Shadows lengthened across the North Idaho canyon, reaching tentative fingers into every sunlit opening. Bears were on the menu tonight, and I sat, back to a small tree, watching the slopes and timbered openings across a small canyon. If a bear showed, my shot had potential to be a bit long, perhaps between three and four hundred yards. I wasn’t worried, though; earlier that day my friend and guide, Marc, had set up a 10-inch steel plate at 350 yards, and after dialing the brand-new VX-5HD scope to the appropriate setting, I’d rung the plate several times in a row.
The 4-20X52 scope is brand new to Leupold’s line; in fact, if I were to kill a bear this night it would be only the third animal ever harvested with the model, close on the heels of two bears harvested the day before by my friends in the same hunting party. Sporting my favorite turret system – the CDS ZL2 – the scope is capable of dialing for shot distances into the next zip code. Leupold’s Zero-Lock system is awesome too, locking your turret at zero until you release it with the press of a button.
This scope ain’t no mountain hunter’s optic, being 14.7 inches long and weighing in at 23.3 ounces. But it does find its own sweet spot, bridging the gap between standard magnification scopes and the big, super-high magnification scopes, popular among today’s long-range shooters. The low-end magnification, at four-power, is low enough to work well in tight brush or timber, and the high end, at 20 power, is all you’d ever need to shoot way, way out. The 52 mm objective lens collects plenty of light under low-light conditions, and at high magnification.
Its optical quality and clarity are awesome, in keeping with American-made Leupold tradition. The reticle is not illuminated, but the scope does sport a side-focus/parallax adjustor knob just to port of the turrets. Tube diameter is 34mm, offering plenty of room for internal windage and elevation adjustment.
The rifle I was shooting was one of Browning’s new X-Bolt Max Long Range models, chambered in 300WSM. It was a perfect match for the 4-20 scope. I settled the rifle firmly atop my pack for a prone shot, used my knife to trim a bit of tall grass that obscured my shooting lane, and settled in for a peaceful evening watching dusk fall over North Idaho canyon and plains country. Nothing stirred; the only sound was that of some distant birds announcing the end of the day.
Time passed and I began to wonder if bears were anywhere near my little canyon. Then, there it was, a black spot where a moment before there had been nothing. Sliding in behind my rifle I found the spot in my scope and chuckled as the bear stood on his hind legs and scratched his back against a tree. He tinkered around as only a bear can and it was long minutes before he finally offered a broadside shot at 322 yards. Dusk had fallen, but the big scope still gathered plenty of light for the shot. Crosshairs steady on the boar’s shoulder and turret dialed to the 325-yard mark, I pressed the trigger. The hit was perfect and 30 yards later I had my first-ever bear.
The new Leupold VX-5HD 4-20X52 is in ideal optic to mount atop a flat-shooting, semi-heavy rifle built for target or long range shooting, or for hunting.
Tube Diameter: 34mm.
Weight: 23.3 oz.
Focal Plane: Rear.
Side Focus: Yes.
Elevation Adjustment Range: 110 moa.
Windage Adjustment Range: 110 moa.