Issue 44 Keeping Up with Precision: The Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35×56 Scope Candice Horner Leupold Takes Share in the PRS Game with the Mark 5HD 7-35×56 Scope Grandpa owned a Leupold, and so did dad. Leupold has been around for decades, but they stepped up their game big-time last year with the Mark 5HD line. The Mark 5HDs made the company relevant to the demands of precision and long-range shooting by embracing features discerning shooters have come to expect. The first releases in the Mark 5HD line included 3.6-18x and a 5-25x variable magnification optics. With precision shooters always wanting more magnification, the 5-25x was a shoo-in, but the addition of the new 7-35x gives shooters what they really want in a precision rifle scope. The Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35x covers the middle ground in a field of dual-purpose, high-quality scopes. It’s not the best at every single thing, but it’s excellent at multiple things. The Rundown This First Focal Plane scope has a 56mm objective lens and a 35mm tube. The larger-than-normal main tube allows for 100 MOA (30 mils) of elevation and 50 MOA (15 mils) of windage adjustments, along with superior light gathering. Finding 35mm scope rings or mounts is challenging because it’s not a popular size. But 35mm seems to be catching on, as we’ve noted more manufacturers are offering 35mm scope mounts. With a 33-ounce weight, the 7-35x falls right in between other high-end scopes. It’s not too heavy, but it’s also not very light. This makes the scope less ideal for a backcountry rig. But if you need a scope for a more sniper-esque application, the extra weight isn’t an issue. When behind the rifle, adjusting both parallax and elevation turrets is effortless thanks to the knurled characteristics knobs. The parallax knob rotates just a little over 180 degrees, and according to the knob, the closest distance you can focus the scope is 75 yards. But, when we tested it, it was parallax-free at 30 yards. Most long-range scopes have unique zero stop mechanisms that vary by manufacturer. On all Mark 5HDs, the zero stop is stupid-easy to use; you have to try very hard to use it incorrectly. After sighting in the rifle, you loosen the elevation turret cover screws and rotate it down to zero. The ZeroLock dial hard clicks into place on zero — and there’s no denying it’s on zero. The rifle is locked on zero until you push in the tab to release the lock, preventing the turret from spinning when you don’t want it to. The unlocking button protrudes fully when the scope is on the first revolution, and it recesses flush as you dial past the second rev. As you continue to the third rev, another indicator on the top of the turret pops up. This gives two ways to see and feel which of the scope’s three revolutions you’re on. A capped windage turret is the norm with precision rifle scopes. What’s different about the Mark 5HD is how the windage marker is moved upward, so you can see what windage is dialed on without moving your head completely off the scope. While this isn’t really necessary since we rarely have a reason to dial wind, it goes to show how much thought went into the Mark5 line versus past Leupold scopes. A non-locking fast-focus eyepiece is good if multiple shooters are using the scope. Everyone’s vision is different, and being able to quickly adjust the sharpness of the reticle is important. Even though the diopter adjustment doesn’t lock, it’s not so loose that it’s going to accidentally become out-of-focus. Over the past few years, an integrated throw level has become desirable, if not a standard option on long-range optics. The Mark 5HD line of scopes has an integrated throw lever, that’s removable if you don’t like it. For lefties shooting a bolt action, you’ll probably want to remove the throw lever because on a low magnification setting, it’s in the perfect spot to hit your fingers as you work the bolt. Right-handers, don’t worry because Leupold ensured the throw lever wouldn’t get in the way on any power setting. Putting it to the Test We shot out to 1,218 yards with the Mark 5HD 7-35, and it was impressive thanks to the clear glass. Hits, misses, and trace were easily visible, and there was no chromatic aberration (color fringing). Leupold offers several different reticles in the Mark 5HD scopes. For testing, we used the CCH reticle, short for Combat Competition Hunting. The reticle made rapid target engagement and ranging a breeze. On the highest magnification, the lines were still thin enough that they didn’t obscure small targets. The downside of the Mark 5HD 7-35 is its narrow field of view (FOV) and the not-so-forgiving eye relief. The stunted, linear FOV forced us to dial down the magnification in order to see more area surrounding the target. For positional shooting, when the chances of scope shadow are increased, the Mark 5HD’s eye relief also had us lowering the magnification to prevent scope shadow from creeping in. For every scope, one of the most important tests is how accurately it tracks. And it was no surprise to see our Mark 5HD 7-35 track perfectly. Whether we held over or dialed for elevation, the scope was dead-nuts accurate. We think this scope is going to gain a lot of ground in the precision rifle game because the MSRP is less than its competitors, but it still has all the features avid shooters want. If you want to take Leupold into the next generation, you surely don’t have to worry that you’re stuck with grandpa’s old-school scope if you pick up a Mark 5HD. 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