A modern guide to guns and hunting

Leupold Scopes

Something good for everyone’s eyes

In the firearm industry, it’s rare to find a supplier who can meet all your needs in a particular area. When such a supplier’s products are of high quality, fairly priced and fun to use, they go into the “keeper” category. Such a company is Leupold of Beaverton, OR, who has been furnishing premium optical products for over 100 years.

Leupold offers such a dizzying array of products that it would be difficult to cover them all here. Suffice it to say that, no matter what kind of shooting you do, and no matter the environment, Leupold has the right scope for you. And, probably more than one. We’ll briefly cover a few of their more popular scopes and applications here.

Before we begin, however, let’s clear up a very common misperception: bigger is not necessarily better. I realize that this flies in the face of most every red-blooded American male’s thinking (see our editorial “On Magnum Envy”), but it’s an important bit of reality. Those huge scopes you see in the gun shop may look impressive, and they may well be impressive – for the right purpose. But, they’re also heavier (and believe me, this will matter to you someday), more expensive, and possibly, more complicated to use. Choosing the right scope for your purpose is a little more involved than just buying the biggest and most expensive one you can.

Hunting at short-range

While we’re at it, let’s lay to rest another hunting myth: that most hunting is performed from several hundred yards away. Despite the stories you read in “American Hunter” or your favorite magazine, the heroically long-distance shot is the exception, not the rule. Most big game in the USA is taken from less than 100 yards out, often much less.

In these instances, not only don’t you need a high-powered scope, you don’t want one. Too strong a scope will be difficult to aim and keep on target. You’re better off with a relatively low-powered, fixed-magnification scope. An ideal choice would be Leupold’s FX-II (pictured). With 2.5X magnification, it will help you pick up your target easily, but will give you ample vision around the target as well. I have one of these mounted atop my Ruger .44 Carbine, and it’s just perfect for hunting in heavy brush or wherever you expect a relatively close-up shot.

Hunting in mid-range situations

The above information notwithstanding, there will indeed be plenty of occasions when you’ll have no choice but to take a shot of 100-300 yards. Certain kinds of game, such as mountain sheep, rarely give you an opportunity to get closer. Or you may be hunting a herd animal, and the one you want to take is at the far end of the herd.

In these situations, you’ll want two additional features in a scope:

  • higher magnification. At these distances, a 3X scope might still be sufficient, but you’ll probably find it easier to aim well with some more power.
  • variable power. A shot taken at 100 yards calls for a different magnification than the same animal taken at 300 yards. A scope that lets you adjust its magnification will be very handy.

Leopold makes a wide variety of scopes for this purpose. I’ve pictured here a model from their VX-L line. The VX-L scopes have a little cut-out at the bottom of the objective lens, which allows you to mount the scope closer to the barrel. A detailed explanation of why this is desirable is beyond the scope (pardon the pun) of this article, but a closely-mounted scope will more accurately represent where the barrel is pointed over a variety of distances. I have a VX-L in 3.5-10X power, on my Sako 7mm Remington Magnum, and it’s plenty accurate for any distance I plan to shoot.

Hunting in long-range situations (varmints)

If you have occasion to do varmint hunting, you’ll likely be presented with opportunities for some very long shots (300-500 yards or even more). Your targets, moreover, will be relatively small (rock chucks, ground squirrels, prairie dogs). For this, you’ll need more magnification than usual. The Leupold VX-III (pictured) can be had in 6.5-20X power, which will allow you to shoot with confidence at very long ranges.

These long-range scopes feature some nice options:

  • parallax adjustment
  • extended sun visors
  • fancy reticles that facilitate holding over for bullet drop and windage.

It’s worth keeping in mind that these long-range scopes are bigger, and therefore heavier, than other scopes. This isn’t a problem for most varmint hunters, since they work from a bench, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to take your varmint rifle into the field as well.


These are just a few of the many, many models that Leupold offers. No matter what your needs are, or your budget dictates, Leupold will have a scope for you. And…they’re all USA-made and feature a lifetime warranty. How many products can boast that?

Leupold’s scopes are well-made, easy to use, durable and visually appealing. I have a Leupold scope on every rifle I own, and I intend to keep it that way.

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