Leupold 1.5-4 Review

In 1907 Fred Leupold and Adam Volpel, brother-in-law and close friends of more than eight years, decided to go into business together. Their company didn't make products that many of us recognize Leupold for making today. No, they made land surveying equipment by hand in the very beginning. A man named J.C. Stevens invents a water level recorder and becomes a partner in the business when he brings his design to the company. Around that time, Fred's son Marcus Leupold took a job with the company. Marcus was an avid outdoorsman, and as you can expect, this would shape the organization into what it is today. According to the fabled legend, Marcus Leupold was hunting one day, and as he was getting ready to take a shot at a buck, raising his rifle and ultimately his scope to the proper eye relief, he noticed something that was about to ruin his day. The scope he had affixed to his gun was fogged. The image was not clear enough to see, so Marcus missed the buck. What may have ruined his day then made way for a legacy of optics craftsmanship the world would never forget. "Hell! I could build a better scope than this!" exclaimed Marcus in the wake of frustration following that day of hunting, and so it began.

Man holding Hellion

The direct result was tons of man-hours, research, lessons learned, and trial and error. Then finally, after World War II, Leupold & Stevens developed the first truly fog-proof American-made scope called the Plainsman. One man's passion, disappointment, and determination drove Leupold & Stevens to become the optics manufacturer that it's known to be today. A lesson to all of us is to never give up because even a terrible day of hunting can create a legacy.

Leupold & Stevens, as a company, continued to innovate, creating things that are commonplace today, such as the duplex reticle, the first high-power lightweight target scope, followed by the industry's first line of compact scopes. The story goes on and on with more accolades and achievements than I can mention here today. From 1907 to 2022, the company Leupold & Stevens, most commonly just called Leupold, is still crafting scopes today. Yes, they are also still fog proof. Because of the legend of Marcus' hunt, I'm sure that the Leupold Ten Commandments probably read: "Thou shalt not make a scope that will fog up."

The 3HD line of Optics

Today Leupold has tons of rifle scopes, red dots, range finders, binoculars, etc. If there is a product with glass lenses used for outdoor sports, chances are good Leupold either made one or has made one.

Recently the GunSpot.com Creative Team was sent one of the scopes from the Leupold Mark 3HD line of scopes. The Mark 3HD line of optics is what I would describe as a middle-of-the-road option for Leupold customers. Leupold makes a wide range of optics for customers of every background and salary level. They offer optics built for hard-duty use, hunting, and recreational shooting. As you'd expect, there are scopes way up toward the 3,000 dollar line and then some down around the $300 mark. It's clear that Leupold wants to try to offer quality crafted optics to all outdoor enthusiasts, no matter how big their bank account is.

Hellion with ammo

The Mark 3HD line of optics is priced around $500-$700 dollars and comes in various options. Options to choose from have different reticles and power levels. The whole scope line comprises ten other options and five power options. All the scopes have a zoom ratio of 3:1. This ratio is common in scopes; it means the scope gives you three times more magnification when you zoom in. The power ranges offered in this line are 1.5-4, 3-9, 4-12, 6-18, and 8-24. The scopes have objective lenses from 20mm up to 50mm. They also have Leupold's elite optical system, high definition lenses, are very lightweight, and have removable throw levers. Plus, they are shockproof, waterproof, and, you guessed it, fog proof. The 3HD model we tested was the 1.5-4x20 with AR Ballistic Reticle.

Physical Features

The model we got in has a 30mm tube along with windage and elevation adjustments and a power ring toward the back. The optics is a second focal plane scope, meaning inside the scope, the reticle is behind the erector, so the reticle will not change in size as the scope is zoomed. According to our measurements, the scope is around 9.25 inches long, making it a pretty short scope that can conserve space on your rifle. It is also extremely lightweight, weighing only 13.1 ounces. The windage and elevation knobs are both capped so that after your optic has achieved zero to your rifle, you can cap them for safekeeping. Each knob, windage, and elevation has 36 MILS of adjustment, with each click on the knobs adjusting for 0.1 MIL. The eye relief on the low end of magnification (1.5) is listed at 4.2 inches, and on the high end of magnification (4) at 3.7 inches.


Hellion scope

I love the design of this model. The 3HD's aesthetic is very easy on the eyes. Its beautiful black matte finish is accompanied by Leupold branding and logo marks in a dark charcoal gray color, making for a fantastic-looking scope. Meanwhile, the numbers you need to see along the power ring are still brighter in color, remaining white. The fact that Leupold resisted the temptation to put colorful, bold "in your face" logo marks is something that deserves praise. One of my personal pet peeves is when companies brand their products to no end with bright and often gaudy logos stuck everywhere. I love to see more and more manufacturers taking the option Leupold did here on this scope. Truly the fit, finish, and design of this optic make for one slick-looking scope.


The reticle in ours is an option called AR Ballistic; it is a modified version of a duplex reticle. You might have figured it out with a name like AR Ballistic, but this reticle is also designed for .223 AR-style rifles. The base of the reticle is a generic duplex reticle but with some subtension marks on the vertical stadia only. Something quite different about this scope reticle is that it uses 200-yard zero-in scopes with power ranges traveling only to 4x. I have not seen many that require a 200-yard zero. There are other reticle options in the Mark 3HD line, even in the 1.5-4 options, and some of them have battery-powered illumination settings on the scope. This one, however, does not.

Putting it into action

The scope is a good all-around scope to use. The glass is clear, the reticle works, and it's lightweight. In our hands-on experience, a few noteworthy things really stuck out to us. When getting it out of the box, I noticed that the scope looked great. Second of all, this optic is so lightweight it feels fake. That's not to give you an impression that it is not a good scope or that it might be something more like a toy. I just simply mean it's light. When comparing it to other scopes in the 1-4 magnification range, this one is quite a bit lighter. The average weight I was able to find was around the 16-18 ounces mark, and this one is only 13.1. The 4-ish ounces lighter is noticeable when you pick this thing up. To go with that, it's quite a bit shorter than others on the market too. The overall length is only 9.25 inches, with other LPVO scopes always trending around over the 10-inch mark. The shorter body of this scope allows you to have more rail space for things like lights, lasers, and their accompanying pressure switches.

Man in prone with hellion

Another thing to mention is that many will complement the Trijicon ACOG for its field of view. The 4x ACOG has a field of view listed at 29 ft at 100 yards. This scope, on its 4x setting, has a field of view of 29.4ft, so it's actually a bit better than the ACOG, something I felt was worth mentioning.

Also, when powering up this scope and zooming through its magnification, it's immediately noticeable how smooth the power ring is. It takes little effort to power through the settings while maintaining a very welcomed, consistent, smooth movement. The throw is also pretty short, granted you are only powering from 1.5 to 4, but still, the distance is short.

Who should buy it?

If you are a hunter or you love to shoot on the range, this scope could be a great one for you. Personally, I would opt for a model with illumination settings to help with shooting in close-quarter situations. But if you mainly shoot in the daylight hours, it is probably a setting you will not miss. Especially if you are going to have a red dot sight accompany your LPVO anyways if that is the setup you wish to have, you can save money by purchasing a model like this without illumination settings and put it toward a nice set of scope rings and a red dot with mount. Which, if you notice, is how we set ours up. We allocated more funds to sturdy support like the Badger Ordnance C1 and a tough as nails enclosed red dot sight like the Steiner MPS.

hellion with reflection

All in all, these optics seem like good optics for shooters who might not be able to spend big dollars on Leupold's high-end optics while still providing them with an American-made, high-quality optic from a reputable company like Leupold that offers a lifetime guarantee. And let us not forget they have some of the best fog proofing the industry has to offer, no doubt making Marcus Leupold proud.

Dylan C. @ GunSpot
Dylan C. @ GunSpot

I'm the Creative Director at GunSpot. My main job is to create content that you can read or watch on The GunSpot Academy. I'm a video guy first and foremost but now, as you can see, I guess I'm an author too. Only out of necessity though!