We should probably touch upon Leupold and SHOT...
In a previous SHOTSHOW blog, I mentioned what I thought were the highlights of SHOTSHOW scopes. Missing was Leupold. If you missed that blog, you can read about the Scopes for 2018 here.
Why was Leupold missing? I am actually a Leupold fan, and take a lot of heat for sticking-up for Leupold on some of the scope-snob forums where I lurk at night. The reason I did not put Leupold on the list of scopes to get excited about in 2018 is that I did not get excited when I visited Leupold. Yes, they have the Mark 5, and we can discuss that.
First, my feelings about Leupold. We buy and sell a lot of Leupold at Charlie's, but that is because we build and sell a lot of military rifle uppers. During the War on Terror, in the Afghanistan and Iraq theater, Leupold was the scope of choice for many, many military rifles, with medium and long range capability. The Mk12, the SAM-R, the Mk11 and M110, and now the M2010. So, at Charlie's we stock one of the largest inventory of military correct Leupold scopes in the US.
In the past, I traveled every other week for work. so I will use a hotel analogy. Leupold is like Marriott. If you stay at a Marriott you will know what I mean. In the hospitality industry they have a saying: Marriott manages the basement. This simply means: You never find a bad Marriott. You also seldom find a 5-Star hotel. With Marriott, like Leupold, you know what to expect. It is a solid 3-Star scope. I have never had a bad one. I am sure someone has, but every Leupold I look at is clear, and works well. Right down to the Mark AR for $300. But, the only really great Leupold I ever held was a Mark 8, the 1.1-8x CQBSS with M5B1 knobs and front focal plane. Amazing scope. Best 1-8x I have ever looked through... until la few weeks back at SHOT, when I picked up the NF ATACR 1-8x !!!
So, lots of respect for Leupold. I have a number of them on my personal military clone weapons. Also, perfect recommendation for someone who is wondering what scope to pick. You can never go wrong, just like you can never go wrong telling your brother he should stay at a Marriott. Just know that they probably will not turn your sheets down and put mints on your pillow at night. :)
As for the Mark 5, it looks like an impressive scope. I love the lower knobs, much like they did with the Mark 6. They have also brought in HD glass and over-size selector rings. I really do like the 3-18x Mark 5. It is like an ultra short, but they do not call it that. With the TMR reticle, which has been a great, simple and clean milrad illuminated reticle for Leupold. I am not a mil-dot fan, so this is a variation of the mil-dot, that I really like. And, I like how they have brought down the up-charge for illumination that exists on the Mark 6. It is still high, but better. They have an entirely different illumination architecture in the Mark 5, 6 and 8, so it is better, but more complex and expensive than the Mark 4.
But, am I impressed that Leupold has unveiled a new line of 5x scopes? Not so much. The innovation is luke-warm. Now, I think the market will react well, and I like the scope, it bravo to Leupold for catching-up with the market. But, it is a crawl to catch-up and not a lead in innovation. It is an answer to the question: How do we price a scope lower than the Mark 6 and not dilute the price of the Mark 6? Answer: go backwards and build a Mark 5.
What do I mean go backwards? I mean, Leupold has an 8x and a 6x and a 4x. They chose a 5x. Backwards from a Mark 6 and Mark 8. Definitely forward from a Mark 4.
I mean, Leupold has the Mark 6 and the Mark 8. For those not familiar with Leupold tactical scopes, these are their 6x and 8x respectively. Most of the military scopes on the sniper weapons were 3x "in the day." The Mark 5 has improved housing and glass of the Mark 4, and looks sharp. There is just no "wow" there to tell you that this scope is going to be one to watch for 2018. Wow would have been to bring the Mark 8 CQBSS to a true 1x, like the NightForce or the Schmidt and Bender. The Mark 5 will probably outsell the NightForce line, and there will be lots of happy customers. We will probably carry a couple of them, as they are solid scopes. I want to try one out. I am sure I will be happy.
To be fair, I like the scope, and am very happy that Leupold came out with this line-up. We will actually start stocking more Mark 5's for sale than we have Mark 8s or non-military Mark 4s. It will be a big seller, and a solid scope, so I am a little torn. It quiets a lot of critics who have felt that Leupold was only 10 year old technology. The Mark 5 is certainly new technology and great pricing. The Mark 5 just did not hit my list of "wow, take a look at this!" at SHOTSHOW.
So, for equal time, since I could not get that excited about Leupold, here is a clip from SHOTSHOW, from someone much more good looking, and brought a camera team with him from the NRA American Rifleman: