Leupold VX-3i Review

Gungoal's Rating

Quick summary for Leupold VX-3i

Functionality 4.7/5
Ease of Use 4.2/5
Looks 4.7/5
Durability 5/5
Value 4.5/5

Pros

  • Very good light transmission
  • Light weight
  • Great image quality
  • Very durable
  • Reliable warranty

Cons

  • A bit small field of view
  • Needs to pay more to make it a long range scope
  • Higher priced

Debuted in 2016, the Leupold VX-3i series are the upgraded version, both in terms of higher quality & lower price of the discontinued Leupold VX3.

Functionality : 4.7/5

Image quality

Leupold VX-3i possesses very clear glass from edge-to-edge. Color contrast is high with no bluish or purplish tint. These attributes help improve game spotting especially in camouflaged woods.

Light Transmission

During normal daylight conditions, the VX-3i doesn’t outperform the VX-2 by a wide margin. But during low light of dawn and dusk where game are most active, the VX-3i gives a much more detailed, contrasting image compared to the VX-2. This translates to 15-30 minutes of extra hunting time.

The VX-3i boasts of 99.99% light transmission which I thought was a marketing gimmick. But the scope does perform very well in low light.

Lens coating is high quality as there is no flare issue when the sun is directly behind or in front of you.

Reticle

The reticle is clear and easy to find even in low light. You shouldn’t need the thick reticle of the heavy duplex or the German #4. There are 3 reticle patterns to choose from :

If you want more options such as BDC or illuminated, visit Leupold’s Custom Shop (at an additional cost). This lack of reticle options with no additional cost is one downside of Leupold’s product

Field of View

One improvement the Leupold VX-3i could make is its field of view. Compared to other brands with the same magnification, the VX-3i field of view is smaller, which is critical for dangerous game hunting.

Coupled with the fact that the VX-3i is a second focal plane scope, you need to use the highest magnification (lowest field of view) to utilise holdovers.

Turrets

Turrets of this VX-3i are precise and repeatable. I ran a 5 MOA box test and achieved quite a formal square.

If you’re into long range shooting, you can also order the CDS (Custom Dial System), at an additional cost, for custom made dial specific to your bullet trajectory.

 

Ease of Use : 4.2/5

Focus Lock Ring

The VX-3i features a focus lock ring rather than a fast focus. This option is inferior if you need to adjust your reticle focus often. For example you may need to share this scope with others, or your eyes are getting a bit old.

If you have 20/20 eyesight with no one to share your scope, the focus lock ring works great.

Magnification Ring

The magnification ring is smooth, and there’s a knob which helps tighten your grip. No problem operating this scope with your gloves on.

Eye Relief

The Leupold VX-3i’s Eye relief (3.6″) and Eyebox are generous(mostly the case with Leupold’s). So it’s very user-friendly and you can go high caliber round safely.

Turrets

Turrets are finger adjustable and easy to turn. However, the clicks aren’t so audible.

Another downsides for this scope, and most Leupold’s products, are that turrets are not zero resettable and don’t have any zero stops. When you dial the turrets for more than 1 revolution, it’s easy to lose track of how much you have dial. A slight minus if you’re into long range shooting.

 

Looks : 4.7/5

Leupold brand gives an aura of higher class scopes. When you have the gold ring signature, everyone knows you don’t use junk for optics. It gives you a clean, premium look and feel.

Similar to most Leupold scopes, the VX-3i is light, compact and easy to carry. If you hate heavy and bulky scopes, this one might be a good option.

 

Durability : 5/5

Leupold VX-3i is famous for its reliability. Rugged & made for heavy recoil, you can use any rifle/ammunition and the scope won’t lose zero. Muzzleloaders, slug guns and airguns are all suitable. Plus, the VX-3i comes with these features :

  • 1 piece aircraft quality aluminum
  • Nitrogen purged to eliminate fogging
  • 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton for Waterproofing
  • DiamondCoat 2 to protect against abrasion
  • Twin Bias Spring Erector System for internal workings of the scope
  • Leupold full lifetime guarantee

I tested the VX-3i by submerging it for 10 seconds, put it in the freezer for another 5 minutes and then drop it 5 feet onto grass. After that, everything still works perfectly. No fogging, no water seeped in and the scope is still on dead zero.

Compared to lower end scopes, where turrets adjustment precision deteriorate over time, the Leupold VX-3i’s turrets should remain accurate much longer due to its Twin Bias Spring Erector System which reinforce the scope’s inner mechanics of a scope.

Leupold’s golden ring warranty is also famous for its reliability. Even though most people wouldn’t have the chance to find out (due to the scope’s durability), it adds to the reselling value in case you wish to sell.

 

Value : 4.5/5

The Leupold VX-3i is a very solid scope. But, it does succumb to the law of diminishing return. As price goes up, the marginal incremental quality will be less. (In other words, “a $100 increase from a $50 scope” is more tangible than “a $100 increase from a $1000 scope”.

If you have enough money to spend, the VX-3i is a would not disappoint you. However, if you’re short on cash, this one’s a little pricey, and you could already do well with a lower tier scope like the VX-2.

 

Other

The Leupold brand

Leupold is a well known American manufacturer of optics since 1907. It has been run by 5 generations of optics zealot.
Other than high quality and user-friendliness, perhaps the most famous thing is its full lifetime warranty, the “Leupold golden ring guarantee”.
Even though their lenses are made in Japan. Coating and machining are all done in USA. Buy a Leupold brand and get American quality!

Variants

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 variants, leaving 12 models still in production. But you can still find older variants in the market.

Tech Specs

Technical Specifications for Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40

Length (Inch) 12.6
Weight (oz) 12.6
Tube Diameter (Inch) 1
Tube material 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum
Mounting Space (Inch) 6
Finish Matte Black
Magnification 3.5-10x
Objective Diameter (Inch) 1.8
Eyepiece Diameter (Inch) 1.6
Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) – Low 29.8
Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) – High 11
Reticle Duplex
Wind-plex
Boone and Crockett
Reticle Focal Plane Second
Reticle illuminated No, but available in other variants
Eye Relief (in) – Low 4.4
Eye Relief (in) – High 3.6
Finger Adjustable Turrets Yes
Turrets Resettable to Zero No
Adjustment Type Click
Adjustment Click Value 1/4 MOA
Elevation Adjustment Range (MOA) 52
Windage Adjustment Range (MOA) 52
Fast Focus Eye Piece No
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

The VX-3i is higher priced, but it does offer major improvements on glass, light transmission and turrets. Light transmission is probably the most noticeable upgrade. If you want to have BDC reticle or custom dial turrets for long range, they’re available but with additional costs.

Pros and Cons Table

Pros Cons
✓ Very good light transmission ✗ A bit small field of view
✓ Light weight ✗ Needs to pay more to make it a long range scope
✓ Great image quality ✗ Higher priced
✓ Very durable
✓ Reliable warranty
Gungoal's Rating

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