Rifle Scopes  My Comprehensive Mk 5 Review

xmedicmanx

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This was cut/pasted/abridged from a Full review I did on the Mk 5. It's also found on pg 16 of the "so what about the Mk 5" thread. I omitted the introduction/narrative as most of us are aware of our discipline-specific needs so-to-speak...


They’re baaaaack!!!

Leupold has created a monster! The new Mark 5HD series of tactical rifle scopes is, dare I say, the most feature-filled, best bang-for-your-buck tactical optic out there. It features 5X+ magnification in First Focal Plane (FFP) with two initial offerings- a 3.6-18 x 44 and a 5-25x56, both with a 35mm maintube.
5-25x56- It boasts 35 mils of elevation. The weight is pretty light- just 30oz and 15.7” long
3.6-18x44- 29 mils of elevation, 26oz and a very compact 12.1” in length

The above is a snapshot of the features that are also the differences between the two. Everything else is virtually the same.

Please read below for my personal thoughts on this fine optic:

Optics/Glass: Clarity is superior. Top tier. Period. Ask any scope snob and those who REALLY know what they’re talking about will tell you that while glass is certainly important, the coatings are equally so. Leupold’s HD coatings are truly a noticeable improvement over that of the Mark 4 and even the 6 and 8!!! You’ll most likely see the difference when you use one. I’ve owned a Vortex Razor an AMG, two Steiner MX5Is to name a few premier optics I can objectively compare these to. Its right there, folks!!! Seriously! I spoke with some Leupold folks to help me make a choice between my last 5-25 Mk5 and the Mk8 3.5-25. I was told the coatings on the Mk5 make the glass brighter. Sold!
Eyebox/Eye Relief/Optical Lens etc.: Generous, forgiving. Adjustment is a simple twist. Exit pupil and eye relief is GTG.
Parallax: Side adjustment. It works as expected. It appears to actually be adjustable… There’s a set screw on the dial.
Illumination: Optional… And I opted out. Pointless for all but true tactical/operational use IMHO.
Reticle (s): I own two 3.6-18s with TMRs, and one 5-25 with the CCH reticle. Reticles are a very personal thing I think.
TMR- I like the TMR for a clean yet usable milling option. I prefer the open center of my two 3.6-18s… be advised however, that if you choose an illuminated version, the center will not be open.
CCH- this is a homerun for Leupold. It was designed with feedback from professional shooters, for professional shooters. It is a “Christmas-tree” design of sorts for holding over if/when the situation calls for it, and it also has chevrons on the lateral stadia, indication holds for moving targets! Very cool and very usable.

To reiterate, all reticles/scopes in the Leupold Mk 5 Line are in the FFP

Turrets: I love the turrets. I had some apprehension before I decided to make my order. My experience with the M1, M5 and CDS (gen 1) turrets has been that they track well but have a somewhat mushy, inaudible quality to them. By contrast, my experiences with most of the German and many other flagship scopes has been crisp, audible and tactile. John, A Leupold employee by week, military sniper by weekend assured me that I would be pleased. He didn’t disappoint.
The Mk5 turrets are crisp, audible and very tactile.
The turrets lock at zero in the same way that the Leupold gen II CDS turrets do, but unlike those, these will go half a mil below zero to allow some flexibility if one has their gun sighted in at, say, 200 or 100 and a close shot calls for a sub mil adjustment.
As previously stated, the elevation is 30+ mils of travel, requiring multiple revolutions. Leupold’s turret indicates the second rev to the user via the button imploding into the dial. Upon entering the third revolution, an indicator button pops up on the top of the turret, much like many other scopes out there.
Tracking is perfect. Noting else to say here.
Built-in/Removable Magnification Throw Lever: Robust, knurled knob installed from the factory allows the user to change magnification settings on-the-fly very easily. Also comes with a setscrew to fill the gap, should the user choose to uninstall it.
Additional Thoughts/Comments: The 35mm maintube was chosen because of light-gathering and elevation/travel I suspect. Regardless, it creates a bit of a limitation on mounting options. IOR Valdada and Vortex had used/still use 35mm maintubes on some of their optics, so stuff is out there… but not to the same degree as 34mm and 30mm options. Leupold offers a few decent mounting options, as does Spuhr (this is my preference), MPA, Vortex, IOR Valdada to name a few. I’m certain more options will become available in the near future.
While Illumination is an option, it is only an option… Not standard, not a problem. I’ve used illumination less than I used 4WD in my first pickup… And it’s there for the same reason- just in case. Only in the case of illumination, it is most likely dead when you turn it on anyways. I can hear the naysayers now. Whatever. Keep changing your transfer case fluid and your CR2032 batteries. Just in case.

Price: MSRP is around 2.3K and up for the non-illuminated versions. I’ve seen street prices around 1700.

Side-by-side Comparisons:
VS: Vortex AMG 6-24X (USA Made)

The AMG really is a terrific scope all around. The 6-24X vs 5-25X isn’t a huge difference, however the price puts Leupold ahead.
VS: Vortex Razor Gen II 4.5-27X (made in Japan)
Undiscernible difference in clarity and brightness. Both track well. I prefer the Leupold turrets. The Vortex’ pull-up turret can be tough. On the other hand, it can be nice to lock in a setting too.
VS: Nightforce NXS 5.5-22X (Made in USA)
Mk 5 beats it hands-down in terms of magnification range, glass clarity and brightness. NXS is SFP so Leupold wins there. Nightforce is legendary for tracking so no knocks there, but tactile and audible turret edge still goes to the Mk 5.
VS: Steiner T-line 5-25X (USA and German Made) I love Steiner. The T series compares to the Mk5 in terms of cost and is assembled in Colorado. Glass clarity, coatings, tracking (T-series had a major tracking problem upon initial release. They’ve since rectified the issues), size and weight all but illumination go to the Leupold Mk 5.
VS: Steiner MX5I 5-25X (German Made)
Clarity and brightness are superlative with both. One might be better than the other, but I’m a mere mortal; I can’t tell the difference. Tracking is dead on with both. Size and weight are smaller and lighter (hence better) with the Leupold.
Note: Even if I wanted to, I would have been unable to test the Illumination with the Steiner, because, wait for it….
Battery was dead.
VS: Leupold Mk 4 fixed 10X, Mk4 fixed 16X, Mk 3.5-10X FFP (All USA Made)
Mk five is hands down better in everything.

Closing Remarks:
I shot one of my Mk 5 scopes in a PRS match in June… It had been my first PRS match in many years. There was a Leupold rep there from Houston who got pictures of my rig with the scope on top. He didn’t just take my picture, however. I was surprised to see at least five or six others using the new Mk 5s. Hopefully we see more in the future months and matches as Leupold gains new followers.
 

roamin

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Do you own the scopes that you're comparing to MK5? What is your experience with them?
 

Dthomas3523

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    What kind of test did you run to verify tracking?
     

    Dthomas3523

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    Also, unless you factor in LE pricing on Leupold, you can find the AMG for about the same price.
     

    xmedicmanx

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    Great feedback all.

    I have at one point in time or another owned all of the scopes I listed except for the TX5i. I either owned or did a physical side, by side comparison with borrowed optics for my compar/contrast; I am by no means knocking any of the other optics, nor was I actively testing them (again, I’ve owned virtuall all of them)... this is why I didn’t have and SBs, Kahles or ATACRs in the comparison. Had I had them available I would have.

    Regarding “Light gathering”, I misspoke as I should have said Light transmission and I’m aware that various data suggests what truly helps and affects such. I’m not a physicist (is that the right spelling?) so I don’t want to claim that the tube diameter is the end-all. I would think in my knowledge that the larger the portal, the more Light could transmit. I think of it as a small window vs a large. Again I’m not a scientific mind in this avenue.

    Tracking testing was three-fold. A simple box test, using the reticle stadia to check correction/impact and also making adjustments and taking shots out to 500 yd. it’s also worth noting that it performed well out to 1K in a match when I did my part.

    Price- I’ll use OP as a reference- it’s 2500 for an AMG(great optic), less for the Mk 5. Military discount is definitely helpful for both mfgrs

    I’ll close with this... As much as I’d love to be, I’m not a gun writer. I’m an AD mil guy who really like his new scopes. I

    Take care all
     

    xmedicmanx

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    Optics planet lists it for 2499 but I think it’s great if you can get a better deal. I think I paid 2099 for mine with my discount when I bought it a year or two back. I ended up selling it here for what I paid. It’s nice having mil discount
     

    TacT-MecH

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    Thank you for taking the time to share your findings of the Mark 5. Its been on my radar since it's release (my cronus btr's are great) but it's always nice to branch out.
     

    xmedicmanx

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    I loved the mk5 while I owned it. I just found a reticle I prefer more that leupold doesn't offer. Only other thing I disliked on the mk5 was the 11 o'clock windage hash. Otherwise image quality is excellent, turrets are very nice, has plenty of adjustment and tracked perfect for me.


    Yeah it can be tricky as to here it actually lines up. It makes sense and yet it doesn’t
     
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    kRcu

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    I placed a silver dot right next to the turret to help bridge the gap between the hash mark on the tube and the turret itself. Makes it much easier. I like the elevated hash location, as it’s easy to see while behind the glass.
     

    beetroot

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    Again, amg is not 2500.

    Where can you find the AMG cheaper?
    Unless there is a particular sale on I don't think I've ever seen an AMG listed less that 2499.
    I'd love to buy one but am leaning towards a Mark 5hd 5-25 due to the considerable savings (non LEO).
     

    magtech

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    Call up a Hide vendor and ask them what their best price is. You may find they have some room to play.
     

    308pirate

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    What price would you use for the ATACR?
    What does that have to do with anything?

    Some guy keeps insisting the Razor AMG doesn't cost $2500, that it can be found for less. He was asked to show evidence of his pricing and he didn't.

    I countered by showing him plenty of places where the AMG costs what he claims it doesn't.
     

    roamin

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    What does that have to do with anything?

    Some guy keeps insisting the Razor AMG doesn't cost $2500, that it can be found for less. He was asked to show evidence of his pricing and he didn't.

    I countered by showing him plenty of places where the AMG costs what he claims it doesn't.

    It's just a question.
     

    xmedicmanx

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    You know, regardless of he or anyone else finding a steal of a deal on the AMG (or any others) and I’m not doubting that deals are out there, my comparisons weren’t aimed solely on price... it was a focus on the MK 5. The take away is that I found it to be a great value, even if I had to pay the retail.

    With that said it pays to be military, if only once in a while?
     
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    htowncoog

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    You know, regardless of he or anyone else finding a steal of a deal on the AMG (or any others) and I’m not doubting that deals are out there, my comparisons weren’t aimed solely on price... it was a focus on the MK 5. The take away is that I found it to be a great value, even if I had to pay the retail.

    With that said it pays to be military, if only once in a while?
    Good review man. I think it helps people tonhave a bit of a comparison to other scopes. Can’t keep everyone happy though.
     

    Dthomas3523

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    What does that have to do with anything?

    Some guy keeps insisting the Razor AMG doesn't cost $2500, that it can be found for less. He was asked to show evidence of his pricing and he didn't.

    I countered by showing him plenty of places where the AMG costs what he claims it doesn't.

    If you’re buying optics at face internet value, you’re totally screwing up.

    Sportoptics.com always has a code on their site that brings them down to $2175.

    Liberty optics runs sales all the time and they are 2k or less.

    The last two I bought were 2125 and 1919. Brand new, in box, not with a mil/LE discount.

    Do a bit of research and don’t just hit the “add to cart button.” Pick up the phone and call.

    That’s for suckers
     
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    xmedicmanx

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    If you’re buying optics at face internet value, you’re totally screwing up.

    Sportoptics.com always has a code on their site that brings them down to $2175.

    Liberty optics runs sales all the time and they are 2k or less.

    The last two I bought were 2125 and 1919. Brand new, in box, not with a mil/LE discount.

    Do a bit of research and don’t just hit the “add to cart button.” Pick up the phone and call.

    That’s for suckers

    I’m with you on savings... my dad always said “you never have to be rich if you can find a way to afford nice things”

    With that said, if we’re focusing on comparisons, including shopping/pricing, there has to be a baseline. I was using both common street price and MSRP.

    I don’t think anyone here wants to have an Extreme Couponers review addition.

    Let’s focus on baseline vitals
     

    Dthomas3523

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    What does that have to do with anything?

    Some guy keeps insisting the Razor AMG doesn't cost $2500, that it can be found for less. He was asked to show evidence of his pricing and he didn't.

    I countered by showing him plenty of places where the AMG costs what he claims it doesn't.

    Keep hitting the “add to cart” and “buy now” buttons without calling or checking the site for deals available to everyone.
     

    Dthomas3523

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    I’m with you on savings... my dad always said “you never have to be rich if you can find a way to afford nice things”

    With that said, if we’re focusing on comparisons, including shopping/pricing, there has to be a baseline. I was using both common street price and MSRP.

    I don’t think anyone here wants to have an Extreme Couponers review addition.

    Let’s focus on baseline vitals

    Then don’t use the lowest price you can find on a mk5 and the highest price you can on an amg and claim “objective review.”


    What makes you think I don't know/use those deals?

    Because you came in here claiming an amg is $2500.......

    I can link places selling base S&B PMII for 3500 when they sell all day at 2200-2400. Guess that means they sell for 3500......
     

    Dthomas3523

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    Well because it fucking is, in many places. Look I don't know what your problem is with this entire thread. And I don't really GAF. I'm out

    Asks for proof......is given options to buy it cheaper all day long......gets mad and leaves. ?‍♂️
     
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    xmedicmanx

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    First off- This is starting to sound like an episode of The View with special guests, Donald Trump, Ru Paul and Nancy Pelosi. And no offense, DThomas3523, but you play the role of Joy Behar.

    The prices were derived from the same place: Optics Planet. Not Bargain Basement for one and GSA for the other. I posted a review. Despite your unwarranted and inaccurate criticism, I tried to be objective. With that said, I'm sure you saw a hint of enthusiasm in the direction of Leupold. I AM enthusiastic. They've listened to the community. The scope has good features. The price is very doable.

    I'm glad you've had your coffee this morning but do us all a favor and switch to decaf for the remainder of the day.
     

    Dthomas3523

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    It’s not “unwarranted” when you post it on a open forum. It’s only unwarranted because you don’t like what I’m saying.

    You said this was “published” somewhere. I’m simply making sure people are properly informed they can save upwards of $500 on a product.

    I’d do the same thing if you were claiming a mk5 was 2500 (you can find links to some places selling it for that as well).

    There’s also the “tracking is perfect” without doing an actual tracking test on the optic.
     
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    koshkin

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    Regarding “Light gathering”, I misspoke as I should have said Light transmission and I’m aware that various data suggests what truly helps and affects such. I’m not a physicist (is that the right spelling?) so I don’t want to claim that the tube diameter is the end-all. I would think in my knowledge that the larger the portal, the more Light could transmit. I think of it as a small window vs a large. Again I’m not a scientific mind in this avenue.

    First of all, good overview and I agree with your take on the Mark5 overall.

    The specific paragraph above is just wrong. The window analogy simply does not work for riflescopes and main tube diameter has no bearing on light transmission in any way, shape or form.

    As a general aside, what you think you see as light transmission really isn't. You can change light transmission by 10-15% before a human eey detects any difference whatsoever.

    Perceived image brightness through a riflescope and actual amount of light in the imaage have very little to do with each other.

    ILya
     
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    Tyler Kemp

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    I have a MK5 in the office that we were sent to make 35mm levels for. Haven't mounted or "used" it, but I am impressed with the scope from a hands on perspective, and the glass is pretty dang good!
     

    Triple D

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    OP, you say that the clarity is up there with the AMG/Rzr Gen2, but how is the resolution? There’s been a few reports that the resolution, while good, isn’t on par with the AMG or Gen2 Razor. I think one comparison even stated it was closer to the PST Gen2 in terms of pure resolution.
     
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    Kanwhitetails

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    I believe the reviews stated this about the 3.6-18 version, and included the caveat that the "ultra short" form factor probably had much to do with that. I'd love for the same reviewers to grab a 5-25 Mk 5 and run the comparison again. Mine (a 5-25 I just received yesterday) is as clear as any gen 2 Razor I've peered through, and seems to have better resolution and handle contrast better than the Kahles 318i I recently got behind. I find the Eyebox easier to use than the NF I borrowed for a class a few weeks ago.

    I will soon own either a 624i or a genII Razor for my PRS rifle when it gets done, but this Mark 5 5-25 is really impressive, imho. I agree with the turret comparison of the OP, if I may offer that much support. The turrets are easily better feeling, cleaner turning, and more precise than even the 318i, which is an absolute joy of an optic that I have no complaints about. I just think the Mark 5 turrets edge them out. I have the non illuminated H59, and for what I plan to do, I think I'm really going to enjoy this scope.
     
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    MarinePMI

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    I think it really depends on how you define "clarity" (which is often confused with that other ambiguous metric referred to as "pop").

    I have a gen II Razor 4.5-27 as well as a Mk5 5-25. IMHO the glass is comparable, but entirely different in it's presentation. The Razor has more color and contrast, leaving the Mk5 slightly washed out in comparison. That being said, in low light conditions the Mk5 wins hands down. I wouldn't say that either "has better glass", just that it appears (to me anyways) that each has their own sweet spot for usage.

    The Razor feels more robust (read: heavy, but a good "built like a brick shithouse" heavy), and the Mk5 feels well balanced on a rifle (read: makes the rifle feel a bit more nimble on top of a tripod or barricade). I like the way it feels atop my Tikka .223 trainer.

    JMTCW...


    MT-2018_edit.jpg
     
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    beetroot

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    I think it really depends on how you define "clarity" (which is often confused with that other ambiguous metric referred to as "pop").

    I have a gen II Razor 4.5-27 as well as a Mk5 5-25. IMHO the glass is comparable, but entirely different in it's presentation. The Razor has more color and contrast, leaving the Mk5 slightly washed out in comparison. That being said, in low light conditions the Mk5 wins hands down. I wouldn't say that either "has better glass", just that it appears (to me anyways) that each has their own sweet spot for usage.

    The Razor feels more robust (read: heavy, but a good "built like a brick shithouse" heavy), and the Mk5 feels well balanced on a rifle (read: makes the rifle feel a bit more nimble on top of a tripod or barricade). I like the way it feels atop my Tikka .223 trainer.

    JMTCW...


    View attachment 6937644

    What reticle do you have in the Mark 5?
    I have read reviews that the Mark 5 eyebox gets a bit tight on max zoom compared to the Razor, have you found this to be the case?
     

    MarinePMI

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    What reticle do you have in the Mark 5?
    I have read reviews that the Mark 5 eyebox gets a bit tight on max zoom compared to the Razor, have you found this to be the case?

    I have the Tremor3 reticle, and I haven't noticed a significant difference in the eye box.

    But then again, my rifle is in an MPA chassis. so it has been adjusted to fit me. A lot of times (IME) a properly adjusted stock mitigates a lot of "tight eyebox" issues. If a scope has any degree of latitude in the eyebox, a properly adjusted stock will put your head/eye in that box without any issues (except for those scopes with extremely tight eyeboxes). Usually, if you have issues with the eyebox, your stock length and cheek rest are adjusted out of whack.

    JMTCW...
     
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    360precision

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    Lots of good info here as to this scope is hitting at a price point that if your not trying to spend top tier money but want a ffp scope with good turrets and good glass and still have a pretty good reticle with the TMR at sub $1800. Non illuminated.

    My only question is I'm left handed and the way Leupold designed the throw lever for magnification was to not have it be in the way for a right handed shooter at full magnification while running the bolt.

    Will the throw level affect left handed shooters at lower magnifications while running the bolt?