Leupold Mk AR 1.5-4x w/ SPR Reticle

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Bcamos, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    So, from what I understand the Mk AR series of optics was put out by Leupold to be a budget friendly option for a quality optic. These start around $300 or so for the basic options and go up to around $500 for the SPR reticle.
    [​IMG]

    The SPR reticle is what really drew me in to this optic. It's a basic Mil/hash crosshair with a single green dot in the middle (Indicated in the name as with either SPR-G or SPR-R). I liked this, more so than the Vortex and Bushnell optics I tried out. Both had these fancy, first focal plane reticles that were a standard dot at 1X and a BDC horeshoe dark magic thing at 4X. They were busy, and crowded. Especially for that magnification range, the reticle with illumination has to be pretty bold and it just takes up too much glass. With the SPR, the point of focus for your eye is small, and very easy to pick up against the black crosshair.
    [​IMG]
    (In this picture, it's on 1.5x and the illumination is directly in the middle of the spectrum. This is a perfect bright green dot for overcast use.



    Obviously price played a huge roll. As with most things, I buy second hand - usually from someone that bought high end and then barely used it. It gets me a good deal on the backend and if there's already a scratch, I don't feel bad beating it up some more. I ended up paying right around $350 for this optic, with the Burris PEPR mount. That's a steal, no matter who you are.

    Another HUGE advantage to this optic is weight. I had a Bushnell 30mm 1-4 and it literally weighed twice as much. I believe this optic is somewhere around 9oz. The Bushnell was over a pound and a half with the mount.

    While zeroing, the turrets have a nice clean crisp click, and they track very well (numbers lining up with the hash mark on the scope body) with no wiggle at all. After zeroing at 100yds (recommended for this scope because of the BDC turret) you can unscrew the turret set screws and place the turret on Zero, then lock back down. Now, as long as you're using 55gr .223 the elevation turret will work some pretty neat magic. There are corresponding numbers on the elevation turret that at first make no sense - since they're not equally spaced. 1, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6 and 6.5. They're yardage markers. All the way up to 650yds. The 1 indicates Zero, at 100yds. I've actually used this out to 530yds with a very high success rate. Easy as pie - laser your target, then just click over to the appropriate range on your elevation turret, place the green dot on the target and squeeze the trigger.
    [​IMG]

    I've also used this at very short range (25yds) and at 1.5x, I can easily shoot with both eyes open, very fast with no issues. Just like having an RDS, though there's an eyebox. Which isn't too bad on this optic.

    Illumination is great. Daytime lume is very usable on the highest setting. Lowest setting is perfect for dark hallway use and doesn't cause any halo-ing around the dot. There's a button on the left hand side of the optic (it's the gold Leupold symbol) that controls all of the optics electronics. Press for on, press once to cycle through brightness and long pres to turn off. Now, that's not always necessary; and I find it very odd that Leupold doesn't advertise this next feature. The optic's electronics are movement sensitive. Meaning, after 5 minutes of inactivity - the illumination turns off. Pick up the rifle and it turns back on. I've tested this several times, and it works 100% of the time, every time.
    [​IMG]

    Overall, I'm extremely happy with this optic and have even considered picking up the 3-12 model for my MVP. I don't see me ever wanting or needing to swap this out, since it really is a do-it-all optic for my needs.

    Pros:
    • Budget Friendly
    • Light weight
    • Great illumination
    • Can always be left on
    • Great optical clarity
    • BDC turret works very well with the right load
    Cons:
    • 1" tube doesn't allow maximum amount of light in
    • Accessories are expensive (Throw lever, Leupold brand caps, etc.)
    • Not a true 1x optic**


    ** This is something I wanted to make a longer mention on. The $1500 Vortex HD's are a true 1x. Meaning, at 1x zoom there's absolutely NO MAGNIFICATION. This is exactly what you'd expect with an RDS. On the Leupold, it's a 1.5x, meaning there's a slight magnification at the lowest level. Some people aren't bothered by this and some people get a killer headache looking through 1.5x with both eyes open. It hasn't been an issue for me at all, since my eye focuses solely on the green dot and everything else just blends. This doesn't mean this optic can't be used in a CQB fashion, because it certainly can as long as you're able to deal with the .5 magnification with both eyes open. I'm not sure why Leupold did this, but I assume it has something to do with the cost savings of the Mk AR series.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  2. JMJ

    JMJ Member

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    Can't wait! This magnification range has gotten really interesting to me.
     
  3. rab.ii

    rab.ii Member

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    Lookin forward to this review, too. I find these low powered optics ideal for me.
     
  4. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    Updated the OP.
     
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  5. JMJ

    JMJ Member

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    Awesome review man! I'll definitely be keeping that model in mind.

    I'm like you some low end magnification doesn't bother me with both eyes open. I grew up deer hunting with a 30-06 remy model 4/742 semi with a fixed 4x and I've ran a fixed 4x leupold rimfire on my Abolt 22lr, when I started using Evanmcguyer's ACOG it was a natural fit for me. I can definitely see where having lower than 4x would be nice though.
     
  6. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    Thank you! When I first bought it, I considered it would only be good for solid hits out to about 250yds. But the first time I took it to 300, I knew the 4X really had more potential. At 400yds the green dot was pretty much covering my 12" gong and at 530 I was kind of having to hope I wasn't off to one side. But it still allowed me to connect at that range. I'd say this is a 0-350yd optic all day long for torso sized targets - when expecting to still call your shot.
     
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  7. Joelski

    Joelski Member

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    Nice review. I'm not a fan of 1/1.5 binocular migraines, which pushed me into the Accupower for its true 1-4x range. I dot like the reticle, but I like the broken ring/ 1moa dot better because of the holdovers while avoiding the crazy busy look. I've been getting stuff less often because I find exactly what I'm looking for usually takes an extra payday or so to pull off.
     
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  8. JMJ

    JMJ Member

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    I'm a fan of the Burris PEPR mount, I've been using one to mount the leupy VXII 3-9x50mm on 20" bushmaster predator for the last year or more and it's been rock solid. That scope and mount will probably migrate to my LR308 for this deer season once it's finished.
     
  9. fmrranger

    fmrranger Member

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    Great review, thank you for posting up!
     
  10. Sheepdog

    Sheepdog Member

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    I have this scope on my DMR/SPR/DILLIGAF setup. It's GTG. Good glass, good repeatability, but needs a little compensation when shooting 69gr GMM obviously. I printed a ballistics table and stuck it to my stock.
     
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  11. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    I've been using American Eagle 55gr .223 for a few reasons

    1. It's cheap
    2. .223 doesn't chew up my steel targets
    3. It seems to be pretty much dialed in to the BDC turret on this optic.


    For those reasons , Ive stuck with using that load.

    I bought some Hornady match stuff to try out but the requirement of doing math kept me away from wanting to use it.
     
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  12. JMJ

    JMJ Member

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    Try some privi partizan/academy monarch 55gr sp, in my rifles it's been same poa/poi as the 55gr American Eagle 55gr fmj. That's the sp round I shot that hog with in the hunting forum.
     
  13. Sheepdog

    Sheepdog Member

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    The barrel I have in mine is match grade and nothing shoots better with the 69gr GMM. It hates 77gr. I have run some Prvi match through it, both 69 and I think it was 75 but it was a no-go. Groups twice the size. My little DMR/SPR/DILLIGAF rifle shoots lights out with the GMM. I have my carbine to blast cheap stuff with.
     
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  14. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    Wanted to add - I've had this optic "on" since around April of 2016. It's still burning a bright green when I pick it up.
     
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  15. DesertFox

    DesertFox Member

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    I've been looking at something like this for my Mossberg MVP and keep seeing it on sale; may very well have to pick one up based on your favorable experiences. Thanks for posting about it!
     
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  16. Zeek

    Zeek Member

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    I appreciate the review @Bcamos. I am in the market for a scope like this to replace the VX-3 1.5-5x20mm I have on one of my ARs.

    In fact, I spent a lot of time on Leupold's website just last night.

    Although I was aware of their Mark AR series, I've overlooking them recently. I'm looking for something with illumination and the 1" tube means I can use my existing mount... all the other illuminated options I've seen are 30mm tubes.

    Another option I'm considering is the VX5 HD 1-5x24mm with the FireDot reticle. It negates two of your cons (30mm tube and true 1x) but a lot more expensive of course.
     
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  17. Bcamos

    Bcamos Member

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    I really LOVE the FireDot-G reticle. I actually really like that mine is green, over the red that the majority of the other FireDot scopes have. I should actually update this a bit because I've actually had a lot more time shooting this optic in low light since I made this review. I don't feel that the 1" tube really hinders the light collection enough for me to note it as a con. Especially since being 1" over 30mm, it's significantly lighter (100g less than the VX5). With that said, if it were a 30mm illuminated 1-5 optic, I'd be able to ignore the weight lol.
     
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  18. Zeek

    Zeek Member

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    Boy... I need to look into this more. Too bad Leupold's website sucks. :mad:
     
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  19. Zeek

    Zeek Member

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    I just ordered one of these, Mark AR MOD 1 with the FireDot-G SPR recticle. :D The VX3 1.5-5×20mm I was using is going on my 375 H&H.

    I still keep looking at Leupold's VX5HD series. These seem well priced for entry level HD glass. May be better suited for one of my bolt guns though... ;)
     
  20. SC864

    SC864 Member

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    We have two 1.5x 5 with 30mm tubes and illuminated reticles mounted in LaRue tactical SPR 1.5 mounts , my daughter hunts with one on a .308

    It's hard to beat a Leupold for the money .
     
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