Welcome to the Vortex vs. Leupold review!
Although these two brands are high-quality and reliable optics manufacturers, our reviews revealed this varies per user. The reason being, both brands are clearly waaay above the passing mark.
Some people find it hard to choose between the two. Among others, our type falls more strongly towards Leupold. Curious? Read on!
Vortex vs. Leupold: What Do They Offer?
Whether you’re experienced or a fledgling hunter, it’s always a good idea to broaden your sights on other brands.
Known for their riflescope lines such as Leupold VX .308 scopes, FX, Mark, Competition, and UltimateSlam lines, Leupold’s scopes have been around for nearly a century and are extremely reliable.
Leupold scopes come with a full lifetime warranty, so rest assured, you’re covered on that front.
But keep in mind that if the company considers the Leupold scope has been misused or modified in any way, they will invalidate the warranty.
Leupold’s scopes and optics have been around for many years. They are the trusted manufacturer for several American law enforcement and army branches.
The company is also known for manufacturing binoculars and other optics. Many American consumers are loyal to the brand because of this.
In comparison, as a company, Vortex is newer than Leupold, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make top-quality scopes. Their most popular and sophisticated riflescopes series are the Razor, Viper, Strike Eagle, and Diamondback lines.
Vortex is well known for its customer relations. They offer a VIP lifetime warranty for all of their products, so you can send back any scope in any condition.
So, which one makes the process of fixing issues the easiest? Vortex will either repair it or send back a new model. Talk about premium warranty value, right?!
Other than Vortex scopes, Vortex Optics also makes wildlife-watching binoculars and law enforcement equipment.
Vortex vs. Leupold: How Do I Choose?
Let’s compare 4 features between the two manufacturers seeing how they stack up against each other. We’ll focus on:
- Look and Feel
Each brand performs well, but let’s see how their strengths and weaknesses come into play.
Hunters always want a clear view of the target wherever they may be, and honestly, BOTH COMPANIES deliver well on this front.
The scopes you get from these optics manufacturers offer extreme clarity with decent eye relief and a full field of view.
Where they differ is in their reticle post. Of course, depending on the type of scope, there will be different reticles. Some etched or illuminated or with different shapes, such as Mil-Dot or horseshoe.
The Diamondback line, for example, offers 3 dot options for its vertical reticle post, meaning you can get a clearer, sharper aim on your target, even in low lighting.
For most Leupold lines, you will get a simpler Duplex reticle, which is ideal for close-range shooting and short-distance hunting.
In terms of innovation and ease for accuracy, Vortex wins out on this round.
You can still be sure of an accurate shot even in low-light environments. The several dot options give Vortex scopes an upper hand.
Both Vortex and Leupold have scopes with wide-ranging abilities, and again, it does depend on the situation you need to use them.
However, in terms of reliability, the main difference between Vortex vs Leupold is that Leupold manufactures most, if not all, of its products in the US.
On the other hand, Vortex often outsources its products from China, but that doesn’t affect the actual scopes’ performance.
Both companies make their scopes with aircraft-grade aluminum alloy or other extremely durable materials and are made to be fog-proof, waterproof, and shockproof.
You can bet on them being reliable while you’re out in the field.
The two brands also often use multi-coating on their glass, providing clarity of view and protecting your view from sun glare.
In truth, there is no standout feature that makes one or the other brand better than the other in terms of reliability.
It will mainly depend on which manufacturer you are more comfortable with because in terms of quality and standard in build — the scopes come up to par with each other.
Something to note, though, are their warranty policies. If you’re having difficulty choosing reliability in performance, then maybe reliability in customer service would give Vortex an upper hand.
3. Look and Feel
Nowadays, top-quality scopes tend to look the same with similar sleek designs and coated matte finishes. Of course, both brands make their products in line with these qualities.
You’re going to want a lightweight scope that’s easy to take with you on hunting trips and sturdy enough to hold up in outdoor environments.
Also, a matte black coating is important on a scope to make it inconspicuous and prevent any sun glare.
Since most scopes look similar, if not the same, the best way to actually tell if you’re getting a quality scope is to test the turrets and check for clear, full-view glass.
You’ll want to test for tactile, audible, and textured turrets often found in high-end quality scopes to see how the scope handles and makes adjustments to see what kinds of features the scope offers and how they are useful to you.
In terms of the look and feel, there is no definite brand that outshines the other.
Again, as we mentioned, most top-quality scopes look really similar, so it’s best to go and personally check the features for yourself.
Although Leupold is the better-known company and more experienced hunters in the US will choose it over anything else, it’s also the more expensive option.
Usually, younger hunters opt for Vortex scopes and equipment because not only are they in a better price range, but they also offer a lot of the same features as Leupold’s scopes.
To put things into perspective, 2 similar scopes from both companies would likely have at least a $30 difference in price, and if you’re trying to save up, any amount makes a big difference.
Often, if people have money to spend, people will buy Leupolds’ scopes because of their well-established reputation as a company.
However, this doesn’t mean that because Vortex scopes are cheaper, they are of lower quality. You actually aren’t paying for the build quality with these products.
You’re paying for glass clarity more often than not, and both manufacturers offer clear, high-quality glass among all of their scope series.
Vortex wins this round simply because we are talking about price. This is a relatively large factor when it comes to buying or investing in anything.
Not to mention, Vortex’s lifetime warranty is an excellent money-saving deal.
Knowing the difference in price range between the Vortex vs. Leupold scopes series of the two companies can help you save a few bucks especially if the ones you buy come in a bulk order.
A Closer Look at Vortex vs. Leupold Scopes
Here, we compare specific products at different price points to better understand how their product lines match up.
1. Entry-Level Scopes
Vortex and Leupold offer many high-quality entry-level scopes. This is good news for newer hunters or those who need good optics but are on a budget.
Let’s compare these entry-level scopes.
One of the most popular models for entry-level Vortex scopes is the Vortex Diamondback HP. The Diamondback HP comes in 3 different sizes, but we’ll focus on the 4-16x42mm version.
Features to note of the Vortex Diamondback 4-16x42mm:
- Multilayer coated optics improve light transmission and minimize light reflection
- The second focal plane reticle stays the same size as the reticle for more accuracy even when using magnification
- Waterproofed interior sealed with an O ring
- Fog-proof and shockproof
- ¼ MOA adjustment with 15 MOA full rotation
- Parallax setting of 20 yards to infinity — basically has no parallax
- 4-inch eye relief for faster target acquisition
- Medium range magnification from 3x-12x
Some of the biggest selling points of this Vortex model are the reticle plane and parallax adjustment.
Often, novice shooters have difficulty with the first focal plane reticle size affecting their shooting precision, so having a second focal plane is a big help.
Also, Vortex’s decision to eliminate parallax on a lower-end scope is a fantastic feature because the target is clearer than before.
That means: No warping of the target or difference in view through the scope, giving you a precise sight of your target.
- The Vortex Diamondback HP is a solid entry-level scope that performs like a higher-end scope.
- It isn’t overly complicated and meets most hunters’ needs, and is easy to use, making it an excellent option for beginner sharpshooters.
One of Leupold’s most popular models in their entry-level line is the Rifleman.
There are different models of Rifleman scopes but the one we’ll discuss is the Rifleman 3-9x40mm model.
Here are some of the features of the Rifleman 3-9x40mm:
- Uses a proprietary Leupold reticle, the Ballistics Aiming System
- Inner optics are nitrogen-filled; fog-proof and waterproof
- 4.2-inch maximum eye relief
- ½ MOA adjustment
- Includes 4-layer multicoated optics for better light transmission and lower light reflection
- No parallax at 150 yards
- Fixed focal plane glass construction
- Magnification of 3x-9x
That means: The Leupold Ballistics Aiming System is Leupold’s own reticle. It provides several different possibilities for long range-shots and offsets shots by calculating the windage.
- This reticle also has power selector settings that can match your rifle’s ballistics, which will result in fewer calculations for you.
- The Leupold Rifleman is extremely well-built. Rest assured, you get a highly durable riflescope that meets any marksman’s standards.
Performance-wise, there isn’t too much of a difference between these two.
However, if we were to choose, we would go with the Vortex Diamondback HP.
The second focal plane reticle makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE in ease of use, making it a great value for both novice and experienced shooters.
2. Mid-Range Scopes
The thing about mid-range scopes is that although the performance and features may be similar to entry-level scopes, the materials used to build them are a cut above the ones used to build cheaper scopes.
Both Leupold and Vortex have many choices for mid-level product lines, so let’s find out which company does the better mid-range scope.
The Vortex Razor HD LH 2-10×40 is a powerful model, albeit already discontinued. This scope gives you many excellent features and is one of the better scopes for a greater field of view.
These are the features of the Vortex Razor HD LH:
- This product uses HSR-A or G4 BCD reticle
- 3.8-inch eye relief
- Parallax at 100 yards without adjustment
- ¼ MOA adjustment graduation
- Features an argon gas-filled tube making it waterproof and fog-proof
- Tube is constructed with aircraft-grade aluminum alloy
- Uses a multicoated external lens providing greater light transmission and antireflective properties
- Magnification capabilities of 2x-10x
This is a well-thought-out rifle scope with some of the best optics on the market. The only downside is that there is no confirmation from Vortex on whether or not they’ll ever release it again.
The minimum 2x magnification has an impressive 56.2 feet while the 10x magnification is 10.8 feet, giving you a spectacular field of view for your big-game hunting.
The aluminum alloy makes this Vortex scope incredibly lightweight making it easy to travel with.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Unfortunately, the VX-3i line has been discontinued by Leupold.
The Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×50 is a strong contender in the battle of mid-range scopes. This scope finds its advantage in its top-notch construction.
Features of the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×50:
- ¼ MOA finger turn adjustments
- Has Argon and Krypton-filled internal chamber — no thermal shock and fog-proof glass
- Ballistic Aiming System reticle or Duplex reticle is available
- 1-inch main tube made of aircraft-grade aluminum
- Uses Twilight Max light management system — high definition images even in low light
- 4.4-inch eye relief
- Magnification 3.5x-10x
The Leupold VX-3i is a high-performing, top-notch scope. All of its features work together to create a clear and accurate target image.
It’s incredibly heavy-duty, has aircraft-grade aluminum, and comes with excellent glass clarity.
If you use custom ballistics, the Leupold Ballistics Aiming System is a suitable reticle for you because it will eliminate any extra calculations you might have to do.
The mid-range winner would have to be the Leupold VX-3i because its features work together to create such a well-developed scope.
If you prefer a larger field of view, the Vortex scope would be a better choice, but in terms of features, build, and reticles, you might prefer Leupold VX-3i as superior. It’s really up to your personal preference.
3. Top-Tier Scopes
Let’s take a look at some top-tier scopes Vortex and Leupold have to offer.
These product lines are aimed at precision shooters. These are more expensive, but there is a marked difference in image definition.
For high-end Vortex scopes, we have the Vortex Viper PST GEN II 5-25×50. This scope was made for long-range shooting.
Features of the Viper PST GEN II 5-25×50:
- Glass etched, illuminated reticle provides sharpness in low lighting conditions.
- XD and XR lens and extra-low dispersion glass and proprietary anti-reflective coatings
- Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
- Argon-filled; Waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof
- Uses zero stop turrets — sight range does not go below zero
- ERB-4 reticle uses MOA or MRAD subtension lines
This is a relatively small and lightweight scope, but it delivers on a large account with its depth and field of view. This includes a generous 4.8 feet maximum magnification and is best for long-range shooters.
The Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×44 is a serious scope that holds lots of features for mid to long-range shooters.
Features of the Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×44:
- Fog-proof, thermal shockproof, waterproof; Argon and Krypton-filled
- Quick zero with the CDS-ZL2 turret reset and zero locks.
- Fiber optic fire dot illumination
- Motion sensor technology automatically deactivates and re-illuminates scope
- 15x magnification with 7.9ft view
- 3.7- inch eye relief
- Proprietary glass coating gives excellent light transmission.
The Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×44 a beautifully designed scope that is incredibly functional.
Dot illumination gives accurate shots and motion sensor technology saves time and effort while waiting for your shot.
Although the Vortex Viper is an amazing scope, the Leupold VX-5HD is simply the better choice in this category. Its functions were made with user experience in mind, and they work effectively in the field.
Vortex vs. Leupold: Which One Makes Better Rifle Scopes?
Although both companies make excellent scopes and each has its own strengths and weaknesses, the Vortex vs. Leupold debate winner has to be Leupold.
Vortex won out on more categories than Leupold, but it comes down to which product features are more effective and work better altogether rather than as separate parts.
As Leupold has managed to show, their scopes are a little more well-rounded and better thought out than Vortex.
If you don’t have the budget for Leupold scopes, Vortex scopes offer exceptional performance too. And let’s not forget, you save more with Vortex and get premium, top-notch warranty deals!
FINAL TIP: If you’re interested to learn more about more optics brands, you can take a look at our Guide on Rifle Scope Manufacturers to help you out.
CHANGELOG: September 14, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links