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Thread: Leupold friction adjustment scopes

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Leupold friction adjustment scopes

    In a scope thread near this one, a fellow mentioned he did not particularly care for the friction adjustments on some of the Leupold scopes. I have heard this lament for many, many years and have never understood it. I have over 20 Leupolds, the oldest of which is a VX-II 3-9 that I purchased in 1969. For all practical purposes it has been mounted on a REM 700 BDL 270 WIN for all these years. The rifle has been shot so much that I had to replace the barrel.

    The scope has been sighted in twice, the first time when I mounted it originally on the rifle and again after I rebarreled it. Neither time did I have a problem sighting in, nor has anything, in regard to the scope, shifted or changed. I haven't touched the turrets in 20+ years and the rifle still shoots spot on.

    So my question, what is the problem with the friction adjustments?
    When it's time to fight, you fight like you are the third monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark.... and brother, it's STARTING TO RAIN!!

  2. #2
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    ShooterAZ's Avatar
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    My experience mirrors yours. I have a number of friction-adjustment Leupold scopes and have had no problems with any of them going out of adjustment. I'm not saying it never happens, but it it surely hasn't happened to me. I have two VX-II 3x9's, old ones just like yours. One developed internal fogging, the other was dropped in a jumble of rocks on an elk hunt when I slipped and fell. That one took a really hard hit and it even dented the scope tube. So yeah that one got knocked out of adjustment (not Leupold's fault!), and it wouldn't track correctly after that. I sent both scopes back to Leupold, and they went through them and rebuilt them like new, including new glass. All at no charge, other than shipping one way. My opinion is that there isn't a problem with them, and if there is Leupold will more than likely take care of it.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    in the current age of dialing elevation instead of using holdover, friction adjustments are impractical.

    Otherwise i see no problem with zeroing a scope with frictions adjustments that will never be used to dial. Set it and forget it.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master


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    You can count me in that list. I think the Leupold VX-1 was the best low cost scope ever produced. Time will tell if the replacement VX-Freedom is as good, but I've not noticed a big change. Decent glass, decent adjustment, and they hold zero rugged as all get out. They were $150-200 for quite a long time, but like everything prices have jumped through the roof in the last year.

    When it comes to the sight adjustments, between 7 Leupold low cost scopes, every single one of them has well defined 1/4 MOA clicks. I turn it 4 clicks, and it moves about 1" at 100 yards. What more could you possibly ask for from an American craftsman built product for $150? Anyone disappointed with this has been so grossly spoiled by high cost optics that they are just better off not every buying a sub $500 scope ever again. Whatever makes them happy.

    @BK7saum, I've never heard of anyone using a standard scope as though it had target turrets. That would be goofy as heck. You can have target turrets installed on most Leupold scopes, and they have strong detent mechanisms, so the original adjustment knob type is irrelevant. Why anyone would try and set up a long range rifle with a VX-Freedom is beyond me.

    For any kind of shooting you aren't fiddling with the scope for every other shot, the leupold friction knobs are fantastic.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Used to be able to buy those turret knobs to screw down on the cap thread.
    I made one for a 4x steel weaver and with the friction adjustment also.
    Worked well till some idiot knocked it of my bench and jiggered it up.

    Mine would re self set itself when I carried it on a sling and it rubbed and jangled around.

    Ohh well.

    Ivíe had people complain about moving the friction setting for fine adjustments. , but it you moved it back first then snuck up on the new setting itís soo much easier.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have three or more of these scopes, all of which I've had for a long time. My dislike of these has been with the initial adjustments when zeroing. For me, these scopes have always required more shots to zero than a scope with click adjustments, but, once zeroed, they work fine. I couldn't imagine changing a scope setting while hunting anyway.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I have a few that are older leupolds with friction adjustments. They are always really touchy. I barely move them and my POA will shift drastically. I can dial them in dead center vs my 1/4” newer style click adjustment leupold scopes. I did have one of them that kept moving POA magically after it was adjusted. It was a vx11 I bought new around 88’ or 90’ if I remember. It sent it in 5/6 years ago because I finally had enough of it shifting, jumping, and binding when adjusting. It seemed like every other year it was 3” to 5” off with the same load. I sent it in to Leupold for the issue along with the scope was extremely blurry and dark vs my other leupolds. The lens coating had worn off and could be seen as clear as day that it was missing. It was returned to me from Leupold customer service as is. I was told nothing was wrong with it…and not with a pleasant voice from the customer service department I have to say. I was told the lens coating was normal wear and tear…or abused… and was not covered. I mounted it up and sighted it in dead center at 100 yards. I shot a four shot group that touched in the “x”. Went out 3 days later and missed a 10 point buck facing me head on at 125/150 yards. It turned broadside and i shot again. My rifle was rested solid in a tree crotch for both shots. The deer kept looking and me and slowly walked away. I took it to the range that same afternoon and found my POA shifted 6” to the right. I went back and found my buck i shot at earlier that morning. The 2nd shot that I aimed right behind the shoulder hit a half foot back. After my “re” sighting in that day it has stayed within POA 1.5” -2” every year since till last year.
    It jumped a good 6” again. So I called Leupold and was told to send it in. Big change in customer service there since last time. They told me it was defective this time around and sent a 3-9 freedom optic as a replacement. The only thing I didn’t want was a goofy CDS dial so it went back for exchange. I told them all I wanted was a plain old crosshair and an optic with turret caps so I can’t bump it out of adjustment . I still had the receipt from back in the day for $299 which was equivalent to approx $550 in 2021 inflation rate. The freedom is their entry level optic imo and about half of what I originally paid imo. They upgraded me to a 2.5-8 vx3i because it had turret cap covers and a plain old crosshair!!! Apparently they have put CDS dials on ALL there scopes accept the price leaders now. I was excited needless to say. The new vx3i scope came with a black chunk of dirt stuck to the Crosshairs inside the scope. It went back to leupold. Apparently the scope had been upgraded to the HD series with a CDS dial and tac lever in the short time I was upgraded and now called the HD. So they replaced my crosshairs on the brand new 3i since there were none left in inventory and I didn’t want a CDS dial version. It came back with barn board thick dangerous game crosshairs installed by accident. Went back again the same day. Leupold installed the correct crosshairs and sent it back again. This time it had a a thin copper colored wire inside my optic running across the crosshairs at a 45 degree angle. It went back AGAIN. When I sent it back I asked if I could pay to upgrade to a vx5 HD 2.5-10 with plain old crosshairs and turret cap covers. I was told no but they would send me the CDS vx3HD newer version of my current optic. I told them I didn’t trust the CDS system after I have owned several optics over the decades of all makes that don’t track properly or correctly. I passed and asked them to just to repair my optic. Got it back two weeks ago. It looked fine with the 4th set of cross hairs in 2 months. Mounted it up, bore sighted it, and headed to the range. Long story short. The scope would adjust up and down but not left and right. I cloverleafed 4 shot at 100 yards. That sounds great but I clicked left 2-4 clicks to adjust after every shot. I then clicked left 4 and up 6. I shot directly 1.5” above the cloverleaf. I then clicked over 4 more to the left and down 2. The shot was dead center a half inch low of the last shot a d still never tracked to the left. I then clicked 4 to the left again since I was now at least dead center at 100 yards and still needing to go an inch left. At that adjustment it went 3” left of bullseye…so 4” from the last shot. Though maybe I flinched so I shot again. Second shot touched the last that was 3” left of bullseye. I adjusted 12 clicks right that should have put me dead center with 1/4” click adjustments. With that adjustment it shot 6” to the right of bullseye! I shot again to make sure I didn’t flinch. My next shot touched the same 6” bullet hole to the right of the bullseye. Scope came off and went back for the 4th time. I called Leupold and and asked for a return label. I was going to ask this time around if they could just replace it with the goofy CDS 2.5-8 vx3HD. I figured after they had it apart 4 times and couldn’t get it right I didn’t trust it. Before I got a chance to ask they reviewed my notes and said they were upgrading me to the VX5HD 2.5-10 at no charge!!! I have to say being upgraded to a $999 optic is AWESOME!!! But I don’t know if I should fish or cut bait. After all my headaches I have read several forums with 7/10 pages of people having the exact same issues with the modern Leupold scopes in the last couple of years. Apparently it’s the current ones that have the “Leupold Leap” that magically jumps POA after being sighted in. It also sounds like Leupold is well aware of the issue. I also read complaints of the VX5HD jumping POA like the issue I had with my other leupolds. You would think for a $500 to $1000 scope they would be more reliable. To be fair, I do own several Leupold that have not jumped POA and are still in use. I am out of imr4831 that I use for my load so I won’t be hunting with that gun or checking the new VX5 HD optic till I find some more. It will stay opened till I find powder. Hopefully the new optic isn’t defective when I finally get a chance to use it which will be next years season. I think the CDS dials will be going by the wayside soon from all the “failures” to track and turrets not adjusting. I will probably be trying Vortex optics in the near future.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 10-23-2021 at 11:08 AM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have a few older Leupold 'friction' adjusting scopes. They have worked well for me. I have a 'practice' load and a 'hunting' load for a couple rifles that have older Leupold scopes. I can repeatably change from the practice to the hunting load and back without problems. Now I have had Leupold's fail, like Bushnell, Tasco, Burris, Weaver, others, mostly the ability to adjust or hold zero. My old Weaver's seem to be hardest to zero, though they hold once set. I still do the old 'Elmer Keith' tap when zeroing a rifle with scope and I'm not a dial spinner. If I start to be a dial spinner I'll get a Nightforce.

  9. #9
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    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    I agree with the touchy adjustments. I dont have a problem with them on a scope thats on a gun and the gun will always shoot the same load but i got rid of all mine for a couple reason. First like i said there touchy and can be a pain to precisely sight in and they other is and i may take flak for this but the glass and coatings on those old friction adjust scopes is poor compared to even a vx1 or freedom made today. They were single coated lenses and the newer ones were single coated with multi coated objectives. Even a 120 dollar sig whiskey 3 or the cheapest vortex or burris scopes are hands down better in low light. Add to that mine like all of the friction ajust leupolds except the rifleman are getting old. I had two of them loose there seal do to orings drying up and fog. I wouldnt trust one for a hunt that meant something to me. There are click scopes that are as vague as the friction ajust scopes. I had two redfield revolutions when they came out and they were the goofiest scopes ive ever owned. Sometimes when you adjusted windage the elevation changed and vise versa. Sent both in for repair and they sent me two replacements and they did the same. Sold them and wont have another. Now i will say ive got there cds leupolds and if you stick the load they were set up for work just fine. Ive got one on a 7 mag ive used for 5 years and changed yardage on it probably an average of twice a day for the month each year we do crop damage. took it to the range this fall and it was spot on from the day i zero'd it. The other two i checked after a few trys but not again. but they too went back to zero. Or at least within a quarter inch. Might not be a good scope for 1000 yard comp trusting those adjustments but then most who do that wont even buy a leupold. Scopes like night force and Kahles get the call for those games where a 1/4 in at 100 yards would have them comming home in last place.
    Last edited by Lloyd Smale; 10-24-2021 at 07:54 AM.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I guess I did not realize we were talking about a vintage model, I thought we were talking about lower cost Leupold in general.

    My only experience with with Leupold VX-1 from the last 15-20 years, and a single VX-Freedom. The adjustments on all of those are not touchy, they are consistent, smooth, and they hold zero under harsh conditions. The glass is good too... keep in mind these were only $150-$200 new. They don't hold a candle to a Swarovski, and they shouldn't. Speaking purely with the adjustment knobs, the VX-1 has nothing wrong with it.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    My question was in regard to FRICTION ADJUSTMENTS in LEUPOLD scopes, period, regardless of vintage. After reading the responses, some of which were/are relative to my question, and some not so much, I have come to the conclusion it is just a matter of personal preference and not a real legitimate problem of any sort.
    When it's time to fight, you fight like you are the third monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark.... and brother, it's STARTING TO RAIN!!

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master








    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    I guess I did not realize we were talking about a vintage model, I thought we were talking about lower cost Leupold in general.

    My only experience with with Leupold VX-1 from the last 15-20 years, and a single VX-Freedom. The adjustments on all of those are not touchy, they are consistent, smooth, and they hold zero under harsh conditions. The glass is good too... keep in mind these were only $150-$200 new. They don't hold a candle to a Swarovski, and they shouldn't. Speaking purely with the adjustment knobs, the VX-1 has nothing wrong with it.
    my vx1s all have click adjustments. I think they only made the friction adjustable vx1 for a year or two.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy gumbo333's Avatar
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    You can argue about good scopes\ bad scopes till the cows come home, you like what you like. I think my older 70's era Leupold scopes had 1\3 inch adjustments. Each little tick mark was a 1\3 inch at a hundred. I still like them best.
    Never trade luck for skill.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd Smale View Post
    my vx1s all have click adjustments. I think they only made the friction adjustable vx1 for a year or two.
    That brings up the question, what exactly is the difference between a click and a friction adjustment? All of my VX-1's click, but they are nothing like the solid notchy feel of a target turret. Maybe that is why I love the VX-1's so much, I never had a true friction model.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master








    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    the last redering of the vx1 before the freedoms came out were in my opinion the best bang for the buck in a leupold scope. They used the same adjustments and glass coatings the original vari x III did and back then those were THE scope to have.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    My old vx1 friction adjustment scopes glass are extremely bright and clear. Better than any of my 11’s and vx3i glass was.

    There is no “click” feeling with the friction scopes. Just a smooth movement. Barely moving it will adjust it a good 4” plus. I would waste a lot more ammo sighting them in till I got use to “how much not to move” the turret. To be honest I always hated the smooth dial beciase I couldn’t physically feel the click so it was basically a guessing game go back and forth till the optic was sighted in. On the positive side you could get it dead centered vs up to a 1/4” of perfect center in the “x” providing you, your load, and your gun are capable.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 10-28-2021 at 11:41 AM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Ok, so I've never owned, or used a single Leupold scope with a friction adjustment then. The only scopes I'd dealt with like that were $25 Walmart specials, and no, I was not fond of them at all. They had lines that could guide you, but I think they were 1/2 MOA too.

    If that is what we are talking about, then I retract my original statement, I don't like friction adjustment at all. Every leupold scope I've used I could turn it a tactile notch, and it was 1/4 MOA.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master








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    back in the day even leupold vari xIIIs were friction adjust. I found that out when i got a smoking deal on a used one years ago and put it up for sale the next day.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

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