More than a year ago the US Special Operations Command announced that the Mark 5HD would become their choice for the US Army Precision Rifle Program. By then, this scope was already sitting on top of a 6.5CM gas gun in Syria with some of the world’s best snipers behind it.
Since that time, the Mark 5HD’s use in the US military has only broadened. I can directly verify that multiple Special Operations units use this scope as their go-to optic on multiple platforms. What units? At this point, it would be easier to tell you what units don’t use it on something. Except I can’t find any.
Although that press release got some buzz, it was kind of old news. The Mark 5HD was already widely lauded by everyone who shot it, military and civilian alike. Beyond its military use, the Mark 5HD is very well represented in the civilian community.
Take a look at any precision shooting sport, and you’ll see someone behind this particular piece of glass. It’s the scope used by the current #1 ranked PRS shooter in the Open Division, and you’ll find it used by several of the other top shooters, too.
The Mark 5HD is able to provide the shooter with a startlingly clear image at any magnification, even in low light and under miserable circumstances.
The most important thing about any riflescope is the quality of the glass itself. Leupold actually lost me as a customer a couple decades ago. It wasn’t that they didn’t have good scopes. They did. It was just that I was finding other scopes that were just as good with better features at lower prices. That all changed when I saw a demonstration of their “light management” technology at SHOT Show some years back.
Leupold developed a glass coating set to send more visible light to the human eye during twilight and in other low light environments. These coatings buy the shooter time. The Mark 5HD gives you 15 or so additional minutes on each side of daylight when other scopes of equal image clarity are too dark to see. For hunters and military shooters alike, those are the most important minutes of the day.
I’ve reviewed quite a few scopes on TTAG and Leupold has been the standard by which all other scopes are held to, when it comes to shooting in those precious few minutes of fading light. These features have now been further refined as Leupold’s Professional-Grade Optic System. Coatings on optics are expensive. They are worth every penny.
With a 35mm main tube and a 56mm objective, the Mark 5HD is an absolute unit. Take a look at it in the photo above next to a Nightforce SHV 5-20×56 with it’s 30mm tube. I mean…she chonk!
You would think these dimensions, and the bombproof reliability of the scope itself, would mean the Mark 5HD really tips the scales. It does not. At 30 ounces, it’s lighter than the US Optics FDN 25X 5-25×52, the Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 and 4.5-27×56, the Bushnell Elite Tactical XRSII 4.5-30×50, and every other scope I can find in its class.
Unfortunately, there are limited mounting ring options for a 35mm main tube. Leupold offers them in medium, high, and super high. I don’t know what the medium rings are for, as they were too low for every rifle I tried them on. For any bolt action rifle, I needed the high rings, and for any AR I’d need the super high version. They are quality rings, but at $149.99 for traditional aluminum two-piece rings, they’d better be.
The 35mm main tube results in tons of precise elevation and windage adjustment. Long action and magnum calibers pushing heavy pills real far away or subsonic rimfire rifles would be required to use the full advantage of the amount of travel inside that tube.
The elevation turret includes 30 mils of adjustment. To put that into perspective, after zeroing the rifle, my Kiote LRP chambered in .260 Remington wouldn’t be using the full amount of elevation adjustment until its 147gr ELD-M bullet hit 2,050 yards.
Fired from my .308 Winchester Remington 5R with its 20″ barrel, the fat, slow M118LR would get to 1,570 yards. My Vudoo Sinister, pushing it’s tiny 40gr .22LR bullets would go all the way out to 500 yards.
Dialing for windage takes time and wind doesn’t abide a shooter’s leisure. But should you want to dial for windage you’ve got five mils of adjustment both left and right. Pull out the ballistic calculator of your choice and see how far that gets you with a 10mph full value wind. You will likely find it gets you well beyond any realistic limit of your firearm or shooting ability.
Also note that the windage zero mark is not at the center line, but raised near the top of the tube. That means it’s fully visible while keeping a cheek/stock weld and not otherwise obstructed by the eyepiece or the rings.
The turrets are big, easy to grab, hard to miss, and move perfectly. There’s no squishy movement, and each click is audible and lands precisely, not that you should be counting clicks anyway.
The Mark 5HD includes well-marked turrets and the locking elevation turret is marked with numbers for each rotation. Since it’s marked both high and low, and since the large turrets move a full 10 mils per revolution, you’ll be able to make big moves quickly.
And precisely, too. To test the precision of the turrets, I pulled the Mark 5HD off my Kiote LRP and put it on the Vudoo Sinister chambered in 22LR. Zeroing the rifle at 50 yards, it passed a simple box test at 100 yards. I used the Sinister because even at just 100 yards it required 23 clicks of elevation and 13 clicks of windage and was still inside a 10″ target. Each round landed within the 3/4″ margin of error for the rifle and ammunition.
I pushed this same combination out to 300 yards. Keeping that same 50-yard zero, this required a full 147 clicks, representing 156 inches of drop. My average group measured under three inches from where the math said it should. All shooting was done from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest at 25X magnification with no wind and no time limit on the shots.
I also just screwed around with the turrets. A lot. Turning each turret back and forth each direction for the better part of an hour while I took a COMET program course on Impact-Based weather forecasting (cuz I’m a friggin’ nerd), I found no loss at all in return-to-zero, or in the overall feel and precise movement of the turrets.
All of the controls on the Mark 5HD work as they should. The parallax knob moves freely. It doesn’t require the shooter’s face to leave the glass to move the knob, but stays in place.
The magnification ring is well-textured and also moves perfectly. It includes a large knob for fast movement. Unlike several other scopes I’ve reviewed, this one doesn’t get in the way of a bolt. If you don’t like the knob, it unscrews and is replaceable with a flat piece instead.
The Mark 5HD comes with option of several reticles. This particular scope features Leupold’s new PR2-MIL reticle. The PR2-MIL (they also make an MOA model) is a competition precision rifle-focused reticle that’s a further development of the CCH reticle Leupold designed for the military.
At full magnification, you’ve got six mils of both windage and elevation hold inside the reticle. At 10X, you’re looking at the full 10 mils of windage hashes and 17.5 mils of elevation.
If you are familiar with complex reticles, you’ll note that this one looks a bit more spartan than what you may be used to. That’s because Leupold is using .25 mil hashes instead of .2 mil hashes. I love the .25 mil hashes. It’s much more intuitive for me to think in quarter increments, and still provides a subtension that is plenty precise enough for any level of shooting I may, one day, God willing, achieve.
The first focal plane scope’s center cross hatch is an aiming dot. If you look very carefully, you’ll also notice there’s always a broken line at the center of each hash so that you can see the target clearly.
Having a fifth of the hashes disappear as well as the centers clear means more visual free space. The obvious value of free space in a complex reticle is that you can see more of your target, and more targets quickly. But for many shooters, me included, there’s an even bigger advantage.
With most complex reticles, spotting bullet trace can become a serious challenge, depending on the terrain and the environment. Dial down the magnification on the Mark 5HD a wee bit and your bullet’s movement through the air becomes much easier to see with 20% fewer hashes and a little bit of extra space. There’s just no doubt this will become a popular reticle set once a few more eyeballs get behind it.
As I do with all of my scope reviews of late, I dunked the Mark 5HD 5-25×56 in a tub for a while to prove it’s really waterproof. It is.
Despite its relatively light weight, the Mark 5HD line is extremely durable. Military shooters have now proven this scope in some of the most hostile places on Earth. Competitors have been using them to win all over the US and beyond.
I’ve personally shot the Mark 5HD on top of SCAR 17s, 20Ss, and Barrett models including the MRAD in a couple magnum calibers and the 82A1 in 50BMG. If it breaks, the scope is backed up by Leupold’s Lifetime Guarantee.
What’s really just nuts about this scope is that, although it’s popular in the PRS Open Division, it sits at a price point that would fall under the Production Division. With an MSRP of $1,999, the Mark 5HD isn’t cheap, but it’s still an exceptional value.
SPECIFICATIONS: Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 M5C3 PR2-MIL
Reticle Focal Plane: First Focal Plane
Elevation Adjustment Type: M5C3Locking Dial: Yes
Revolution Indicator: Yes
Rezero Type: Set Screw
Windage Adjustment Type: Capped
Reticle Type: First Focal Plane
Reticle FFP PR2-MILMagnification: Type Variable
Weight (oz): 30
Elevation Adjustment Value per Click: 0.1 Mil
Elevation Adjustment Range (MOA): 120
Elevation Adjustment Range (MIL): 35
Elevation Adjustment Range (cm @ 100m): 349
Elevation Adjustment Per Revolution: 10.5 MIL
Elevation Dial Travel Limit: 30MIL
Windage Adjustment Value per Click: 0.1Mil
Windage Adjustment Range (MOA): 60
Windage Adjustment Range (MIL): 17
Windage Adjustment Range (cm @ 100m): 175
Windage Adjustment Per Revolution: 10 MIL
Magnification Max: 25
Magnification Min: 5
Objective Lens Diameter (mm): 56
Linear FOV Low Mag ([email protected]): 20.4
Linear FOV High Mag ([email protected]): 4.2
Angular FOV Low Mag (Degrees): 3.9
Angular FOV High Mag (Degrees): .8
Eye Relief Low Mag (in): 3.6
Eye Relief High Mag (in): 3.8
Minimum Parallax-Free Distance (yd): 50
Total Length (in) – 15.7
Total Mounting Space (in) – 6.2
Front Mounting Space (in) – 2
Rear Mounting Space (in) – 2
Eyepiece Length (in) – 3.3
Objective Length (in) – 6.2
Objective Diameter (in) – 2.5
Eyepiece Diameter (in) – 1.8
Maintube Diameter (mm/in) – 35 mm
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * * *¹
There’s no wonder at all why top military and civilian competitive shooters alike choose the Mark 5HD line. The Mark 5HD’s glass sets the standard for twilight clarity. It’s rugged yet lightweight. It’s turrets track precisely and provide tons of elevation and windage adjustment. To top it all off, the PR2-Mil reticle is well thought out, intuitive, and gives the shooter plenty of space to see the target and trace. In case you can’t tell, this is my favorite scope, at any price, and has been for some time.
¹ The sixth star is because the Mark 5HD looks just like a Tie Fighter from the side. Happy Revenge of the 5th.