Leupold European-30 2-7x33mm and 1.25-4x20mm Riflescopes

By Ed Turner

Boy, am I impressed with these two scopes! I own a large number of rifles that I use for deer and general big game hunting. At one time, most had less than desirable glass mounted on them and over the past five years or so I've been attempting to replace the "junk" with quality scopes. I have purchased some 30 to 40 scopes in that period. Leupold, Bushnell Elite, Burris, Pentax, Redfield, Weaver and Zeiss scopes are now among my collection of more upscale and higher quality glass.

I'm not sure, but these two new scopes might just be the best of the lot! They have clarity only matched by my Zeiss (at least to my eye) and they have better twilight performance that that 3-9x40 Zeiss Conquest. I chose the heavy German #4 reticle for both of these scopes, figuring that I will use them mostly for eastern deer hunting in the woods.

I may add one more Leupold European-30 riflescope to my collection, a 3-9x40 as a long range scope for a nice .270 Sako rifle that I have. That 3-9x40 looks very nice with a 30mm tube.

I originally decided to use Leupold rings to mount the new scopes on my rifles of choice, a Browning BLR in .358 Win. for the 1.25-4x20 and a Remington Model 673 in .308 Win. for the 2-7x33. I must admit I was not totally enamored by the Leupold 30mm QD and permanent rings I received, so I decided to search for some Warne Maxima rings.

I finally located some Warne Maxima rings, a low permanent set for the 1.25-4x20 on the BLR and a set of medium QD for the 2-7x33 on the 673. This scope, at least for now, would likely be my scope of choice for a moose or elk hunt on top of either a .300 Mag. or .350 Rem. Magnum, so the QD rings serve a specific need here. I have used the Warne's before and they may well be the best rings I've ever used.

A bit more about the intended use of these two new scopes. The BLR in .358 has been one of my favorite rifles for many years and it will be used for both stand hunting and still hunting for deer and hogs anywhere I figure the likely range to be no more than 150 yards or so. Neither the caliber nor the scope are long range specialists and I would use another combo when figuring longer shots than that possible. The 673 in .308 is planned as an all around caliber and rifle for CPX2 or CXP3 game at ranges up to 300 yards. There is obviously some overlap here and I will likely use them both for similar situations and hunts as the mood strikes me. This set-up (673) might be very close to that very elusive "all-around" deer rifle and will be used thusly.

The only negative feature I have found about these two scopes is their use of one centimeter adjustments in windage and elevation, rather than 1/4 or 1/2 inch (MOA) increments. One centimeter does fit rather neatly in between them, though, at .3937". This did not prove to be any real hardship, as after about 5 minutes of work on my computer I had a chart printed showing the inches to centimeters conversion in half-inch increments. Leupold does not provide a great deal of information about these scopes, but here are some specifications from their web site ( www.leupold.com ).

Leupold European 30mm 1.25-4x20

  • Overall Length: 9.4"
  • Main Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Actual Magnification: 1.6x - 4.2x
  • FOV at 100yds: 28.8' at 4x; 74.1' at 1.25x
  • Eye Relief: 3.8" - 4.3"
  • Objective clear aperture: 20mm
  • Weight: 10.5 oz.
  • Windage and Elevation adjustment range: 87"
  • 2008 Discount Retail Price: $399 (approx.)
Leupold European-30 1.25-4x20mm
Leupold European-30 1.25-4x20mm. Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Leupold European 30mm 2-7x33

  • Overall Length: 11.1"
  • Main Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Actual Magnification: 2.6x - 6.6x
  • FOV at 100yds: 17.4' at 7x; 44.1' at 2x
  • Eye Relief: 3.8" - 4.9"
  • Objective clear aperture: 33mm
  • Weight: 11.7 oz.
  • Windage and Elevation adjustment range: 98"
  • 2008 Discount Retail Price: $399 (approx.)
Leupold European-30 2-7x33mm
Leupold European-30 2-7x33mm. Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Those are some VERY impressive numbers in the eye relief and adjustment categories! These scopes should be fine for ANY caliber rifle in terms of recoil and any type of mounting system you choose.

The optics are bright and clear from edge to edge, as you might expect from a fine Leupold scope. Other notable features include two reticle types available, the standard Duplex and the German #4, which is like a very heavy Duplex minus the thick upper post. (The upper post is fine from the center to the top.) The only finish available is matte black. These scopes have "Multi-Coat 4" lenses (like the familiar VX-II series) and a fast focus eyepiece. The fast-focus eyepiece is a nice step up for shooters who've not had that from a Leupold previously, although on one of my scopes it could be a little stiffer to prevent inadvertent movement. The windage and elevation dials are click positive and graduated in one centimeter (.3937") increments (as noted earlier) and the scopes are claimed to be "absolutely waterproof."

They both have the typical understated, handsome look for which Leupold scopes are known, with a matte black finish accented by the famous gold ring around the objective. I must mention Leupold's hard-anodized matte finish, as it is exceptionally durable. I think that a scope costing a few to several hundred dollars should come with a finish that's up to years of hunting use and Leupold's is! The European 30 scopes both have low adjustment turrets, which I prefer, and they generally resemble their first cousins in the VX-II line.

To my eye, there is no finer looking scope than a Leupold 2-7x, 1.75-6x, or 2.5-8x, as they are low profile scopes with a mostly symmetrical shape, front to rear, good mounting latitude, similar bell sizes and a compact length. If more companies followed Leupold's lead and supplied scopes of this general type and shape and quit trying to impress us by plastering their logo or name on the adjustment turret or their BIG objective lenses, I believe they might have more success competing against the big "L." I have two new and otherwise very nice Burris Fullfields that have the Burris name and logo in white on the side, YUCK! I do give thought to how a scope looks as well as how it will appear on a certain rifle. Perhaps I'm the only one to feel this way (although I doubt it), so enough said.

Leupold scopes are known to be very rugged and "weatherproof" and these European-30 models are no exception. They are covered by the best warranty in the business (other than the even more extensive Leupold VX-7 warranty, which is nothing short of awesome!). I have also found it quite enlightening to peruse the owner comments on the Midway USA ( www.midwayusa.com ) web site and it may behoove you to do so as well, when considering an expensive riflescope purchase.

As the saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding," or in this case, the shooting. So let's look at what I was able to learn. The low rings bought for the BLR set the scope closer to proper eye position than typical medium ones. The medium QD rings selected for the 673 worked well, as I'd previously had a scope mounted with Warne 1" QD rings on it and knew they'd be great.

After boresighting the rifles (again) it was time to hope for some mild February weather here in north central Tennessee to facilitate the sighting-in of these rifles. We finally had a crisp, but not cold, day, which happened to be the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday.

Both rifles were first fired at 50 yards for rough adjustment, one round at a time. I then moved back to 100 yards to fine tune these new scopes. By then I had gotten used to converting the centimeter adjustments to inches and the final fine adjustments were made without additional drama.

I have become a fan of the German #4 reticle. I believe that German hunters have something here, as I think this reticle is better in the woods than even the universally loved Leupold Duplex. Perhaps one might not get quite as precise a group at 100 or 200 yards using it at the range, but the added boldness of the three crosshairs is better for a hunter. Of course, this is simply my personal opinion looking at the scope and rifle as hunting tools rather than "paper punchers."

In any case, this reticle did not seem to hinder my shooting some one inch groups at 100 yards. As far as I am concerned, any rifle/scope combination capable of even double that at the range (2 MOA) is suitable for all woods hunting for big game. Shooting some sub one inch groups with the #4 reticle is simply cause for grins, knowing that my decision to go with this particular reticle was a good one. I will say here that if you've not tried one of these reticles, you may want to see what you have been missing. If I am lucky enough to get one more Leupold European-30 scope, this time for a long range rifle, it will be the 3-9x40 model and for that purpose it will have a standard Duplex reticle.

The verdict from this review is that I was and am very impressed with these Leupold European-30 scopes. I will even go so far as to state that, in the future, this is the line at which I'll look first when I need a new riflescope. I cannot think of a better recommendation to give you. From what I've learned over the years, this moderately priced scope line should be carefully considered by anyone considering a good quality glass to put atop a fine rifle. Simply stated, an excellent value, a trusted name and a great combination for anyone needing a moderate power riflescope.

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Copyright 2008 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.