Smaller, lighter, faster, stronger: Leupold's new MK6 3-18X44MM is an innovative and effective addition to their tactical menu.
The new MK6 3-18X M5B2, FF TMR Turret Riflescope is Leupold's attempt to address those desires by taking a radical departure from their tactical and long-range offerings of the past. Leupold's design team has never failed to impress me, but this scope takes the cake. I am not always sure how they come up with all this stuff, but I like it. Here's why:
The 44mm objective lens sets the scope lower on the receiver. The 34mm main tube not only provides more adjustment range, but also increases overall strength by increasing radius of gyration.
The turret manifold design finally addresses how shooters actually use a scope instead of how most designers and amateurs think shooters use them. I realize that sounds a little harsh, so let me explain.
By far the bulk of people in the US who use scopes are hunters. Many of those are after big game like elk, deer, bear, caribou, etc. Even if they can't actually go on those types of hunts, it's their motivation buying a scope. They read magazines and dream of that big hunt, but they shoot relatively little. When they do shoot, it is generally at rather stationary, single targets. Thus they have the idea that the windage dial is as important as the elevation dial. You can't fault them for that--and it may also be the case for short-range LE shooters.
However, all competitors and military snipers I know seldom touch their windage dial, nor do I. Why? Wind is a fickle enemy and changes constantly. True, they use the windage dial to sight in the rifle and realign the dial to zero in a no-wind condition. But after they do, they seldom touch it. When shooters get used to shooting wind, they learn to hold off. Thus, a large windage dial becomes just a useless knob to catch on stuff.
Remember, the MK6 3-18X is not primarily a hunting scope. It is a tool for tactical shooters, competitors, long-range shooters and military snipers. The targets are normally multiple, often moving, and the time limits are restrictive. As a result, Leupold has greatly reduced the size of the both the focus/parallax and windage knobs. They were even smart enough to cap the windage dial. After all, why have it exposed when it is so seldom used?
Not only is there not enough time to dial for constantly changing wind, but those who do often become confused as to where their zero point is, how to get back to it, and what change to make for varying conditions. Leupold's designers finally got that, and made the dials shorter and capped the windage dial to protect it.
However, the elevation dial is important. I know, many scopes are now designed to enable the quick use of hashmarks, somewhat eliminating the use of the elevation dial as well. But for precision work, the dial is necessary. The MK6 gives us plenty of elevation adjustment, some 26 mils. That translates to 90 inches or more for those of you who use MOA. Considering it takes only 35 to 40 inches of elevation to hit at 1,000 yards with a .308, 90 is a lot.
Leupold has also married the elevation dial to the mil reticle. There are several different variations of the MK6 M5B2, but the one I've used features the Tactical Milling Reticle (TMR). There are many other reticles to choose from as well.
Each click is 0.1-mil (or 10 per mil), giving you a great deal of precision. Remember when scopes were offered with mil-dot reticles, but the dial was set in 1/4-inch clicks? There are myriad methods these days to remind you, the shooter, just where on the elevation revolutions you are. I can't tell you how many times I have gotten confused over this and missed a shot by a mile. Did I just admit that? Let me start over ...
I have been guilty of not setting the elevation dial back to zero after an event, during a hunt or after some military use. Then, when a new target presents itself some minutes-or hours--later, I wonder where I am, what distance I was shooting, and whether the setting I see on the scope is for 300 or 600 yards. Or, if it's night, wondering if I am at zero, past it, or what.
Leupold has overcome this brain deficiency of mine in two ways. They have incorporated a zero stop and a revolution indicator that can be felt at night. When one revolution of the dial is made, a small indicator pin protrudes from the top of the dial, which is large enough to be easily felt or seen. This lets me know I am on revolution two for a potential long shot. Thus, I simply turn the dial until the pin falls even with the top of the turret and then continue until I come to the zero stop. I then know that I am once again sighted in at 100 yards. From there I can adjust my come-ups to the new range.
Even so, the elevation dial seems a bit more complicated than necessary. It has two rings and is locked under normal use. To activate it to make a change, you squeeze on the top of the dial--depressing each side with finger and thumb to free the dial for movement. Letting go of the dial top locks it again. Another problem I have had with the older style elevation and windage turrets is rolling them inadvertently and not noticing it--producing an inexplicable miss. This setup has two disadvantages in my opinion. Squeezing them to make a full revolution is a bit awkward. It also seems logical that sand and other grime could get under them, making them useless. Granted, I have never had this happen. But how about the sniper in Afghanistan staying out in the field day in and day out? Only they could tell you.
Leupold has also included a novel way to return the indicator ring back to zero once you are sighted in. Two small push-pins are used to hold the ring in place. When you depress them and lift the indicator ring past them, the ring can then be moved back to zero. Once lowered, the ring is again locked in place. One advantage of the system is you don't need a small hex wrench.
A crazy story: I used to carry three of these small wrenches of slightly different sizes in my wallet so that I could realign scopes, which was a frequent necessity. Once when I was flying to the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the TSA noticed them in my wallet, called me aside, and asked me what they were. I told them and they told me I could not get on the plane with them. I asked them to call their supervisor and ask him. They did. He agreed with them, and my hex wrenches were confiscated! Perhaps they feared I would begin disassembling the plane part by part.
Not needing a wrench or screwdriver to make a change on the elevation dial to indicate zero once you're sighted in is a plus. However, the windage dial does require a hex wrench to zero it.
Next we come to the power ring. Both the power ring and the ocular lens assembly have been increased in length and knurled. This allows you to engage the power ring with your whole hand instead of just your finger and thumb. That makes it much faster and easier to make power adjustments--a real advantage.
I like the TMR reticle and have been using it for years. The MK6 is a front-focal-plane scope. So, if you use it for range estimation, you can do so at any power setting. However, when the power is reduced, the hash-marks on the reticle become tougher to see.
The glass in the MK6 is high quality. Resolution and contrast are excellent. I have been using various tactical scopes from Leupold for years. They are reliable, tough, and the clicks are repeatable.
A tactical competitor friend of mine came by the house, saw the scope, and-for all the reasons above--wanted to buy it right on the spot!
MK6 3-18X44MM M5B2, FF TMR
MAKER: LEUPOLD S STEVENS
14400 NW GREENBRIER PARKWAY
BEAVERTON, OR 97006-5790
Magnification: 3-18X, Objective: 44mm, Tube diameter: 34mm, Finish: Matte, Weight: 33.6 ounces, Length: 11.9 inches, Click value: 1/10 mil, Internal adjustment range: 26 mils elevation, 15 mils windage, Reticle: TMR (as tested), Price: $2,749.99 (as tested), $4,064 (illuminated)