Leupold Compact Scopes

By Chuck Hawks

Compact 2-7x28
Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is a fourth generation family owned company. They are located in Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.A. and have been building telescopic sights for over 50 years. Leupold scopes bear a distinctive gold ring around the objective bell to aid in identification, and have long been known as "Golden Ring Scopes."

All Leupold Compact riflescopes come with the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee. You don't even have to be the original owner. If any Leupold Golden Ring scope is found to have defects in materials or workmanship, Leupold will repair or replace it for free, period.

Leupold has been responsible for several important innovations in the riflescope field. The most important of these are the development of the first nitrogen charged and sealed waterproof scope, the Duplex reticle, and the compact scope, which are the models that are the subjects of this review.

I have always considered Leupold to be a "4-star" or "deluxe" scope manufacturer. The Compact line is true to Leupold's tradition of building deluxe riflescopes. These are scopes of proven durability, built to last for generations.

All air to glass lens surfaces in Compact scopes receive either Leupold's standard magnesium fluoride anti-reflection coatings or Multicoat 4 coatings for enhanced light transmission and freedom from glare. All Compacts are built with 1" diameter main tubes made of 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum alloy. Most are adjusted to be parallax free at a distance of 150 yards. The coin-slot windage and elevation adjustments are either of the continuous friction type marked in 1/2 minute of angle (MOA) increments or 1/4 MOA "click" adjustments. The eyepiece focus is focused by turning the ocular housing and is secured with a knurled locking ring. Compact scopes are sealed against moisture and nitrogen filled, making them waterproof and fog free.

Most Leupold Compact scopes are shipped with the standard Duplex reticle. This type of reticle, with heavy a crosshair that becomes a fine crosshair near the center of the field, was invented by Leupold and has since been copied by virtually all other scope manufacturers. It is the best reticle ever designed for most hunting applications. For the shooter who requires something different, the Leupold Custom Shop can install any of Leupold's 16 reticles (which include several specialized types not regularly available).

As the name implies, Compact scopes are designed to be more compact than regular scopes. They have smaller front objective bells, are shorter and consequently lighter than standard scopes. They can be mounted low and overbore on most rifles, a definite advantage. Compact scopes are a natural match for today's lightweight, short action rifles.

The Compact riflescope line includes two M8 fixed power models, a 2.5x20mm and a 4x28mm Rimfire Special. There is some unavoidable sacrifice in light grasp due to their smaller objective lenses; otherwise they are built to the same standards of performance and quality as other M8 scopes.

The 2.5x20mm is only 8" long and weighs 6.5 ounces. It has a 100 yard field of view of 39.5' and an eye relief of 4.9". Finish is matte black, and Duplex and Heavy Duplex reticles are offered.

The 4x Rimfire Special is 9.2" long and weighs 7.5 ounces. It is designed to be free of parallax at 60 yards. It comes with a gloss black finish and a Fine Duplex reticle.

There are two basic Compact zoom scopes. One is a 2-7x28mm and the other a 3-9x33mm.

There are two versions of the 2-7x28, one (intended for big game hunting) is adjusted to be parallax free at 150 yards, and the other (a Rimfire Special version) is adjusted to be parallax free at 60 yards. They are otherwise identical. The 2-7x28mm comes with a gloss black finish. It is 9.9 inches in length, and weighs only 8.2 ounces, making it one of the lightest 2-7x variables on the market. The 100 yard field of view is 41.7 feet at 2x and 16.5 feet at 7x. Optimum eye relief is 3.0-3.8 inches; the adjustment range is 80 MOA in both windage and elevation.

There are also two versions of the Compact 3-9x33mm scope. Again, the basic scope is for big game hunting, and the other is an EFR (extended focusing range) adjustable objective scope in the VX-II line intended for applications where precision close focusing is a must, such as rimfire and air rifle shooting. The EFR Compact is 0.3 inch longer, and weighs 2.2 ounces more than the standard version. It comes with a fine Duplex reticle and in matte black finish only.

The standard Compact 3-9x33mm scope comes with a matte black or silver finish. It is 11 inches in length and weighs 8.8 ounces. The 100 yard field of view is 34.0 feet at 3x and 13.5 feet at 9x. The optimum eye relief is 3.0-4.0 inches, and the windage and elevation adjustment range is 64 MOA.

Visually, all Leupold Compact scopes offer good definition and contrast. Sharpness from center to edge is good. Lens flare is well suppressed. They are solid hunting scopes and problems are rare. I prefer 1/4 MOA click adjustments to friction adjustments, but at least the friction adjustments provided on Compact scopes work well. I have used a Leupold Compact 2-7x28mm riflescope for many years with nary a complaint.

The Leupold Compact riflescopes are among the best of their kind. Their retail price is fairly high, but so is their quality. They offer good performance and value for the money. Sometimes good things really do come in small packages.

Back to the Scopes and Optics Information Page

Copyright 2003, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.