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Leupold’s Mark AR MOD-1...A Quality Tactical Scope for under $400

August 15, 2013
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Reviewing a modern sporting rifle (AR-platform) for the first time became a learning experience. After the Windham Weaponry CDI rifle arrived, the search for a good tactical scope began, and that's when sticker shock hit home. A good to high quality, brand name tactical scope can easily surpassed the $500 mark. My search for something affordable and having mid-range magnification lead me to the Tactical tab on the Leupold website.

In early 2013, Leupold reintroduced the Mark AR (now called the Mark AR MOD-1) specifically designed for an AR-platform rifle in .223/5.56. With four variable magnification choices and 5 different reticles from which to choose (two of which are illuminated), the 3-9x40 with a duplex reticle was selected. The MSRP shown for this tactical scope of only $374 was a pleasant surprise, especially for a quality Leupold product.

Having owned different Leupold optics for over 40 years, my expectation level for the Mark AR MOD-1 was very high; it didn't let me down. This scope is loaded with features that are of interest to any shooting enthusiast. The three features I like the best are:

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#3 - The Use of a 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton Gas - This is a proprietary blend of gasses that nearly eliminates the effects of rapid temperature changes. To test this, the Mark AR was taken from a warm, humid environment and put into a freezer overnight; the next morning, it was brought out into the same warm, humid environment. After the frost on the outside melted and the moisture was wiped off, the Mark AR MOD-1 was checked and showed no signs of internal fogging.

#2 - The Optical Quality - Leupold's Multicoat 4 Lens Coating System improves light transmission through the scope and minimizes reflection on the outside of the lens. Leupold's Quantum Optical System matches the shape of each lens to the precise optimized position to produce a field of view that is bright, crisp and clear. When you put these two enhancements together, you get a scope that has superior optical qualities. You can see that the image around the outer edge is just as sharp and clear as it is in the middle, and image definition is good even in lower light situations such as sunrise and sunset. Even the reticle is crisp and sharp at all points.

#1 - The best feature of all is the easy-to-understand P5 BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) dial on the elevation turret. Once this dial is set following the instructions, the guesswork for shooting various distances is gone. How it works: (1) Sight-in the rifle at say, 100 yards. (2) There are 2 sets of numbers on elevation dial, the large one is a distance scale and the small one is a 'mil' scale. Loosen the set screws and rotate the elevation dial so the large '1' aligns with the witness mark (same as '0' on the mil scale). (3) Tighten the set screws and you're done. Now to shoot a distance of 250 yards, rotate elevation dial in the direction of the U-arrow (up) and align 2.5 with witness mark; for 400 yards, align the 4, and so on up to 650 yards. Now you just hold the crosshairs on your target (no over-hold) and squeeze off your shot. To return to original 100 yard setting, rotate dial backwards returning to '1'.

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Leupold Mark AR MOD-1 P5

For shooters who prefer to use the 'mil' scale for making bullet drop adjustments, this is the smaller number on the elevation dial. The windage turret is only marked with a 'mil' scale. When sighted in, set the '0' on the windage dial to the witness mark. Now, wind drift can be easily set for side winds and then returned to '0'.

Both elevation and windage have .1 mil adjustments. Since this dial/turret is used more on a tactical scope than a typical scope's windage/elevation adjustment, Leupold sealed these dials with double o-rings.

The elevation dial on the Mark AR MOD-1 P5 is specifically designed for the .223/5.56 with a 55-grain bullet at 3100 fps. If this is not your cartridge of choice, the Leupold Custom Shop can laser engrave dials specifically for the ballistic information you supply to them.

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For mounting the Mark AR MOD-1 on a Windham Weaponry CDI, Leupold recommended their Mark 2 Integral Mounting Systems (IMS). This one-piece mount attaches directly to the Picatinny rail, raises the scope and mounts it forward. The rings are 4" apart (center to center) making it able to accommodate nearly any scope. The design of this mounting base has another advantage. If the scope/mount have to be removed, reinstalling it in the same position on the picatinny rail will get you close to being right back on zero. To check this, I removed the Mark AR MOD-1 from the CDI and reinstalled it. At 75 yards, the point of impact was only off a little over ". Another nice touch is the flaring on the bolts for tightening the mount to the rail. Since the nuts cannot come off, the nuts or bracket cannot be lost. The IMS mount has and MSRP of $152 and it covered by a full lifetime guarantee.



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