ABOVE : The VX-L offers a number of practical advantages. It allows a 50mm or larger scope to be mounted much lower than usual. It also ensures the shooter can maintain proper cheek-to-comb contact with the stock for a better sight-picture, more comfortable hold, consistent rifle control and accurate shooting.
These days, scopes for all types of weapon with large objective lens are an integral part of most manufacturers' inventories - and not without good reason.
All things being equal, the larger the objective the brighter the image delivered to the shooter's eye, especially at higher magnification. Under low ambient light conditions that's an obvious plus which has been plugged as a major selling point for the large lens concept. But as bright as such lenses can be, they nevertheless come with some drawbacks that make them less than ideal for many people.
Bigger objective lenses require higher mounts to clear the barrel on most rifles. Higher mounts mean a top-heavy rifle and a scope that is more vulnerable to the knocks and bumps of everyday use. There are many considerations that come with buying a larger scope for your rifle, not the least is cost - but more importantly are differences in how you and the scope work together with the rifle.
Laeger diameter scope optics also mean that most shooters have to lift their cheeks off the stock and crane their necks to look through the scope. That can mean a less than perfect sight-picture, an inconsistent hold and reduced accuracy - especially if the rifle has to be brought up to the shoulder and fired in a hurry.
Thankfully, that no longer needs to be the case. Thinking outside the square, Leupold has come up with a solution - a simple yet practical way to mount a large lens scope lower on a rifle and improve shooter comfort. It's all to do with changing entrenched concepts about scope design. The result is the new VX-L range of scopes.
There are several scopes in the VX-L series: a 3.5-10x50,4.5-14x50,3.5-10x56,4.5-14x56 and 6.5-20x56. The 50mm scopes have 25.4mm (one inch) tubes, while those with a 56mm objective have 30mm tubes. All are built to Leupold's customary high standards and appear to be conventional until you look at the objective bell.
The bottom of the bell has a crescent-shaped bite cut out of it, as does the lens itself. Therein lies the VX-Es capacity to be mounted much lower than conventional scopes. The cut in the bell sits the scope over the barrel rather than above it, allowing a scope with a 50mm objective lens or larger to be mounted much lower than normal. In practical terms that has to be a plus.
The scope supplied for review was a VX-L 3.5-10x50 with a duplex reticle. Like all Leupold scopes the VX-L body is machined from a single piece of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminium, which has been polished then given a matte black anodised finish. The turrets are low, easy to grip and finger adjustable, with each click having a nominal value of a quarter MOA at 100 yards. The clicks are very positive, easily felt and heard as the adjustment rings are turned. A moveable gold ring at the base of each turret allows zero settings to be established after the scope has been sighted in.
The power selector ring has a ribbed circumference with a squared lump in the middle to provide a secure grip when the magnification settings are being changed - the full range from 3.5x to 10x available within approximately a third of a turn. A firm pressure is required to move the ring and it's unlikely it will ever be bumped off the selected setting. A range estimating scale is incorporated on the back of the ring.
The eyepiece assembly utilises an eight-start thread to ensure individual focus can be quickly and easily achieved. A conventional locking ring is fitted.
The objective bell carries the familiar Leupold gold ring, inscribed with the model designation and magnification rating.
The objective lens is retained in the scope by a retaining plate that's secured by four screws - a radical change from the usual screw-in locking ring that cannot be utilised given the shape of the VX-L objective.
And since the shape of the objective lens has come up yet again, now is as good a time as any to answer the question that everyone will be asking - is the notch in the lens visible when you look through the scope? No, it isn't. Light passing through the scope exits to the eye in a circle.
All lenses in the Leupold VX-L Riflescopes are coated using Leupold's Index Matched Lens system with Diamondcoat Indexed Matched coatings on all exterior lenses to resist scratching. The edges of all lenses are blackened to rcduce internal reflections to an absolute minimum while delivering maximum light transmission levels to the user's eye.
Internally, moving parts are made from Titanium Nitride-treated stainless steel to ensure longevity and dependability. The reticle is made from Tungsten wire.
State-of-the-art lubricants and seals are used and the scope is guaranteed waterproof, even with the turret caps removed.
Leupold's Full Lifetime Guarantee applies to the VX-L, as it does for any Gold Ring product from the Leupold line.
Instead of nitrogen, the VX-L is filled with an Argon/ Krypton gas mix to provide superior anti-fog capacity and decreased thermal conduction should the scope be subjected to rapid temperature change.
The scope comes supplied with a green stretch neoprene cover instead of conventional lens caps. Also in the package is a comprehensive owner's manual, a Leupold sticker and a product registration card.
For testing, I initially mounted the VX-L on a 1-B Standard Model No. 1 Ruger rechambered to .223WSSM. This rifle normally wears a 3-12x42D Lynx scope set up in medium height Ruger mounts. The VX-L replaced the Lynx leaving room to spare between the objective housing and the barrel - though I did have to slide it a little further forward to ensure the rear angle of the objective bell cleared the front of the Ruger's quarter rib.
I also fitted the VX-L to an old Model 70 Winchester .243 that I had in the rack on consignment. It was wearing a 3-9x32 Bushnell Banner BDC scope set up in low rings on a one-piece base. Once again the VX-L dropped into place like it belonged there, leaving plenty of clearance between the barrel and objective bell.
In terms of shooter comfort, the bite out of the bell definitely makes a difference. You get all the advantages of a 50mm objective lens in a set of low ring mounts on a standard factory stock without having to lift your face away from the comb.
The VX-L optics are beautiful, delivering clear and bright, high resolution images right across the full magnification range. The multiple start thread in the Extreme Fast Focus Eyepiece makes focusing to individual eye requirements and lock-up quick and easy to achieve.
Response to turret adjustments is direct and positive with zero settings simple to establish. Testing for repeatability of adjustments showed no discernible backlash in the system and original settings are easy to regain.
It's difficult not to be impressed by the VX-L. It offers a simple and practical solution to a problem that's long been recognised but not much about talked about in shooting circles - even as shooter demand for large diameter objectives and their acknowledged benefits has continued to grow.
There's nothing quite like the VX-L available from any other maker at present, a situation I'm sure that Leupold has every intention of capitalising on.
Anyone considering the purchase of a scope with a 50mm or larger lens really should do themselves a favour and have a look at the VX-L range. It's going to change the way shooters and hunters think about large lenses.
Unfortunately, innovation like this doesn't come cheaply. The Leupold 3.5-10x50 VX-L has a RRP of $1500. That's serious money for most people but no more than you'd expect to pay for a seriously good scope, which is what the VX-L is. Period.
View All Leupold Models: View All Available VX-L Scopes
The Vanguard TRR (Threat Response Rifle) RC (Range Certified) rifle I tested averaged just a shade over 1" at 100 yards for nine, 5-shot groups using three different loads! You should expect the same performance when you un-box one as well. All Vanguard TRR.RC rifles are guaranteed to deliver a 3-shot group of .99" or less with Weatherby factory or premium ammunition.
Still, to shoot groups like this or to hit at stupid long range, you'll need a sight. Leupold is an American company that was started to repair surveying instruments, and they have been leading the optics industry for more than 100 years. Our military and police snipers have been relying on Leupold optics for many years and hunters speak of Leupold like it is the gold standard of sporting optics.
They just may be. Leupold offers an incredibly large line of sporting optics in a wide price range. Their FX-II 4x33mm fixed riflescope is regarded by many as the most durable and dependable riflescope ever made.
It has a suggested retail of $299. Leupold's extensive line of Mark 4 riflescopes, like the 6.5-20x50mm LR/T riflescope I used to test the Vanguard rifle, has state-of-the-art features like Multicoat 4 lens treatments, an Extended Twilight Lens System, Diamond Coat 2 lens treatments and 2nd Generation Argon/ Krypton waterproofing.
Many of my rifles are topped off with Leupold riflescopes because over the years they have proven to me that I can trust them. The view is crisp and clear and the adjustments are repeatable. This is particularly important when you are twisting and turning the elevation knob to adjust for shots from 100 yards out beyond 1,000 yards. Let's say you dial in a 47-MOA adjustment to hit at 1,000 yards. If the adjustments in your riflescope are off by only 1 MOA — this translates to a point-of-aim error of 10" at 1,000 yards. Likely a miss!
Most shooters realize to hit at stupidly long ranges you need a good rifle and a good riflescope. What some often forget to address is the quality of the riflescope's mounting system. When you pull the trigger on your rifle or if you drop it or if you drop something on it, the mechanical device, which holds the riflescope to the rifle, is stressed. I've seen scope mounts break, but I've also seen scope mounts that did not hold the scope and rifle together solidly. They allowed movement, not movement you can visually detect, but enotigh movement to prevent those 1-hole groups you desperately desire.
Two things here worth mentioning: Weatherby Vanguard rifles are machined to accept the same scope bases used by Remington 700 rifles.
Why is this important? There are more scope mounting options available for Remington 700 rifles than any other. The second thing is the reliability of Leupold bases and rings, especially the Mark 4 series. Once you lock down a set of Mark 4 rings on your rifle, you can rest assured when bad things happen on target, it's not the rings' fault. Also, you have the option of matching the rings with a Mark 4 scope base that has a built-in offset to insure your scope has plenty of adjustment range for those "into the next county" shots.
Pair a .308 Winchester rifle, like the Weatherby Vanguard TRR RC, with a Leopold Mark 4, 6.5-20x50mm LR/T riflescope, and you'll need only two more things to smack steel out to 1,000 yards: shooting skill and good ammunition.
View All Leupold Mark 4 Models: View All Available Leupold Mark 4 Scopes
ABOVE : Leupold & Stevens' limited edition 100th Anniversary Scope Tin Group comes packaged in an attractive metal tin that is characteristic of days gone by.
Leupold & Stevens products can be found virtually wherever shooters congregate. Over the years, Leupold has established a reputation of producing some of the finest quality riflescopes and shooting-related optical products found anywhere in the world. But if I chose one particular Leupold product that signifies the quality and reliability of this company it would have to be the 3-9x Vari-X II riflescope.
I have owned and used many Vari-X IIs over many decades and even as I write this article, I have four or five of these fine scopes sitting on rifles that I rely upon routinely for my hunting and shooting activities. These scopes have travelled with me to various parts of the world and have been used to take dozens of different types of game animals.
Some of these scopes show the signs of the years of wear. A couple have small dents in them from when I slipped and fell while hunting. In some cases, the blueing has worn off in spots, but in every case, they continue to serve me well. The view through all of these scopes is still crystal clear and I never worry about them holding their impact point.
ABOVE : The Leupold & Stevens plant is located in Oregon in the Pacific North Western US.
Now celebrating a full century of service and dedication to its customers, Leupold & Stevens is releasing a new 3-9x Vari-X II as a special limited edition model. But this is not your usual Vari-X II and it is only one item within the package that Leupold & Stevens calls the 100th Anniversary Scope Tin Group.
ABOVE : The Leupold Vari-X II gold ring scope comes engraved with the company's 100th anniversary logo in 24-carat gold.
The group's gold ring Vari-X II riflescope comes uniquely serialised and lavishly engraved in 24-carat gold with the company's 100-year logo on its turret housing. In order to provide a lifetime of fog-free usage, it has been filled with dry krypton/argon gas and of course, it carries the usual lifetime warranty that all gold-ring Leupold scopes do.
Leupold has also included a celebratory bronze medallion and a hunting knife designed by Russ Kummer. The hollow-ground, drop-point knife is made from German 4116 steel and comes with Turkish Circassian walnut handles, held in place with attractive mosaic pins.
ABOVE : The drop-point-styled knife in the 100th Anniversary Scope Tin Group was designed by Russ Kummer. The blade is made of German 4116 steel and is hollow ground. The handles ar e made from some of the finest Turkish Circassian walnut and held in place with attractive decorative mosaic pins.
To top off the package, the items are packed in a special metal tin that appears similar to those used many decades ago by the company.
I am quite sure that this will become a collector's item that will continue to increase in value over the years. Whether you decide to mount this beautiful gold engraved scope on your favourite hunting rifle that accompanies you on all of your hunting adventures, or if you use it to adorn a high-quality collectable piece, one thing is certain: when you pull your rifle out of the case you will surely be the envy of all your mates. Reliable service, a warranty that is unsurpassed by any other manufacturer and exquisite, limited edition beauty - what more could any shooter ask?