Leupold VX-III Riflescopes

By Chuck Hawks

Leupold VX-III 2.5-8x36
Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc. has been building telescopic sights in the state of Oregon, U.S.A. for over 50 years. This longevity has given the folks at Leupold an opportunity to find out what works and what is necessary in the real world, and it shows in their riflescopes.

The company also sells binoculars, spotting scopes, red dot sights, mounts and rings, and sundry accessories. I have owned and used Leupold binoculars, scopes, mounts and rings, and can personally testify to their quality and value.

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, the compact scope, and the first use of Torx Drive mount fasteners.

All Leupold riflescopes come with the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee. You don't even have to be the original owner to take advantage of this guarantee. If any Leupold Golden Ring scope is found to have defects in materials or workmanship, Leupold will repair or replace it for free, period. There is no time limit, and no need for a guarantee card.

The subject of this review are the Leupold VX-III rifle scopes. These excellent scopes are the heart of the Leupold scope line, with the most models and options from which to choose. These are premium scopes of proven durability, literally built to last for generations.

VX-III scopes feature the Index Matched Lens System that achieves up to 98% TOTAL light transmission. They offer fully multi-coated optics that appear sharp from center to edge. All air to glass surfaces, inside and out, are coated with Leupold's proprietary Multcoat 4 anti-reflective lens coatings for excellent light transmission and freedom from glare.

Standard VX-III's are built with one-piece 25mm (1") main tubes made of 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum alloy. Side Focus models are built on 30mm main tubes for increased internal adjustment range.

The accurate, coin-slot, windage and elevation adjustments "click" in 1/4 minute of angle increments. The reticle remains centered and appears the same size at all magnifications. The fast eyepiece focus is achieved by turning the threaded ocular bell; there is a locking ring to prevent inadvertent change. VX-III scopes are guaranteed to maintain their point of impact at all magnification settings. All Leupold scopes are sealed against moisture and nitrogen filled, making them waterproof and fog free.

Leupold VX-III scopes are available in a plethora of models. Some of these are special target and/or Long Range scopes. Long Range models feature side focus parallax correction. Target models have target style adjustment knobs. In 2005 the VX-III scope line includes the following magnification ranges and models: 1.5-5x20mm, 1.75-6x32mm E, 2.5-8x36mm, 3.5-10x40mm, 3.5-10x50mm, 4.5-14x40mm, 4.5-14x40mm Long Range, 4.5-14x50mm Long Range, 6.5-20x40mm Long Range, 6.5-20x40mm EFR Target, 6.5-20x50mm Long Range Target, and 8.5-25x50mm Long Range Target.

All models are available with a matte black finish. Most are also available in gloss black, and five of the more popular models are available with a silver finish.

The 1.5-5x20mm, 3.5-10x50mm, and 4.5-14x50mm scopes are available with an illuminated reticle. Leupold makes 5 different illuminated reticles. These are the Fine Duplex, Duplex, German #4, Circle Dot, and Mil Dot, although not every scope is available with every reticle.

VX-III scopes are regularly available with some 11 different reticle styles. These include the Fine Duplex, Duplex, Heavy Duplex, Leupold Dot, Target Dot, Post and Duplex, German #1, German #4, Mil Dot, and Boone and Crockett Big Game and Varmint Reticles. Usually only three or four of these are standard in any single scope model (why would you want a Heavy Duplex in a 6.5-20x scope?), but the Leupold Custom Shop can install any of Leupold's 16 reticles (including several specialized types not regularly available). Some VX-III models offer the unique Duplex Range Estimating System.

Most VX-III scopes are shipped with the standard Duplex reticle. This type of reticle, with a heavy 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.

In my opinion the Leupold VX-III line is one of the best in the deluxe class, and earn a 4-star-plus rating. A Leupold VX-III scope of suitable magnification is a good choice for virtually any hunting rifle. They are relatively expensive, but offer good value for the money.

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Copyright 2005, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.