Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope Review

Leupold has been manufacturing optics in the USA since 1907. And are so confident in their brand that they offer a lifetime guarantee known as the “Leupold Golden Ring.” The lenses themselves are made in Japan, with the coating and machining completed in the USA.

One of the most popular scopes in their range is the Leupold VX-1. I will be checking out the 3-9x40mm version as it is the most versatile and highest-selling VX-1 model. I’ve included all the specifications and features so you can decide if it is the right scope for you.

Let’s find out in my in-depth Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope Review…

the leupold vx 1 3 9x40mm rifle scope review

Compatability and Mounting

If you are new to the world of scopes, all those letters and numbers might be a touch confusing. So, for this particular Leupold scope, I will break down what each of those letters and numbers means.

VX-1 is the model number of this Leupold scope. 3-9x is the zoom capabilities meaning that the image can be magnified between 3 and 9 times. Finally, 40mm refers to the lens diameter in millimeters, which is 1.57-inches.

Made for heavy recoil…

This is a rugged scope that can handle firearms with heavy recoil. This is thanks to the generous eye relief of 3.7-inches (94-millimeters) at maximum power. The VX-1 can be used with almost any combination of rifle and ammunition.

leupold vx 1 3 9x40mm rifle scope reviews

While it can be used with muzzleloaders or slug guns, the use with slug guns is not recommended. This is due to the scope having a fixed parallax, which isn’t suited for targets at 25-yards (22-meters) or less.

Running rings around them…

The VX-1 has a scope tube diameter of 1-inch (25-millimeters). There are no scope rings included with the scope, and they will need to be purchased separately. When selecting your rings and mounts, it is worth investing in quality equipment.

All of your hardware will last longer and will require less frequent adjustments to hold its position. When selecting ring height, for the highest accuracy, you should always select the lowest possible without it interfering with other parts of the rifle.

Features


Leupold’s VX-1 3-9x40mm is one of the lightest scopes in its class, weighing in at only 11.2-ounces (318-grams). This would be a perfect scope for mounting to a rifle that will be carried on trails, or handled by smaller and younger shooters.

It is finished in an attractive yet dull matte black color. This does a great job of camouflaging the scope while hunting by deflecting any light. You could easily be forgiven for thinking this is a higher-end scope with the quality of its finish and appearance.

Just need to get my glasses…

One of the best qualities of the VX-1 is the premium glass used. It is incredibly clear and offers great coloring with chromatic aberrations beautifully corrected. Low light performance is above average with a definite advantage to the naked eye.

The field of view has a low of 34.6-feet per 100 yards and a high of 14.6-feet per 100-yards. This is slightly less than some competitors. However, the eye relief is above average, offering 4.2-inches at low and 3.7-inches at high.

Time for a zoom meeting…

The zoom ring is firm enough to prevent any unintended adjustments while remaining smooth enough to make use easy and accurate. The image quality remains consistent throughout the entire range.

leupold vx 1 3 9x40mm rifle scope

There are three standard reticle options to choose from when purchasing the scope. These include Duplex, Wide Duplex, or LR Duplex. If none of those tickle your fancy, then you can also always check out the Leupold custom shop for even more reticle choices.

Making some adjustments…

Covered with aluminum caps to prevent any accidental adjustments are the windage and elevation turrets. Both are finger adjustable and offer 52 MOAs. They are not zero resettable, and there is no parallax adjustment with it being fixed at 150-yards (137-meters).

The knobs can lack responsiveness, and the clicks are sometimes difficult to hear. For the price range, though, the adjustments are reasonably accurate. The parallax performs well between 50 and 200-yards (45 to 182-meters) but not so well outside of those ranges.

I’m going to need some proof…

Aircraft-grade aluminum has been used for the two pieces of the scope’s external construction. The interior has been nitrogen purged to prevent any internal fogging from occurring during cold and rainy conditions.


That means that the scope is both fog-proof and water-proof. If you need any additional proof of the VX-1’s capabilities, it is also shock-proof. Combined with the Leupold Golden Ring lifetime warranty, you can be assured of a quality product.

Quantum Optical System

Leupold’s Quantum Optical System is included in each of their VX (Variable Power) range of scopes. This system has been created by teams of mechanical and optical scientists, engineers, and product line managers.

By combining their knowledge, experience, and expertise, they have been able to create a superior optical performance. This is achieved by using a unique set of specifications, material requirements, and performance expectations.

Premium materials and precision processes…

The glass used is comprised of lead-free, precision-ground, and environmentally friendly materials. It is then refined by advanced software and equipment resulting in increased resolution and clear images across the entire light condition spectrum.

A proprietary coating is then placed over the lens to increase light transmission by up to 98 percent. The VX-1 is finished with Multicoat 4, which heavily reduces reflections while providing a crisp and sharp image.

Performance

To test the VX-1’s performance, a trip to the rifle range was in order. Strapped to the Weaver rail of a .223 single shot using Leupold QRW detachable rings, it was ready to go. The ammunition of choice was Hornady 55 grain V-Max.

It took four shots to zero the rifle and scope in at 100-yards (122-meters) after adjusting the focus. This is achieved by first loosening the lock ring; then, the ocular bell can be turned until the desired level of sharpness is acquired. The lock can then be tightened back again.

Save time and money…

Making turret adjustments for both windage and elevation are completed in quarter MOA increments. The dials are easy to turn with accuracy using only your fingers and stay put once set to your chosen setting.

the leupold vx 1 3 9x40mm rifle scope

Because sighting in the scope and rifle combination is so fast, easy, and accurate, this saves you money on ammunition costs. A great reason for investing that little bit extra when purchasing a scope over a cheaper model.

Impressive optical performance…

Images when peering down the scope are bright, detailed, and offer high levels of contrast. The peak performance is between the 3x to 7x magnification range. Resolution results are best when looking towards the center of the field of view, as with most rifle scopes.


The color accuracy was pretty much spot on, with no noticeable aberrations. Eye relief also felt generous with no concerns in using this scope on a rifle with a mighty kick. It is an easy scope to look through with a fantastic bang for your buck performance.

Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Generous eye relief offers compatibility with a wide range of rifles.
  • Lightweight and attractive design suitable for hunting.
  • All zoom, focus, and turret adjustments are easy, precise, and accurate.
  • Fog-proof, water-proof, and shock-proof for durable and reliable operation.
  • Leupold’s Quantum Optical System offers sharp and detailed optics.
  • Cost-effective, simple, and accurate sighting.

Cons

  • Low light performance could be improved.
  • Not suitable for short or long-range targets or hunting.
  • Turret clicks are difficult to hear when making adjustments.
  • Only one matte black finish is available.

Need a High-quality Scope?

Then check out our reviews of the Best 300 Win Mag Scopes, the Best Deer Hunting Scopes, the Best Rimfire Scopes, the Best Scopes for AR15 under 100 Dollars, or the Best Mini 14 Ranch Rifles you can buy in 2021.

Or, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best 308 Rifles Scopes, the Best Scout Scopes, the Best Mil Dot Scopes, the Best Air Rifle Scopes, or the Best Scopes for M&P 15-22 currently on the market.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm is a great value, lightweight, and high-performance scope. It feels and looks like a much more expensive scope offering fantastic results where it counts.

If you are looking for a durable and reliable scope to combine with your favorite hunting rifle, this would be a great choice. That is as long as you intend to hunt at ranges between around 50 to 200 yards with reasonable light levels.


If that’s the case, you can’t beat this level of premium performance at such an accessible and affordable price.

Happy and safe shooting.

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