At a Glance: Best Leupold Scopes for AR-15
- OUR TOP PICK: Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope
- BEST FOR COMPETITION: VX-3HD CDS-ZL Duplex Rifle Scope
- BEST FOR LONG RANGE: Leupold VX-6HD 3-18X50 CDS-ZL2 Side Focus Firedot Duplex Reticle
Comparison of Best Leupold Scopes for AR-15
|Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
Best For Competition
|VX-3HD CDS-ZL Duplex Riflescope||View Latest Price|
Best For Long Range
|Leupold VX-6HD 3-18X50 CDS-ZL2 Side Focus Firedot Duplex Reticle||View Latest Price|
The 5 Best Leupold Scopes for your AR-15 Reviewed
The other day I started looking for a new scope for my AR15. Since Leupold scopes have a great reputation I did extensive research and want to share my results with you to save you time. I am looking for a scope that will not break the bank, will be versatile for short, mid, and long-range hunting in full/good light.
Best for Close Range Hunting: Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope
Leupold crafted a clear and versatile scope with a vast range of magnification with the Mark 5HD 7-25x56mm rifle scope. What’s best is that gun enthusiasts won’t have any issues with the weight of this scope, which comes to just 13 ounces.
The 5HD is packed with several excellent features. You’ll fall in love right away with the feel, shape, and size of the elevation and windage knobs of this Leupold scope. It has a sturdy and positive feel with audible clicks when being adjusted. With some tweaks, the brand has now placed the elevation under zero m, which is advantageous in some shooting scenarios.
With two reticle options for the second focal plane, you have the choice between the TMOA Plus and the Impact-60 reticles. The difference between the two is that the TMOA Plus carries a more straightforward design with an open target point at the center, while the Impact-60 has Xmas Tree-type horizontal and vertical hold-offs. Both reticles will take some time for you to get used to, but both can contribute to a more precise and more powerful shooting experience.
One of the main selling points of this riflescope is its impressive brightness and clarity. You will never complain about low light settings and glare when you have this scope attached to your AR-15. The brand is confident with its HD Edge-to-Edge Lens Clarity and HD Light Management System. Leupold’s lens coating also helps negate the effect of micro-flaws on the lens.
This scope can keep up with the wear and tear, and exposure to extreme climates as it is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. Leupold has tested this scope to up to 33-foot depths in varying pressure alterations and has observed no cracks, leaks, or anything that can shorten its lifespan.
- Practical elevation and windage knobs.
- Two reticle options for its second focal plane.
- Integrated HD Edge-to-Edge Lens Clarity and HD Light Management System.
- Impressive lightweight design for its size.
- Shockproof, fog proof, and waterproof.
- Heavier than other Leupold scopes.
Despite its beefy look, this is one that you can carry around with you all day, every day, so you can always have that clear scope with sharp images and magnification.
Best Scope For Competition: VX-3HD CDS-ZL Duplex Rifle Scope
This scope is a hunter’s dream come true. Everything that you’d ever want for your AR-15 scope is served on a silver platter – you get a solid package strong enough to endure the usual wear, tear, and constant exposure to the natural elements.
It also gives you impressive performance even in low light settings thanks to the brand’s Elite Optical System. The VX-3HD rifle scope from Leupold is indeed pegged as the best scope for the AR-15 in the market today. Much of this is attributed to its ability to deliver superb dawn to the dusk light transmission for its images. It also reduces glare in huge percentages when in harsh and blinding light settings. On top of these, the images are retained in the highest resolution with clarity. These are prerequisites that shooters and hunters demand on their adventures.
You will appreciate the VX-3HD’s ergonomic controls and match-grade repeatability, making this scope a user-friendly and easy-to-use accessory even if you’re wearing gloves. The last thing you need when on a shooting and hunting adventure is to pause and figure out the bolts and knobs on your scope.
Thanks to its revolutionary CDS Zero Lock dial, you can be assured that your dial’s movement is controlled solely by you – the lock system prevents any accidental mishaps. Adjusting the CDS Zero Lock dial follows a simple approach too, since all you have to do is to push to unlock the dial, make the changes, and then rotate it back to zero so you can lock it in place. There are no complicated processes, and no visuals needed because all you require is tactile feel to make any adjustments.
You will enjoy this scope as you can bring and use it anytime, anywhere since it is designed to be fog-proof and waterproof with scratch-resistant lenses.
- Boasts Leopold’s Elite Optical System.
- Fog-proof and Argon/Krypton waterproof design.
- Lenses are scratch-resistant.
- Integrated CDS Zero Lock dial.
- Locking eyepiece design.
- Incorporated removable throw lever.
This one is definitely worth the money. If you want clarity, good imaging, and superb performance, look no further.
Best for Long Range Tactical: Leupold VX-6HD Side Focus Firedot Duplex Reticle
Branded as the most versatile scope, ideal for all hunting seasons, the VX-6HD Leupold scope boasts a robust 6x magnification, giving you that extra edge when shooting and hunting. Paired with Leupold’s Twilight Max Light Management System, you get additional hours of hunting while still enjoying clear views. With ambient light conditions, this scope’s rugged housing comes in a non-glare matte finish, ensuring that your game will be in its relaxed state, not knowing that you’re out to catch it.
- Second Focal Plane
- 6:1 zoom ratio = 6 times more magnification at high power
- Color Illum: FireDot Duplex CDS-ZL2
- Style: VX-6HD 4-24x52mm
- Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 2.75 inches
- Sport Type: Hunting
Aside from guaranteed superb image quality, the VX-6HD also has an integrated scope cant indicator so you can expertly level the reticle’s crosshairs without the need for special tools or complicated math. This will help you have excellent aim on your target even if you are at an extended distance and range.
Thanks to this scope’s proven erector system, you can be confident with the level of accuracy that you can get each time you use the scope. It also comes with a Guard-ion hydrophobic lens coating specially intended to eliminate image distortion from dust, debris, fingerprints, moisture, and water. You can have that right-on-target shot regardless of the environment that you are in.
Leupold aims that with this scope, you can have a better long range shooting experience; thus, its CDS custom dial is designed to be one of the most manageable systems to adjust even at longer distances. Paired with a ZeroLock, your dials will always be secured, so accidental rotations and unwanted adjustments are out of the picture.
The Leupold VX-6 3-18×44 is a superb long-range scope choice for your AR-15. With this scope, you have complete control over the adjustments that you need, sans the complications. It is a straightforward accessory that can give you the edge you need for a better shooting experience. With its side focus design, you can have ease of use when out on the field, and the scope’s FireDot reticle gives you the advantage of absolute precision targeting.
- Twilight Max Light Management System.
- Magnification of 6x.
- CDS custom dial for easy adjustment.
- Guard-ion hydrophobic lens coating.
- Boasts an accurate FireDot reticle.
- Designed with a wide field of view.
- Initial battery needs to be replaced immediately
Best for Open Country Hunting: SX-2 Alpine HD 20-60X60MM Angled Spotting Scope
If you enjoy the outdoors’ adrenaline and you don’t want to worry about your scope being too delicate, then this spotting scope is for you. It can easily keep up with the adventures that you and your AR-15 crave.
A must-have if you are a serious hunter or a professional shooter, this angled spotting scope from Leupold allows you to tick off the HD performance of your optics kit.
The SX-2 Alpine HD is intended for harsh conditions – as a result, it is 100% fog-proof and waterproof. Its lenses are diamond coated too, so there’s no need to worry about scratches.
An immediately noticeable feature is its humongous eyepiece made of clear glass. This permits convenient all-day glassing for superb clarity and brightness. Paired with the brand’s exclusive Twilight Max Light Management system and you are given additional shooting hours in low light settings.
With this scope, you can see better even with reduced light while at the same time minimizing glare. When locking in your target, it is essential to have clear visuals so you can shoot with 100% accuracy.
Furthermore, the eyepiece is also designed to be rotatable and angled, so you have the advantage of having multiple viewing angles without causing discomfort on your neck and eyes. When aiming, having a wide sight of your target can make all the difference when you are about to make the shot.
Guaranteed for life, this scope will surely give you a new perspective on scopes. It reduces eye-strain and fatigue and has a rotating tripod adjustment ring to provide you with even more flexibility when glassing larger areas.
- Twilight Max Light Management System.
- Designed with scratch-resistant Diamondcoat lenses.
- Impressive glare management.
- Designed for the harshest environment.
- Waterproof and fog-proof.
- Rotatable eyepiece.
- Eye relief could be more generous.
FX-4.5HD SERVICE RIFLE 4.5X24MM CDS-ZL2 HPR-1 Rifle Scope
This scope is definitely what was missing in your arsenal in your previous NRA service rifle matches.
The Leupold FX-4.5HD scope is known for its relentless performance and in any competition, this will help you score better.
Like any Leupold scope, this is also designed with the Twilight Light Management System, which is renowned for delivering superb clarity and impressive brightness by achieving a perfect balance among light transmission, image contrast, and glare reduction. All these components give you those impeccable visuals to your targets without any smears and visual distractions.
The FX-4.5 HD service rifle can give you long-term peace of mind too. It is proven and tested to survive the brand’s recoil simulation machine, called ‘The Punisher’. By successfully surviving this simulator, you know that your scope can withstand a minimum of 5,000 impacts and more.
Additionally, it is waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof. Its lens comes coated with guard-ion hydrophobic material, making it scratch-resistant.
- Carries Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System.
- Tested by Leupold’s Punisher for recoil management.
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
- All American-made.
- No further adjustments can be made once the Zero Dial system is set.
There is no turning back once you have a taste of this solid Leupold brute of a scope. A smart investment, you can expect to enjoy it for many years to come.
VX-FREEDOM 2-7X33 HUNT-PLEX
Just as the name suggests, freedom is what you’ll feel when equipped with the VX-Freedom 2-7×33 mm SFP rifle scope. If you like to shoot and hunt rough and most of your accessories are used and abused, this will blend right in and take the beating like a pro.
Very well made with sights that deliver you with a clear image, you will be surprised that this falls under the budget price category.
True to the brand’s commitment to delivering versatility and superb performance, the Freedom will make an ideal scope for you, regardless of it being your first ever scope or even your 50th accessory. This is best for the conventional and hard-edged American hunter, AR-15 owners, rimfire plinkers, and long-range shooters, an all-American product designed, assembled, and machined in the US.
The lens coating of this rifle scope is most impressive. Leupold refers to their trademarked coating as the ‘Twilight Light Management System’. It is more than capable of transmitting maximum light while simultaneously improving the objects’ colors and vibrancy. It is designed to contrast highlights and even the shadows when the light is not at its best, especially during dusk and dawn. You also won’t have any problems with glare because the coating applied to this scope ensures that this is reduced.
Ideal for both newbies and expert shooters, this optic’s controls are user-friendly. Thanks to its power adjustments, you can make quick modifications as needed. It also has convenient windage and elevation finger-click adjustments.
This Leupold scope offers a generous eye relief of almost 3.74 inches in its highest magnification and 4.92 inches at its lowest setting. At only 13-oz, you get a scope made of 6061-T6 aluminum, making it a scope that you can bring with you to all environments.
Value for money, you can’t go wrong with the Freedom series of the Leupold. It knows how to add in that extra oomph to give you absolutely excellent performance.
- Made of durable and lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum.
- Generous eye relief.
- User-friendly controls.
- Comes with the Twilight Light Management System.
- Versatile and all US-made.
- No rings included on the scope.
How to Choose the Best Leupold AR-15 Scope.
Now you know which Leupold scopes I tried but there are a lot more info to go through, so sit tight and read on:
There is no “one scope fits all” solution because the best Leupold scope for your AR15 will depend on what kind of shooting you want to do with your rifle. For example, do you want to:
|shoot at 100 yards?||Over 400 yards?|
|Shoot squirrels?||Compete in a 3-gun event?|
|Hike and hunt multi-days?||Shoot at a target or in combat?|
Out of the five Leupold scopes described above, none would be perfect for all of these activities. When I was regularly shooting gophers at long range I wished I had the VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50MM but at that time I could not afford it, so maybe the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope would have been the perfect choice, all things considered. When I go for my multi-day hunting – hiking trips, I always prefer having a light scope. That means that the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope would be my winner there. So, before you choose any Leupold scope for your AR15, make sure you know what kinds of shooting you are planning to do with it. It will help you to decide right and save you money (maybe for another scope).
You may also like: Best AR-15 Rifles for Under $1000
What Magnification Range Does Your Leupold Ar15 Scope Need?
Again, this will depend on what range you are planning to shoot at.
- If you shoot at close range (e.g. hunting small game at less than 150 yards range), then your magnification range should be 1x – 4x. In that case, the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope, the D-EVO Scope or the Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope would do the trick.
- If you prefer midrange (e.g. protecting your farm from foxes at a range between 150 and 400 yards), then you’ll need magnification between 5x and 9x. That means the Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope as well as the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope are great. The D-EVO Scope might fall short here. This is the range I usually use my A15 at.
- In case of long range (more than 400 yards), magnification of 9x is required. However, an AR15 is not exactly built for such a long range, so I would not recommend hunting with it at this range. However, you could use it for target shooting at this range. In that case, you really need 9x magnification. Both The Mark 6 3-18x44mm M5C2 FFP Tremor 2 and the VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50mm Side Focus FFP TMR are your best bets.
|Leupold Scope||Tested Power||Objective||Tube Diameter||Length||Weight||Eye Relief||Check latest price|
|VX-3HD 4.5-14X40MM SFP CDS-ZL rifle scope||4.5-14x||40mm||30mm||12.6 inches||13 ounce||4 inches||Check latest price|
|MARK 5HD 7-35X56MM||7-35x||56mm||35mm||15.7 inches||33 ounce||3.6-3.8 inches||Check latest price|
|VX-6HD 3-18X44MM CDS-ZL2 Side Focus Firedot Duplex Reticle||3-18x||44mm||30mm||13.5 inches||19 ounce||3.70 inches||Check latest price|
|SX-2 ALPINE HD 20-60X60MM angled | Spotting Scope||20-60x||60mm||N/A|
|14.37 inches||60 ounce||0.66 – 0.77 inches||Check latest price|
|FX-4.5HD SERVICE RIFLE 4.5X24MM CDS-ZL2 HPR-1||1-4.5x||24mm||30mm||10.76 inches||13.25 ounce||3.70-3.82 inches||Check latest price|
|Leupold VX-Freedom||4-12x||40mm||1 inch||12.17 inches||13.1 ounce||3.74- 4.92 inches||Check the latest price|
Should Your Leupold Scope Have A First Focal Plane Or Second Focal Plane Reticle?
Similarly to the sections above, the best focal plane location for your retcile depends on the range you are going to shoot at.
- First Focal Plane reticles grow and shrink as you adjust magnification. In my opinion, this is not great at close range. However, it could be very useful at long range since you may have to estimate range at each magnification setting to shoot accurately. My choice for long range would always be a First Focal Plane reticle which means one of these scopes: the Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope, the Mark 6 3-18x44mm M5C2 FFP Tremor 2 or the VX-3I LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus FFP TMR.
- If you plan to shoot at close range, a Second Focal Plane reticle might be the way to go. The reticle will appear to be the same size regardless of magnification which is desirable on a 1x – 4x (and even 6x) scope. In that case, I would choose either the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope or the D-EVO Scope.
How To Choose An Objective Lens Size For Your Leupold AR15 Scope
Scope models are usually designated by a string of numbers. In the case of the scopes tested above, those numbers are 1.1-8x24mm, 3-18x44mm, 8.5-25X50mm, 3-9x40mm, and 6x20mm respectively.
The first number/number range is the range of magnification power of the scope. If there is a range of numbers, the magnification power is variable. If not, the magnification power is fixed, as in the case of the D-EVO Scope. The last number refers to the diameter of the objective lens, measured in millimeters. Objective lens means the lens facing your target.
|A smaller objective lens makes a scope light and easy to handle.||A larger one gathers more light for a brighter view, especially in low light conditions. The higher the zoom a scope has, the more important objective lens size becomes.|
|Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope||VX-R Patrol Rifles Scopes|
|D-evo Scope||Mark 6 3-18x44mm M5C2 FFP Tremor 2|
|VX-3I LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus FFP TMR|
Does Your Leupold AR15 Scope Need Illumination?
To be honest, I use the illumination only for low/no light shooting. If shooting during the day, I don’t see much difference between illumination or standard. So again, you have to decide for yourself what light conditions you will use your AR15 in. Illumination is always nice to have but a lot of times it comes at a price.
- If You Like To Hunt/Shoot At Low Light, These Leupold Scopes Are Perfect For You: the Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope and the VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope.
- If you are more a daytime, full light hunter/shooter like me then choose from these three scopes: The Mark 6 3-18x44mm M5C2 FFP Tremor 2, the VX-3I LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus FFP TMR Reticle, And the D-evo Scope.
How To Mount Your AR-15 Scope
It’s best practice mounting the riflescope as close to the bore axis as possible for the best eye relief. It also keeps the scope’s mass close to the long axis of gravity which makes the weapon easier to handle. Generally, people use two types of mounts on their AR-15:
- One-piece mount
- Mounting rings
Here are the steps to mount your scope well:
- When your rifle is clear, get rid of any grease on your rifle as well as the mount and scope.
- Position the one-piece mount on the top rail (for magazine-fed rifles, place the cantilever mount’s base just above the magwell/for non-cantilever mount’s place it further forward).
- If you are using the ring mount, then adjust the rings individually to fit the scope’s size.
- Put your scope on the mount and shoulder your rifle. Look through the scope, move it backward or forward on the rail until you see a full clear picture through the scope.
- Fix the mount to the rifle.
- Place your rifle into a vice and with help of the bubble level check that the mount is balanced in all directions.
- Set your scope inside the mount again to verify your eye relief.
- Place the top caps and tighten the screws once you find the perfect position.
- Use a bubble level to see if the scope is positioned right from all angles.
- Unscrew each top cap screw and add a drop of blue Loctite on the threads. Then screw back loosely. Do not over-torque it as it might make the scope shift. Repeat with each screw.
Does your Leupold AR15 scope need a riser?
Risers improve your ergonomics, raising the scope to your natural eye level for more lanky shooters, and also help clear the rifle’s charging handle. You can either choose a high-rise scope mount, or even a separate riser piece to mount them on. You’ll have to try the scope out and see what fits you best through trial and error.
Conclusion- Best Leupold AR15 Scope
The clear winner of my roundup is the VX-3I LRP 8.5-25x50mm Side Focus FFP TMR. It is affordable and perfect for mid to long-range shooting (and it works well at short range). It is not illuminated but the objective lens is large to provide a bright sight picture. The reticle is on the First Focal Plane, making it change apparent size with the magnification. That allows for better range estimation. If I had more money available I would totally buy the Mark 6. But for now, the VX-3I will do.
As always, just shoot me an email with any questions or hiccups. Happy to help move things along.