Leupold LCO Review : Should you buy this high end red dot sight from Leupold?

Gungoal's Rating

 

Leupold LCO (Leupold Carbine Optic) is a high grade reflex sight priced around $700 from Leupold. It has been favorably used by a number of law enforcement officers and would do well in home defense situation where you depend your family and your life on.

But is LCO the best deal in its class or is there a better red dot? Worry not, I’ll tell you all there is to know about this optics so you can make informed decision whether Leupold LCO is the right optic for you.

Quick summary

Compared to Aimpoint Micro T-2, Leupold LCO has better FOV and faster dot picking up speed, due to larger glass.Furthermore, LCO has 1 MOA dot and is better for precision work. That said, the LCO is less rugged and is more prone to parallax errors. Lastly the LCO is slightly cheaper at the time of this writing.

Compared to EOTech EXPS3 the LCO’s reticle doesn’t have the 68 MOA ring, which makes it harder for me to pick up the small 1 MOA dot. LCO’s parallax error is significantly more as the EXPS3 is a true holographic sight, but LCO’s battery life is significantly better. Leupold LCO is also not tainted with the thermal drift issue. The EXPS3 is cheaper at the time of this writing.

Leupold is a 5 generations, family-owned, well-known American optics manufacturer since 1907. Its products are used by organizations such as the United States Army, the Secret Service and the Navy SEALS. The Israel Defense Forces also use Mark 4 and Mark 6 Leupold scopes in their army.

What are the PROS and CONS of Leupold LCO?

Pros

  • Very crisp, daylight bright 1 MOA dot
  • Big FOV glass
  • Clear glass with very minimal distortion even when used with magnifiers
  • Long battery life
  • Auto-on/off feature
  • Military-grade rugged

Cons

  • High price
  • Too much branding on the optic
  • No 68 MOA ring reticle to help acquire your dot
  • Red dot can be seen from the front
  • Has parallax error
  • Not night vision compatible

 

Leupold LCO is not a holographic sight

With its housing profile, 1 MOA dot  and high MSRP price, my initial thought assumed the LCO as a holographic sight. But after inspection, I found that this is not the case as the LCO operates with LED and is a reflex sight.

Being a reflex sight, the LCO doesn’t suffer from limited battery life similar to EOTech products. But parallax error will still be present and, as is the nature of reflex sights, will have some curvature in its glass, resulting in slight distortion unlike to holographic sight’s flat pane glass.

My recommendation? Get this Leupold LCO if you want Aimpoint style red dot but is looking for a bigger FOV glass.

Best for : Shooters who value big FOV glass and 1 MOA dot reflex sight.

Dot & Glass 4.9/5
Ease of Use 4.7/5
Weight and Size 4.3/5
Durability 4.8/5
Value 4.1/5

 

The Whole Story of Leupold LCO

Since no optics nor products exists in isolation. And words such as “crisp” and “great” dot don’t really mean much when you have no benchmarks. I’ll be comparing the LCO with other red dot sights in similar price range, so you know what’s the best option for your money.

Read on to find out why the LCO, even though impressive, isn’t a perfect red dot sight.

Meet the Benchmarks

Leupold LCO costs about $700 (at the time of this writing). And I’ll be comparing it with :

Aimpoint Micro T-2 EOTech EXPS3
Aimpoint Micro T-1 Front
  1. Aimpoint Micro T-2 – 2 MOA, $760 (at the time of this writing)
  2. EOTech EXPS3 – 1 MOA + 68 MOA ring, $570 (at the time of this writing)

These are 2 popular options in the market with similar price point and should give you a realistic feel of how good Leupold LCO really is.

LCO glass : Bigger field of view than T-2, Crisper dot and clearer glass compared to EOTech EXPS3

Leupold LCO front
Optics with large viewing glass give better FOV and faster red dot picking up speed which are very useful when you shoot from weird positions, such as urban prone position.

Compared with Aimpoint Micro T-2, I found Leupold LCO to have better field of view as its glass is bigger, and has less tube effect. Reticle crispness and glass clarity is very close between the 2 optics, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on who’s better as both perform exceptionally well. Note that the 1 MOA dot is obviously smaller and better for precision work.

Compared to EXPS3, the LCO has a crisper dot and clearer glass for my eyes, even though holographic sights are supposed to have less distortion in their glass. That said, the 68 MOA ring does help me in acquiring the 1 MOA dot faster and it is more suitable in close range shots.

All 3 optics are daylight bright and can easily be seen on bright sunny days. Furthermore they are night vision compatible.

50,000 hours battery life

holographic sights how it works
Holographic sights use laser diode, instead of LEDs, causing battery consumption to be much higher than reflex sights.

First of all, nothing is going to beat the super reliable, 50,000 hours, “always on” battery of Aimpoint Micro T-2. But my LCO works fine for 2 and a half years on a single battery. Note that this 2.5 number is not such an absolute number as the LCO has 15 minutes sleep mode when idle and motion activated feature that works well, thus the expected battery life depends a lot on your usage frequency, unlike the T-2.

Holographic Sights utilise laser emitter rather than LED and generally consumes much more energy with similar light output. With this different fundamentals, the EXPS3 can’t compete with the other 2 optics in terms of battery longevity. It’s expected battery life is only 600 hours.

Summary of Batteries for each Mentioned Optics

Leupold LCO Aimpoint Micro T-2 EOTech EXPS3
Battery type CR123A CR2032 CR123A
Battery Life 50,000 hours 50,000 hours 600 hours
Low Battery Warning Flashes when it detects low battery
Auto-On Feature Motion Activated
Auto-Off Feature Sleep mode when idle for 15 minutes Automatic shut off after 8 or 4 hours

Even though LCO’s battery life number is equal to T-2, the LCO number is based on expected usage, while Aimpoint T-2 number is based on always on usage. Thus Aimpoint T-2 is better in terms of battery life.

1 MOA dot with no rings to clutter your view

Name Reticle Options Brightness settings
Leupold LCO 1 MOA red dot 16 settings
Aimpoint Micro T-2 2 MOA red dot 8 daytime and 4 NV settings
EOTech EXPS3 1 MOA red dot + 68 MOA ring 20 daytime and 10 NV settings

You control Leupold LCO’s brightness with its rotary dial on the left hand side of the optics. Some people prefer this citing more durability. When the red dot is activated by its motion sensors, the red dot retain its last brightness settings.

Both the T-2 and the EXPS3 also have rotary dials to control their brightness settings on the side of their housing.

LCO has bigger Parallax Error than peers

Reflex sights are known for their ability to mitigate parallax errors, making it ideal for shots with of angle or very fast draw and target acquisition.

Test results by greeneye tactical
For detailed parallax test data, check out Greeneye Tactical website here.

However, Leupold LCO performed significantly worse in a parallax test conducted by greeneye tactical. It is significantly worse than the T-2 and EXPS3.

If you’re serious about parallax error, a holographic sight such as the EXPS3 will perform best as it uses different underlying technology than reflex sights and give less parallax error.

Very good FOV glass, yet lighter than EOTech EXPS3

Leupold LCO Aimpoint Micro T-2 EOTech EXPS3
Weight (oz) 8.9 3.3 11.2
Length (Inch) 3.6 2.7 3.8
Viewing glass (mm) 32 x 24.9 18 30 x 23

The LCO is lighter and more compact than the EXPS3 while having the largest viewing glass and FOV.

Military grade durability, 5 years warranty

A burglar
Average home defense shooting distance is around 7-10 yards.

Leupold LCO durability and reliability is very good, as the optic is used as an EOTech replacement for many law enforcements and military officers.

However its operating temperature range, -20°F to +120°F, is less than that of Aimpoint T-2 of -49°F to +160°F. Housing length extension to protect the lenses is also less. Furthermore , the LCO doesn’t have as much proven track record compared to Aimpoint Micro T-2.

Holographic sights such as the EXPS3 can’t be built as rugged as the Micro T-2. But apart from the thermal drift issue, EOTech EXPS3 is a battle-proven optic in terms of durability.

I personally have a great run with all 3 optics and have experienced no durability issue.

Warranty Breakdown

  • Leupold LCO – 5 years warranty on electronics and lifetime on the rest
  • Aimpoint Micro T-2 – 10 years warranty for civilian use and 2 years warranty for occupational use
  • EOTech EXPS3 – 5 years warranty and another 5 years for $79 bench fee

Admittedly, the best warranties are the ones that you *don’t* ever have to use them. And you can count on these 3 optics to fall into that category.}}
 

Hear What Others have to say about Leupold LCO


 

My Verdict of Leupold LCO

Gungoal's Rating

Compared to Aimpoint Micro T-2, Leupold LCO has better FOV and faster dot picking up speed, due to larger glass.Furthermore, LCO has 1 MOA dot and is better for precision work. That said, the LCO is less rugged and is more prone to parallax errors. Lastly the LCO is slightly cheaper at the time of this writing.

Compared to EOTech EXPS3 the LCO’s reticle doesn’t have the 68 MOA ring, which makes it harder for me to pick up the small 1 MOA dot. LCO’s parallax error is significantly more as the EXPS3 is a true holographic sight, but LCO’s battery life is significantly better. Leupold LCO is also not tainted with the thermal drift issue. The EXPS3 is cheaper at the time of this writing.

Pros Cons
✓ Very crisp, daylight bright 1 MOA dot ✗ High price
✓ Big FOV glass ✗ Too much branding on the optic
✓ Clear glass with very minimal distortion even when used with magnifiers ✗ No 68 MOA ring reticle to help acquire your dot
✓ Long battery life ✗ Red dot can be seen from the front
✓ Auto-on/off feature ✗ Has parallax error
✓ Military-grade rugged ✗ Not night vision compatible

 

Alternative options

1. Aimpoint Micro T-2

Aimpoint Micro T-1 Front
  • More durable and rugged
  • Better battery life
  • Less parallax error
  • Better track record
  • 2 MOA dot
  • Lighter and more compact
  • Night vision compatible
  • Less FOV

 

2. EOTech EXPS3

  • True holographic sight
  • 1 MOA dot with 68 MOA ring
  • Reticle and glass less crisp
  • Worse battery life
  • Parallax free
  • Cheaper
  • Night vision compatible
  • Heavier
  • Less FOV
Social Share

 

About us

Logo

Hi there. We are a group of shooting/hunting enthusiasts. Our goal is to make shooting/hunting popular again by making things easier for beginners.

 

If you have any questions, comments and/or suggestions, please contact us here.