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Perusing the Leupold booth at the 2017 SHOT show, I was reminded of the old saying – “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM.” Sure, the guys in the crisp short sleeved shirts and the pocket protectors might not be the trendiest or flashiest, but they do a competent job on time and in full.

Similarly, Leupold hasn’t really given everyone a thrill on their scope lineup unless you consider last year’s revisions titilating. They’re still part of the old guard and for most purchasers, you simply cannot go wrong buying the gold ring.

Meanwhile, Nightforce, Vortex, and Bushnell have continued to innovate to the point that the line of guns at any local rifle competition is mostly dominated by a few select brands. In an attempt to get on the gravy train that is the long range hunting and shooting market these days, Leupold has chosen to further improve the VX-3i lineup I covered last year, along with the VX-6, and Mark 8 line.

Starting with the VX-3i LRP, it looks like Leupold is making an effort to get in on the “budget” precision rifle scope game. With the introduction of the production class in precision rifle shooting, capable but affordable scopes are now more in demand the ever. As such, Leupold’s VX-3i LRP takes the changes they brought out last year in glass and adds a zero stop enabled large “tactical” turret for elevation with a capped windage knob. The LRP is available in either .1 mil or 1/4 MOA adjustments with reticles to match.

Seen above is the elevation turret. Unlike most turrets that rise in height as you dial for more elevation, the LRP features a constant height and a skirt that drops down with each revolution to keep track of your current setting. In the hand, the turrets have a good feel with positive clicks and a lack of mush or sponginess. I’d expect nothing less from Leupold.

That said, this turret is stupidly tall. I’m unsure if I’ll actually get one at this point since I’m pretty sure their PR guy overheard me tell Dan that I was going to beat the elevation turret on the LRP against a tree until it broke off. Seriously, I’ve seen F-class scopes with shorter turrets. I’m sure it’s a fine scope, but that big sore thumb of a turret alone is enough to chill my enthusiasm for using it any situation where I could get it hung up on a pack strap or wrapped around my sling.

As a nod to competitive shooters, Leupold included a knurled power selector knob to help make the change from one power to the next a gross motor function. Speaking of power changes, the LRP will come in 4.5-14x50mm, 6.5-20x50mm and 8.5-25x50mm flavors and both first focal and second focal plane editions. Available reticles will be the Impact-29 MOA, Impact-32 MOA, T-MOA, TMR, and the new CCH. MSRP will range from $1105 to $1235 but it looks like online prices will start in the mid $800s and go up from there.

The deliciously upmarket VX-6 series now includes the HD line which includes an illuminated reticle with an electronic leveling system. When the scope is tilted more than 1 degree past level, the reticle flashes. Once level, the reticle remains illuminated. I tilted the VX-6HD every which way on the show floor and confirmed that the new leveling system does just what it says it will. I look forward to comparing it with a plumb line during my testing. Leupold has also upgraded the lens coating to a much more robust hydrophobic coating that repels water as well as fingerprints.

On the turret side of things, Leupold has updated the elevation turret and called it the CDS-ZL2. The CDS-ZL2 can be laser engraved to match a specific bullet profile.

New for this year in the turret is the locking setup – the silver lever above. At the set zero stop, the turret is locked and cannot be moved. Depress the lever flush, and dial to your desired hold. After one revolution, the level goes below flush to indicate that you’re on the second revolution. The VX-6HD line will come in 1-6×24 mm, 2-12×42 mm, 3-18×50 mm, 4-24×52 mm.

All will utilize a 30 mm main tube with the exception of the largest magnification model which will go to the larger 34 mm style. Leupold will offer a variety of illuminated reticles including  the CM-R2, FireDot Circle, FireDot-G BDC, FireDot Bullet-Drop, Impact-23 MOA, Impact-29 MOA, Impact-45 MOA, and Varmint Hunter.

At a starting MSRP of $1625, going up to $2375 for the most expensive model, the VX-6HD is firmly parked in the “expensive” category of today’s optics. That said, it feels right on the money. The adjustments feel great, the glass looks very clear, and there’s enough cool features that it just might be worth the money if it tracks well.

The last big update to the optics lineup is the 3.5-25X56mm Mark 8. Where the original, and still available, Mark 8 featured a bulky turret, illumination, glass quality and build construction that pushed the price tag to a base MSRP of $5375, the newly revised Mark 8 goes to a more simplistic 10 mil per revolution turret similar to the upgraded VX-6 HD scope above and drops illumination. These changes bring the base MSRP down $3900. An extra $390 more will get you a Horus H59 or Tremor 3 reticle. Tube diameter is 35 mm, unchanged from the previous model.

As the flagship model in Leupold’s tactical scope line, it’s no surprise that the Mark 8 is the most expensive model in the Leupold catalog. But at $5375, they really were pushing the boundaries of what a consumer can pay. Bringing the price down to the $4000 mark is a good thing, though I think the list of potential buyers is still very small.

Ultimately, I think Leupold made some modest improvements to their already established lines of rifle scopes. The VX-3i LRP needs a shorter turret, but the VX-6 and Mark 8 lines seem to have seen some modest improvement that make them more attractive to consumers.

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  1. “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM.”

    Unless they worked for DEC.

    (Brother-in-law used to work for them….)

    • “Perusing the Leupold booth at the 2017 SHOT show”

      Guess you missed Leupold’s new affordable six-function thermal imaging tools.

      And they dumped their VX4 line.

  2. I looked into a 2k dollar scope once and know that it’s a huge difference in quality but 4k and up I don’t know that’s steep.

  3. $1500+ is now considered affordable in the world of scopes? Jesus, what is Leupold doing, taking MSRP advice from Cabot?

    I won’t knock the product, Leupold makes nice scopes but for 99% of even serious distance shooters out there that cash money would be better spent on ammo than the extra price of this glass.

    • Yes, $1500 is a rather reasonable price for a rifle scope among F-class, long range benchrest and other shooters.

      Only a few years ago, it was pretty much assumed that you were spending $2K+ for your rifle’s scope, and at least $1500 for your spotting scope.

      If you want to see what you’re doing at 600 yards and beyond, you need quality optics.

      • I don’t disagree about the need for quality optics.

        However, I know a bit about how this stuff is made. The artistry that made companies like Ziess, Leica and Leupold is gone. It’s been replaced by machine grinding guided by computers. Whoever has the best grinding algorithm wins.

        While I’m willing, for the sake of argument, grant that companies previously mentioned have the best algorithms, it’s not “better enough” for the price they demand. They’re relying on name recognition to get those dollars.

        I am by no means an optics expert but before buying my last scope I tried out everything. I called every friend, bothered everyone at my club and even bothered people I didn’t know at the range. Bottom line: I went with Vortex because at 900 yards I can’t tell the difference between their scope and the $2000 Leupold I used right next to it. To me, rounds on target are what matters. Putting rounds on target with a Leupold is like a Gucci purse. You put the same rounds on the same target but you get to pay for a logo on your shit while doing it

    • Cheaping out on glass is actually probably the worst possible place to save money if you want a reasonable long range setup (ie regularly shooting past 500yds).

      With all the $500-700 rifles capable of <1MOA accuracy out there, you should have no excuse for not spending on quality optics. Maybe you wont have to spend $1500 but you are definitely going to spend a minimum of $1000 for good glass and a mount that isnt going to become a weak link down the road.

      • You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you are only willing to pay the kind prices that companies like Vortex charge, then the workers in other countries will keep those jobs. If you want optics from American companies, we either have to pay more money or the employees work for less. If an American company can make a rifle scope without gutting the feature set at the same price point as Vortex, I’ll be the first to money up my money. Until then, I have to buy what I can afford. Right now, what I can afford is made in the Asia.

  4. Leupold lost their way some time ago. Sightron, Nightforce, and Vortex are eating their market share. Leupold doesn’t get that shooters want zero stop, MOA reticles (yes some of us that weren’t in the military want MOA) and 100 minutes of elevation adjustment (ideally but certainly something more than 50). Even Nikon came out with the ProStaff 7 a couple years ago with two of these 3 features. Their scopes have gotten less solid feeling and more expensive over the past few years. I sold a 20 year old VXII because I thought I didn’t have a use for it and then turned around and bought the current equivalent scope last year for a hunting rifle project. Wow, not even close. Tube not as thick and glass not as good. Ran into a X course service rifle shooter the other day who had just bought Leupy’s 4.5X scope made specifically for that discipline. He was trying to shim his scope base to get to the indicated zero on the turret. Problem is there is no indicated zero. The turret does not go up and down, it just goes round and round. WTF? Who is designing these things? They must not be shooters.

  5. I was never very excited about the 4.5-14x magnification range. If I want American quality and cutting edge innovation, I’m inclined to drive 2 miles from my house to US Optics. The Loopies are still great for some scopes, but I’d rather have S&B for 5 grand +.

    My buddy’s 3-18x Mk 8 with the Horus reticle is a great scope, so to each their own. With all this competition, the customers win. Deciding which optic to buy is a tough decision.


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