New Leupold Scope


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~z
February 13, 2006, 01:11 PM
I have for a long while now thought that a large objective is a mixed bag. I love them, (assuming quality glass repeatable adjustments, you know, the stuff that goes along with a good high quality scope) for their clarity in low light, but don’t like the high mounts necessary to run them. Years back, I began to wonder why no one offered a scope with a semicircular notch out of the bottom of the objective to allow for lower mounting.

Now Leopold has done just that. I’m not certain of the model #, but discovered one while perusing a recent gun mag. I believe it is offered in a 50 or 54mm objective. Does anyone have experience with this scope or care to comment on pros/cons of such a design?...Zak? ...others?
~z

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Sulaco
February 13, 2006, 01:23 PM
The scope you are talking about is Leupold's new VX-L. It seems like a neat idea even if it is ugly as sin. I think I will stick with a 40mm objective lens. Even with the melt down job, the 56mm bell is huge. Take a look.

http://www.leupold.com/products/vx-l/main.html

~z
February 13, 2006, 03:23 PM
yea, thats the one, sorry, too lazy to look up the mod #. yes, it is huge, but I dont consider that to be a bad thing. Just curious to see if anyone has experience with it or cared to explain the pros/cons of the design.
~z

dakotasin
February 13, 2006, 03:43 PM
no experience here. i don't think they've even made it to stores yet - probably after shot is over.

i doubt i'll be getting some, though - really don't care for the appearance, and it still doesn't solve the biggest problem of big obj glass: weight.

~z
February 13, 2006, 04:09 PM
yes, true that the little chunk out of the bottom of it is not going to save much weight. I like a smaller obj for most all my carry rifles. I'm thinking more along the lines of laying up on the rimrock and shooting rocks, pulling up a bench and spanking prairie dogs, and that sort of rifle. It definately does not look like something I would want to carry about all day.
~z

gbran
February 13, 2006, 10:42 PM
Cabelas already has these in their 2006 Shooting/Reloading catalog. They list for $$699 to $829.

asknight
February 13, 2006, 11:24 PM
Bass Pro Shops has them out on their retail floors now. I handled one this past Saturday. It was very comparable to the VX-II 3-9x50mm as far as I could tell in the store. Both of them were excellent on bringing out the details of the mounted sheep and rams on the far wall away from lights in a dark corner, around 75 yards away. I know that's not a very accurate way to compare scopes, but it was all I could do within the confines of the store.

It looks like you could use these with very low rings, but it's going to be a bear to clean the exterior of the barrel under the objective lens, possibly leading to rust in that area of the gun if you don't like to remove your scope for routine cleaning.

~z
February 14, 2006, 03:57 PM
Just kicking it back into the mix. Still curious to hear comments. Seems like a good design/idea to me but looking for more info before I take the plunge.
~z

USSR
February 14, 2006, 04:03 PM
It's an abomination that will drive serious riflemen away from Leupold's products and further reduce Leupold's market share. Of course, the clueless will embrace it.:rolleyes:

Don

~z
February 14, 2006, 04:17 PM
OK, now that we have your opinion, will you please explain yourself? I suppose I consider myself a serious rifleman, so could you please explain to me why you consider it an abomination. I am just doing my homework here and other places and looking for intelegent input.
~z

Zak Smith
February 14, 2006, 04:49 PM
Rhetorical question:

Scope A and B are both over $1200 retail. Scope A has a 44mm objective. Scope B has a 56mm objective. Both are set to 10x and tested in low light. Scope A (44mm) is brighter and the user can make out more target detail on a 550 yard target.

What does this say about the important of glass quality vs. objective diameter?

~z
February 14, 2006, 05:00 PM
Zak, are you saying that the Leupold VX-L has a lower quality of glass? I realize spending $1200 on a scope does not mean that you have bought a good scope, simply that you have a scope and not $1200. I have been happy with a few 44mm objs. I understand the point you are making, respect your input, etc. What is your opinion of this scope in its current configuration?
~z

Zak Smith
February 14, 2006, 05:07 PM
I have not handled the VX-L at all.

My point was that glass quality can make more difference in low light performance than objective size.

If you have two scopes with the same quality glass, the one with the larger objective and larger exit pupil will be better in low light. Likewise, if you have two scopes with the same objective size & exit pupil, the one with the better glass will have better low light performance.

Leupold should have spent that effort producing better glass, cheaper.

The "A" vs. "B" example was from an actual experiment using scopes generally more expensive than Leupolds.

Also consider that for the intended market of the curent VX-L scopes (ie, hunting NOT tactical/LR applications), hunting most game isn't legal at night in the U.S. anyway.

~z
February 14, 2006, 05:29 PM
Thank you for your input Zak, you were a large part of my target audience for the question. I was/ am considering one for tinkering with, swapping around between long range target rifle, prairie dog rifle, varmint (night shooting) rifle, and hog hunting (also commonly a night time practice for me) rifle. Before any purchasing, I intend to do more homework, find out if Leupold will change reticle etc.
~z

TIMC
February 15, 2006, 12:46 AM
Just kicking it back into the mix. Still curious to hear comments. Seems like a good design/idea to me but looking for more info before I take the plunge.
~z

Won't be on my buy list, if you want to go above 40mm for light transmission and don't like high mounts then go for one of Leupold's 30mm tube scopes. The 30mm tube allows great light transmission even with a 40mm objective and allows you to get the scope down low.

Zak Smith
February 15, 2006, 12:56 AM
Won't be on my buy list, if you want to go above 40mm for light transmission and don't like high mounts then go for one of Leupold's 30mm tube scopes. The 30mm tube allows great light transmission even with a 40mm objective and allows you to get the scope down low.
Tube diameter has nothing to do with light transmission. A larger tube diameter allows more windage & elevation adjustment of the erector assembly.

USSR
February 15, 2006, 08:32 AM
...could you please explain to me why you consider it an abomination.

As Zak stated, you want to improve a scope, then you put better glass in it or improve the consistency of the W&E adjustments. Putting a "notch" at the bottom of the scope is pure Madison Avenue gimmicktry and the people who know scopes will see it for what it is.

Don

~z
February 15, 2006, 11:47 AM
USSR, thank you. These are some of the answers I'm looking for. The concept seems sound to me, hypothetically speaking. Take Leupold out of the eqn for a moment. Insert "super scope of your choosing" take all the negative things anyone may want to say about the weight and/or and bad things about large objective scopes. This proposed super scope has excellent glass, plenty of repeatable adjustment, awesome light transmission...it is a sound piece of equipment with a 56mm objective.

Now based on this hypothetical piece of equipment, is there a disadvantage to taking a notch out of the base of the objective to allow the scope to be mounted closer to the bore line?

I apologize for the ambiguous way this question was originally asked. Above is the question I should have asked, I am only wondering if the concept is sound.
~z

Zak Smith
February 15, 2006, 12:52 PM
Now based on this hypothetical piece of equipment, is there a disadvantage to taking a notch out of the base of the objective to allow the scope to be mounted closer to the bore line?

I apologize for the ambiguous way this question was originally asked. Above is the question I should have asked, I am only wondering if the concept is sound.
I think that the exit pupil may be larger for the "eclipse" configuration, compared to a smaller diameter objective. I have not seen any data on how much the "eclipsed" part of the lens reduces light gathering vs. a conventional 56mm objective.

USSR
February 15, 2006, 02:52 PM
...is there a disadvantage to taking a notch out of the base of the objective to allow the scope to be mounted closer to the bore line?

Must be a bitch getting an objective lense cover on it.:D

Don

~z
February 15, 2006, 03:19 PM
Any thing else?

KIDGLOCK
February 15, 2006, 05:04 PM
WHY?

cidirkona
February 15, 2006, 06:19 PM
I think you've all mised a very important question...

When will this be available in a 110mm version, where the semi-circular notch in the bottom looks much more like a keyhole? Maybe a 186mm version? Should we start measuring in feet?

-Colin

Sulaco
February 16, 2006, 12:10 PM
I think the point that is being lost on some is that it doesn't matter how good a job they do grinding the glass or coating the lens, nor does it matter what unobtanium the bell and tube are made from or how precise the adjustments are, there are some of us that just see right through all the gadgetry and still prefer a good 40mm or smaller scope at a decent price.

Marketing pure and simple. That's what this new design is.

LAK
February 17, 2006, 07:14 AM
Unless one is planning on shooting at very small targets or varmints in very poor light I see no advantage to objectives over 40mm. They are heavy, bulky, and serve to raise the line of sight too high above the bore. I think many a trim and handy rifle are turned into unwieldy pieces with big scopes bolted onto them, and personally I prefer low to mid magnifications and objectives of less than 40mm; even down to 20mm on 4x or less.
------------------------------------------

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~z
February 17, 2006, 11:23 AM
LAK, I believe you are completely missing my point, I am “planning on shooting very small targets or varmints in poor light” and this scope has a large objective but mounts close to the bore.
I’m not some mindless “is its bigger it must be better” type. I understand the value of a trim, light weight rifle in a cal appropriate to the game being hunted. This is not to be mounted on a spot and stalk rifle. I too prefer the low to mid magnifications on a rifle for this purpose. This scope (Leupold VX-L) would be out of place in such applications.

My question: “Is there some inherent flaw in this design?”
My question is not: “ Are large diameter objectives are too big and what birth defects do they cause?”

kennyboy
February 18, 2006, 12:00 AM
The VX-L is very cool. In fact, it won Optic of the Year.

Zak Smith
February 18, 2006, 12:48 AM
The VX-L is very cool. In fact, it won Optic of the Year.
And what won the USMC and CAN contracts?

LAK
February 18, 2006, 10:31 AM
My question: “Is there some inherent flaw in this design?”
My question is not: “ Are large diameter objectives are too big and what birth defects do they cause?”
Hmm, "inherent design flaw"? It's a marketing exercize. I wouldn't buy one for anything. :D
-----------------------------------------------

http://ussliberty.org
http://ssunitedstates.org

Michael Courtney
February 18, 2006, 10:52 AM
Also consider that for the intended market of the curent VX-L scopes (ie, hunting NOT tactical/LR applications), hunting most game isn't legal at night in the U.S. anyway.

There is an awful lot of low-light hunting in the US. Nealrly ever area allows deer hunging 1/2 hour before sunrise. On an overcase morning with no snow on the ground, getting decent target acquisition requires a scope with very good target acquisition. In this situation, there are noticable differences between a Leupold Vari-X II and Leupold Vari-X III (both with 40mm objectives) and also a noticable difference between a Leupold Vari-X III with 40mm objective and a Leupold Vari-X III with 50 mm objective.

In addition, there are many species which can legally be hunted at night in many locations. In Ohio, hunters can pursue fox, raccoon, and coyote at night. Many other states allow night hunting of bobcat and cougar at night. These kinds of hunting absolutely require better light collection than the average 40mm deer hunting scope. There are also an increasing number of deer being killed by culling operations (deer snipers) or on deer damage control permits. Most of this activity occurs at night and requires a scope with good light collection.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
February 18, 2006, 11:04 AM
As Zak stated, you want to improve a scope, then you put better glass in it or improve the consistency of the W&E adjustments. Putting a "notch" at the bottom of the scope is pure Madison Avenue gimmicktry and the people who know scopes will see it for what it is.

Don

Every technological advancement needs to be viable from a marketing point of view or it will fail from lack of sales.

The notch at the bottom of a large objective scope is a technically sound idea for those who want improved light collection while keeping the scope axis closer to the bore axis.

As has been mentioned, better glass is a viable alternative approach to accomplishing the same goal. Just because you'd rather see the goal accomplished one way does not mean that Leupold's solution is an invalid approach.

I know scopes pretty well. I have a PhD in optical physics, I own a lot of high end scopes, and I've done a lot of hunting in low-light conditions, both varmint/predator hunting as well as shooting deer at night under a damage control permit.

Leupold's new design is welcome in the field.

Michael Courtney

Zak Smith
February 18, 2006, 03:37 PM
There is an awful lot of low-light hunting in the US. Nealrly ever area allows deer hunging 1/2 hour before sunrise. On an overcase morning with no snow on the ground, getting decent target acquisition requires a scope with very good target acquisition. In this situation, there are noticable differences between a Leupold Vari-X II and Leupold Vari-X III (both with 40mm objectives) and also a noticable difference between a Leupold Vari-X III with 40mm objective and a Leupold Vari-X III with 50 mm objective.

Which would be better served by better glass...

Andrew Wyatt
February 18, 2006, 03:44 PM
at a certain point, there is a fall off point where bigger exit pupil doesn't increase the effectiveness of the optical system. afaik, this is around 7mm. once you reach that point, the only way to get a brighter and easily seen image is to increase the optical transmission of the system. I.E. better glass.

Michael Courtney
February 18, 2006, 07:44 PM
Which would be better served by better glass...

Of course, for a given scope design, improving the glass will always improve the light transmission.

Similarly, for a given glass quality, increasing the objective diameter will improve transmission at the higher magnifications.

But the fixed quantity in the equation of a scope manufacturer is the price point and marketing considerations. Improving the VX III design by going to significantly better glass would mean an significantly higher price point, and it would also require Leupold to go to new supply chains for the higher-end glass.

And you are right about the marketing angles. It's harder to market better glass to the American sportsman, because this difference doesn't show up until the sportsman uses the optic in the field. Effective marketing of American sporting goods requires a difference that is easy to notice in the store or on the pages of a catalog.

In addition, Leupold going to better glass on a high-end scope line would have a negative marketing impact on their VX-III line because it would be an implicit admission that their VX-III line isn'e using the best available glass.

So while your point is right that the best technical decision to improve on scope quality for the american sporting use is to use better glass, it's a loser of a business decision because:
1. Too few american sportsman will pay the price.
2. Too few sportsman will pay for an advantage they can't see in the store.
3. It is foolish to introduce a product which reveals a major weakness in existing products.

The bottom line is that both the construction quality and the glass quality in Leupold scopes are already impressively high for most american sporting uses. Other than lowering the optical axis, I've never wished for much more than Leupold offers, and I've certainly never wanted more badly enough to justify over $1000 for better glass. And I am one of relatively few american sportsman with kills past 500 yards.

The small market share to be gained with better glass or construction suitable for military uses is really confined to military/LEO applications and the varmint hunters who aspire to 1000 yard kills. These needs can and will be served by the niche businesses. However, the new design that Leupold has introduced is significant enough that at some point I expect that the niche higher-end optics companies will probably introduce similar technologies to maintain exit pupil which reducing the distance from the rifle bore to the optical axis of the scope.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
February 18, 2006, 08:01 PM
at a certain point, there is a fall off point where bigger exit pupil doesn't increase the effectiveness of the optical system. afaik, this is around 7mm. once you reach that point, the only way to get a brighter and easily seen image is to increase the optical transmission of the system. I.E. better glass.


Of course, but to get a 7mm exit pupil at 10X magnification requires a 70mm objective. My own eyes can only utilize an exit pupil of 5mm, but even so, a 4.5-14X 50 mm objective variable scope loses some brightness for me when turned to magnifications higher than 10X. This probably is the point where further increasing the objective diameter rather than increasing the glass quality will both yield diminishing returns as well as introduce significant negative consequences. However, the price premium required for the glass quality to offer the same improved light gathering at 10X as going from a 40mm to a 50mm objective is not just cost prohibitive, the glass itself does not even exist.


Michael Courtney

Zak Smith
February 18, 2006, 08:57 PM
Of course
[...]

So while your point is right that the best technical decision to improve on scope quality for the american sporting use is to use better glass, it's a loser of a business decision because:
1. Too few american sportsman will pay the price.
2. Too few sportsman will pay for an advantage they can't see in the store.
3. It is foolish to introduce a product which reveals a major weakness in existing products.

Seems like you're agreeing, in many more words, that this IS primarily a marketing exercise.

LAK
February 19, 2006, 09:38 AM
at a certain point, there is a fall off point where bigger exit pupil doesn't increase the effectiveness of the optical system. afaik, this is around 7mm. once you reach that point, the only way to get a brighter and easily seen image is to increase the optical transmission of the system. I.E. better glass.
Right; because the maxium dilation of the average human eye pupil is about 7mm - and this maximum dilation usually lessens with aging. All a larger exit pupil does beyond the maximu pupil diameter is make the centering of the eyepiece less critical with a binocular or spotting scope.
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http://ssunitedstates.org

Michael Courtney
February 19, 2006, 10:13 AM
Seems like you're agreeing, in many more words, that this IS primarily a marketing exercise.

There is a marketing angle to ever product decision a business makes. However, there are sound technical reasons for it also. At 10X magnification, increasing the objective from 40mm to 50mm increases the exit pupil from 4mm to 5mm and thus increases light transmission by 56%. Leupold's glass quality is high enough that you cannot achieve the same improvement in light transmission by improving glass quality.

Michael Courtney

~z
February 20, 2006, 10:57 AM
Michael, Thank you for your input. Do you, by chance own one of these scopes? I am curious to see how this design evolves. Obviously it is market driven, what isnt? But you have answered many of my questions, thank you.
~z

Michael Courtney
February 20, 2006, 04:59 PM
Michael, Thank you for your input. Do you, by chance own one of these scopes? I am curious to see how this design evolves. Obviously it is market driven, what isnt? But you have answered many of my questions, thank you.
~z

No I don't. I own at least a dozen Leupold scopes of other designs with a variety of magnifications and objective diameters.

My concern with the design is the greater difficulty keeping a non-circular objective lense rigidly in place while maintaining an airtight scope. Leupold has decades of experience keeping scopes rigid and airtight with circular lenses; however, they must have employed some new technologies in this case. I have every degree of confidence that the optical quality of the scope will meet expectations, but it will take 15-20 years before that I have the same level of confidence in the long-term reliability of this design that I have in their designs based on circular lenses. In the meantime, I'll use a cheek piece and stick to their other designs.

I prefer to let other buyers help companies work the bugs out of new designs and I tend to avoid any product at least for the first few model years.

Leupold has been introducing new products very rapidly in the last few years, and having worked in the field of design validation and quality control, I know that it a couple of lemon designs can slip through when a company introduces a lot of new products in a short time, because each design might not get the design validation it needs due to manpower constraints.

Michael Courtney

~z
February 20, 2006, 06:43 PM
I prefer to let other buyers help companies work the bugs out of new designs and I tend to avoid any product at least for the first few model years.

my thoughts exactly.
~z

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