Leupold’s New VX-L Riflescopes


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

December 7th, 2005




Those who know me know that I hate riflescopes with large objective lenses. I realize that they are generally much brighter than a scope with a smaller objective, especially on scopes of higher magnification. I like a clear, bright image as much as the next guy, but the tradeoff is that scopes with large objective lenses must be mounted too high above the rifle’s receiver to clear the barrel. This is no problem on rifles such as the AR-15, but on bolt action, lever action, and single shot sporting arms, this places the scope so high that the shooter must lift his head off the stock to see through the thing. I prefer a good, firm contact between the comb of the stock and my cheek. I can shoot more accurately that way, as can most shooters. However, these days shooters want scopes with higher magnification and brighter images, and 50 millimeter objective lenses are very popular, even if they must be mounted too high.

Now, there is some very good news from Leupold for shooters who like large objective lenses. No longer must they be mounted with high rings. They have a 3.5 to 10 power scope with a 50mm objective lens that can be mounted anywhere that a 33mm lens will fit! They do this by forming a small concave section into the bottom of the objective lens so that it may be mounted lower and still clear the barrel. The idea is so ingeniously simple, yet seems like a great idea. When I learned of the new scope a couple of weeks ago from Pat Mundy of Leupold’s Marketing Department, I was delighted to give it a try.

The model sent to me for evaluation is the 3.5 to 10x50 variable. The new model is called the VX-L, and it has all of the newest VX features that Leupold has introduced over the last couple of years. The VX-L also uses the dual internal springs from Leupold’s high-end and super-rugged Mark 4 series scopes, and the internal moving parts are Titanium Nitride coated stainless steel.  The VX-L uses Argon and Krypton instead of nitrogen gas for better internal fog-proofing. The lens coatings are Leupold’s Index-Matched system, and the external lens coating is the same scratch-resistant finish given to Leupold’s high-end LPS series scopes. Like all Leupold scopes, the optical qualities of the VX-L are excellent.

For testing the new VX-L, I brought out my trusted old Browning A-Bolt .30-06 for a test bed. It has worn a Tasco World Class 2-7x32 scope for many years. This scope was selected back in the late 1980s because I wanted a scope on that rifle that could be mounted low, yet still provide good magnification. The old World Class series was not a bad scope, but in low-light conditions, it quickly showed its limitations.  I removed the top halves of the Millett low rings, lifted the Tasco from the rings, and the new Leupold laid right in, with still plenty of clearance between the objective lens and barrel. In fact, a bit lower mount could have been used.  With any other 50mm scope on the market, this would have been impossible, but with the VX-L, it worked perfectly. What a concept! Also the image brightness between the old scope and the new one was like……….well, like the difference between a Tasco and a Leupold!

As can be seen in the photo, the image looking through the scope is perfectly round. The shooter does not see the circular notch at the bottom of the front lens. The light transmission with the 50mm objective is very good. The surface area lost to the notched area is less than five percent of a true circular 50mm lens. However, the VX-L has an objective lens surface area eighty percent greater than a 36mm lens, and can be mounted as low or lower than that smaller lens!

The new Leupold VX-L gives today’s shooters the brighter images and higher magnifications that they demand, without the need for high mounts. Maintaining a proper shooting position is conducive to better accuracy, at the bench and in the field. A hunter can hunt right up to the legal limits of daylight, see his target clearly, and still maintain a good cheek-weld on the stock.  Selecting a riflescope is always a series of compromises between magnification, light transmission, bulk, ruggedness, quality, price, field-of-view, optical clarity, and a few other factors. While those things must still be considered, you no longer have to give up image brightness and optical clarity to get a scope that properly fits the rifle. Just get the VX-L. It is built right, built in the USA, and guaranteed forever.

Check out the extensive line of Leupold optical products online at:   www.leupold.com.

Jeff Quinn

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.


Leupold's new VX-L rifle scope allows a 50mm objective lens to be mounted as low on a rifle as a 32mm lens.





The Tasco 2-7x32 (left) that was replaced by the VX-L (right) on Jeff's beloved Browning A-Bolt. A huge increase in objective lens size (allowing greatly enhanced light-gathering qualities), superior optical clarity, and legendary Leupold quality - all without increasing mounting height!



As can be seen here, the dished-out portion of the lens cannot be seen when looking through the scope - a simple, ingenious and perfectly-executed step forward in scope design.



The VX-L is all Leupold, featuring the quality and craftsmanship for which Leupold is justly famous.