The VX-Freedom line of riflescopes from Leupold is new for 2018. It replaces the venerable and respected VX-1 and VX-2 series. The VX-Freedom is an amalgamation of those former offerings and incorporates some redesigned features.
The Freedom line is priced at the low end of Leupold offerings. The 2-7×33 Rimfire has an MSRP of $235, and the highest-priced Freedom, the 4-12×40, has an affordable MSRP of $390. Street prices are significantly lower. There are eight models available, including rimfire and muzzleloader variants, and some have multiple reticle choices.
Tubes. The scopes are constructed with two-piece, 1-inch tubes. Contrary to popular opinion, larger-diameter tubes do not transmit a brighter image; instead, they only allow more room for elevation and windage adjustment. Most hunting applications for which these scopes were designed have little or no use for more turret adjustments than what a 1-inch tube can deliver. The classic 1-inch tube is light and does not significantly alter the weight of a medium-weight gun like a larger-tubed model can.
The glass inside the tube has what Leupold calls its Twilight Light Management System. This system of coatings reduces glare, increases contrast and increases performance in lowlight conditions. The outer lens surfaces are “scratch resistant to military-standard extreme abrasion specifications.”
Reticles. The reticle focus is adjusted by unfastening the lock ring on the eyepiece and screwing the entire eyepiece in or out until sharp reticle focus is achieved. Then, tighten the lock ring. This saves manufacturing costs and was the standard way to adjust reticles to fit the individual shooter’s eyes until fast-focus eyepieces came into vogue in the last decade. Remember: The eyepiece only focuses the reticle to your eye. It has little to do with your overall picture quality.
Power rings. In front of the eyepiece is a newly designed power ring. It’s easily grasped with frozen and gloved hands. (On the two samples I received, the ring moved smoothly and without noticeable differences in feel between “low” and “high” power.)
Eye Relief. Eye relief is a typically excellent attribute on Leupold scopes, and the Freedom is no different, at around 4 inches at “low” or “high” power. This is plenty of room to avoid filleting your eyebrow with the edge of the eyepiece under heavy recoil or contorted shooting positions.
Turrets. The turrets have ¼ MOA clicks and are not sloppy nor cheap-feeling; rather, they are fundamentally sound. They are simple knobs—undoubtedly a large reason the VX-Freedom line can be sold at such reasonable prices.
The turrets are not resettable to zero, although there is a sliding friction ring with a gap on it that you can place where your turret’s “zero” is. So that you don’t align the zero on the turret on your sighted-in optic to a mark on the scope, you move the friction ring to the place under the zero on your turret wherever it ends up. This is not an issue at all for the way these scopes will be used. Leupold calls the markings on the turrets “high contrast.” These markings could use a bit of prettying up.
A combination of former offerings, it also includes some redesigned features.
TESTING THE SCOPES
I received two new VX-Freedom scopes for testing: a 3-9×50 with a Duplex reticle and a 2-7×33 Rimfire with Leupold’s Rimfire MOA reticle.
The Freedom 3-9×50 would have been patriotically perfect on a new Ruger American rifle, but I instead mounted it on a favorite hunting rifle—a Howa 1500 in .30-06. This rifle has accounted for dozens of animals from the plains of Africa to the cliffs of Montana.
The Freedom scope is simple, just like the rifle: no frills, but fundamentally sound in construction and quality control. This scope would be an ideal choice atop one of the new crop of economy American hunting rifles from Savage, Weatherby, Remington and others. These are all guns that will work every time, but with economy of frills. Yes, the scope worked on my Japanese Howa as well.
The scope adjusted perfectly as asked, and the huge 5.55mm exit pupil at 9x from the 50mm objective lens allows more light to enter your pupil in low-light conditions. The Duplex reticle is a standard invented by Leupold, and it draws your eye to the center of the crosshairs for easier shot placement.
Keeping it all-American this time, I mounted the 2-7×33 Rimfire on a Ruger 10/22. This little scope is perfectly sized for the compact autoloader when equipped with a standard barrel and stock. It’s fast, attractive, simple and unintimidating. Like the 3-9×50, it adjusted perfectly and was simply a joy to use with this pet rifle. The Rimfire MOA reticle has hash marks for elevation adjustments and is clean and unobtrusive. I didn’t shoot the 10/22 at such distances that the reticle was useful, but it’s a useable feature that doesn’t add too much to the overall cost of the scope.
The VX-Freedom line, like all Leupold scopes, is “Made, Designed, Assembled in the U.S.A.” Every Leupold scope is tested to the same ruggedness and quality-control standards as its top-tier products.
Some shooters feel the golden ring on Leupold scopes is similar to the halo over a saint. This new VX-Freedom line of scopes might not be considered holy, but these scopes will help put lots of “holies” in your targets.
Hooray for a reasonably priced quality scope made here on our home ground!
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50
Weight: 14.6 ounces
Length: 12.1 inches
Tube Diameter: 1 inch
Mounting Space: 4.79 inches
Linear Field of View (Low): 33.1 feet
Linear Field of View (High): 13.6 feet
Eye Relief (Low): 4.17 inches
Eye Relief (High): 3.66 inches
Elevation and Windage Adjustment Range: 60 MOA
Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33 Rimfire
Weight: 11.1 ounces
Length: 11.04 inches
Tube Diameter: 1 inch
Mounting Space: 4.81 inches
Linear Field of View (Low): 43.8 feet
Linear Field of View (High): 17.8 feet
Eye Relief (Low): 4.17 inches
Eye Relief (High): 3.70 inches
Elevation and Windage Adjustment Range: 75 MOA
Steven K. Ledin is a former U.S. Navy nuclear gunner’s mate and current director of a prominent online optics retailer. He’s a CCW and NRA instructor and has been a sponsored competitive shooter and private investigator. He has hunted (and gotten lost) from Alaska to Africa.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.