The Leupold VX-6HD 4-24x52mm scope has been exceeding every expectation we could have for a scope and proving continuously in the field that it is simply the best scope out there. Glass clarity, built in the U.S.A., pretty indestructible and lightweight — it’s the full package deal.
Let’s talk about the glass. In short, it’s the best, and that’s critical on a scope. All you have to do is look through it for an extended period of time, and you know you have superior class. Unfortunately, when most people are shopping for glass, they just throw it up to their eye, look through it for one or two minutes, and decide at that point that the scope is perfect, clear, et cetera. But you actually don’t realize how good glass is until you spend a lot of time behind it.
Great glass makes all the difference in the world. The eye strain that you have from looking through binos or scopes for hours is what separates really good glass from good to marginal glass. And the Leupold VX-6HD scope is without question superior glass. I will sit in a prairie dog town for 10 hours behind that glass and my eyes will never strain.
With time in the field, it doesn’t take long to notice (and feel) the difference. If you go with lesser quality glass, it usually only takes about an hour before your eyes are watering, you’re rubbing them, and you get tired of looking through the scope. And that’s the key difference between good glass and bad glass and what you can’t see when you just pick it up at the store and look at the elk mount on the wall. That’s not where you’re going to see the difference. You’ll see the difference when you’re in the field spending a lot of time behind that glass. And that’s the difference you really need to focus on when buying glass.
The Leupold VX-6HD is also one of the more lightweight scopes in its class. When you compare it to, let’s say a VORTEX Gen 2 Razor HD, the Leupold is almost half the weight. Weight matters, and the Leupold VX-6HD is notably light, especially when lined up next to comparable scopes.
When it comes to reticles, we went with the Varmint Reticle for the Leupold VX-6HD. I absolutely love this reticle. It just makes everything so simple. With the Varmint Reticle (for most calibers), if you zero your rifle at 200 yards, there’s going to be a power setting on your scope to where the ballistic curve of your bullet is going to match up pretty darn close (if not completely identical) to where your 200, 300, 400, 500 yard crosshairs are.
And as far as your wind calls, you have 10 mph and 20 mph hashtags left and right for your wind calls, and everything from a .22-250 or a .204 up to a .300 Win Mag is going to be fairly close to that out to 500 yards. Obviously a .204 is going to get pushed a little bit more than a .300 Win Mag will at 500 yards with a 20 mph crosswind, but it gives you a quick reference.
With the Varmint Reticle, you can have confidence to make that shot. I shoot prairie dogs a lot during the season, in the wind with breezes. Even without even having a wind meter to tell how fast it’s blowing, I can get a pretty good idea where I need to hold for wind. And having that 10 mph wind hashtag on there gives me a good reference. If it’s a firm wind, it’s going to be 10 mph. If it’s absolutely ripping, it’ll be 20, but it gives you a reference point right away. And once you bring it up to the animal on that reference point, you realize that your error for margin for missing is very small.
That said, you can make a quick calculated, educated shot with very little time in between. It might take you three or four seconds to pull that shot off, whereas you would otherwise need to have to dial in, take your wind reading and everything else to make the perfect shot — a process that might take well over one minute and cost you critical time.
Also, as we well know, animals move, so this reticle is practical. Think of it like having a 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 yard bow pin. When you’re bowhunting and you do a quick range and it’s at 46 yards, you know you can go halfway between your 40 and your 50 yard pin and take you shot, and no one thinks twice about doing that. Well, it’s the same thing with a rifle. Why not have it? It just gives you one more level of confidence to make a quicker shot. Now for shots beyond 500 yards, I wouldn’t recommend it. The way it’s set up is to be zero to 200 and then 300, 400, and 500 is the bottom. So really anything from 200 to 400 yards is where your window is going to be. And for most hunting situations, that’s where you’re shooting 90% of your shots. Is the Varmint Reticle designed for big game hunting? No. But for actual big game hunting, it works great.
Finally, there’s price. I often hear people say, “Well, why do I need an almost $3,000 scope for a gun?” And the one thing I’ve learned about guns over the years is that it pays to spend twice as much money on your scope as you do your rifle. Guns aren’t accurate, scopes are. It’s all about the glass. So you can take a marginal gun and put a great scope on it and have a formidable weapon that shoots really well. What you can’t do is take a very, very good gun and put a really crummy scope on it and have it shoot well. So glass is where accuracy really is made. It gives you both the confidence and the clarity to be able to really fine tune a rifle. That said, in my opinion, as a general rule of thumb, if you spend twice as much on your glass as you do your gun, you’re going to be sitting pretty good. And scopes last whereas guns don’t.
A gun is the part of the equation that wears out and can become inaccurate. You can shoot the barrel out of it, you drop it, a piece bends — things like that happen. But a scope can last forever. Your scope can go from gun to gun to gun to gun and keep living and never falter. It can be just as consistent from day one on one rifle to day 10,000, 50 years later on a different rifle when you’re old and you’re still shooting the same scope. They have that ability to last a lifetime. They really do. Guns don’t last a lifetime, scopes sometimes do. So spend the money on a scope.
— Rick Matney
Wild Game Chef