A dedicated precision rifle scope, aimed at both PRS and long-range competitions, as well as actual sniper use, the Leupold Mark 5HD is pretty well-known in the high-end FFP scope market. Offering various magnification ranges like the Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18×44, the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 and the Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35×56, there is a Mark 5HD in the magnification range of your preference for precision rifle shooting. I decided to see what the fuss is about, and decided to use, test and review the 5-25x56mm model.
Table of Contents
Background and Unboxing:
Inside of the box, we find an aluminum sunshade, a set of Leupold branded flip-up lens caps (which I absolutely love and buy extra for all my scopes anyway, so the free inclusion of them is awesome), a Leupold sticker, an allen wrench for adjusting the turrets and zero-stop and the instruction manual all packed well and protected for shipping. Lastly, of course, the scope itself, which is beautiful from the finish to the feel, this is a really nice scope to hold in your hand, and it’s comparably light weight hides the true durability and quality of it.
The Leupold Mark 5-HD comes in 14 different reticle options, yes fourteen. So naturally as with anything, the more choices you have, the harder it may be to choose, so which of the Leupold Mark 5 reticles did I choose? Because I shoot PRS type competitions, I have learned to be able to use a Christmas tree style reticle for when the stage requirement is to shoot hold over, or for when there are too many different distance targets from different positions so you have to move quickly between them and not have time to dial. That and because I prefer to use MRAD milling and adjustments for my DOPE calculations instead of MOA, so for my use, the PR2 Mrad reticle from Leupold, designed with PRS shooting in mind, with input from professional PRS shooters including Jon Pynch, is the perfect reticle for my needs, so that is the one I got for using, testing and reviewing.
Most of the time myself and most other PRS shooters I know are dialing up the targets that using the main horizontal cross hair. But you still want an included Christmas tree in the reticle because from time to time at certain competitions, the match director will have you do a hold-over only stage. Which is essentially nearly impossible without a tree type or milling reticle. I don’t like when it’s a real busy tree reticle, because if you don’t only shoot hold-over and don’t have the time to figure out drop hold overs and windage holds, the extra milling information just gets in the way of your image and makes it too busy to focus and quickly find the target and center cross hair. This PR2 reticle has the perfect amount of information in my opinion, to allow you to make very precise holds at all ranges, but not so much information that obscures your view when you’re using the main cross hair which is 90% of the time anyway.
A little different feature I like about this PR2-Mil reticle in the Mark 5HD, is in between the three and the four mil spot hash marks, you can see that the reticle is a little different. It’s got one tenth mrad increments which allows you to mill targets if you needed to for ranging. Also when you’re sighting in a gun you can see and measure exactly how many mils you are high or low with that area. So you can measure that really fine, just click down by the measures mils and your are zeroed. So I really like those one tenth increments somewhere in the reticle for milling, ranging and measuring.
Leupold went with the 0.25 Mrad hash marks with broken sub-tension lines, so you can quickly find quarter and half milrad, but also place the target in the gaps for exact aiming.
One of the key features of the Mark 5HD is the elevation turret, which is very positive and audible, each click is 0.1 mil-rad with 10.5 mils of total adjustment per full revolution, and it is marked with three layers of numbers up to 30 mils on the turret. Why 10.5 mils of elevation for each revolution instead of 10? This was done so they could offset the elevation number markings on the turret for each revolution cycle so they are easy to spot and read. It has a large very ergonomic button on the outside of the turret that you need to press to unlock it so you can adjust the elevation off the zero. Once you get used to using this button, it is very fast to dial the turret, and the n even faster to go back to zero without even having to lift your face off the scope to see, I really like this feature.
The turret has a built-in zero stop that you can disengage by loosening the set screws at the top of the turret with the included allen wrench. Under the turret is the zero-stop mechanism, which is a spiral track that the zero stop pin rides in, a very clever design. This partially retracts the locking button with each revolution. You reset the zero by dialing and the turret and tightening down on the set screws.
The other features on the elevation turret that I really like about this scope, is the indicators that physically show you on which revolution you are in your elevation, so that you aren’t maybe dialed one full revolution, but think you are back at your zero, which has happened with other shooters that I have seen myself numerous times in PRS competitions proving disastrous on the next stage. In fact, this past weekend it happened to a shooter in my squad, with his Delta Stryker scope, he forget to dial back to the very first revolution and only dialed back to the zero which he already passed once, so he was over 10 full milrads out on the first target on the very next stage. On this Leupold Mark 5HD however, the zero-locking button goes down completely flush when on the second revolution so you know you must read the numbers on the middle line on the turret, and on the third revolution, that same button goes in deeper, but also the little stainless steel indicator knob on the top of the turret pops up for the entirety of that revolution.
The windage turret is under a protective screw on cap, not as convenient to adjust as the elevation knob but then again most long-range shooters use the reticle holdovers for windage anyway, so not a deal breaker at all.
What you will very quickly notice on the windage turret, is that the windage reference mark on the scope body, is not at the horizontal exact center of the windage turret like basically all other scopes on the market. At first, I did not like that, and wondered why on earth would they do that, thinking it is mostly a gimmick to try be different, without any actual benefit, and it just confuses the shooter. Also given the fact that my model, has the turret cap that you have to remove which covers the whole windage turret before you can dial, which causes there to be screw threads between the body reference mark and the hash marks on the turret itself. So that combined with the off-center zero reference mark on the scope body, I thought initially it would be really hard to precisely see and confirm where my windage turret is set at.
Fast forward to having used this scope in both hunting and competition settings, I have changed my opinion. I realized that because of how high that reference mark was, that I can accurately and quickly check my windage setting or adjust it accurately, without having to get my face out from behind the scope and change my body position behind the rifle. This now actually makes checking and dialing windage much faster under pressure, so what was initially thought of as a gimmick, turned out to be a very well thought-out and purposeful design feature by Leupold, one which I now love.
First off, we need to acknowledge that everybody’s eyes are different. I have been in the shooting industry and optics industry for a long time, and have had so many varying actual opinions from top-level shooters on the same scopes that you notice that not only is everybody’s eyes different, but the information that every person’s brain notices and takes from the image their eyes sees is also different.
Optically, this scope really shines for the price point. Probably because of their lens-coating, but this scope really performs well at early mornings or late afternoons with optical light transmission. Especially when shooting into the low sun, there is almost no lens flare or glare in the image. I have in-fact noticed more glare on more high-end scopes that are often spoken of having better glass quality, so don’t be too quick to jump on the backs of internet opinions from inexperienced “experts”. Get behind this scope and another you like right next to it to truly compare optical clarity and performance for yourself and your own eye preferences.
I found the Leupold Mark 5HD to have a really sharp and bright image, with great color rendition. I found edge to edge sharpness on this 5-25x model with no tunneling at the edges and I could hardly perceive any chromatic aberration in any light conditions.
The image quality is favorable for my eye in both PRS shooter and hunter conditions and uses. I really put the scope through it’s paces when taking it hunting the Kalahari desert in Namibia, where the dusty and harsh condition can wreak havoc on scope lenses and image quality really matters with those long range 450 yard plus shots on small Springbok, with huge mirage rising from the dry hot desert surfaces.
On the left side of the tube is the parallax dial, which I think has a good adjustment feel to it. I also like the fact that the parallax window on this scope is quite forgiving, especially for PRS match shooting, as with many stages having a wide variety of distances between targets on the same stage, you want to dial a somewhat middle of the bunch parallax setting and leave it there for the whole stage, so that I like.
The power ring or magnification ring on the Leupold Mark 5HD is very smooth right out of the box, without needing any correction or wear in. It is tight enough to stay put, but loose enough for when you quickly need to adjust it for target acquisition. I like the included throw-lever which you can install or remove depending on your preference.
Durability and Reliability:
The highest trees catch the most wind. This old saying certainly rings true when it comes to online shooting forums and Leupold scopes, this one in particular. Where you get so-called “experts” over on Snipershide or on Reddit, criticizing products, mostly based on what they have heard, or read on those same or other online forums, instead of quantifiable real-world use or data, and also without any actual experience or credentials qualifying their opinions as expert. With one Redditor acting like a shooting god when it comes to gear opinions and advice, but never having ever achieved anything in the real shooting world to qualify his opinion as valid, and also mostly without backing up claims with any data whatsoever, just his opinions formed on hearsay in the internet.
Let’s face it, Leupold puts out more Mark 5HD scopes into the US market than all the other top-tier European scope manufacturers combined, and they would not be able to keep doing that, if the product had significant flaws or problems. But, let’s get more factual. The Leupold Mark 5HD has been the most used scope by shooters in the Top 10 positions of the Precision Rifle series for 2021 and 2022. Just last year for instance where it was the scope used by top shooters like Morgun King, Chad Heckler, Jake Millard, Francis Colon and Nick Gadarzi among other. Now before many of those critics jump up and down shouting that most if not all of those shooters are sponsored by Leupold, let us address that issue. Yes, many if not most of them are sponsored by Leupold, just like most of the other top PRS shooters are sponsored by the manufacturers of the optics that they use too. The fact still remains, they made it to the top 10 or better, meaning that they reached the PRS finale, with 300 match points or close to it. Now ask any of those or other top PRS shooters if it would be possible to get 300 match points, if your scope failed in one or two of your matches? Highly unlikely. So where in the world, other than hear-say, are all those claimed Leupold Mark 5HD match failures?
I am not saying that they do not or can not fail, most of the top manufacturers have had scopes fail, which is why they provide a warranty. But if it were so much as many of those internet “experts” claim, then certainly it would show up in the top 10 or 20 or 30 shooter pool of scopes more often too, which it does not.
Based on track-record, given the history and number of US military contracts Leupold has been awarded to supply optics for battlefield use….
Now, to base it’s durability off my own testing. I have now used this scope for a little over 5 months, in varying conditions from fast moving precision rifle matches, to a Namibian Kalahari desert hunt, which is know as one of the harshest environments in the world, and it performed flawlessly. Even after banging around on the back of a pickup truck racing at 75 mph over bushes and sand dunes chasing an injured Oryx before it gets away for ever.
Also being an American company, with outstanding customer service and warranty procedures, you really can not go wrong buying a Leupold Mark 5HD for hard competition use.
Summary and Conclusion:
Personally, I do really like the Leupold Mark 5HD and although not having owned a Leupold scope before, after testing and using this one intensely for the past four months in various scenarios from an African hunt, to a PRS competition and a NRL Hunter match, I have to say that I am starting to see what the appeal of the “gold ring” scopes are, even though this top-tier tactical model does not sport a gold ring. I have read two reports from guys that have gotten used old Leupold scopes, one bought with a used rifle, and another was inherited from his father. When those old scopes gave any hint of a problem, they simply sent it to Leupold and were sent brand new replacement scopes. That is a true next level guarantee and peace-of-mind sentiment for a company backing it’s products and reputation.
– Lighter than most competing scopes at 28oz
– The new 10mil / turn zero stop knobs feel great
– Close 20m focus capability for rimfire
– Comes with flip caps and a sunshade
– Better than class average optical performance with particularly good resolution and stray light handling
– Excellent fit and finish
– Unique styling
– Lifetime warranty and made in USA
– Small field of view and very shallow depth of field will be sub-optimal for timed competitions
– Reticle on test sample was canted 1degree. QC on this needs to improve
Leupold Optics: A Legacy of Quality and Innovation in Optics Industry
For over a 100 years, Leupold & Stevens, Inc. has had a significant position in the optical sector. The brand has become well-known among hunters, shooters, and military people thanks to its emphasis on precision, dependability, and community participation. This essay will examine Leupold optics’ lengthy history and what makes them unique from other brands.
In Portland, Oregon, Fred Leupold and Adam Volpel established a modest business manufacturing surveying equipment. However, they quickly changed their attention to producing optical gear for shooters and hunters. Binoculars, spotting scopes, and hunting scopes were some of their initial offerings. The goal of the business from the start was to provide items of the highest caliber that would satisfy its clients’ expectations.
Leupold optics have a reputation for having cutting-edge features and designs. After being debuted in the 1940s, the company’s Duplex reticle immediately gained favor with shooters and hunters. With this reticle, the crosshair is thin in the middle and broader at the borders of the scope. This layout enhanced visibility and accuracy in dimly lit areas.
During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Leupold optics became more and more well-liked by the US military. The company’s scopes were favored by soldiers in the field because of their reputation for dependability and precision. The company’s visibility and appeal grew as a result of this exposure, and they kept making military-grade optics.
The business created the Vari-X III range of riflescopes in the 1980s, which had an expanded field of vision and better optics. The Boone and Crockett reticle, which is intended for long-range hunting, is one of the further advancements that the firm has produced throughout the years.
Leupold optics are well renowned for their dedication to excellence. To guarantee that every product satisfies their high standards, the firm only uses the best materials and employs thorough quality control procedures. Due to the fact that they also offer a lifetime warranty on all of their products, customers can be sure that their purchase will endure for many years.
The business Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is committed to helping the community. The company has donated millions of dollars to conservation organisations throughout the years because it is committed to preserving the environment and safeguarding animals. The company distinguishes itself from its competitors thanks to its commitment to sustainability and involvement in the community.
Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is still a family-owned business that is dedicated to upholding its basic principles of excellence, innovation, and civic engagement. The company’s success may be credited to its adherence to these ideals and to maintaining its leadership position in the optics sector.
Leupold optics have a long history in the optic industry and are dedicated to accuracy, durability, and community involvement in the US shooting and hunting community. Leupold has remained dedicated to making high-quality, long-lasting optics throughout its history as a producer of surveying equipment and into its current role as a market leader in the hunting, shooting, and military sectors. Leupold optics are a reputable brand in the industry with a lifetime warranty and a dedication to sustainability, and they will undoubtedly remain such for many years to come.