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Leupold VX-3i Review

The new Leupold VX-3i riflescopes are a class above the VX-1 and VX-2 scopes. These newer options include better glass and more features to help give you a clear shot.

While the VX-3i scopes come in a large number of different varieties, they all include an advanced light management system and lens coating for greater visibility.

Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope Family Review

Leupold is known for manufacturing mid-range scopes designed, machined, and assembled in the United States.

The company also has one of the best warranties available. With the Leupold full lifetime guarantee, the company will repair or replace the scope if you detect any defects or performance issues. You do not need to keep the receipt or send in a registration card.

Leupold may offer a great warranty on products made in the USA, but purchasing a new riflescope is never an easy decision. To help you compare options, here is a closer look at the Leupold VX-3i family of riflescopes.

Top Features of the Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

Thanks to several innovative features, the Leupold VX-3i range of scopes are best suited for hunting in the early morning or late evening. These scopes are lightweight, durable, and offer superior performance in low light.

The Leupold VX-3i riflescopes come equipped with Twilight Max light management system and DiamondCoat 2 lens coating. Both features help cut down on glare, giving you a sharper view.

To further enhance your visibility during the first and last minutes of daylight, the Twilight Max system optimizes light wavelengths to eliminate up to 85% of stray light.

The DiamondCoat 2 coating aids light transmission and shields the lens surface, adding durability and clarity.

Leupold also offers a wide range of options in this line of riflescopes. Choose from over 20 different models and seven different reticle options.

The lowest power range is 1.5-5×20 while the highest is 8.5-25×50. The more powerful options typically provide the range needed for long range shooting.

Leupold VX-3HD 1.5-5x20mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3HD 1.5-5x20mm Riflescope

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Unfortunately, the Leupold VX-3i rifle scopes have no zero stop or zero reset function for the turrets.

Additionally, the elevation turret does not rise or fall as you adjust the dial, leaving you with no indication of the level of rotation. This becomes an inconvenience when setting your sight for long-range shots.

While you may struggle to adjust the turrets, the scopes include twin-spring erectors that feature cryogenically treated adjustments, which results in improved accuracy for longer ranges. This helps balance out the issues with elevation adjustments.

The turret design is the one drawback to this otherwise fantastic set of scopes. The precision, clarity, and convenient design make great options for medium distance shots during daybreak or dusk.

Seven Reticle Patterns to Suit Your Needs

When purchasing the scope, you get to choose from seven different second focal plane (SFP) reticle options. The reticle is always clear and easy to view, even when dealing with low light situations.

The available options include:

  • Duplex
  • Heavy Duplex
  • Fine duplex
  • Wind-plex
  • Varmint Hunter
  • Target Dot
  • Boone and Crockett

Select models of the Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14×50 scopes include incorporated ballistics aiming system (BAS), adding multiple aiming points for variable wind speeds and longer distances. Some models even offer reticle illumination.

Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40mm Riflescope

Instead of the American-style eyepiece, this scope uses a European-style fast focus eyepiece. The American-style options typically include a locking mechanism but lack the ability to speedily focus your reticle. The fast-focus eyepieces often lack the locking mechanism.

Leupold combined these features to create a lockable fast-focus eyepiece, making it easier to focus the reticle and keep it focused.

Wide Variety of Magnification Ranges

As mentioned, you can choose from over 20 different models. The lowest magnification is 1.5-5 while the highest is 8.5-25.

The 3.5-10 magnification remains the most popular option for mid to long range hunting. The VX-3i 3.5-10×50 has also been named the best overall scope under $500 in our own ranking.

This has been true since Leupold had introduced the original VX-3 series. At that time the VX-3 3.5-10×50 was one of the most popular models.

With these choices, you should not have a problem finding a direct replacement for your previous scope.

No matter which option you choose, you get a versatile 3:1 zoom ratio erector system, which also features twin bias spring exerts. This adds up to 30% more holding power for the erector, reducing stress on the internal component and increasing its durability.

With the lower end of the magnification options, you get a large 68 to 22.70 feet field of view (FOV). The 3.5-10 scope offers 29.8 to 11 FOV while the powerful 6.5-20 has a low/high of 14.3 to 5.5 feet. These are standard fields of view for the price range.

Standard Eye Relief and Objective Lens Sizes

The next detail to examine is the eye relief (What is Scope Eye Relief?). The average distance for a fixed scope is 3.5 inches. The variable power VX-3i scopes come close to this average when fully magnified.

Most of the available options have an eye relief of 3.6 or 3.7 inches on the highest magnification. With the lowest magnification, the eye relief is 4.4 to 4.5 inches, depending on the model you choose.

Along with a relatively normal eye relief range (Short vs Long Eye Relief Scope – What you need to know!), most of the models also include a standard objective lens size. Starting at the 3.5-10 model, the VX-3i scopes come with either 40mm or 50mm lenses.

Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope

The 1.5-5 power magnification scope is the only exception. It has a smaller 20mm diameter lens but with a larger FOV. This is still a suitable option for short to mid-range hunting or those with a tight budget.

To protect the lenses and eyepiece from damage, the scopes also come with water-resistant, nylon-laminated neoprene scope covers.

Lightweight Tube with Aircraft-Quality Aluminum

All models of the VX-3i scopes have a standard one-inch main tube with a matte finish. The ultra-lightweight tube helps keep the overall weight of the scope down.

The heaviest model is the 6.5-20x50mm scope with a side focus CDS target. It weighs 20 ounces while the lowest magnification model weighs just 9.3 ounces.

The length also varies, measuring between 9.5 inches and 12.6 inches.

Despite the lightweight design, the tube and components remain durable. Leupold machines most of the parts from aircraft-quality aluminum.

The twin bias spring erector system mentioned above also helps reduce stress and backlash, protecting the internal workings and increasing the service life of the scope.

Superior Light Transmission in Low Light Settings

Light transmission is one of the more important features to consider. The VX-3i rifle scopes include several features for improving clarity, including the Twilight Max light management system, DiamondCoat 2 lens coating.

The Twilight Max system helps filter out light to enhance the contrast in low light environments. The light management system and internal components reflect and reduce stray light and glares, improving light transmission.

The DiamondCoat 2 ion-assist coating also assists with visibility. It improves overall clarity and shields the lens against scratches and debris.

To further reduce glare, the lenses feature blackened edges. The result is better light transmission as the sun starts to rise or set, perfect when hunting big game during their most active hours.

Parallax Settings and Adjustments

The adjustments on the scope include MOA markings. The turrets feature 64 MOA internal adjustment and 15 MOA per revolution.

While the turrets do not include a zero stop or reset function, they are precise. Each finger click moves the windage and elevation adjustments one-quarter rotation.

Some people may struggle with long-range shooting due to the lack of reset and stop functions. However, a few of the models come with a free custom dial system (CDS).

You receive a coupon for the CDS when you purchase the scope. You then give the manufacturer the necessary data, such as muzzle velocity, ammo type, grain, altitude, and temperature. Leupold then sends you a custom cap that you can install on the scope.

When you get the CDS, it comes with zero stops for the zeroed position and the max yardage. Of course, if you change altitude, temperature, or bullets, the CDS won’t remain calibrated.

Leupold VX-3HD 6.5-20x40mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3HD 6.5-20x40mm Riflescope


Leupold has released a quality line of rifle scopes that offer a great combination of value and performance. Compared to other mid-level scopes, these options stand out for their superb low-light visibility.

With a wide variety of magnification options and reticles, Leupold has a scope to suit almost any hunter and budget.

From the lowest magnification to the highest, each option includes the same core features to give you a clear view through the lens.

You get the improved light management system, lens coating, blackened lens edges to reduce glare and eliminate unwanted light.

The scopes are also lightweight and suitable for use on any rifle, air gun (Find the Best Air Rifle Scopes), or muzzleloader.

Some people may complain about the turrets, as you need to mentally keep track of how many rotations you turn the dial. However, the adjustments remain precise, even at distances of 1,000 yards.

If you find the turrets inconvenient, consider choosing one of the options that come with a free CDS.

Additional highlights include the craftsmanship of the scopes and the warranty.

Leupold makes the scopes in the USA. The precision-machined components help ensure a long life for your scope. If anything stops working properly, simply contact the manufacturer for repair or replacement.

Overall, the Leupold VX-3i scopes provide sharp, clear magnification in an easy-to-install design with high-quality components.

Tom Devine