Leupold Creates Another Amazing Optic: Meet the VX-5HD 4-20X52 CDS ZL2 – Review

Recently, Leupold has been dropping a bunch of new products that are a direct effect of listening to what their consumers want. This new VX-5HD 4-20×52 CDS-ZL2 is yet another great scope that many of you have been asking for. After putting the VX-5HD through many tests and hours of time shooting, I have been more than happy with this optic’s performance, as I will discuss in a second.

Leupold’s VX-5HD 4-20X52 CDS ZL2 is as attractive as it is functional.

Interesting Features of the VX-5HD

At first glance, the thing that most people will notice is that the main tube on the VX-5HD is very large. This tube is 34mm, which is a good thing because of the added adjustment that can be had over the 1 inch and 30mm optics of old. This scope brags 110 MOA of total elevation and windage adjustment! Not only does it allow for more adjustment but there is room inside for the mechanics that make the adjustments to be much more robust.

The VX-5HD features a side focus parallax, fast focus eyepiece and locking elevation turret to name a few.

The next thing that stuck out was the integral throw lever that manifests itself as a raised knob on the magnification adjustment ring. This is a commonly underappreciated feature that I personally love to have on all of my optics. This extra leverage makes magnification changes quicker, smoother, and easier to do.

As you can see, the VX-5HD has an interesting set of turrets. The windage turret has been capped (which is my preference), keeping accidental adjustments in the field from happening. If this is not to your liking, there is an easy to read dial underneath, so feel free to leave the cap off. The elevation turret has a button that sticks out of the back, which is a release for the turret lock. At 0, this turret locks into place. After pressing this button in, you can then rotate the easy to read tactical style turret 2 revolutions or a total elevation change of 38 MOA thanks to the Zero Lock 2 system. A couple of things to note about the elevation turret: it cannot be dialed below your set zero, unless, you loosen the set screws on the turret, move it and then retighten it to then adjust your zero. Because of this, I found a 100-yard zero to be the wisest choice.

This scope features a side focus parallax and fast focus eyepiece, which are essential for precision in long range and close range shots alike. Both are smooth and easy to adjust on the fly.

Rain and other tough environmental conditions cannot phase this optic because of it’s sealed weatherproof design.
Performance in the Field

One thing I like about Leupold optics is the fact that when you buy a Leupold, you can be sure that it is American made and has high optical clarity needed for any task. The VX-5HD is just the same in this way. The large main tube diameter allows for a ridiculously large amount of elevation and windage adjustment that can be made on the turrets. The glass that is incorporated is coated with the most advanced coatings to aid in desired light transmission which is apparent during the early morning and evenings in the scope’s bright image. I found that the large 52mm objective lens further adds to light collecting ability which brings a clear image to the shooter’s eye even in the worst weather conditions or dark hours. This glass had an incredibly crisp appearance and didn’t show any signs of haloing or edge distortion clear out to the edges. All of this and it is still backed with Leupold’s lifetime guarantee to put any worries of bumps and scrapes at ease.

The lenses in the VX-5HD are coated in the most high-tech way in order to keep optical performance at its peak regardless of the conditions. As can be seen, the Guard-Ion Coating on external surfaces of the lenses shed both water and dirt.

The VX-5HD 4-20×52 that I received for testing only comes with a duplex reticle option, but for those of you who want a ballistic reticle, you can opt to purchase the other models of the VX-5HD and receive one of a few options.

Turret Tracking Accuracy

As with all of my rifle optics tests, I checked the most important aspect of the VX-5HD 4-20×52 (in my opinion) using a tall target test in order to determine the scope’s tracking accuracy. The first step in this test is to mount the optic on the gun using a bubble level and plumb bob. This has to correlate to a rifle mounted bubble level which will be used in the field to level the optic. Next, I take a gridded target (with 1-inch squares in my case, not 1 MOA which is important to note.) This helps me level the target while in the field for the test. It is important to use a precise rifle for this test to minimize any kind of error. For this purpose, I used my Savage target rifle with criterion barrel chambered in 308 Winchester. For Ammunition, I used Buffalo Bore Sniper 308 Win, slinging a 175-grain SMK.

For this test, I chose to use Buffalo Bore ammunition because it has proved itself in the past to be extremely accurate. Pictured here is the testing site for the tall target test.

Next, I set up my shooting position about 100 yards away and then laser rangefind the distance with multiple rangefinders to confirm the range. For this purpose, I use a Leupold RX2800 TBR/W and a Leica 1600 B. I determined the distance to be 105 yards this way. This distance will then be used later in my math to determine the tracking accuracy of the optic.

The tall target before sending rounds down range.

From here, I shoot. In this test, I fired 3 rounds at my point of aim at the bottom center of the target. Next, I dialed up 30 MOA on the turret and fired a 5 shot group while aiming at my original point of aim, all while keeping the gun level. Immediately after, I dialed back down 30 MOA and fired a 3 shot group in a similar fashion. The distance between these two groups will be used to check the tracking accuracy of the elevation turret of the VX5-HD 4-20×52. Any deviation from my vertical line will also be noted in the test.

In this same string of fire, I then dialed the windage to the left 11 MOA and fired a 3 shot group. Immediately after I dialed back to the right to meet my original zero and fired another 3 shots at the original point of aim. Again, this distance between these two groups will be used to test the tracking accuracy of the windage turret and any deviation under or above the horizontal line will be noted.

After the course of fire for the tall target test. (some clouds rolled in and threatened rain.)

The formula that is used to draw my conclusions from this test is as follows:

***Distance from target x MOA value dialed x MOA to inches conversion = expected point of impact in inches***

After measuring the distance between the reference group and test group on the X and Y axis, I found the distances to be 12” and 33.0625” respectively. Using the equation, I found that I should expect the elevation’s distance of travel at 105 yards (confirmed with 2 different rangefinders) to be 32.981” which means that the elevation turret tracked with 99.8% accuracy in my test! Given the number of variables that I cannot control, this is outstanding performance shown by the Leupold VX-5HD.

**105 yards x 30 MOA x 0.01047 inches/MOA = 32.981 inches**

Using the same equation, I calculated the expected distance between the reference group and test group on the X axis to be 12.092”. Given that the experimental distance is 12”, this means that the windage turret tracked with 99.2% accuracy in my test. Again, another impressive result from the VX-5HD 4-20×52.

**105 yards x 11 MOA x 0.01047 inches/MOA = 12.093 inches**

The windage turret on this optic is EXTREMELY easy to change the zero on. The values are easy to read and returning to zero is easy.

Final Verdict

After using the VX-5HD 4-20X52, I can admit that I fell in love with this rifle scope. For basically any situation from hunting to target shooting and tactical uses, this optic can easily rise to the occasion and perform. The VX-5HD is incredibly light compared to similarly sized optics, the clicks on the turrets are positive and audible. Setting your zero on either of the turrets is incredibly easy; it only takes the loosening of three screws on the elevation, the adjustment to zero and then the tightening of these screws and at that point, your visual zero and zero stop are set. The windage turret only needs pulled out to be disengaged, rotated and then pushed back in to set the new zero.

Other design features that make this optic a great option include the locking elevation turret with zero stop, capped windage turret, second focal plane reticle system, side parallax, fast focus eyepiece, and integral magnification throw lever that manifests itself as a raised knob. The VX-5HD comes with what Leupold has dubbed their “CDS” turrets. When you buy one brand new, you get a voucher for a free CDS (custom dial system) turret which you can then send in your information for your rifle and shooting conditions and receive back a turret that is marked with yardages unique to your own ballistics.

Set on the highest power level, it is easy to see just how crisp, bright and clear the VX-5HD is.

The optical clarity of the VX-5HD is stunning, to say the least. This optic easily competes with some of the best glass out there in this aspect. I saw no haloing or edge distortion across the whole power range. From dusk to dawn this optic held a crisp, bright image which is important in hunting especially. The duplex reticle in my model was the perfect balance between thin, precise and visible. If you like the VX-5HD but want a different reticle style, there are ballistic reticles available in the other models that would take this optic up yet another level.

At the end of my testing, I would definitely recommend the VX-5HD to anyone who was interested in this type of optic.

The locking turret with its zero stop on the VX-5HD proved itself valuable and easy to use.


  • 5:1 zoom ratio
  • 34mm main tube
  • CDS ZL2 turrets
  • fast focus eyepiece
  • Guard-Ion lens coating
  • rear focal plane
  • scratch resistant lenses
  • side focus
  • Twilight Max HD light management system
  • ultra-lightweight design
  • waterproof and fog proof
  • 23.3 oz weight
  • wide field of view
  • 14.7″ length
  • 3.7-3.8″ eye relief
  • 110 MO of windage and elevation adjustment
  • Currently available
  • $1,949.99 MSRP

Visit Leupold to learn more about the VX5 by clicking HERE.

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About the author: Riley Baxter is an avid and experienced hunter, shooter, outdoorsman, and he’s worked in the backcountry guiding for an outfitter. He also get’s a lot of enjoyment out of building or customizing his firearms and equipment. Check out Riley’s Instagram @Shooter300

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Ricky Price June 17, 2019, 10:09 am

    Not for a poor man.

  • triggerpull June 17, 2019, 5:48 am

    I recently bought the 5HD in 7 x 35 with 60 MOA impact reticle–spectacular optic–mine has a 1.25 MOA below zero “in reserve” should you need it–it would surprise me that the one you reviewed does not also?

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