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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.VX3i_3_5-10x40_ProofResearch_Rt

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.45.51 PMAnd 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.

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    • Not wanting to spring for a scope that costs the same as a nice new gun isn’t cheap, it’s reasonable (if, like most of us, you have a constrained budget)

  1. I gotta whine. My shiny new Leupold cost around $2400 and I love it, even though the intended rifle hasn’t arrived yet. But I have a bone to pick with the company. This is my first ever big bucks scope, and my intention was to read everything in the box, to know all I could about the scope, before I ever took it out of the foam.

    No such thing. The “owner’s manual” (and I use the term loosely), is a generic, one-size-fits-all description of every scope in the line. I ended up digging the scope out to find out which features being described were on it, since the features being described were not annotated on the box, either. It really seems to me that, given today’s computer abilities and printers, for $2400 they could print up a set of instructions for the scope I just bought. Might add fifty cents to the cost? The instructions for the $470 mount were clearer than those for the scope. Good grief.

  2. They dropped the 8.5-25×50 from the VX3 line up. Could have gotten one for $800 after the rebate they were running. The VX3 just aint the scope it was 20 years ago. Saving up for my next Nightforce anyway.

    • You’re right. They have upgraded the glass twice now since they were marketed as “Vari-X 3”.

      If you are comparing Nightforce prices, you may want to check out the VX-6 4-24 and Mark 6 lines for the longer range hunting and target models.

  3. Hilarious; the amount of guff I’ve heard from supposedly expert long-range target shooters (Queen’s final, Bisley…) who have tried to tell me holding for wind is bad practice.

  4. Well I just ordered my vx3i 3.5-10×50mm I cant wait to mount this baby on my knight moutanear It will be my first luepold hope I didn’t go wrong

  5. I agree with the poor manuals of a previous comment. The side parallax feature has no marked range for getting parallax corrected. Very poor design flaw as many with failing eyesite use those yardage markers to help obtain the correct setting. For an upper mid price range scope, lack of knowing the parallax range is frustrating! At least Nightforce and Vortex are clearly marked, which this model is in competition with….

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