Leupold Freedom RDS Review

By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting and Shooting Editor

There’s a red-dot sight for long guns that doesn’t get enough attention, and that’s Leupold’s Freedom RDS.

What’s so great about it? 

First, it’s the fully protected type of red-dot sight that’s more durable than the scores of open-paned mini-red dots out there. Like a traditional riflescope, a machined-aluminum tube houses its electronics and optics. This means it can take more knocks, drops and oh-shit moments while atop a rifle that naturally takes more beatings than does a handgun that’s often holstered while not in use. Also this style of sight can more easily be made fully waterproof, just like it means that its lenses can be coated—and shaded by the housing—to reduce glare. 

Secondly, it’s designed to ride a couple inches higher on the receiver than a mini-reflex sight so you don’t have to smash your cheek into the buttstock just to see your target. On heavy recoiling rifles with fully-formed buttstocks, a firm cheek weld is a plus; on a light-recoiling AR-15, jamming your cheekbone onto the recoil tube is just a hindrance to your peripheral vision. 

Third, replacing the battery doesn’t require removing the entire sight and then re-zeroing it. Lastly, the adjustment system is more robust than most mini-reflexes, and is easily adjustable for windage and elevation without tools. 

Leupold’s Freedom series contains additional features including motion-sensing technology that puts the red dot to sleep after five minutes but is instantly turned back on whenever it senses movement. In effect, the sight averages from 300 to 1600 hours of life on one 2032 battery, depending on the brightness setting, of which there are eight. 

Over the last few years I’ve had many red dot sights floating around my house atop various rifles as well as shotguns, during which time a few have risen to the top due to their reliability, battery life and overall enjoyment. One is Aimpoint’s T-2. It’s a superb sight that’s second-to-none in battery life. Its problem (besides the fact its adjustment system could be easier to manipulate) is that it costs around $900. Meanwhile the Leupold is under $300, mount included. 

Pros: robust, waterproof, hand-adjustable, available with BDC reticle, long battery life, affordable

Cons: none

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