by B.B. Pelletier

Today I’m looking at one of the best values in a powerful variable scope – Leapers 8-32×56 full-sized scope with mil-dot reticle and red/green illumination. This scope costs $230 for the model with the illuminated reticle and $196 without, which, to some, seems like a lot of money. To a serious shooter, it’s a pittance to pay for all the features this scope offers. Leupold scopes with less magnification, fewer features and less light transmission cost more than twice as much.

When I shot field target competitively (1998-2002), a scope like the Leapers 8-32x would have cost over $400. How much over is difficult to say. I paid about $450 for a Tasco Custom Shop 8-40x (on closeout sale) that doesn’t compare to the Leapers for brightness. I have to use it at 20-30x, because it becomes too dark at higher magnification. In contrast, the Leapers is bright all the way to 32x.

1/8-minute clicks
A target scope needs to have small adjustments, because target shooters want to make small corrections to get their pellets into the X ring. One-eighth minute clicks means that the strike of the pellet will move approximately 1/8″ per click at 100 yards. If you shoot closer than 100 yards, the amount of movement will be proportionately less. For example, 1/16″ at 50 yards and 1/80″ at 10 yards. Wow! That isn’t very much, is it? With some scopes, having adjustments this fine means the scope will have limited adjustability; but Leapers has built in more than 50 minutes of total adjustment. In a scope this powerful, that’s a lot!

Do you need illuminated reticles?
Illuminated reticles are good for those low-light hunting situations when you can see the game but not the reticle. They give you at least an extra 15 minutes of the most important hunting time, and more if there’s snow on the ground or a bright moon. If you aren’t a hunter, I can’t think of another good reason to have them. The Leapers scopes have multiple levels of illumination in either red or green, so you can use only what you need. I have used both the illuminated and non-illuminated model, and I find both to work well, though in truth I’ve never needed the illumination.

Mil-dot reticle
A mil-dot reticle is a fad for sportsmen, because not one hunter in a hundred knows how to apply the WORM formula to calculate range, nor are there common size cues like tanks and armored personnel carriers in the hunting grounds to apply it. But scope manufacturers have been touting range estimation for many years in one form or another, and this is the latest craze. Mil-dots do sell, so you’ll see more of them as time passes. One nice thing about the mil-dot reticle in this scope is that the reticle lines are thin enough for good long-range target work, and the dots do help you find the lines when the background tries to obscure them.

What is this scope good for?
This is a great scope for field target shooters on a budget. It’s also wonderful for long-range and benchrest shooters of both air rifles and firearms. At nearly two full pounds (29 oz.), it’s not the scope for a casual .22 rimfire, a 30/30 lever-action brush gun or a plinking rifle. It’s really too much scope for almost all spring rifles, though a TX200 or BAM B40 could use it. Remember, too, you don’t have to leave it cranked up to 32x all the time. It’s also an 8x scope that’s more user-friendly when the target is hard to locate in the eyepiece.

On 32x, this is one of the least fussy scopes on the market. Some, like the Burris 8-32x, go black if your eye strays a fraction of an inch from where it’s supposed to be. The Leapers behaves more like a 12x scope when it is turned up all the way. Also, the parallax adjustment goes all the way down to 10 yards, even on the highest power. You’ll be watching ants walk on grass blades at that range and magnification!

Is this a good scope? Yes! It’s a great scope, as long as you realize how large and heavy it is. This scope will save you hundreds of dollars without giving up any quality.