The Los Angeles Handgun - Rifle - Air Pistol Silhouette Club

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A Nifty Fifty - Leupold Golden Ring 15-30X
By Todd Spotti

     Leupold hasnít gained its preeminent position of being the most successful sports optics company in the world by sitting on its laurels. Itís constantly improving and refining existing products and creating new products. However, in this instance, you might say that itís brought back an old product in a new form for a different application.

"The Leupold 15X30 spotter packs a lot of premium performance into a small package."

     It was not that long ago that most people would have said that 50mm spotting scopes were as dead as a door nail. The big trend was for larger and larger objectives. 80mmís was even getting to be ho hum. Now, 50mm compact spotting scopes optimized for use in the field are coming on strong.

     These are spotters that are much smaller and lighter than standard and would be used instead of a pair of binoculars to glass an area while on a hunt. These new spotters, when equipped with a variable power lens, have a significant advantage in that, like binoculars, they offer a wide field of view at low magnifications. However, unlike binoculars, when needed they can zoom in with much higher magnifications to pick up details like "How many points are on that deerís antlers". To keep this new class of spotters as light as possible, smaller lenses are necessary. Indeed, itís the size of the objective that in most cases, will dictate the size of the whole scope.

     The particular scope in question here is the Leupold Golden Ring 15-30X. While not as small as the smallest of this new class of spotters, it never the less is quite small, especially when compared to the big 80mm scopes that we so often see on the firing line. Itís approximately 11 inches long, and more importantly, weighs only 21.5 ounces. This has a lot of appeal to me as my shooting bag tends to get very heavy with all of the stuff that I apparently feel I need to haul to the range.

     A natural question about performance will immediately arise about any 50mm scope. "Can it do the job?" In answering this question, I need to make a couple of points right up front. Small size does not = small capabilities and heavy does not = high quality. Like all Leupold Golden Ring products, this is a premium quality product that produces premium results. Consequently, I only have one word for the image that I saw in this spotter - brilliant. I donít know how the Leupold engineers did it, but image brightness in this little scope is better than what Iíve seen in an economy, and in even in a medium priced 80mm product. Iím not joking.

     For instance, when you look at a white object, you see white. You donít see white with a yellow tint, or gray tint, or any other kind of tint. What you get is pure, unadulterated, clear, bright white. You also get a very crisp, sharply defined picture all the way across the lens. Colors were true and vivid and the objects in the image were extremely well defined.

     Indeed, when I ran my little resolution evaluation, the compact 50mm easily discerned the smallest line on the chart (9 point) at 50 yards when I had things cranked up to 30 power. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was hardly any difference in brightness between 15 and thirty power. On most scopes, when you start increasing the magnification, itís like someone is turning down the lights. Not this time.

     This little jewel is made tough for field use. Itís constructed from a rubber armored carbon fiber (not plastic), is water proofed , and multi coated (naturally). Three additional things about the scope also appealed to me. One - the eye relief was a very nice 17 mmís at all powers, so people who wear glasses (like me) can see the whole image without having to smash an eyeball directly against the lens.

     The second is the fact that the focus knob is at least an inch and a quarter in diameter and not one of these itsy bitsy little things that are so often found on spotting scopes. Come on you scope designers! Most of us donít have dainty little skinny fingers. We have fingers that are, well, robust. (Iíd never say fat.) Do as Leupold did, and give us focusing knobs we can actually grip - with gloves even!

     The third is that the field of view is a nice wide 13.6 feet at 15X and nearly 9 feet at 30X. With that kind of a field of view, thereís little chance your spotter will be looking at one target while youíre shooting on another - a not uncommon situation when the FOV is too narrow.

     Lastly, the scope comes with a padded case that can be attached to your belt like a holster when you take it to the field and a quick detach carry strap. An adapter is also provided to mount the scope on any standard tripod. This is one nifty scope with first class performance characteristics in a small, light weight package that will do a first class job both in the field and at the range.

Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.