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Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS

Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS
The CBQSS has pinch-locking turrets. To release the turret for adjustment, one must pinch together the two halves of the turret before twisting is possible. This deliberate action ensures that the turrets move only when we desire them to do so.


Living in the golden age of all things AR, we now have such a complement of rifles, optics and accessories from which to choose that we can find a gun for any mission we could possibly imagine. Whether it be CQB, urban or rural patrolling, static security or sniping, there is a rifle and an optical solution for that mission.

Historically, problems arise when we have to pick one rifle/optic package for a mission that requires us to function across a broader tactical spectrum, like assaulting and sniping or urban and rural patrolling. A soldier or law enforcement officer has enough stuff to carry on such a mission set. Having to carry two different rifles and/or optics to work effectively at both missions is sometimes too much to ask.

Therefore, we often choose our equipment with the knowledge that we will be more effective at one mission and less at the other. In a perfect world we would be able to excel at both, but in the meantime we have limitations to work around. Such are the demands of the battlefield.

The most limiting factor when choosing a rifle/optic combo to work at multiple missions is often the optic. A rifle, especially the AR, can easily handle both short- and long-range fire. The problem is deciding which optic to put on it. When distances open up, we need high magnification. The closer distances require no magnification and a very wide field of view. Reticles such as the Horus are ideal for those long-range shots, while red dots are the most effective solutions for close-range work.

Up until now, this meant that if we wanted to execute both missions with one rifle, we needed to put two optics on it, one for close range and the other for long range. We most often see such arrangements on rifles carried by soldiers serving overseas and on rifles used by 3-Gun competitors.

The problem with a two-optic solution is the cost and, often, the bulk associated with mounting both, which were never designed to work together on the same rifle. The bulkier and heavier a rifle is, the less anyone wants to carry or shoot it.

This 34mm maintube is secured at two points with a forward rake. This specialized mounting system is ideal for the unique eye relief that's prevalent when using scopes with AR rifle systems. Reversed, this ring/mount system is a better solution for mounting a scope over the bolt on the M14/M1A set in an EBR chassis system.

There are also positional shooting issues associated with mounting two optics on one rifle. Shooters will most often mount the scope on top of the rail and then hang a red dot off to the right. This requires a right-handed shooter to simply rotate the rifle counterclockwise to bring the red dot into his line of sight. It is a fast and simple solution, which is why we see it with 3-Gun competitors.

Problems arise when we seek to employ this setup in a tactical scenario. When our targets shoot back, we must effectively use cover if we hope to survive. Hanging a red dot off the right side of the rifle works well when we're firing from our strong side or around the right side of cover. However, this optical arrangement will force us to radically expose ourselves if we want to shoot around the left side of cover. It is also really awkward to shoot weak side.


The good news is that there is finally an optic that can function effectively in both short- and long-range scenarios. This miracle optic comes to us from the good folks at Leupold Tactical and goes by the designation Mark 8 CQBSS.


Leupold designed this scope with a lot of input from the Special Operations community and after reading their list of needs in a scope. Leupold took all of that good advice, threw in some scope-making magic and created the CQBSS.

When I first picked it up and looked through it, I remarked on the clarity and light transmission that is immediately evident. There was also no distortion around the edges of the glass. If you're ever interested in seeing what looking through a good scope can be like, grab a CQBSS and several other scopes and then look through them all. You'll see a noticeably brighter and clearer image in the CQBSS.

The beauty of this rifle-mounted technology lays in both its magnification (1.1-8X) and its reticle. The variable 1.1-8X magnification allows the shooter to have almost the same field of view as the naked eye when set at 1.1X. This makes it very easy to get on target even while moving and at very close distances. Most individuals are slightly negative and will adjust the diopter setting to -1.0, bringing the CQBSS to a true one power. Most shooters can accommodate up to 1.3X in magnification with both eyes open.

The CQBSS offers a 1.1-8 power range and delivers it in a compact package. The small overall package of the CQBSS is especially handy when participating in CQB or positional shooting.

When maxed out at 8X, the scope functions effectively for sniping out to several hundred meters. Clearly seeing and engaging human-size targets out to 700 or 800 meters is a very manageable task at 8X.

The reticle of the CQBSS is just as magical as its construction and magnification range. The reticle is a combination of the Horus H-27 and a large donut that circles the center crosshairs. The outside diameter of the donut is seven MOA. When the magnification is cranked down to 1.1X, the donut's inner diameter of five MOA will appear as a large red dot (when illuminated). This allows the CQBSS to effectively function like any other red dot sight. Red dot sights dominate the short game because they are fast and easy to find. That's the CQBSS when the dot is illuminated and the power's at 1.1.

When the power is set at 8X, the Horus H-27 reticle becomes clearly visible. Our nation's most effective and experienced snipers shoot Horus reticles for a reason: They're the fastest and simplest solution out there. The H-27 portion of the reticle allows the scope to function effectively as a traditional sniper scope. Holding over, holding for wind, movers, calling corrections, milling targets, all of this is a breeze when the CQBSS is set at its higher magnifications.

There is no more flexible optic currently available on the market than the CQBSS. No other optic can function effectively at ranges that cover from the muzzle out to 800 meters and beyond. Now for the finer details.


The workmanship of the CQBSS becomes apparent when you first pick it up. The entire maintube is milled from a single block of aerospace-grade aluminum. The power adjustment ring of the scope is the entire housing of the ocular lens and spans the rear-most three inches. No more searching for the adjustment ring or struggling with turning it using only the pads of your thumb and index finger. Now we can just grab the whole knurled back end of the scope and crank on it with our entire hand.

With the top turret cover removed, a carefully engineered ball detent rises above the secret in Leupold's new pinch-locking elevation turret. Adjustments are made on the Mark 8 CQBSS in .1 mil increments.

Leupold designed new turrets for the CQBSS, and its efforts are not going unnoticed. The turrets adjust in .1-mil increments and have a pinch locking mechanism that is strong and simple. It seems like scopes either have very convenient but unprotected turrets that can get adjusted accidentally when they brush up against people or equipment or they feature removable caps that take some time to take off and often get lost. The CQBSS has turrets that offer the best of both worlds.

To adjust the turrets, all that is necessary is to pinch and twist. The pinching is a very deliberate motion, so there is no more worrying about unintended adjustments. Likewise, there are no removable turret caps to lose. The turrets also have a zero-stop mechanism that allows the shooter to easily find his zero.

For those still using BDCs with their scopes, the CQBSS has a removable BDC ring that is simple to change out. The BDC ring makes it easy to dial distance for a specific load, and the fact that the rings are so easy to change means that one CQBSS can be used for multiple calibers and loads. There are 10 mils of adjustment with each revolution of the dial and 150 MOA adjustment for both windage and elevation.

The CQBSS is a first-focal-plane scope that has an illuminated reticle. The reticle illumination is adjustable to eight separate settings. The illumination settings are consecutively numbered with space and detents between each setting to shut off the illumination. This is a thoughtful arrangement, as it is no longer necessary to run the scope through all the settings to get it to its brightest only to have to run it all the way back down to shut off the illumination. We can turn it on to "8," and we're one click away from shutting it off.


The CQBSS allows the sniper to clear his way to his final firing point, then set up for and take the shot. The CQBSS can be used on any number of rifles, but I feel that it is most at home on a short-barreled (12- to 16-inch) 7.62mm AR-type rifle. No other arrangement allows one man to successfully fill as many tactical roles.

The setup you see here is LWRCI's 12-inch REPR chambered in 7.62mm. The light is a SureFire mini-scout in a LaRue mount. Dueck Defense iron sights round out the package. This would have been my dream setup back when I was in uniform if it had been available.

Unlike 5.56, the 7.62 offers enough ballistic horsepower to effectively reach out to 800 meters even with a 12-inch barrel. The short barrel allows for effective CQB. The mini-scout puts out a lot of light in a very small package. However, the real beauty lays in the CQBSS/iron sight arrangement.

The CQBSS represents a tactical innovation in that it really can handle any operation that requires the shooter to engage targets from zero to 800-plus meters. It's the only optic that can legitimately make this claim. When it sits atop a short-barreled 7.62mm, the union makes the potential a reality.

The Dueck Defense sights are a perfect fit for use with the CQBSS. They are fixed irons that sit at an angle off to the right-hand side. I believe in running fixed sights with any optic, but this becomes problematic with a variable-power scope. When the power of a riflescope is set at 1X, traditional fixed sights are a distraction. However, the awesomeness of the CQBSS is such that I'd run it regardless.

With the Dueck Defense sights, we don't have to deal with the placement of traditional fixed sights and the obstruction they present. We can marry the tremendous tactical advantages of the CQBSS with a set of high-quality fixed sights. This gives us the best of both worlds and represents the most flexible and redundant sighting arrangement I've ever seen.

The CBQSS has pinch-locking turrets. To release the turret for adjustment, one must pinch together the two halves of the turret before twisting is possible. This deliberate action ensures that the turrets move only when we desire them to do so.


I feel strongly enough about the CQBSS that I will save up and purchase one in the near future. If I were limited to only possessing one scope, the CQBSS would be that scope. The bright, clear glass; H-27/illuminated ring reticle mounted on the first focal plane; pinch-and-turn autolocking turrets; and 1.1-8 power range all combine in an epic confluence of scope nirvana sufficiently awesome that my money and I are powerless to resist. I will own one. I can think of no more decisive statement about the CQBSS than to tell you how I will vote with my own hard-earned cash. I vote for the CQBSS.

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