Leupold FX-II 2.5x20mm Ultralight Riflescope

By Rick Ryals

Leupold 2.5x20mm Ultralight
Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

The Leupold Ultralight line of riflescopes includes 2.5x20mm, 2-7x28mm and 3-9x33mm scopes. These are slimmed down and lightened versions of Leupold's standard FX-II and VX-II scopes. They were originally offered as the Compact line and were built to the standards of the current VX-1 scopes. When they were upgraded to the Ultralight series, they were brought up to VX-II standards.

The subject of this review is the Leupold Ultralight 2.5x20 fixed power riflescope. It is indeed ultra light at only 6.5 ounces. In fact, it is the lightest and smallest scope of which I am aware. It is the only fixed power scope in the Ultralight line.

This scope is suitable for use on short, lightweight rifles, short to medium range rifles and heavy kicking dangerous game rifles. Its short 2.1� eyepiece and long 4.9� eye relief make it a good choice for hard kicking firearms.

The length of the eyepiece is a factor that is often overlooked in choosing a scope for a hard kicking gun. The distance between the rear scope ring and your eye is pretty much fixed. Because of this, the longer the eyepiece the more the scope encroaches into the space available for eye relief. Long eyepieces often require extension rings to move the scope far enough forward. This will not be a problem with the 2.5x20 Ultralight.

Leupold has an excellent reputation for reliability, quality and customer service. Leupold scopes are also highly regarded for their optical quality. At a retail price of approximately $270, this is not an inexpensive scope. However, the overall quality in design and build, unlimited lifetime warranty and the backing of a solid company like Leupold justifies the price. Here are some basic specifications.

  • Actual magnification: 2.2x
  • Overall length: 8.0 inches.
  • Weight: 6.5 ounces.
  • Eye relief: 4.9 inches.
  • Main tube diameter: 1.0 inch.
  • Objective diameter: 1.0 inch.
  • Eyepiece diameter: 1.4 inches.
  • Objective clear aperture: 20 mm.
  • Exit pupil: 9.1mm.
  • Field of view: 39.5 feet at 100 yards.
  • Windage and elevation adjustment value: 1/4 minute of angle clicks.
  • Adjustment range: 147 moa for both windage and elevation.

The scope finish is matte black with the classic Leupold gold ring near the end of the objective bell. The Leupold name is stamped in white on the left side of the windage/elevation adjustment housing, with the serial number in white letters on the bottom of the housing. Near the end of the objective the words �FX-II 2.5x20mm Ultralight� are pressed into the matte finish, black on black.

All lenses are fully multi-coated for good light transmission and to suppress flare. The Ultralight 2.5x20 offers a clear and crisp view edge to edge. Focus to the eye is achieved by turning the eyepiece, which is secured in place with a lock ring.

The model reviewed has a wide Duplex reticle, but a heavy Duplex is also available. The inner crosswires are thin in the wide duplex, covering about an inch at 100 yards. With the heavy duplex, the inner wires are much thicker, subtending nearly 3 inches at 100 yards. I would prefer the thick outer wires of the heavy duplex combined with the thin inner wires of the standard duplex. However, for practical purposes, the heavy duplex reticle as offered could still be used on medium game out to around 300 yards.

Windage and elevation adjustment is accomplished by 1/4 moa clicks. The adjustment knob clicks are positive and are easily made using any kind of coin. I have had this scope on a number of different rifles and have never had a problem resighting it.

This is a very trim, compact and lightweight scope. Unlike some compact scopes, it is easy to mount on a variety of rifles. Due to the straight objective, the mounting area fore and aft of the adjustment housing is long enough to allow the use of standard rings. The short 2.1� eyepiece allows the user to take advantage of the generous eye relief.

The eye relief of this scope deserves mention. 4.9 inches is very generous, even for hard kicking rifles or slug guns. It is not critical, giving you about an inch of flexibility in fore and aft eye placement while retaining the full field of view. In addition, the large exit pupil allows a good bit of latitude horizontally.

The main drawback of the 2.5x20 Ultralight, if you want to call it that, is that it is a fixed power scope. Fixed power scopes are not very fashionable these days. So, why would you buy this scope when you have such a wide selection of variable power models?

The primary advantages of a fixed power scope over a variable are superior optics, simplicity, reliability, lower cost and lighter weight. Fixed power scopes have fewer moving parts, so there is less that can go wrong. Since fixed power scopes are simpler to build, they also cost a little less than a comparable quality variable. Because there are fewer lens elements and parts inside, they weigh a couple ounces less. One additional advantage is that, since you can't fiddle with a magnification setting, you will not have your scope set at nine power when you come across a deer at 20 yards.

I think that the greatest advantage of the Leupold 2.5x20mm scope is its size and weight. It is a perfect match for the carbine style rifles I so admire. Its 8.0 inch length does not overpower a short rifle and its 6.5 ounces do not unbalance a lightweight rifle. It is well suited to rifles like the Kimber 84M, Ruger M77 RSI, Remington Model Seven, Browning BLR, Winchester 94 AE and the Marlin 336.

I own many variable power scopes. They provide flexibility on all-around or multi-purpose rifles. However, fixed power scopes of mid-range power such as 2.5x and 4x are suitable for many of these same uses and types of rifles. For a rifle that you intend to use for particular types of hunting or in certain types of terrain, a fixed power riflescope is a sensible choice.

As I get older, I find myself gravitating toward simpler things. The Leupold Ultralight 2.5x20mm is a simple scope that is a great value in a compact, lightweight package. I don't plan to put one on all of my rifles, but it is a great match for my Ruger M77 in .358 Winchester.

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Copyright 2008 by Rick Ryals. All rights reserved.