Leupold VX-1: Review of the Best Rifle Scope in Its Class

Back in 2008, Leupold bought the Redfield brand of optical equipment. They added Rifleman scopes to their lineup of other excellent products. This had the effect of pushing Leupold VX-1 rifle scopes upward relative to their other offerings.

So, no longer is the Leupold VX-1 the entry level or beginner rifle scope that you might have thought it was at one point.

Let’s take a closer look at this line of scope in detail to see if this is a scope for you. (Spoiler: It probably is.)

Click a link in the box to skip to that section of the review. Otherwise, read on by scrolling as usual.

Which Scopes Are Available in the Leupold VX-1 Line?

Update: Leupold seems to have replaced the VX-1 line with VX-Freedom. For example, they have this VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope which looks very much like the scope described below. The main difference is that this one is still available (as of this writing, of course).

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 rifle scope
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 rifle scope

This Leupold VX-1 review will focus on one of several available scopes in the VX-1 line, the popular VX-1 3-9×40 rifle scope. Other models in the same line are these:

  • Leupold VX-1 2-7x33mm
  • Leupold VX-1 3-9x50mm
  • Leupold VX-1 4-12x40mm
  • Leupold VX-1 1.4-4x25mm, also known as the VX-HOG

All of these are now medium priced scopes that must be considered mid-level optics. In fact, they now have features that used to be reserved for Leupold VX-2 or even VX-3 rifle scopes.

What Does the VX-1 Look Like?

Designed, machined, and assemble in the United States, these scopes come in any of several finishes.

Inside the one-inch tube is a standard Duplex reticle. You can also choose from Wide Duplex and LR Duplex reticles. All VX-1 scopes are setup as second focal plane instruments.

To focus the scope, you loosen the locking ring and turn the bell until you get a clear image. You might need to make several turns because the threads are quite fine. Be sure to tighten the ring again when you’re done.

You can read the small magnification numbers on the zoom ring. You can turn the zoom ring easily, but it has the appropriate amount of friction so you won’t accidentally change it in the field.

Eye relief ranges from 3.7” to 4.2”, depending on the magnification. This makes the VX-1 scope suitable even for rifles with a hard kick to them.

Color and aberration correction is quite good. You shouldn’t experience any problems along these lines, at least, not at the lower magnification levels.

You make the windage and elevation adjustments in ¼ MOA increment clicks. Owners say you can easily turn the dials with your bare fingers. The turrets stay locked in place once you’ve set them. When you’re not making adjustments, you can cover them with threaded aluminum caps.

You can’t reset the turrets to zero as you can with some other scopes. Leupold has a slightly different mechanism for handling this procedure.

According to Leupold,

“The adjustment dials on the Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm are not resettable to zero. When viewing the dial from an overhead position, you will see a split ring, located just under the dial. The split ring is a zero indicator. After the rifle has been zeroed, you will need to rotate the opening in the split ring to the zero on the dial. This can be done with a spent piece of brass or a fingernail.”

One noticeable omission from a VX-1 package is lens caps. You don’t get any with your scope, even though Leupold really should include them. I would suggest getting these accessories at the same time you purchase your VX-1 rifle scope, because you’ll really want to keep this great piece of equipment as protected from harm as possible.

The lenses reportedly allow 92% of ambient light through the tube to your eye. This has become pretty much a standard percentage among good quality optics these days. Leupold’s method for achieving this is by applying their proprietary lens coating system called Multicoat 4®. I’m not sure what makes it proprietary, since other companies have figured out how to get the same end results too.

The lenses in a VX-1 are both waterproof and fog proof, though some owners have noticed a little fogging up upon initial use. Wiping with an appropriate cloth seems to correct the problem easily.

Here then is a summary list of the more important features and specifications of the VX-1 and the 3-9x40mm scope in particular.

  • Classic / Standard Lockable Eyepiece
  • 3:1 Zoom Ratio
  • ¼ MOA Finger Click turrets
  • Custom Shop serviceable
  • Tactile Power Selector
  • Waterproof and Fog proof (nitrogen filled)
  • 6061-T6 Aircraft Quality Aluminum body
  • Multicoat 4 lens coating
  • 92% light transmission
  • Choice of Duplex, Wide Duplex, and LR Duplex reticles
  • Matte black, gloss black, silver, Mossy Oak Break-Up and Mossy Oak Treestand finishes
  • Accepts Alumina accessories
  • Gold Ring Full Lifetime guarantee
  • Overall length: 12.6 inches
  • Tube diameter: 1 inch
  • Objective bell diameter: 1.8 inches
  • Ocular bell diameter: 1.6 inches
  • Objective clear aperture: 40 millimeters
  • Actual magnification: 3.2x to 8.8x
  • FOV at 100 yards: 14.6 feet (at 9x), 34.6 feet (at 3x)
  • Eye relief: 3.7 inches to 4.2 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Windage & Elevation adjustment range: 52 MOA

How Can I Use My Leupold VX-1?

As long as you use the original Leupold rings and base, the VX-1 is compatible with a wide range of rifles including the following.

  • Henry Rifle
  • Tika T3 .308 Lite
  • .270 Mossberg ATR 100
  • .308 caliber Savage Axis

It perhaps works with your favorite AR-15 as well.

Don’t think about using this rifle scope as a quick fire instrument; that is, don’t use it for tactical purposes. It’s just not made for that.

You probably will purchase your VX-1 for hunting. That is its intended purpose. It takes a little time to set it up properly as you would expect for a hunting scope.

The Leupold VX-1 works quite well in low light conditions. As a hunter, this is often what you encounter. You prey is frequently visible at dusk and dawn.

I mentioned the generous eye relief earlier. You can even adjust the scope to use with or without eyeglasses.

Most owners find it very difficult to say anything negative about this rifle scope. You should be extremely satisfied for the relatively low amount of money you’ll pay for it. It is simply hard to find a better scope for your money.

Leupold VX-1 Scopes

Check the pricing and availability of Leupold VX-1 scopes at Amazon.

Leupold VX-1 Scopes

Check the pricing and availability of Leupold VX-1 scopes at Ebay.

If the Leupold scope didn’t match your needs, check out these scopes from Pinty.

Who Is Leupold?

Leupold is a United States scope maker. In fact, it’s the only major manufacturer of rifle scopes in the country. Leupold is a family owned company. For over 100 years, they have been in the optics business. Their headquarters are located in Beaverton, Oregon.

As of this writing, the average employee has been with the company for at least 10 years. Leupold employs hundreds of American workers. If this is important to you in making a purchase, you can be proud to make Leupold a company you endorse. You’ll be happy to own an American made scope that is second to none.

Gary Sonnenberg

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4 thoughts on “Leupold VX-1: Review of the Best Rifle Scope in Its Class”

  1. John.B Griffin sr

    I was under impression that Leopold scopes had a no question return policy. I had an accident with my rifle and my 40 mm lens the end was dented in now I can’t screw in anything.
    Can you tell me if this covered.

  2. Not understanding the split ring concept. Outer ring adjust the scope and inter ring adjust it to 0 or is it vise versa

    1. Sorry, the description given is the best I can do. Perhaps try to get your hands on one locally to see how it works.

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