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IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at http://www.ihmsa.org
 
Leupold Custom 2.5 X 8
By Todd Spotti
 
     Customized handguns in silhouette shooting are as common as dirt. After market barrels, sights, triggers, grips, painted stocks, etc. are just some of the things that make a gun uniquely yours.
 

"Custom work can make your scope like no other in the world."

     However until fairly recently, optics could be customized only to a limited degree. As most are aware, a number of small outside shops can ďbump upĒ the magnification, and/or replace the factory crosshairs with something different. Thereís also another outfit that will even drill a huge hole in the side of your scope and install a big spring to supposedly prevent the crosshairs from moving under recoil. Even more interesting, there are some individuals that will also drill a hole in your scope and squirt gobs of epoxy inside for the same dubious purpose.
 
     Thereís two problems with these modifications. One is that a quality scopeís optical design is like a prescription. In other words itís a balanced combination of components specifically engineered to do a job in a particular kind of way. When you start changing components like lenses, the design is no longer in balance. For instance, you couldnít just start changing the chemical composition of a medical prescription and not expect consequences. The same is true when you start switching out lenses in a scope with parts that the rest of the design wasnít meant to work with. Brightness, parallax, resolution, clarity and many, many other optical considerations can be thrown out of kilter.
 
     Another significant issue with these after market scope modifications is that they will immediately void the warrantee. When you consider the fact that quality optics can be a significant expense, voiding a life time warrantee is something that shouldnít be taken lightly.
 
     OK, so how can we customize our scopes without messing up the optical design and blowing up the warrantee at the same time. Well, in the case of Leupold scopes, the answer is easy i.e. use the Leupold custom shop. All of its work is 100% warranted for life.
 
     Itís absolutely amazing how many custom services Leupold offers its customers. I honestly donít know of any other optics manufacturer in the world that will do as many modifications to their scopes as Leupold.
 
     Letís take a quick look at what Leupold can do for you:
1. Custom engraving - the ultimate in personalization
2. Custom Anodized Colors - 11 different colors and even color combos
3.  Ballistically Matched Reticules - give your load data to Leupold and theyíll make you a special reticle with hold over markings for the distances that you specify.
4. Bullet Drop Compensation Dials - similar deal. Give them your load data and they will engrave a special target elevation dial with markings  for the specific distances that you choose. No more looking in sight setting books. Itís built in right on the dial.
5. Adjustment Dials Changes - a silhouette favorite. Want a target type elevation or windage dial on your scope? No problem. Want another type of Leupold dial? They can probably accommodate you.
6. Gold Plating - Very classy. The gold ring on your scope can now be real 24 carat gold as well as the Leupold emblem found on many of their scopes. Looks great.
7. Renovation - Got a Leupold scope where the tube has been chewed up by a set of junky scope rings from another manufacturer or been scratched up rubbing against another gun in a case where the foam has seen better days. Leupold can completely make your scope new again both inside and out.
8. Reticules - I counted 29 different reticules that are offered by Leupold. This is far more than any other optics manufacturer.
     With all this available, I decided to dip my toe into this very large pool of goodies. Although I already owned two Leupold 2.5 X 8 pistol scopes, both were already on guns and I wanted another to mount on my 6 TCU XP-100 (a very sweet shooter). Of my other two 2.5 X 8ís, one is gloss black and the other is silver. I decided to make this one silver also. I figured it would go nicely with the stainless barrel on the XP.
 
     The first custom touch was the ego thing, and so I had my name engraved on the side of the housing for the elevation and windage controls. Iím told that many people go a little farther and will have ďCustom Built for John SmithĒ etc. engraved to make it even more personalized.
 
     You could also have the message engraved on the elevation turret cap instead. Speaking of the cap, how about an engraved image of a big horned sheep on the top, or perhaps just a set of initials? The possibilities are unlimited.
 
     I also knew what I wanted next i.e. a custom elevation dial for my 6 TCU load. So I simply gave Leupold my load info - 24 grains of Hodgdonís 4198, 70 grain Sierra Match King bullet, Winchester case, CCI BR primer, 2750 fps velocity. I also threw in the elevation of my home range just to cover all the bases - 1300 ft. I also told Leupold I wanted elevation markings for 50, 100, 150, and 200 meters. Additionally, I wanted hash marks going out to 300 and 400 meters. This XP makes a great coyote gun, although I admit 400 meters is really pushing it, but what the heck.
 
     Two weeks later, the scope arrived. Cool. At first glance I immediately noticed that the finish of the new scope looked nicer than my older silver 2.5 X 8. Comparing them side by side confirmed my impression. The new scopeís finish was definitely more clean and fine than the older modelís and slightly brighter. Nice.
 

"Engraving is just one of the many features offered by the Leupold custom shop."

     There were two other differences. One, there was my name engraved in black letters against the fine silver finish. I have to admit it looked really neat. Second, the scope sported a high profile target knob instead of the standard low profile type. After I removed the cap, I saw that all of my load data was engraved around the top of the dial even including the elevation of my home range. Engraved on the bottom of the dial, were the distances that I had specified. Of course the big question was how accurate were the markings on the dial? Only one way to tell.
 
     Consequently, I loaded up 25 rounds and headed off to the range. I zeroed the scope at fifty meters and set up the half scale swinger targets. I then cranked up to the pig mark. I immediately noticed that the clicks on the high target knob were much more positive and further apart than on the standard low profile knob of the 2.5 X 8. As a result, there was a lot more tactile feedback when making adjustments. The clicks were much more audible as well.
 
     First shot on the pig was center by center. Perfect. Tried a couple of more shots just to be sure and they just stacked up one on top of each other. Clicked up to the turkey mark and likewise everything was center by center. Turned to the ram mark and again center by center. Everything was dead on. I was frankly very surprised as I expected that the markings would likely be a click or two off. Nope, everything was perfect by perfect. I couldnít have asked for more.
 
     The bottom line here is that having a custom elevation dial engraved for your gun and favorite load is a very practical convenience for any competition shooter or hunter. I also found out that if you change loads and/or put the scope on another gun, you can have another dial made up and then can just switch them out.
 
     Additionally, with so many other custom services available, itís amazing that more people who routinely shoot custom guns donít make use of the many special services available from Leupold. So whether you want to modify a Leupold scope you already have on hand, or a jazz up a brand new scope, think about adding a personal touch or two from the custom shop to make it special and one of a kind. Youíll definitely like the result.
 
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.