Leupold VX Scopes: What Is the Difference?

Leupold & Stevens – the top US manufacturer of rifle scopes offers a great variety of VX models these days. There are VX-1, VX-2, VX-3, VX-3L, VX-6 and VX-R models of this wide series. It is pretty obvious how VX-3L, VX-6 and VX-R are different from the other scopes. VX-3L simply has a cutout on the objective bell for low mounting. VX-6 is the series of scopes with 6: 1 zoom optics. VX-R series represents scopes with the variety of Illuminated Fire Dot reticles.

However it is not an easy task to find the difference between VX-1, VX-2 and VX-3 series at a glance. To understand how these rifle scopes series differentiate from each other we first have to go 55 years back and follow the evolution of Vari-X series.

Vari-X, Vari-X II and Vari-X III

In 1959 Leupold have introduced their first series of scopes with variable magnification. The name of this series was Vari-X. In 1962 this series was replaced by Leupold Vari-X II. There was no significant improvement. Both series of the rifle scopes were coated with magnesium fluoride, had 82% light transmission, ½ MOA adjustments and 28 MOA of adjustment range.

In 1974 Leupold have introduced Vari-X III series that had 92% of light transmission, 44 MOA adjustment range and power indicator with the range estimation. Both Vari-X II and Vari-X III series remained unchanged until 1984 when they were upgraded.

Vari-X II was replaced by Vari-Xc II series. Adjustment range was increased to 56 MOA with ¼ MOA increments. Adjustment range of Vari-X III was extended to 58 MOA with field clicks of ¼ MOA. Some of these scopes were made from a single piece body, some from two pieces. First generation of Illuminated reticles became available in Vari-X III series.


In 2001 Leupold Vari-Xc II was upgraded to VX-II series. Optics were improved and covered with Multicoat 4 coating that increased light transmission to 92%. Adjustment was accomplished by field clicks with ¼ MOA through same 56 MOA range. These scopes were made from 2 pieces body and had fast focus lockable eyepiece.

In 2004 Leupold have introduced VX-I and VX-III hunting scopes series. VX-I rifle scopes have represented low price segment, while VX-III became a series of premium hunting scopes.

Leupold VX-I lenses was produced with Multicoat technology and provided 86% of light transmission. The main tube was made from 2 pieces, had classic focus eyepiece and tactile power indicator. The adjustments were performed with micro friction of ¼ MOA through 52 MOA range.

Leupold VX-III was made from the premium high quality glass. Lenses were covered with the index matched coating that provided 98% of light transmission. The main tube was made from a single piece. The adjustments were performed by the finger tips with ¼ MOA clicks. 1 "main tube had 58 MOA adjustment range, while models with 30 mm tube had 116 MOA range. VX-III scopes were equipped with the fast focus lockable eyepiece and tactile power indicator with range estimation.

Last Upgrades

Last upgrades happened a few years ago. In 2009 VX-III became VX-3. In 2012 VX-I and VX-II were upgraded to VX-1 and VX-2 relatively.

Nowadays VX-1 represents the low price hunting scopes; VX-2 is the medium price scopes, while VX-3 is the series of premium hunting scopes. In those series Leupold have implemented all they've learned in rifle scopes development.

Lenses are the most important part of the rifle scope that form picture of target. That is why Leupold use the lenses that are made from lead free high quality lenses. Each lens goes through the series of tests and gets covered with the special coating before it goes in the scope.

Leupold VX-1 lenses coated with implementing of Multicoat 4 technology that allows 92% light transmission. Elevation and windage are the finger click adjustable with ¼ MOA increments. The adjustment range is 52 MOA. The main tube is made from 2 pieces. VX-1 rifle scope has classic focus eyepiece and tactile power indicator. Currently there are 2-7×33, 3-9×40, 3-9×50 and 4-12×40 models available. Price range is $ 209.99 – $ 299.99.

Leupold VX-2 lenses are coated with the index matched Diamond Coat and have blackened edges. All this allows the 94% of the light transmission. The main tube is made from 2 pieces and has 1 inch diameter. The adjustments are accomplished by the finger tips with ¼ MOA clicks through 56 MOA range. VX-2 rifle scopes are equipped with the externally threaded fast focus eye piece and the tactile power selector. These models feature 2nd generation Argon / Krypton filling that protects your scope against fogging while there is a rapid temperature change.

Some of VX-2 models are equipped with the adjustable objective (AO) and other with the custom dial system (CDS). When you buy CDS model you can order a custom dial knob from Leupold for free. This knob will have numbers that refer to the yardage for the specific cartridge that you use. Thus all you need is to set your scope to the appropriate yardage and make a shot. There is no need for elevation adjustments and holdover. Leupold VX-2 scopes are priced in the range of $ 299.99 – $ 599.99.

Leupold VX-3 lenses feature Xtended Twilight System and Diamond Coat 2. This coating optimized to transmit more light in the blue violet color spectrum. Blue violet color dominates in twilight. Thus VX-3 allows 98% of the light transmission and provides you with the bright and clear picture even in the early morning or at the dusk when the game is more active.

The main tube is made from a single piece and has 1 "or 30mm diameter depending on model. VX-3 scopes are filled with Argon / Krypton gases. The adjustments are easy to perform by your fingertips with ¼ MOA clicks through 58 MOA range for 1 "tube and 116 MOA range for 30mm tube. VX-3 is equipped with the extreme fast focus lockable eyepiece and the tactile power indicator with range estimation.

There is a great variety of Leupold VX-3 scopes. There are some models that have adjustable objective or side focus for parallax adjustments. Some models have CDS feature or Illuminated reticles with the motion sensor. In total there are 28 scopes and 78 options (reticles and finishes). VX-3 prices typically range between $ 399.99 and $ 1099.99.

As you can see Leupold VX-1, VX-2 and VX-3 scopes have a long history. They have gone through the numbers of updates before they've become of what they are today. If you are looking for a simple, affordable and reliable scope then VX-1 is the right option for you. VX-2 scopes are the hunter's most popular choice. They provide you with the numbers of useful features and are still in the acceptable price range. If you want to take an advantage of the latest technologies in hunting rifle scope industry then premium Leupold VX-3 series is your call.

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