Leupold Mark 4 Riflescope Review
Over the last few years the interest in higher power scopes with more durability has increased among hunters. Some hunters look to these scopes to improve visual clarity at longer ranges in order to increase the range at which they can consistently make a kill shot, while others want a more rugged scope that can take a few bumps and scrapes. For decades Leupold has developed their line of tactical Mark 4 scopes that offer both a rugged scope and optical superiority. For this review we'll be taking a look a the Mark 4 lineup of scopes along with a closer look at a Mark 4 LR/T 4.5-14x50mm Illuminated Mil-Dot scope.
The Leupold Mark 4 Riflescope. Our review model is a LR/T
4.5-14x50mm with Illuminated Mil Dot reticle and M1 turrets.
The Leupold Mark 4 line is diverse with three main lines of scopes and some additional AR-style rifle focused scopes that we will not be covering at this time. Broadly the Mark 4 line is divided into the LR/T, the ER/T, and MR/T series. The LR/T features a 30mm main tube which allows for an extensive amount of adjustment in elevation and windage. The ER/T is a higher end version of the LR/T with improved optics which allows better low-light clarity at a much higher cost than the LR/T. The MR/T series is based around smaller scopes with lower magnification that are best suited on AR-style rifles.
The excellent end to end turret adjustment of 100 MOA with the LR/T allows the long range shooter to correct bullet drops of at least 50 MOA assuming the reticle was originally sighted in at the middle of the elevation adjustment. By sighting in toward the top end of the turret adjustment (and using a canted 10-20 MOA base ) it is possible to get even more of the 100 MOA geared toward the bullet drop at longer ranges. Considering that 308 Win will drop around 37" at 1000 yards (168gr Sierra Match King at 2650 fps muzzle velocity with a 300yard zero), this allows the Mark 4 LR/T to accomplish all the long range adjustment necessary without using a canted based. Magnum cartridges that drive the bullet faster will drop less at further distances and need less correction.
Both M1 turrets are marked in 1/4 MOA with 15 clicks in one
revolution. Turrets can be recentered after zeroing the rifle.
Because the Mark 4 line is used primarily for precision shooting, the reticle choices are limited to the standard Mil Dot and TMR (tactical milling reticle) reticles, although with some Mark 4 scopes it is possible to have the scope equipped with a duplex cross-hair. The Mil Dot and TMR reticles work very well for those that are willing to figure out the external ballistics of their given cartridge. Obtaining such data can be done simply by shooting paper at various ranges and noticing how bullet drop corresponds to the evenly spaced dots on the reticle. However it is easier to use a program such as Sierra Infinity software to calculate the external ballistics and have the drop described in Mils. One can also use the excellent online ballistics calculators at JBM ballistics. Once the drop is known in mils its relatively easy to quickly correspond the reticle to various shot distances.
Our review model, LR/T 4.5-14x50mm Illuminated Mil-Dot with M1 turrets, displayed top notch optical properties. The image is clean, bright, and sharp at ranges well beyond 500 yards. In fact most of the higher power Mark 4 scopes can be used in place of a full blown spotting scope in a pinch. The side parallax focus is quick and easy to use and preferable to the objective mounted parallax adjustment rings.
All Mark 4 scopes use a side parallax adjustment.
The Mark 4 series uses a variety of turret systems from the factory and perhaps the most common is the M1 turret system that use ¼ MOA click adjustments. There are also a variety of after-market and custom turret options available from Leupold. A popular Mark 4 upgrade is to take the known ballistics for a given rifle, then have either Leupold or an after-market manufacturer make custom turrets with various yardages marked on the turret for quickly dialing in for longer range shots.
The illuminated reticle is available on some versions of the Mark 4 and is simple to use. Simply install the battery then turn on the reticle by rotating the control knob. Intensity can be adjusted up or down based on the number of clicks of the illumination control turret. A nice feature of the control knob is that there are "off" notches between illumination levels. This allows the shooter to turn off the illumination and then quickly return to a given intensity without going through the entire range of intensity levels.
View of the illuminated Mil Dot reticle.
The illumination of the reticle is controlled by the rear turret.
In conclusion the Mark 4 is a rugged scope that has top shelf optical characteristics. For those that enjoy precision shooting they will find the TMR and Mil Dot reticles choices are easy to work with once understood. The only downside to the Mark 4 line up is the cost, with our review model coming in at $1380. However given the features and quality the cost is not out-of-line relative to competing options from other manufacturers.
For more information visit www.leupold.com.