Recent years have seen the proliferation of variable-power tactical and competition optics designed specifically for the AR-style platform. Such scopes typically feature a low magnification range, long eye relief, rugged construction and reticles-often illuminated-that facilitate close-range target acquisition as well as precision shooting out to 300 yards or more.
The 1.25-4X 20 mm VX-R Patrol is one of Leupold’s most recent entries into this class. Introduced in 2011, it was developed from the popular VX-R series of scopes, and provides a nominal 1.25- to 4-power magnification range (actual 1.5-4X). It features a one-piece matte-black 6061 aluminum tube, rubber-cushioned fast-focus eyepiece, second-generation argon/krypton waterproofing, Index Matched lenses, DiamondCoat anti-scratch lens coating, exposed windage and elevation turrets, and an illuminated FireDot SPR reticle.
As its name indicates, the VX-R Patrol is designed primarily for AR-type patrol rifles commonly used by law enforcement officers. In its development, input was sought from a variety of sources, including police officers, military personnel and 3-Gun competitors.
Certified for at least 5,000 cycles of 750-g recoil, the VX-R Patrol is suited for rifles of just about any caliber. Optically, the Patrol benefits from Leupold’s Index Matched Lens System, in which the glass formulation and coating for each lens is specifically selected for its role in the whole optical system. All lenses are of lead-free glass with blackened edges to reduce internal reflection and diffraction that degrade image quality. Eye relief is 4.1 inches, with a generous 9.8 mm exit pupil (both at a nominal 1.25X).
The second-focal plane FireDot SPR reticle is designed to facilitate both close- and extended-range shooting. For estimating range and holdover/hold off for distant targets, the reticle features a 10-mil-diameter ring, horizontal and vertical hash marks spaced 5 mils apart, and smaller tic marks between the hash marks at 2.5-mil intervals (all subtensions at 4X magnification).
At the intersection of the crosshairs is the 0.3-mil FireDot, created by a red LED transmitted through a precision-cut fiber-optic light pipe. Even at maximum intensity, the FireDot is round and sharply defined, lacking the fuzziness sometimes observed with brightly illuminated reticles. FireDot activation is via a single push-button control on the left side of the saddle (which also houses the scope’s CR-2032 battery). Eight intensity levels can be selected by pushing the button until the desired setting is reached. The FireDot will blink five times at the lowest and highest levels, as well as when battery power is low. Battery life is prolonged by the scope’s Motion Sensor Technology (MST), which turns the FireDot off when the scope has been motionless for five minutes, and reactivates upon subsequent movement.
Elevation and windage adjustments on the exposed, zeroable turrets are in 1/10-mil increments, which, in combination with the mil-based reticle, facilitate rapid and accurate scope adjustments. A total of 90 m.o.a./26 mils of adjustment is available for both windage and elevation.
We tested the Patrol on a 16-inch-barreled AR-style carbine and on a 3-gun AR rifle with an 18-inch barrel using Leupold’s Mark 2 Integral Mounting System (IMS) cantilever one-piece mount.
The Patrol performed well in the standard tests we use to evaluate rifle scopes. “Shooting the square” demonstrated good click repeatability and consistency, even at the extremes of the adjustment range. Scope zero did not shift with changes in magnification, and prolonged immersion in water produced no leakage or fogging. Brightness, resolution, clarity and color fidelity all appeared excellent. According to Leupold, total light transmission through the scope is about 95 percent.
While some parallax was detected at shorter target distances, it all but disappeared at 75 to 100 yards and beyond. There is no provision for parallax adjustment. We found that the one-turn fast-focus eyepiece and the short-throw (roughly 100-degree) magnification adjustment ring helped to quickly adapt the scope for changing firing situations. However, most 3-gunners will likely want to install an extended throw lever on the ring.
Surprisingly, in firing tests at 100 yards, the test rifles shot about equally well whether the Fire-Dot was off and the crosshair alone was used for aiming, or when aiming was done with the activated dot. With the FireDot on, best accuracy was achieved with the LED set at a lower intensity level.
Using cardboard silhouettes of the type used in 3-Gun competition, placed at 25 yards or less, and the Patrol set at the nominal 1.25X, the FireDot allowed rapid target-to-target transitioning. Since many 3-gunners prefer a true 1X scope for both-eyes-open shooting at fast, close targets, we anticipated that the difference between a 1X visual input in our test shooter’s non-sighting eye and a 1.5X visual input in his sighting eye might cause perceptual confusion with the VX-R. Our test shooter, however, reported no such problems. Even under the most extreme daytime sighting conditions we could come up with, the FireDot was adequately visible, validating Leupold’s claim that the dot is “daylight capable.”
User feedback regarding the VX-R Patrol has been positive, with the scope winning plaudits from law enforcement and 3-gun competitors alike. In fact, a number of officers have personally purchased the scope for their issue carbines. The combination of high optical quality, mil-based FireDot SPR reticle, 1/10 mil windage and elevation adjustments, compact size and simple one-button FireDot activation and intensity control all make the VX-R 1.25-4X 20 mm scope worth a look from serious tactical and competitive AR shooters, and even hunters. In our opinion, the Patrol represents a good value, as in features and quality it compares well to scopes costing considerably more.