Review: Leupold Golden Ring Spotting Scope & Impact Reticle
May 09, 2016
It's that time of year again! The scouting season is beginning, and the range is finally thawing out. It's time to confirm those zeros and get back into the field.
One of the most vital pieces of pre-season gear is a spotting scope, preferably one that you can carry in a daypack or that can be stored in your truck. If it's easy to pack, you're more likely to take it with you.
Last year, Leupold revamped its Golden Ring spotting scope line. The company improved on an already solid line of field-proven spotters available in 10-20x40mm, 12-40x60mm, 15-30x50mm and 20-60x80mm models.
With the exception of the 10-20x40mm, each spotter is available as a stand-alone scope or in a kit. Personally, I always opt for the kit. For an additional $125 to $250 (depending on the model), you receive a custom hard-sided, lockable case with internal rubber-coated padding cut to fit the scope and all accessories, which include a Leupold compact tripod, window mount, padded soft case and lens pen.
The tripod is constructed of high-quality anodized aluminum. It is compact enough to slide into most daypacks and rugged enough to withstand being strapped externally. Each leg features four adjustment heights that extend the tripod height to 31½ inches and collapses to an easily stowed 15 inches. An adjustable ball head with quick-release base gives a good range of adjustment, easily adapting to the terrain. Thanks to the quick-release base, this tripod can also accommodate your camera, rangefinder or rifle.
Most of us try to hit hot spots on the way to and from work or just before dusk on a family truck ride. Leupold's window mount gives us a stable mounting solution for our spotter that allows the same level of adjustment as Leupold's tripod. The window mount also makes it easy for the little ones to get in on the action.
My favorite feature of the new Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope line is the inclusion of the Impact Reticle. While several of Leupold's Mil-Spec Mark 4 spotting scopes feature etched Mil- and minute-of-angle (MOA)-based reticles, this is the first time Leupold has offered this option in a Golden Ring spotting scope.
Why should this matter to you? Well, while at the range, you should be able to zero any firearm in about two shots. Fire one round, measure the horizontal and vertical distance of your desired point of impact and enter those corrections directly into your scope turrets. Fire one more round for confirmation, and you're done.
The Impact Reticle is in the front focal plane, meaning the reticle is accurate at any magnification setting. The pattern and image get larger as you increase magnification and smaller when you decrease it. This feature allows you to accurately estimate range at all magnification settings. The main grid is MOA-based, while the top and left side of the reticle are circles spaced at 1 mil radian to support mil-based ranging. These measurements will work with any scope on the market.
If you're shooting with a partner who is spotting for you, they can call your shot and recommend no-math corrections that can be entered directly into your scope turrets or used for an accurate holdover, giving a precise second-round hit.
What I really like about the Impact Reticle is that it's located well below the center of the field of view, allowing a clear and uncluttered picture of what you're trying to see. It is there if you need it or easy to ignore if you don't.
Leupold's new armor coating increases the spotter's durability in field environments, while the prism-less Folded Light Path system uses mirrors to compress a traditionally long optical system, reducing the overall length of the spotter by about half, without any degradation in performance. The housing is constructed of magnesium for a huge weight savings and an increase in overall durability.
These spotters are ideal for use in confined spaces or when storage space and weight are prime considerations. As an example, the largest Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope is the 20-60x80mm, which has an overall length of only 15 inches and weighs about the same as two empty 1911 Government Model pistols. That's pretty light and very compact for a spotting scope designed to accompany you in the field.
The Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope offer the visual clarity you'd expect from Leupold — excellent. A proprietary DiamondCoat 2 lens treatment is used, providing a clearer, brighter image to reach your eye. The exterior lens treatment is abrasion-resistant and exceeds U.S. military standards for hardness and durability. Each Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope is 100 percent waterproof and fog proof thanks to Leupold's proprietary nitrogen fill process, making this the ideal field spotter.
Everyone knows that deer and other game are most active during dawn and dusk hours — the lighting conditions in which it's most challenging to see them. Leupold uses its Xtended Twilight lens system in the Golden Ring spotters, making them more useable in low-light conditions than other models. Leupold states that in twilight conditions, the green light spectrum disappears and blue/violet light takes over, which the human eye has difficulty seeing. This lens system places an extra emphasis on matching coatings to achieve the best possible transmission of the blue/violet range without sacrificing transmission across the visual spectrum.
If you're in the market for a spotter, or feel Leupold's new Impact Reticle can benefit you, check out the Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope line and see the difference.