Leupold Optics for Very Long Or Very Short Range
By Ed Hale
In my waking dreams, it is of course essential for long range hunting to have a new, just released scope and laser rangefinder to team up with a rifle and cartridge/bullet combo to do the job at ranges close, far and anywhere in between.
My test bed rifle is a Kimber Select Grade 8400 in .338 Winchester Magnum with the new Leupold VX-6 2x12 42mm with Boone and Crockett reticle. The cartridge is a hand loaded Nosler Custom Case and a 185 grain Nosler AccuBond using Reloader 15 powder. Clocking in at 3150 fps, the 185 grain pill is a veritable freight train of energy for any species in North America and most of Africa.
I have killed African game such as kudu, impala, springbok, and blesbok with a Ruger .338 with Nosler Partitions, some out to near 300 yards, but no farther. The Nosler folks suggest that the bullet will not mushroom effectively below 1800 fps. So my range is limited to shots where the energy drops to that level. I also factor in my shooting skills, knowledge of the range, angle of the shot, altitude, temperature and most importantly the wind. The wind in long range hunting beyond 300 yards is an often troublesome variable that can kill the best of long range shots.
I am a student of long range hunting beyond 300 yards, armed with Quality Assurance skills, which suggest that for long distance it is essential to reduce variation as much as humanly possible. How I achieve that is:
1. By choosing a flat shooting cartridge/bullet/powder that maintains its energy with superior bullet construction and superior ballistic coefficient.
2. By choosing a scope that is up to the task at hand, whether it is short range or long range. Enter the Leupold Gold Ring VX-6 2x12 42mm scope with Boone and Crockett reticle and a full lifetime warranty. It maintains superior brightness, clarity and contrast, while at the same time being absolutely waterproof and fog proof. Leupold's dual spring erector system is as rugged as it gets when shooting a rifle that can rattle teeth if not held correctly. After shooting Leupolds on many powerful rifles, I have become accustomed to the generous eye relief and the rubber bumper at the eye end. All it takes is one crescent cut from a scope ring that was too close to your eye and forehead e.g., to have that need for eye relief etched into your brain, like I once did. You'd have thought I was bleeding to death. I am much older and the scar is nearly invisible.
No scars from my Leupold scopes, I am happy to say! And the new Leupold VX-6 scope has the capability of matching the ballistics of a number of calibers that make the use of many fast and faster calibers to match the long range crosshairs beyond 300 yards and out to say 600 yards. It knows by your magnification selection diamond, bullet and speed of similar calibers, where it will cross the Boone and Crockett duplex crosshairs. The shooter needs to experiment and practice to be exact.
3. By choosing a laser rangefinder such as the Leupold RX-1000i TBR (True Ballistic Rangefinder) with DNA (Digitally eNhanced Accuracy), you can determine the True Ballistic Range and it automatically calculates the correct distance no matter what the angle is. It will range from 5 yards to 1000 yards and has a bright Orange LED Display you can see at dawn or dusk for when that big bruiser buck steps out into the field.
4. By choosing excellent binoculars. A good pair of binoculars is essential. I use the very compact Leupold Rogue 10x25mm waterproof binoculars, utilizing a center focus Porro prism. Weighing in at 12.7 oz., they are not at all bulky to carry.
I have chosen Leupold products my whole hunting life because I trust them and have done so with my life and that of my son's in Africa. Why? Because their products live up to what they advertise, and they are for the most part affordable to me and to a great cross section of the hunting population in the USA and around the world. There are so many stories you and I grew up hearing of the hunter shooting at a deer for example with a 3 x 9 scope (a fine all around scope except when you miss) and not seeing the sapling 10 yards ahead that deflected a bullet intended for a deer at 40 yards.
Accordingly, hunters who encountered that frustration went out and purchased a 1.5 x 5 scope (limited to shorter ranges) so they were not caught in that situation again. A few years may go by and the same hunter seeks a hunt that includes long range and now they are cursing the scope because they can't shoot game at long distance. It is a frustrating situation, is it not? You can't win. Oh yes you can!
The Leupold VX-6 scope pays dividends by taking game at any distance. Well, let's see. At 2 power you could see that sapling at 10 feet and avoid it in your crosshairs as you shoot at game at 40 yards. And with the 12 power capability, you can shoot at game out to say 500 yards or more depending on your skill level. With the Leupold VX-6 scope you can even shoot at the crack of dawn, as the 30mm tube is larger than the 1 inch tube, thus gathering more light. Coupled with some of the highest optical quality in the industry, this scope does it all, short range or long range.
My farthest shots at targets, not wild game, were with a different rifle and a 4x14 Gold Ring Leupold scope. These 600 yard shots were published in Long Range Hunting Online Magazine. The shots were impressive, at least to me personally, and groups of three were in a 3 1/8 vertical path. With just a light 10 mph crosswind, my shots strung laterally to a worst case distance of 19 inches (yes that is with a light 10 mph crosswind, though most were in a 6 inch left/right path because I learned to play the wind and shoot in a lull).
I may never kill game at long ranges beyond 300 yards but it is sure fun trying to hit targets that some folks have a hard time seeing. I hear that bell ringing at 1 mile may become a new sport in and of itself. As responsible hunters we remember that we owe it to the game we hunt to be ethical in the field. Never take shots at game beyond distances you are practiced at. Good Hunting!
Ed Hale is an avid hunter with both gun and bow, spanning more than 50 years taking whitetail deer, red deer, moose, American bison and several species of African plains game. He is the author of African Safari – Rifle and Bow and Arrow, an eBook that includes rifle testing up to the 416 Rigby. Ed lives in Southern New Hampshire.