Much like firearms, the optics that accompany us into field or range are constantly being modified and improved—and these days it seem to be at breakneck speed. It’s companies like Leupold, which doesn’t simply rest on its gold rings when it comes to besting even its own products, that keeps the optics game interesting, regularly refining its products to offer myriad options in each of its line. The latest in the Mark 5HD series, the 5-25X 56 mm, is no exception to that trend. So why is this news? After all, the Mark 5HD 5-25X 56 mm has been on the market for quite some time, and it was recently awarded a 2019 Golden Bullseye Award by NRA's Shooting Illustrated magazine editors. What hasn’t been available, however, is the scope outfitted with both MOA turrets and an MOA reticle. The latter of these is really something special.
Previously, Mark 5HD buyers were given the choice between the simple, MIL-graduated TMR reticle, and vastly more complex variants, like the CCH, the H-59, or the Tremor 3. The MOA-based PR-1 reticle on this new Mark 5HD provides an excellent happy medium between these two extremes. At its core, the PR-1 is still just a simple crosshair, lacking the “Christmas Tree” of some of its more complex cousins. That said, the reticle retains extreme precision, with graduations all the way out to 100 MOA at its lowest power setting (5X), and to 25 MOA in single-minute hash marks at its highest setting (25X). This combination of adequate precision and a clutter-free view make the scope ideal for long-range hunters and precision rifle competitors alike.
While not a digression from the existing Mark 5HD, another highlight that makes the PR-1 exceedingly useful in the above scenarios is its first focal plane (FFP) construction. Having one’s reticle size adjust in relation to the target makes calculating windage and drop infinitely easier no matter the power setting, and allows one, if necessary, to range the target with the scope. While both these functions can be accomplished with a second focal plane (SFP) scope, the calculations are much more difficult. Finally, in order to stand up to the conditions, the scope is ruggedly built. Its 35 mm maintube is constructed from 6061-T6 Aircraft Quality Aluminum, while its exterior lens surfaces wear DiamondCoat2, an ion-assist lens coating for higher light transmission and abrasion resistance. To prevent accidental bumps and unintended adjustments of windage or elevation, the scope utilizes an M1C3 ZeroLock Adjustment on the elevation turret, and protects the windage turret with a screw-on exterior cover when not in use.
Enough about construction; the real question is: How does it perform? To find out, I mounted the Mark 5HD atop a Bergara B14 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, and put it through its paces in one of the NRA’s long-range programs at the Peacemaker National Training Center in West Virginia. Ranges varied from 100 yards (where the rifle was zeroed) all the way out to 575 yards, and conditions were, to put it mildly, less than ideal. Crosswinds were gusting in 15-25 mph brackets, with virtually no lull in between, and light was exceedingly dull.
Ultimately, the scope lived up to its “HD” moniker. Despite the bad lighting, the scope provided a clear and crisp image all the way to the edges, which made locating the target a total non-issue. The scope also tracked with extreme precision, matching my ballistic charts almost exactly, never requiring more than an extra click or two of adjustment beyond what was called for. While the wind was far too inconsistent to dial, the exacting nature of the PR-1 reticle made utilizing a “Kentucky windage” an absolute breeze, even when having to hold up to 5 MOA off center.
Overall, this was an impressive scope. Light, tough and precise, this scope would be an ideal choice for anyone interested in the burgeoning precision rifle series, or in some serious long-range hunting. For more information, please visit leupold.com.
FF PR-1 MOD Reticles
The MOA model Mark 5HD is available in three reticle options, from left: Impact 60, Illuminated PR1-MOA and PR1-MOA ("PR" = Precision Rifle)