Leupold VX3i Review
From the Nov/Dec 2016 Issue of MuleyCrazy Magazine
by Steve Monk
Are you still driving a 1920’s truck without suspension, four-wheel-drive, air conditioning, or power steering? In my opinion, if you’re not dialing your turret for elevation adjustments, you’re living in the dark ages, and you are choosing to seriously limit your ability to effectively kill animals. What used to be a long shot is now a chip shot, if you take advantage of what’s out there. I understand the natural apprehension toward new things, but an iPhone is every bit as easy to use as that old flip-phone, and it’s capable of a whole lot more.
Much like everything else in today’s world, modern technology is allowing people to be much more effective at putting animals on the ground. Any person who is a decent shot, with even a decent gun, can and should be able to shoot 400-500 yards. As long as you have a solid rest and squeeze off a good shot, a turret adjustment leaves no guesswork about where the bullet will hit. Unless the wind is really ripping, shots less than 500 yards are within the capabilities of most hunters.
Day in and day out, we talk with hunters from every walk of life. Some are ahead of the game and have their equipment dialed in for extreme distances. But we also find a large number of hunters who would like to extend their effective distance to 500 yards or more, but don’t know where to start in terms of the rifle, optics, bullets, and all of the ballistic information required to get your gun dialed in accurately. And there are many more who simply don’t have the time to make it all happen, but would if they could.
So, with this big demand from our MuleyCrazy crowd, we’ve decided we will try to combine our understanding of mule deer hunting, shooting, and optics, by offering turn-key, out-of the-box rifles for a fraction of what custom long-range rifles go for. I’m talking about the rifle, scope, custom turret, and bullets, ready to go for as little as $1,500.
A rifle with very expensive components may be capable of superior accuracy at very long distances, but it’s far from cheap and certainly doesn’t shoot like that on its own. There is point around 700 yards or so, where the bullet REALLY starts dropping, and the wind starts to have some drastic effects on the what’s happening. It’s when accuracy is hard to achieve and a miss, or a bad hit, becomes very likely. Without proper training, very long shots shouldn’t be taken in hunting situations, and most hunters we talk to, myself included, say they don’t want to shoot 1,000 yards anyway.
Our MuleyCrazy rifles won’t be “1000-yard” rifles. These will be 500 or 600-yard hunting rifles that will allow the average guy with average abilities to truly extend his effective range, without breaking the bank. And they won’t be big bulky, heavy guns, they’ll be lightweight hunting rifles! We’ll build the gun, gather all of the ballistic information, sight in the scope, and install the custom turret. As long as you make sure the gun is always dead-on at 100 yards, you’ll be good to go. (Click here to learn more)
A quality riflescope is a necessity even for medium-range shooting, so we looked at what is the best bang for the buck in terms of quality, performance, and price. With all the options out there for riflescopes, there are plenty that will do the job. We’ve shot nearly every riflescope under the sun, and there are many that are awesome. There’s one new addition to the hunting world that is very exciting to us; the introduction of Leupold’s new VX3i lineup of riflescopes. I have no doubt that you’ll be hearing a lot about these scopes in the coming months and years. You’ll also be seeing them on many of our rifle systems. I’d like to spend the rest of this article on these riflescopes, because there’s plenty about the Leupold VX3i series worth talking about.
Made in the U.S.A.
Whether supporting our domestic economy is important to you, or you simply trust that the quality and standards of American manufacturing are higher than in Asia, the fact that these scopes (and all Leupold Optics) are designed, machined and assembled in America is a pretty neat thing. Obviously other optics companies that have their glass built overseas are still able to produce very high quality optics, and the reason they do it is to keep costs down for the consumer. Amazingly, Leupold has found a way to make high quality optics that keep pace with all of the other companies, and keep the cost right in line with their counterparts.
Features and Performance
The brightness and clarity of the VX3i scopes is incredible, featuring their “Twilight Max Light Management System”. Everyone knows low light performance is extremely important in mule deer hunting, and these scopes do not disappoint! The available magnifications are as follows: 3.5-10x, 4.5-14x, and 6.5-20x. There are a lot of options such as a side focus knob, 40mm and 50mm objective lenses, both 1” and 30mm tube configurations, and various reticle options. My favorite model, the VX3i 4.5-14x40 with Side Focus, CDS, and a Wind Plex, weighs in at a mere 15.6oz!
Something that is significantly awesome is the fact that a VX3i with a 30mm tube has a whopping 113 MOA of elevation adjustment! That’s right there with the best Nightforce long-range scopes, and as much travel as anything out there! Why is that important if you don’t plan on shooting 1,000 yards? That’s 4 full rotations up, and 4 full rotations down. We’ve recently ran into issues while mounting other brands of scopes, as they run out of adjustment, and don’t allow much adjustment past sight in. You’ll likely never have any mounting issues, or the need for a 20 MOA rail, or shimming. You’ll have all the adjustment you need to sight-in and dial in long shots. That is a TON of adjustment, and the turrets are very low profile. These scopes are loaded with all of the necessary features of an awesome hunting riflescope!
Free Custom Turret
With almost all other scope manufacturers, a custom turret with your yardage engraved on it will run you $125 or more. So to add even more value to an already great piece of equipment, Leupold will throw one in for free! They are one of the few companies who engrave their own turrets, and the VX3i series – along with all of their CDS (Custom Dial System) scopes - come with a voucher for a FREE custom turret. The voucher has a small list of all the information you will need to gather before you call in, and before you know it, a new turret will show up in the mail. Simply remove your factory turret with its MOA marks, and pop on your custom dial with your yardage on it. Simple, easy and FREE! What’s not to love about that?
Full Lifetime Guarantee
All Leupold optics (with the exception of electronic components) are covered by Leupold’s Gold Ring Full Lifetime Guarantee, stating, “If your Leupold product doesn’t perform as promised, we will repair or replace it for free, whether you are the original owner or not – forever. You don’t need proof of ownership or a warranty card. And there’s no time limit. We do this because we believe in superior quality and craftsmanship, and we’re confident your Leupold won’t let you down.” I like that, a lot. Over the years, myself as well as countless other folks I know have had great experiences with Leupold’s warranty and customer service. In fact, I’ve never heard a negative comment about it.
For a while it sure seemed like Leupold had fallen out of the limelight in the hunting world, but I assure you that they are well on their way back in. The incredible performance, features, and dimensions of the Leupold VX3i series is something that will make big waves in the hunting world. If you have any questions about these riflescopes, or any of Leupold’s other riflescopes, don’t hesitate to give us a call at the MuleyCrazy office.