January 18, 2022
By James Tarr
The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America, and when it comes to mounting tactical optics to that rifle, LPVOs (Low Power Variable Optics) are the kings. LPVOs have a low end of magnification near or preferably at 1X, so they can be used quickly and at close range, but the magnification allows shooters to identify and engage targets at distance.
These types of scopes were first popular amongst hunters going after dangerous game, or hunting in heavy brush. While 1-4X scopes were popular for years, today the best balance between performance and price in LPVOs are scopes with a 1-6X magnification range. Enter the brand new Leupold Patrol 6HD, a 1-6X LPVO aimed at the tactical market.
Leupold has long had a strong presence in the LPVO arena. Leupold has had their VX-6HD line for a while, the scopes in which feature a 6:1 magnification ratio. These are advertised as high-performance hunting scopes, and perhaps the most popular model in that line is the 1-6X VX-6HD LPVO, intended for short- to mid-range hunting scenarios. Their Patrol 6HD 1-6x24 is a version of the 1-6X VX-6HD built for tactical and competition use.
There are two versions of the new Patrol 6HD, the only differences between the two being the reticle and the turrets. This scope has a 30mm main tube and a rear focal plane (RFP) configuration, which means the reticle stays the same relative size to your eye as you move through the magnification range.
This scope is 10.8 inches long and weighs either 14.5 or 15.05 ounces, depending on the model. Eye relief on this scope is 3.7 inches. The low-end magnification on this scope is a true 1X, which is what most LPVO users want. A 1X low end means you can use the scope with two eyes open at indoor distances, as you would with a non-magnified red dot. Field of view at 1X at 100 yards is a very generous 120.9 feet. The plentiful eye relief allows you to back off the scope a bit, and at 1X the tube tends to ghost out a bit, nearly eliminating the tube effect seen with many 30mm red dots.
Leupold’s hunting scopes have a rich satin finish, and are usually easy to spot thanks to the gold ring near the objective lens. Their tactical scopes like this Patrol 6HD have a more subdued look. This scope has a matte black finish, and that gold ring up front has been replaced with a black ring etched with the model number in white.
The firearms world is rife with products first invented by competition shooters which were then adopted at large when people began realizing just how effective and smart they were. Extended throw levers on variable magnification scopes are just one of these nifty upgrades, and Leupold offers an extended reversible throw lever on their VX-6HD. For the Patrol 6HD they shortened this removable throw lever, but thickened it.
Extended throw levers don’t just allow the user to more quickly and easily change magnification on their scope. They allow you—either by feel, or with a quick glance—to determine in an instant what magnification your scope is set at. Far more easily than searching for those numbers etched into the scope tube. With the Patrol 6HD, if the lever is at 9:30, you know you’re at 1X, straight up is about 2.75X, and 3 o’clock is the full 6X.
Like all of Leupold’s 6HD scopes this Patrol uses their Professional-Grade Optical System, with the best edge-to-edge clarity possible, excellent light transmission, and improved glare reduction. The HD in the name stands for their High Definition lenses, designed to provide the best clarity, color, and image quality possible. Leupold’s Guard-ion is a hydrophobic lens coating that sheds dirt and water. This means you’ll have to wipe the lens less frequently, which means less opportunities to accidentally scratch the lens. The scopes come standard with flip-back lens covers for additional protection.
Both models of the Patrol 6HD feature ¼ MOA windage and elevation clicks, with 170 MOA of adjustment. They are designed, machined, and assembled in the USA, and waterproof and fogproof.
Now let’s look at the differences between the two models—reticle and turrets. Leupold doesn’t have quick and easy names to differentiate between them, and refers to them simply as the 1-6x24, and the 1-6x24 CDS-ZL2. The standard model has simple, low profile capped turrets that extend just a bit more than half an inch from the main tube body. Unscrew the caps and you’ll find simple turrets with the click adjustments marked on the flat in white. This model features Leupold’s well-known and proven illuminated Fire-Dot Duplex reticle.
The Fire-Dot Duplex is a bold duplex reticle, visible and usable in all light conditions. The thick sections of the duplex are 16.2 MOA wide at low magnification, narrowing to 3.0 MOA toward the center of the scope. The duplex is thick and bold enough to use in just about every lighting condition, even without illumination, but of course you’ve got Leupold’s Fire-Dot feature.
Press the button on the left side of the scope and the red dot of the Fire-Dot will appear inside the center of the crosshairs. There are eight brightness settings for the dot, some of which you won’t be able to spot except in very low light, but it is technically not night vision compatible. At its brightest it isn’t quite daylight bright, but that dot does help draw your eye to the center of the scope in challenging lighting conditions, and gives you a visible aiming point in low light conditions where you might not be able to see the thin crosshairs. The red dot is powered by one CR2032 battery, and battery life from 300-1600 hours, depending on brightness setting.
The second model has a different reticle and different turrets. Instead of the Fire-Dot Duplex, this model sports Leupold’s illuminated CM-R2 reticle, which was specifically designed for competition and tactical situations. This reticle features an illuminated circle/dot in the center. To either side of it are black horizontal stadia with hashmarks for estimating wind lead, and below it is a vertical stadia with hashmarks for estimating holdover.
Simple capped turrets are maybe what you want if you don’t see yourself often adjusting your dials in the field. But if that’s not you, instead of the capped turrets of the standard model, the more feature-rich version of the Patrol 6HD offers Leupold’s CDS-ZL2 turrets. CDS is Leupold’s Custom Dial System, and Leupold lets consumers order a laser-marked bullet drop dial to match their exact ballistics. The ZL2 (ZeroLock 2) turret provides two full turns of elevation, with an easy to use push-button lock to eliminate accidental dial movement. These turrets are but a fraction taller than the capped turrets on the standard model, and still rather compact.
No matter which reticle you choose, both feature Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology (MST) which turns the illumination off after five minutes of inactivity. This means you won’t be burning up your battery when (not if) you forget to turn the dot off. The illumination pops right back on if you move the scope.
Both scopes/reticles sport Leupold’s fascinating in-scope electronic leveling system. Tilt the scope more than one degree left or right and the reticle illumination blinks. Bring it back to level, and the illumination remains solid. Tilt it more than 30 degrees and the illumination shuts off to save battery life.
Suggested retail price for the standard Patrol 6HD is $1399.99. The CDS-ZL2 model has an MSRP of $1499.99, and like all Leupold scopes, they are backed by that company’s lifetime guarantee.