Hammering Bear with the Leupold Mark 4 HAMR Riflescope


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 13th, 2011


YouTube Video





Click pictures for a larger version.


Leupold Mark 4 HAMR riflescope.



HAMR comes with batteries, mount, screws, and instructions.



Picatinny base adapter is included, and attaches easily.





HAMR has tethered turret caps.





Focus adjustment.



Reticle intensity is easily adjusted.



HAMR has an "OFF" position between each intensity level.



HAMR reticle.







Leupold has been making high quality optics for many decades now, with shooters and hunters worldwide trusting their shot to Leupold. A rifle is only as accurate as its ammunition and the device used to sight the weapon. For many years, I used scopes of just about every brand, but have learned that it is a waste of time and ammunition to try to determine a rifle’s accuracy using a low-quality scope.

My most-trusted scope for testing rifle accuracy, referred to as “The Mule”, is my Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power riflescope. The Mark 4 series is from Leupold Tactical, and it is built to deliver precision under adverse conditions. I call it “The Mule”, as it is a scope in which I have absolute trust to get the job done, without fail, allowing me to determine just how accurate a rifle can be. The entire Mark 4 line of scopes is built for serious, sometimes grave, operations. The Mark 4 is trusted among those who have to make the shot count, every time, under extreme conditions.

Usually, I review rifle scopes along with a rifle test, with the scope getting little more than a paragraph of attention, but in this review, the Mark 4 HAMR gets the spotlight, with the rifle shown already being covered here before. The HAMR is a new scope from Leupold Tactical, and it is built to be tough and absolutely reliable under extreme conditions. It is built for combat. An optical sight mounted atop a soldier’s or Marine’s rifle has to be tough, and the new HAMR is built to withstand the punishment of combat. However, the same features that make this riflescope so well-suited for combat, also make it ideal for use as a tough, reliable hunting scope that can be relied upon in all lighting conditions and rough terrain to deliver the shot on target, every time. Since I do not engage in combat operations, being a peaceful fellow myself, I decided to take the HAMR bear hunting.

HAMR is the acronym for High Accuracy Multi-range Riflescope. The HAMR is compact, and ideal to fit atop a Picatinny rail. The HAMR will not mount in standard one-inch or 30mm rings as does a traditional hunting scope. As mentioned above, it is not built to be a hunting scope, but as more and more hunters take to the fields with AR-type rifles, the HAMR is ideal to fill the role of a close to medium range optical sight. Usually, an optical sight for hunting or fighting has to be a compromise. Getting a non-magnifying sight for close range results in not having the precision needed for a shot exceeding one hundred yards (or meters, for you tactical types). However, entering a building or going into the brush with high magnification is not ideal either. The HAMR has both covered. The HAMR has four-power magnification for the longer shots, and is machined to accept a non-magnifying Leupold DeltaPoint electronic dot sight on top. The HAMR is available with a DeltaPoint, or the two can be purchased separately.

The DeltaPoint is a dot sight that uses a triangle in stead of a round dot. The 7.5 MOA (3.5 inch MOA is also available) triangle allows the sight to be adjusted so that the point of the triangle is used for aiming, allowing for more precision, if needed, but the large triangle allows quick work up close. The DeltaPoint has no switches to flip on and off. It activates instantly with the slightest movement, and turns itself off when not in use. It is ideal for use up close, whether across the distance of a typical bedroom, or in thick brush pursuing deer, hogs, or bear.

Back to the HAMR. The HAMR is machined out of rigid, tough aluminum alloy. The adjustment caps are tethered to prevent loss, and they are also of machined aluminum construction. The compact size of the HAMR is only five and one-half inches long, making it ideal for use on a modern semi-auto like an AR, SCAR, ACR, FNAR, or other acronym rifle. The HAMR has four-power magnification for use at longer distances, with a 32 foot field-of-view at 100 yards, and almost three inches of eye relief, which is important for the rifle upon which I mounted the HAMR for this review. More on that later. The HAMR has Leupold’s Extended Twilight Lens System for optimal light transmission, and the lenses use Leupold’s DiamondCoat 2 coating on the exterior exposed lens surfaces for scratch resistance. The HAMR has an objective lens of 24mm clear viewing, resulting in an exit pupil diameter of six millimeters. The HAMR uses an etched-glass CM-R ballistic reticle for drop and windage correction. The reticle has an illuminated center for optimal use in extreme conditions. The illumination is adjustable from none at all through a selection of seven intensity settings, for use under any lighting conditions from bright sunlight to total darkness. Between each intensity setting is an “off” position. The HAMR has 60 minutes of adjustment in both elevation and windage correction. Weighing in at slightly over fourteen and one-half ounces, the HAMR is tough, rugged, and reliable.

As mentioned above, these same features that make the HAMR a good battle sight, also make it a superb hunting sight. So, I took the HAMR to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on a bear hunt. For those of you who have never been to the U.P., it is an entirely different world, both geographically and culturally, from the larger part of that state. The U.P. has about one third of the state’s land mass, but only three percent of the population. Much of the U.P. is very remote and secluded. Were it not for the 51 weeks of winter per year, it would be perfect. Many folks think that the U.P. should be its own state, and I tend to agree. Yoopers are some of the nicest folks that I have ever met, and I headed to the U.P. to stay a few days with my good friend The Swede and his family, and to go on a hunt for black bear with the Leupold HAMR. As I did not draw a Michigan bear tag this year, I was just along to take pictures and video, and to help drag the bear out of the thick brush. I mounted the HAMR atop The Swede’s Alexander Arms 50 Beowulf rifle, which is a superb bear gun. The Beowulf hits hard, is compact, and is a semi-automatic for fast follow-up shots, if needed. Waiting in a blind observing the bear trail, we had a small opening cleared through the trees and brush, with the trail eighty yards away. Between the blind and the trail was a small valley, with a creek running at the bottom (pronounced “crick” in Yooper speak). Heading out to the blind in the afternoon after visiting Wilderness Sports gun shop and a fine meal at Buck’s in Ishpeming, The Swede commented “Awww Jeff, tis gonna be a fine day fer busting dat bear, eh?” The Swede was right. The weather was warm with a slight breeze, and the bear didn’t keep us waiting for very long. Making his way up the ridge from the creek below, we didn’t spot the bear until he emerged out of the brush. In this terrain, with steep slopes and heavy cover, it would be important to anchor that bear on the spot, if possible, and we had confidence that the Beowulf would do the job, as we had used it on black bear before. As the bear stopped and turned slightly, that big 400 grain Sierra entered just behind the shoulder, and the bear dropped like his batteries were jerked out of him. Perfect shot placement, and perfect bullet performance. That Sierra left the muzzle at 1625 feet-per-second, mushroomed perfectly, and the bullet was recovered under the hide on the far side when the bear was skinned. The recovered bullet weighed 383 grains, with the lead portion expanded to .881 inch, and the jacket opened up to 1.09 inches. I can’t think of any other weapon that would have performed better than that Beowulf. The Swede’s Beowulf is identical to my own, wearing a sixteen inch barrel. It is light, handy, and powerful, and the generous eye relief of the HAMR kept the scope from hitting our eyebrows, as we sighted the rifle in at the bench the day before the hunt.

The reticle of the HAMR is ideal for such hunting, allowing precise aiming. The illuminated center portion shows up perfectly, and is much better in the woods when aiming against a dark target in poor lighting than trying to use a black crosshair of a traditional scope.

Returning to The Swede’s to get the sled and some help to get the bear out of the woods, we used the winch on the ATV to drag the bear to the top of the ridge. While The Swede and his wife gutted the bear, The Swede’s dandy little daughter was helping to hold the bear in position and poking around in the guts and such. She grabbed a flap of the bear’s leaf fat and asked “Daddy, can I have the fat?” There are not too many teenage girls who want to make bear fat into bullet lube and boot dressing, but Yooper girls are different. Meg loads her own ammo, has her own Dillon press, and can outshoot any teenage boy that I know. When her mom later pointed out that she had blood on her jeans, she casually replied, “I don’t mind. That’s just an accessory”, as she stood there smiling with a sixgun on her hip.

We had a great time visiting in the U.P. The Swede’s wife fed us real good on Cudaghi, fresh eggs, bacon, pancakes, steaks, and the best blueberry pie that I have ever slid down my neck. It was a great trip and a perfect bear hunt, and I look forward to going back again.

Check out the Leupold HAMR and other quality optics online at www.leupold.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Swede and his family.



Hunting area, in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula.



The Swede's blind, as seen from the bear's perspective.



The Swede shooting the HAMR-equipped 50 Beowulf.



400-grain Sierra jacketed flat-nose bullet recovered from bear.



HAMR mounted atop an Alexander Arms 50 Beowulf rifle.



50 Beowulf.






DeltaPoint is easily adjusted.