July 03, 2020
Leupold’s Mark 5HD scopes are game-changers, combining the high-end features found on the company’s Mark 6 and Mark 8 scopes into a more economical and versatile package. This year, Leupold launched the 7-35x56mm version of the Mark 5HD to complement its 5-25x56mm and 3.6-18x44mm models, and the latest addition offers more magnification without a lot of added weight.
Good scopes begin with good glass, and Mark 5HDs feature premium lenses—the same type of lenses that you’ll find in the more costly Mark 6 and Mark 8 scopes. That precision glass utilizes Leupold’s innovative Twilight Max Light Management System.
For years optics companies have promised “maximum light transmission,” but more light doesn’t always lead to a clearer image. Leupold created the Twilight Max system to properly manage that light for improved clarity and contrast with less washout. The Mark 5HD doesn’t just allow light to enter the scope, it manages that light so you can see more clearly. Leupold’s Guard-Ion coatings prevent dust, debris and water from blurring the image.
The Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm comes with a 35mm main tube and measures just 15.7 inches long, the same as the 5-25x56mm. It weighs in at 33 ounces, making it roughly a pound lighter than many competing precision scopes and just three ounces heavier than the 5-25X.
Being lighter and shorter than competing scopes is a major advantage and adds versatility to this optic. It’s well-suited for long-range shooting and PRS matches yet it’s light enough and compact enough to realistically function on a hunting rifle.
The elevation turret on the m.o.a. version I tested offers three full rotations of adjustment (100 m.o.a. total) and the windage turret offers 50 m.o.a. of adjustment. That’s plenty for even the most serious long-range shooter, but Leupold has engineered the Mark 5HD so adjustments are easy to manage. There’s a zero stop button and visual and tactile (a button mounted atop the turret) rotation indicators that keep you on track when shooting.
The numbers on the turret are bold and easy to see, and the rotation indicator is positioned so you can remain on the rifle, glance up, and check your setting. Resetting zero is simply a matter of releasing the top of the turret, turning to the index position, dropping the turret in place and locking it.
There’s a side parallax adjustment and a fast-focus eyepiece, both of which are easy to use. Overall, I don’t know I’ve ever encountered another scope with a feature set to match the Leupold that was any easier to use.
Adjustment clicks are solid and precise without any slop. The Mark 5HD tracked consistently and accurately out to 400 yards, the farthest I tested it.
The Mark 5HD comes with a low-profile throw lever that’s sturdy and easy to adjust when you’re prone.
Edge-to-edge clarity was excellent, and even when shooting in full sunlight in the middle of the day there wasn’t any washout. Later that day, as dusk faded to darkness, I tested the Mark 5HD’s low-light capabilities. It performed as well as any scope I placed it against, even other premium scopes costing considerably more. Of the four top-end scopes tested, it held onto last light better than any of the others.
With a starting price of $2,990, the Mark 5HD isn’t exactly cheap, but the reality is you won’t get a scope with this type of build quality and engineering made in the United States for less– period. In that regard the Mark 5HD 7-35X is something of a bargain and will appeal to PRS shooters who want great optics that are reliable and easy to use.
Speaking of reliable, Leupold subjects its scopes to brutal torture testing at the hands of the Punisher, a beast of a machine that doles out 5,000 impacts to each scope with three times the recoil force of a .308. I’ve seen the machine in person in Leupold’s Beaverton, Oregon, facility and watched it shake lesser scopes to bits—even some costing considerably more than the Mark 5HD.
Just like all Leupold scopes, the Mark 5HD didn’t hit store shelves until it was Punisher-approved. That’s one of the reasons why Leupold backs these scopes with a lifetime repair/replacement guarantee even if you aren’t the original owner. Not that you’ll ever need it.