Who Would Buy That Thing?

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posted on May 19, 2011
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“What is Leupold thinking with the CQBSS? It costs more than most used cars,” wrote one budget-conscious NRA member. “Who can afford $6,000 for a scope?” Yes, it is indeed spendy, and to paraphrase my friend and colleague American Rifleman Shooting Editor Glenn M. Gilbert as he wrote in the May issue, if one has the means, it is an impressive optical device that is innovative, feature-laden and rugged. It is the first of its kind; capable of handling several different roles—from door-kicking to sniping—currently served by different optics within the same military unit. But with that versatility comes cost, weight and size.

So who can afford it? The U.S. Marine Corps for one, as the Mk 8 CQBSS 1.1-8X 24 mm with the firm’s Marine-Tactical Milling Reticle (M-TMR) has been adopted as the Mk 521. But perhaps not for its intended role. According to a release from Leupold, the Marines are procuring 721 of the Mk 8 units for a “Heavy Daytime Optic” role. They certainly got the heavy part right. When we mounted the 23.2-ounce CQBSS on the 7.62x51 mm NATO Fabrique Nationale SCAR 17S, we joked in the office that the Mk 8 made the 8-pound, 38 1/2-inch long “Heavy” SCAR look, well, puny. Performance, of course, was simply excellent, but the Mk 8 is necessarily, a comparatively large, heavy optic.

The Mk 521s are headed to front-line Marine units in-country in Afghanistan and will be mounted on Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers (which weigh about 78 pounds sans mount) and M2 .50 BMG Brownings (about 84 pounds or so). Seeing as those arms are infrequently lugged about or up mountainsides by the troops, the pound-and-a-half weight of the optic is simply immaterial.

“The Marine Corps’ innovative employment of this new technology will bring enhanced lethality to two combat-proven systems, the M2 and MK19 heavy machine guns,” said Kevin Trepa, vice president of Leupold’s Tactical Division. “We will continue working hard to deliver the new tools that our warfighters need to succeed on the battlefield.”

The military is very pleased with the Leupold riflescopes used by snipers and designated marksmen—and for good reason. It is that faith in Leupold products that led the firm to continue to pursue military contracts and invest heavily in its relatively new Tactical Optics Division. A division we will no doubt be hearing more from in the future.

So congratulations to Leupold for winning this important military contract and to the brave Marines serving in Afghanistan as they are receiving an excellent piece of optical equipment that will help them take the fight to our Nation’s enemies. In this case, anyway, I’m delighted my tax dollars are being used for something I can really get behind.

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