of which is the fact that unlike almost all of its competitors, the 1x34mm Freedom RDS and RDS BDC are designed and built in the US.

The tube-style 1X sight features a 1 MOA red dot and is offered in two models. The standard RDS model has screw-capped turrets with 1/4 MOA adjustments. The RDS BDC model which we tested has an open bullet drop compensator turret on top allowing quick, easy adjustment for various shooting at distances.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

The 34mm Freedom RDS ships in a beefy mount that will affix to your Picatinny rail via three Torx screws (small wrench included). If you decide you’d rather use another kind of mount — say one with a quick release — there are lots of options out there.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

The Freedom RDS BDC is calibrated for standard 55 grain .223 ammunition. Once you’ve zero’d your rifle, shooting at ranges out as far as 500 yards is easy.

If you’re shooting at, say, 400 yard, just turn the dial to four, put the red dot on your target and go. No holdover necessary. The turret’s quarter MOA adjustment clicks mean more precise adjustments are easy.

If you’ll be using your Freedom Red Dot Sight on an AR chambered in another round — 6.5CM, 300BLK, whatever — Leupold will sell you a new dial calibrated for that round ($80).

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

Like the standard Freedom Red Dot Sight model dials, the RDS BDC’s windage adjustment dial lives under a screw-on cap.

Both models feature an 80 MOA adjustment range in 1/4 MOA clicks for both windage and elevation and can be adjusted without the need for tools.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

Though it’s hard to see in the photos, the 1 MOA red dot is clear and distinct without undue flare, even at higher brightness levels.

The American-made Freedom Red Dot Sight uses what Leupold calls their Twilight Red Dot system which is intended to give you better clarity and color rendition in low light. We took the sight out at dawn and at dusk and had no problem distinguishing targets.

Also note in the images that the Freedom RDS’s optics are color-neutral. There’s no red or green cast to what you see through the tube. So if you shoot with both eyes open as many red dot users do, one eye won’t be viewing your target with a weird “stereo” or 3D glasses type effect.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

The Freedom Red Dot Sight has Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology. Basically, if you leave it alone for five minutes, it automatically switches the unit off.

Move it or pick it up and the red dot pops back on to its previous brightness level setting for instant use. That will extend your battery’s life (which Leupold rates at 1000 hours on a single CR2032 battery).

Leupold also puts their Freedom Red Dot Sights though their “punisher” testing, something we saw in a recent tour of the company’s Oregon factory. This is the highest level of impact and endurance testing they apply to their high-end scopes for commercial and military customers.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

On/off and red dot brightness are adjusted via a button on the side of the sight that doubles as the Leupold logo.

There are seven different brightness levels available, from very low to very high. Adjustment involves simply pressing the logo button. The brightness increases through the levels until it gets to the maximum and lets you know it’s maxed out by blinking.

Continuing to press the button will then decrease the red dot’s brightness. Again, it lets you know when you’re at the minimum by blinking.

Leupold says the Freedom Red Dot Sight is night vision compatible, but we haven’t tested it under those conditions.

Using the BDC model’s dial really does simplify range adjustment. Simply judge your distance to target and dial it in. The ability to then put the red dot on your target makes hitting what you’re shooting at much easier.

The Luepold Freedom Red Dot Sight gives most shooters everything they need in a red dot…an easily adjustable, ruggedly built sight that will hold up to anything the typical hunter or recreational shooter will do with it.

Leupold Freedom red dot sight rds bdc
Dan Z for TTAG

It doesn’t have quite the battery life of some (more expensive) competitors and it may weigh an ounce or two more. Wether the BDC dial option is worth an added Benjamin will be up to the individual user, but it’s a nice option to have.

In the end, the fact that an American-made red dot (there are very few out there) of this quality is made and priced within reach of the average gun owner is a big win.


Specifications: Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight (RDS) BDC

Tube Diameter: 34mm
Length: 5.3 inches
Weight: 7.2 oz
Dot Size: 1 MOA
Adjustments: 1/4 MOA clicks, 80 MOA range, windage and elevation
MSRP: $520 ($399 retail) Standard model MSRP $390 ($299 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Optics: * * * * *
Excellent. The amount of light transmitted through the Freedom RDS’s 22mm objective lens is exceptional and clear, with no tinting. Performance in low light was very good.

Build Quality: * * * *
The Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight is built like a tank. It’s extremely sold, and, having passed Leupold’s punisher test, should give you years of service. It may be a little on the heavy side, depending on your use.

Adjustment: * * * *
The Bullet Drop Compensator turret model we tested makes dialing in your distance to target a breeze. If you shoot a round other than 55 grain .223, you’ll need another dial calibrated for your bullet. The extra $100 retail for the BDC reticle won’t be worth it to every shooter, but it’s something we really appreciated.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight is a lot of red dot for the money. Its solid build quality and the included mount make it an excellent plug-and-play option for those who don’t want to spend $500 or more on a rugged, reliable red dot. Some will say it’s heavy and others will quibble about its battery life, but for most shooters, the Freedom RDS — in either configuration — is all the red dot sight they’ll ever need or want.

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    • Leupold’s entire Freedom line of optics is a huge steaming pile of compromise. I guess throwing the word Freedom at it is supposed to make up for the lack of quality, features, and technology. In the crowded and competitive field of RDOs, this Leuoturd is surfing on name only. Even while their DeltaPoint Pro is lacking compared to AP and Trij, it’s a close third. But this Freedumb tube is little more than an also-ran. Step up your game Leupold. You know, ‘Merca and all.

  1. Sight picture comparisons to other common market leaders would have added a lot here. The Trijicon MRO, any of the Vortex dots or holos, any of the Holosun gear.

    Leupold’s asking a lot here for an unremarkable entrant into a crowded market. What’s so great that makes it 4.5/5 with all the other value? Is that just because you bought it?

    A lot of budget dots have annoyingly large bezels and precious little viewable glass. Less of an issue with both eyes open, but an Aimpoint PRO vs a Micro is an obvious example.

  2. Who shoots at targets at 400 yards with a 1x scope. I don’t think I could even SEE a target at 400 yards much less shoot at it! That said, a 1 MOA dot and the BDC adjustment feature are pretty nifty.

      • Well, I’m old and losing vision in my right eye. I can’t even focus 25 yards, and I need a 3×9 to see the target at 100. My old 4x just doesn’t do it any more.

        • Sounds like you need a scope. This RDS isn’t a scope. I wouldn’t buy this if I was you.

      • Well I could seldom even see the 300yd popup when is I was 20. Much less hit them. And there weren’t no stinking optics.

    • You need a spotter to see, or an open grassland Knowing a target is right there waving at you; no average man can see a target and identify it clearly at 400 meter, the one who say they can are bullshiting.

  3. Not size and weight compliant, especially next to modern red dots like a MRO or HS403R. Listed weight is 7.2 ounces on the Leupold website, I’m presuming that’s not in a mount, in which case it would be closer to 10oz. Woulda been some good journalism if it was weighed in its mount, and reported on in this article.

    • France has had like 7 revolutions and is working on it’s 9th Republic or something. In that same span of time we’ve only had one revolution and we’re still on our first republic. Leupold is obviously challenging us to step up our game.

  4. Holosun can build a quality optic like the 403g for under $200 with clear glass and a 50,000 hour battery life. Leupold, on the other hand, wants over double for a optic that has 2% of the battery life of a holosun. I run acogs and leupold optics on my hunting rifles but this red dot is dead in the water imo.

      • I got news for you (and it pains me to admit it) shit from China is pretty good anymore. They can make good shit when they want to. Where do you think iphones are produced?

    • The Chinese stuff may be good or possibly better but being made in America and still being within my somewhat tight budget makes it a strong competitor in my book, but as always being made in USA is no excuse for lack of features.

  5. I bought a PRO years ago, but this looks like it would have been a viable competitor for my money. However, I can’t say I’ve come across a situation where I’ve wished the PRO had exposed BDC turrets to make a pre-shot adjustment, even with a 3x magnifier in front of it. I guess if I could have bought one of these instead to begin with, I might’ve gone out of my way to use it like that.

  6. I’ve used many an optic, including this one, and I am sadly not impressed. I’m a huge Leupold fan for their scopes, but the Trijicon MRO and the Aimpoint T series have this beat by a country mile. This RDS is a HECKIN’ CHONK and the battery life is not all that impressive. Not a good entry for Leupold on this one.

    • nicely done
      top notch
      i was going to go with:
      dont these make fully semiautomatic assault rifle guns even more dangerouser than they need to be

  7. Do I have to remove my the front sight on my SAINT to mount and use this optic?

  8. All this harsh criticism. Who has one and what’s your opinion if you do? As for the the adjustable turret on an RDS, Aimpoint seems to think it’s a good idea. Aimpoint is now copying this same feature with its yet-to-be-released CompM5B.

    I have overall good experience with my two Leupold scopes. One of them – an abused budget Mark 4 4.5-14x40mm with target turrets that I use for load testing – has better more accurate turret adjustments than my pricey March and Nightforces.

    Buying made in USA is a duty, not a choice. No one should buy Chicom, let alone purchases that support military products.

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