Leupold’s New MX High Quality Modular Flashlights


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

May 4th, 2008




Leupold & Stevens, world-famous for their high quality riflescopes, binoculars, and other sporting and military optics, has entered the high-end flashlight market. Good flashlights have been very popular for a few years now, with tough compact units built for law enforcement and the military leading the trend. Years ago, cops carried a huge four or six D-cell light that was heavy and cumbersome. They were used as much as a club as they were for lighting. With a police officer’s belt carrying more and more stuff, a compact yet powerful light was needed, and companies like Surefire and Streamlight built some very good small flashlights that really put out a lot of light.

Now, Leupold has upped the ante with a new generation of compact lights that are totally modular in construction, allowing the user to configure his light as needed, choosing the tail switch, body (main tube), and bezel that best suits his needs. The lights use the powerful, popular, and readily-available CR-123 batteries. The user can choose between a two-cell or three-cell body, balancing the amount of light needed with the degree of compactness. I like the three-cell, but if a shorter overall length is desired, the two-cell still throws out plenty of light.

There are four different bezels from which to choose; a single mode Xenon, a single mode LED, a multi-mode Hunter LED, and a multi-mode Tactical LED. The difference between the latter two is that the Hunter has a low, medium, high and SOS mode. The Tactical has a low and high output beam, the SOS mode, and a strobe to disorient a suspect or attacker. The one that I have is the Hunter model. The three main settings adjust the amount of light output, and the SOS mode flashes the Morse Code international distress signal, (…---…) This signal has been in use for over 100 years, and pretty much means “HELP!” It would be useful to a lost hunter in the wilderness signaling to an aircraft or across a canyon. Anyway, this multi-mode bezel does the signaling, without the user having to tap it out using the tail switch. The light can be turned on in the distress mode, and left on until it burns out or help arrives. In SOS mode with fresh batteries, the MX should run for about seventy-five hours with the three-call main tube or fifty hours with the two-cell main tube, according to Leupold’s specs.

Right now, there is only one tail switch offered, but it is the best type of tail switch available on the market. It is of the pushbutton type, and can be depressed lightly for a momentary burst of light, or depressed until it clicks for a steady beam. This is my favorite type of switch for a flashlight. I have another high-dollar flashlight that has to be turned to activate the light in the constant “on” position. That operation takes two hands to perform, and it is both foolish and aggravating to have to use two hands to turn on a flashlight. With the Leupold MX, the thumb can easily reach the switch to click it on. For storage, a slight turn counterclockwise deactivates to switch so that the batteries will not get inadvertently drained.

The Leupold MX is made from a hard-anodized high quality aluminum, is finished in a matte black, and is well-textured for a solid hold. The bezel and tail switch have little notches around their circumference to prevent the light from rolling off of a table or other hard surface. Either the bezel or tail is hardened enough to make a pretty good makeshift skull-crusher, if the need ever arises to use the light as a weapon. The MX has an attachment point for a supplied lanyard, and also comes with a belt clip. The three-cell light shown here with the multi-mode bezel is about six and seven-eighths inches long and weighs 8.8 ounces, loaded with three Panasonic CR-123 batteries. As a side note, these batteries last a long time, but like any battery, will need replacement. Don’t buy these at the Wal Mart or a camera store. There, they cost five or six bucks each. I buy mine in bulk at specialty battery stores, or buy the Surefire brand at gun shows, and pay about $1.25 each.

Leupold states that the MX is waterproof. It is sealed at both ends with rubber O-rings, and looks pretty waterproof to me. However, I had to know for sure. I filled the kitchen sink with water, turned on the MX, and dropped it in. No air bubbles flowed out of the MX. Not even one, so I just left it in there with the light burning for awhile. I came back later and found the light was still burning, so I drained the sink and retrieved the light. Taking it completely apart, it was as dry as a powder keg inside. That’s good enough for me.

I usually do not review things such as flashlights, but I know that there is a lot of interest from shooters in the high quality lights on the market, and a good light fits right in to any home defense plan, and is also a good option when carrying a firearm away from home. I can measure the accuracy of a firearm, but lack both the equipment and knowledge to measure the brightness of a flashlight. The Leupold MX is extremely bright. At the brightest setting, Leupold states that the three-cell multi-mode bezel put out 145 lumens. I guess that means it is pretty bright, because this thing will singe the hair off a coon’s back forty feet up a tree. At least it seems that way. At any rate, it will light up your life like no compact light that I have ever seen. It is definitely not a toy, but is a high-tech, high-quality tool that should last forever. For general everyday lighting duties, it has no equal. To temporarily blind an opponent in a fight, it is superb. Do not shine this MX in your wife’s eyes. Doing so will elicit phrases about your character that you really do not want to hear. Trust me on this.

To build your own Leupold MX flashlight in the configuration that suits you best, click on this link:


The MX flashlight is also available ready-built, and can be upgraded later to other configurations if desired. To find a Leupold dealer near you, click here.

This is a dandy flashlight, the best that I have ever used, and I highly recommend it.

Jeff Quinn


Author likes the Leupold MX better than his 6P Surefire (bottom).



Flashlight is effectively sealed with well-designed O-rings.



The Leupold MX uses powerful and readily-available CR-123 batteries.



Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.



Click pictures for a larger version.




Click On/Off/Momentary tail switch.



Top to bottom: SOS Mode, High, Medium and Low adjustable bezel.





Lanyard attachment point.