Leupold's New Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope
By Sheppard W. Kelly
Having recently attended Leupold's writers conference and factory tour, I got a chance to preview their new 2007 law enforcement offerings. You may recall that The Police Marksman was the first law enforcement publication to report on Leupold's CQ/T combat optical sight, (January/February 2002 issue.) At that time, many law enforcement and military end-users asked if Leupold would offer something in the 'red dot sight' arena. After serious evaluation of what was currently on the market, Leupold has answered their call.
Leupold departed radically from the battery-powered red dot concept. Instead, their new offering is a true telescopic sight with many of the same operational advantages of the red dots. However, this new scope is sturdier, simpler in construction and doesn't use batteries. Leupold combined all of these features, (including reticle illumination) in a scope sight that can only be described as compact.
What we were shown at the Leupold factory didn't have a name at the time and was in prototype form. Now, the sight has officially been dubbed the Leupold Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope. What was shown and used in range exercises was a compact 1x-power scope with circle-dot reticle, similar to the CQ/T's and etched on the glass lens to preclude distortion through abuse or recoil. A unique and novel system was developed that allowed the use of a miniature Cyalume stick to provide reticle illumination. The scope tube was made even sturdier than the Leupold MK4 M3A rifle scope tube, used on the M24 SWS-and you can drive nails with that scope. The elevation and windage adjustments on the Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope are like a conventional scope sight with +/- 70 MOA and distinctive clicks. To accommodate various back up iron sight systems (BUIS), Leupold furnishes a mounting system with three spacers to provide different sight heights.
Leupold Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope:
For our tests, we mounted the new Leupold TPRS (Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope) on a Noveske Afghan 5.56mm upper, which was married to a Lewis Machine & Tool SOPMOD lower receiver. The Noveske Afghan consists of a 14.5" 1x7" twist stainless match-grade barrel with a permanently attached Noveske KX3 flashider to give a legal overall length of 16.1 inches. (See sidebar about Noveske products and especially the unique KX3 on page 36.)
When comparing this scope to an Aimpoint ML3 red dot sight, one of the first things that became apparent was how compact the Leupold TPRS is, and how incredibly bright the sight picture is. We co-witnessed the TPRS with a LaRue BUIS-we used the standup model, requiring the use of the large aperture in order to use the TPRS. While this set up can be done, a better solution would be to use a fold-down rear back up iron sight. It is questionable whether co-witnessing is really necessary with the Leupold sight. Unlike a red dot sight, (where a dead battery leaves you with a blank screen) unless the Leupold TPRS is completely destroyed, your circle dot reticle remains intact. I do believe that all AR's using a sight system such as a red dot or the TPRS, should be equipped with backup iron sights. To facilitate their use, Leupold has a sturdy quick-release mounting system which incorporates a height spacing system. Our testing included a variety of bullet weights in 5.56mm ammunition. Regardless of the ammo, we found the adjustments to be accurate, as expected from a Leupold product. There was one overriding comment from our test firers: "This sight picture is bright and fast." Additionally, the clarity of the target, coupled with the circle/dot reticle made use, both up close and quick and at a distance deliberate and easy. The illumination feature with the Cyalume miniature stick is unique and works well. You can vary the illumination color of the reticle by using different color illumination sticks. These sticks provide hundreds of hours of illumination and would be inserted immediately prior to use.
Once again, Leupold has accomplished their goal of being America's Optics Authority with another unique and functionally profound tactical rifle scope. Leupold's Tactical Prismatic Rifle Scope now offers direct competition to the popular red dot sight, and incorporates a number of significant advantages. When you couple this with Leupold's legendary quality control and customer service program, this sight system merits an immediate in-depth look from law enforcement and military end-users.
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