I lined up the 1 MOA red dot of my Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight (RDS) just below the head of the tom turkey, squeezed the trigger of my Remington 870 DM Predator shotgun, and the #6 pellets lit up the tom’s neck and head. I swung my shotgun onto Tom #2, shot, and then lined up on Tom #3 and fired once more.
Three dead turkeys at 25 yards. Had they been actual turkeys. In fact, they were VisiShot Turkey Targets from Primos Hunting, set up at 25 yards as part of my testing for Leupold’s newest red dot, the RDS. With spring on the near horizon, I figured I better get ready for turkey hunting season and the RDS turned out to be a fine choice for the gun and the hunts to come.
Leupold introduced the RDS later in 2019 in two versions. Mine featured capped turrets and ¼-MOA click adjustments. The other RDS model has an exposed BDC elevation turret with measurements out to 500 yards for standard 55-grain .223 Rem. ammunition.
Both models feature 1 MOA dot reticles supported by Leupold’s battery-saving Motion Sensor Technology (MST), which puts the sight into a battery-saving standby mode after five minutes of inactivity. When the MST detects motion, it instantly activates the sight. A manual mode allows the sight to be shut off when not in use.
The scratch-resistant lenses feature Leupold’s Twilight Red Dot System, which delivers clear and color-correct images. The RDS is 100 percent fog proof and waterproof and features 80-MOA of adjustment in both elevation and windage. The 34mm main tube measures at under 5.5 inches.
Initially, I mounted my Freedom RDS onto a Springfield Armory Saint AR-15 Pistol 556. RDS arrived already in an AR-style mount (it can be had without a mount too), so installation was simply a matter of setting it on the Saint’s Picatinny rail, making sure it was at the right distance from my eyes, and then tightening the three Torx screws along the bottom of the mount. (I also tightened the mounting ring screws holding the RDS to the mount.)
At my range, I zeroed the Freedom RDS/Saint rig at 25 yards. The first rounds hit low and left, but were easily and quickly “clicked” to strike right at the bullseye.
Then, I shot targets at 25 yards, offhand, using Birchwood Casey IPSC Practice Targets. The RDS put me on target fast, although my shooting was all over the place for the first two targets. On the third target, though, I was now comfortable with the Saint and the RDS and was able to put eight shots into the center-mass “A” rectangle and five rounds into the smaller “head” area, despite shooting fairly fast.
Here and when using the RDS on the Remington shotgun, images were very clear and I was able to quickly adjust the intensity of the 1 MOA red dot as lighting conditions shifted during the day, from bright sun to overcast.
I also shot the RDS and the Saint at 50 yards from a rest and was able to get two-inch groups, usually with three of the five shots within an inch of each other, firing fast.
The RDS, it turned out, was a great choice for the Saint AR-15: compact and lightweight, easy to get on target and to help make very accurate shots.
I then switched over the RDS to my Remington DM Predator. At first, the RDS shot very low and to the left at 25 yards. Many clicks later, the patterns shifted up and right, and I had my three “dead” turkeys to prove it. Using Remington 3” Nitro Turkey loads with #6 Shot, my best VisiTarget scored 26 pellet hits in the vital zone. Even my “worst” target had 22 vital zone hits—pretty good and a nice testament to the shotgun, the shells, and the RDS.
The optic’s 1/4 MOA clicks moved the center dot very precisely, and I would use the RDS on any rifle where I anticipated the shooting at under 150 yards. The RDS itself would likely be accurate at further distances, but my rapidly aging eyes have their own limitations!
The suggested retail price on the RDS I used is $389.00 ($364 without the mounting hardware), with street prices closer to $300.00. The RDS with the BDC reticle and exposed turret has a higher suggested retail at $519.00, with advertised prices on the Internet right at $400.00.
The RDS is a solid little red dot, able to handle tough hunting conditions. It will also hold its own during more tactical uses including home defense and competition. You really can’t ask for any more in a red dot optic at any price.
SPECS: Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sights (RDS) 1-34MM
Reticle: 1 MOA Red Dot
Eye Relief: Unlimited
Elevation Adjustment Range: 80 MOA
Windage Adjustment Range: 80 MOA
Brightness Settings: 8
Weight: 12.6 Oz., with mount
Length: 5.3 In.
Tube Size: 34MM
Tube Material: 6061 Aluminum
Finish: Matte Black
Battery: One CR 2032
Battery Life: 1,000 hours minimum at brightness setting of 4 (of 8)