The Leupold VX-Freedom line of scopes feature a 1-inch main tube construction and are all equipped with a second focal plane reticle. All models within the line use a 3x multiplier for classic Leupold magnification ranges (1.5-4x20mm, 2-7x33mm, 3-9x40mm, 3-9x50mm and 4-12x40mm. Specific muzzleloader and rimfire models are also offered, and five reticle options are available across the various models. Pricing for the new VX-Freedom models range from $235 to $390 (MSRP).
At first glance there are a couple things I really like about the new VX-Freedom scopes and a few things I don’t. Based on the opinions and reactions I’ve read on the various blogs and forum boards over the past six months concerning the new Freedom scopes, my feelings seem to be in line with the quite a few of the Leupold faithful out there.
The first thing I really like about the new VX-Freedom is the price. For years many have scoffed at Leupold as a brand due to their higher prices, claiming optics of the same or better quality could be had from other makers for less money. As technology has continued to develop and more start-ups enter the market with contracted Asian-made products, Leupold was forced to face the fact that they needed to update their product lines and offer products that were more competitive price-wise with their competition. Leupold started to address this competitive issue about two years ago with the introduction of the new VX-3i line, which is cheaper than the previous VX-3 line it replaced and now they have done the same for their extremely popular lower priced lines by replacing them with the new VX-Freedom.
In January of this year Leupold announced the all new VX-Freedom line of rifle scopes at the 2018 SHOT Show. This new line was designed to be the replacement for the VX-1 and VX-2 model lines that had quietly been discontinued the previous fall. This new line of rifle scopes has an updated look similar to that of Leupold’s Mark AR line of scopes, while also offering improved optical performance and a more wallet friendly price point.
The new Freedom line uses VX-2 quality glass combined with Leupold’s new Twilight Light Management System which enhances low-light performance and greatly reduces glare by limiting errant light within the scope itself. The upside here is that this improvement in image quality over the VX-2 comes in at a price that’s just slightly higher than the old VX-1 models resulting in more bang for your buck.
The second thing I really like is the quality of the glass. Leupold could have easily offered something that optically fell short of the previous VX-2 model line that would have been more indicative of the new lower pricing, but instead they wisely chose to stay with lenses that were of similar quality and applying the new Twilight Light Management System coatings. This new coating system shares many of the same qualities and properties as those in the Twilight MAX Light Management System that is used on the VX-3i line of scopes, and also the Twilight MAX HD Light Management System that is featured on the VX-5HD and VX-6HD lines.
As for my dislikes, the first would be the more tactical appearance. One of the most appealing aspects of the old VX-1, VX-2 and VX-3 series scopes was their classic styling with smooth lines and rounded edges. The new VX-Freedom features a squared off and rather block-ish looking saddle (turret housing) as well as an oversized magnification ring with bulky ribs that looks out of proportion with the overall small size of the rest of the scope.
Speaking of overall size, that is my second complaint. The new Freedom models are slightly shorter in length than their predecessors which means more mounting difficulties – especially on long-action rifles. The 3-9x40mm model being tested here has an overall length of 12.39 inches, and as you can see in the accompanying photos when mounted on a short-action Savage Model 11 there’s very little room for adjusting the eye-relief with a standard two-piece mounting system. A long-action rifle will most definitely require the added flexibility of a picatinney rail due to the short mounting length of just 5.38″.
Optically I found the new VX-Freedom to offer an extremely good image, and testing side-by-side with comparable but older 3-9×40 from another maker the Freedom was noticeably brighter in low-light conditions. The image was crisp and clear out to the edges and the color was bright and accurate. Resolution and contrast were both quite good as well.
Mechanically the Freedom performed as it should with no surprises. The Freedom had no problem maintaining zero or returning to the same zero after running a 10 MOA box test. The finger adjustable turrets are adequate but leave a little something to be desired. The individual clicks on this example are rather mushy feeling and the detent for each click is weak and sometimes hard to discern. There’s also no audible click to verify each click of adjustment which further adds to the vague feel of the turrets. While this isn’t a scope designed for dialing up and down for long-range shooting, the turrets should still provide a good crisp click so you aren’t left guessing if you just moved it four or six clicks because you couldn’t really tell.
The sample I was supplied features Leupold’s standard Duplex reticle per my request. Leupold also offers most all of the new Freedom models with their new Tri-MOA reticle which has hash marks spaced every 1 MOA on both the left and right horizontal branches and the lower vertical branch of the crosshair. As a more traditional shooter I prefer less clutter in my reticle so the Duplex reticle is a better fit for me.
One negative of the move to the new Freedom line is that the selection of reticle options has been greatly diminished compared to what was available in the old VX-2 line. On more than a few occasions over my 30+ years of hunting and shooting my final decision on which optic to purchase for a given firearm came down to which one was available with a reticle I liked. More often than not I ended up purchasing a Leupold in those situations due to their extensive selection of reticles, and I can only hope that more reticle options will find their way into the catalog next year.
As far as fit and finish goes, the new VX-Freedom is flawless as is to be expected with any Leupold product. The matte finish being used on the new VX-Freedom (and the VX-3i) is a little more chalky feeling than what’s on my older Leupolds, and if something rubs up against the scope it will leave a little tell-tail white scuff mark on it, but they’re easily wiped off with no underlying damage to the finish itself.
Overall I think Leupold has done well with the new VX-Freedom line and it should prove to be a great seller for them. I still prefer the more classic styling of the old VX-2’s, but I also know I’m a more traditional guy and that I’m probably in the minority in that regard at this point. The turrets could be a little better, but the turrets on the old VX-1 and VX-2 lines were similarly somewhat vague so no performance or value has been lost in the move to the new model in that regard and it leaves some room for Leupold to improve upon the line in the future.
Leupold & Stevens
14400 NW Greenbrier Parkway
Beaverton, OR 97006-5790