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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April 17th, 2019

Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm Scope Review

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Review by James Mock
If you were charged with building a scope for F-Class or long range Benchrest, what features would you want? Vortex asked that question, received feedback from many competitors, and then set out to build a new high-magnification, zoom comp scope that would set a new “performance for price” standard.

The new Vortex Golden Eagle has features that this shooter really appreciates. It has a power range of 15x to 60x with a 52mm objective lens. Vortex has attempted to keep the weight as low as possible and the cost reasonable. My initial impression is that Vortex spared no expense in developing this scope. The “street price” for this premium scope is a reasonable $1499.00. Plus it has Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Given its features, performance, and price, I believe that this scope will sell very well.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Here are the important features of the new 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle:

Quality Construction

Premium HD, extra-low dispersion glass
APO (apochromatic) objective lens system with index-matched lenses
XRP multi-coated lenses for max light transmission
ArmorTek extra-hard lens coating to protect lens from dust, dirt, and smudges
Fogproof and Waterproof (Argon gas purged)

Specifications

Field of View at 100 yards: 6.3 feet at 15X; 1.7 feet at 60X
Main Tube: One-piece 30mm
Length: 16.1 inches; Weight is 29.7 ounces
Objective Lens: 52mm
Eye Relief: 3.9 inches
Reticles: SCR-1 FCH; ECR-1 MOA

Testing the Golden Eagle

I recently tested a Golden Eagle with the ECR-1 reticle. On this model the Hash Marks subtend 1 MOA at 40X. There is also a fine crosshair reticle (SCR-1) available. Initial tests with the scope were done on June 28th and I was very impressed with what I saw. With a new scope I always shoot the square (box test) to test tracking and amount of movement. I shot the square today after shooting a 5-shot group at 250 yards (my longest available distance). Below is a picture of the box test target that I shot. Yes, shot #5 went through the exact same hole as shot #1.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Below is the 250-yard target I shot before doing the box test. To get to the 100-yard target, I clicked down 14 clicks (1/8th MOA) and the scope was spot on. It is really a pleasure to use instruments that do exactly what they are supposed to do. With the Louisiana mirage, I shot this orange/white target at 40X instead of the maximum 60X. I did not have any problem seeing the 6mm bullet holes at 40X. The optics in this scope are to my old eyes are as good as any that I have used (regardless of price).

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TRCompetition Test Success — Golden Eagle Delivers a Win
My next use of this scope was at our monthly 600-yard match on July 15th. It was a typical mid-July day in north Louisiana — very hot and humid with light switching winds. The mirage was terrible, but I managed to squeak out a victory with a 188/5X score out of 200/20X possible. I shot the Golden Eagle at 40X all day and it performed perfectly. No one could see bullet holes today, even with the high powered premium spotting scopes. This is a quality scope and it may be a “lucky” scope in that I did not expect a win with a 6mm Dasher barrel with 2500 or more rounds through it.

Point of Aim Test with Hood Scope Checker
I also tested the Golden Eagle for holding Point of Aim (POA). For this procedure, I used the Hood scope checker (loaned to me by Bart Sauter). To use this, one mounts two scopes side by side. Ideally one scope has proven its ability to hold POA. Here I used a Valdada 36X BR model as my control scope. It has proven over an 8-year period of time to hold its point of aim. I mounted these scopes on my BAT/Leonard 6mm PPC and adjusted each to the same point on the target.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

As one can see in the above picture, these are big scopes. After the first shot, I noticed that the reticle dot on the Vortex seemed to be about 1/8th MOA to the right of its original position. I stopped to check for ring slippage (which I had experienced in prior tests). There was no apparent slippage, so I checked the parallax and found that there was some parallax correction needed. This was probably the source of the apparent shift in point of aim, but I cannot be sure of that. I fired three more shots (checking after each) and found no shift.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

After testing for POA shift, I fired the remaining rounds using different aiming points. I fired 5 rounds (upper left) using the Vortex and 3 rounds to the right of those using the Valdada scope.

CONCLUSION — A Very Fine Optic at a Reasonable Price
While testing this Vortex Golden Eagle scope, I developed a real fondness for it. I appreciate its great optics, eye relief and crispness of adjustments. If I thought that this scope did not hold POA, I would use my old Valdada in the 600-yard matches in which I participate. Further testing has shown no tendency to shift point of aim.

If I am allowed to keep this scope until the fall, I am sure that I will be able to see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards. Seeing those 6mm holes is very difficult, but that is my dream for a premium high-powered scope. During the summer months in north Louisiana, the air is much too “dirty” to spot small holes at 600 yards. By October, there should be some conditions in which one can use the premium optics to see bullet holes in the white at 600.

In summary, let me say that this scope has become one of my all-time favorites because of its bright, clear images and its great reliability. If you are looking for a great long-range scope that is reasonable in cost, try the Golden Eagle from Vortex.– James Mock

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February 4th, 2016

SHOT Show Optics Reports from the 6.5 Guys

Nightforce March Vortex Youtube Optics

Our nominees for the “Hardest-working Heroes” of SHOT Show 2016 are our friends Ed and Steve, aka the 6.5 Guys. Over the course of four days, this tireless duo completed over FIFTY short videos. They visited dozens of manufacturers, finding the “latest and greatest” rifles, stocks, actions, scopes and other hardware. While in Vegas, the 6.5 Guys managed to visit most of the top-flight optics-makers. Here are videos reviewing products from Nightforce, Vortex, and March. To see 50+ more videos, visit the 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel.

2016 SHOT Show Highlights — OPTICS

Nightforce Optics — New SHV 4-14x50mm (FFP)

The new 4-14x50mm SHV scope from Nightforce is available with either 0.1 Mil or 1/4-MOA clicks, with two reticle choices: MIL-R and MOAR.

Nightforce SHV 4-14x50mm 6.5 Guys Video

Vortex Optics — New Razor 6-24x50mm AMG (FFP)

The new 6-24x50mm Razor HD AMG is a made-in-USA scope with a full 25 MOA of elevation in one turret rotaion. Vortex says this scope rivals anything on the market in its category.

March Optics — 3-24x52mm (FFP)

March’s popular 3-24x52mm scope is offered with either 0.1 Mil or 1/4 MOA clicks. The particular model featured in the video has 0.1 Mil clicks and an illuminated reticle. March Optics USA also offers a remarkable 5-50x56mm scope that can work for everything from short-range practical matches to extreme-long-range shooting. One of our staffers has the 5-50X March and he uses it for both Tac Comps and 1000-yard F-Class matches.

march optics 3-24x53mm 6.5 Guys Video

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