Leupold VX-3i Review

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm, Duplex Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm, Duplex Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mmRiflescope, 30mm, Boone & Crockett Reticle Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm, Side Focus, Fine duplex, CDS Target
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Gungoal's Rating

Quick summary for Leupold VX-3i

Pros

  • Very good in low light
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • High quality glass
  • Very durable
  • Reliable warranty

Cons

  • Turrets have no zero stop and are not zero resettable
  • Hard to keep track of turrets revolution

1st impression; thrice the impact

The first things that’ll struck you upon unboxing is how light and compact the VX-3i is.

If you inspect a number of Leupold scopes, you’ll notice their devotion towards lightweight and compactness. Crunching the numbers, I found that the Leupold VX3i is lighter than comparables Nikon Monarch 3 and Vortex Viper HST by whopping 30% and 37.5% respectively.

 

Your fun doesn’t end when it gets dark

Being such a compact scope, it makes me wonder how they managed to squeeze a lot of glass quality into that tiny 1 inch tube.

Crisp, bright and vivid view of the world are things you can expect from this scope. The ripples of water, the faint movement of the grass and the minute details of your game can be experienced up close. It’s the kind of nature you should enjoy when out hunting.

How does the scope perform in low light, many times the defining moment whether a game decides to go back with us or not?

Well, you can easily locate a buck under the shadow of trees, past legal hunting hours.

As a comparison, if I had to pick between this and the Vortex Viper HST, I’d go with the VX-3i anytime of the day. The VX -3i is very much on par, but slightly brighter than the Nikon Monarch 3 of the same magnification.

So is this Leupold VX-3i a go-to scope in all possible situations? Not really.

 

Long Range? Nuh Uh!

If you come to me asking “Do you think the Leupold VX-3i is a superb scope for long range shooting?”, you’d see me shake my head, frantically wave my hands and probably rolled my feet.

That blotch of disappointment originates from its turrets. Even though repeatable and accurate, they have a very unexpected shortcoming.

“Elevation turret knob doesn’t rise/fall along with your adjustments”. Meaning that there are no way to keep track of how many revolutions you’ve dialed, apart from pure memories.

So I was testing the scope with a 10 MOA box test. Happy with the results, I tried shooting back and forth between 100 and 600 yards target. It went well, but then, in the middle of the test, life called. I took a break, talked over the phone, went to the toilet and then come back.

And out of nowhere, my 100 yards shots went way, way too high. I was confused by how talking over the phone and going to the toilet could actually harm my scope!

That was stupid of me, but I took another good 15 minutes to figure out that my elevation dial is 1 revolution to much!

I measured and found out that the elevation knob height is constant no matter how much I adjusted. After some googling, I verified that this is what it’s supposed to be, not a defect. Note that the turrets have 64 MOA internal adjustment with 15 MOA/revolution.

And there are no zero stop nor zero reset function with the turrets.

Bottom line : the turrets are repeatable and precise, but are not suited for long range shooting.

 

Leupold Custom Dial System

Some Leupold VX-3i models give you a free CDS (Custom Dial System) coupon which allow you to switch your elevation turret marking from MOA to yardage (or metres). It also adds zero stops both at your zeroed position and max yardage position.

In order to use this, you supply Leupold with your bullet trajectory data such as ammo type, grain, muzzle velocity, temperature and altitude. Then Leupold will send you a CDS cap which you can easily install with an allen key.

Unfortunately the CDS yardage markings are made for only one revolution range (15 MOA). Meaning that even though your scope has 64 MOA, only 15 MOA can utilize this system. To utilize all the 64 MOA you can inform Leupold to remove the zero stop (which somehow is not recommended by Leupold), or you can take the CDS off yourself (takes time) then count MOA clicks.

Furthermore the CDS is calibrated to only one bullet trajectory, meaning that it won’t match if there’s a change in bullet grain, temperature and altitude.

This feature normally costs between $60-$70.

 

Rock Solid with Iron Clad Warranty!

If you’re a Leupold diehard fans, it’s “Nuff said” and you should skip to the next section.

If not then read on.

Leupold VX-3i is rugged and made for heavy recoil. You can use any rifle/ammunition and the scope won’t lose zero. It can also handle muzzleloaders, slug guns and airguns. (Eye relief of 3.7″ – 4.4” is also plenty, making a blacked eye an unlikely story!)

Leupold’s golden ring warranty is also famous for its reliability. Even though one might not have the chance to use Leupold’s warranty (due to the scope’s durability), it adds to the reselling value when you wish to sell.

 

Still at the fence? Check out what others think of the Leupold VX-3i


 

Other Boring Technical Info

Reticle

The Leupold VX-3i’s reticle is clear and easy to find even in low light. There are 7 reticle patterns to choose from :

Duplex Heavy Duplex Fine Duplex Wind-plex
Duplex_Ret Heavy_Duplex_Ret Fine_Duplex_Ret windplex_ret
Boone and Crockett Varmint Hunter Target Dot
bc_actual Varmint_Hntrs_Ret Target_Dot_Ret

*Reticle illumination is available on some models.

Models

Based on magnification power, objective lens diameter and adds-on, Leupold VX-3i is available in 23 different variations. Here are some of the more popular version :

(Numbers in front indicate magnification, 3-9x = 3x-9x magnification. Numbers in the back are the objective lens diameter in millimeter, 40 = 40mm objective lens diameter.)

Leupold stopped manufacturing some models, leaving only 12 in production. But you can still find these discontinued models in the market.

Tech Specs

Technical Specifications for Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm

Length (Inch) 12.6
Weight (oz) 13
Tube Diameter (Inch) 1
Tube material 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum
Mounting Space (Inch) 5.8
Finish Matte Black
Magnification 4.5-14x
Objective Diameter (mm) 40
Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) – Low 19.90
Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) – High 7.40
Reticle Duplex
Wind-plex
Boone and Crockett
Varmint Hunter
Reticle Focal Plane Second
Reticle illuminated No, but available in other variants
Eye Relief (in) – Low 4.4
Eye Relief (in) – High 3.7
Finger Adjustable Turrets Yes
Turrets Resettable to Zero No
Adjustment Type Click
Adjustment Click Value 1/4 MOA
Elevation Adjustment Range (MOA) 64
Windage Adjustment Range (MOA) 64
Parallax Fixed at 150 yards
Waterproof 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton Waterproofing
Fogproof/Shockproof Yes
Lens Coating Fully Multi-Coated
DiamondCoat 2
Warranty Full Lifetime

 

My verdict on the Leupold VX-3i

If you’re looking for a quality medium priced hunting scope, the Leupold VX-3i won’t disappoint you.

But if you want to shoot beyond 600 yards, the Leupold VX-3i’s turrets, even though repeatable, are a bit lacking. Because you can easily lose track of your elevation turret’s revolution (as it doesn’t rise/fall along with your adjustment).

Pros and Cons Table

Pros Cons
✓ Very good in low light ✗ Turrets have no zero stop and are not zero resettable
✓ Lightweight & Compact ✗ Hard to keep track of turrets revolution
✓ High quality glass
✓ Very durable
✓ Reliable warranty

 

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm, Duplex Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm, Duplex Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mmRiflescope, 30mm, Boone & Crockett Reticle Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20x50mm, Side Focus, Fine duplex, CDS Target
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Gungoal's Rating

Alternate Scopes

1. SWFA SS 10×42, Mil-Quad Reticle, 1/10 Mil, Side Focus

If you want to shoot long range (+600 yards), the Leupold VX-3i is not a great option due to it’s turrets. The Nikon Monarch 3 also falls short due to it’s limit internal turrets adjustment of only 40 MOA. Particularly for long range shooting, you’d be better off with this SWFA fixed 10x scope.

  • Precise turrets for long range shooting
  • Turrets revolution easy to keep track
  • Good quality glass
  • Matching reticle and turrets unit (MIL)
  • Very durable
  • Fixed 10x magnification

 

2. Meopta Optics MeoPro 4.5-14X44

The scope is an upgrade both in terms of glass and turrets, but it does have quite a higher price tag.

  • Better glass
  • Better turrets
  • Higher price

 

3. Leupold VX-2 3-9×40, Duplex

If you want to spend less, the Leupold VX-2 is a more affordable option.

  • Less expensive
  • Not as good light transmission
  • Not as reliable and repeatable turrets

 

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