December 20, 2023
If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you know that I review a fair amount of expensive optics. At $1,600, the Leapers Integrix IX6 approaches what is reachable for many rifleman. I’ve found that it offers excellent performance without the $2,000-plus price tag. Accomplishing this was only possible through Leapers’ manufacturing strategy.
Optics have, by far, the most diverse swath of manufacturing processes of any product in the firearms industry. Since most of us focus on image quality and ascribe performance to the lenses used in a scope, that’s a good place to start. The reality is that a scope can be broken into two separate engineering tasks: Optical and mechanical. Optical engineers design lens shape, placement, and composition. Mechanical engineers design turrets, erector assemblies, and other components. Now, let’s discuss glass.
Talk to any optics manufacturer and, when they’re being honest, they will tell you that the two best glass manufacturers are Schott and Ohara. Most folks seem to latch on to the “Schott” name because it’s German and, to quote the iconic “ShamWow” pitchman, Vince Offer, “You know the Germans always make good stuff.”
The reality is Schott and Ohara stand apart from other glass manufacturers because they can hold tolerances and compositions that others cannot. The shape of a lens obviously matters, but lens composition determines how each wavelength of light changes when passing through it. Light passing through a lens is a complex operation that registers in the quantum realm. Light is physically different after passing through a lens, even though the lens doesn’t take anything from it.
It’s not good enough to grind a lens to a precise shape; molecules in that lens have to also be correct. This gets expensive, quickly. However, if a manufacturer wants a high level of performance, it has to pay for it. We will never find Schott and Ohara glass on scopes costing a few hundred dollars because the lenses themselves can cost several hundred dollars!
Leapers’ Integrix scope line, however, does use premium Schott and Ohara lenses, but they’ve managed to keep pricing lower than comparable alternatives.
The next aspect of scope manufacture we need to consider is the mechanical pieces. The tolerances inside a scope are eye-watering. Being off by .001 inch is the difference between a scope that tracks correctly and one that isn’t even close. It can also make the difference between a tack-sharp image and one that appears cloudy. The best lenses in the world won’t work properly if they aren’t mounted in the correct locations.
The Integrix IX6 is unique because Leapers spent money on sourcing the best glass and then leveraged manufacturing in Taiwan. No other optic I could find offers this combination. The Integrix line seems to offer the most optical bang for the buck.
Integrix is a new brand from Leapers. Leapers has been around for more than 30 years, and it enjoys a reputation of building low-cost optics offering performance for the masses.
The difference with Integrix is the premium components used to create a premium product. While the Integrix scope is a lot more expensive than one in Leapers’s UTG line, the Integrix is still less expensive than premium American and Japanese optics. The reason goes back to Leapers sourcing premium lenses from Schott and Ohara. All of the mechanical manufacturing is done in Taiwan.
Twenty years ago, Taiwanese scope manufacturing wasn’t anything to rave about; acceptable but lacking refinement. A lot has changed in the last 20 years. Taiwan dominates the global silicon chip manufacturing, for example, far exceeding what another country produces — including the United States. Chips require a complex manufacturing environment. Taiwan has heavily invested in technology manufacturing, but this example illustrates how sophisticated Taiwan has become.
The growth and sophistication in Taiwan’s manufacturing has bled over into just about every product exported from that country. Those advancements were evident throughout my evaluation of the latest Integrix IX6 3-18x44mm scope.
The Integrix scopes are a first focal plane (FFP) optics. Though the 4.5-27x56mm features a mil-based reticle, the 3-18X feature a minute of angle (MOA) reticle, as well as exposed elevation and windage turrets that adjust in ¼-MOA increments. The illumination system also offers both red and green flexibility. Some key specifications that serve as attention-getters are its 11.7-inch overall length, 28-ounce weight, and almost 4-inches of eye relief.
Making a 3-18x44mm scope that has excellent image quality and is only 11.7 inches long is no small feat. The shorter the scope, the harder it is to keep the weight down and image quality high. Light doesn’t like to bend, and short scopes force light to bend quickly because there isn’t a lot of distance between the lenses. The historical fix has been to use more lenses to make fast bends and to correct aberrations (i.e., imperfections seen on the image). Unfortunately, these fixes can make a scope heavy.
The best way to create a short scope with good image quality is to use premium lenses that can bend light quickly without creating aberration. These are the expensive lenses made by Schott and Ohara. Alas, Leapers went with this option. Big money was spent on glass knowing that they would have to leverage its manufacturing capability to build a short scope with excellent image quality. They don’t need lots of lenses because they invested in really good lenses to keep weight down.
The Integrix scope also has an excellent eyepiece design, which shows. It has almost 4 inches of eye relief while still maintaining a wide field of view. The easy way to get a great field of view is to shorten eye relief. The problem with shortening eye relief is that recoil can put the scope into the shooter’s face. Shorter eye relief also makes it hard to shoot from compromising shooting positions. Leapers designed an eyepiece that kept the long eye relief and great field of view, making both positional shooting and shooting hard-recoiling rifles stress-free.
The exposed elevation and windage turrets do not have a zero-stop, but pull away from the maintube to unlock and push down to lock each into place. This is a simple and effective way to prevent unwanted turret adjustment. Zeroing the turrets was as simple as loosening two small screws, twisting the turret until it’s aligned with the witness mark, and then tightening the two screws.
The illumination system offers eight brightness settings for both red and green. Depending on the target, surrounding vegetation or background, swapping between colors is a convenient feature. The illumination system shuts off after 12 hours if it hasn’t been touched, preserving battery life when the shooter forgets to turn it off.
It happens that when Taiwan’s manufacturing is combined with German and Japanese glass, a pretty good
combination for building scopes can result. Leaper’s Integrix IX6 line bridges a gap between scopes with inferior glass and premium American or Japanese scopes that sometimes cost nearly twice as much.
Leapers Intergrix IX6 3-18x44mm
- Power: 3X-18X
- Objective: 44mm
- Tube Diameter: 34mm
- Elevation adjustment: .25 MOA per click
- Windage: .25 MOA per click
- Reticle: A2 MOA
- Length: 11.7 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 12.6 oz.
- Eye Relief: 3.94 in.
- MSRP: $1,600
- Manufacturer: Leapers, 734-542-1500, leapers.com
Enjoy articles like this?
Subscribe to the magazine.
Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine