• Leupold VX-3i LRP 8.5-25x50mm FFP with TMR Reticle

    In recent years there has been a significant increase in interest when it comes to long-range shooting, and as a result we have seen manufacturers bring more and more product to market specifically geared towards that type of use. Leupoldís new line of VX-3i LRP (Long Range Precision) rifle scopes is one such line of products, and today we will be looking at one of the 8.5-25x50mm models from this new line.

    The new VX-3i LRP series of scopes were designed to meet the needs of long-range shooters while also providing them with options to tailor the scope to their specific needs based on their personal preferences. Both first and second focal plane reticle options are available in both MIL and MOA variations with turret adjustments to match. Users can choose to run the windage turret capped or exposed, and they can also choose whether or not they want to make use of an extended throw lever on the magnification ring. The TMR (MIL) and TMOA reticles are fairly simple in design yet extremely effective without being overly busy or cluttered.

    One of the bright points of the new VX-3i series of optics from Leupold is their new Twilight Max light management system. This system is designed to deliver finely balanced optical performance and to help keep hunters and shooters in the field longer. More than just light transmission, the Twilight Max light management system balances light across the entire visible spectrum leading to a brighter, crisper image. By balancing the available light across the entire spectrum the VX-3i allows for enhanced target acquisition, identification and shot placement in diminished light. The Twilight Max system also eliminates the washed-out image than can come from direct sunlight.

    External lens surfaces are treated with Leupoldís DiamondCoat 2, an ion-assist lens coating that allows for greater light transmission while also providing exceptional abrasion resistance to the surface of the lens. Additionally, lens edges throughout the optic are painted black to reduce light diffusion to ensure more usable light gets to the users eye.

    The VX-3i line of scopes utilizes Leupoldís new 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton Waterproofing system. This system uses a proprietary Argon/Krypton gas blend which nearly eliminates the effects of thermal shock and reduces the diffusion of gases sealed inside the scope even more than their proven nitrogen technology already does.

    Additionally, all of the VX-3i scopes feature Leupoldís Twin Bias Spring Erector System which provides up to 30% more holding force to the erector assembly. This virtually eliminates erector system backlash and stress on the vital internal components of the scope.

    For our testing today we will be looking at the 8.5-25x50mm variant fitted with a first focal-plane TMR reticle and MIL adjustments (SKU #172347).

    This particular scope features a 30mm main tube to allow for additional elevation and windage adjustment range. The weight of the scope comes in at 22.4 ounces while the overall length measures 14.6 inches. Eye-relief is reported to range from 5.3 to 3.7 inches depending on magnification. Field-of-View at 100 yards is 11.2 to 4.4 feet respectively. The ocular bell is fitted with a fast-focus eye-piece with locking ring. The turrets provide five MIL of adjustment per rotation in .1 MIL increments. MSRP for this model is listed as $1,299.99, and the current online price is right at $1,000.

    The turrets on the new LRP scopes have a couple of interesting features and will be the first thing we focus in on. On the elevation turret, Leupold has incorporated an adjustable zero stop as well as an integrated rotation indicator. The zero stop requires no shims or other special parts, just loosen the retention screws on the turret cap, dial it down until it stops and retighten the retention screws. The rotation indicator is timed to the turret cap and automatically resets itself when you set the zero stop. Some might see it as a little gimicky, but I like that itís different than then typical hash marks printed on the side of the turret tower. It should prove to be more accurate than the hash marks as well given it's timed to the turret cap.

    Moving to the windage turret, Leupold permits the user to decide if they wanted a capped or exposed knob by allowing for both. Out of the box the turret wears a standard screw-on cap, but should you wish to run it as an open turret Leupold also includes a thread protector ring to go in place of the cap to ensure the threads donít get messed up. As someone who prefers a capped windage turret I really like this solution, but some may not as the result is a smaller diameter windage knob than what is on the elevation turret.

    The turrets on the LRP model offer 5 MIL of adjustment per rotation with each click equating to .1 MIL. Total adjustment range for both windage and elevation is listed as 23 Mil.

    Another neat feature of the new LRP scopes can be found on the magnification dial. Throw levers are becoming more and more common these days and Leupold chose to incorporate theirs right into the magnification ring. The ring itself has a raised boss that serves as the mounting point for the throw lever extension. If for whatever reason you donít want the extended lever, you can simply unscrew it and replace it with the included flush-mount fill screw. Itís just another nice touch to accommodate user preference.

    For testing the VX-3i LRP was mounted atop a Savage Model 11 fitted with a Boyds Prairie Hunter stock and chambered in .22-250 Remington. Mounting hardware consisted of a TPS picatinny rail and a set of Leupold Mark 4 medium height rings.

    With the scope mounted to the rifle the first order of business was to break out the collimator to bore sight it and check the tracking. A 5-mil box test was performed three times in different directions and the LRP passed each with flying colors. Running the elevation up 15 mils showed the elevation to track plumb and true as well so no worries there.

    Heading out to the range I hung my chromatic aberration and resolution charts at 100 yards to see how the LRP would fare. I typically do these tests at 25 or 50 yards, but given the high magnification range of this scope I moved the charts out further. The LRP showed a distinctive edge in the chromatic aberration test but I was expecting that as the Twilight Max system hones in on blue and red which are the two colors used on my test chart. Moving on to resolution, the LRP did very well and on par with or just slightly better than the two other scopes I brought along for comparison.

    One complaint I have had with Leupold [and a few other brands] over the years was the slop in their side-focus mechanisms that often resulted in the parallax setting shifting a bit under recoil. Iím happy to report that the new LRP does not suffer from this issue. In fact, I couldnít discern any noticeable slop in the parallax adjustment. I still wish Leupold would use yardage references on their side-focus knobs rather than lines or dots of varying size as a scale, but if thatís all I have left to complain about itís a good thing.

    Overall I was extremely pleased with the brightness, clarity, contrast and resolution displayed by Leupoldís new VX-3i LRP. It is a very bright scope, and I would have to say that based on my experience with this particular scope their claims regarding the new Twilight Max systemís benefits hold merit as itís noticeably brighter than my Viper PST FFP thatís about five or six years old now. Everything else seemed to be on par between the two, and frankly that stuff is very subjective user to user anyway.

    The one negative I have with the LRP has to do with the eye relief. As noted earlier the eye relief for this specific model is listed as 5.3 to 3.7 inches, and I feel that is a pretty accurate assessment based on my use. However, the problem lies with the fact that this scope is pretty finicky about eye relief and if you set the scope up to be perfect for one extreme youíre going to have problems at the other extreme. In my case I mounted the scope so the eye relief was correct at 25x magnification, and as a result if I dial down to 8.5 magnification I really have to move my head back a good ways on the stock to get a clear full view through the scope with no shadowing. As you can imagine this puts me into a rather uncomfortable shooting position. This is a fairly typical symptom with all high power scopes that have a wide range of magnification offered (6-24x, 8.5-25x, 8-32x, etc.) so I was expecting a bit of an issue, but compared to other scopes I have used in the past or currently own this LRP just seems a little more fickle in that regard.

    All in all Iíve been very pleased with Leupoldís new LRP and I have a feeling itís going to shake the market up a little bit. It has some unique and forward thinking features that I really like in terms of versatility and user preference, but those same features may prove to be a detractor for others. The tracking system is spot on and dead-nuts reliable, and optically if would take a very well trained eye to discern any minor differences in image quality when compared to more expensive glass. The price is also in line with similarly equipped models from other manufacturers so cost shouldnít play a significant role in the decision making process.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Leupold had the Vortex Viper PST series in its sights when it developed this new LRP line, and I feel they are going to give the PSTís a real run for their money. Vortex has release a new upgraded Gen 2 version of the PST line this year which I have yet to have a chance to look through, so it will be interesting to see which one comes out on top. As in most cases when discussing rifle scopes, the decision for most shooters will likely come down to the their personal preference in terms of features and reticles.

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    Contact Information
    Leupold & Stevens
    P.O. Box 4985
    Beaverton, OR 97075-04985
    (503) 646-9171