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Author: Mike Schoby
Leupold unleashes their new scope, the VX - III, and we put it to the test.
Whether it was because I grew up in the Northwest, close to Leupold's factory, or whether it was just the crowd I hung around with, but in my youth there was nothing I wanted more than a Leupold Vari-X III. I considered Leupold scopes to be the epitome of riflescopes. To have a Vari-X III meant to have the best there was, and was often the mark of a discriminating hunter. Like few opinions of my youth, this one has stood the test of time, and even as an adult, with a lot of scopes under my belt, I still feel Leupold scopes are one of the best scopes in their class and are always the mark of an experienced shooter.
For my generation, the Vari-X III was Leupold's premier riflescope, until now. For 2004 Leupold decided it was time to replace the old standby and incorporate all their 100 years of optical experience into one new model; the VX-III.
The name sounds familiar doesn't it? And while the two generations of scopes are similar, after playing with the new VX-III, I can honestly say, it is not simply a cosmetic makeover of the Vari-X III. From the ground up, the engineers at Leupold burned the midnight oil to create a scope worthy of their name and reputation.
To begin with, they added finger-adjustable windage and elevation dials. Say good-bye to searching for a screwdriver or coin when you want to make an adjustment. In addition to convenience, this feature avoids the potential marring from using the wrong tool for the job. In addition to the finger adjustment knobs, another great feature of the new adjustments is the resetable pointer dials, which mark zero. This simple, silver sliding ring makes it a breeze to sight in your rifle, mark the position, make elevation/windage changes (either for different ammo or for different hunting conditions) and later return to the exact setting the rifle was sighted-in for.
I tried this feature out at the range and it worked flawlessly. After sighting-in the gun, I made 20 clicks worth of elevation, fired a group, returned to my zero mark and fired another group. The gun was dead on. This feature will come in very handy on next year's elk hunt. I usually sight in at home then travel to the high country for elk. Invariably due to elevation changes, I have to re-sight in my rifle once in camp. It will be nice not having to re-sight when I return home for the remainder of my local deer and antelope season - simply by resetting the zero to the marked location, I can hunt without worry.
Another great feature of the new VX-III is the side-focus parallax adjustment (on select models). There is nothing more frustrating on a higher-powered scope than to pull up for a shot and realize the parallax is out of adjustment. The only thing more annoying is straining forward to reach the objective lens, craning your head out of position to read the yardage numbers and adjusting the parallax. Not so with the new VX-III as its parallax adjustment is conveniently located on the side of the turret opposite from the windage adjustment. Now when changes have to be made, you can keep your cheek firmly planted to the stock, and reach up with your non-shooting hand to make adjustments. Quick and easy is the name of the game here.
However, what stood out the most to me on the VX-III when I used it for the first time, were the optics - they are simply awesome. I have come to expect clarity, excellent light transmission and exceptional definition from all Leupold optics, but the VX-III takes it to another level. Technically speaking, Leupold calls their new process the Index Matched Lens System. What this means is that every lens within the VX-III has a coating that is unique to its application to allow the maximum amount of light to be transferred. All combined, the VX-III transmits up to 98% of the total light.
Since Leupold was in the process of improving the already legendary Vari-X-III they took the time to rethink reticles and in the process teamed up with America's strongest wildlife conservation organization. The Boone and Crockett Club. Since 1887 Boone and Crockett has promoted wildlife conservation, ethical fair chase hunting and was a natural partner to name this new long-range reticle after. Leupold, committed to helping hunter make the most accurate, ethical shot possible to cleanly harvest big game, designed their new Boone and Crockett reticle with the big-game hunter in mind.
Designed to be used with modern cartridges, the integral drop points can be calibrated for over two-dozen calibers. The idea behind the Boone and Crockett reticle is to sight-in dead-on at 200-yards with the main cross hair (with most modern calibers this puts the bullet anywhere between one-and three-inches high at 100-yards). Then it has crossbars for 300, 400, 450 and 500 yards. Either end of the 300 and 400-yard cross mark indicates the correct aiming point for a 10-mph crosswind.
Aside from the Boone and Crockett reticle, the VX-III can also be had in 12 other reticle configurations, including the new Wide Duplex and the Varmint Hunter. It should be noted that the VX-III is also available in 30mm main tube as well as the standard 1-inch.
To sum it all up, the VX-III is everything a hunter can hope for. Leupold took an already highly successful product, the Vari-X III, made some great changes and incorporated some innovative new ideas. All and all it is a scope well worth the Leupold name to bring them through the next 100 years.
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