Leupold FX Riflescopes

By Chuck Hawks

Leupold M8 4x33
Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

All Leupold riflescopes come with the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee. You don't even have to be the original owner. If any Leupold Golden Ring scope is found to have defects in materials or workmanship, ever, Leupold will repair or replace it for free. There is no need for a guarantee card.

The M8 line has become the FX line, but remains Leupold's fixed power, 4-star line. FX scopes offer fully coated optics. All lens surfaces receive Leupold's standard magnesium fluoride anti-reflective lens coatings, and some models receive Leupold's Multi-coat 4 lens coatings. All FX's are built with 1" diameter main tubes made of 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum alloy. Standard FX riflescopes are adjusted to be parallax free at a distance of 150 yards. The coin-slot windage and elevation adjustments are of the continuous friction type and are marked in 1/2 minute of angle increments on most FX scopes. FX scopes are waterproof and fog free.

Most Leupold FX scopes are shipped with the standard 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.

The FX riflescope line includes two compact models, a 2.5x20mm and a 4x28mm Rimfire Special. Compact scopes are designed to be, well, more compact than regular scopes. There is some unavoidable sacrifice in light grasp due to their smaller objective lenses. Otherwise, they are built to the same standards of performance and quality as other M8 scopes. The 2.5x20mm is only 8" long and weight 6.5 ounces. It has a 100 yard field of view of 39.5' and an eye relief of 4.9". Finish is matte black, and Duplex and Heavy Duplex reticles are offered. The 4x Rimfire Special is 9.2" long and weighs 7.5 ounces. It is designed to be free of parallax at 60 yards. It comes with a gloss black finish and a Fine Duplex reticle.

The 2.5x28mm is the intermediate eye relief (IER) scope in the FX line. It is designed to be mounted forward of the receiver on "scout" rifles or lever action rifles that eject their fired cases straight up, such as pre-angle eject Winchester Model 94's. It is also a good choice for extremely hard kicking rifles such as big bore elephant guns. Such a mounting position prevents the scope being driven back into the shooter's eyebrow under heavy recoil. Eye relief is 9-17". The unavoidable trade off is greatly reduced field of view, only 22' at 100 yards in the case of the M8 2.5x28mm IER. This scope is available in matte black or silver finish.

The FX 4x33mm is the all-around big game hunting scope. The 4x is available in gloss black with a choice of Duplex, Leupold Dot, or Post and Duplex reticles, and matte black with a Duplex reticle only. It is 10.5" long and weighs 9.3 ounces. Field of view is 24' at 100 yards. The optimum eye relief is 4". The windage and elevation adjustment range is 80 MOA. This is a good choice for rifles chambered for all-around cartridges such as the .260 Remington, .270 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, .280 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06, and .300 Winchester Magnum. At 4x it offers all the magnification necessary for shots out to 300 yards on medium size big game animals.

The 6x36mm is a long range big game hunting scope that allows the use of low mounting rings on most rifles. It is 11.4" long and weighs 10 ounces. Its field of view at 100 yards is 17.7'. Eye relief is 4.3". Adjustment range is 64 MOA. Finish is gloss black, and Duplex, Post and Duplex, and Leupold Dot reticles are offered.

The 6x42mm offers more light grasp than the 6x36mm and comes with Leupold's proprietary Multicoat 4 lens coatings. It will probably require medium height mounting rings on most rifles. It comes in gloss black or matte black finishes. In gloss black finish the reticle choices include the Duplex, Heavy Duplex, Post and Duplex, and German #4. In matte black finish the reticles offered are the Duplex, Heavy Duplex, and German #4.

The final 6x option in the FX line is the 6x42mm Adj. Obj. The adjustable objective allows the parallax correction distance to be set by the shooter. This scope comes with tall 1/4 MOA "click" target-style adjustments and also features Multicoat 4 lens coatings. It is primarily intended for hunter class benchrest competition and medium range varmint hunting. For the latter it is a good match for cartridges such as the .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, and .221 Fireball. It comes in matte black finish with a Duplex reticle. This scope is 12.2" long and weighs 15 ounces. Its eye relief is 4.5". Its field of view at 100 yards is 17.7'. Adjustment range is 64 MOA.

The biggest and most powerful of all FX scopes is the 12x40mm Adj. Obj. model. The 12x40mm comes in gloss black only, is supplied with a choice of Fine Duplex or Leupold Dot reticles, and has an adjustable objective for parallax correction. It is 13" long and weighs 13.5 ounces. The big scope's 100 yard field of view is only 9.1'. Optimum eye relief is 4.2". The windage and elevation adjustment range is 52 MOA. This is a rather specialized scope most commonly seen on long range varmint rifles chambered for cartridges such as the .223, .22-250, .223 WSSM, .220 Swift, .243 Winchester, and 6mm Remington.

The Leupold FX line is one of the best and most extensive fixed power scope lines. One or another of the FX scopes is a good choice for most hunting rifles. Their retail price is fairly high for fixed power riflescopes, but so is their quality. They offer good value and performance for the money. Sometimes simpler really is better.

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Copyright 2003, 2010 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.