Leupold Comparison

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by HOGGHEAD, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. HOGGHEAD

    HOGGHEAD Well-Known Member

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    When comparing a Leupold VX3 to the Mark IV- what are the real differences?? The scope of choice would be the 8.5X25X50. I realize the VX3 has more internal adjustment. However what else is there??

    And then how does either of these Leupold's hold up against the NF scope?? All opinions wanted?? Thanks, Tom.
     
  2. james blond

    james blond Active Member

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    Iv used many Loop's over the years and always felt they lack a certain something. They always stuck me to have a great brand name like say Mercedes but like Merc's lack on quality.

    The Loops iv used always needed re-zeroing and had slight blurring round the edges. The turrets clicked but not firm and didn't feel solid.

    I switched to N.F a few years ago and haven't looked back. I now have 2 8-32 NXS models and they perform faultlessly.

    I zeroed them both about 3-4 years ago and they are still on the same zero, i dial in ranges and they clicks are firm and positive. Lens quality is faultless as is the tube thickness- i can see why special forces jump out of planes with these bolted to their rifles and don't worry about checking the zero
     

  3. John Burns

    John Burns Well-Known Member

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    Nothing written below is intended to make any one mad, depressed, annoyed, pissed off, or irritated. It is just my opinion

    The new VX3 line has one major advantage over the MK IV line with the new Twilight lens coatings. Otherwise they are essentially the same optic except for the color of the ring.

    With the new revamp of the VX3 line Leupold took all the improvements from the other lines and incorporated them into the VX3.

    • The dual bias spring system from the MK IV. No more issues with the 50s
    • Blackened lens, DiamondCoat scratch protection, Twilight Lens coatings from the VXL
    • Argon/Krypton gas fill and graphite impregnated o-rings from the VX 7

    What you have is the best hunting optic in the world was made even better, and with a few modifications (Precision Hunting Reticle, tall elevation turret with 1/3 MOA clicks, 20 MOA per rotation and the Greybull Precision drop compensating turret) nothing else is even close.

    Comparing the Nightforce with the Leupold is for me a no brainer.

    • Current VX3s have every bit as good resolution as the comparable NXS. Anyone with out an axe to grind can see this to be true. This is the opinion of some one (ME) with an axe to grind. Check this out for your self.

    • A 3.5x15x50 NXS weighs almost a pound more than the VX3 4.5x14x50mm. Where would you rather have an extra pound of weight, your optic or your barrel?

    • The NXS is also much larger and bulkier and the optic and the mounts will take much more abuse because of its excessive size. Why do you think the Nightforce mounts are so big and many guys use multiple mount to secure these optics.

    • The NXS has only 10 MOA per revolution compared with the 15 MOA of the stock Leupold and the 20 MOA of the Greybull Precision.

    • The NXS does look cool. Nightforce really has the tactical look down pat.

    • The NXS is slightly more expensive.

    Nightforce has a cool print ad showing an NXS with a bullet hole in it that still functioned but I am willing to do the shooting if they want to provide an optic to see if their scopes are really bullet proof or if this was just a fluke.

    I have shot and sold hundreds of Leupolds and I personally have never seen one that would not hold zero. We are all victims of our experiences and mine has been the Leupold does not have any problem holding zero.

    I am always on the lookout for a VX3 that will not hold zero. If anyone has a VX3 (Must be in stock condition and not modified by anyone but Leupold) that they think will not hold zero I would love to test it on one of our rifles and if it does not hold zero we (Greybull Precision LLC) will buy you a new comparable NXS scope. If it does hold zero I get to keep it. Hooray for me.

    Scopes are not eligible with end user damage such as, but not limited to:

    tire tracks, bullet holes, wrench marks, extra holes (drilled, tapped or punched), horse shoe tracks, mule tracks, nails, hammer dents, bent tubes, crushed tubes, stripped threads, smashed objectives, missing lenses, grizzly tooth marks (I have seen this), welding splatter or grinder marks

    All the above is just my opinion and everybody need to understand I sell a Leupold product, albeit a modified Leupold product. If you like Nightforce better then more power to you as this is what makes a horse race.

    I do believe the NXS Optics are very well made and are absolutely a quality product, just not the best choice for a hunting optic on a rifle you have to carry.

    Have fun with this and blame this on Hogghead as he wanted all opinions
     
  4. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    John,

    I appreciate your perspective. I have both Leupy's and NF's.

    Couple of items that you missed.

    When comparing the NXS in 3.5x15x50 vs the M4 4.5x14x50.
    1) The weight difference is only 8oz's not a pound.
    2) The M4 has a LOT fewer reticle options than the NF
    3) NF only available with illuminated reticle
    4) NF has a little longer mounting area
    5) NF has 3/10" longer eye relief
    6) M4 objective doesn't spin like the NF. M4 comes with flip up caps. Butler creek style doesn't work well with NF's.
    7) NF has a little larger magnification range.
    8) NF has 110moa adjustment range, M4 has 100moa adjustment range (only 70moa with illuminated reticle option).


    Of course the VXiii is a bit lighter than the Mark 4, but comparing the VXiii to the NXS isn't really fair, as the M4 is more in the same market as the NXS and is a fairer comparison.

    For me, it came down to the NF having the NP-R1 reticle available for my requirements.

    AJ
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  5. james blond

    james blond Active Member

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    Likewise- N.F all the way....

    Quality sells itself
     
  6. John Burns

    John Burns Well-Known Member

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    AJ brings up some good points but I have to stick with my VX-3 comparison.

    Warning biased opinion follows:

    I would use many of the same points in a VX-3 vs MK IV comparison.

    Extra weight for no extra performance. I did check the Nightforce website and AJ is right that there is not a full pound of difference but 13 oz’s between the VX-3 (17 oz) and the NXS (30 oz).

    For me in a 10.5 lbs rifle that weight works much better in the barrel. In other words I can have a 4 lb barrel instead of a 3 lb 3 oz barrel and keep the weight below 10.5 LBS.

    For me extra eye relief is a disadvantage due to the ring placement on the tube. I have to move my scopes as far forward as possible to obtain proper eye position so any extra eye relief slows me down under pressure. Plus the extra length of the eyepiece of the NXS compounds the problem.

    A one piece rail mount can solve this issue but this just adds more weight and makes access to the loading port more difficult.

    I never have a problem with not enough eye relief on the VX-3 but I don’t shoot rifles with big recoil from prone either. If the rifle kicks hard enough to hit me while shooting a VX-3 I won’t be able to use it with real precision anyway so it is a moot point in my applications.

    The 7mm 180gr @ 3000fps in a 10.5 lb gun is the limit of my ability to shoot well (sometimes on a good day) and I have never been scoped by this combination using a VX-3.

    One thing I forgot to mention is the availability of the best lens caps in the world for the VX-3. Unless you have used the Alumina flip-ups you don’t know what you are missing. The Alumina flip–ups fold down flat on the objective and eye piece and do not interfere with your hat brim during recoil. Way cool.

    I have never been a fan of the illuminated reticle so for me that has never been a consideration. Even when using a spotlight on coyotes I prefer a properly designed plain reticle and have killed quite a few coyotes under just moonlight and snow with my reticle, but to each his own.

    I would agree the NP-R1 is a better long range reticle than anything available stock from Leupold but (and this will come as a shocker) I think my reticle is even better. I can easily break wind holds down to ¼ MOA with speed and precision. I just wish I could read the wind to ½ MOA all the time (OK more like I wish I could read it to under 2 MOA every time).

    Because I use reticle hold off for windage I really like a low profile windage turret. This is a major advantage if you ever have to carry the system on a horse or (preferred) a mule. To the best of my knowledge there are not any commercially available saddle scabbards that can accommodate the Nightforce NXS with the 50mm or bigger objective. You can always have a custom scabbard made but it would be very bulky and uncomfortable for both rider and mule (or horse if that is all you have to ride).

    If you ever think you might go on a wilderness hunt take this into consideration.

    Since I direct dial the first rotation I really like the added adjustment per rotation and on my 7mm I get right to 1000yds in the first rotation. This gun has 68 MOA up from the 200yd zero and will dial on to slightly over 2000yds (busting rocks and steel) under most conditions I shoot in.

    One advantage no one has mentioned yet for the Nightforce is the zero stop. The stock Leupold does not have this feature (My Greybull Precision does have a zero stop) and while it adds to the expense of the Nightforce at least you can get it.

    I would say if I was building a gun for static type hunting and carry weight was not a factor and I wanted to use this gun regularly beyond 1000yds and I would never need it in a hurry then I would choose a scope with more magnification and would look seriously at the Nightforce products because of the large amount of adjustment relative to high magnification and AJ's choice of the reticles, the NP-R1.

    It really is a question of the application. I consider my self a hunter that sometimes shoots at long range (OK maybe more than sometimes)

    If “Long Range Hunting” is your only goal you might choose a different optic than I choose and a different rifle to go under it combined with different techniques for trajectory and windage compensation.

    AJ,

    What is your opinion about first or second focal plane?

    Do you direct dial, chart dial (either count clicks or MOA), PDA Dial or use reticle holdover for trajectory compensation?

    How about wind?

    Are there any S&B fans out there?

    Performance sells
     
  7. HOGGHEAD

    HOGGHEAD Well-Known Member

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    This scope purchase is strictly for a long range deer rifle. I hunt from a fixed position(handicapped hunter). My current rigs will work fine for shots out to 500-600 yards. I am wanting to extend this shooting range out to 800 yards for hunting, and 1,000 yards at our 1,000 yard club.

    My rifle will not be treated harshly, nor will it ever be in harrowing conditions. I normally carry it cased to my hunting stand on my modified Kawasaki Mule(only Mule my rifle will ever see:D:D), so ruggedness is not primary.

    My primary concern is the ability of the scope to track flawlessly. I want one that tracks like my Swaro. My Swaro. does a box test with no errors, and I like that.

    I do not mind spending the extra money if I have to, in order to achieve flawless tracking. However if the VX3 will give flawless tracking then the 8.5X25 will suit my needs perfectly.

    So please guys-tell me your opinions on the tracking. Will the Mark IV or NF scope track better than the VX 3?? Tom.lightbulb
     
  8. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    John,

    Do you have any idea why Leupold does not offer and MOA based reticle like the NPR1? All these other offerings they have and not one MOA based reticle like the NPR1. I'm in the market for a new scope for a carry gun and am torn between and MK4 and an NSX as well. I don't want to pack around the extra weight and bulk of the NSX, but the Leups don't have a reticle like the NPR1 and they don't have the range of magnification like the NSX scopes. 5.5 x 22 is a pretty useful range.

    I've talked with Ray Brock (Tactical Line Product Manager) at Leupold about this and he says to wait a bit that Leup is coming out with some stuff soon that will make us happy. Would sure like to know what that means and when it might happen.

    Why is it that in your videos we see you guys dialing past and then several clicks back to the desired range? With the new double erector springs on the VX-3 and the MK4 alaready having double springs, would you think it necessary to dial past?

    Jon
     
  9. John Burns

    John Burns Well-Known Member

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    Hogghead,

    The new VX-3 has the same dual bias spring setup as the MK IV so there is no difference in tracking between these scopes. The VX-3 has some lens coating upgrades so for hunting I think it is a much better choice. I also prefer the smaller turrets.

    The issue with the VX-3 or MK IV 8.5-25 x 50mm is the lack of a good reticle with MOA windage hash marks. I think it is very important to have the ability to use reticle hold off for windage in a hunting optic.

    I prefer the 4.5-14x50mm for hunting. I have the reticle put in the second focal plane so I want to always be able to use max zoom to keep my reticle substentions right.

    20X or 25X is too much in many hunting situations and unless you use a first focal plane reticle you will have to do more mental calculations if you have to reduce the zoom because of mirage, snow, fog, rain or low light. I have conclusively proven I am not so good at mental calculations while there is a big bull in front of me.

    I was shooting prairie dogs last night from 650yds to 725yds and had no problem aiming at them with 14X. I had a bigger pile of empty brass than dead prairie dogs but it was not because of the scope magnification. I was sure I was on them when I closed my eyes and jerked the trigger.

    I was alone and was able to spot most of the impacts shooting a 7mm 180@3000fps in a 10.5lb gun without a brake. I can not do that with anymore magnification than 15X.

    Jon,

    Having gone thru the process of getting a new reticle put in the Leupold optic I can attest to length of the process.


    Having been a machinist for a few years I always adjust in only one direction. No matter who made the scope I like to move the erector tube by pushing it with the turret. I don’t like to rely on the erector spring to move the erector to the turret. I always adjust down and always adjust left.

    No I don’t think it is necessary but it makes me feel better.
     
  10. HOGGHEAD

    HOGGHEAD Well-Known Member

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    John I was under the same impression. I was told they are the same. But if they are the same then why does the VX3 have a good bit more adjustment over the MK IV. You would think the amount of adjustment would be the same?? Tom.
     
  11. LRHWAL

    LRHWAL Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure you guys all have a bunch more experience than I do, but some comments none the less.

    I prefer fairly "stiff" clicks and an option (like NF, not sure if you can get it on the Greybull) to keep the turret covered with a cap. Hunting recently with a friend we made a stalk and set up for a shot, but the animal moved out of line of sight into the valley and we needed to stalk closer.

    We used the "hoovering" technique quite common here. You sit on your butt and place the rifle in your lap and shuffle on your butt and your palms. Anyhow, the shot couldn't be made and thankfully so, as when we called it off and got ready to move on I noticed that with the rifle in his lap he had managed to dial the scope about 3 MOA. I have seen this to a lesser degree with rifles even slung over the shoulder.

    Now, I know too much tension means dialling from behind the rifle moves it a bit. I also like the look of the Greybull knobs "knurling" - not too rough, but good enough to grip.

    The trend in tactical scopes to have very rough grooved turret knobs is not all good IMHO. I of course never shoot with gloves here.

    Anyhow, just a thought, dust and dialling with things other than your fingers makes me prefer a system with a turret cap.

    WL
     
  12. LRHWAL

    LRHWAL Well-Known Member

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    40mm obj

    John,

    Maybe you can shed light on this too. Is there any difference between the systems used in the 40 and 50mm scopes. I.e. should they be equally repeatable and are lenses and coatings similar.

    Thanks.

    WL
     
  13. John Burns

    John Burns Well-Known Member

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    Hogghead,

    The dual bias spring system is the same but there is a difference in the way the turrets attach to the tube. The MK IV turrets are quite a bit larger so there might be a loss of internal adjustment.

    The VX-3s we use for our GreyBull optic have a little over 105 MOA so there might also be some confusion on the Leupold website.

    LRHWAL,

    Our scopes have a dust cap to cover the turrets. This cap is not a part of the waterproofing so using the optic without it does not compromise the integrity. I prefer to leave mine off so I always try and check it before shooting. I have had only one instance of the turret moving while in a scabbard and I heard it click as the rifle was being removed.

    The more common screw up for me is to forget to return the scope to 200 yd zero. If I then replace the dust cover I end up carrying a rifle zeroed for some other range but I think I am back on 200yds. Nothing is perfect but for me the better option is to leave the elevation dust cap off and do my best to keep an eye on it during movement.

    I have the same opinion of the large Nightforce or MK IV tactical turrets. I have used “tactical turrets” quite a bit before going back to the smaller target turrets. Tactical style turrets look cool and work great from a bench or static position but for me the turrets took too much of a beating in the field. Under hard use the large turrets get hammered and this abuse is transmitted to the optic.

    I can always tell an optic with tactical style turrets that has been used hard because the anodizing on the knurling is gone. The smaller target turrets stay looking new for a much longer time making me believe the optic is taking less of a beating when the going gets tough.

    Having used both styles in below 0 weather I don’t think the larger turret has any advantage when wearing gloves so we get back to the same issue of bigger without offering any performance gain. I like the lightest most compact optic that will still perform at the same or higher level than the competition.

    There is no difference in tracking between a VX-3s with 40 or 50mm objectives. The big advantages for the 50 mm are:

    • With the larger exit pupil the optic is faster and much easier to use. The 4.5-14x50mm has an exit pupil of 3.6 mm @14x and the same optic with the 40mm has an exit pupil of 2.86 mm. It is easier to see thru a 3.6mm hole than a 2.9mm hole and you can acquire targets quicker and spot your hits better thru the larger exit pupil.

    • All things being equal a larger objective will give better resolution

    • Slight advantage in low light but I think this is a little overblown compared to the above mentioned ease of use issues.

    Due to the quantifiable reasons above I like the 50mm better and is an example for me of accepting a larger optic for the real gains the larger objective offers.
     
  14. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    My hunting style and needs are similar to yours John. As a consequence I agree with just about everything beneficial to the lighter weight scope you've identified. I'm selling my heavy (29 oz) scopes. They're nice on a bench, but my Alaskan hunting involves a lot of packing and walking. So I'm not in the NF clan, primarily because they're not the best fit for my style of hunting. I do like some of their reticle options though.

    What I didn't know was that the new Leupold VX-3 glass was improved. I've been drifting over to Sightron SIII scopes - the quality of their glass being a primary factor. It is top rate glass. I guess I need to look through some new Leupold VX-3 scopes and see if the quality of the glass has indeed improved. I drifted away from Leupold scopes 5-6 years ago because I desired better resolution and light transmission.

    How can I know if I'm looking through a NEW VX-3 with all of the upgraded features, versus one of the older model VX-3s? Is there an obvious, telltale sign? Thanks,