Real scopes of merit

If someone were to ask me what is the best all-around riflescope for the Eastern United States, I wouldn’t hesitate to respond with the Leupold VX-1 1-4×20 equipped with the heavy duplex reticle.

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This is a truly great scope mainly for three reasons. 1) It is extremely versatile. 2) It is extremely adaptable. 3) It has good performance for moderate cost.

The performance profile of the scope accommodates most reasonable duties, making it very versatile. It is of relatively low magnification, and has a generous eyebox, so it can be used in close quarters, yet at 4x it can help visualize targets at the longest practical distances. Consider that the standard optical gunsight, the ACOG, issued by the US Army is a fixed 4x magnification. The little Leupold is very compact and has a low profile. It can often be mounted lower than scopes with optical bells. The heavy duplex reticle helps one see in the dark much better. In fact, with a good flashlight, the heavy duplex reticle can be used at night surprisingly well. And duplex reticles are not overly complicated, either. They don’t distract, yet can be used to estimate range if you are into that.

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Because of the shape of this scope it can fit on almost any rifle or shotgun. It is short enough to fit on rimfires. I’ve seen it attached by only the front tube on Mosin-Nagants, SKS, and Krag–Jørgensen rifles (which are difficult to mount scopes on), and one cantilevered “slug-gun” (shotguns, often with rifled barrels, meant to fire slugs, not shot). It fits very well on flat-topped AR-15s. I’ve put it on three or four of my own rifles. And now it rests on my 30-30 Mossberg 464, which I think is one of the best all-around rifles today, and has performance profile that almost perfectly overlaps the little Leupold.

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All Leupold branded scopes have the same warranty, which is rock solid, is for the lifetime of the scope, and transfers to new owners. It is the best warranty in the industry as far as I know, and everything from the $180 rimfire scopes to the multiple thousand dollar scopes have it. All Leupold branded scopes are made in the USA, too. Of course the VX-1 1-4x is no exception, and it retails for around $220 (I bought mine for $180 a few years ago). It is just as rugged and fog-resistant and water-resistant as more expensive scopes. I’ve managed to fog mine by breathing directly into it, but the atmosphere has never managed to do it. The clarity and light transmission is nearly as good as scopes costing considerably more. I have two FX-II scopes, which are supposed to be a grade up and cost around $100 more, but I can’t tell the difference. I had a Burris scope that cost twice as much and I can’t tell the difference.

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I really like the heavy duplex reticle. The bars are thick and dark and contrast very well even in low-light conditions. I’ve even used this scope at night with a flashlight. Yet, the target zone is uncluttered with hash marks, circles, and other distractions.

If one is only going to have one rifle and one scope, I might hesitate to recommend the rifle, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Leupold VX-1 1-4×20.

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