October 11, 2023
For military applications, versatility is crucial. The need for a weapon system that could work at a broad spectrum of distances was what led to the development of the now-legendary Mk 12 SPR (Special Purpose Rifle) carbine.
These 16- and 18-inch barreled guns were chambered in 5.56 and intended as designated marksman rifles—capable of taking shots at extended ranges as well as being suitable for close-in situations.
These firearms were popular with special operations troops and saw extensive combat. That real-world use drove innovative improvements. As the weapons evolved, so did the optics. Leupold’s efforts to develop the “perfect” all-around carbine optic for the Mk12 project eventually resulted in the creation of the Mark 5HD 2-10x30mm scope.
The Mark 5HD series of scopes have rapidly built a reputation for quality, reliability and durability without being excessively heavy. At this point, I have tested every scope in this lineup. Weighing in at 24 ounces and measuring only 11.2 inches in length, the 2-10x30mm is the smallest and lightest optic in the series.This relatively compact scope doesn’t look out of place on a standard AR-style carbine and would be equally well-suited for many bolt actions. Despite its dimensions, the cavernous 35mm main tube offers a great deal of capability.
This is an m.o.a.-based scope; a mil-based version with an illuminated reticle is also available. This version has 1/4 m.o.a. elevation and windage adjustments, and the total adjustment range is 165 m.o.a. of elevation and 80 m.o.a. of windage.
To put things in perspective, half of the adjustment range would allow the user to dial for 1,225 yards of elevation with a 69-grain .223 load. A .300 Win. Mag. with a 190-grain match bullet could be dialed to approximately 1,700 yards. A slanted mounting system would extend that range even farther. That is a tremendous amount of elevation travel for a scope of this size.
The sample of the 2-10x30mm I received uses a non-illuminated first focal plane PR1-MOA reticle. This grid-style reticle combines traditional crosshairs with fine and coarse hash marks representing various m.o.a. holds. The crosshairs are 0.15 m.o.a. wide near the center and widen to one m.o.a. as they move outward.
The absolute center of the reticle is a 0.2 m.o.a. dot. This is a very useful reticle for precise, long-range shooting, but some users may have trouble picking up the center holds in low light conditions. If that is an issue, I would opt for the illuminated version, which costs considerably more.
This optic is equipped with 1/4 m.o.a. click-adjustable turrets. The elevation dial is exposed while the windage dial is capped. The ZeroLock system ensures the dials stay securely in position, and a simple press of the button unlocks them.
The dials adjust 25 m.o.a. per revolution. A tactile revolution indicator extends from the top of the dial once a complete revolution is made. A parallax adjustment sits opposite the windage knob. The adjustment range is 40 yards to infinity.
The optics were clear and bright, a testament to the modern multicoated lenses used throughout. Eye relief was between 3.6 and 3.7 inches depending on the power setting.
All of these features are for naught, though, if the scope doesn’t perform in the field. For real-world testing, I used Leupold’s Mark AR IMS mount to secure the 2-10x30mm to an extremely accurate 6.5 Grendel carbine. I used Hornady 123-grain ELD Match Black ammunition, which I knew grouped well.
Zeroing the 2-10x30mm was straightforward. Like the other scopes in the Mark 5HD line, the easiest way to accomplish this is to remove the windage and elevation dials and use the slotted screw heads underneath to get rounds on target. Then, the dials can be reinstalled so that they are both at the “0” position.
Once the zero was confirmed, I “shot the box” to confirm that the windage and elevation adjustments were tracking both on the correct plane and at the correct distances. The scope passed this test easily.
The next test was to confirm that the elevation adjustments tracked correctly in relation to the reticle. I first ensured that the reticle was absolutely level with a downrange plumb bob and used a three-foot level to confirm that the target was on the same plane.
For this I constructed a special target with a 36-inch m.o.a. line drawn down the middle. Aiming at the bottom junction of the vertical line, I fired a shot, dialed 16 clicks, shot again and repeated the process. Once my rounds were hitting the top of the target, I reversed the order. I was able to confirm that the elevation system was tracking in parallel and that the elevation adjustments were true in terms of the shifts in points of impact.
There were two neat holes on the target, each at four, eight, 16, 24 and 36 inches. This test was executed at 100 yards to ensure wind drift was not a factor. The scope was also used to engage steel targets at various ranges and always tracked correctly.
The 2-10x30mm is an incredibly capable scope and is a testament to how far optics have come over the past two decades. Our example displayed excellent optical clarity, precise adjustments and overall user-friendliness. If there is a more ideal scope for a precision carbine, I haven’t used it.
LEUPOLD MARK 5HD SPECIFICATIONS
- POWER/OBJ: 2-10x30mm
- TUBE DIA.: 35mm
- LENGTH/WEIGHT: 11.2 in./24 oz.
- FOCAL PLANE: First
- RETICLE: PR1-MOA (as tested)
- ADJUSTMENT: 1/4 m.o.a., 165 m.o.a. (elevation), 80 m.o.a. (windage) range; ZeroLock locking system and revolution indicator
- EYE RELIEF: 3.6–3.7 in.
- PARALLAX: Side adjust, 40 yd. min.
- LINEAR FOV: 10.5–52.9 ft. @ 100 yd.
- PRICE: $2,000
- MANUFACTURER: Leupold, leupold.com
- Tremendous versatility for a scope as compact as it is
- Plenty of elevation travel
- Not as fast to use as a true 1X scope
- On the non-illuminated model, the center dot can be hard to pick up in low light