At the end of every year, American Rifleman staffers sit down and discuss the products introduced in the past year and bring up contenders for our Golden Bullseye award categories. At the end of 2019, in anticipation of awarding our 2020 Golden Bullseye awards, staffers zeroed in on one of the newest offerings in the Leupold Freedom riflescope lineup. This collection offers affordable optics for shooters on a budget while still retaining many of the elements that make Leupold's line of optics as popular as they are. However, until 2019, something had been missing from the company's collection.
“A moderately compact, non-magnifying red-dot optic for carbines and other long guns had been absent from its portfolio,” we wrote of Leupold in one review. “That omission was rectified by the recent release of the Freedom RDS, which, while not nearly as small or light as pistol-purposed sights, nonetheless fills a critical market demand for a red-dot optic suitable for rifle, carbine or shotgun applications where magnification, variable power and complex reticles are not necessary.”
“The RDS is an unmagnified red-dot optic with a 1-m.o.a. reticle adjustable through eight brightness settings. It is built on a 34 mm body tube with moderate bells at its objective and ocular ends that lend it the appearance of a truncated riflescope. An included one-piece mount straddles the machined center section, on which are mounted the windage and elevation turrets—each capable of 80-m.o.a. adjustments in 1/4-m.o.a. increments—in their traditional locations,” wrote our reviewer.
“Owing to its stout build quality and reasonable price, the Leupold RDS is a welcome addition to a crowded marketplace—particularly since it comes from a household brand renowned for its high-quality, American-manufactured products,” he wrote. “It is likely to serve well for many years in a variety of roles for users of long guns who require a simple, durable red-dot optic of moderate size and weight.” That combination of simplicity and affordability led us to name the Leupold Freedom RDS Optic Of The Year.