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Leupold's Mark 5HD 2-10X: Ultimate Do-It-All Scope?

With an offset red-dot sight attached, Leupold's 2-10X Mark 5HD has everything going on to be the ultimate close-quarters and mid-range riflescope.

Leupold's Mark 5HD 2-10X: Ultimate Do-It-All Scope?
Leupold’s new Mark 5HD 2-10x30mm is a mid-range tactical scope meant to provide a flexible magnification range for carbines and rifles. Photo courtesy Leupold.

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Announced at the beginning of 2023 and now available is the new Mark 5 HD 2-10x30 from Leupold. Everyone these days seems to be familiar with the term LPVO (low power variable optic), indicating a variable power scope with a low end at or near 1x, but some people have forgotten that Leupold, back at the beginning of the Afghanistan war, arguably invented the compact tactical MPVO (Medium Power Variable Optic) with their MR/T (Mid-Range Tactical) scopes, the most-well known of which was a 2.5-8x. In fact, Leupold itself states that the new Mark 5 HD 2-10x30mm is an evolution of those scopes used on the Mk 12 SPR during the height of the Global War on Terror, and is intended to extend the reach of tactical carbines. Leupold’s Mark 5HD line features scopes with a 5-to-1 zoom ratio. There’s a 3.6-18x, 5-25x, and a 7-35x.  The 2-10x is the latest in that line. You’ll see a lot of scopes on the market with 8-to-1 or even 10-to-1 zoom ratios, but those scopes often suffer when it comes to light transmission and image clarity. The Mark 5HD scopes are built conservatively, but built tough.

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The illuminated reticle version of the Mark 5HD 2-10x. It looks shorter than it is due to the thick 35mm main tube.

The Mark 5HD 2-10x might look a little shorter than it actually is because it sports a thick 35mm main tube. It is 11.2 inches long and weighs 24 ounces. Most big tubes in the industry run 34mm, but Leupold, Geissele, and LaRue Tactical all offer 35mm flattop AR scope mounts, and many companies offer 35mm rings. Currently there are three versions of the Mark 5HD 2-10x available. All are First Focal Plane (FFP) scopes. Two have non-illuminated reticles, and you have your choice of Leupold’s PR1-MOA or TMR (MK) mil-dot reticle, and I secured a sample of the latter. Both are fine crosshair reticles with hashmarks for drop and windage. The third model sports an illuminated TMR (MK) reticle. Just a reminder, with FFP scopes the reticle stays the same size relative to the target. When you zoom in, the reticle grows inside the scope. With a FFP scope, BDC reticles or hashmarks provide the same drop at every magnification. The hashmarks on the Mark 5HD’s reticle are not numbered, but are 0.5 Mils apart on the TMR (MK) reticle.

The scope itself has a matte finish with subdued white markings. It comes standard with an extended throw lever that projects about three-quarters of an inch from the scope body, and turns smoothly but with just the right amount of resistance. You can remove the extended lever if you want. Eye relief is 3.6–3.7-inches depending on magnification, and the eyebox on low power seems to be quite forgiving, probably due to the big 35mm main tube. Field of view at 100 yards on 2x is 52.9 feet. The scope is provided with flip-up lens covers as well as a three-inch sunshade which screws into the objective bell for the utmost in tactical utility. With all models, the windage knob on the right is capped. On the left side of the scope is the parallax adjustment knob, and on illuminated versions that’s where you’ll find the control to turn the illumination on and off. The parallax knob is marked from 75 to 800 yards, and beyond with an infinity symbol, but there is quite a bit of adjustment under that 75m mark. As for focus, anything seven yards out and beyond was in focus, so the scope can be used at 2x at indoor/urban distances without worry that the image will be out of focus.

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A closeup of the dial to adjust parallax on the left, and the elevation turret. The pushbutton keeps the dial from accidentally getting rotated. If you want the utmost in stealth Leupold provides a 3-inch sun shade which screws onto the objective bell of the scope.

The elevation turret is Leupold’s M5C3, nicely marked, and provides three full turns of adjustment. Each click provides 0.1 Mil of adjustment, with a total 30 Mils of elevation adjustment available. The turret has Leupold’s pushbutton feature—you have to push in on the button on the front before you can rotate it, to prevent the dial accidentally turning if it rubs against something. There is a silver button atop the turret that pops up after you’ve done two full rotations. There are set screws on the dial you can loosen to reset your zero if you need to. I have to say that the image clarity of my sample was excellent. There was no tint—the colors and hues I saw with my naked eye were exactly what I saw through the scope. And there was no distortion at any magnification. This is exactly what I’ve come to expect out of Leupold scopes. The HD in the Mark 5HD comes from Leupold’s High Definition lenses that are designed to provide better light transmission, glare reduction, and enhanced resolution.

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The throw-lever of the power ring is slightly extend- ed. If you don’t like it, it is removable.

The most common weakness of variable power FFP scopes is the reticle. While they are often designed to work well at one end of the magnification range, they are often weak or darn near useless at the other. Generally, reticles seem designed to function great at the highest magnification, and how they work/look at the low end of the dial always seems to be an afterthought. For a tactical scope with a low power magnification at the bottom end, I found the crosshair reticle on the Mark 5HD to be a bit fine, especially against irregularly colored/lit backgrounds. The thickness of the crosshairs at 5x is about what I would want at 2x—my thinking is if you’re at 2x, the threat is closer, and not losing the reticle would be even more important…. However, I was recently at a media event where I was able to get hands on an illuminated reticle version of this scope, and found that it definitely improved its utility at 2x. I was also told that Leupold is looking into additional reticles for this scope. At that event, held at the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex in Grand Junction, Colorado, we were able to engage steel targets out to 600 yards, and the scopes worked very well. The white steel targets were set up along the slope of a mountain which was mostly bare tan rock, and it was child’s play to pick them out through the Leupold. Interestingly, by the time you were aiming at the furthest targets you were literally nearly shooting upward at a 45-degree angle, which was an experience I’ve not had before.

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Leupold itself states that the new Mark 5HD 2-10x30mm is an evolution of the 2.5-8x36mm and 3-9x36mm MR/T scopes used on the Mk 12 SPR series during the height of the Global War on Terror. Photo by David M. Fortier.

I had an opportunity at that media event to talk to John Snodgrass, a product manager on the tactical side for Leupold. While mid-range power scopes were hugely popular during the heyday of the Mk 12 SPR at the height of the war in Afghanistan, I was curious if he was seeing any interest on the military side toward the Mark 5HD 2-10x today. And his answer surprised me. To roughly quote Snodgrass (as we were on the range at the time and I didn’t have a recorder), he said, “Absolutely, yes. Look, everybody knows you want a red dot when you’re going through a door. Red dots are what you want for CQB. But for everything else…  The ‘Tier One’ guys are not happy with all of these new 1-10x scopes they’ve been testing out. The image quality and low-light performance is simply not there. They like the Mark 5, and if they do need a red dot, they can mount one on top of a scope ring or at a 45-degree angle.” A lot of Leupold’s marketing images for this scope show it atop standard and short-barrel ARs, usually mounting a red dot atop the furthest scope ring. That 12 o’clock-mounted red dot will pull your head totally off the stock, but it would be easy to use if you were running night vision.

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The Leupold Mark 5HD 2-10x30mm mounted on a new PRI Mk 12 SPR. The Mk 12 SPR was a very effective 5.56x45mm light sniper rifle.

At the same event, I was talking to the people from Hornady Ammunition and learned the second half of the puzzle. Apparently, the tip-of-the-spear Tier 1 SF units are all in love with the new 6mm ARC cartridge developed by Hornady. Using specially-loaded ammunition with 106-grain bullets they are using 18-inch barreled ARs in 6mm ARC for everything inside 1,000 yards except for CQB work. A rifle like that, topped with a Mk 5 HD 2-10x? They basically reinvented the Mk 12 SPR, only chambered in a cartridge that flies flatter and hits harder than 5.56mm NATO at every distance, and mounting a higher quality scope than was available to our warfighters twenty years ago. While it adds a not-insubstantial amount of weight, at just 11.2-inches long the Mark 5HD 2-10x30mm doesn’t look completely out of place on a carbine. Sure you might prefer more magnification for locating and identifying targets, but 10x is enough magnification to get you by. This is marketed as a tactical scope, but the 2-10x magnification range also makes it suitable for hunting, especially with an illuminated reticle. The 10x will help you identify game, but that 2x low end could be very useful, especially if you’re in one of those states where you rarely get a shot over 100 yards. The non-illuminated Mark 5HD models are $1999.99 while the illuminated reticle version has an MSRP of $2499.99.

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The Mark 5HD 2-10 covers the mid-range, and for closer work, mounting a red dot atop one of the scope rings is a very viable option. Photo courtesy Leupold.



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