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Leupold VX-Freedom AR Scopes

The Leupold VX-Freedom AR scope line hits the sweet spot on frills, performance and cost to you.

Leupold VX-Freedom AR Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz.

Finding an equipoise between contrasting, opposing or interacting elements can be a challenge when creating AR scopes. However, Leupold may have found the sweet spot with the combination of quality, performance and frills in their VX-Freedom AR lineup of scopes that won’t break the shooting budget.

“Some people don’t realize we have scopes to fit every budget,” said Product Line Manager John Snodgrass. “They’ll say they can’t afford a Leupold, but as we like that to point out, with the value the VX-Freedom provides at that price, they can’t afford not to have one.” So, can the AR line be classified as “budget” offerings? Not by a long shot, says Snodgress.

Snodgress pointed out that all Leupold scopes are designed, machined and assembled in the company’s Beaverton, Oregon, facilities. This gives the company the edge to take advantage of economies of scale, production efficiencies and years of scope-building know-how to produce high-quality products while controlling costs. In the case of the VX-Freedom AR lineup, scopes can be had from $300 to $750.

Building off their release of the VX-Freedom line of scopes from 2019, the company now offers seven different AR offerings. We had the pleasure of testing four of their latest: a 6-18x40mm with the Tactical Milliradian Reticle (TMR); a 3-9x40mm with an illuminated FireDot Tri-Mil reticle; and two 1.5-4x20mm scopes, one with an illuminated FireDot Mil-Ring and one with a ballistic reticle.


Leupold-VX-Freedom-Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. Lightweight, durable and feature-laden, Leupold’s VX-Freedom AR scopes are too good to leave at home.

Common Traits

While slightly different from one another, three of the scopes share a ballistically calibrated dial system formatted for a 55-grain .223 bullet traveling at 3,100 feet per second (fps). Only the 1.5-4X with the ballistic reticle comes without a ballistic dial.


Once zeroed to an AR, the a ballistic dial allows the shooter to use the cap’s markings to adjust the elevation to targets ranging from 100 to a little more than 600 yards. In the words of Leupold, “Hold dead on. Hit dead on.”

“If that’s behind the shoulder of a deer, hold there. If that’s on the steel target you need to hit, hold in the center,” said Shawn Skipper, Leupold’s Media Relations Manager. “Our ballistic dials help you easily compensate for bullet drop and make ultra-quick adjustments on the fly. You don’t have to hold over for elevation.”

Another thing Leupold has taken the worry out of is how much weight you add to your AR. The 1.5-4Xs tip the scale at a meager 9.6 ounces each, while the 3-9X comes in at 15.4 ounces, and the 6-18X is a lean 17 ounces.

But don’t let the bantamweights make you believe they can’t take abuse. Each scope is designed to survive 5,000 impacts on the company’s “Punisher,” a torture device that simulates recoil that’s more than three times that of a standard .308 rifle.


Like all Leupold scopes, these feature the same Leupold quality glass and lens coatings that allow for better contrast and glare reduction. All VX-Freedom AR scopes also come with the company’s Twilight Light Management System for better low-light performance that can stretch hunting time by as much as 30 minutes.

Dead On

To see if Leupold’s statement of “Hold dead on, hit dead on,” holds up to scrutiny, we headed to the range. Keeping in mind the everyday shooter and my ammo budget, I zeroed each of the scopes using Winchester’s standard white-box .223 55-grain full metal jackets (FMJ). I recommend watching the videos from Leupold (leupold.com/dials) to correctly zero a scope with a ballistic dial.

On the dial, you’ll see large numbers and smaller numbers. The large “1” does indicate you are at 100 yards, where the dials are intended to be zeroed. The small numbers tell you how far you’re dialing in mils (10 clicks = 1 mil). All large numbers are the bullet drop compensation for the distance they represent (1=100 yards, 2.5=250 yards, etc.)


Arriving at the range, I noticed that I would have a tailwind coming into the bowl-shaped 300-yard lane. In the past, this has caused some swirl, so this would be a challenge to the “dead-on” abilities of the Freedom ARs.

To throw a wrench into the day’s testing, I made sure to bring along a heavier variety of .223 and 5.56mm ammo. Not only did I want to see how a few grains more in bullet weight would compare to the ballistic dials’ calibration, I also wanted to leave the range with the confidence that if I ran out of 55-grainers somewhere in the future, I would know how much additional holdover I would need.

First on the firing line was the AR 6-18x40 with the TMR reticle. Having confidence in its 100-yard abilities after zeroing, I proceeded to work the ballistic dial out to the limits of our 300-yard range.

With the hashmarks of the TMR’s mil-dot recticle hovering over the 150-yard target and making sure I held each shot to the same point of aim, I looked down the scope and thought it couldn’t be that easy to hold on the target and hit every time. But all the rounds easily hit where I wanted them.

Repeat performances were also had at 200, 250 and 300 yards where rounds continued to hit point of aim (POA). To make sure this was no aberration, I moved up and down the dial, mixing up the distances trying to catch the scope napping. As it turned out, I couldn’t, as each shot hit near POA.

This was even more impressive when you realize the Winchester ammo I was using isn’t match grade. It’s not even the preferred ammo of my AR. But the ammo did its part all day keeping up with our POA changes.

Next up was the AR 3-9x40mm. Where the AR 6-18X has the edge in magnification, the AR 3-9x40mm has the illuminated FireDot Tri-Mil reticle. I can hear some of you now say, “Yea, yea, big deal.” But, you know what, it is. When combined with the Tri-Mil reticle’s hashmarks and the .223 ballistic dial, the dot was a reaffirming reminder that rounds were going where I wanted them. Plus, the adjustable dot made it possible to skinny it down to a fine point for those longer-­range attempts.

Again, the shooting results were favorable to the point that this test was getting boring. So I rid the range of wandering clays. Then it was time for testing the two 1.5-4Xs.

After confirming their 100-yard zeros from the benchrest, I worked each through a series of tests ranging from offhand shooting to precision work out to 300-yard steel. During the quick-fire close-­quarters’ shooting, I was drawn to the Mil-Ring reticle. The Mil-Ring made engagement quick by grabbing onto close-in targets. While 300-yard steel pushed the limits of the 4-power setting of the ballistic dial calibration, the .5-mil hashmarks of the reticle and that FireDot helped ring in a little fun on the range.

As for the 1.5-4X with the AR Ballistic reticle, long-time shooters will like its traditional Christmas-tree reticle. I have to admit, I could do the math, but I stole the mil settings from the other ballistic dials to set the come-up for the Ballistic reticle to see how accurate they were when transferred to another scope.

The only drawback I had with either 1.5-4X scope was how stiff the power rings turned. For general shooting or hunting, that’s not an issue. For 3-Gun competition, however, I would have to work them more to get them to loosen up or they would be regulated to the more distant targets.

Snodgrass attributed the stiffness to the O-rings the company uses to ensure the scopes remain waterproof and fogproof for a lifetime. He did say that with use they will slick up.

Which is the best scope for an AR? The choice is up to you and what you plan to do with it. I especially liked the 1.5-4X with the illuminated FireDot Mil-Ring for its all-around capabilities for targets inside 250 yards.

I do have one complaint that covers all these scopes. They don’t come with protective lens caps. I mentioned my angst to Skipper. He replied that since the VX-Freedom is the base line, there are certain accessories and features it does not include (i.e., lens caps). With that said, endcaps are available for purchase.

Leupold-VX-Freedom-Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz.

VX-Freedom 6-18X40 AR Specs

  • Power: 6-18X
  • Objective: 40mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Elevation: 56 MOA / 16.8 mil
  • Windage: 58 MOA / 17.4 mil
  • Reticle: Tactical Milliradian; Reticle (TMR)
  • Length: 14.3 in.
  • Weight: 17 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 3.8-5.1 in.
  • MSRP: $780
  • Manufacturer: Leupold; leupold.com

Leupold-VX-Freedom-Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz.

VX-Freedom 3-9X40MM AR FireDot Specs

  • Power: 3-9X
  • Objective: 40mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Elevation: 60 MOA / 18 mil
  • Windage: 60 MOA / 18 mil
  • Reticle: FireDot
  • Length: 12.4 in.
  • Weight: 15.4 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 3.7-4.2 in.
  • MSRP: $650
  • Manufacturer Leupold; leupold.com

Leupold-VX-Freedom-Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz.

VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20MM AR FireDot Specs

  • Power: 1.5-4X
  • Objective: 20mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Elevation: 125 MOA / 37.5 mil
  • Windage: 125 MOA / 37.5 mil
  • Reticle: FireDot Mil-Ring
  • Length: 9.4 in.
  • Weight: 9.6 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 3.7-4.2 in.
  • MSRP: $650
  • Manufacturer: Leupold; leupold.com

Leupold-VX-Freedom-Scopes
Photo by Michael Anschuetz.

VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20MM AR (No Ballistic Dial) Specs

  • Power: 1.5-4X
  • Objective: 20mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1 in.
  • Elevation: 125 MOA / 37.5 mil
  • Windage: 125 MOA / 37.5 mil
  • Reticle: AR Ballistic Reticle
  • Length: 9.4 in.
  • Weight: 9.6 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 3.7-4.2 in.
  • MSRP: $325
  • Manufacturer: Leupold; leupold.com

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