It’s interesting what a slight difference can make. I’ve got a number of scopes in the traditional 3-9X power range, and never thought too much about that range. It’s a good, general purpose range that has served well for generations of hunters and shooters, but has been around so long, it more or less faded into the background. Oh, that old thing?
Then Leupold launched the Mark 5HD 2-10x30 M5C3 FFP TMR riflescope (which I will henceforth refer to as the Mark 5HD 2-10, because I am lazy and the rest is a ton more typing and acronym than we need…). Hmmm. Two to 10X magnification? In a scope that is more or less indestructible? As the saying goes, you had my attention, now you have my interest.
It’s that slight variation that makes all the difference. Having a 2X power makes the scope better suited for close-range pursuits, while the 10X gives sufficient magnification out to well beyond ranges that we need to be thinking about, defensively. I’ve used a Mark 3HD 1.5-4X scope out to 500 yards with effective hits on steel; more than doubling the magnification (with Leupold optic quality) should make effective hits out to 1,000 yards a possibility.
But, first, let’s unpack the various components of the name of the scope itself. “Mark 5HD” is the family to which this scope belongs. “2-10X” is obviously the magnification range. “M5C3” refers to the elevation adjustment type. “FFP” obviously refers to the first-focal-plane reticle, and “TMR” is the reticle type—Tactical Milling Reticle.
But, what does all this mean? Well, the Mark 5HD family means that the scope is built like, well, a tank. This series is water-, shock- and fogproof; features a 35 mm main tube for plentiful windage and elevation travel; a 5:1 zoom ratio and Leupold’s proprietary ZeroLock adjustment settings for windage and elevation. The M5C3 breaks down thusly: M refers to “Mark” family of products, the 5 indicates adjustment increments per click (1 = ¼ MOA, 2 = ½ MOA, 3 = 1MOA, 5 = 0.1 mil, 6 = 0.2 mil), C indicates type of locking mechanism (A = Pushbutton, B = Pinch & Turn, C = ZeroLock) and the number 3 indicates revolutions of the dial with tactile and visual cues as to which revolution the turret currently resides. First-focal-plane reticles allow more precise range- and target-size estimations, with the reticle expanding or contracting as the magnification increases or decreases. The Tactical Milling Reticle contains millirad markings for simple holdover and wind adjustments.
While the Mark 5HD series is certainly set up for long-range shooting, the Mark 5HD 2-10X has potential for use on a defensive carbine. While I’m a big advocate for the simple red-dot sight on a home-defense carbine, there are plenty of homes that aren’t in suburban areas that might benefit from a little more reach—I have extended family out in Wisconsin on a farm, where predators might need to dealt with, for example, and being able to stop a four-legged attack from 100+ yards out is helpful.
With the 2-10X magnification, leaving the scope at 2X power means you can use it for close-range work without needing a secondary sighting system. Even as close as 5 yards, bringing the rifle up to the eye yields a both-eyes-open sight picture that is clear and precise. No, it’s not quite as fast as a red dot, but it’s a close second, and with just a bit of practice would be indistinguishable. Considering a .308 Win. with a 100-yard zero, the drop at the muzzle is 1.5 inches—that’s still well within center-mass. Put this on a 16-inch-barrel carbine (this particular scope is intended for an AR-10-style rifle), and it will serve for close-range defense as well as long-range, well, as far out as your eyes can see clearly. Consider the Mark 5HD 2-10X the “swiss army knife” of tactical scopes.
On the range, well, the Mark 5HD 2-10X proved itself worthy of the Leupold brand. To save my shoulder (and pennies), it went on a high-end semi-auto .22 LR on a 50-yard range, and getting the scope zeroed took exactly 9 rounds (I prefer three-shot groups when zeroing just in case I goof). It would have been 6 rounds had I been able to math better and made the correct calculations for mil adjustments. This is not a scope issue, this is a “Jay is bad at math” issue…
Once zeroed, well, the Mark 5HD 2-10X proved positively boring. The normal array of drills we run to prove scopes can track adjustments were all passed easily, with solid clicks and (once I did the math correctly) identical windage and elevation changes. It did everything asked of it with no problems, large or small, plain and simple. It works. Done. Get the scope zeroed, set the turrets back to the zero position, and then dialing in changes for windage and elevation is simple with a ballistic calculator.
What’s the bottom line? While the Mark 5HD 2-10X carries a substantial price tag, there’s a ton of precision engineering, machining and high-end glass going into this design. It’s rugged, works well and has an eminently useful magnification range for those who might want to use the same carbine for long-range practice and home defense. And, again, it’s a Leupold.
- Manufacturer: Leupold;
- Magnification: 2-10X
- Objective Lens Diameter: 30 mm
- Reticle: TMR
- Eye Relief: 3.6 inches (2X), 3.7 inches (10X)
- Length: 11.2 inches
- Weight: 24 ounces
- Adjustability: 48 mil elevation; 23 mil windage in .1-mil clicks
- Accessories: Throw lever, lens covers, sun shade, adjustment tool, manual
- MSRP: $1,999.99