January 4th, 2020

Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm MOA Scope Review

Leupold Mark 5HD MKV 7-35x56 scope optic riflescope f-class Second focal plane riflescope

In the world of F-Class, PRS and other precision rifle disciplines, scope manufactures such as Nightforce, Kahles, and Vortex currently dominate the firing lines. However, Oregon-based Leupold has set out to change all that. Long known for premier hunting and military scopes, Leupold has set its sights squarely on the long-range competition market with the Mark 5HD series scopes. With these scopes (available in both MIL and MOA versions), Leupold now has a clear, repeatable, versatile scope in a wide range of magnifications, all the way up to 7-35X. We tested the Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm MOA second focal plane (SFP) optic. Though it features a very large 35mm (yes thirty-FIVE mm) main tube, it is one of the lightest scopes in its class — a bonus for guys struggling to make weight with their comp rifles.

Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm Field Test
Report by F-Class John
The Mark 5HD is a beast of a scope packed into a great-looking and sturdy form factor. While mounting and bore-sighting the scope, I immediately like the size, shape and feel of the elevation and windage knobs. The knobs have a solid, positive feel with distinct, lovely clicks every time they were turned. I was happy to see that Leupold designed the elevation to actually go under zero which can be helpful in some situations.

Leupold Mark 5HD MKV 7-35x56 scope optic riflescope f-class Second focal plane riflescope

Scope Box Test in Tunnel
I ran a box test while shooting in a 100-yard tunnel going clockwise then counterclockwise around the corners. I found that the repeatability to be “spot on” with each 5 MOA adjustment landing me basically back on top of the previous shots. After five passes back and forth I was left with four ragged holes in each corner. That’s impressive.

The power ring became one of my favorite features, with its incredibly functional throw lever. Actually more of a throw knob, this allows for quick and smooth change of power. Combine these features with 100 MOA of vertical adjustment and 50 MOA of windage and you have just about everything need to achieve your goals.

Reticle Options for Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm — TMOA Plus on Test Scope

Leupold Mark 5HD MKV 7-35x56 scope optic riflescope f-class Second focal plane riflescope

Leupold Mark 5HD MKV 7-35x56 scope optic riflescope f-class Second focal plane riflescopeLeupold currently offers two reticle options for its second focal plane (SFP) Mark 5HD 7-35X scope: the TMOA Plus (above) and the Impact-60 (right). The Impact-60 reticle features Xmas Tree-type vertical and horizontal hold-offs. My test scope had the TMOA Plus reticle, a much simpler design with an open aiming point in the center of the reticle for precise shot placement.

The TMOA Plus takes a little getting used to especially if you’re coming from a center dot or crosshair like I did. This is because there’s nothing dead center in your reticle, only four small hold squares at 3, 6, 9, 12 o’clock around center. You can use the aiming center to center up on a bullseye or any of the points around the center as hold off points. A side benefit is that the center set of squares are designed to perfectly fill the X ring at 1000 yards for easy aiming. I will say that once you get used to the reticle configuration it starts to become more intuitive and you can find different ways to use it when holding off for different conditions.

Leupold Mark 5HD Delivers Outstanding Brightness and Clarity
As I got behind the scope, I was surprised by the amount of light coming in through the large 35mm main tube. I tested the scope in the early morning just after dawn, during mid-day, and also at night. Where I shoot there is often a good amount of head-on light coming over the hills in the morning. With my current premium scope, I often see a faint glare (often seen as a haze or whiteness) that will ultimately resolve itself by mid-day but nonetheless bothers me in those early relays. The Mark 5 had NONE of this. The first time I thought it was a fluke but after countless mornings without the annoying haze I was convinced it was the glass. Leupold told me that the Mark 5HD’s superior haze- and glare-free morning performance was a function of how the lens coatings are applied.

While many top-end scopes have quality coatings, the method of applying coatings can produce micro flaws. Leupold explained that such flaws, under certain light conditions, can create a hazy view through the lens. Leupold has clearly mastered this process, achieving a visually clear scope no matter what direction the light comes from, even head-on.

HD Glass Eliminates Chromatic Aberration
Optical performance during mid-day was bright and clear. Importantly, I did notice the absence of chromatic aberration which I have experienced with some other popular-brand scopes. Chromatic aberration usually manifests as fringes of color around hard edges and can be seen even in some of the better scopes. This can affect your ability to see mirage, or to see details on a long-range target. With the Leupold Mark 5HD, chromatic aberration was noticeably absent.

The Leupold Mark 5HD also worked great during an evening shooting session. My club has night shooting for our 600-yard matches. We do it every Tuesday night, so I had lots of time to test the scope in the evening. Our club has lit targets, and even with the rest of the range dark, the targets were clear and bright, making it easy to aim precisely.

SUMMARY — Great Sharp, Clear Scope — More Magnification Would be Welcome
The majority of my testing was in F-Class and while I found nearly every aspect of the scope enjoyable, I did find myself wanting just a little more magnification. I have no doubt that in other disciplines such as PRS and ELR the 7-35X is more than enough and in fact perfectly suited. However, in the current F-Class world, 35X max magnification is on the low end, as other leading optics-makers offer scopes in the 50-60x range.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scope and think it’s going to become the favorite for a lot of shooters. It is easy to use and incredibly clear. Despite its beefy look it actually weighs less than many scopes in this category. Leupold says the Mark 5HD is “up to 20 ounces lighter than other scopes in its class”. That’s great for disciplines with tight weight limits. If you’re in the market for a new competition optic you should give one of the new Mark 5HD scopes a try.

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January 4th, 2020

Box to Bench Load Development and Scope Tracking Target

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target

Box to Bench Precision (B2B) has developed an oversize (23.5″ x 30″) precisely-scaled target designed for Load Development and Scope Testing. This waterproof target is very innovative. On the target you’ll find clusters of aim points for various tasks. Upper left are orange aiming spots for testing various powder charges. In the upper right quadrant are more red aim points to be used when testing bullet seating depth. Running down the center of the target is a vertical line with horizontal marks showing precise MOA and Mil heights at 100 yards — use this feature to verify your click values. ORDER HERE.

This waterproof 23.5″ x 30″ target costs $5.00 from BoxtoBenchPrecision.com:

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target

And there’s more. In the lower right quadrant (far right) are three black targets to be used for chrono work. With these you can record cold velocity, hot barrel velocity and a “Final Velocity”. Over in the lower left quadrant, in the left-most column, are three dot targets for zeroing and recording group size with load data. Finally, four more black/white targets can be used for a scope box test (aka “shooting the square”). With a box test, you move from target to target, clicking in sequence to each corner of the square in sequence, eventually returning to your original aim point. If your scope tracks correctly, the last box test shot should end up right on top of the first shot.

Record the Entire Load Development Process on One Target
For those used to shooting at conventional bulleyes or benchrest targets, this target may seem confusing, but it can really help organize and simplify the process of load development. We like the idea of having a single, durable target that performs double-duty — serving for load development as well as scope checking. And we like the fact that the target is pretty strong — the maker says: “The target is Tear-Resistant and Water-Proof”. We’d expect a maker based in the Pacific NW to design a target that can handle wet weather.

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target
Previous version of target shown in photo. Current version has a larger and centered box test, and Tracking lines that are labeled in IPHY/MOA/MIL.

How to Order

So how much does all this target technology cost? A single, 23.5″ x 30″ target costs $5.00. A pack of three targets costs $14.25, while a five-target pack runs $22.50 (which works out to $4.50 per target). There is also a 100 meter version of this target for $4.25 each or $20 for five. Targets ship in a durable cardboard tube. To order these targets, visit the Box To Box Precision Online Store.

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January 4th, 2020

Bargain $60 Welding Cart Works as High-Capacity Gear Hauler

Welding Cart Range Cart

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart CRC-1The Berger Southwest Nationals is coming up next month. That means you want to upgrade your hauling capabilities. SWN F-Class and High Power shooters have a ton of gear they need to carry out to the firing lines. To do the hauling, you can certainly purchase a factory-made, purpose-built cart that folds up and has all the bells and whistles. The Creedmoor Sports CRC-1 (photo right) is a proven, quality product that works great. You’ll find these used by top shooters at Camp Perry. But the Creedmoor CRC-1 cart costs $475.00, even on sale.

For a fraction of that price ($59.99), plus a few dollars more for do-it-yourself enhancements, you can have a heavy-duty cart that will haul all your gear just fine, though it doesn’t fold up. In the top photo is a Harbor Freight Welding Cart we saw at the Berger Southwest Nationals. This rig is carrying a rifle in hard gun case, bipod, folding chair, shooting mat, tripod, spotting scope, rear sand-bag, and ammo box — that’s a lot of gear!

Welding Cart Range CartWelding Cart Range Cart

Check out the Harbor Freight Welding Cart, item #65939. This cart is ON SALE right now for just $59.99. Overall size is 29-1/2″ L x 20″ W x 49″ H, and width between side rails is 18″. The wheels (with tires) are 20 3/4″ in diameter for smooth rolling. Consider that, if you made your own cart from scratch you could easily pay $30.00 or more just for the large-diameter wheels and axle. Do note — this cart has air-filled tires. Be sure to inflate before you go to the Range!

As sold, the Harbor Freight Welding Cart can benefit from upgrades for range use. But with a few bungee cords (and some creativity), the cart can be adapted pretty easily to hauling your gun gear. If you want to enhance the basic cart, it’s easy to add plastic side-panels on the bottom unit, and fit a barrel-holding system on the cross-tube. This ensures rifles and gear won’t flop forward. (A small piece of wood under the bottom panel provides a bit of extra lift that will keep the bottom plate out of the dirt and gravel.)

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