Leupold EER Handgun Scopes

By Chuck Hawks

Leupold EER 2x20
Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc. has been building telescopic sights in the U.S.A. for over 50 years. Leupold is a fourth generation, family owned company located in Beaverton, Oregon. They began with the Plainsman riflescope, introduced in 1947. Leupold scopes are marked with a distinctive gold ring around the objective bell to aid in identification, hence the appellation "Golden Ring" scopes. The company also sells binoculars, spotting scopes, red dot sights, mounts and rings, and sundry accessories.

Leupold has been responsible for several important innovations in the telescopic sight field. The most important of these are the development of the first nitrogen charged and sealed waterproof scope, the Duplex reticle, and the first compact scope. Leupold was also one of the early pioneers of handgun scopes.

All Leupold Golden Ring scopes come with the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee. You don't have to be the original owner to take advantage of this guarantee. If any Leupold Golden Ring scope is ever found to have defects in materials or workmanship, Leupold will repair or replace it for free.

The 2005 Leupold catalog shows several lines of variable power riflescopes, the famous M8 fixed power riflescopes, Competition rifle scopes, compact rifle scopes, Mark 4 tactical rifle scopes, EFR scopes, shotgun scopes, and EER Handgun scopes.

It is the latter that are the subject of this review. EER stands for Extended Eye Relief. Leupold offers two fixed power handgun scopes and one variable power handgun scope. The latter is the Vari-X 2.5-8x32mm EER, and the former are the M8 2x20mm EER and the M8 4x28mm EER. These are premium scopes of proven durability.

The EER handgun scopes feature bright, fully coated optics that appear sharp from center to edge. They are built with 1" (25mm) diameter main tubes made of 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum alloy. The coin-slot windage and elevation adjustments are of the friction type and allow unlimited adjustment increments. The reticle always remains centered. Eyepiece focus is by multiple turns of the ocular bell on fine threads and is secured with a locking ring. Leupold handgun scopes are sealed against moisture and nitrogen filled; they are guaranteed to be waterproof and fog free.

The M8 2x and Vari-X 2.5-8x are available in gloss black or silver finishes. The M8 4x comes in matte black or silver finishes. All EER handgun scopes are shipped with Leupold's famous Duplex reticle. This type of reticle, with heavy a crosshair that becomes a fine crosshair near the center of the field, was invented by Leupold and has since been copied by virtually all other scope manufacturers. For customers that demand something different, the Leupold Custom Shop can provide something like nine alternative reticles suitable for use in a handgun scope.

The recoil velocity of powerful handguns is very high, putting great stress on handgun scopes. The EER Leupold handgun scopes are extremely rugged and up to the challenge. They have proven that they can withstand the recoil of the most powerful handguns, even those chambered for rifle cartridges.

The variable power Vari-X 2.5-8x32mm EER is guaranteed to maintain its point of impact, and the reticle appears the same size at all magnification settings. Optimum eye relief is a constant 15". The Vari-X EER offers a 13' field of view when set at 2.5x and a 4.3' field of view at 8x at a distance of 100 yards. Greatly reduced field of view is the inevitable trade-off for extended eye relief with all handgun scopes (and "scout" rifle scopes). It is 9.7" long and weighs 10.9 ounces. This scope is not a lightweight; it balances best on large, heavy pistols.

The M8 4x28mm EER is 8.4" long and weighs 7.0 ounces. The optimum eye relief is 18". It offers a field of view of only 9' at 100 yards, which can make target acquisition difficult at short ranges. This is a drawback of all relatively high power handgun scopes, not just the M8 4x28mm Leupold.

The M8 2x20mm EER is a trim scope with an overall length of 8.0 inches and weighs 6.0 ounces. The optimum eye relief is 18". The field of view is a useful 21.2' at 100 yards; this makes shots at running game relatively easy. The 2x20 EER may be the most popular hunting handgun scope ever sold. It has been made for over 30 years and a great number of these fine little scopes are in use.

In my opinion the Leupold EER handgun scopes are among the best available. A Leupold EER scope of appropriate magnification is a good choice for any suitable handgun. They are relatively expensive, but offer unsurpassed reliability and good value for the money.

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Copyright 2003, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.